Extra Points: Combine, Brees, Chargers

The NFL has decided that prospects that have been convicted of domestic violence and sexual assault will be barred from the NFL scouting combine, as Chase Goodbread of NFL.com writes. “It is important for us to remain strongly committed to league values as we demonstrate to our fans, future players, coaches, general managers, and others who support our game that character matters,” stated NFL Football Operations Executive Vice President Troy Vincent in the memo to NFL teams. Last year, Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson was uninvited from the combine at the last minute after he was indicted on two counts of aggravated rape. He went undrafted and his court case is still pending.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Joel Corry of CBSSports.com ran down 18 key NFL offseason dates and notable contract deadlines. As he details, the third day of the waiver period – Wednesday, Feb. 10th – will be significant for a number of big-name players, including the Saints’ Drew Brees and Jairus Byrd, the Browns’ Joe Haden, and the Raiders’ Curtis Lofton.
  • The Chargers finalized their coaching staff by naming former Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees as an offensive assistant and Marquice Williams as a special teams assistant, as Ricky Henne of Chargers.com writes. Rees quarterbacked the Irish from 2010-13, playing alongside current Bolts Manti Te’o, Chris Watt and Trevor Robinson.
  • The Colts announced that they have hired Maurice Drayton as assistant special teams coach and Jemal Singleton as running backs coach. Drayton has 17 years of coaching experience, including 10 seasons at his alma mater, The Citadel. Singleton holds 14 years of collegiate coaching experience, including nine seasons at his alma mater, Air Force. He served as the special teams coordinator/running backs coach at Arkansas in 2015.

Reggie Bush To Continue Playing

It was not a banner year for Reggie Bush in 2015, but the veteran tailback isn’t about to call it quits. The free agent says that he hopes to continue playing in 2016. Reggie Bush (vertical)

I’m not retiring,” Bush told reporters Sunday, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. “I’m still playing. No, I’m not done. And I would never — knock on wood — I never want to end my career like that, going out with that.”

The Lions cut Bush in February 2015 to save money after he missed much of the 2014 season with ankle injuries. Bush later signed with the 49ers this season, but he played just five games before tearing his left ACL on the concrete at the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis. The 31-year-old sued the St. Louis Regional Convention and Stadium Authority over his injury in January. Bush rushed for just 28 yards before his season was brought to a premature end.

Despite getting heavy run as the lead back in Miami and Detroit between 2011 and 2013, he more likely would only carry value as a third-down specialty back if he returns for the 2016 season. Bush had one of his best seasons as a runner in 2013, surpassing 1,000 yards for the second time in his career. However, injuries caught up to him in 2014 as he was only able to play in 11 games and failed to reach even 300 yards on the ground.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: McCoy, Bills, Jets

Bills running back LeSean McCoy has hired noted Philly defensive attorney Jack McMahon to represent him, according to John Barr of ESPN.com (via Twitter link). Over the weekend, McCoy was accused of taking part in a brawl that involved the assault of two off-duty Philadelphia police officers. McCoy has yet to be arrested for the incident, but arrest warrants are expected to be issued in the coming days.

McCoy, 28 in July, was held back by injuries in his first season with the Bills. The tailback ran for 895 yards off of 203 carries, good for 4.4 yards per contest. He also had three rushing touchdowns and two receiving scores. However, he missed one-quarter of the regular season, breaking his two season streak of playing in all 16 regular season games.

Here’s more out of the AFC East:

  • The police have completed their investigation into the McCoy case and turned it over to the district attorney’s office, which is reviewing it for potential charges against the Bills tailback, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets.
  • Jets guard Brian Winters, who replaced the injured Willie Colon and wound up starting ten games last season, will get a nice raise in 2016 worth roughly $1MM, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com writes. As part of the NFL’s rookie wage scale, Winters’ base salary (non-guaranteed) jumps to $1.696MM, the final year of his rookie contract. Previously, he was due to make $675K. The pay bump is thanks to the “proven performance escalator,” which allows mid- to late-round draft choices to make more money if they play a great deal. A player gets a raise if he was drafted in rounds three through seven and participated in at least 35% of the offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons.
  • Jets coach Todd Bowles filled three coaching vacancies, as Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com writes. Bowles promoted John Scott Jr. from defensive quality control coach to assistant defensive line coach, hired David Diaz-Infante as assistant offensive line coach, and brought in Tim Atkins to fill Scott’s role as defensive quality control coach.
  • The Dolphins are adding Wisconsin defensive backs coach Daronte Jones as an assistant defensive backs coach, a source told Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/9/16

Today’s minor signings, cuts, and other moves:

  • The Steelers announced that they have signed offensive guard Cole Manhart to a reserve/future contract. Manhart originally signed with the Eagles as a UDFA out of Nebraska-Kearney in May 2015. After being released by the Eagles, he spent the 2015 training camp with the Saints, but he was cut in September of that year. Prior to his signing with Pittsburgh, his most recent stint was with the Raiders as a member of their taxi squad.
  • The Panthers inked safety Marcus Ball to a deal, per Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune (on Twitter). Ball ended the season on Carolina’s practice squad.
  • The Rams signed former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • The Steelers cut wide receiver David Nelson, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.
  • The Eagles cut Matthew Tucker with a non-football injury designation, Wilson tweets.

Workout Notes: 2/9/16

NFL’s 2016 free agent period doesn’t officially open until March 9th, but players who didn’t finish the season on a roster – or who have since been cut – are free to work out with teams and sign contracts right away. Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle has several updates on those free agents who are visiting and/or auditioning for NFL teams, so let’s round up the latest:

  • Before he agreed to sign a reserve/futures contract with Washington, former Steelers first-round defensive lineman Ziggy Hood tried out for the Raiders. Oakland also brought in former Fresno State edge defender Tristan Okpalaugo for a visit (Twitter links).
  • Veteran defensive back Jeromy Miles and ex-Broncos tight end Dan Light recently auditioned for the Chiefs (Twitter link). Miles, who has appeared in 67 career regular-season games for the Bengals and Ravens, was cut last September by the Giants, while Light lost his practice squad spot in Denver following the team’s AFC Championship win over New England.
  • The Bengals recently worked out – but did not sign – offensive tackle Sean Donnelly, safety Zach Elias, running back Alonzo Harris, running back Storm Johnson and wide receiver Rico Richardson (Twitter link). Those players were part of a larger group of eight, with the remaining three players earning contracts.
  • Former Cowboys defensive tackle Ken Bishop, a seventh-round pick in 2014, worked out for the Buccaneers (Twitter link).
  • Former Pitt offensive guard Jason Pinkston recently visited the Steelers (link). The Steelers also recently worked out linebacker Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo, wide receiver Issac Blakeney, long snapper Matt Dooley, defensive back Montell Garner, offensive guard Cole Manhart, wide receiver Tobais Palmer, cornerback Al-Hajj Shabazz, and defensive tackle Josh Watson (Twitter links).

Montee Ball Arrested; Cut By Patriots

TUESDAY, 4:21pm: The Patriots have formally released Ball, following his arrest, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Ball had been re-signed by New England on February 1, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link), so he didn’t last long on his new reserve/futures contract.

MONDAY, 5:56pm: Prosecutors charged Ball with misdemeanor disorderly conduct, according to Ed Treleven of Madison.com, and the former second-round pick will not face a felony charge.

But Ball, who was released from jail earlier today, also faces a misdemeanor battery charge, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County (Wis.) Circuit Court, for striking the woman on the face five days before this incident occurred.

The battery charge carries a nine-month maximum jail term, per Treleven, with the disorderly conduct charge carrying a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail.

FRIDAY, 2:07pm: Former Broncos running back Montee Ball was arrested by police in Madison, Wisconsin early Friday morning after he allegedly pushed his girlfriend into a table at a hotel, according to Bill Novak of Madison.com. Novak writes that Ball was taken to the Dane County jail on a “tentative charge” of substantial battery.Montee Ball

“The woman told police she had a dispute with her boyfriend,” a police source told Novak. “She said he put his hands on her, picked her up and threw her.” The source added that Ball was “very cooperative” with police.

Ball, 25, had a solid rookie season for the Broncos in 2013 after being selected in the second round of the draft, running for 559 yards and four touchdowns. However, he took a step backward in 2014, and was waived by Denver prior to the 2015 regular season.

After working out for a handful of teams, Ball eventually signed in December with the Patriots’ practice squad to help provide depth for a New England team dealing with multiple backfield injuries. Even then though, Ball wasn’t promoted to the Pats’ active roster and wasn’t believed to be in great shape — Ed Werder of ESPN.com noted that the running back weighed about 205 pounds when he was drafted by the Broncos, and was in the 230s as a Patriot.

With Ball’s on-field potential seemingly on the decline, his off-field legal run-in figures to further decrease his odds of finding a spot on an active roster for 2016. Whether or not Ball is ultimately prosecuted for this incident, the NFL will conduct its own investigation, and could decide to suspend the running back for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Release Nate Allen

Less than 12 months after signing him to a four-year contract, the Raiders have parted ways with safety Nate Allen, terminating his contract, according to a Pro Football Talk report (via Twitter). Allen will immediately become a free agent without having to pass through waivers.Nate Allen

After spending his first five NFL seasons with the Eagles, Allen inked a four-year, $23MM contract with the Raiders in free agency last March. That contract rightly raised some eyebrows around the league, but all of the fully guaranteed money included in the deal was paid out in the first year. That means the Raiders won’t carry any dead money on their cap for Allen going forward.

As Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets, Allen’s $4.9MM base salary for 2016 would have become fully guaranteed on Wednesday if he was still on the Raiders’ roster, which explains why he was cut today. After paying him $7MM in his first and only season in Oakland, the Raiders will be off the hook for Allen’s cap hits of $5MM in 2016, $6MM in 2017, and $5MM in 2018.

Although he started 69 games in his five seasons in Philadelphia, Allen’s performance was up and down. Still, he had a fairly strong season in 2014, racking up 62 tackles, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries, five pass deflections, and a sack. Injuries derailed his 2015 campaign, however — he was placed on IR with the designation to return after Week 1 due to a knee injury, and while he returned later in the season for a few games, he never got fully healthy, and ended up back on IR to finish the year.

Assuming his knee is good to go for 2016, Allen could be a decent bounce-back candidate for a team in need of a safety this offseason. He’ll likely come at a much cheaper rate than he did a year ago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Tillman, Norman, Browner

A pair of former Pro Bowl safeties were released this week, and both William Moore and Michael Griffin have already drawn some interest from teams around the NFL, according to reports.

Andy Ross, the agent for Moore, tells D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he has received “a few calls” from teams inquiring about his client, who was cut by the Falcons on Monday. As for Griffin, he was just released hours ago by the Titans, but during an appearance today on The Midday 180 in Nashville, he said he had already received text messages from a couple coaches he used to play for, telling him to give them a call (link via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com).

With a month to go until the 2016 free agent period begins, both Moore and Griffin should have plenty of time to explore the market to find the best possible fits before the rest of this year’s class can sign with new teams.

Let’s round up a few more items from out of the NFL’s South divisions….

  • Cornerback Charles Tillman told Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer today that he wants to continue his NFL career, but only if he can keep playing for the Panthers. Tillman is a pending free agent.
  • Asked today about cornerback Josh Norman, Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said “you can’t sign everybody,” but acknowledged that he would consider the franchise tag for Norman, if necessary (link via David Newton of ESPN.com). A weekend report indicated Carolina is likely to franchise Norman.
  • The Saints are expected to cut Brandon Browner, but don’t expect it to happen before March, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap, who tweets that Browner’s cap numbers may force the club to wait until the new league year begins.
  • The Colts have hired former Morgan State coach Lee Hull as a wide receivers coach, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Latest On Johnny Manziel, Browns

3:00pm: A source confirms to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com that Manziel showed up to a team meeting on that Wednesday in Week 17 looking disheveled, while another source says the quarterback, wasn’t drunk, but was “heavily hung over on something.”

“He was not drunk that day, but he was (recovering) from being on something,” the source said. “I don’t know what he was doing the night before, but something was wrong with him.

“This wasn’t some massive cover-up,” the source added. “What are you going to do? You have to put him in the (concussion) protocol.”

2:15pm: In a series of tweets, Silver followed up on his earlier report, walking it back a little. Although he stands by his original report that Manziel showed up drunk to practice, Silver says he’ll take the Browns at their word if they say they didn’t lie about Manziel’s diagnosis, adding that he regrets using that term (“lied”).

1:45pm: Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com (Twitter links) has also been told by the Browns that the team didn’t lie about Manziel’s concussion.

12:13pm: It’s just a matter of time until the Browns part ways with Johnny Manziel, a move that is expected to happen when the new league year officially begins on March 9th. In the meantime though, new details are surfacing relating to Manziel’s final days with the team.Johnny Manziel (vertical)

[RELATED: Police investigating Johnny Manziel]

According to Michael Silver of the NFL Network (video link), Manziel showed up drunk to a Browns practice late in the season, and the team lied about it in an effort to cover it up, saying that the quarterback was in the concussion protocol. The report echoes one from Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com last month – Grossi didn’t go so far as to say the Browns lied about Manziel having a concussion, but said the quarterback showed up at a Wednesday practice “disheveled and inebriated.”

While Manziel’s alleged actions are hardly shocking at this point, considering all the off-field headlines he has made in recent months, Silver’s report reflects particularly poorly on the Browns. If it’s accurate, it means the team played a significant part in enabling Manziel’s behavior as recently as about a month ago. The Browns could also be in hot water if it turns out they lied about Manziel’s health on their injury report.

For what it’s worth, a Browns spokesman tells Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link) that Manziel was, in fact, in the concussion protocol and wasn’t cleared until January 12th, well after the club’s season ended. Meanwhile, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello declined comment when Ulrich asked whether the NFL is investigating the Browns, referring the reporter to the team (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Agent no longer representing Johnny Manziel]

Whether or not the Browns’ old regime, including head coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer, tried to protect Manziel, it appears the team’s new decision-makers won’t be giving him that same treatment. Sashi Brown recently issued a statement which strongly suggested Cleveland will be moving on from Manziel, and subsequent reports suggested that would happen next month, for salary cap reasons.

Earlier today, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk questioned whether the possibility of Manziel landing on paid leave might hinder the Browns’ plan to waive him, but in a post published several hours later, Florio clarified that the QB won’t be placed on paid leave anytime soon.

“The players are off per the CBA and not being paid now,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT. “It would serve no purpose and is not what paid leave was designed to accomplish.”

As such, the Browns shouldn’t have to worry about the league’s investigation into Manziel hindering their plan to cut him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Colts Waive Ryan Lindley

The Colts have reduced their quarterback depth chart by one, announcing today in a press release that they’ve cut Ryan Lindley. The 26-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent this week if he clears waivers.Ryan Lindley

Given the opportunity to play briefly for the Colts in the final week of the regular season, Lindley completed six of 10 passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Prior to that game, his only regular-season experience had come during his time as a Cardinal. Lindley started six regular season games over the course of three seasons for Arizona, and also started a playoff game for the team a little over a year ago.

Lindley was one of two quarterbacks signed by the Colts prior to their Week 17 game, when Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck, and Charlie Whitehurst were all battling injuries. Unlike Lindley, Josh Freeman – the other quarterback signed during Week 17 – remains on Indianapolis’ roster, and could have an opportunity to compete for the No. 2 job in 2016.

Outside of Luck, the Colts currently only have Freeman and former Jaguars Stephen Morris under contract at the QB position. Hasselbeck and Whitehurst are both eligible for free agency next month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL News & NFL Rumors