Eagles trade cornerback Eric Rowe to Patriots

The Philadelphia Eagles have traded defensive back Eric Rowe to the New England Patriots in exchange for a draft pick.

Offensive lineman Josh Kline had originally been expected to also be on his way to Philadelphia, but is now not a part of the deal.
While sources had told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that Kline was likely going to be flipped by the Eagles, the Patriots now retain his rights, though they could also elect to release him.

Rowe was selected in the second round of the 2015 draft, which was overseen by former coach Chip Kelly. He started five games as a rookie and finished with 31 tackles, one interception and five passes defensed.

The 23-year-old was inconsistent, but showed enough promise to be considered a potential starting option heading into this season. Rowe (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) struggled to adapt to new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, however. Doug Pederson acknowledged that Rowe experienced “hiccups” early in the offseason and was “pulled back a little bit” as a result. He ended up sliding down the depth chart.

“Really from rookie year to this year, I personally think like I have gotten better in my technique, I’m getting comfortable with my press-man technique, with the deep balls I’m getting better with that technique. I really thought I played pretty well in the preseason games. So personally, I don’t have anything holding me back,” Rowe said Monday, prior to Tuesday’s trade, “but I don’t know what they’re thinking upstairs. I can’t control that, but nothing is really holding me back. I’m out there just really trying to compete.”
Rowe ruled out scheme change as a possible reason for his fall, saying his responsibilities remained largely the same as a press corner on the outside. He was aware of the trade buzz surrounding him over the weekend, and tried to take his mind off it by going to Philadelphia’s “Made In America” music festival. Back at the NovaCare practice facility on Monday, he said no one from the Eagles addressed the trade reports with him.

“I mean yeah, it’s tough, but all I can control is how I play out there,” Rowe said. “Maybe there’s something they don’t see in me, but I’ve just got to keep fighting.”

Rowe played safety and corner at Utah. The Eagles viewed him as a corner, but some evaluators thought he would make a better safety coming out of college.

Kline (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) is a four-year veteran who entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State in 2013. He has played in 37 games (21 starts) for the Patriots (including playoffs).

The Patriots have some depth on the interior of their offensive line after drafting left guard Joe Thuney in the third round and acquiring Jonathan Cooper from the Arizona Cardinals in a trade for Chandler Jones.

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Ezekiel Elliott won’t face charges in alleged domestic incident

The Columbus (Ohio) City Attorney’s Office announced it has declined to pursue charges against Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott in an alleged domestic violence incident from July involving a former girlfriend.

The office said it declined to pursue charges because of “conflicting and inconsistent information.” It also said Elliott was cooperative in the investigation and offered up affidavits and photographs to support his case.

A league source told ESPN’s Ed Werder that Elliott still remains under review by the NFL for potential discipline. A player does not need to be formally charged with a crime to be punished under the policy.

Elliott’s attorney, Frank C. Salzano, said his client is “looking forward to putting this behind him and continuing his focus on all things positive, both on and off the field.”

Stacy Elliott issued a statement about the DA’s ruling out charges against his son to ESPN’s Liz Merrill that read, in part: “I’m very relieved. I thank the prosecutors for being fair, for weighing out the evidence as it was presented. I want to thank Ezekiel’s legal team for its diligence.”

On July 22, Tiffany Thompson filed two police reports claiming Elliott abused her. Thompson told police that Elliott assaulted her while they sat in a parked car, according to one police report. She told police that she had pain in her right wrist and a red mark but declined medical treatment, according to the report. Four witnesses, including one who was sitting in the car at the time of the alleged incident, told police that they did not observe an assault.

Thompson also accused Elliott of striking her “several times” and “leaving bruises on her arms” over a five-day period in July, according to a second police report. Elliott, however, told police that he never touched Thompson in “a harmful manner,” saying she suffered the bruises during a bar fight.

At the time, Elliott denied the charges and the Cowboys have supported the rookie through the investigation.

ESPN typically does not release the names of alleged domestic violence victims, but Thompson, 20, posted Instagram photos showing bruises on her body. One of her posts was tagged to Ezekiel Elliott.

The Cowboys open the regular season Sunday against the New York Giants.

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Bills release RB Karlos Williams

The Buffalo Bills have waived second-year running back Karlos Williams, the team announced Saturday.

The NFL announced in July that Williams is suspended for the first four games of the regular season for a violation of the league’s substance-abuse policy. He can serve the suspension as a free agent if he is not claimed off waivers or signed by another team.

“I’ve always said this is a performance-based business,” Bills general manager Doug Whaley said Saturday. “The release of Karlos Williams was strictly performance-based. He came in behind the eight ball and never caught up. And there was other guys on the roster that moved ahead of him.

“In light of that, we thought, ‘Why hold on to him?’ Why don’t we give him a chance to maybe find another job out there in the league?’ We weren’t going to hold on to him to the end, knowing he wasn’t going to make the team.”
The Bills’ decision to release Williams represents a reversal of course from the team, which had supported him despite his poor conditioning and suspension.

“I think we’re all excited about the talent he has,” coach Rex Ryan said Monday. “It’s clear this is a really talented young man and yeah, we hope that he’s here for a long time and does the right things and handles himself well off the field. So that’s something that we’re counting on from him.”

A fifth-round pick last season, Williams played in 11 games, starting three. He gained 517 yards on 93 carries and scored seven rushing touchdowns in addition to two receiving touchdowns.

Williams tied an NFL record last season by scoring a touchdown in each of his first six games played in the league. New England Patriots running back Robert Edwards also scored touchdowns in his first six games as a rookie in 1998.

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Rams RB Tre Mason admitted to hospital for evaluation in late July

Los Angeles Rams running back Tre Mason, from whom the team hasn’t heard despite multiple attempts to contact him, was “admitted for evaluation” to a hospital in late July after his mother called police in South Florida, saying Mason was acting strangely.

According to a police report, Palm Beach County Sheriff’s officers arrived at his mother’s house in Lake Charleston, Florida, after Tina Mason called to report that Tre Mason was “acting unusual and making irrational statements.”

Rams officials said Tuesday that they have tried several times to get in touch with Mason, who was arrested in March on charges of reckless driving, marijuana possession and resisting arrest. The team has been in contact with Mason’s family and his agent, Bus Cook, but has been unable to get answers about his condition or his whereabouts.

According to the police report, Tre Mason told officers that “he was going to call the White House and we were all going to lose our jobs” and that “the police were responsible for teaching al-Qaida how to fly planes.”

Police observed that a hole had been punched in the wall of Mason’s bedroom, and there was a broken vase and lamp in the room as well. Police determined that Mason wasn’t fit “to make decisions” for himself at the time, and he was taken to the hospital for a small laceration on his hand as well as observation.

According to the report, Mason also applauded the officers, telling them that “he was used to being the entertainment for others, but now (officers) were his entertainment.”

Rams tackle Greg Robinson has been in contact with Mason at some point during the offseason via text, but officials said that communication has been complicated because Mason has changed his cell phone number multiple times.

“Right now, we’re more concerned with Tre Mason’s well-being than we are his football career,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters at Rams training camp over the weekend. “We’re going to continue to try to reach him to see where he’s at.”

Officially, Mason is on the Rams’ reserve/did not report list, so he doesn’t count against their 90-man training camp roster.

TMZ Sports first reported that Mason was admitted for evaluation by police.

Police in Hollywood, Florida, said Mason refused orders to get out of his sports car on March 5, after he was pulled over for going twice the speed limit in a 35 mph zone. Officers said they used a stun gun on Mason twice.

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Michael Vick working out in hopes of getting chance

Michael Vick is training in Florida, hoping to sign with a team for what he said will be his final NFL season.

Vick, 36, has been training four days a week with a personal trainer and a quarterbacks coach.

“I’m on the grind. I’m down in Florida with the family waiting on an opportunity,” he said to ESPN. “This is the last year for me and I am going to wait it out. I just want to put the helmet on one more time and dedicate myself to the game one more year.”

Vick has been running a mile every other day, which he says is a lot for him since he has been a short-distance sprint runner. He has been running with a weighted vest and ankle weights and feels he’s faster now, similar to his speed of two to three years ago.
Vick signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in August 2015 after a shoulder injury to backup Bruce Gradkowski. He started three games with mixed results after an injury to starter Ben Roethlisberger, but found himself running the scout-team offense for Pittsburgh behind Landry Jones in the second half of the season.

Vick said he realizes he has to do more to be ready to play this season than the preparation he had last year. He said he considers his time in Pittsburgh as a learning experience.

“I think I’m in better shape now than I was last year. Last year I was a little in my feelings, a little depressed thinking I should’ve been somewhere. Now I understand where I’m at. … That’s why I been trying to work as hard as I can. I feel like last year I didn’t really show what I could do.”

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Jets’ offer to Ryan Fitzpatrick includes $12M first year

The New York Jets’ multiyear offer to free-agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, which has been on the table for at least two months, includes $12 million in the first year, a league source confirmed Friday night.

Previously, the first-year payout was widely reported at about $8 million, fueling the perception the Jets have been low-balling their 2015 starter.

Compensation of $12 million for 2016 is more in line with the marketplace, although the overall value of the three-year offer — including the amount of guaranteed money — isn’t known.

The hang up, from the Fitzpatrick perspective, is the second- and third-year payout. The combined salary for 2017 and 2018 is believed to be about $12 million. It’s not known how much of that, if any, is guaranteed.
Fitzpatrick is thought to be seeking about $15 million per year.

The latest development, first reported by the New York Post, came at the end of a week in which wide receiver Eric Decker reportedly skipped the first three voluntary practices to send a message to the organization that he’s unhappy Fitzpatrick isn’t signed.

Decker is a Fitzpatrick supporter. They’re also represented by the same agency, CAA. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has also lobbied for Fitzpatrick’s return, was a no-show, too. It’s unclear if his absence was related to his feelings about the Fitzpatrick situation.

The team and QB have been engaged in a stalemate since February. There’s mutual interest, with the Jets saying they’d like Fitzpatrick to return as their starter. Breaking his offseason silence on Monday, Fitzpatrick said he’d like to re-sign.

Fitzpatrick, speaking at a charity golf tournament, declined to comment at length, saying he wants to keep the negotiations “behind closed doors.”

“Both sides have been doing a good job of not airing their grievances to the public, and I’d like that to continue,” he said.

But the tenor of the impasse could be changing, perhaps triggered by the events of the past few days.

The Jets haven’t set a deadline, although they’ve said they’d like a resolution by training camp in late July. This week, coach Todd Bowles said he’s “hopeful” a deal could be reached, but he wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s confident.

Failing an agreement with Fitzpatrick, who made $3.25 million last season and enjoyed a career year, the Jets are prepared to go with Geno Smith as the starter, with Bryce Petty and rookie Christian Hackenberg as the backups.

Fitzpatrick has no other known suitors. The only team willing to hand him a starting job is the Jets.

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Bears, QB Brian Hoyer agree to terms on 1-year contract

The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms with veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer on a one-year deal.

Six teams expressed interest in Hoyer, who played one season in Cleveland under Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. The Bears pursued Hoyer because of the experience and leadership he brings to the backup quarterback spot behind incumbent starter Jay Cutler.

“I like that Dowell has been with him, has a lot of comfort with him,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. “I’ve watched him play over the years. A very intelligent player. I know he’s got a strong work ethic because we’ve got coaches that have been with him. I think he’s a really good piece to add to the mix.”
Chicago’s other reserve quarterbacks, David Fales and Matt Blanchard, have yet to appear in a regular-season game. Since 2011, Cutler has missed 14 games due to injury.

“I like the idea of having an experienced backup there,” Pace said. “It’s important for that position, and it just gives us security going forward.”

A veteran of eight NFL seasons, Hoyer played in 11 regular-season games for the Houston Texans last year and passed for 2,606 yards, 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions. In the Texans’ playoff loss to Kansas City, Hoyer struggled, with four interceptions, and that paved the way for his release two weeks ago.

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Cornerback Josh Norman to meet with Redskins on Friday

All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman is scheduled to visit with the Washington Redskins on Friday, two days after the Carolina Panthers rescinded the franchise tag on him, a source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The San Francisco 49ers are also among the teams showing interest in Norman, the source said.Norman’s deal, when complete, is expected to command between $14 million to $15 million per year, sources told Schefter. Five-year deals are being discussed with both Washington and San Francisco.

Friday’s visit with Washington will be Norman’s first since the Panthers’ decision.

Carolina general manager Dave Gettleman said Thursday that the team chose to rescind Norman’s tag because of the flexibility that would result from removing his cap number and the unlikelihood of reaching a long-term deal with him.

Norman was seeking between $15 million and $16 million a year, according to a league source.The Redskins have a need at cornerback, but would need to free up more cap room to sign Norman. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, they have only $11.4 million available.

The 49ers have $53 million in cap space, and $55 million in 2017, meaning they could offer Norman a deal longer than one year and worth an amount comparable to other top cornerbacks’ contracts.

On Thursday, Gettleman didn’t say the door was closed on Norman returning to Carolina, but he also didn’t indicate that might happen. The Panthers received $13.952 million in cap space after rescinding the tag on Norman.

“The more we thought about it, the more flexibility that $14 million would give us … we just kept talking and talking,” Gettleman said. “I have a great belief that in order to get the right answer, you have to ask the right questions.

“We kept asking ourselves that question, and this is why we made the decision we made.”

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Rams to meet with both Jared Goff, Carson Wentz ahead of NFL draft

Los Angeles Rams officials will meet with both Cal quarterback Jared Goff and North Dakota State quarterback Carson Wentz ahead of this month’s NFL draft, a league source told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

The Rams, who acquired the No. 1 overall selection from the Tennessee Titans in a blockbuster trade Thursday, still are leaning toward using the pick on Goff, the source told Schefter, but want to meet with both QBs and debate the decision before making a choice.
Tennessee sent the top selection, along with its fourth- (No. 113) and sixth-round (No. 177) picks this year, to the Rams in exchange for Los Angeles’ first-round pick (No. 15), two second-round selections (Nos. 43 and 45) and a third-round pick (No. 76) in 2016. The Titans will also get the Rams’ first- and third-round picks in 2017.

A team source told Schefter earlier this week that one reason the Rams made this deal now is to give the team “two weeks to debate between Goff and Wentz. You can make a convincing case for both. Both are going to be good.”

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday that the team has already done private workouts with both players.

“We were the first ones in,” Fisher said. “We’re familiar with both of them, in addition to those other prospects on this roster. So the skill sets are different, the personalities are different, the background is different, the competition is different, and that’s what makes this such a challenge.”

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Court rejects fans’ lawsuit to restore Patriots’ draft pick

A federal court judge has rejected attempts by New England Patriots fans to get the NFL to restore the team’s draft pick lost in the aftermath of the Deflategate scandal.

U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor on Friday ruled against motions filed earlier this month by fans, writing, “After reviewing the complaint, it appears highly unlikely that plaintiffs will succeed on the merits of any of their claims.”

A group of fans sued the NFL on April 5 in an effort to recover the first-round draft pick taken from the team as punishment for the “Deflategate” scandal. The seven fans include a season-ticket holder from Connecticut who said the scandal left his 7-year-old daughter disillusioned and a Florida man who said the NFL’s sanctions caused him stress and lost sleep.

The fans were seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction that would effectively restore the Patriots’ pick in time for the NFL draft, which starts April 28 in Chicago.

But Saylor ruled it would be unlikely the fans would be able to establish legal standing to bring the suit: “The Court is denying plaintiffs’ motion without the benefit of an evidentiary hearing or an opposition brief. However, the federal courts are courts of limited resources, funded by the taxpayers, and it would not be a prudent expenditure of those resources to permit the motion to progress to the hearing stage.”

Michael McCann, a sports law professor at the University of New Hampshire Law School, agreed the fans had little standing to sue.

“Paying for a ticket to watch the Patriots play isn’t interfered with by the team losing a draft pick or two,” McCann said.

The fans’ complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston, said the NFL made an “arbitrary and capricious” decision to revoke the pick in this month’s draft even though there is no proof the team deliberately deflated footballs in the Jan. 18, 2015, AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. It alleged, among other things, common law fraud, negligence, intentional inflection of emotional distress, and racketeering.

The NFL, commissioner Roger Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft were named as defendants. The complaint said the league and Goodell relied on “false premises and biased ‘investigations”’ in handing down punishment, which included a $1 million fine for the team and four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady. Brady’s suspension was later vacated by a U.S. district court judge, but NFL lawyers have asked a federal appeals court in New York to reinstate the suspension.

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