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NFL notebook: Alouettes place Sam on suspended list


The Sports Xchange

The Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League placed defensive end Michael Sam on their suspended list Monday after he left the team’s training camp last week for personal reasons.

The nature of Sam’s departure on Friday still is unexplained.

Alouettes general manager Jim Popp said he was surprised by Sam’s departure.

“There’s nothing to tell you. He wanted to go home, and that’s what he did,” Popp told the Montreal Gazette. “I don’t know why. When a guy wants to go home, they go home. He had some personal things to take care of.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he returns. I’m surprised he left. I was very surprised. If he doesn’t come back, I would think football’s over for him. He’s the one that has to face that. But I don’t think he doesn’t want to play football. That’s why he came here.”

Sam left the Alouettes on the eve of the team’s exhibition opener.

Popp said the intense spotlight finally might have been too much for Sam.

“It’s a huge story because everybody keeps hounding and hounding and hounding. Michael Sam just wants to be a football player,” Popp told the newspaper.

Sam, who signed in May with the Alouettes, was the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team when he was selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams last year.

–The Carolina Panthers signed linebacker Thomas Davis to a two-year contract extension.

Davis, 32, is now under contract with the Panthers through the 2017 season.

Davis is due to earn $18 million over the next three years under the extension, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. The deal includes a $9 million signing bonus, part of a total compensation package of $10.25 million in 2015. He will make $3.5 million in 2016 and $4.25 million in 2017.

–The Panthers also signed cornerback Chris Houston to a one-year contract.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Houston has played in 99 regular-season games with 91 starts for his career, splitting time between the Atlanta Falcons (2007-09) and Detroit Lions (2010-13).

–The Atlanta Falcons released former first-round offensive tackle Sam Baker.

The 6-foot-5, 301-pound Baker missed all of last season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason. He has not returned to the practice field from the injury.

–New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul is likely to skip the team’s three-day mandatory minicamp starting Tuesday

The Giants placed the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul in March, but he has not signed his one-year tender. He would earn close to $15 million if he signs the franchise tender.

Pierre-Paul, seeking a long-term deal, does not plan to practice with the team this week, according to a multiple reports.

–Tight end Martellus Bennett reported to the Chicago Bears and is expected to participate in the team’s mandatory minicamp that begins Tuesday, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Bennett had skipped organized team activities while seeking a contract extension. Sitting out the mandatory camp, however, would have subjected him to fines.

Bennett, 28, is set to earn about $5 million per season in 2015 and 2016, the final two years of his contract.

–The Buffalo Bills have sold more than 57,500 season tickets for the highest total in the team’s 55-year history.

The increase of more than 10,000 tickets likely is linked to the hiring of head coach Rex Ryan in January and his bombastic personality. Last season the team sold 47,482 seasons tickets.

–The Super Bowl spoils were distributed Sunday night when New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft hosted the championship ring ceremony at his home in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

According to the team, more than 70 Patriots players and coaches were receiving their first Super Bowl title ring.

–The Minnesota Vikings’ new $1.1 billion stadium, set to open next July, reportedly has a name after U.S. Bank agreed to pay $220 million.

Sources told the Sports Business Journal that the entitlement deal with Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank was completed in March but will be officially announced June 22. The sources said the deal for what will soon be called U.S. Bank Stadium is for 25 years — an average of $8.8 million per year.

–The Philadelphia Eagles signed offensive lineman Jared Wheeler to a one-year contract.

Wheeler, who was signed after working out for the team Monday, adds depth in the wake of veteran guard Evan Mathis’ release last week.

–With the retirements of Justin Blalock and Mike Pollak, the market for free-agent guards thinned out.

The 31-year-old Blalock, a longtime Atlanta Falcon who was released earlier this offseason, announced his retirement via Twitter.

Pollak, 30, joined him later in the day, according to

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