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NFL notebook: Brady silent at fundraiser

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Quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, who will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard on June 23, continues to avoid reporters in the aftermath of Deflategate.

Brady didn’t break his silence after Friday morning’s organized team activity and at night when he appeared at Harvard Stadium to quarterback for both teams in the Best Buddies Football Challenge, a charity which helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

At Friday’s OTA, Brady split the practice reps with backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Brady went first in every drill and worked mostly with the starters in the non-contact practice.

Brady, whose appeal reportedly will continue if necessary on June 25, quickly jogged off the field when the two-hour practice ended, declining all requests to speak to the media for the first time since the NFL handed down its penalties on May 11.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, dealing with the media for the first time this offseason, averted questions about Deflategate and even the Super Bowl.

“That was a long time ago,” Belichick said Friday of the Super Bowl. “We’re on to next year. It’s 2015. You can forget about last year; that was last year.”

At the charity touch football game Friday night, Brady was relaxed and smiling. He typically speaks to the media at halftime of the event for Best Buddies, of which he is honorary co-chairman.

But he declined to do so this year while his four-game suspension remains up in the air.

After the charity game, Brady told the crowd at Harvard Stadium: “Thanks guys. What a great night we had.”

—Defensive end Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks has been absent from organized team activities this week and the Seattle Times reported it is because he wants a new contract.

Bennett, in the second year of a four-year, $28.5 million deal, wants a contract that will pay him what the top seven players at his position earn.

“Trying to get the contract right,” Bennett said. “I’ll be there shortly. I don’t know when I’ll be there. Depends on the team and stuff. See how it works out.:

Bennett, who recorded 38 tackles and seven sacks in 16 games last season, is 14th in salary among defensive ends in a 4-3 defense with his current contract.

—The New York Jets have reworked the contract of veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who was acquired in a trade this offseason.

According to ESPN.com, the maximum value of Marshall’s amended contract is $26 million over the next three seasons, up from $24.3 million, including an additional $1.3 million in guarantees. Marshall’s new deal gives him the chance to earn $2.7 million more during the next two years, but he would earn $1 million less in 2017 than previously scheduled.

When New York acquired Marshall from the Chicago Bears in March, the Jets said they would rework his contract, a league source told ESPN. The Jets had to wait until at least May 22 to satisfy a league rule that prohibits re-working a player’s contract twice in a 12-month span. Marshall finalized an extension with the Bears on May 22, 2014.

Marshall, 31, caught 61 passes for 721 yards in 13 games last season, marking his lowest production since his rookie season in 2006. He caught eight touchdowns and his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame will be a welcome addition to the Jets’ receiving corps.

—The Atlanta Falcons signed free agent offensive guard Chris Chester. According to ESPN.com, the deal is for one year and $2.8 million.

Chester, 32, was released by the Washington Redskins on Wednesday. He will be reunited with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who coached Chester while in Washington.

The Falcons also waived linebacker Derrick Malone Jr., who was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent out of Oregon on May 6.

—Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still, who two months ago said his daughter’s Stage 4 pediatric cancer was in remission, reached out to social media to announce 5-year-old Leah has “hit a pretty serious complication” in her fight.

Leah, who turned 5 earlier this month, was diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer last June — and her fight inspired millions across the nation and world..

Still said Friday night that Leah is experiencing complications from a stem cell transplant performed this month on the day before her birthday.

“I need some prayers sent up for Leah tonight! We hit a pretty serious complication from the stem cell transplant called VOD,” Still wrote on his Instagram account. “They caught it early so hopefully it gives the doctors a better chance of stopping it from getting aggressive. As you can imagine our minds are all over the place but we’re going to try and remain positive!”

Veno-occlusive disease (VOD) is a condition in which the small veins in the liver are obstructed and is the result of high doses of chemotherapy given before a transplant.

—The Pittsburgh Steelers signed seventh-round safety Gerod Holliman to a four-year contract.

The 6-0, 218-pound Holliman, who was the 239th overall pick, played collegiately at Louisville. In 27 games with the Cardinals, he totaled 63 tackles, 14 interceptions, six pass breakups and one sack.

The Steelers now have signed each of their eight picks from the 2015 NFL Draft.

—The Cleveland Browns signed defensive lineman Christian Tupou and wide receiver Josh Lenz.

The 6-4, 305-pound Tupou is in his second NFL season out of Southern California. He spent nine weeks on the Browns’ practice squad last year and appeared in five games with the Chicago Bears in 2013. Tupou was waived by the Browns on May 11.

The 6-0, 195-pound Lenz is officially in his first NFL season out of Iowa State. Originally signed by the Chicago Bears as an undrafted free agent in 2013, he has spent time on the practice squads’ of the Seattle Seahawks (three weeks in 2013) and Indianapolis Colts (eight weeks in 2013 and all of 2014).

—Former NFL wide receiver Plaxico Burress reportedly has avoided going to prison for failing to pay state income taxes.

Burress was indicted last month by New Jersey prosecutors on one count of issuing a bad check or electronic funds transfer and one count of willful failure to pay state income tax in the amount of $47,903. Both are third-degree charges that carry a maximum penalty of five years in state prison and a $15,000 fine.

Burress struck a deal that includes no jail time, according to TMZ. Burress claimed he made a “simple mistake” when he tried to pay via bad electronic check. TMZ reported Friday that the deal will include Burress paying off the debt.


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