NFL Wire News

NFL notebook: Safety measures pass but not expanded replay


Following recommendations by the Competition Committee, NFL owners voted Tuesday to reject a series of proposed rules that would have expanded the use of instant replay.

However, in keeping with the league’s current focus on injuries, the owners did ratify measures that addressed safety, including a designated, independent spotter will be put in place to call a timeout if there appears to be a possibly concussed player.

Also ratified was a proposal that allows a replay review of the time left on the clock at the end of a half, game or an overtime period. Otherwise, per the Competition Committee’s urging, rules involving increased use of instant replay were rejected.

On Wednesday, the owners will vote on a few more proposals, including suggested changes involving the point — or points — after touchdown.

—Johnny Manziel is expected to be back on the field with the Cleveland Browns next month after the completion of months of treatment.

General manager Ray Farmer said at the NFL owner’s meetings in Phoenix that the team will not have exclusive authority in determining when the second-year quarterback rejoins the team. Instead, that will be decided by counselors overseeing Manziel’s rehab treatment.

Manziel began rehab in late January and has been visited by coach Mike Pettine among others.

Meanwhile, Pettine said the Browns met with NFL Films and decided the team did not want to be the subject of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this season. One of the reasons is Manziel’s offseason stay in rehab.

—If Marcus Mariota is the No. 2 overall pick, he would also be the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart with the Tennessee Titans. ranks Mariota as the No. 2 quarterback in the 2015 draft behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston. The Titans don’t have a franchise quarterback in place. Coach Ken Whisenhunt said he sees a pretty flawless player in evaluating Mariota.

—Ndamukong Suh was a headache for opponents in the NFC North, but Lions general manager Martin Mayhew is relieved his salary is not his franchise’s burden.

Suh left for the Miami Dolphins in free agency, hooked with a $114 million contract and $60 million fully guaranteed, a pact that was all but signed and sealed by the time the 2015 league year began.

Mayhew and the Lions made what the team considered an aggressive bid to keep Suh. The Detroit Free Press reported the offer was six years, $102 million. The Lions were also working within constraints of two megadeals, the contracts of quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson.

—Darren McFadden, Ryan Williams, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle might not be the answer, but the Dallas Cowboys will find one before the 2015 season, coach Jason Garrett said.

The loss of running back DeMarco Murray puts the list of replacement options in the spotlight this offseason. Murray, who signed a five-year, $41.5 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles, led the NFL in rushing and had 511 total touches, including the playoffs, last season. He was, in a word, the centerpiece of the Cowboys’ offense.

The Cowboys could address the position in the 2015 draft. Georgia’s Todd Gurley and Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon are projected as first-round picks by, but as many as 10 could be selected in the top 100.

—Quarterback Philip Rivers has reservations about a commitment to the San Diego Chargers with a potential relocation to Los Angeles in play, but the franchise is not parting with its quarterback, according to general manager Tom Telesco.

Rivers, who has seven children, said earlier this month that he is not planning to sign a new deal with the Chargers while the team’s future is sorted out. But Telesco considers Rivers a Charger, not a trade chip.

“He’s our guy,” Telesco said. “Like I’ve said before, we’d like to extend him. And when he’s ready, we’ll get moving on it.”

—Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, the 2014 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, agreed to convert a $10 million roster bonus to a signing bonus, creating a salary cap savings of $8 million for Houston.

Watt signed a $100 million deal that included $51.8 million guaranteed in 2014. He was passed as the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL last month when the Miami Dolphins signed defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to a $114 million contract.

The Texans signed quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett, who started to games with the team in 2014, and retained cornerback Kareem Jackson. They also signed wide receiver Cecil Shorts after releasing all-time leading receiver Andre Johnson.

—The Texans on Tuesday re-signed unrestricted free agent inside linebacker Akeem Dent. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.

Dent started seven of the 15 games he played in last season with the Texans. He recorded 27 tackles, 11 special teams tackles, six quarterback hits, two tackles for loss and a sack. Houston acquired the 27-year-old in a trade with the Atlanta Falcons on June 18.

During his three seasons with Atlanta, Dent made 20 regular-season starts. He was drafted in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of the University of Georgia.

—The Chicago Bears, in need of help on the defensive line, added two free agents to their roster when defensive tackle Ray McDonald reached agreement on a one-year contract and defensive end Jarvis Jenkins signed a one-year deal, the team announced.

Terms of McDonald’s contract were undisclosed, but the deal will be finalized once he passes a physical . McDonald will be reunited with former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who now holds the same position with the Bears.

With the Bears switching to a 3-4 base defense under Fangio, McDonald and Jenkins are considered good fits for that scheme.

Since 2011, McDonald started 56 games for the 49ers, including 14 last season. He had 39 tackles and three sacks in 2014. In his eight-year NFL career, all with the 49ers, McDonald has 210 career tackles, 19 1/2 sacks and one interception.

Last year, the 26-year-old Jenkins started 14 games for the Washington Redskins and had a career-best 29 tackles, including three for loss.

—New York Jets coach Todd Bowles has thrown his support behind Geno Smith as the team’s No. 1 quarterback heading into offseason workouts.

With the Jets acquiring Ryan Fitzpatrick in a trade with the Houston Texans, there were questions as to who might become the main man behind center for the Jets in 2015.

“We have a plan in place, and right now, Geno going in, with Ryan hurt and not being able to participate in OTAs and everything, Geno’s going to take the majority of all the reps,” Bowles said Tuesday.

—The Minnesota Vikings agrred to terms with linebacker Casey Matthews and safety Taylor Mays on Tuesday. Terms were not disclosed.

Matthews spent his first four NFL seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, recording 109 tackles and 2.5 sacks while starting 15 of 65 games. He is coming off a career-high 62 tackles, 1.5 sacks, four tackles for loss and three quarterback hits last season. His 10 starts were more than his five combined through his first three seasons.

Matthews, 26, is expected to compete for a starting job at inside linbacker with Jasper Brinkley signing with the Dallas Cowboys in free agency.

Mays, 27, was a second-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010 and joined the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011. He has 10 starts in 66 career games, recording 57 tackles and a sack. Known as a strong special teams player, Mays reunites with Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer, who was his defensive coordinator in Cincinnati from 2011-13.

—The Cincinnati Bengals are going to bring in more competition at the quarterback spot, but it will not be in an attempt to unseat starter Andy Dalton.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis echoed the support for Dalton on Wednesday that owner Mike Brown laid the groundwork for at the NFL owners meetings the previous day.

Dalton owns an 0-4 career playoff record with four consecutive first-round exits. Lewis pointed to the need for improved play around Dalton, including from a defense that struggled in a 26-10 wild card loss at the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 4.

The question remaining is who will be Dalton’s backup. Jason Campbell is a free agent and second-year player A.J. McCarron, who did not play as a rookie as he rehabbed from a shoulder injury, is the only other quarterback under contract.

—Coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers expect new faces in the same scheme when their defense takes the field this summer.

Tomlin, who replaced defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau with linebackers coach Keith Butler, said Tuesday there is no certainty safety Troy Polamalu will play in 2015. Polamalu has not retired, and there are no talks about a new deal.

The Steelers could be in the market for help at several positions in the raft. None appear more pressing than pass rushers, and Tomlin said the time might be just right for the Steelers, who have lost LaMarr Woodley (released) and Jason Worilds (retirement) in the past two offseasons.

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