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NFL notebook: Saints owner Benson declared competent

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Tom Benson, the 87-year-old owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, was ruled to be mentally competent on Thursday and will maintain control of his teams and $1.7 billion fortune.

An eight-day trial concluded last week, and the ruling was issued Thursday by Orleans Civil District Judge Kern Reese.

Reese ruled that Benson “is able to make reasoned decisions as to his person and his property and therefore this court will not order an interdiction of any kind in these proceedings.”

Benson’s daughter, Renee Benson, and grandchildren Rita and Ryan LeBlanc had filed a lawsuit in January after Benson cut ties with them and announced he would leave ownership of the Saints and Pelicans to his 10-year wife, Gayle.

—Cornerback Johnathan Joseph signed a three-year contract worth $22 million, keeping him with the Houston Texans through 2017.

The deal replaces the final year of his previous contract, which was set to expire at the end of the 2015 season.

Joseph signed with the Texans as an unrestricted free agent from the Cincinnati Bengals and has started four straight seasons. Kareem Jackson is slated to start on the other side of the Texans’ defense.

—Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones called the bluff of franchised wide receiver Dez Bryant, who had not been at minicamp until attending a team meeting in the upper bowl of AT&T Stadium on Thursday.

“I have no doubt that when we play, if we’re still in a franchise situation … he’ll be leading the way against the Giants,” Jones said. “We just know how competitive Dez is and how much he wants to beat the Giants and how much he wants to support his teammates.”

Coach Jason Garrett said it was “great to have him” at practice on Thursday, but Bryant was not on the field because his one-year, $12.8 million tender remains unsigned.

—Dallas wide receiver Terrance Williams walked off the field with trainers on the final day of mandatory minicamp with what was described by the team as a bruised left elbow.

Williams was hurt in a collision with safety Barry Church during on-field drills.

The seriousness of the elbow injury was uncertain, but the Cowboys sounded optimistic after X-rays revealed no damage. The team was concerned about nerve damage, according to NFL Network.

—The Cincinnati Bengals released quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

It’s the third time in the past year that Pryor has been released by an NFL team. He spent time with the Seattle Seahawks last summer, and he was with the Kansas City Chiefs for four months earlier this year.

The Chiefs released him May 5, and the Bengals signed him May 10 after he tried out for them during their rookie minicamp.

—The Chicago Bears signed safety Sherrod Martin and running back Daniel Thomas to one-year contracts on Thursday.

The team also waived quarterback Pat Devlin, kicker Jeremiah Detmer and tight end Jacob Maxwell.

Martin and Thomas both had tryouts for the Bears at minicamp this week.

—The Buffalo Bills signed tight end Matthew Mulligan to an undisclosed contract and released defensive back Merrill Noel.

Mulligan began his career in 2009 with the New York Jets playing for coach Rex Ryan and spent three seasons with the team. He will be reunited with Ryan, who is now Buffalo’s coach.

The 6-foot-4, 267-pound Mulligan has 16 receptions for 160 yards and two touchdowns in 69 NFL games.

—The Atlanta Falcons signed wide receiver Carlton Mitchell and waived wide receiver Shane Wynn.

Mitchell was a sixth-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in 2010. He played in 16 games for the Browns, catching three passes for 31 yards.

Wynn, just 5 feet 7 and 167 pounds, was undrafted out of Indiana this year. He finished his career tied for second in receptions (189), third in kick return yardage (1,854), tied for third in receiving touchdowns (20) and fourth in all-purpose yardage (4,429).

—The Detroit Lions waived cornerback Bill Bentley.

A third-round draft pick by the Lions in 2012, Bentley played in 18 games (eight starts) and recorded 43 tackles, five pass breakups and three tackles for loss.

—A game ball handed to a fan near the Gillette Stadium end zone during the AFC Championship Game is going on the auction block.

Laura Nichols was handed a game ball by New England Patriots wide receiver Brandon LaFell after running back LeGarrette Blount’s third-quarter scoring run, and only later did the value and historical significance of the item multiply.

Auction house Lelands.com confirmed the ball was one of the 12 used by the Patriots in the game, which became the subject of the NFL’s Deflategate investigation. Lelands.com founder Joshua Evans called the ball a “wow type of item” and said it could fetch six figures.


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