March 12, 2012
Cowboys, 'Skins in heap of trouble
By BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Between Gregg Williams, bounty hunting, and revelations Monday of salary cap felons, the NFL is turning into the National Fabrication League.
As Saints coach Sean Payton and owner Tom Benson met with commissioner Roger Goodell and league security in New York to discuss repercussions from Williams’ pay-for-pain scheme, ESPN reported the league was also taking action against teams that dumped salaries into the uncapped 2010 year.
The main co-conspirators are the Cowboys, who lose more than $10 million in space, and the Redskins who lose $36 million. Every other team (except the Raiders and New Orleans) picks up $1.6 million in cap room. Oakland and New Orleans don’t get the money as punishment for also dumping salary.
It would leave the Redskins, who thought they had $30 million in cap room, with Robert Griffin III, no draft picks, and no money to get talented free agents.
Punishment for the bounty system could be announced this week. Williams, it’s expected, faces at least a one-year suspension. Some analysts have suggested a lifetime ban. But while the league wants to send a message that head-hunting won’t be tolerated, banning Williams for life might run the league afoul of anti-trust laws.
Payton likely faces a fine, or short suspension, and GM Mickey Loomis is likely facing league discipline. The club may have to forfeit draft picks. About two dozen players who participated could be punished as the league tries to avoid being mistaken as Cheaters Paradise.
HARBAUGH TOSSES TO MOSS
It was difficult figuring out who was more nervous Monday when the San Francisco 49ers checked out Randy Moss: The guy catching the passes, or the one throwing them.
The 35-year-old Moss is looking to make a comeback. San Francisco head coach and former Pro Bowl quarterback, Jim Harbaugh, was just hoping not to do a “Charlie Brown.”
“Former Colt Pro Bowl QB throwing for #49ers ... Just to clarify, Coach Harbaugh is turning into Capt Comeback to throw to Randy Moss,” 49ers CEO Jed York Twittered. “He’s excited and a little nervous. He’s a competitive guy. He doesn’t want to look bad.”
Harbaugh hasn’t played in more than a decade. But the 49ers are desperate for receiver help and just as desperate for someone to throw to Moss on his Relocation Tour. League rules prohibit current roster players from throwing for a club until Wednesday after the league year begins.
So, Harbaugh, who played in the NFL for 13 seasons decided to wing it.
There is some urgency because Moss has already worked out for the Saints who, according to reports, were impressed. Moss retired after an awful 2010 season during which he was accused of quitting on teammates.
The 49ers’ Michael Crabtree had 72 receptions for 874 yards last year. But Braylon Edwards was let go, and Joshua Morgan is a free agent, so they could use a motivated Moss if he hasn’t lost his foot speed. “I think Jim and (GM) Trent (Baalke) want to see if he can play,” York said. “We need to add somebody that can stretch the field. It’s up to those guys to figure out if he’s a fit.”
Jeff Faine did everything the Buccaneers wanted since signing a $37.5 million deal in 2008; Steve Hutchinson was a five-time Pro Bowl player with the Vikings.
All it got them is ... gone!
Faine is expected to lose his job at centre to Jeremy Zuttah and the Tampa Times reports Faine’s 2012 cap hit of $8 million is the catalyst for a pink slip.
Hutchinson, along with veteran guard Anthony Herrera and cornerback Cedric Griffin, got the not-so-golden handshake, saving the Vikings more than $13 million. The moves are an indication management is serious about getting younger. Huthinson was 34 and the club is expected to use its No. 3 draft pick on USC left tackle Matt Kalil.
The Jets re-signed one of their most consistent players, and the Falcons are gambling Lofa Tatupu can rediscover most of the consistency that made him a Pro Bowl selection.
The Jets signed Sione Pouha, keeping the defensive tackle off the free agent market. Pouha has played in all 16 games for five consecutive seasons.
Tatupu sat out the 2011 season after being released by Seattle. He recorded more than 100 tackles each year from 2005 to 2007 but missed most of 2009 with a torn pectoral muscle and had surgery on both knees after the 2010 season.
But with Curtis Lofton a free agent, the Falcons went looking for linebacker insurance. If Tatupu regains effectiveness, the two-year, $5.75 million deal will be a bargain.
The Redskins cut safety Oshiomogho Atogwe and fullback Mike Sellers ... Tight end Kevin Boss becomes a cap victim: Eight months after signing a four-year, $16 million deal, the Raiders are expected to cut the tight end ... Ditto for Levi Brown, the Cardinals tackle ... The Browns save $2 million cap space by cutting tackle Tony Pashos in what can best be described as a mean-spirited move. Pashos played all season with a ruptured foot tendon that required off-season surgery. Now the Browns are cutting him because he failed a physical. “He had an enormous amount of pain pills and shots, to the point where at Christmas, he went into the hospital with three ulcers from the pain medication,” agent Rick Smith said. “Tony feels like he had the team’s back last season. He wishes the team had his back now.” And, they did. Just long enough to put a knife into it.
QUICK HITS II
Sage Rosenfels has signed to return as the Vikings’ backup ... 49ers’ Alex Smith denied he was unhappy with the club’s three-year contract offer and that he is close to signing ... Colts’ Dwight Freeney has hired an agent, suggesting he plans to renegotiate his current deal, or that he’ll be traded to another club interested in signing him to a new deal that doesn’t include the $14 million base salary he is due in 2012 ... Nick Collins will be examined this month to see if his neck injury will allow him to play again ... Raiders’ running back Darren McFadden is recovered from a foot injury and is running routes ... Quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and receiver Nate Burleson have restructured deals to bring the Lions closer to the cap.