Peyton Manning will have to do without his top target this offseason unless the Denver Broncos reach an agreement with Demaryius Thomas on a long-term contract. Thomas said he'll stay in Georgia, where he'll continue rehabbing his right ankle, which was hurt Dec. 3 when a teammate stepped on him, hampering him down the stretch. Thomas echoed general manager John Elway's recent assertion that the goal was to get a long-term deal done ''as soon as possible.'' If the talks do reach an impasse, he said he'd sign the Broncos' $12.8 million franchise tender by the July 15 deadline. A prolonged boycott by Thomas could hamper the installation of new coach Gary Kubiak's offense that will feature Manning's tactical and timing proficiencies while placing a greater emphasis on the run and two-tight end sets.
Jameis Winston has spent much of the past two months crisscrossing the nation, sharpening his quarterback skills and trying to convince NFL teams he's learned from mistakes made off the field and ready to become the face of a franchise. A lot of his effort was geared toward the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have the first pick this year's NFL draft. Heading into Winston's pro day at Florida State on Tuesday, by all accounts the 2013 Heisman winner has made a strong impression. All the Bucs' decision-makers, coach Lovie Smith, general manager Jason Licht, and - maybe even more importantly - the Glazer family, which owns the team, appear to be comfortable with Winston's history of off-the-field issues.
The fiancee of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez testified in his murder trial Monday that she removed a box from their basement at his request the day after the slaying but never looked inside before she dumped it in a random trash bin. Jenkins, 25, is Hernandez's high school sweetheart and the mother of his 2-year-old daughter. Hernandez, 25, is charged with killing Lloyd on June 17, 2013. He was found shot to death in an industrial park less than a mile from the home Hernandez and Jenkins share.
In the midst of two losing seasons, the Atlanta Falcons tried to pump up the noise. The NFL announced Monday that it had fined the team $350,000, stripped away a draft pick and suspended team president Rich McKay from the league's powerful Competition Committee for at least three months after the Falcons conceded pumping artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome. For owner Arthur Blank, the whole episode has been a huge embarrassment on top of firing long-time coach Mike Smith after last season and dealing with criticism over a pricey seat-licensing plan to help fund the team's new stadium. ''Anytime there are actions that compromise the integrity of the NFL or threaten the culture of our franchise, as this issue did, they will be dealt with swiftly and strongly.'' Throughout the 2013 season and into the 2014 season, according to the NFL, the Falcons violated league rules that state ''at no point during the game can artificial crowd noise or amplified crowd noise be played in the stadium.'' The league also said Roddy White, the team's former director of event marketing, was directly responsible for the violation and would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 regular season had he still been with the club.
The NFL sent a tough message to Browns general manager Ray Farmer for texting. The league announced its punishment on Monday, ending an investigation that hung over the franchise during yet another turbulent offseason and threatened to undermine the Browns' upcoming draft. The league said his ban begins on midnight of the Sunday preceding the Browns' first regular-season game and will end immediately after the fourth regular-season game. ''I respect the league's decision and understand that there are consequences for my actions,'' Farmer said in a statement released by the Browns.
The New Orleans Saints said they are aware cornerback Brian Dixon was arrested in Miami on Sunday morning and booked with resisting an officer. Nola.com/Times-Picayune reports (http://bit.ly/1CzO8ce ) that he posted bond and was released from jail Sunday morning after being booked for resisting arrested without violence in Miami Beach. A Miami-Dade police official told the newspaper that he was arrested in Miami Beach. Police and jail officials contacted by The Associated Press declined to provide details.