NFL Notes: Cowboys set to release Tony Romo

NFL Notes: Cowboys set to release Tony Romo

DALLAS -- A person with knowledge of the decision tells The Associated Press that the Dallas Cowboys will release quarterback Tony Romo when the NFL year opens on Thursday.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the team hasn't announced a decision on Romo, who will get a chance to pursue a starting job elsewhere.

Romo will leave the Cowboys as the franchise leader in yards passing and touchdowns after losing the starting job to rookie Dak Prescott. Dallas' 10-year starter broke a bone in his back in a preseason game last year.

Romo, who turns 37 next month, threw for 34,183 yards and 248 touchdowns, but could never match the postseason success of Super Bowl winners Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman (see full story).

Giants: Brandon Marshall joining on 2-year deal
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Eli Manning and the New York Giants now have two legitimate threats on the outside.

The Giants found a complement to Odell Beckham Jr. on Wednesday by signing veteran free-agent receiver Brandon Marshall to a two-year, $12 million contact.

Marshall said the Giants' offer might have been the lowest that he got after being released by the Jets last week.

However, Ben McAdoo's team, which made the playoffs with an 11-5 record last season, offered him something else.

"It was all about championships," said Marshall, who has never made the playoffs since being drafted in the first round by Denver in 2006. "To get straight to the point -- it was all about a championship, they presented the best opportunity to be in a championship organization."

Marshall offers the Giants a lot. He is a big target at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, and he has been productive. In 167 regular-season games with Denver, Miami, Chicago and the Jets, he has caught 941 passes for 12,061 yards and 82 touchdowns (see full story).

Bills: Tyrod Taylor will continue to start at QB
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Tyrod Taylor will remain the Buffalo Bills starter after the team announced it has restructured the player's five-year contract extension.

The team revealed the news in a press release issued Wednesday, a day before the NFL's free-agency period began. The Bills had until Saturday to determine whether to pick up the extension Taylor signed in August or part ways with the two-year starter.

Taylor's long-term future in Buffalo had otherwise been in question since the season ended, when general manager Doug Whaley declined to say whether the team was committed to keeping the player. Newly hired coach Sean McDermott also declined to discuss Taylor's future after he took over in January after Rex Ryan's dismissal.

Taylor has a 15-14 record in two seasons with Buffalo (see full story).

Redskins: Vernon Davis re-signs on 3-year deal
WASHINGTON -- When Vernon Davis mentioned after his 11th NFL season that he'd like to play six more, it brought some laughs.

He wasn't kidding.

Davis believes he can play for more than another half-decade and took a big step toward that goal by re-signing with the Washington Redskins on a three-year contract. The 33-year-old revealed the length of the deal on his Snapchat account late Tuesday night, and the team announced the new contract Wednesday morning.

The Washington native revitalized his career last season with the Redskins, starting 14 games and catching 44 passes for 583 yards and two touchdowns. In 11 seasons, the Maryland product has 505 receptions for 6,424 yards and 57 touchdowns.

"I felt like I just fell in love with the game all over again," he said.

Davis was traded from the San Francisco 49ers to the Denver Broncos in 2015 and won the Super Bowl as a complementary player. The Broncos let him go, allowing him to sign with the Redskins last year (see full story).

Dolphins: Exclusive rights free agents tendered
MIAMI -- The Miami Dolphins announced Monday they've tendered four exclusive rights free agents, including center Anthony Steen, who started seven games last year.

Also tendered were linebacker Mike Hull, cornerback Lafayette Pitts and tight end Thomas Duarte.

Steen, undrafted as a rookie in 2014, filled in when center Mike Pouncey was hurt last season. Hull and Pitts were valuable on special teams, and Duarte spent much of last season on the practice squad.

Exclusive rights free agents are players with less than three years of experience, and they are unable to negotiate with other teams.

Chiefs: Harris arrested for drug possession 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Missouri State Highway Patrol says Kansas City Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris has been arrested on suspicion of felony possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Kansas City Star reports that Harris was a passenger in a car stopped Tuesday on Interstate 49. He was taken to the Bates County Jail, where he was booked and released. He has not been charged.

Patrol Sgt. Bill Lowe says the car was stopped for a traffic violation. He says a trooper smelled marijuana and found the drug on Harris.

The 25-year-old Harris was the Chiefs' backup tight end behind Travis Kelce the last two seasons and has played in 32 games while making 20 starts.

Chiefs spokesman Ted Crews declined comment.

Panthers: Whittaker re-signs on 2-year deal
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Panthers have re-signed running back running back Fozzy Whittaker to a two-year contract as Carolina continued to retain potential free agents.

Financial terms of the new deal were not announced Wednesday.

The 28-year-old Whittaker served as Jonathan Stewart's backup last season in Carolina and rushed for 265 yards and averaged a team-high 4.6 yards per carry. He caught 25 passes for 226 yards.

He also served on special teams, returning 12 kickoffs for 275 yards.

Whittaker joined the Panthers in 2014 and has played in 55 games with four starts. He's rushed for 597 yards on 142 carries with two touchdowns and has 505 yards receiving on 63 catches with three touchdowns since his arrival.

The Panthers already have re-signed several players, including defensive linemen Charles Johnson, Mario Addison and Wes Horton; and wide receiver Brenton Bersin.

Lions: Hyder, Copeland and Jones tendered
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions have tendered defensive ends Kerry Hyder and Brandon Copeland and wide receiver TJ Jones.

The Lions announced the moves Wednesday.

Hyder had a team-high eight sacks last season, emerging as a surprising standout . He was undrafted in 2014 and spent nearly two seasons on practice squads with the New York Jets and Lions before making his NFL debut in the last game of the 2015 season.

Copeland, who primarily played on special teams, had 11 tackles and forced a fumble last season. Jones has 15 career receptions for 225 yards and a TD in 13 games.

All three players are exclusive rights free agents, who have less than three years of experience and are unable to negotiate with other teams.

NFL Notes: Saints DT Nick Fairley to miss 2017 season with heart condition

NFL Notes: Saints DT Nick Fairley to miss 2017 season with heart condition

METAIRIE, La. -- Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley is coming off one of his best NFL seasons and it might have been his last.

At the very least, he won't be playing for New Orleans in 2017.

General manager Mickey Loomis said Monday that Fairley has been placed on the team's reserve list with a non-football illness designation, meaning the 2016 starter is out for this season.

The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Fairley had a career-best 6 sacks for the Saints last season, after which he signed a four-year extension worth up to $28 million.

However, symptoms related to an enlarged heart caused Fairley to miss offseason practices and minicamp while he saw specialists to determine whether playing football would be an undue health risk.

Saints coach Sean Payton has said at least one specialist recommended that the 29-year-old Fairley -- a former Auburn star and 2011 first-round draft pick by Detroit -- give up football. Payton also had mentioned that he wanted to be sure Fairley wouldn't return unless he was confident enough in his health to play to his full potential.

"The most important thing right now in our mind is his well-being," Payton said earlier this month, when Fairley's status for this season was still in doubt.

"To play this game, there's a little bit of mental toughness involved, obviously. I want to make sure, if in fact he's playing it, again that he's playing with full confidence that he's healthy to play and that nothing severe would come of him playing."

Vikings: Floyd sentenced to 1 day in jail
An Arizona judge has ordered Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd to serve one day in jail for failing alcohol tests that he blames on a type of fermented tea.

Floyd and his lawyer did not attend the Scottsdale City Court hearing and had a teleconference with Judge Statia Hendrix.

The hearing was meant to give Floyd the chance to make his case regarding the failed alcohol tests and another one he missed earlier this month, which stemmed from a 2016 drunken driving arrest where Scottsdale police say they found him passed out behind the wheel.

Vikings officials say they encouraged Floyd to drink a fermented tea called kombucha.

Hendrix ordered Floyd start his additional jail time Monday evening in Phoenix before concluding his final five days of house arrest.

Panthers: Newton throws for 1st time since shoulder surgery
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton is throwing again.

The Panthers said on Twitter on Monday the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 2015 threw his first passes since surgery in March for a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Newton is on schedule to participate in the team's training camp in July and barring setbacks should be ready for the start of the season.

The Panthers released a short black-and-white video of Newton throwing in the team's locker room.

Newton turned down interview requests through the team's public relations staff. He said on the team's website that while he's not 100 percent it felt "cool" to be throwing for the first time in six months.

Packers: Former RB Ahman Green charged with child abuse
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Former Green Bay Packers running back Ahman Green was charged Monday with felony child abuse after his 15-year-old daughter told police he punched her in the face.

Green, 40, is also charged with disorderly conduct in the incident late Sunday in the Green Bay suburb of Ledgeview.

According to a criminal complaint, Green's daughter told police that he struck her in the face in a dispute over getting her to do the dishes. She also said he threw her to the ground and against kitchen cabinets.

According to the complaint, Green told deputies he "may have" thrown his daughter to the ground and against cabinets. He said he slapped her in the head and believed he may have hit her glasses, causing a swollen eye, according to the complaint.

A court commissioner ordered Green's release Monday on a $2,500 signature bond after ordering him to have no contact with his daughter or others who may have witnessed the incident.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports Green's next court appearance was set for July 11, to give him time to hire an attorney. Green appeared in court via teleconference from the Brown County Jail. Lee Schuchart, a public defender representing Green at Monday's appearance, called the incident "a constitutional issue" involving "parental rights."

Lammi Sports Management, which has handled Green's appearances, had no immediate comment.

Green was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2014. He is the team's all-time leading rusher and a four-time Pro Bowl selection.

Green starred at Nebraska, then spent the first two seasons of his 12-year NFL career in Seattle. He played for Houston in 2007-08, but spent most of his career in Green Bay, his last season coming in 2009.

'Highly respected' Zach Ertz important piece of Eagles' offense

'Highly respected' Zach Ertz important piece of Eagles' offense

It doesn't take long in any conversation about Zach Ertz in Philadelphia before the words "breakout season" are tossed around.
 
Again.
 
But while a good portion of Eagles fans have been impatiently waiting for Ertz to "break out," the 2013 draft pick has quietly put together an extremely impressive start to his career.
 
In four seasons, Ertz has caught 247 passes for 2,840 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's one of just seven tight ends in NFL history to put up those numbers in the first four seasons of a career. The other six: Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Jeremy Shockey, Tony Gonzalez, Kellen Winslow and Mike Ditka.
 
Not bad company.
 
But for whatever reason, Ertz hasn't become a real fan favorite. Fans have questioned his talent, his play-making ability and even his toughness.
 
Why the indifference?
 
"I don't know," tight ends coach Justin Peele said. "I love coaching him. I think he's good for this team. Every day he comes to work with the right attitude, trying to get better. He's had some success. I don't know. He's a pleasure to coach and I know he's very highly respected in this organization."
 
Ertz, 26, admitted this spring that the constant criticism from fans used to bother him when he was younger. But now entering his fifth season with the Eagles, he's gotten used to it.
 
Does Ertz think he's underrated or overrated?
 
"Whatever people think, people think," Ertz said earlier this spring on Quick Slants on CSN. "I'm not going to get caught up in people's opinions. It's the guys in this building, their opinions of me. I'm really happy with how I progressed this spring and I think I'm setting the stage for a good season."
 
The one thing Ertz admitted he needs to improve is his production in the end zone. He has just 13 touchdown catches in four years and has never had more than four in a season.
 
To put that in perspective, only two players over the last four years — Matt Forte and Jarvis Landry — have had more catches with 13 or fewer touchdowns. 
 
"That falls on me to go out there every Sunday to make plays," Ertz said. "Show I can do it in the spring and in the summer leading into the season and I'm working really hard at it."
 
The height of Ertz criticism came during a 32-14 Week 13 loss at Cincinnati last season. There was an infamous play where Carson Wentz went scrambling and Ertz failed to block a charging Vontaze Burfict, who was in pursuit. The play actually looked like Ertz got out of the way.
 
It was a bad look.
 
And Ertz knew it. He heard the criticism loudly and went out the next week and had a tough, physical game. But the damage was done. A lot of the fanbase turned on him.
 
"One play is not going to define him," Peele said. "The kid played through injury, he came back quick off of surgery a few years ago. He practices every day. This team is important to him. The game of football is important to him."
 
One way Ertz can win back Eagles fans this year is by having a big season. And that isn't out of the realm of possibility for one big reason. He's entering Year 2 with Wentz.
 
Since he entered the league in 2013, he's played with a new quarterback every season. So for this upcoming year, he's worked hard to build a rapport with Wentz and hopes the two of them can build something (see story).
 
How big of a season can Ertz have in 2017?
 
"It just really depends on the health," Peele said. "He's really talented. He can do a lot of things. He can help this offense in a lot of ways. I'm looking forward to it. He's doing well right now."