It appears as though as long as the Falcons bend over backwards and grant Tony Gonzalez several special requests, the NFL’s all-time leading tight end will be back for one more season.
Doctors clear ex-UGA star LB Jones for draft
ATHENS — A medical report that has been sent to NFL teams might allay some fears about Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones’ physical condition. Jones, who has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, has seen his predraft stock plummet in the eyes of some.
Perhaps the top linebacker in this year’s draft, Jones had been pegged as a Top 10 pick until teams examined his medical history closer.
“Jarvis Jones’ neck injury is starting to look like it might be a non-issue on draft day, and there is little chance he will fall out of the Top 10,” the National Football Post reported on Sunday.
The medical report compiled by leading orthopedist Craig Brigham disputes that Jones ever had a significant spinal cord contusion. Brigham concluded, “Jarvis is cleared to play without restriction.”
Jones was diagnosed with spinal stenosis while at Southern Cal in 2009. Doctors at USC did not clear him to play, so he transferred to George where in two years he dominated. This past season, Jones led the nation in sacks with 14.5 and tackles for loss with 24.5.
Brigham’s report said Jones “either had a very mild incident of spinal cord concussion or merely a stinger that has long since resolved.
“Even if another similar injury occurred, it would not be a career ending issue,” he added.
Jones last week told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he is getting ready for his Pro Day on March 21.
“People are still talking to me. Nobody has taken me off the board. The doctor said I was fine and cleared me and the (scouting) combine went fine for me. I was cleared medically. Teams know my situation,” he told the newspaper.
Jones said he has met with five teams: Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Jacksonville and St. Louis.
FLOWERY BRANCH — All that talk about Atlanta Falcons future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez being “95 percent” sure of retiring seems to be nothing more than rumor.
It appears the 5 percent has won out and Gonzalez will be back for a 17th season — under the right conditions.
“He will come back if they pay him $7 million and he doesn’t have to do training camp,” one Falcons player told Yahoo! Sports on Sunday.
Gonzalez caught 93 passes for 930 yards and eight touchdowns in 2012 as the Falcons compiled a 13-3 record and advanced to the NFC Championship Game before losing to the San Francisco 49ers. He was stellar in the postseason, catching 14 passes and finally tasting victory in the playoffs for the first time.
“If we offer him the money, he’ll most likely be back for one more. He’ll most likely be looking to miss training camp, though,” another source told Yahoo! on Sunday.
Gonzalez has a reputation of staying in tip-top shape. He is the second leading receiver all-time with 1,242 receptions, ranking behind Jerry Rice.
Gonzalez, 37 years old, made $4.9 million last year.
REYNOLDS RE-SIGNED: The Falcons agreed to terms on a two-year deal with right guard Garrett Reynolds late Saturday.
Reynolds opened the last two seasons as the starter at right guard. He was selected in the fifth-round (156th overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft.
Reynolds started seven games in 2011, before losing his position and being replaced by Joe Hawley.
Last season, Reynolds won an open competition and earned the starting spot. He started six games and played in seven last season. He suffered a back injury that required surgery and was placed on injured reserve.
Miami not interested in re-signing Bush; Broncos want Revis
MIAMI — Reggie Bush’s days in a Miami Dolphins uniform are likely history.
The franchise is preparing to invest in free agent help at other positions with an eye on a bigger role for backups Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas. Miami could also seek additional help via the draft.
Where might that leave Bush?
The Detroit Lions didn’t deny their interest, first reported at the NFL Scouting Combine, and multiple other teams have reportedly contacted Bush’s representatives since the negotiating window with agents opened Saturday.
The Arizona Cardinals are one team showing “strong” interest, despite new coach Bruce Arians’ statement last month that he views running backs not as receivers but ballcarriers first and blockers second.
Bush’s resume was beefed up from his time in Miami.
He rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the first time in 2011 and had 986 yards in 2012. The No. 2 overall pick in 2006, he turned 28 on March 2.
Bush was dealt to the Dolphins after playing a hybrid running back-wide receiver role in New Orleans.
REVIS TO BRONCOS?: Denver’s chase for a championship includes the Broncos actively seeking an upgrade at right cornerback opposite Champ Bailey.
Does that mean a trade for disgruntled New York Jets All-Pro Darrelle Revis is an option?
ESPN reported Sunday that the Broncos expressed interest in a deal for Revis, who is recovering from a torn ACL and is expected to be traded. His future is a relentless topic in New York for first-year Jets general manager John Idzik.
The Falcons, Buccaneers, Lions and 49ers have been linked to a Revis deal. The Jets might opt to let free agency play out as a ploy to get more in return in April. It would also get Revis closer to full recovery from knee surgery.
“None of the trade talks matter if I am not healthy and back to All-Pro form,” Revis told NFL Network in February.
Any deal for Revis would be a two-part equation. First, the teams would have to agree on trade compensation, likely a first-round draft pick plus additional draft or veteran assets.
The second and more confounding issue for suitors is structuring a new contract for Revis. He could command as much as $15 million per season on a long-term deal, a steep price for even a proven player coming back from a major injury.
Former Colts general manager Bill Polian said the deal should come down to health.
“I can’t predict what’s going to happen, but I can tell you what’s going to drive the decision, and that’s the medical,” Polian said in a conference call.
FLACCO BACKS UP BOLDIN: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is standing firmly behind teammate Anquan Boldin and his insistence on getting the money he thinks he deserves.
The Ravens are trying to get Boldin to take less than his $6 million base salary for 2013, and so far he is not budging.
Flacco understands. He recently landed a six-year, $120.6 million contract from the Ravens.
“Without him, we don’t win the Super Bowl. He’s a huge part of this team and someone I want to see back,” Flacco told USA Today. “Obviously, when you’re a player of his caliber, you believe you’re worth a number and that’s what you should get. He’s going to stick to his guns, and that’s the way it should be.”
In his third year with the Ravens, Boldin had 65 receptions for 921 yards during the regular season and played a key role in the 34-31 Super Bowl win over San Francisco with six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown.
“This league is about going out and performing and playing well and having fun doing so,” Flacco said, according to USA Today. “But it’s also our livelihood and it’s about getting paid. So teams are going to let go of you as soon as they can. So when you’re playing, you have to make sure you can get as much money as you can because that’s what’s going to take care of your family down the road.”
Under his current contract, Boldin’s 2013 salary would count $7.531 million against the Ravens’ cap, and they want him to take less to give them more room to sign free agents.
If Boldin is released, he will become an unrestricted free agent.
Owners, league plan probe into unacceptable Combine questions
After eyebrows were raised at the NFL Scouting Combine about some of the questions the teams asked players, the league appears open to examining whether any laws were violated in regard to the interviews and the owners are also getting involved.
Three prospects, Michigan’s Denard Robinson, Michigan State’s Le’veon Bell and Colorado’s Nick Kasa said they were asked questions concerning their sexuality at the combine. That promoted the NFL Players’ Association to request an investigation.
“I know that the NFL agrees that these types of questions violate the law, our CBA and player rights,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told USA Today. “I hope that they will seek out information as to what teams have engaged in this type of discrimination and we should then discuss appropriate discipline.”
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league will address the reports.
“Like all employers, our teams are expected to follow applicable federal, state and local employment laws,” he said. “It is league policy to neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process. In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
“We will look into the report on the questioning of Nick Kasa at the scouting combine. Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline.”
Personal interviews that last about 10 minutes are videotaped at the combine and distributed to teams. Questions are subject to review by the the NFL’s compliance department.
Kasa implied that an interviewer might have crossed the line with him.
“They ask you like, ‘Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?’” Kasa told ESPN Radio in Denver. “Those kinds of things, and you know it was just kind of weird. But they would ask you with a straight face, and it’s a pretty weird experience altogether.”
Questions about sexual orientation are not legal during job interviews in 20 states and District of Columbia, according to the Sporting News. These types of questions also violate both NFL policy and the labor pact that the league has with the NFL Players Association.