NFL Notes

Dysfunctional Giants hire new GM

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USA Today Images

Dysfunctional Giants hire new GM

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants have hired former Carolina Panthers executive Dave Gettleman as their general manager.

The Giants (2-13) announced the hiring of the 66-year-old Gettleman on Thursday and planned to introduce him at a news conference Friday.

Gettleman has a history with the Giants. He spent 15 seasons with the franchise before becoming Carolina's general manager from 2013-2016, a span in which the Panthers played in the Super Bowl after the 2015 season. He was fired after the following season when Carolina missed the playoffs.

Gettleman will be the Giants' fourth general manager since 1979, following George Young, Ernie Accorsi and Jerry Reese, who held the job for 11 seasons before he was dismissed on Dec. 4 along with coach Ben McAdoo (see full story).

Cardinals: Ageless Fitzgerald mum on future
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Larry Fitzgerald might well be the most popular athlete in the history of the state of Arizona.

The wide receiver's resume is packed with Hall of Fame-caliber statistics accumulated over 14 seasons with the Cardinals team that drafted him third overall in 2004. Add to that his easy-going personality combined with a remarkable durability -- he's missed six games of his 224 since joining the league -- and off-the-field contributions.

A year ago, Fitzgerald and the Giants' Eli Manning shared the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

And impressively, at age 34, he's still playing at a high level, all while staying mum on whether he will return for another season.

Last week, he said he would take some time off when the season ends to figure it out.

His uncertainty matches big questions with other Cardinals, including whether coach Bruce Arians will stick around for a sixth season, and whether quarterback Carson Palmer will be back with a mended broken arm at age 38 (see full story).​

Cowboys: Bryant talks struggles, nixes pay cut idea
FRISCO, Texas -- Dez Bryant didn't seem sure how to respond when asked if he would be willing to take a pay cut after perhaps the most difficult season of the Dallas receiver's career.

Once the 2014 All-Pro came to his senses, he was emphatic.

"Hell no, man," Bryant said Wednesday, three days after the Cowboys were eliminated from playoff contention with a loss to Seattle. "I believe in me."

Bryant opened up in his first lengthy session with reporters in weeks, taking responsibility for a subpar season by saying he let frustrations affect him during games. But he also said some of those frustrations were rooted in the offensive scheme, which he said he would probably address with owner Jerry Jones and coaches in the offseason.

The eighth-year pro also blamed some of his struggles on knee tendinitis, something that hadn't been revealed. Bryant was listed on the injury report for three weeks earlier in the season, including one week when he missed two practices when an ankle injury also was listed (see full story).

Giants ban local 1st-rounder for season finale

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USA Today Images

Giants ban local 1st-rounder for season finale

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A day after Pro Bowl safety Landon Collins referred to him as a cancer, cornerback Eli Apple was suspended Wednesday by the New York Giants for the season finale against the Washington Redskins.

The Giants announced the suspension hours after Apple had participated in the practice. Interim general manager Kevin Abrams and interim coach Steve Spagnuolo informed him of the suspension.

"We have suspended Eli for a pattern of behavior that is conduct detrimental to the team," Abrams said.

Collins never referred to Apple, the Giants' first-round draft pick in 2016, by name in a radio interview on Tuesday. However, he said only one cornerback on the team needed to grow up and later added, "But that first pick ... he's a cancer."

Collins apologized for the comments on Wednesday. He and Apple met separately with Spagnuolo and then all three talked.

Collins was not in the locker room after practice. Apple declined to speak with the media (see full story).

Chiefs: Rookie Mahomes to start regular-season finale
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Patrick Mahomes II snapped a 34-year streak in which the Chiefs eschewed drafting a quarterback in the first round when they traded up to pick him 10th overall earlier this year.

Now, he's set to snap an even longer streak.

Mahomes will make his regular-season debut for the Chiefs when they visit the Denver Broncos on Sunday in an otherwise meaningless game. It will be the first time since Steve Fuller in 1979 that Kansas City has started a rookie quarterback in a non-strike year.

"I'm ready to go," said Mahomes, who won the backup job to Alex Smith in training camp but hasn't seen the field since the preseason. "I'm ready to go out there and try the best I can to win a game."

The Chiefs (9-6) don't need to win it, though. They clinched back-to-back AFC West titles for the first time in franchise history with their victory last week over Miami. And with no way to improve their playoff positioning, it makes sense for coach Andy Reid to give Smith and a few others the week off.

Still, the decision adds some intrigue to a game that had precious little of it (see full story).

Vikings: Bradford could return to practice next week
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Bradford could return to practice next week as he recovers from a knee injury from Week 1.

Bradford has been out since a brief return in Week 5 against Chicago, which Minnesota plays Sunday in the regular-season finale. Bradford was taken out at halftime and was placed on injured reserve on Nov. 8.

Coach Mike Zimmer said Bradford could return to practice next week when he's first eligible.

"He says he feels good," Zimmer said. "He's been working out and doing things. Getting on the field, he's throwing the ball and doing workouts."

Bradford was the NFC offensive player of the week after setting a career-high 143.0 passer rating in the opener with 346 yards passing and three touchdowns.

Bradford took a hit in the game which caused soreness in his surgically repaired knee. His only other game action this season was in the first half at Chicago when he went 5 of 11 for 36 yards passing and was sacked four times, his mobility limited by the injury (see full story).

Browns: Jackson stands by vow to jump in Lake Erie
CLEVELAND -- His team already sunk, Browns coach Hue Jackson is taking the plunge.

Jackson said Wednesday he'll make good on his promise to jump in Lake Erie because of his team's horrible record. After the Browns went 1-15 last year, Jackson vowed that if Cleveland was ever that bad again he would swim in the lake. Well, the Browns are 0-15 heading into Sunday's finale at Pittsburgh. A loss would make the Browns just the second team to lose all 16 games.

Jackson said he's not happy about having to make the swim, but "I have to make do on my word. I made a statement, I gotta back it up."

Jackson wants to turn his dip into a positive and raise money for his foundation, which raised awareness and fights human trafficking.

Reminded that the lake is frozen this time of year, Jackson said he'll make the swim at his convenience.

Why a coaching job won't hinge on Eagles-Cowboys

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AP Images

Why a coaching job won't hinge on Eagles-Cowboys

DALLAS -- Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says coach Jason Garrett will return for an eighth full season after Dallas missed the playoffs in a year marred by the six-game suspension of star running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Jones said on his radio show Tuesday that Garrett's job "is not an issue here at all" while suggesting that there could be changes to the coaching staff with several contracts expiring. Garrett has two years left on a five-year deal signed after Dallas won the NFC East in 2014.

The Cowboys (8-7), who finish the season Sunday at division champion Philadelphia, lost their first three games without Elliott before winning three straight to stay in the race. Dallas lost a playoff elimination game to Seattle last weekend in the return of last year's NFL rushing leader.

Garrett has made the playoffs twice in seven seasons. He is 67-55 including the postseason and half the 2010 season, when he took over after Wade Phillips was fired (see full story).

Patriots: Team signs longtime Steelers LB Harrison
James Harrison is no longer the odd man out or the oldest man in the locker room.

The ex-Steelers star signed a one-year deal with the New England Patriots on Tuesday, three days after his unceremonious departure from Pittsburgh.

The 39-year-old linebacker posted a photo on Instagram showing himself with 40-year-old quarterback Tom Brady in New England's locker room, writing that he finally has "a teammate that's older than me!"

The AFC North champion Steelers released the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker and 2008 NFL defensive player of the year on Saturday to make room for right tackle Marcus Gilbert, who is returning from a suspension for violating the league's performance-enhancing substance policy.

"We make the decisions we feel give us the very best chance to win," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday when asked why the team didn't release a different player to make room for Gilbert. "We needed the people we kept. We needed to activate Marcus Gilbert. Really, it's nothing more than that."

A day before, Tomlin had said following Pittsburgh's 34-6 win over Houston that clinched a first-round playoff bye that difficult decisions such as this are "just life in football" (see full story).

Redskins: Cousins to start in season finale
WASHINGTON -- Redskins coach Jay Gruden said that quarterback Kirk Cousins would start Sunday's season finale at the New York Giants despite the potential of an injury and no postseason ramifications involved.

"There's no thought to that at all," Gruden said on a conference call two days after the Redskins' 27-11 win over the Denver Broncos.

"Kirk wants to finish out the season. Got to get us back to 8-8. I think finishing on a three-game winning streak is important to a lot of people here. Finishing strong is what we've been preaching here the last 2 to 3 weeks."

Whether Cousins plays for the Redskins in 2018 and beyond is one of the NFL's major offseason questions.

Cousins has played the past two seasons on the franchise tag. The Redskins could go that route again unless the sides agree on a long-term contract or the organization allows Cousins to test free agency. Cousins needs 65 yards against New York to reach 4,000 for a third consecutive season.

Cousins, who has 27 touchdown passes on the season, started all 47 games since taking over as the starter in 2015.

With a win, the Redskins (7-8) would finish with a non-losing season for the third consecutive year under Gruden. Washington has only reached the playoffs once (2015) during the coach's four seasons.

Cardinals: Arians denies report he’s leaving team
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says a report that he and the franchise have agreed to part ways after this season is untrue, labeling it "fake news."

An article in Pro Football Weekly cited "multiple sources" as saying the split would come next week at the end of Arians' fifth season as the team's head coach.

But Arians said on Tuesday that no decision on future seasons has been made. The 65-year-old coach said he'd never met the article's author or knows where any supposed meetings on the subject took place.

Arians can become the winningest coach in Cardinals history with his 50th victory at Seattle in the season finale on Sunday.

Arians is 49-32-1 in five seasons with the Cardinals, including the postseason. They are 7-8 this season.

Packers: Fired food worker charged in Lambeau car rampage
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A fired food service worker is charged with ramming other vehicles at Lambeau Field in Green Bay last week.

Forty-year-old Chay Vang was charged Tuesday with two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety and five misdemeanor counts of damage to property. USA Today Network-Wisconsin reports Vang's cash bond was set at $10,000.

According to the complaint, Vang was working for Delaware North at Lambeau Field when he got into a fight with a 25-year-old co-worker during a Green Bay Packers game on Dec. 3.

The complaint says Delaware North investigated and fired Vang. The former co-worker was getting out of his car in the employee parking lot last Friday when Vang allegedly drove into the car and repeatedly smashed it.

Five vehicles were damaged. Vang told police he rammed the car because "he wanted justice" and no one was listening to him.