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The NFL is demanding reimbursement in excess of $2 million from Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for court costs related to star running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension and Jones’ threatened litigation over commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano.

The owners are citing a rule that has been on the books for more than two decades, that says if an owner participates in bringing litigation against other owners, he must reimburse them for the legal fees.

An earlier report by The New York Times characterized the reimbursement as a fine to be levied on Jones by Goodell.

The league will order Jones to pay all fees that the compensation committee incurred while legally defending itself from the longtime Cowboys owner’s threats to sue over the extension of Goodell’s contract. The Cowboys never followed through on that suit. Jones will also have to compensate the NFL for all its legal fees spent defending the Elliott suspension.

The reimbursement action was generated by fellow owners, not Goodell, and has been approved by the league’s finance committee, sources told Graziano.

Jones clashed with Goodell and the league on multiple issues in 2017. Jones was a vocal advocate of delaying a contract extension for Goodell and proposed on Dec. 1 to implement a six-month moratorium on finalizing the deal. Jones also threatened to sue the league if the compensation committee approved Goodell’s extension, and was publicly critical of Elliott’s six-game suspension.

The Cowboys did not offer a comment when contacted by ESPN.

The issues between Jones and Goodell went back to training camp. Jones asserted during training camp last summer that he did not believe Elliott would be suspended. When Goodell made his decision to suspend Elliott for six games, lead investigator Michelle Roberts was not counseled, nor was her opinion of the case taken into consideration. That played a big part in the legal back-and-forth between Elliott, the NFL Players Association and the NFL. The Cowboys offered “statements of support” through the legal system from their team attorney, Jason Cohen, who attended the hearings in Texas and New York.

Jones insisted his involvement in the Goodell negotiations was separate from the Elliott case and that he was an “ad hoc” member of the compensation committee to serve as an “ombudsman” of sorts for the owners not on the committee. However, last year when the league voted on whether to extend Goodell’s contract, the vote was 32-0 in favor. Jones’ apparent change of heart on the discussions came after Elliott’s suspension was announced.

Jones said his issues went beyond Elliott. He was concerned about lower television ratings, the effect of the protests before and during the national anthem, and the structure of Goodell’s proposed contract.

“They have a term in business called a MAC — Material Adverse Circumstances happen[ed] between the time that you shook hands and the time you did the deal,” Jones said after the owners’ Dec. 13 meetings in Irving, Texas. “It’s a very valid change of scenery. … Anybody who says we haven’t had any changes since last spring would be an exaggeration.”

Jones was granted an “owners only” session during those league meetings after Goodell’s extension was announced. While he could not block Goodell’s deal, he said he believes he was able to win something because of changes that will be made to the NFL’s way of doing business with the commissioner in the future.

Goodell and Jones were in the same room during a news conference that followed the meetings.

“Do I look like I take it personally? Jerry, do I look like I take it personally?” Goodell said, pointing to Jones. “No is the answer to that question. As I have said before, I think people disagree. People who have the ability to do that within the context of our structure is something that makes us stronger. My relationship with Jerry has been great. We don’t always agree. I’m not paid to agree, and he’s not paid to agree with me.”

Said Jones: “I hope Roger earns every dime. That means he’s doing a great job, and we’re doing good.”

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New England Patriots decline RB Sony Michel’s fifth-year option, pick up Isaiah Wynn’s, sources say



The New England Patriots declined the fifth-year option on running back Sony Michel‘s rookie contract while exercising the option on offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn‘s deal, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Monday was the deadline for teams to exercise the options for players selected in the first round of the 2018 draft. If exercised, those players’ 2022 base salaries become fully guaranteed.

The Patriots selected Wynn and Michel, both teammates at the University of Georgia, with the 23rd and 31st picks respectively in the 2018 draft.

Michel has rushed for 2,292 yards and 14 touchdowns in three seasons with the Patriots. He also has 26 receptions for 258 yards and a touchdown. Although he rushed for more than 900 yards in each of his first two seasons, he appeared in just nine games last season after spending time on injured reserve with a quad injury suffered in September of last season. He finished with 449 yards and a touchdown, while averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

The Patriots would have owed Michel a base salary of approximately $4.5 million per Over The Cap, fully guaranteed, in 2022 if they had exercised his option.

Wynn missed his rookie season in 2018 after tearing his ACL in the preseason. Injuries have limited him to 18 games (all starts) total at left tackle the past two seasons.

By having his option exercised, Wynn will be paid a base salary of $10.4 million, fully guaranteed, in 2022.

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Cleveland Browns sign Malik McDowell, ex-Seattle Seahawks 2nd-round pick yet to play in NFL



The Cleveland Browns have signed free agent defensive tackle Malik McDowell, who is attempting an NFL comeback following a series of injuries and off-field issues.

The 2017 second-round pick out of Michigan State was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks, but never played for the team after suffering a head injury in an ATV accident and was ultimately released.

McDowell also was sentenced to 11 months in jail and three years of probation after pleading guilty in 2019 to a series of crimes in Michigan. He was charged with assault, resisting arrest and operating a vehicle while intoxicated after an incident in which he fought with two officers after a DUI stop. Then he was found in possession of a stolen truck, which led to a charge of receiving and concealing stolen property. As part of McDowell’s sentencing in Oakland County (Michigan), a judge ordered him to write four essays on finding meaning in life other than committing crimes, the importance of respecting the rule of law, the principles of the Declaration of Independence and how his behavior undermined them, and the importance of respecting property rights.

Browns general manager Andrew Berry said the team did “extensive work” on McDowell before signing him.

“We are certainly aware of Malik’s past,” Berry said in a statement. “He is accountable for his actions and has had to live with the consequences for decisions earlier in his life. We believe Malik is in a good place, personally and medically. He has taken the necessary steps to get on a healthy path, and has learned from his experiences. Malik understands the expectations we have of him as he attempts to make our football team. He is committed to taking advantage of the support network in place to become the best version of himself — both on and off the field — and we will support him as he attempts to make his return to football.”

McDowell was an All-Big Ten performer for the Spartans.

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Tennessee Titans NFL draft pick Rashad Weaver charged with assaulting woman



NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Titans fourth-round NFL draft pick Rashad Weaver has been charged by the Pittsburgh Police Department with one count of simple assault in connection to an incident that occurred on April 18 at 2:28 a.m.

According to the police report, officers found a woman lying on the ground surrounded by a group of people on South 17th Street between East Carson and Bingham streets.

Weaver was not on the scene when the police arrived. One witness account said Weaver punched the woman. Another witness said she saw the woman fall to the ground but did not see Weaver punch her. The woman didn’t have any injury consistent with a punch to the head, according to the criminal complaint filed by Officer Anderson O’Kelly on Friday.

O’Kelly followed up with the woman on April 25, and she told him that she went to Ohio Valley Hospital on April 22 because she was vomiting. The complaint said that the woman was diagnosed with a concussion at the hospital.

The incident stems from an argument that Weaver and the woman got into at a bar. Weaver told officers who separated the two at the bar that the woman threw her drink on him while they were arguing. The woman told the police that she spilled her drink on Weaver.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5 at Pittsburgh Municipal Court.

“We were made aware of this news this morning,” the Titans said in a statement Monday. “We obviously take this seriously and are in the process of gathering details and working with the league.”

Weaver was selected by the Titans with the 135th overall pick after a standout career at Pittsburgh. In 35 games, Weaver collected 109 tackles (34 for a loss) and 17 sacks. He was named a consensus All-America defensive end last season after 14.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in nine games.

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