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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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Gardner Minshew’s mullet is no more

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Mondays are heavy days historically, but this one is particularly so because Gardner Minshew II‘s mullet is no more.

Yeah, Minshew may have gotten a hair cut yesterday, but this is the first I’m learning about it. So the pain is as fresh as if the stylist had just swept the Jacksonville Jaguars‘ backup quarterback’s fallen locks from the floor.

In what feels like the last remnant of a phenomenon once known as “Minshew Mania,” the former pride of Duval County chopped off his power source:

At the risk of sounding rash, it seems to me Trevor Lawrence came to town and basically told his new QB2 that there wasn’t enough room for both of their glorious heads of hair in that town and, well, we know who won that battle.

To be fair, I sort of knew this was going to happen as soon as Tim Tebow signed with the Jags.

Tebow, Lawrence’s mane AND one of the defining mullets of our generation? That’s just too much juice for one team.

Now, let us take one last look at Minshew’s former masterpiece for posterity:

In the haunting words of Michelle Branch: “Goodbye to you, goodbye to everything that I knew.”



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Minnesota Vikings expect DE Danielle Hunter at mandatory minicamp, source says

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings expect to have defensive end Danielle Hunter back in the fold this week during mandatory minicamp, a source told ESPN, after the Pro Bowl defensive end missed the team’s entire voluntary offseason program.

Hunter, 26, sat out the 2020 NFL season with a herniated disk that required surgery last October. At the time of his surgery, it was reported that the defensive end was unhappy with the state of his contract and wanted a reworked deal ahead of the 2021 season.

NFL Network, which first reported that Hunter planned to attend minicamp, is reporting that the Vikings and Hunter have agreed to terms on a reworked deal that will give the defensive end $5.6 million of the $12.75 million he is set to make in 2021 as a signing bonus. Hunter now has an $18 million roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

With $14.272 million in cap space, the Vikings moved up a significant amount of money to satisfy Hunter’s desire for more compensation in the short term while allowing both parties the time to work out a long-term extension following the 2021 season, NFL Network reported. The Vikings will need to make a decision on Hunter’s future by the fifth day of the 2022 league year.

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CB Stephon Gilmore doesn’t report for New England Patriots’ mandatory minicamp, source says

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore, the 2019 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, did not report to mandatory minicamp that began Monday, a source confirmed.

Gilmore could be making a statement about his contract, as he is scheduled to earn a base salary of $7 million in 2021.

The Patriots had advanced $4.5 million of Gilmore’s 2021 salary to him last year, leading to this year’s low figure.

Gilmore, who turns 31 in September, is in the final year of the five-year, $65 million pact he signed with the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The deal included $40 million in injury guarantees and $31 million fully guaranteed at signing.

At the time, a contract with those guarantees and an average of $13 million per season was viewed as a strong deal. The cornerback market has since exploded, with Jalen Ramsey of the Los Angeles Rams topping it with a contract averaging $20 million per season.

Acknowledging they didn’t have specifics of the situation, teammates noted Gilmore’s absence in the locker room Monday, as well as on the practice field.

“I support my brother. I wish he was here, but I support him all the same,” veteran safety Adrian Phillips said. “What he has going, whenever he gets back here, he’ll let you know how it went.”

Longtime captain Matthew Slater added: “That’s a situation I don’t want to get too far into, because it’s frankly none of my business. Obviously you support all your teammates, whether they are here or not.”

Head coach Bill Belichick deflected questions on Gilmore earlier Monday and wouldn’t reveal whether he has given him (or any player) an excused absence. Players who don’t report for mandatory minicamp can be fined up to $93,085 — which breaks down to $15,515 for the first missed day, $31,030 for the second missed day and $46,540 for the third missed day.

Gilmore partially tore his quad in a Week 15 loss last season, landing on injured reserve.

The Boston Globe first reported Gilmore’s absence.

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