San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch addressed Reuben Foster‘s Feb. 11 arrest for the first time Wednesday and dismissed speculation the linebacker was being treated differently by the team because of his talent.
Foster was arrested earlier this month on charges related to domestic violence, threats and possession of an assault weapon, the second time he had been arrested in a span of a month.
Lynch told Bay Area reporters at the scouting combine in Indianapolis that the team has followed all the protocols required by law enforcement and the NFL.
“We’ve been a little quiet and that’s for a reason,” Lynch said, according to the team’s website. “There are certain places that I can’t and won’t go, because we’re dealing with an ongoing legal matter.”
In contrast to Foster, cornerback Tramaine Brock was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence last April and released the next day.
“Listen, I know there’s a lot of conjecture as to, ‘Well, of course Brock wasn’t the player that Reuben is.'” Lynch told reporters, according to The Sacramento Bee. “I would counter to say that he was a starting cornerback for us. And we didn’t take that lightly”
Lynch added: “It was the decision that we felt was best for everyone involved and made it accordingly. And as I mentioned, each situation is different and we’ll leave it at that,” he said.
Charges against Brock were filed in June but dropped in August because of insufficient evidence.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney hasn’t decided yet whether Foster will be charged in connection with his Feb. 11 arrest.
That arrest came on the heels of a Jan. 12 incident in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where he was charged with second-degree marijuana possession, a Class A misdemeanor in Alabama.
Lynch told reporters that the 49ers will take Foster’s legal troubles into account when they approach free agency and the draft.
The 49ers met with Foster after his arrest and while Lynch wouldn’t get into details about his conversation with the linebacker, he did say the team made clear what the expectations were for its players.
“The context, in a broad sense, of what we discussed with Reuben, is just our expectations for him and our expectations for all of our players,” Lynch said, according to The San Jose Mercury News. “We have a high standard. I think we made that very clear. We remain in communication, but a lot of that’s gonna remain private between us because of a lot of things such as the ongoing legal matter and protocols that are in place.”
Foster initially raised some red flags at last year’s NFL scouting combine, where he was sent home early after an argument with a hospital worker. He also had a urine sample taken there show up as diluted, which, according to the NFL’s policy on substances of abuse, was treated as a positive test.
Because of the diluted sample, Foster entered the league as part of the substance abuse program.
After being selected No. 31 overall by the 49ers in last year’s draft, Foster was second on the team in tackles with 72 in 10 games.
ESPN’s Nick Wagoner contributed to this report.
Lions releasing running back Kerryon Johnson, per reports
Detroit drafted the former Auburn standout in the second round in 2018. Johnson became expendable after the team drafted D’Andre Swift No. 35 overall in 2020, signed free agent running back Jamaal Williams in March and drafted Oregon State’s Jermar Jefferson last week.
Johnson ran for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns over three seasons. He also has 61 career receptions for 527 yards and three scores.
Last year, he had 181 yards rushing and two scores on 52 carries. and had 19 receptions for 187 yards receiving and a touchdown.
NFL Network first reported that Johnson would be waived.
The Lions also added a player in free agency, signing tight end Darren Fells on Wednesday. The move gives the team a veteran at the position it can put on the field with Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson.
The 35-year-old Fells has 123 career catches with 1,483 yards receiving and 21 touchdowns. The previous two years in Houston, he had a combined 55 catches for 653 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Fells has started 76 games — including 13 with the Lions in 2017 — and played in 102 games with Arizona, Detroit, Cleveland and the Texans. He was a rebounding standout at UC Irvine and played basketball in Argentina, Mexico, Belgium, Finland and France before playing in the NFL.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
QB Blaine Gabbert re-signing with Tampa Bay Buccaneers on 1-year, $2.5 million deal, source says
TAMPA, Fla. — Once again, Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians has kept his word.
Days after saying the Bucs would work to re-sign Tom Brady’s top backup, quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the team is indeed re-signing Gabbert to a one-year deal worth $2.5 million, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Gabbert, who has played in 60 career games with 48 starts, previously earned $1.187 million in 2020 and $1.6 million in 2019.
Last season, Gabbert, 31, completed 9 of 16 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions, with all but one of those pass attempts coming in the second half against the Detroit Lions in Week 16, when Arians opted to rest Brady.
The Bucs selected quarterback Kyle Trask in the second round of the NFL draft last week, but Arians said that would not preclude them from re-signing Gabbert. The team also re-signed Ryan Griffin, who was last year’s third-string backup, earlier this offseason.
Gabbert enters his third season with the Bucs, after spending 2018 with the Tennessee Titans, 2017 with Arians and the Arizona Cardinals, 2014-16 with the San Francisco 49ers and 2011-13 with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Gabbert has had an eventful offseason. In addition to attending the Kentucky Derby with Brady and Griffin on Saturday, he married longtime sweetheart Bekah Mills in Paradise Valley, Arizona, in March.
NFL sends memo reminding clubs the league will not pay players who suffer injuries away from facilities
The NFL reminded teams Wednesday that they are not obligated to pay players who suffer an injury away from the team facility, an issue that moved this week to the center of an ongoing dispute between the NFL and NFL Players Association over in-person participation in offseason workouts.
The memo, obtained by ESPN, was prompted by several prominent players who were surprised by media reports about Denver Broncos offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James, who tore an Achilles tendon this week while working out on his own and could miss the 2021 season. NFL contracts have long classified such injuries as “non-football,” because they happen away from the team environment, and they are not covered by typical injury guarantees. As a result, the Broncos could withhold James’ salary for as long as he is sidelined. More than $10 million would have been guaranteed if the injury had occurred at the Broncos’ facility.
The NFL has noted this contractual leverage multiple times during negotiations with the NFLPA, which has advised players to skip the voluntary portion of in-person offseason training unless they stand to lose workout bonuses.
“According to the media coverage,” the NFL wrote in its memo, “several players have expressed surprise that Mr. James’ injury was not covered by his Injury Guarantee, although this point has been made frequently in our discussions with the NFLPA about the offseason program. Clubs are encouraged to remind players of the significant injury-related protection provided if they choose to work out at the club facility and the risks they undertake in choosing to train in non-NFL locations.”
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