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DeAndre Baker, Quinton Dunbar put on commissioner’s exempt list

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The NFL is temporarily placing New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker and Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar on the commissioner’s exempt list with criminal charges pending.

Baker was told to stay away from virtual meetings this spring after Miramar, Florida, police charged him with four counts of armed robbery and four counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. Dunbar faces four counts of armed robbery.

Both players are out on bond and were given permission by the court to travel with their work out of state.

Baker and Dunbar are awaiting a decision from the state attorney’s office on whether it intends to prosecute the case.

In the meantime, this will keep Baker, the Giants’ first-round pick last year, and Dunbar, acquired in a trade by Seattle earlier this offseason, away from training camp. The commissioner’s exempt list does allows them to get paid until a decision is made.

Dunbar participated in Seattle’s virtual offseason this spring. Players on the exempt list can request to use team facilities on a “reasonable basis for meetings, individual workouts, therapy and rehabilitation, and other permitted non-football activities.”

Baker, 23, had arrived in town over the weekend for the start of Giants camp. Veterans are set to report on Tuesday.

His NFL attorney, Patrick Patel, said he saw “no reason” to put his client on the exempt list with the prosecution decision still pending.

The league ultimately decided differently. This was the Giants’ preference with Baker at this point. It allows Baker to handle his legal troubles while not serving as a distraction to the team. He will not be permitted by the team to participate in meetings or non-football activities.

Baker had been working out in Miami recently in preparation for camp.

The Giants traded up for Baker in last year’s draft despite at least two teams telling ESPN last spring there were red flags on the former Georgia All-American. He then had a rocky rookie year on and off the field. Two players described Baker as a “handful” last year and he was benched late in the season after then-coach Pat Shurmur called him out on his effort in front of the entire team.

The Seahawks acquired Dunbar for a fifth-round pick in a March trade with Washington, which was their biggest offseason acquisition until their recent trade for Jamal Adams. Dunbar is scheduled to make $3.25 million in base salary with another $250,000 available in per-game roster bonuses in the final year of his contract, none of which is guaranteed.

Players on the commissioner’s exempt list get paid but do not count against their team’s roster limit. So the Seahawks will get a roster spot but will not get any cap relief with Dunbar while he remains on the list. The Seahawks parted with nine players Sunday to get to 81. With Dunbar going on the exempt list and no longer counting against the roster, Seattle will be at the new league-mandated limit of 80.

If Dunbar is unavailable, the Seahawks would turn back to Tre Flowers, who started the past two seasons at right cornerback opposite Shaquill Griffin. Flowers’ up-and-down 2019 was a primary factor in Seattle acquiring Dunbar.

According to the original arrest warrant, Baker and Dunbar were accused of stealing money and watches with force while armed with semiautomatic firearms. It stated that Baker intentionally threatened victims with a firearm. According to the arrest warrant affidavit, multiple witnesses said at one point during the incident that Baker ordered another suspect wearing a red mask to shoot an individual who was just entering the party.

The case has taken twists and turns since. The witnesses quickly signed affidavits changing their original story, and the New York Daily News reported that a search warrant indicated that a witness in the alleged robbery oversaw a payoff to the victims at the office of former Dunbar attorney Michael Grieco.

The league has said in recent weeks that the matter remains under review.

Baker and Dunbar are not known to have any previous criminal history.

ESPN’s Brady Henderson contributed to this report.

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Carroll Hardy, who hit for Ted Williams and built Broncos’ ‘Orange Crush’ dies at 87

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HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — Carroll Hardy, a multi-sport star best known as the only man ever to pinch hit for Ted Williams, died Sunday at age 87.

Hardy was also known as the football executive who helped assemble the “Orange Crush” defense in Denver during the 1970s.

The University of Colorado, where Hardy was a three-sport star, said he died of complications from dementia. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Hardy went on to play professional baseball and football after starring in track, baseball and football at Colorado from 1951-55.

CU athletic director Rick George called Hardy “a true icon of the state. His list of accomplishments in his lifetime and the people he touched are really second to none. We have lost a great Buffalo.”

Hardy earned a record 10 letters altogether in the early 1950s. An All-American honorable mention in 1953 and ’54, Hardy rushed for 1,999 career yards with a whopping 6.87-yard average per carry, which remains the best in school history among players with at least 60 carries.

Hardy led the nation in kickoff return average in 1952 and had six interceptions for the Buffaloes.

On the diamond, Hardy was CU’s all-time career batting average leader (.392) with 118 hits in 301 at-bats with 15 homers, 80 RBI, 107 runs scored and 45 stolen bases.

He once ran a 9.8 in the 100-yard dash on the indoor track.

Hardy was the 33rd overall pick in the 1955 NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. and averaged 28.2 yards a catch as a rookie with 12 receptions for 338 yards and four touchdowns.

Before reporting to the 49ers camp, Hardy signed with the Cleveland Indians and played on their A-league team in Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1956, he was hitting .365 in 21 games with the Indians’ Triple-A team in Indianapolis when he was ordered to report to the U.S. Army.

He returned to the Indians after his two-year tour of military duty and his major league career spanned a decade from 1958-67 with stops in Cleveland, Boston, Houston and Minnesota.

Hardy was the only man ever to pinch hit for Red Sox icons Williams and Carl Yastrzemski.

“I’d like to have people remember me for hitting 400 home runs and a lifetime batting average of .305, but I didn’t do that,” Hardy once told the Denver Post. “But it’s not bad being remembered as the only man to ever pinch-hit for Ted Williams.”

Hardy’s first major league homer was a three-run shot in the bottom of the 11th to beat the White Sox when he was sent to the plate in place of Roger Maris in 1958 when both were with the Indians.

Boston traded Hardy to the expansion Colt 45’s in 1963 and he later joined the Twins, who sent him to their affiliate in Denver.

During his two-plus seasons with the Denver Bears, he began scouting part-time for the Denver Broncos in the offseason.

That led to a 24-year stint with the Broncos in various roles including assistant ticket manager, director of scouting, pro personnel director and assistant general manager.

He finished his major league career with a September call-up with the Twins in 1967, then turned his attention full-time to football.

Hardy was credited with helping to build Denver’s “Orange Crush” defense that led to the Broncos’ first Super Bowl appearance in 1977. That dominant defense included Randy Gradishar, Tom Jackson, Louis Wright, Lyle Alzado, Otis Armstrong and Barney Chavous.

Hardy also helped assemble the Broncos’ 1986 and ’87 Super Bowl teams before his retirement.

Hardy was born in 1933 in Sturgis, South Dakota. He is survived by his wife of nearly 64 years, Janice Mitchell, son Jay and daughters Jill and Lisa.

With the coronavirus pandemic, funeral services will be for family only, but a celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

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Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jatavis Brown retires at 26

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PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Jatavis Brown, a 26-year-old free-agent pickup this offseason, has surprisingly retired from the game.

The Eagles placed Brown on the reserve/retired list Sunday. The word internally was he simply felt it was time for him to step away.

Brown signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia in March that would pay him a base salary of $910,000 and included $550,000 in guarantees. He was in the mix to compete for a starting spot and was at a minimum expected to be a special-teams contributor.

The Eagles already had the least amount of salary-cap dollars committed to the linebacker position for 2020 ($5.9 million), according to Spotrac. The Eagles get about $900,000 in cap relief as a result of Brown retiring.

The remaining linebackers are T.J. Edwards, Nate Gerry, Davion Taylor, Duke Riley, Alex Singleton, Shaun Bradley and Dante Olson, one of the most unheralded groups in the NFL.

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Lions trade CB Michael Jackson to Patriots for 2022 draft pick

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The Detroit Lions traded cornerback Michael Jackson to the New England Patriots for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick on Sunday, hours after announcing plans to release the veteran.

Jackson played in one game for Detroit last season, a 19-16 loss at Washington, where he played two special teams snaps. Detroit had claimed him off waivers in September, 2019, after he was cut by Dallas. Trading Jackson clears up part of one of the deepest positions the Lions have on the roster with a handful of cornerbacks still competing for backup jobs behind likely starters Desmond Trufant, Jeff Okudah and Justin Coleman.

This is the sixth trade, not including in-draft moves, between the Lions and Patriots since Bob Quinn took over as general manager in January, 2016.

The Patriots have multiple openings on their roster after an NFL-high eight players opted out of the 2020 season. Jackson provides depth at cornerback, which is one of the deepest positions on the team’s roster, with reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore, followed by Jason McCourty, Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Joejuan Williams, D’Angelo Ross and Myles Bryant.

The Patriots could have waited and put in a waiver claim for Jackson, but since they are lower in the NFL’s priority order, they wouldn’t have been guaranteed they’d get him. So similar to how they traded for McCourty in 2018, when the Cleveland Browns had declared their intentions to release McCourty, the Patriots swooped in at the last moment with a trade.

The Lions also waived wide receivers Travis Fulgham and Chris Lacy, linebacker Christian Sam, defensive end Jonathan Wynn and guard Josh Garnett, a former San Francisco 49ers first-round pick on Sunday.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss contributed to this report.

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