Bills coach Doug Marrone opts out of his contract

Buffalo Bills coach Doug Marrone has opted out of his contract.

Bills owner Terry Pegula made the statement tonight.

Marrone reportedly has had friction with general manager Doug Whaley.

“Doug Marrone informed me late today that he has decided to exercise the option clause in his contract and relinquish his responsibilities as our head coach,” Pegula said in a statement. ” “We are disappointed that Coach Marrone will no longer be an important part of our organization. We thank him for all of his hard work and leadership during his tenure and wish him and his family the best with the next chapter in their lives. We will now begin the important process of conducting a thorough search for a new head coach as we continue to strive to reach our goal of returning to the playoffs and bringing a championship to Buffalo for our fans.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Eagles let go of executive Tom Gamble

The Philadelphia Eagles and vice president of player personnel Tom Gamble have parted ways, the team announced.

“We thank Tom for his service over the past two seasons and wish him and his family the best as they move forward,” general manager Howie Roseman said. “I appreciate all Tom has done for our scouting department and our team.”

Gamble was praised Monday by coach Chip Kelly.

“I think Tom does an outstanding job and if he has the opportunity to do that, then I would support him anything,” Kelly said. “He's a heck of a football guy.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun


Justin Houston wins Deacon Jones award

Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Justin Houston won the Deacon Jones Award, given annually to the NFL leader in quarterback sacks.

The Pro Bowl pass rusher led the NFL with 22 sacks, a half-sack behind the NFL record set by Hall of Fame defensive end Michael Strahan in 2001.

“He's one of the greatest defensive players and sack masters of all time,” Houston said. “I’d like to thank my teammates, coaches and our fan base. They rallied behind us all season long and helped fuel our pass rush. To have my name mentioned in the same sentence as a player like Deacon Jones is truly a blessing.”

Jones died last year at the age of 74.

One of the greatest defensive players in NFL history, Jones was a fixture at defensive end from 1961-74 with the Los Angeles Rams, San Diego Chargers and Washington Redskins, earning unanimous all-league honors in five consecutive seasons. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

A look back

A few days prior to the opening of the 2014 NFL season. I gave my annual predictions for the season. In 2013 I wasn’t close to being right. I was a little better in 2014 but not much. While I graded myself an “F” in 2013, I could probably give myself a “C-” this year.


AFC East – I went out on a limb and picked the New England Patriots. That may have been the easiest pick I had. The Pats have been the class of the East for years. I was surprised, though, as I thought that the other three teams may not have a winning record. Buffalo had an outstanding turnaround and finished 9-7 and Miami at 8-8 was respectable.

AFC North – My choice to win the North was Cincinnati with Baltimore getting in the playoffs as a wild card team. I was partially right as both Baltimore and Cincinnati are in the playoffs, but both are as wildcard entries. I didn’t feel Pittsburgh was going to be strong enough to win the division, but I was wrong. They won five out of their last six to finish 11-5. Another great job by Mike Tomlin, Keven Colbert and company.

AFC South – My pick to win the South was Indianapolis and they won going away with an 11-5 record. The surprise team in the division was Houston. A year ago they had the worst record in football. This year they finished 9-7 and should challenge for the division in 2015.

AFC West – I hit on this prediction also as Denver was my choice. I figured the Kansas City would be a wild card team but they fell just short finishing 9-7.


NFC East – In September I wrote, “Just like the AFC East, the NFC East is weak. The Eagles will win by default”. I looked bad on that one. Dallas was a very consistent team and won the division with a 10-4 record. Philly was a respectable 10-6 but missed out on the playoffs because of one too many losses. They needed to be 11-5 to get in.

NFC North – This was my absolute worst prediction of the year. I bought into the hype that Marc Trestman could fix Jay Cutler. He couldn’t! The Trestman experiment turned out to be a disaster as the Bears finished last with a 5-11 record. Green Bay, as usual, won the division with a 12-4 record. Detroit got a wild card slot finishing 11-5.

NFC South – This is another division where I missed badly. I wrote, “The Saints have the best offense in the NFC and will be tough to stop”. That didn’t come close to being right. The Saints were one of the most disappointing teams in the league, finishing 7-9. The division, as a whole, was weak, as Carolina won it with a 7-8-1 record.

NFC West – I got this one right, as Seattle successfully repeated as the division winner with a 12-4 record. Seattle was also my pick to repeat as World Champs, but we will have to wait a few more weeks to see if that holds true. While I knew Arizona would be good, I didn’t feel they were a playoff team. Despite losing two quarterbacks they still held on to finish 11-5 and get in as a wild card. I thought that San Francisco would easily be a wild card team, but the front office/coaching staff soap opera carried over to the field and the 49ers finished a disappointing 8-8.

Super Bowl – My Super Bowl prediction was Seattle over Cincinnati, but while the Bengals are improved over a year ago, they aren’t nearly the class of the AFC. I am going to stay with Seattle to win the NFC, but with the playoffs about to begin, I have to figure that New England with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be tough to beat in the AFC. My pre-playoff Super Bowl winner is the same as it was in September….Seattle!

Happy New Year everyone!

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

A.J. Green still in concussion protocol

Based on what happened the last time Cincinnati played Indianapolis, the Bengals sure do need A.J. Green on the field this weekend

However, Green is still in the NFL's concussion protocol after taking a hit to the head in Sunday night's 27-17 loss to the Steelers. Green was unable to finish the game and was diagnosed with a concussion.

On Wednesday, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told reporters Green has yet to be cleared.

When the Bengals lost to the Colts 27-0 in a regular-season meeting this year, they were without Green. Without their top outside target, the Colts repeatedly blitzed Andy Dalton and got him off balance. It can be assumed the same would occur if Green can't go Sunday night.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

Ravens head of security on paid leave after sex crime allegation

Ravens head of security Darren Sanders has been placed on paid leave after being charged with a fourth-degree sexual assault offense, reports The Baltimore Sun and National Football Post's Aaron Wilson.

Sanders is not expected to travel with the Ravens to this Saturday's Wild Card round game against the Steelers.

The Baltimore Sun's Justin Fenton was first to report the story of Sanders being charged. He's since reported that a female accuser is alleging Sanders groped her at M&T Bank Stadium, and was reported following the Ravens game against the Jaguars. The claim was filed with Baltimore police on Dec. 14.

Sanders' attorney Andrew Alperstein has denied these allegations.

“It does a disservice to real victims when people make things up like this,” Alperstein told The Sun. “People like [Sanders] are susceptible to made-up allegations. It puts you in a vulnerable position.”

The maximum punishment for a fourth-degree sex offense in Maryland is a year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. Sanders was charged through a summons and has not been arrested. His court date is Feb. 9, 2015.

This development comes at the tail end of a Ravens season that began in turmoil due to Ray Rice's legal issue. Rice was ultimately released from the organization after a videotape showed the former Pro Bowl running back punching his then-fiancee and now wife Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her unconscious.

The NFL has since instituted a new domestic abuse policy and has made amendments to its personal conduct policy.

Follow me on Twitter: @JasonHButt

Is college football about to implode?

If you read my column you already know that I’m a big proponent of taking better care of college athletes. Not because I’m an agent, but because I’ve played it and have a front row seat for the inequities.

It would actually behoove the NCAA and its member schools to share more of the wealth produced by college football. Four or five years of banging your head, lifting weights and sacrificing your health takes a bigger toll than fans realize. In addition, playing college football is equivalent to have a full time job and taking a full school load.

The NCAA and the major conferences better get proactive right now.

Coaches salaries range from $1 to $7 million dollars a year because college football is a very profitable business. Good coaches exponentially pay for themselves by producing winning records, recruiting exciting players and getting their school to big paydays, oops, I meant a big time bowl game.

The NCAA’s $15 billion dollar football and basketball contracts can’t be ignored too much longer without more of that revenue trickling down to the players who help produce it. According to the department of education, the University of Michigan produced about $81 million dollars in revenue in 2012/13, had about $23 million in expenses and about $58 million in net revenues. The top ten most profitable programs had net profits ranging from $81 million dollars to $38 million dollars. The only places in the world where the economics work like that is in third world countries where factory workers who make luxury products for compensation equals about a dollar a day.

There are two lawsuits against the NCAA that have some big teeth to them. One is the Ed O’Bannon case, which alleges that the NCAA used players’ likeliness without properly compensating them. The initial ruling in that case went against the NCAA and may go all the way to the Supreme court.

The Kessler lawsuit is the scarier of the two for the NCAA and its biggest conferences. The lawsuit is trying to promote a free market system on what players can be compensated by a university to play football. The spirit of the suit is to lift the ceiling on what football players receive as compensation (a scholarship and some meal money). The lawyers and plaintiffs really just want the money that goes into the college football coffers, to trickle down to the players.

These two cases together can blow the roof off college football as we know it. So the conferences better get more proactive in offering up more financial benefits to the student athletes and try to settle these cases now.

The bowling madness needs to end or be reformulated

There are now 38 of them and attendance is pitiful for the lower bowl games. We have 66 teams playing on days where there are some TV earning opportunities. So the NCAA and its members employ the free labor of college football players to pick up the easy money from its media partners. However, the NCAA and their member schools still profit from these games even though some have less than 5,000 bodies in actual attendance.

There are players practicing and lifting for two weeks, during finals week, and many teams are flying out, and/or practicing on Christmas day or eve. In addition, there has been about five or more players so far this year that have sustained serious injuries in these meaningless games where most teams have 6-6 records or just slightly better. Two of those players were decent NFL prospects.

Last year, one of my clients sustained a fractured fibula in one of those worthless bowl games. He was slated to be about a third round pick, and after 49 straight starts at left tackle for his school, he was left with a plate and eight screws in his foot. He couldn’t play in the Senior Bowl, participate in the NFL Combine and could barely workout on his pro day. The injury cost him a few million dollars but the NCAA and the schools made their bowl monies. At least insure players against potential lost income.

Another issue with many of these bowls is that the families of these players can’t really afford to attend them but do anyway. I’m not saying get rid of them all but give the potential pro players and/or those serious students the right to opt out of the bowl game and practices. Why risk millions for a meaningless game?

College players are starting to figure out the economics and are getting close to standing up for more rights they deserve. The NCAA and the big conferences need to quit playing defense and start sharing the wealth before the courts make them.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jackbechta

Jim Haslett out as Redskins defensive coordinator

The Washington Redskins will no longer employ defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.

The team announced this morning that they have “mutually agreed to part ways” with Haslett.

“Jim and I have had discussions over the last few days and have decided that it’s best for everyone that we have a new defensive coordinator,” Jay Gruden said in a statement.

Haslett's defense has been up-and-down in recent years.

Former Redskins middle l inebacker London Fletcher recently ripped Haslett.

“Jay and I mutually agreed it's time for the Redskins to have a new defensive coordinator,” Haslett said. “I want to than Dan Snyder, Bruce Allen, Gruden and all the players and fellow coaches for their efforts the last five years and I wish them nothing but the best.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

Jay Gruden wants to plug the leaks in Washington

Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden wants to plug the leaks.

That's something leaders in Washington have hoped to accomplish for many years, unsuccessfully.

“Sometimes the best addition to your football team is subtraction,” Gruden said.. “That's what we've got to figure out. Being with these guys for a long time, there are some things that you want to address. You want to make sure you have the right people in here. I'm not saying that all 53 guys are my type of guys, you know?”

Earlier in the week, wide receiver Santana Moss echoed that sentiment in colorful fashion.

“That's got to stop, man,” Moss said. “You got these cats dry snitching and telling media in-house business.”

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun

49ers interview Vic Fangio, Dan Quinn

The San Francisco 49ers are hunting for a new head coach after parting ways with Jim Harbaugh.

They've interviewed 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

The 49ers finished fifth in total defense.

The 49ers have also interviewed Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who coaches the top-ranked defense in the NFL.

Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and former Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan are also on the 49ers' list.

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun