Ex-Saint: Coaches made me lie about bounties

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Ex-Saint: Coaches made me lie about bounties

From Comcast SportsNetNEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Former Saints defensive lineman Anthony Hargove describes in a sworn statement how he was told by ex-defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and current New Orleans assistant head coach Joe Vitt to deny the existence of a bounty program to NFL investigators.In a document obtained Monday by The Associated Press, Hargrove acknowledges that he acted on Williams' and Vitt's instructions to "play dumb" if asked whether he was aware of bounties being placed on former Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre or any other player.The declaration does not go into specifics, however, about just what Hargrove knew or did not know about the bounty program in New Orleans, and for that reason it has become a point of contention between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.From the union's perspective, Hargrove's statement does not say that he lied to anyone, nor does it state that he or any other Saints participated in a bounty program that offered cash bonuses for hits that injured targeted opponents.The NFL, by contrast, has said that Hargrove's words acknowledge the existence of a bounty program and show that Hargrove initially lied to NFL investigators about it.In describing Hargrove's declaration last week, Mary Jo White, a former U.S. attorney hired by the NFL to review its investigation, said the player, "acknowledges the nature of the program and his participation in it, and, which is really the thrust of the declaration, that he was told to lie about it, and he did when he was asked about it in 2010 by the NFL investigators."Hargrove, currently with Green Bay, was one of four players who received suspensions of various lengths in connection with the bounty probe. Hargrove was suspended eight games, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire season, Saints defensive end Will Smith for four games and Cleveland linebacker Scott Fujita for three games.Vilma's attorney, Peter Ginsberg called the NFL's characterization of Hargrove's statement "misleading.""All we know from the declaration is that a couple of coaches were in trouble and hoped for support from him," Ginsberg said. "Anthony's declaration in no way supports that he lied, that a bounty system existed or that players participated in any kind of inappropriate program. It's a shame that the NFL needed to have mischaracterized that declaration in order to justify these punishments. It's just another reason to conclude that the NFL has no evidence to justify what it has done to the players."The NFL has said the Saints' bounty program was run by Williams from 2009 through 2011. Williams has been suspended indefinitely by the league and has apologized for his actions.All four players are appealing. The NFLPA also has filed grievances with the NFL, arguing that Commissioner Roger Goodell lacked the authority to punish players for off-the-field matters that predated last August's new collective bargaining agreement, and that Goodell should not hear the appeals of the players' suspensions in the bounty matter.No other players are mentioned in Hargrove's sworn statement, which also does not contain any description of payments being pledged, made, or received.In his declaration, first published Monday by Yahoo Sports, Hargrove describes how he was called into a late February 2010 meeting with Williams and Vitt. The coaches said they had heard Hargrove might have told Minnesota Vikings player Jimmy Kennedy -- a friend and former teammate in St. Louis -- that there had been a bounty on Favre in the NFL title game near the end of the 2009 season.The statement then describes Williams saying, in obscenity-laced terms, that league officials, "have been trying to get me for years," and "if we all stay on the same page, this will blow over."It also describes Vitt reminding Hargrove that he brought him into the league with St. Louis and later brought him to the Saints -- a second chance Hargrove had sought in the NFL after being suspended for drug abuse.Hargrove's statement says that in March 2010 he met with NFL investigators, who asked him a range of questions about a bounty program in New Orleans, and that he denied knowledge of any of it, in line with the "clear directions" he had received from Williams and Vitt.

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The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

The Final Countdown: Redskins defense can't stop Matt Stafford for 5th worst play of 2016

As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.

No. 5 worst play of 2016

Redskins at Lions Week 7

0:22 left in Q4, Lions ball at the Redskins 18, 3rd and 10, Redskins leading 17-13

Matthew Stafford pass short left to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

More Redskins: Podcast--All eyes now on Cousins

Tandler: The Redskins had just taken the lead on a nifty 19-yard option run by Kirk Cousins with 1:05 left to play. All they had to do was keep the Lions out of the end zone but the defense was not up to the task. In fact, it was laughably easy for Stafford. The first three times he dropped back he completed passes for 23, 14, and 20 yards and just like that the Lions were in the red zone. It looked for a minute like the Redskins might hang on as two passes went incomplete. But on third down Stafford found Boldin open inside the five and the defense couldn’t get there quickly enough to keep him out of the end zone.

Related: Gruden's fate hinges on Manusky

Finlay: 65 seconds was all the 'Skins defense needed to preserve a win by holding the Lions without a touchdown. 65 seconds away from a five-game win streak, and knowing what we do now, a playoff berth. The Redskins defense couldn't stop Stafford, or Boldin, and lost in Detroit. A gut wrenching loss as the momentum on the Washington sideline seemed incredibly high just minutes before when Cousins ran in what looked like the game-winning score. 

10 best plays countdown

10 worst plays countdown

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Who else could be trade partners with the Redskins in a Cousins deal?

Who else could be trade partners with the Redskins in a Cousins deal?

With the offensive and defensive coordinators now in place, the Redskins now turn their attention to two other matters.

One is the NFL combine, which gets underway on February 28. The other is the NFL franchise tag deadline, which happens to come the very next day, on March 1.

There has been plenty of talk lately about the possibility of the Redskins giving Kirk Cousins the franchise tag designation and then trading him if they don’t think that they will be able to sign him to a long-term deal.

While one team, the 49ers, has been talked about as a potential landing spot for Cousins they would not be the only interested team if there is going to be a deal.

Let’s take a look at what teams might be moderately interested or highly interested.

RELATED: GRUDEN'S FATE WITH REDSKINS HINGES ON MANUSKY

49ers (2-14)
Head coach:
Vacant, but will be Kyle Shanahan after the Super Bowl
First-round pick: No. 2
2016 leading passer: Colin Kaepernick

Connecting the dots here is easy as Shanahan was the offensive coordinator when Cousins was drafted by the Redskins in 2012. There would be no need for the two to get familiar with each other; they had two years to do that. Cousins seems like a natural fit in Shanahan’s offense. The 49ers are likely to move on from Kaepernick rather than taking his $19.4 million cap hit. They may try to move that No. 2 pick, or a package of other picks, to try to get Cousins. Anticipated interest: High

Bears (3-13)
Head coach:
John Fox
First-round pick: No. 3
2016 leading passer: Matt Barkley

This is the year that the Bears can finally move on from Jay Cutler without taking a crippling cap hit. Releasing Cutler, who played in just five games last year due to injury, would cost them just $2 million in dead cap. But do they really want to move on from Cutler, who wasn’t bad the last two years he was able to play? If they do, it seems unlikely that they would part with the No. 3 pick. Anticipated interest: Moderate

RELATED: 2017 MOCK DRAFT 1.0

Jets (5-11)
Head coach:
Todd Bowles
First-round pick: No. 6
2016 leading passer: Ryan Fitzpatrick

In the last four drafts, the Jets have spent a second-round pick on Geno Smith, a fourth on Bryce Petty and a second on Christian Hackeberg. Smith is on his way out, Petty was shaky in four starts last year and Hackenberg didn’t see the field as a rookie. It would not be surprising to see them shop for an established, young-ish starter like Cousins. The No. 6 pick might be too much for Cousins. Another factor to consider is if Cousins would agree to a long-term deal to play in New York. They would have to carve out some cap space to get a deal done; they currently are $7.7 million over the anticipated cap. Anticipated interest: Moderate

Browns (1-15)
Head coach:
Hue Jackson
First-round pick: No. 1 and No. 12
2016 leading passer: Cody Kessler

Robert Griffin III is under contract for 2017 with a $6 million salary plus a $1.5 million roster bonus that the Browns can move on from for a relatively modest $1.75 million cap hit. It would not be outrageous for them to deal the No. 12 pick for Cousins. The question is if Cousins would want to be the latest QB to join the Browns’ Trail of Tears. Anticipated interest: Moderate

Other possibilities: The Cardinals might wonder if Carson Palmer’s slide from MVP candidate to mediocrity will continue and look to bring in an alternative . . . The Broncos can’t be happy with Trevor Simeon as their long-term starter and if they didn’t like what they saw from Paxton Lynch they might want to deal. But John Elway isn’t going to overpay . . . It will be another year before the Texans can move on from Brock Osweiler without a killer cap hit but they could just bench him and bring in their long-term answer a year early . . . Blake Bortles has just one more year left on his rookie deal and the Jaguars may move to get his replacement this year.

Note: The Rams are not mentioned here despite the presence of Sean McVay. They gave up a lot of draft picks to move up to No. 1 overall to take Jarred Goff last year and while he struggled they are not going to move on from him after one season. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.