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NFL Roundup: Ex-Bronco Nalen criticizes team, Lions extend Stafford's contract

The SportsXchange

Former Denver Broncos center Tom Nalen took the team to task over waiting until Tuesday to publicly acknowledge that director of pro personnel Tom Heckert was arrested for drunken driving on June 11.

Nalen went on Twitter and called the Broncos "cowards" because he said knew about Heckert's DUI but did not issue a statement until nearly a month later, and only after the Associated Press reported the news.

Just a few days before the Heckert story went public, Broncos director of player personnel Matt Russell was arrested July 6 for a drunken driving charge. The Broncos commented on Russell shortly thereafter but did not mention Heckert's arrest, which they had reported to the league offices.

"If they had come down hard on Heckert, I believe Matt doesn't make that mistake last weekend," Nalen said. "If Russell had killed someone and then the news of Heckert came out with no discipline, I think fans might be angrier."

The team said Heckert and Morris face the possibility of severe discipline, but Nalen called it a "PR stunt" in response to public criticism over the handling of the incidents.

---The Detroit Lions announced that they signed quarterback Matthew Stafford to a three-year contract extension that runs through the 2017 season and is worth $53 million, according to multiple reports. The additional money puts Stafford's contract at approximately $76.5 million over the next five seasons -- including the remaining two years on his rookie contract. Of that total, $43 million is guaranteed.

Stafford, 25, was scheduled to count $20.8 million against the salary cap in 2013, but the bonus money should bring immediate relief the Lions can use to shift their attention to ongoing negotiations with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on a long-term deal.

Stafford, 25, is one of four quarterbacks with 5,000 passing yards in a season (Dan Marino, Drew Brees, Tom Brady).

---In an outcome that could impact numerous pending concussion lawsuits against the NFL, former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ben Utecht prevailed in arbitration regarding his release by the team after he suffered a concussion during training camp in 2009.

The arbitrator ordered the Bengals to pay the player his full salary for that season.

At the heart of the arbitration was whether Utecht should have been cleared to play, which made him eligible to be cut. The Bengals argued that he could have been cleared, thereby reducing their obligation to pay his full salary that season.

However, Utecht and the NFL Players Association contended he should not have been cleared and, therefore, should have received his full salary.

"This decision upholds our players' rights to continued salary payments while injured and should provide important guidance for players and clubs in determining when it is appropriate to return to play after a player suffers a severe concussion," NFLPA attorney Tim English said.

---Defensive end Jamaal Anderson had his contract terminated by the Cincinnati Bengals. The seventh-year player signed with the Bengals during the 2012 offseason, but suffered a season-ending torn quad in the second game of the regular season.

---The San Francisco 49ers waived long snapper Kyle Nelson on Wednesday. The 49ers had claimed Nelson off waivers from the San Diego Chargers on May 22. He originally signed with San Francisco after the 2011 season but was released before the 2012 season and joined the Chargers.
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