NFL roundup: Saints coaches reportedly told Hargrove to deny bounty existed

The SportsXchange

Even as defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove was appealing his NFL suspension Monday for participating in the Saints' bounty program, it was learned that a signed document was received by the league through the NFLPA that details how he was instructed in 2010 by current and former New Orleans assistant coaches Joe Vitt and Gregg Williams to deny the team had a bounty program.

A copy of the signed declaration was received by Yahoo! Sports on Monday and reported by Jason Cole, who wrote that a source said last week that the NFLPA submitted the declaration with the intention of proving that Hargrove and other Saints players were only following orders by coaches.

Hargrove, now with the Packers, was one of four players who filed for an appeal by Monday's deadline. Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, defensive end Will Smith and Cleveland Browns linebacker Scott Fujita also filed appeals.

But, regardless of intent by the NFPLA, it is questionable that will be helped by Hargrove's signed admission, which was reportedly signed on April 13.

In the document, Hargrove said that on approximately Feb. 24, 2010 he was called to a meeting with Williams and, after initially talking about him starting at defensive end, the conversation centered around denying that the team ever used bounties.

The signed document, a graphic of which was posted by Yahoo, said, in part:

"Williams said he was going to deny the existence of any bounty on any player to the NFL, and I should deny it, too. Coach Vitt also said he was going to deny the existence of any bounties. Coach Williams said: "Those (obscenity deleted ...referring to NFL) have been trying to get me for years," and if we all "stay on the same page, this will blow over."

The NFL's investigation into the bounty scandal cited "multiple independent sources" who confirmed that Vilma offered specific cash bounties for any player who knocked Kurt Warner or Brett Favre out of their respective playoff games during the Saints' Super Bowl run following the 2009 season.

Hargrove, who signed with the Packers this spring after playing for the Seahawks in 2011, was suspended eight games.

--Offensive tackle Matt Light was given a regal sendoff into retirement by the New England Patriots on Monday after 11 seasons as the team's starting left tackle.

"Matt has been the definition of a dependable, durable, consistent player," said coach Bill Belichick.

Light, 33, officially retired April 24, when New England Patriots placed him on the reserve/retired list after weeks of speculation. Light said he had known since before Super Bowl XLVI that he wouldn't play another game.

Quarterback Tom Brady said in a video tribute that he plans to talk Light out of retirement, calling him one of his favorite teammates. The entire offensive line and coordinator Josh McDaniels attended the ceremony.

---The Baltimore Ravens have signed nose tackle Ryan McBean, adding depth to their defensive line.

McBean, 28, had 33 tackles and four sacks in 2011 for the Broncos. He had been a restricted free agent, but the Broncos rescinded the offer on April 16, making him an unrestricted free agent. Originally a fourth-round pick of the Steelers in 2007, McBean played just one game for the team before landing with the Ravens. In 47 career games, McBean has 77 tackles, four sacks and a fumble recovery.

---Cary Williams is staying in Baltimore. The three-year veteran cornerback signed his restricted free agent tender with the Ravens on Monday, and will look to build on a career year in 2011.

Williams played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last season, making 78 tackles and forcing a pair of fumbles.

---The Seattle Seahawks confirmed on Monday that they have agreed to terms with Bruce Irvin, their first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The news was reported on Twitter by John Boyle of the Everett Herald (@johnpboyle).

Irvin, 22, made 40 tackles, recorded 8.5 sacks and forced three fumbles in 2011 for West Virginia, one year after making 14 sacks as a junior to lead the Big East.

---The New England Patriots announced on Monday that they have brought back veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney.

Gaffney, 31, played three seasons with the Patriots from 2006 through 2008. He spent last season with the Redskins after playing the 2009 and 2010 campaigns with Denver. In 16 games for Washington, Gaffney caught 68 passes for a career-high 947 yards, including five touchdown catches.

---Placekicker Ryan Longwell was released by the Vikings, who drafted Blair Walsh out of Georgia in the sixth round last month.

Longwell made 135 field goals with the Vikings, second in franchise history behind Fred Cox's 282. Longwell, who signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 2006, spent his first nine seasons with Green Bay and is the Packers' career scoring leader with 1,054 points.

---Defensive tackle Remi Ayodele signed a one-year contract with the Saints.

Ayodele played the 2011 season with the Vikings, starting 13 of 16 games, but was released on March 21.

Ayodele signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Vikings in August 2011.

---The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed their seventh-round draft picks, running back Michael Smith and tight end Drake Dunsmore.

Smith rushed for 870 yards as a senior at Utah State last season. Dunsmore was a "super back" at Northwestern, lining up across the formation -- at fullback, H-back and in motion as a flexed tight end -- in the Wildcats' passing offense. He caught 14 career touchdown passes for the Wildcats.

---The Bills rewarded running back Fred Jackson with a two-year contract extension that should allow the 31-year-old to finish his career with the franchise.

As several other veterans in decline on the wrong side of 30 wait for the phone to ring, Jackson remained one of the most productive backs in the NFL last season before a season-ending injury at Miami began a tailspin for the Bills. Jackson was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 1,376 total yards at the time of the injury.

Jackson was entering the final year of a four-year, $7.5 million contract. He was due to earn $1.83 million in base salary and another $425,000 in bonuses in 2012.

He led the Bills in rushing for the third straight year in 2011 with 934 yards on 170 carries and scored six touchdowns in 10 games.

---The Jacksonville Jaguars signed quarterback Jordan Palmer to a one-year contract and released wide receiver Jarett Dillard.

Palmer, a backup with the Bengals, impressed in a workout with the Jaguars over the weekend. The younger brother of Carson Palmer, Jordan Palmer is 27 and played in four career games in three seasons with Cincinnati. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 59 yards.

Dillard was a fifth-round pick in 2009 out of Rice.

The Jaguars also signed fullback Naufahu Tahi and defensive tackle Odrick Ray from the weekend rookie minicamp in addition to four undrafted rookies: wide receiver Mike Brown, wide receiver Chris Forcier, linebacker Donovan Richard and safety Jeremiah Brown.

To make room for these players on the roster, quarterback Dan LeFevour, safety Ansah, wide receivers Nelson Rosario and Jarrett Boykin and defensive end Frank Trotter were released.

---LaDainian Tomlinson, who turns 33 next month, is expected to retire from the NFL. He's the fifth-leading rusher in league history with 13,684 yards and will be remembered as one of the best all-purpose running backs to play the game.

Last season he averaged 3.7 yards a carry, but he helped in the passing game with 42 catches, fourth most on the team. However, he said immediately after the season ended at Miami in Week 17 that he was seriously contemplating retirement.

Tomlinson told Sports Illustrated that he'd still consider playing if the right opportunity came along. The unrestricted free agent is unlikely to return to the Jets, who maintain they are content entering the 2012 season with Joe McKnight, Bilal Powell and Terrance Ganaway behind starter Shonn Greene.

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