Renegade Ghost

Renegade Ghost

Joe Flacco took a brutal, and illegal, hit to the head from Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso on Thursday Night Football, which knocked him out of the game with a concussion.

On a third-and-10 play in the second quarter, Flacco tried to scramble for a first down. He started his slide short of the sticks and was already on the ground when Alonso went low to hit Flacco directly in the head with his shoulder.

Flacco’s helmet went flying off and he was clearly dazed.

The hit incited a mini brawl along the Ravens sideline as center Ryan Jensen flew in to shove, and then drive, Alonso into the turf. Head Coach John Harbaugh screamed at Alonso from the sideline as the Dolphins linebacker argued with referees, who immediately threw the flag for unnecessary roughness.

The Buffalo Bills, who still own the wide receiver's playing rights, have given Boldin's agent permission to talk to other NFL teams to gauge any potential interest in trading for him. The Bills aren't interested in releasing Boldin -- they are seeking to trade him if a team wants him.

ESPN first reported the development.

Boldin retired in August just weeks after signing a one-year deal with the Bills.

Last year in Detroit, Boldin was Matthew Stafford's go-to red-zone target (8 touchdowns) and also frequently looked his direction on third down.

The big question now is whether there's still a market for him. He didn't sign with Buffalo until after training camp started, so it'll be interesting to see if a team is willing to take a chance with Boldin.

Kellen Moore's latest stint in Dallas has come to an end.

The Dallas Cowboys announced they have parted ways with the backup quarterback on Thursday, just days after announcing Cooper Rush had been promoted to the No. 2 quarterback role.

The team previously released Moore in September during final roster cuts and re-signed him to the 53-man roster the following week after Rico Gathers was placed in injured reserve.

He has not taken an offensive snap this year.

 

Just as the New England Patriots' defense appeared to turn the corner, it suffered another body blow.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday that linebacker Dont'a Hightower has a torn pec and is out for the season, according to a source informed of the situation. He underwent surgery Thursday, Rapoport added.

With Hightower now done for the year, it puts more pressure on linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts. Veteran David Harris, who has played sparingly, could see his early-down spans increase.

Bill Belichick could also look to upgrade his linebacking corps with a trade before Tuesday's deadline.

 

A day after he underwent surgery to repair his broken arm, Carson Palmer was placed on injured reserve by the Arizona Cardinals.

The move shuts down the quarterback for at least eight weeks, there's a chance Palmer won't be back this season at all. It remains to be seen if he will play for the Cardinals in 2018 after mulling over a decision last offseason whether he'd play in 2017. He remains under contract through 2018.

Although he could be back next season, there's a chance the Palmer-Larry Fitzgerald-Bruce Arians era could be over.

Palmer suffered the injury during the second quarter of the Cardinals loss to the Los Angeles Rams in London on Sunday.

With Palmer out of the picture for now, quarterback Drew Stanton will be tasked with helping the Cardinals turn around their season. Arians said Stanton will be Cardinals' starting quarterback moving forward.

The NRL integrity unit has started formal interviews with club officials of the Manly Sea Eagles over alleged salary cap breaches.

While conducting investigations into allegations of match fixing, NSW police uncovered that a number of Manly players took cash payments, which are against NRL salary cap rules.

During the long-running investigation into possible match fixing, police found that there was a widespread trade of club insiders revealing secret information to known gamblers which is a criminal offence punishable by up to two years in jail.  However, no charges will be laid because there is a six-month limitation from the date of the alleged offences taking place.

It has been reported that senior Manly officials initially refused to hand over their personal computers to the NRL integrity unit saying they weren’t bound by law to do so. But the club eventually caved to the requests, and have allowed the NRL integrity unit to look through thousands of documents, computer records and information downloaded from the mobile phones of club officials.

The NRL today responded to the outcome of a police inquiry, which found no evidence of match fixing in the game.

CEO Todd Greenberg said the review should give all fans confidence in the integrity of Rugby League matches.

“It is reassuring to know that, after the most exhaustive police investigation, there is no evidence of match fixing in the NRL,” Mr Greenberg said.

“In fact, no one will be prosecuted as a result of the Strike Force Nuralda investigation.

“While that is pleasing, we will never become complacent and will continue to work with the police to deal with any issues identified which have the potential to compromise the integrity of our sport.

“In particular, we will continue to work with the clubs and players on drug and gambling programs – and to educate players on the need to make the right lifestyle choices.”

 

Mr Greenberg said the NRL had already: 

• Tightened access to dressing rooms to prevent undesirable persons gaining access to players;

• Curtailed the use of telephones by players before and during matches;

• Built the Integrity Unit from scratch to a team of 14, including dedicated investigators and intelligence analysts;

• Developed Integrity Agreements with betting operators to identify wagering risks, and;

• Entered into MoUs with relevant law enforcement agencies to provide information on suspicious and illegal activities, and built strong relationships with the relevant regulators; 

Mr Greenberg said the NRL would work with the police on recommendations they have put forward to ensure organised crime does not infiltrate the NRL.

“Our position remains unchanged – if anyone is ever found to be involved in match fixing, they will face a life ban from the game,” he said.

“But the message from this investigation is clear - there is no evidence of match fixing in rugby league and that represents a vote of confidence in our game for our players, fans and clubs.” 

Friday, 27 October 2017 00:00

NRL free agency period about to open

There are more than 40 past or present State of Origin and Test players are set to become available on the open market as the NRL’s 2018 silly season begins.

Under NRL rules, clubs will be able to table offers to players off-contract at the end of 2018 as soon as Wednesday November 1.

The likes of James Maloney, Michael Morgan and Boyd Cordner headline the list, that encompasses more than 60 frontline players from all 16 clubs.

While 2017 was one of the busiest years on record as player managers timed contracts to end at the same time as the increase to the salary cap, next season could still challenge a number of clubs abilities to stay under the revised cap.

North Queensland will be the most under pressure to keep their side intact, especially if Johnathan Thurston decides to play on another year in 2019.

All four members of the team’s spine are among the eight first-graders coming off contract, including Michael Morgan following his incredible run to this year’s decider.

The Cowboys did well to retain the majority of their premiership stars following their 2015 title, but next year could prove even more challenging with established club players Lachlan Coote, Jake Granville, Ethan Lowe and Justin O’Neill also off contract at the end of 2018.

Canberra will face a considerable challenge with halves Blake Austin and Aidan Sezer both being available to the open market next week, as will Josh Hodgson, Nick Cotric and Shannon Boyd.

 

NOTABLE OFF-CONTRACT NRL PLAYERS AFTER THE 2018 SEASON

Brisbane: Corey Oates, Sam Thaiday

Canberra: Blake Austin, Shannon Boyd, Nick Cotric, Josh Hodgson, Josh Papalii, Junior Paulo, Aidan Sezer, Sia Soliola

Canterbury: Greg Eastwood, Brett Morris, Josh Morris

Cronulla: Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, James Maloney, James Segeyaro

Gold Coast: Dale Copley, Anthony Don, Kane Elgey, Jarryd Hayne

Manly: Lewis Brown, Blake Green, Brian Kelly Apisai Koroisau, Darcy Lussick, Curtis Sironen, Akuila Uate

Melbourne: Tim Glasby, Ryan Hofman, Felise Kaufusi, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith

Newcastle: Jamie Buhrer, Chris Heighington, Brock Lamb, Trent Hodkinson

North Queensland: Lachlan Coote, Jake Granville, Kane Linnett, Ethan Lowe Michael Morgan, Justin O’Neill, Johnathan Thurston, Antonio Winterstein

Parramatta: Kaysa Pritchard, Nathan Brown, Beau Scott

Penrith: Josh Mansour, Tyrone May, Peter Wallace

South Sydney: George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Thomas Burgess, Angus Crichton, Robbie Farah, John Sutton

St George Illawarra: Matt Dufty, Cameron McInnes, Jason Nightingale, Joel Thompson

Sydney Roosters: Boyd Cordner, Blake Ferguson, Jake Friend, Michael Gordon, Luke Keary, Isaac Liu

Wests Tigers: Tim Grant, Benji Marshall, Kevin Naiqama

Warriors: Issac Luke, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Friday, 27 October 2017 00:00

Mitchell Pearce Saga Continues

MITCHELL Pearce has reportedly put his name on the open market as the Sydney Roosters prepare to unveil the marquee signing of Cooper Cronk.

The decision from both Cronk and the Roosters isn’t expected to be announced until Monday, however Pearce has expressed his desire to find a new home.

The signing of Cronk would relegate Pearce out of the Roosters halfback position.

A report in The Daily Telegraph has stated Pearce’s displeasure with the moves being made behind closed doors.

“He’s very upset,” said one of Pearce’s closest associates.

“He loves the Roosters and always wanted to be a one-club player.”

As reports of unrest filtered throughout the league, plenty of teams have begun testing the waters on potentially signing Pearce.

The Sea Eagles have emerged as the early leader in trying to sign the playmaker who still has two years remaining on his Roosters contract valued at $800,000 per season.

In order to facilitate a deal to sign Pearce, the Sea Eagles will reportedly ship Blake Green to the New Zealand Warriors where he’ll take up a multimillion-dollar offer.

 

“Mitchell Pearce is the current NSW halfback and he’s an outstanding player,” coach Nathan Brown said to the Newcastle Herald.

“I think if he was to become available, we’d be silly as a club not to at least entertain the thought of trying to sit down and have a talk with him"

“We’ve made quite clear our desire to bring in an experienced half to work with Brock (Lamb) and Connor (Watson) and Kalyn (Ponga), and Mitchell Pearce is a player who certainly has had a very, very good career.”

Cronk had also been linked with the Eels and Sharks but the announcement of signing with the Roosters on a two-year deal now seems imminent.

Mitchell Pearce has yet to make any public comment regarding his future.

 

Friday, 27 October 2017 00:00

NRL to take player pay deal off the table

The very real chance that talks with the players’ union are on the verge of collapsing moved a step closer yesterday when club bosses authorised the NRL to take the pay deal off the table if the players don’t accept an offer by October 31.

Team bosses have expressed frustration at the NRL’s failure to reach an agreement on the future pay structure.

Despite 12 months of talks between the NRL and the players’ association, both sides remain at odds over the players’ push for a guaranteed revenue share.

The RLPA want the players to receive a maximum share of the game’s revenue, but club bosses fear the code doesn’t have the funds.

There is also a strong belief that the NRL can’t give the players the majority of funds and neglect key growth areas.

One club official said there were genuine fears there won’t be a professional rugby league competition in Australia after the current CBA if the majority of money went to the players.

It’s why club bosses have given the NRL permission to remove the current pay deal, only days before the collective bargaining agreement expires on Tuesday 31st October.

The NRL has informed the RLPA there is no room to move on their latest offer, meaning the two parties are once again in a standoff situation.

A withdrawn offer would cause major problems for the game, including forcing clubs to attempt to find new revenue streams to replace money assured under the existing terms, and reignite debate around the salary cap, which is expected to rise to $9.4 million next season.

The ball is now in the RLPA’s court, however they will not comment on their next move until they have received further information from the NRL.

The NRL is still hopeful that an agreement will be reached in the coming days.

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