NFL notebook: CBS awarded contract for Thursday matchups

| Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

NEW YORK — The NFL has decided to shift eight of its Thursday night games to a broadcast network, and announced Wednesday that CBS won the bid to showcase more of television's hottest property.

CBS will air the games during the first eight weeks of the season with its top broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, simulcasting them with the NFL Network.

The league's cable network will show six Thursday night games alone later in the season, produced by CBS with Nantz and Simms also in the booth. Two Saturday games are included in the deal, but it is unclear whether they will be on CBS or the NFL Network.

The NFL said the contract is for one year, and the league has an option to extend it for 2015. Financial terms were not disclosed.

CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and Turner were interested in the NFL's Thursday night package.

Part of the reason for a short-term deal is the NFL's indecision about whether it sees the Thursday night franchise as best for its cable network in years to come or whether the rights money and greater exposure offered by a broadcast network is the smarter financial play.

CBS already is the top-rated network, and its victory with the NFL short-circuited what would have been a strong move by a rival to cut into its lead.

“You can never be too rich or too thin,” CBS Corp. chairman Leslie Moonves said. “You can never have too much programming.”

Dolphins report pending

The attorney investigating the Dolphins' bullying case said his report likely will be issued late next week or early the following week.

Attorney Ted Wells informed the league before the Super Bowl that he expected to complete and issue his report during that time span, a statement from his office said Wednesday.

Wells was hired three months ago to investigate allegations made by tackle Jonathan Martin after he left the team at midseason.

Martin said he was harassed daily by teammates, including guard Richie Incognito, who was suspended for the season's final eight games.

Cassel voids 2014 option

Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel will void the 2014 option on his contract and become a free agent, a person familiar with his decision said.

Let go by the Chiefs last year, Cassel signed with the Vikings as the backup to Christian Ponder but finished the season as the starter.

Falcons release veterans

The Falcons released two former longtime starters: cornerback Asante Samuel and linebacker Stephen Nicholas.

The 33-year-old Samuel started only 10 games in 2013, when the Falcons finished a disappointing 4-12.

Nicholas made 51 starts in seven seasons with the Falcons, including only four in 2013.

Saints hire QB coach

Saints coach Sean Payton said he has hired former scout and current Tulane assistant Mike Neu as New Orleans' quarterbacks coach.

Neu will replace Joe Lombardi, who left this offseason to become the Lions' offensive coordinator.

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