NFL notebook: Broncos WR Welker suspended 4 games
Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker was suspended for the first four games of the regular season after testing positive for an amphetamine, according to multiple reports.
Welker has already appealed the penalty, the person said, but it was rejected by the league. The suspension will begin immediately.
Welker will be eligible to return to the Broncos, who have a bye in Week 4, for their Week 6 game at the Jets.
Irsay suspended 6 games, fined $500K
The NFL suspended Jim Irsay for the first six games of the season and fined him $500,000 for violating its personal conduct policy, coming down hard on the Colts owner Tuesday just hours after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor stemming from an embarrassing March traffic stop.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Irsay is barred from team facilities, practices and games and cannot represent the Colts at NFL meetings or events. The fine is the maximum allowed under league rules.
The 55-year-old Irsay pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of driving while intoxicated and acknowledged during his appearance before a Hamilton County judge that he was under the influence of the painkillers oxycodone and hydrocodone when he was arrested March 16 near his home in the Indianapolis suburb of Carmel.
Irsay did not comment outside the courtroom, but he apologized to Colts fans in a prepared statement.
“I am committed to do everything in my power to turn this whole experience into a positive event for myself, my family and the community,” he said. “In retrospect, I now know that the incident opened my eyes to issues in my life that needed addressing and helped put me on the path to regain my health. I truly hope and pray that my episode will help in some small measure to diminish the stigma surrounding our country's terrible and deadly problem of addiction. It is a disease.”
Irsay's case was closely watched around the NFL — not least among players — because there are few examples of the league punishing an owner like Irsay. Lions president Tom Lewand was suspended for 30 days and fined $100,000 in 2010 for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy following his guilty plea to driving while impaired. A player with a first-offense misdemeanor DUI would not be suspended and would be fined no more than $50,000 under terms of the collective bargaining agreement with the NFL Players Association.
Source: Watt agrees to contract extension
Star defensive end J.J. Watt agreed to terms on a contract extension with the Texans, according to multiple reports. The agreement was for six years and $100 million, with $51.8 million guaranteed and a $10 million signing bonus.
Watt had two years left on his contract that was due to pay him $1.9 million this year and just under $7 million in 2015. He expressed his desire for a new contract last month as the Texans were practicing with the Denver Broncos.
The 25-year-old Watt has emerged as one of the league's most dominant players, with 74 tackles for loss, 36½ sacks and 27 pass breakups since he joined the league as the 11th overall pick in 2011.
Cowboys' Brent reinstated, suspended for 10 games
Former Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent is being allowed to return to the NFL, though he won't play right away.
The NFL outlined a series of conditions Brent must meet to be eligible to play when the Cowboys return from their bye week in November.
Brent retired last year and was sentenced to 180 days in jail after a trial in January in the intoxication manslaughter death of teammate Jerry Brown, a practice squad linebacker for the Cowboys. A 10-year prison sentence was suspended.
The league says Brent will be suspended for the first 10 games of the season and can't participate in team activities for the first six weeks. He won't be allowed to visit the team's practice facility for the first six weeks except to meet with people associated with his rehab.
Belichick: I'll make call on Gronk return
One day after Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski pronounced himself ready to return, Bill Belichick reminded him it will be the coach's decision.
Belichick said during a conference call he will decide whether the tight end is ready to take the field after a knee injury. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said they will use Gronkowski however they can.
Gronkowski has been a Pro Bowl-caliber player when healthy. After injuring his arm in the 2012 season, he tore ligaments in his right knee last Dec. 8.
He has not played in the preseason, but he said at his locker Monday he was “super excited” to be back.
Sam to visit with Cowboys
The Cowboys will host Michael Sam at Valley Ranch, according to sources. The defensive end will take a physical, and the Cowboys expect to sign him to the practice squad if all goes well during his visit.
Sam became the first openly gay NFL player to be drafted when the St. Louis Rams selected him in the seventh round. He had three sacks and 11 tackles in the preseason, but the Rams cut Sam on Saturday. Their 10-player practice squad did not include Sam.
The Cowboys filled out their practice squad by signing offensive tackle John Wetzel of Brashear and defensive back Jemea Thomas. They would have to release one of the 10 players on the practice squad before signing Sam.
Practice squad players will make $6,300 per week this season, including the bye week.
Around the league
The Saints re-signed place kicker Shayne Graham, who had been with the club since late last season and throughout training camp before being cut Saturday. … Authorities say former NFL quarterback Max Hall was accused of shoplifting and narcotics possession near his Arizona hometown. Gilbert police say the 28-year-old Hall was arrested Friday for allegedly shoplifting from a Best Buy store in Gilbert, Ariz. He played in six games for the Cardinals in 2010 and was with the CFL's Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2013.