FALCONS’ FREEMAN SIGNS 5-YEAR DEAL
On the eve of their first preseason game, the Atlanta Falcons addressed their biggest issue coming into training camp.
Devonta Freeman has a new contract.
The defending NFC champions agreed to terms Wednesday on a five-year, $41.25 million extension with Freeman, making him the highest-paid running back in the league in terms of the overall package. It includes a $15 million signing bonus and $22 million in guaranteed money.
Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy had been the highest-paid back with a five-year, $40 million deal signed in 2015. Pittsburgh’s Le’veon Bell’s rejected an even bigger deal and will play for $12.12 million franchise tag this season.
During his three seasons with the Falcons, Freeman has racked up 2,383 rushing yards, including back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons in 2015 and 2016. His 3,175 total yards over the past two seasons ranks second in the NFL, behind teammate Julio Jones.
Freeman will make just under $1.8 million in the final year of a rookie contract he signed as a fourth-round draft pick out of Florida State.
Steelers’ Bryant cleared.
Steelers wide receiver Martavis Bryant has been cleared to participate in all preseason activities, general manager Kevin Colbert said.
Bryant missed the entire 2016 season while serving a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Bryant was conditionally reinstated by the league in April, and he took part in organized team activities and minicamp.
When Bryant arrived at Saint Vincent College for Pittsburgh’s training camp last month, he was informed by the league that he could not practice or play until some conditions of his reinstatement were met.
Deshaun Watson shined in his NFL preseason debut, completing 15-of-25 passes for 179 yards and running for a score in the Texans’ 27-17 loss to the Panthers. … The NFL will hire from 21 to 24 full-time officials from among the current roster of 124 officials for this season. … The Colts released defensive tackle Kendall Langford after he failed a physical. … Coach Marvin Lewis was back with the Bengals after missing a practice to have a knee problem checked. Lewis, who had scans on a swollen knee Tuesday, plans to coach the Bengals’ preseason opener Friday against Tampa Bay. … San Francisco rookie linebacker Donavin Newsom was expected to be released from a hospital a day after being taken off the practice field by ambulance with a concussion. Newson was hurt in practice Tuesday. He suffered a concussion but didn’t sustain any cervical spinal fractures. … Dallas punter Chris Jones signed a four-year contract extension through 2021.