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AP source: Manning, Broncos talking about reworking contract

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) It looks as if it's going to come down to money.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations confirms the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning's representatives are discussing ways to revise his contract and give the team more flexibility in free agency.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

Manning, who has made more money than any player in pro football history, is due to make another $19 million in both 2015 and `16, and his salary cap number for next season is $21.2 million.

John Elway has traditionally been one of the more aggressive general managers in the NFL when it comes to free agency, and he has plenty of problems to fix again this offseason.

Last year he lured DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Aqib Talib and Emmanuel Sanders, Pro Bowlers all, and he wants to make another run at a Super Bowl title with Manning, who turns 39 next month.

Redoing Manning's deal would give Elway more maneuverability as he addresses Denver's offseason needs, including retooling the offensive line that figures to have up to three new members next season.

Following Denver's playoff loss to his former team, the Indianapolis Colts, last month, Manning was non-committal about playing next season, which would be his 18th in the NFL. Elway asked him the next morning not to make a rash decision.

Manning flew to Denver on Feb. 12 to meet with Elway and new coach Gary Kubiak, both of whom said at the NFL scouting combine last week that they expected Manning to be their quarterback next season.

Manning must also pass a physical by March 5 where doctors check to see if there's any degeneration in his surgically repaired neck, but both the five-time MVP and Elway have said they consider that a mere formality.

The Broncos figure to have about $27 million to work with under the projected $148 million salary cap in 2015, but a franchise tag for star receiver Demaryius Thomas next week would eat up about half of that figure. Placing the franchise tag on Thomas would buy them some time to negotiate a long-term deal. They did that with kicker Matt Prater and blindside protector Ryan Clady.

They also have to allot at least $6 million for their bevy of draft picks that's expected to include multiple compensatory selections for all the free agents they lost last year.

Manning owns most of the significant QB records and is a half-season's worth of yards - 2,148 - shy of breaking Brett Favre's yardage record of 71,838.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 02:15:00 +0000
Cop: Shell casings in Hernandez car, at scene from same gun

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) A shell casing found in a car rented by ex-New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez and at the scene of a killing near his home were fired from the same weapon, a state police sergeant testified Wednesday.

Five shell casings were found near where Odin Lloyd was shot to death June 17, 2013, in an industrial park not far from the Hernandez home in North Attleborough. An employee of a rental car business has previously testified that she found one shell casing under the driver's seat of Hernandez's rented Nissan Altima, which he returned the day of the killing.

Police later found that shell casing in a trash bin at the business.

Sgt. Stephen Walsh testified Wednesday that his examination determined all six .45-caliber casings were fired by the same gun. He said they were consistent with having been fired from a Glock.

The murder weapon has never been found.

During cross-examination, the defense went after Walsh for not looking more thoroughly for ways to match the bullets, such as by contacting the manufacturer or by checking a national database for comparing bullets.

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 20:16:00 +0000
Mavs suspend Rondo for game after exchange with Carlisle

ATLANTA (AP) The Dallas Mavericks suspended Rajon Rondo for their game Wednesday night in Atlanta for conduct detrimental to the team, a day after the point guard had a heated exchange on the court with coach Rick Carlisle and was benched.

Carlisle said he must communicate better with Rondo.

"The incident last night was born in large part from poor communication between him and I," Carlisle said before Dallas' 104-87 loss. "That's on both of us. We had a long talk about the situation today and we both agreed we need to communicate more frequently and we need to work on the solution of making his stint as a Dallas Maverick the most successful one possible."

Rondo came out with 8:10 left in the third quarter of Dallas' 99-92 home victory over Toronto. He was bringing the ball up the court when Carlisle angrily shouted for a timeout and exchanged words with Rondo from several feet away as the player headed to the bench.

The Mavericks were trailing by nine when Rondo was pulled and rallied with backups Devin Harris and J.J. Barea running the offense along with leading scorer Monta Ellis, who sometimes handles the ball.

Carlisle said Rondo will return as a starter for the Mavericks' next game against Brooklyn on Saturday.

"It's one game. He'll serve it tonight," Carlisle said. "We'll be off tomorrow. He'll practice Friday and he'll be back in the starting lineup on Saturday. The events of last night are now in the past and we've got to move forward.

"I need to say this very clearly: He's an extremely important part of our team. Our efforts to get to the highest possible level largely hinge on ... playing well with him. He needs to play well with us and we need to play well with him. It's a two-way street."

Carlisle said the suspension was "an organizational decision."

The suspension left the Mavericks with only 11 players against the Hawks. Center Tyson Chandler was held out with a hip contusion and forward Amare Stoudemire was rested with the team playing on back-to-back days. Forward Chandler Parsons was held out with a left ankle injury.

Acquired in a trade with Boston in December to try to improve the playoff outlook for the Mavericks in the difficult Western Conference, Rondo hasn't had an easy transition.

The four-time All-Star who won a title with the Celtics in 2008 was on the bench in the final minutes of a four-point loss to Chicago about a month after the trade and said afterward he didn't have a problem with Carlisle's decision. Dallas' offense has sunk from the top of the league to fourth in points per game since he arrived.

"For us to get where we want to get ... his abilities have to be utilized by us the best possible way," Carlisle said. "That's in large part my responsibility and I do not dodge that. And a lot of that starts with great communication with him. I'm always working on being a better communicator and we talked about it today. He admitted that he's got to do the same. So that's where we are and we'll go forward from here."

Also brought in to improve the Mavericks' perimeter defense with a long list of strong guards in the West, Rondo had some success against Houston's James Harden and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook before breaking a bone near his left eye at Orlando and missing six games.

In his first game back after the All-Star break, Rondo couldn't slow Westbrook in a blowout loss to the Thunder. He bounced back with a solid outing in a win over Harden and the Rockets.

The Mavericks made the move for Rondo after offseason pickup Jameer Nelson struggled at the point. Dallas gave up Nelson, swingman Jae Crowder, forward Brandan Wright and two draft picks for Rondo and forward Dwight Powell, who has played sparingly.

The win over Toronto gave the Mavericks a sweep of a three-game homestand and pulled them within half a game of Houston for third place in the tightly packed West. There are four teams separated by just a game and a half in the battle for two spots with home-court advantage in the first round.

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AP Sports Writer Schuyler Dixon in Dallas contributed to this report.

Thu, 26 Feb 2015 04:06:00 +0000
Chicago's Rose out again with knee injury, needs surgery

CHICAGO (AP) Derrick Rose's knee has failed him again.

The Chicago Bulls star will have surgery on his right knee for the second straight season, casting doubt on whether the once dynamic point guard will ever be the same after a series of injuries.

The team announced Tuesday night that Rose was feeling pain in his knee, and an exam and MRI confirmed a medial meniscus tear.

The 2011 NBA MVP played in only 10 games last season before he had surgery for the same injury in November 2013, shelving him for the year, but the Bulls said a timetable for his return will be determined after the operation.

It's unclear when Rose re-injured the knee. He appeared to be rounding into form last month, averaging 22.6 points over his final 14 games before the All-Star break, but he had struggled since returning to the court after the time off.

Rose became the latest NBA star to be sidelined for a significant period within the past few days.

Chris Bosh will miss the rest of the season after the Miami Heat announced blood clots were found on one of his lungs. Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (left knee surgery) won't return this season, either.

Thunder star Kevin Durant had surgery on his right foot, and Pelicans big man Anthony Davis has a sprained right shoulder. Both are expected back this season.

Rose's status remains to be seen.

Rose had eight points on 1-for-13 shooting while playing almost 33 minutes in Monday night's 87-71 victory over Milwaukee. He averaged 10.7 points on 23.5 percent shooting in Chicago's first three games after the break.

It's a big blow for the surging Bulls (36-21), who have won six of seven and appeared to be picking up steam after a tough stretch. They lead the Central Division by a half-game over Cleveland, but any extended absence for Rose will make it quite difficult for Chicago to hold off LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

"Man feel bad for D.Rose! Keep your head up homie and stay strong G!" James tweeted after the injury was announced.

James was one of several NBA stars who took to social media to express their support for Rose, who has been dogged by injuries since he won the MVP award. All-Star teammate Jimmy Butler posted a picture of him and Rose with the message: "my point guard. my brother."

Rose was limited to 39 games during the 2011-12 season, and tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in Game 1 of the 2012 playoffs against Philadelphia. He missed the next season altogether, and then last season was cut short by the right knee surgery.

Rose, 26, is averaging 18.4 points and 5.0 assists in 46 games this season. He has flashed his MVP form at times, attacking the rim, but his outside shot has been unreliable. He is shooting just 40.7 percent, the second-lowest average of his career, and is committing 3.2 turnovers per game.

The Bulls have shuffled players in and out of the lineup because of various ailments and have struggled to develop continuity after making some big moves last summer.

They signed All-Star Pau Gasol, giving them a big scoring presence inside, and with Rose back after missing most of the past two years, the Bulls came in looking to contend for a championship.

Now they wait to see how long Rose will be out with this injury.

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Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 06:29:00 +0000
Council OKs Los Angeles-area stadium backed by Rams owner

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) The Inglewood City Council late Tuesday night approved plans to build a football stadium that includes St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke as a partner, clearing a path for a return to the Los Angeles area of the NFL for the first time in two decades.

The council approved the $2 billion plan with a 5-0 vote after a meeting with several hours of public comment and many vocal Rams fans wearing jerseys in attendance.

With only a small handful of dissenters, most of the commenters exuberantly supported the move.

They included Henry Yet, 54, of Brea, a board member of the Southern California Ram boosters.

"I'm not going to sleep, I'll probably stay up all night just thinking about it," he said after the vote. "This is a monumental step."

Another commenter, Eric Geller, urged the council to "plant those shovels in the dirt tomorrow morning."

The vote adopts a new redevelopment plan without calling a public vote, effectively kickstarting construction and sidestepping lengthy environmental review of issues such as noise, traffic and air pollution.

It adds the 80,000 seat, 60-acre stadium to an existing 2009 plan to redevelop the former Hollywood Park racetrack site with homes, offices, stores, parks and open space and a hotel.

Kroenke is part of the Hollywood Park Land Co. development group that is promoting the project. But a plan is also in the works in St. Louis in hopes of keeping the team with a 64,000-seat stadium on the city's north riverfront.

Yet said he believed Kroenke and the team would make the move, even if there are legal or other obstacles.

"He knows he's going to be in litigation, but he has the money and the firepower to do it, and the city says yes," Yet said.

New urgency for Inglewood came to the issue last week with the announcement that the Oakland Raiders and the San Diego Chargers are planning a shared stadium in suburban Carson if they don't get their current hometowns to cough up enough money to replace their aging stadiums. Another stadium plan remains alive for downtown Los Angeles, but has no team attached.

Stadium proponents said it is important to approve the concept as soon as possible to avoid delays in the redevelopment that already is underway. They would like construction to start by year's end to have a venue ready for the 2018 football season.

A Feb. 20 consultants' report to the city manager backing the stadium notes that the developer, not the public, would pay the cost of building the stadium and says the plan would allow the city - once home to the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Kings before they moved to Los Angeles - "to continue its legacy of providing the region with world-class sports and entertainment."

Christopher Meany, executive vice-president of the Hollywood Park Land Development Company said that the plan is important for the community and said at the meeting Tuesday night that the project is "really going to be the new heart of Inglewood."

"Their vision is being realized here," Meany said.

Meany has emphasized that the plan does not include any taxpayer dollars.

Mayor James Butts Jr. said the project was "the best financial arrangement in the history of stadium deals in this country."

But while the deal does not include upfront tax money, the development group expects to recoup up to $100 million in local tax dollars in the first five years of operation, which would cover costs ranging from installing street lights and fire hydrants to running shuttle buses and providing police security on game days.

Supporters also said the stadium would bring the city more than 10,000 jobs and tens of millions of dollars a year in new tax revenue.

Wed, 25 Feb 2015 08:22:00 +0000

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