The latest on the meeting between Goodell, Vilma

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The latest on the meeting between Goodell, Vilma

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will meet Monday with Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma to discuss Vilma's suspension that was temporarily lifted last week.A person familiar with the plans tells The Associated Press that Vilma will be in New York to present his case in the Saints' bounties scandal for which he was suspended for the 2012 season. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting has not been announced.Vilma and three other players were suspended, but an appeals panel ruled last Friday that Goodell must clarify his earlier rulings to ensure no part of his decisions was based on salary cap violations. Goodell still could reinstate the suspensions to Vilma, New Orleans defensive end Will Smith, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free agent defensive end Anthony Hargrove for participating in a pay-for-injure program that violates the league's detrimental conduct policy.Smith, Fujita and Hargrove are expected to meet with Goodell on Tuesday.Only Smith played on Sunday, when the Saints lost to Washington. Vilma was placed on the physically unable to perform list, while Fujita sat out Cleveland's loss to Philadelphia with a leg injury. Hargrove was cut by Green Bay during the preseason.Players and coaches implicated in the bounty pool have testified under oath in a related federal court case they never intended to injure opposing players. The appeals panel ruled that Goodell could suspend the four players as long as the discipline was attributable to conduct detrimental to the NFL. Special master Stephen Burbank has the jurisdiction to rule on "undisclosed compensation," which violates the salary cap."It does not require the commissioner to take additional evidence or to "reweigh" the evidence currently in the record," the NFL said in a statement Thursday. "The panel did not take issue with any findings that were made in the course of the investigation, did not exonerate anyone involved, and did not say that the commissioner overstepped his authority.' '

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Report: Cavs. Pacers, Nuggets discuss deal involving George, Love

Don’t count the Cleveland Cavaliers out of the Paul George sweepstakes just yet.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein and Chris Haynes, the Cavaliers are still working on a way to get George with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in Ohio.

The latest rumor involves a three way deal being discussed between the Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers, and Denver Nuggets. According to Hayes, the deal would send George and Kenenth Faried to Cleveland and Kevin Love to Denver.

Presumably, Indiana would end up with good picks and a few young assets.

Click here for the complete story.

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

Will the Harris signing mean more time on the edge for Hightower?

David Harris is expected to be a savvy middle linebacker who will line up his teammates when they help. He's expected to provide some level of leadership, even in his first year in New England, as an accomplished-but-hungry 33-year-old who has not yet reached a Super Bowl. 

What Harris is not expected to do is improve the Patriots pass rush. He was in on one sack in 900 snaps last season.  

But in a roundabout way he might. 

MORE: How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

There are dominos to fall now that Harris has been added to Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia's defense. How much will Harris play, and whose playing time will he cut into? Those questions don't yet have answers, but one of the more intriguing elements of the Harris acquisition is how he will benefit Dont'a Hightower's game.

If Harris can pick up the Patriots defense quickly -- and all indications are that there should be few issues there -- he could take some of the all-important communication responsibilities off of Hightower's shoulders. 

Ever since taking the reins from Jerod Mayo as the team's signal-caller, Hightower has had to be on top of all requisite pre-snap checks and last-second alignment changes. It's a critical role, and one that Hightower performs well, but those duties place some added stress on the player wearing the green dot. Perhaps if part of that load can be heaped onto Harris' plate, that might allow Hightower to feel as though he's been freed up to focus on his individual assignments.

Harris' presence might also impact where on the field Hightower is used. Hightower may be the most versatile piece on a Patriots defense loaded with them, but with Harris in the middle, Hightower could end up playing more on the edge, where he's proven he can make a major impact (see: Super Bowl LI).

For Belichick and his staff, having the ability to use one of their best pass-rushers -- and one of the most efficient rushers league-wide, per Pro Football Focus -- on the edge more frequently has to be an enticing byproduct of the move to sign Harris. Especially since there are some question marks among the team's end-of-the-line defenders behind Trey Flowers and Rob Ninkovich. 

We'll have to wait for training camp before we have an idea of how exactly Harris fits in with the Patriots defense. But the effect he'll have on his new teammates, and Hightower in particular, will be fascinating to track.