The 'Why?' of Leigh Bodden's release

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The 'Why?' of Leigh Bodden's release

FOXBORO - Just 19 months ago, Leigh Bodden was one of the two most sought-after free agents on the market. After a 2009 season in which he was one of the few bright spots in a shaky and immature Patriots secondary, Bodden was in a position to cash in. It came down to the Texans and Patriots and New England won out, signing Bodden to a four-year, 22 million deal. This season, he was due to make 3.9 million in base salary, a base that was second only to Tom Brady's 5.75 million.
How does a player go so quickly from being so highly-regarded, must-have pieceto castoff? And why would the Patriots just take a flamethrower to the reported 10 million investment in guaranteed money they gave him?Not surprisingly, the answer isn't a simple one. Bodden missed the 2010 season with a shoulder injury and has been battling nagging ailments including groin and thumb injuries this year. In his absence, Devin McCourty emerged as a Pro Bowler in his rookie year and underrated Kyle Arrington proved a solid NFL starter. Meanwhile, the Patriots took Ras-I Dowling in the second round last April and have been stockpiling little-known free agent corners like Phillip Adams and Antwaun Molden. The old saying, "You can't make the club from the tub..." might apply here. Too often, Bodden was injured or his effectiveness was compromised. And other players who played just as well or better for less money emerged. When Bodden was on the field he was nothing like the effective corner he'd been in 2009 when he had five picks. He was really just...there.And his playing time sometimes reflected that with several players cycling through the corner position opposite McCourty.There's also the entire roster to consider. With three players coming back from the PUP list and being eligible for activation this week, the Patriots may need to clear room for Brandon Deaderick, Ron Brace or Kevin Faulk. Certainly, they could have thrown overboard a player they had less invested in, but perhaps the situation with reduced time came to a head.Bodden's agent, Alvin Keels, indicated Bodden was ready to move on from the situation as well."He's enjoyed this time in New England, but after meeting with coach Belichick this morning, both parties agreed it was time to move on," Keels said to ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss. "Leigh still has a strong desire to play football and welcomes his next opportunity to compete for a Super Bowl. Leigh is totally healthy and can contribute right away." Bodden will be placed on waivers. Any team that claims him will be responsible for the rest of his 2011 salary. If he's not claimed, the Patriots are on the hook for it. That's a lot of money to pay a player to NOT play for you. Bodden's teammates were a little stunned by the news which they said they were hearing for the first time from reporters. "Ya, it's football," said wide receiver Deion Branch. "That's what happens in the NFL. Guys get cut in college. Guys get cut in high school. It's the NFL, man. Those coaching decisions, we roll with it. I go out and do my job. And I'm pretty sure everybody else is doing the same thing."

Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

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Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

When Dominique Easley was released by the Patriots this spring, it wasn't because he wasn't productive when he was on the field. In fact, on a per-snap basis, he was one of the most productive interior pass-rushers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Instead, there were some off-the-field factors, as well as injury concerns, that led to the Patriots choosing to cut ties with their 2014 first-round pick. 

As our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it, there were "philosophical differences" between Easley and the team.

Other, more scathing reports of Easley's impact in New England were released, including one report from the Boston Globe that included a quote from a former teammate saying he was a "locker room cancer."

Since then, Easley has landed with the Rams and has a chance to contribute to one of the most talented defensive lines in football. In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis, Easley said he hopes that his new team will get to see that he's a better person than some have indicated.

"Just really," Easley said, "just hopefully that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great hardworker I am, and really, just a great person."

Easley went on to say that he's not sure who would speak of him negatively or why. He explained that it's not his "main goal" to prove there's nothing to worry about with his character, but clearly it's somewhere on the list. 

"There's been, obviously, stuff said about me," Easley said. "We don't know where it came from. I would say the person doesn't want to come out and say it, neither. As far as I know, it's all rumors until that person comes out and say that it was from them, and they can prove that they actually know who I am, or been around me long enough to know who I am and how I am as a person."

PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

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PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

Peyton Manning is retired, but that doesn't mean he's exempt from the interviews that the NFL plans to conduct as it looks into the allegations made by Al Jazeera's December PED documentary. 

It was reported last week by USA Today that the league's senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFLPA that players named in Al Jazeera's report would be interviewed in July. 

Among those scheduled to be interviewed are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will also be interviewed.

(Harrison has taken issue with the league's request, and said on social media that he would only meet with the league if commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to his home.)

Manning was not mentioned in the letter obtained by USA Today detailing the league's interview plans, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up on Monday to see if the NFL intended to speak with Manning. It does.

The former Broncos and Colts quarterback has been very vocal about just how strongly he denies Al Jazeera's claim that his wife, Ashley, received HGH for his use. Despite the fact that he's no longer playing, it will come as no surprise if, given his stance, Manning cooperates fully with the league as it seeks more information regarding the report. 

As Florio points out, if Manning hopes to return to the NFL at some point as an executive -- as many believe he will -- this is something he'll want to put to bed beforehand. That process will start with an interview.