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By Matt Greene

(The following is a report of important news from around the league. I (Matt) will be gathering and writing this news weekly).

Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization finally issued a definitive statement this week regarding the spygate scandal. Both Belichick and Scott Pioli denied allegations that the Patriots had benefited from taping or watching any practice or walk through. Bill Belichick also commented that he “wouldn’t be able to pick him (former video assistant Matt Walsh) out of a lineup.”

– Several players around the league were given the franchise tag this week. And some even got brand new big time contracts. So far, Titans DT Albert Haynesworth, Ravens LB Terrell Suggs, Packers DT Gary Williams, Seahawks CB Marcus Trufant, Bengals OT Stacey Andrews, and several others have all received franchise tags, keeping them from hitting the Free Agent market, which opens in about a week and a half. Indianapolis TE Dallas Clark also signed a huge 6 year extension with the team after being given the franchise tag.

– Recently released LB Zach Thomas has already received a lot of interest, having visited three teams this week (Patriots, Saints, Cowboys) and received a contract offer from the Patriots. There are also rumors that the Jets and Bills have contacted him about a future visit.

– Browns QB Derek Anderson and the Browns are reported to be close to agreeing on a contract extension. Although details of the contract are not yet available, it is likely that he will receive a big contract, making him the clear #1. If this is so, it will be interesting to see if Cleveland attempts to move Brady Quinn.

– Tom Coughlin and the Giants are close to agreeing on a 4 year contract extension. Funny, this time last year reports indicated that Giants were close to firing Coughlin. Funny how things can change in a year.

-The NFL Combine began yesterday, and continues this weekend. This is the time when draft prospects perform various tests to see how they’d compete at an NFL level. The combine is also the first chance for NFL coaches and GM’s to sit down with players they’re interested in and get to know them better. I’ll have a detailed combine review in next weeks recap.

RUMOR MILL
– Former Dolphins WR Marty Booker is not likely to be franchised by the team, meaning he will hit the open market on Feb. 29th. Several reports have surfaced, suggesting that a meeting has already set up with the Patriots.

-Yesterday, reports indicated that the Dallas Cowboys will indeed look to resign Marion Barber to a long term deal. Both the Cowboys and agent Drew Rosenhaus admitted that a meeting was planned at Indianapolis during the Combine. This report contradicts speculation that the Cowboys would try to trade away their first two picks and move up for Darren Mcfadden.

-Jets WR Laveranues Coles has been openly complaining about the Jets management not giving him a new contract. However, part of the reason he may not be receiving a new contract is because the team has been dangling him in trade talks, such as this one reported by JetNation.

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