Jan 4, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA;  A New England Patriots fan watches the end of a game against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Patriots delay season-ticket deadline, anticipate fans in 2021

The New England Patriots not only hope to host fans during home games during the 2021 season, the team is shooting to fill Gillette Stadium after having no fans in 2020.

The Patriots have delayed the due date for season-ticket payments from March until June in anticipation that fans will be welcomed back to the stadium at the start of the season, according to multiple reports Wednesday.

The reports state the team sent a letter to prior season-ticket holders and is “very optimistic that we will have fans in the stands and hopeful that we will be able to do so at full capacity.”

Ticket prices will also reportedly not be increased in 2021. The Patriots will notably host the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium this upcoming season.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Seattle Seahawks running back Alex Collins (41) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers linebacker Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (45) at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

RB Alex Collins re-signs with Seahawks

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Running back Alex Collins re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks on Wednesday.

Collins had 18 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns in three games (one start) last season during his second stint with the Seahawks. He played briefly on special teams during Seattle’s 30-20 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC wild-card round before being shuffled to the practice squad.

Collins, 26, is part of a backfield that has Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde set to become unrestricted free agents on March 17. Fellow running backs Rashaad Penny, Travis Homer, DeeJay Dallas and Patrick Carr are also on the Seahawks current roster as 2021 options.

Collins has recorded 375 carries for 1,586 yards and 16 touchdowns in 39 career games (23 starts) with Seattle (2016, 2020) and the Baltimore Ravens (2017-18). He was selected by the Seahawks in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

He was out of the league in 2019 after being cut by the Ravens that March after being arrested following a car accident after which officers found a small amount of marijuana and a firearm in the vehicle. He later received an 18-month probationary sentence and was suspended for three weeks that November by the NFL.

–Field Level Media

Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

NFL pro day schedule: Alabama in spotlight March 23

Dec 29, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Scouts can roll into Alabama to check out the sterling Crimson Tide draft class on March 23.

With the NFL Scouting Combine shuttered this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prospects entered in the 2021 NFL Draft expect heightened scrutiny at pro day workouts held on their college campuses.

Presumptive No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence moved up his own workout this month at the suggestion of new Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Urban Meyer. The Clemson quarterback underwent left shoulder surgery and the early pro day cleared his schedule for recovery.

Clemson’s pro day will be held on March 11.

The national champion Crimson Tide could challenge the draft record of six first-round picks that was set by Miami (Fla.) in 2004. Alabama’s list of prized prospects includes wide receive DeVonta Smith, running back Najee Harris, cornerback Asante Samuel Jr., wide receiver Jaylen Waddle, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, linebacker Dylan Moses and defensive lineman LaBryan Ray.

Smith won the Heisman Trophy and scorched Ohio State in the first half of the CFP national championship game before exiting in the third quarter with a hand injury.

He attended the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., but did not make himself available for workouts or official measurements.

Smith is widely viewed as an expected top-10 pick.

Quarterback Mac Jones is another draft-eligible option from Alabama and some pundits have the him projected to be selected in the first round.

Jones will be competing for attention with the likes of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance (whose pro day is scheduled for March 12), BYU’s Zach Wilson (March 26) and Ohio State’s Justin Fields (March 30).

Below is a list of known pro days released by the NFL on Wednesday:

March 5

March 9
Kansas State

March 10

March 11

March 12
Arkansas State
North Dakota State

March 15
Kent State
Middle Tennessee State

March 16
Georgia Tech

March 17
San Jose State

March 18
Central Arkansas
Louisiana Tech
West Virginia

March 19

March 22
Air Force
Bowling Green
Colorado State
Florida State

March 23
Central Michigan
Iowa State

March 24
Michigan State
Mississippi State
South Carolina

March 25
Georgia Southern
North Texas
Penn State
San Diego State
Western Michigan

March 26
Boston College
South Dakota State
Virginia Tech

March 29
Arizona State
Miami (Ohio)
North Carolina
Washington State

March 30
East Carolina
Florida Atlantic
North Carolina State
Ohio State
Texas A&M

March 31
Boise State
Notre Dame
Wake Forest

April 1
North Carolina-Charlotte
Oklahoma State
Oregon State
South Florida
Western Kentucky

April 2

April 7
Texas Tech

April 9
Ball State

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tyrell Williams (16) before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Raiders cut WR Tyrell Williams after injury-plagued tenure

Two years after signing Tyrell Williams away from a division rival, the Las Vegas Raiders announced Wednesday that they released the veteran wide receiver after injuries overshadowed his tenure.

Williams, who turned 29 nearly two weeks ago, signed a four-year, $44 million contract (including $22 million guaranteed) in March 2019.

Williams, who played his first four seasons with the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers from 2015-18, enjoyed a promising start to his Raiders career by catching touchdown passes in each of his first five games in 2019. But his season was marred by a persistent battle with plantar fasciitis, and he finished the season with 42 catches for 651 yards and six scores in 14 games.

Williams sustained a torn labrum in August, which ended up sidelining him for the entire season. He suffered the same injury in 2017 with the Chargers and played through it.

The 6-foot-4 wideout was originally an undrafted free agent out of Western Oregon in 2015. He enjoyed a breakout sophomore campaign in 2016, when he notched career highs in receptions (69), receiving yards (1,059) and touchdown catches (seven).

Williams has 197 catches for 3,181 yards and 23 touchdowns in 69 career games (49 starts).

–Field Level Media

Sep 26, 2020; Waco, Texas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Les Miles during the game between the Bears and the Jayhawks at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Les Miles paid to settle sexual harassment case

Former LSU coach Les Miles reportedly was investigated for sexual harassment of student workers early last decade and reached a settlement with at least one of the women, according to multiple reports on Wednesday.

According to The Advocate, the settlement doesn’t show up in court records in Baton Rouge, La., and emerged amid a investigation into how LSU has handled allegations of sexual misconduct.

USA Today sued LSU in January for copies of the Miles investigation report after the university refused to release it. A judge ordered that it remain sealed until March 30, when a trial to hear Miles and LSU’s objections will be heard.

LSU also has retained the outside law firm Husch Blackwell to audit roughly 60 sexual misconduct cases from 2016 to 2018.

The investigation involving Miles reportedly occurred in 2013, three years before he was fired by the school after the football program’s fortunes dropped significantly from the established level earlier in Miles’ tenure.

The Advocate reached Miles on Wednesday, and he denied he made sexual advances toward a student intern.

“That’s not true,” Miles said.

Miles declined to answer questions about the reported settlement.

Miles, 67, is now the head coach at Kansas, where he has a 3-18 record in two seasons with the Jayhawks.

He was 114-34 in 11-plus seasons at LSU. His team won the BCS national championship in 2007 and was the national runner-up in 2011. He won 10 or more games on seven occasions with the Tigers.

His last 10-win season occurred in 2013.

Miles was 19-10 over his final two-plus seasons and was fired after a 2-2 start in 2016. He coached at Oklahoma State prior to LSU.

LSU spokesman Jim Sabourin released the following statement to USA Today: “We are not in a position to comment on these allegations, as there is currently a court order prohibiting the disclosure of any related information.”

Kansas officials told USA Today that the school didn’t know about the allegations when Miles was hired. The school said it spoke to Miles and is gathering more information.

“Because this involves Coach Miles’ former employer and pre-dates his time at KU, and because we do not have factual knowledge about details of these allegations, it is not appropriate for us to comment further,” spokesman Dan Beckler said.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; General overall view of the UCLA Bruins logo at midfield during a NCAA football game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the UCLA Bruinsat Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA adds first-ever games against HBCU opponents

UCLA scheduled its first-ever games against Historically Black College or University programs, adding contests against Alabama State and North Carolina Central to its future schedules.

The Bruins are scheduled to host Alabama State on Sept. 10, 2022, and North Carolina Central on Sept. 16, 2023.

The well-known bands of each team — The Mighty Marching Hornets of Alabama State and The Sound Machine Marching Band of North Carolina Central — are set to perform at the Rose Bowl.

“Adding two HBCUs to our football schedule is special,” UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond said in a news release. “It’s exciting to give our student-athletes and fans a new experience and to bring a little bit of the South to Southern California.”

The games replace a previously scheduled home-and-home series with Michigan, which terminated the contract in 2019, UCLA said.

The Bruins are scheduled to begin the 2021 season against visiting Hawaii on Aug. 28.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus (87) stands on the field before the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Lions WR Quintez Cephus sues alma mater

Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus sued the University of Wisconsin, accusing the school of making him a “scapegoat” amid a sexual assault investigation that resulted in his temporary expulsion.

He alleges in his suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Madison, Wis., that the school violated both Title IX and his rights to due process. He is seeking unspecified damages.

Cephus was arrested in 2018 in Madison and charged with two counts of sexual assault. He was found not guilty in a trial the following year.

This is the second time Cephus sued the school, contending violation of his rights during a Title IX investigation that was opened in May 2018 and concluded at the end of August 2018. He filed the suit that October, and the case was dropped in March 2019.

Two women testified in his trial that Cephus sexually assaulted them at his apartment in April 2018 and that they were too drunk to give consent.

He was suspended from the Wisconsin football team and expelled from the university following the claims. He eventually was reinstated to the university and played the 2019 season with the Badgers, catching 59 passes for 901 yards and seven touchdowns.

The Lions selected him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Now 22, he played in 13 games (two starts) for the Lions, catching 20 passes for 349 yards and two touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II before the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Steelers president Art Rooney II: We want Big Ben back

Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II released a statement Wednesday saying that the team is committed to bringing back quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for the 2021 season — under a reworked contract.

The announcement comes a day after the pair met to discuss the 38-year-old’s future with the organization. The next step is reworking Roethlisberger’s pesky $41.2 million salary cap hit.

“Ben Roethlisberger and I met (Tuesday) morning and we had a productive meeting” Rooney said. “Ben assured me that he is committed to coming back to help us win, and I told Ben that we would like to have him back to help us win a championship. We both understand that the next step is to work out Ben’s contract situation.”

The agent for Roethlisberger intimated as much on Tuesday.

“They want Ben back and will contact me soon to address the cap situation,” Ryan Tollner told NFL Network. “As we’ve shared since the season ended, we are happy to creatively adjust his contract to help them build the best team possible.”

Roethlisberger, who turns 39 next week, threw for 3,803 yards with 33 touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 regular-season games last season. Roethlisberger has thrown for 60,348 yards with 396 touchdowns and 201 interceptions in 233 career games since Pittsburgh selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 2004 draft.

He led the team to Super Bowl wins after the 2005 and 2008 seasons.

–Field Level Media

Feb 10, 2021; Tampa Bay, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during a boat parade to celebrate victory in Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady, Buccaneers GM to talk contract extension

Tom Brady committed to the 2021 season in the afterglow of his seventh Super Bowl victory this month, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht envisions talking about another contract with his 43-year-old quarterback.

Brady signed a two-year deal in free agency in March 2020, exiting New England for $25 million in 2020 and the same amount in 2021.

The Buccaneers are strapped for cash entering the new league year, and turning Brady’s $25 million salary into a bonus, or splitting his contract between base salary and bonus, would bring significant cap relief. The accounting maneuver was commonly utilized by the Patriots.

“We’d like to keep this going,” Licht said on The Rich Eisen Show.

The NFL league year, which is the official start of free agency, begins March 17.

A move on Brady’s contract likely would come before March 9, the deadline for the Buccaneers to employ the franchise tag. Likely candidates for the one-year tag include wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Head coach Bruce Arians said Brady is showing no signs of wear and the uninformed observer would never guess his age. Brady repeated this month that he’d like to play multiple more seasons, and in the past pointed to 45 as a benchmark he was striving to hit. He will turn 44 in August.

“It appears he had a really good time this year winning the Super Bowl and likes our organization,” Licht told the Rich Eisen Show. “Likes our coaches, likes our head coach and ownership and we certainly love him. Usually when you have those two things going for you, it’s a match made in heaven. So we’d like to keep this going.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 16, 2021; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) during warmups before an AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Buffalo Bills at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

WR Dez Bryant: Baltimore ‘wasn’t the place for me’

Free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant tweeted Tuesday night he would like to play two more years in the NFL, though it appears a return to the Baltimore Ravens is not in the cards.

Bryant returned from a two-season hiatus primarily due to injury to join the Ravens in 2020, finishing with six catches for 47 yards and two touchdowns in six games played. “I realized quick Baltimore wasn’t the place for me,” he tweeted. “No bad blood that’s their way of doing things so you gotta respect it.”

The Ravens added Bryant to their 53-man roster in November, and he made his team debut against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 9. Though he remarked in a tweet that his chemistry with quarterback Lamar Jackson was good on and off the field, “it was guys there before me who understood the offensive concepts better than me… you can’t jeopardize that.”

“No OTAs No mini camp and coming in midway through the season is not normal,” Bryant said in continuing to tweet with fans. “I wasn’t bothered about playing time.. I enjoyed myself I met some great teammates.. guys I feel like I will be keeping in contact for a long time.. I’m thankful for the opportunity Baltimore gave me.”

Bryant added in a later tweet that he plans on playing two more years “and that’s it for me.” He turns 33 in November.

–Field Level Media