The NFL will not be adding teams to the playoffs this season, but still is discussing an expanded postseason.
Commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday in Phoenix that the league’s competition committee has looked into adding teams to the playoffs, and the topic will be discussed at this week’s owners meetings. But “it clearly won’t happen this year,” Goodell says.
Twelve of the 32 teams make the playoffs, including all eight division winners. Adding more qualifiers could mean eliminating byes in the opening round if the NFL went to as many as 16 playoff teams. It could add two teams and keep a system of byes.
Goodell says the league must determine if expanded playoffs “make sense.” The NFL has had 12 playoff teams since 1990.
Goodell also called it “unacceptable” to ask a college player at the scouting combine any questions about his sexual orientation.
NFL to pay $42 million
The NFL has agreed to pay $42 million as part of a settlement with a group of retired players who challenged the league over using their names and images without their consent.
The league will use the money to fund a “common good” trust over the next eight years that will help retired players with an array of issues including medical expenses, housing and career transition. The settlement also establishes a licensing agency for retired players to ensure they are compensated for the use of their identities in promotional materials.
Saints sign Watson
The New Orleans Saints signed veteran tight end Benjamin Watson to a three-year contract, and also re-signed special teams leader Courtney Roby and reserve linebacker Ramon Humber for another season.
The 6-foot-3, 255-pound Watson spent the past three years with Cleveland, where last season he caught 49 passes for 501 yards and three touchdowns.
Drafted at the end of the first-round by New England in 2004, Watson has 321 career receptions for 3,776 yards and 28 TDs. Roby is a reserve receiver who has returned kickoffs.
Around the league
The Cincinnati Bengals signed middle linebacker Rey Maualuga. … The Oakland Raiders signed former Atlanta defensive tackle Vance Walker. … The Indianpolis Colts re-signed free-agent cornerback Cassius Vaughn. …The Minnesota Vikings re-signed Pro Bowl fullback Jerome Felton. … The Pittsburgh Steelers signed free-agent tight end Matt Spaeth. … The New York Jets signed free-agent linebacker Antwan Barnes to a three-year contract and re-signed long snapper Tanner Purdum to a two-year deal. … Right tackle Tyler Polumbus agreed to a two-year deal to return to the Washington Redskins. … The Tennessee Titans released quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.