Bills shelve plans for Toronto game

Posted March 05, 2014, at 6:38 p.m.

The Buffalo Bills will not play their annual game in Toronto this year and are re-evaluating the series, the team said on Wednesday.

In an effort to expand the team’s fan base, the Bills have played a regular-season game in Toronto’s Rogers Centre in each of the past six years as part of an agreement with Rogers Media that was extended in 2013 for another five years.

“We’re going to look at every aspect [so] if we do come back we have a more robust fan experience and try to create more of a home-field advantage for us,” Bills president Russ Brandon told reporters.

Buffalo had high hopes heading into their first Toronto game in 2008 but high ticket prices, a struggling team in the midst of a lengthy playoff drought and the atmosphere inside the Rogers Centre have combined to put the series in jeopardy.

The Bills are 1-5 in Toronto and have yet to enjoy much of a home-field environment despite playing those games about a two-hour drive from Buffalo.

Chicago mulls Soldier Field expansion

Chicago is exploring the possibility of a 5,000-seat expansion of Soldier Field in hopes of attracting a future Super Bowl to the Windy City.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a strong advocate of pursuing a Super Bowl, but Soldier Field currently seats just 61,500 and would be considered too small by NFL standards to host the annual championship game.

The mayor’s office is working with the Chicago Park District, the owners of the stadium, on the feasibility of such a project.

The smallest stadium to host a Super Bowl was the Metrodome in Minneapolis with an attendance of 63,130 in 1992. The NFL minimum is considered 70,000 seats, which means a 5,000-seat expansion in Chicago would fall short of that.

The NFL showed its openness to holding a Super Bowl in a cold weather city when the game was played last month in Met Life Stadium in New Jersey.

Bucs, Rainey agree to extension

Running back Bobby Rainey signed a two-year contract extension through 2016 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Rainey, an exclusive rights free agent, Rainey led the Buccaneers with 532 rushing yards in 2013.

The Western Kentucky standout started last season with the Cleveland Browns and entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent with the Baltimore Ravens.

Browner reinstated with 4-game suspension

Cornerback Brandon Browner has officially been reinstated by the NFL, but he will be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 regular season and pay an additional four-game fine, the league and NFLPA jointly announced Wednesday.

Browner, who played the last three seasons with the Seattle Seahawks after playing four seasons in the Canadian Football League, is now free to sign with any NFL team when free agency starts next week.

The NFL and the players association announced the negotiated compromise, which staved off litigation that would have challenged the league’s decision to discipline Browner for missing drug tests while he wasn’t playing in the NFL.

The planned lawsuit reportedly would have targeted the NFL’s policy banning marijuana, which is legal in Washington and Colorado.

Browner refused a deal with the NFL that could have reduced his suspension to one year in November.

Finnegan released by Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. — Cornerback Cortland Finnegan was the centerpiece of the St. Louis Rams’ free-agent additions two years ago after Jeff Fisher was named head coach.

Now, Finnegan will likely be released next week because of a combination of salary and diminishing skills.

Finnegan tweeted his apparent goodbye Wednesday, writing, “St. Louis thank you for your letting me play for a classy franchise and coach fish nothing but love thank you all.”

Finnegan signed a five-year, $50 million contract with $27 million guaranteed in the first few days of the 2012 league year and brought a feistiness to the Rams defense that Fisher wanted. Finnegan also was a mentor to young cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson.

Finnegan was due a $6 million salary in 2014 and that money will be wiped off the books when his release becomes official.

Vikings release Carlson

The Minnesota Vikings released veteran tight end John Carlson on Wednesday after attempts to reach agreement on a restructured contract failed.

Carlson, 29, has a history of concussion problems and was reported to be considering retirement.

In 2013, Carlson played in 13 games and had 32 receptions for 344 yards and one touchdown. The third concussion of his career ended his season.

Carlson signed a five-year, $25 million contract with the Vikings in 2012 after three years with the Seattle Seahawks. He collected $9.55 million in guarantees during his two seasons in Minnesota, according to NFL.com.

 

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