Dolphins may yet have to answer for Suh negotiations

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Ndamukong Suh

Phoenix — The NFL's annual meetings this week didn't feature any sweeping changes, but commissioner Roger Goodell discussed a couple issues related to the Lions during his closing remarks Wednesday.

League owners rejected the Lions' replay proposal to allow coaches to challenge any play in which a penalty flag is thrown, but most teams had their review ideas rejected.

"The issue of expansion and instant replay isn't going to go away," Lions president Tom Lewand said Tuesday. "We haven't come up with the right solution yet, but the issue isn't going to go away."

The only replay rule adopted now allows for review of the game clock on the final play of a half or overtime.

One other issue that could impact the Lions was Goodell's admission that the league is still investigating teams for possible tampering before free agency officially began. Former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh signed with the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago, but he reportedly had a deal in place a day after the negotiation period began.

Lewand declined to say if the Lions would pursue tampering charges, calling it a league issue. As of Tuesday, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin hadn't yet heard of any tampering charges, and a league spokesman declined comment on Wednesday.

The Jets have accused the Patriots of tampering after New England owner Robert Kraft discussed Jets and former Patriots cornerback Darrelle Revis this week.

"We want to protect the integrity of the rules," Goodell said. "All teams have to play by the same rules. We want to make sure that no teams are given an advantage as it relates to free agents and the opportunity to get free agents.

"There are several teams and several issues we're looking at that are all being taken seriously. As soon as we have enough information, we will make a judgment on whether it's a violation or not. Once that happens, we'll certainly let everyone know publicly."

There were a few minor safety rules adopted, and linebackers can now wear numbers between 40 and 49. Among the most notable changes was the league making it illegal for a player with an eligible receiver number (1-49 and 80-89) cannot be ineligible outside the tackle box, an issue that came to the forefront when the Patriots used the tactic against the Ravens in the AFC divisional playoffs.

The NFL also suspended the TV blackout policy for a year, something that affected the Lions in the past. Goodell, though, said it's no longer much of an issue after there were just two blackouts in 2013 and zero in 2014, and the league wants to see the impact of not having the rule.

"It's important to balance the interests of having the stadiums full with our broadcast policies," he said. "The reality is by changing our broadcast policies over the last six or 10 years, we've given our clubs more flexibility to sell their stadiums out."