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NFL: Cowboys release Dez Bryant; Sanchez suspended

The Dallas Cowboys released Dez Bryant on Friday, deciding salary cap relief with the star receiver’s declining production outweighs the risk of him returning to All-Pro form with another team.

Bryant never lived up to the $70-million, five-year contract he signed after leading the NFL with 16 touchdowns receiving in 2014. He still had two years left on that deal with a base salary of $12.5 million per season.

“This was not an easy decision. It was made based upon doing what we believe is in the best interest of the Dallas Cowboys,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement. “We arrived at this crossroad collectively with input from several voices within the organization. Ultimately we determined it was time to go in a new direction.”

The release clears about $8.5 million in salary cap space for the Cowboys.

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Bryant, 29, sent a series of tweets addressing Cowboys fans after he met with Jones at the team’s headquarters.

On a tweet that included a copy of Jones’ statement, he wrote “Key words in this statement.. Several input.. something I already knew”

“Cowboy nation I need you to know this wasn’t my decision.. I will always love y’all... forever Dallas in my heart,” he wrote in another post, which came only minutes after he tweeted, “let’s start the process” in a reference to free agency.

Bryant is the franchise leader with 73 touchdown catches, ahead of Hall of Fame receivers Bob Hayes (71) and Michael Irvin (65). Tight end Jason Witten has 68 career TD catches.

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Mark Sanchez suspended for PEDs

The NFL has suspended free agent quarterback Mark Sanchez for the first four games of next season for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing substances.

The league announced the punishment Friday. He is eligible to participate in offseason and preseason practices and games.

Sanchez says on Instagram he was “blind-sided” and has “never cheated or attempted to gain a competitive advantage by using a banned performance enhancing substance.” He says he has been “subject to 73 drug tests” and “all but one have been clean.”

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He attributed the result to “unknowing supplement contamination, not the use of performance enhancing substances.”

Sanchez spent last season as Chicago’s third-string quarterback. He has also played for the New York Jets (2009-13), Philadelphia (2014-15) and Dallas (2016).

Jets waive four

The New York Jets have waived four players, including running back Jeremy Langford.

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The team also announced Friday that quarterback Joel Stave, running back Jahad Thomas and wide receiver Daniel Williams were cut.

Jim Kelly progressing “remarkably well”

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly is progressing “remarkably well” two weeks since having surgery to have cancer removed from his jaw. He is expected to be released from the hospital soon, says the doctor who oversaw the lengthy operation.

Though he’s still unable to chew, Kelly can now be fed orally in what is considered the next major step in his recovery, says Mark Urken, a head and neck surgeon at New York City’s Mount Sinai West hospital.

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Urken says he’s very optimistic Kelly will regain the same speech and eating functions as he had before undergoing the 12-hour operation.


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