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Of the 16 players who had per-game roster bonuses for the Green Bay Packers this past season, only two of them — tight end Lance Kendricks and kicker Mason Crosby — collected the full amount.

The other 14 combined to miss a total of 57 games, therefore losing more than $2 million in bonus money this season.

The biggest loser was right tackle Bryan Bulaga, who missed out on $412,500 in weekly roster bonuses. His contract calls for a bonus of $37,500 for each game he’s on the 46-man active roster. Bulaga tore his ACL and played in only five games, thus collecting just $187,500 of a potential $600,000.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed out on $337,500 because he missed nine games because of his broken collarbone. The Packers saved the same amount with tight end Martellus Bennett, who appeared in only seven games for the Packers, although he did collect two more weeks of $37,500 bonuses from the Patriots, who got two games out of him after they claimed him off waivers.

Kendricks earned all $300,000 of his weekly roster bonus money because he was active all 16 regular-season games, and Crosby earned all $150,000 of his.

In all, the Packers paid out $5,981,250 of a possible $8 million in weekly roster bonuses — or 74.8 percent of the possible 2017 total. The unpaid $2,018,750 will be credited to the team’s 2018 salary cap.

In 2016, the Packers paid out 83.4 percent of their possible weekly roster-bonus money — another indication they were more injured this season, when they went 7-9 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

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Ted Thompson’s last acts as Green Bay Packers general manager — if he was actually still acting as GM and not just as a figure head — were to sign Davante Adams and Corey Linsley to contract extensions on the final weekend of the 2017 regular season.

It leaves new GM Brian Gutekunst without a must-sign player on his list of upcoming free agents.

Adams would have been one of the top receivers had he hit the open market. Instead, the Packers were able to retain him on a five-year, $58.9 million contract that made him the fourth-highest-paid receiver in the league.

In Linsley, the Packers made sure they retained their starting center — and the only player on the team who played in every snap on his side of the ball last season. He signed a three-year, $25.5 million extension.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Packers’ players who are headed for free agency when the new league year opens on March 14:


Unrestricted (Players with four or more accrued seasons)

  • Richard Rodgers: Tight end is a major need with or without Rodgers, who never quite took off after his Hail Mary catch against the Lions in 2015. That remains the only 100-yard receiving game of his career. He slipped behind Martellus Bennett and Lance Kendricks to start the season and even when Bennett was released, Rodgers’ productivity barely spiked. He had only two games this past season with more than one catch and missed the finale with a shoulder injury. The market could be light for the former third-round pick, so perhaps the Packers could get him back cheap for some depth. His salary last season was $1,797,000.
  • Jahri Evans: The 12th-year veteran was perhaps the surprise of last year’s free-agent class for the Packers. He played the first 912 snaps of the season before a knee injury kept him out of the final two games. Evans said late in the season that he wasn’t sure if he would play a 13th season. He will turn 35 in August. The Packers could slide Justin McCray or Lucas Patrick into the right guard spot if Evans isn’t back. He signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Packers last offseason.
  • Jeff Janis: His chance to contribute as a receiver is probably gone; he played just 50 snaps on offense last season and didn’t catch a pass until the second-to-last game of the year. But he’s become a valuable special-teams player.

Restricted (Players with three accrued seasons but not four; can be tendered by March 14 for the Packers to retain the right to match any offer from another team):

  • Ulrick John: The tackle was signed off Arizona’s practice squad on Sept. 26 after injuries to backups Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy and played just 40 snaps.

Exclusive rights (Players with fewer than three accrued seasons; must be offered minimum salary tenders by March 14 or they become street free agents): WR Geronimo Allison, QB Joe Callahan, WR Michael Clark, OL Adam Pankey



  • Morgan Burnett: The veteran safety was No. 3 on the priority list behind Adams and Linsley, but he was a distant third. Yes, he’s versatile — having played everywhere from safety to slot cornerback to inside linebacker. But he’s also never been one to make a ton of splash plays. He has nine career interceptions in eight NFL seasons. He just turned 29 and hasn’t played a full season since 2012. He missed four games this past season because of two separate injuries (hamstring and groin). The Packers also have potential replacements in Josh Jones and Kentrell Brice. Burnett is at the end of a four-year, $24.75 million deal. There will be a market for Burnett, but it may not be at that same price. Given that new coordinator Mike Pettine’s defense can be complicated, Burnett might have more value to the Packers than to another team.
  • Ahmad Brooks: Essentially signed as a replacement for Julius Peppers, who left months earlier in free agency, but the former 49ers linebacker didn’t come close to replicating what Peppers did during his three years with the Packers and certainly couldn’t match the production Peppers had back in Carolina. For the same money — $3.5 million — the Packers got 1.5 sacks from Brooks and the Panthers got 11.0 from Peppers.
  • Quinton Dial: Like Brooks, Dial was a last-minute pickup right before the regular season started. He gave the Packers quality snaps along the defensive line to complement Kenny Clark, Mike Daniels and Dean Lowry. At just $775,001, he was a value signing who probably earned a little bit more in his next contract.
  • Davon House: After two seasons with the Jaguars, House returned to the Packers on a one-year, $2.8 million deal and played with the kind of toughness the Packers expected. He also served as a mentor to top draft pick Kevin King. A similar type of deal would make it worthwhile to bring him back. Like Burnett, House could be valuable in a scheme that favors veterans because of its complexity.
  • Demetri Goodson: Although he made it back to the active roster more than a year after a serious knee injury, he did not play a single snap in 2017, so it’s unknown what the fourth-year cornerback can do. He would be a minimum-salary-type signing.


  • Joe Thomas: A year after he led the inside linebackers in snaps, he fell behind Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan on the depth chart. Injuries and the increased use of the “nitro” defensive package with a safety at inside linebacker also played a role.

Exclusive rights: CB Herb Waters, S Jermaine Whitehead



  • Brett Goode: The veteran long-snapper played in 10 games during two separate stints on the roster last season. His snaps have been on point for 10 seasons, but the Packers have seemed intent on trying to replace him in recent years, even though he’s on a minimum salary. The Packers signed another snapper, Zach Triner, to a futures deal and also could bring back Taybor Pepper, who finished the season on IR.


  • Jake Schum: The punter in 2016 spent all of 2017 on injured reserve because of a back injury and probably won’t get a shot at the job after the solid year rookie Justin Vogel had.

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Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers are what remains of the Green Bay Packers’ tight end group … if you can call two players a group.

They not only were left to try to salvage the position but also answer questions about their former teammate, Martellus Bennett, whose bizarre saga with the Packers took another turn when he was claimed off waivers by the Patriots on Thursday.

Kendricks, who grew close to Bennett in part because the two free agents both arrived this offseason, said he has been in touch with his former teammate.

Rodgers took more of the don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-on-the-way-out approach.

“I think we know where we’re trying to go,” Rodgers said. “If someone is not on that boat, it’s better that they’re not here. We’re looking to move on. We know our ultimate goal. We have to continue to execute on offense.”

Neither Rodgers nor anyone else would say for certain that they believed Bennett tried to force his way out of Green Bay after the Packers’ season took a turn for the worse following Aaron Rodgers’ injury.

“I don’t know if that was his plan,” Richard Rodgers said. “I don’t know if that was his intention. But it doesn’t matter to me.”

The fourth-year tight end admitted he did not get to know Bennett well.

“We weren’t around each other for very long,” Richard Rodgers said. “We’re in here working together, but that’s pretty much it.”

Still, no one was quite sure what happened, either. All they know is after their quarterback broke his collarbone, Bennett went home for the bye and posted on social media saying he was “pretty sure” this would be his final season. He then came back to Green Bay for the first practice after the week off and the next day showed up with a shoulder injury.

“I don’t know what happened,” Kendricks said. “I can say he’s the biggest team player. I’m not sure what the disconnect might be.”

Bennett, 30, never addressed the retirement talk in detail. He offered only a one-word explanation when asked what led him to that decision: “Life.” But there were those around the Packers who didn’t think Bennett was serious about quitting, saying it was just “Marty being Marty.”

Bennett, normally outspoken on social media, wrote a couple of posts after the Patriots claimed him. One tweet said: “I’ll tell y’all everything one day, but wow.”

Unless the Packers (4-4) add a tight end before Sunday’s visit to the Chicago Bears, it will be a two-man crew for the second consecutive game. With Bennett out of Monday night’s loss to the Lions, Rodgers played 33 snaps and Kendricks 29.

Rodgers caught one pass for 5 yards, while Kendricks had two for 32 yards. Bennett’s totals through seven games weren’t impressive — 24 catches for 233 yards without a touchdown and a team-high four dropped passes — but he played a significant role as a blocker in the run game. Neither Rodgers nor Bennett has shown himself to be Bennett’s equal as a blocker.

There’s one tight end on the practice squad, Emanuel Byrd. He was with the Packers for part of training camp but didn’t rejoin them until last week. Bennett’s roster spot remains open, so perhaps Byrd will get promoted. They also will have another roster spot when right tackle Bryan Bulaga inevitably goes on injured reserve after his season-ending knee injury.

But it’s also possible the Packers will just go with Rodgers and Kendricks for another week.

“We have two guys in that room that they’re veteran guys, they’re very experienced, they’re versatile guys as well,” Packers offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett said. “So we think the men in that room can certainly get the job done.”

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The Green Bay Packers have cut tight end Martellus Bennett with the failure to disclose a medical condition designation, the team announced Wednesday.

By cutting Bennett with that designation, it sets up the Packers’ case for a grievance to reclaim the $4.2 million in remaining prorated signing bonus money.

Bennett is now subject to waivers. All 31 other teams have until 4 p.m. ET Thursday to submit a claim on him. If he does not get claimed, he becomes a free agent and can sign with any team at any time after that.

Bennett’s release comes hours after Packers coach Mike McCarthy ruled him out for this week because of a shoulder injury. McCarthy said last week that Bennett was still being evaluated by doctors.

The veteran tight end hasn’t played since he announced during the Packers’ bye week that he was “pretty sure” this would be his last NFL season. When Bennett returned from the bye, he offered only a one-word explanation for what led him to that decision: “Life,” he said.

It’s unclear exactly how Bennett got hurt. He took part in the first practice after the Packers’ bye week but hasn’t been on the field since then.

The Packers have only two other tight ends on their roster: Lance Kendricks and Richard Rodgers. Without Bennett on Monday night against the Lions, Kendricks had two catches for 32 yards and Rodgers one catch for 5 yards.

The Packers signed Bennett to a three-year, $21 million contract as a free agent in March. They gave him a $6.3 million signing bonus. If Bennett retires, the Packers would likely go after the remaining two-thirds of his signing bonus. If they do, Bennett would have to return $4.2 million. He also would leave up to $12.95 million of additional income on the table.

The Packers already had ruled out two other players this week: right tackle Bryan Bulaga and safety Morgan Burnett. Bulaga tore the ACL in his right knee against the Lions and will miss the rest of the season, while Burnett suffered a groin injury and won’t play this week.

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One look around the NFL during the Green Bay Packers’ bye showed just how much they miss the group of top-line players they lost in free agency last spring.

News of Martellus Bennett’s tentative plans to retire after this season make what happened with Jared Cook look even more perplexing.

Meanwhile, linebacker Julius Peppers recorded sack No. 7.5 this season — equaling his total from all of last season with the Packers — for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, and safety Micah Hyde picked off his league-leading fifth pass for the Buffalo Bills.

Two of their former offensive linemen who left in free agency also lined up as starters for their new teams: T.J. Lang with the Detroit Lions and JC Tretter with the Cleveland Browns.

It’s hard to say which of those five free-agent losses the Packers miss most. Every one of those areas has proved problematic in Green Bay through the first seven games.

The Packers thought they had more than made up for Cook when they signed both Bennett and Lance Kendricks after negotiations surprisingly broke down with Cook. Cook and his agent either overplayed their hand or the Packers wouldn’t budge on their offer. Either way, the Packers turned elsewhere before Cook had anything in the works with the Oakland Raiders, who eventually signed him to a two-year, $10.6 million deal.

Cook, with 31 catches for 373 yards and one touchdown, has been more productive than Bennett (24 catches, 233 yards and no touchdowns) and also doesn’t plan on retiring after this season.

Then there’s Peppers, who has more sacks this season than Nick Perry (3.5 sacks) and Clay Matthews (2.5) combined. The Packers’ struggling defense, which entered Week 8 ranked 22nd overall, could have certainly used another pass-rusher. Peppers went back to Carolina for a one-year, $3.5 million deal, while the Packers re-signed Perry to a five-year, $60 million deal.

The Packers didn’t even make Hyde an offer before he signed a five-year, $30.5 million contract with the Bills. Meanwhile, the Packers’ secondary has been a mess with injuries at both cornerback and safety. Hyde’s five interceptions nearly equal the Packers’ entire team total of six this season.

On the offensive line, the Packers have started a different combination in each of their seven games this season. Meanwhile, Tretter has started every game for the Browns, while Lang has started all but one game for the Lions.

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Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams had already slipped out of the locker room after last Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints, but fellow Green Bay Packers receiver Randall Cobb felt comfortable enough to speak for the group.

“We always talk about, as a receiving group, this offense goes through us,” Cobb said. “We’ve got to do a better job when we have those opportunities.”

But what could Cobb & Co. do with so few opportunities in quarterback Brett Hundley’s first start?

“That’s not my job,” Cobb said. “That’s how it works, but that’s not my job to do that. My job is to execute the plays that’s called.”

It was a better question for coach Mike McCarthy and offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett. The offensive brain trust admitted they need to get the ball in the hands of their perimeter playmakers far more often than they did.

“We do, and we will,” Bennett said. “You can go back and look at the game, we had some opportunities, but we also when those opportunities came about, maybe there was a breakdown from a fundamental standpoint as far as from pass protection, and it wasn’t quite as clean as it needs to be as far as keeping Brett in rhythm and keeping him on his time clock. I think it all plays a factor in our plan and what we plan on doing, going out and executing.”

Now, they have the bye week to figure out how to do it. Whatever the solution, they must take the training wheels off Hundley. For the Packers to have any chance to remain a playoff contender without Aaron Rodgers, they will have to put Hundley in position to get the ball to Cobb, Nelson and Adams along with tight end Martellus Bennett.

“Jordy Nelson, Davante, Marty, Randall Cobb, those guys have got to touch the ball,” McCarthy said. “We didn’t get that done. Now, how many times have we run for 180-plus yards? Not very often. You’re supposed to win those games. So, we have a lot to build off of.”

The running game that featured a 131-yard performance from rookie Aaron Jones was supposed to take some of the pressure off Hundley and keep defenses honest. But until Hundley shows he can push the ball down the field — or McCarthy shows that he will let Hundley do so — then teams might dare the Packers to throw it.

Hundley completed just 12-of-25 passes for 87 with no touchdowns and an interception. He was just the third Packers quarterback in the past 35 seasons to throw at least 25 times with fewer than 100 yards passing (Brett Favre in Week 11 of 2003 at Tampa Bay and Don Majkowski in Week 9 of 1988 at Buffalo were the others).

“You can’t let him feel the weight of the world,” McCarthy said. “It’s part of the playing the position, I get that. Just stay in tune with what he’s being asked to do. Is the game plan as big as it was the week before? Absolutely not. We need to be more creative and make sure we’re giving him the things that he needs. You have to be in tune with what his training is and what he’s done in fitting the time clock with the perimeter because at the end of the day when you call a football game you have to get the ball to your playmakers. And we didn’t get that done.”

Hundley failed to complete any of his throws that went 15 yards or more downfield, but there were only four of them, according to ESPN Stats & Information, and one was picked off. He completed only 3 of 8 passes for 25 yards when he targeted Nelson and Adams. Rodgers, by comparison, completed 64 percent to those two this season, including 10 touchdowns.

“I get what the numbers say, but the offense had 50 plays, the defense had 75,” McCarthy said. “When you’re going to break down Brett’s snaps, you have to look at opportunities, and you look at the opportunities, you look at the execution of those opportunities. He will do better, because the majority of his issues were more in the area of time clock and timing.

“He wasn’t given a lot of opportunities and we were 4-for-11 on third down, so we get two or three more third downs, defense gets off the field, maybe we’re having a different story that we’re talking about right now.”

McCarthy remained as emphatic in his support for Hundley as he was last week before his first start.

“I feel the same way today as I did going into the week,” McCarthy said. “I know this young man, I believe in him. That’s the direction we’re going.”


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One total was 181. Another was seven. The first was fantastic, the second not nearly enough.

The numbers represent the Packers’ rushing yards in Sunday’s loss to the Saints, and how many times Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Martellus Bennett got their hands on the football.

When it came to reviewing the offensive performance, that discrepancy was something Head Coach Mike McCarthy was focused on. The big first number should have led to a much bigger second number, but it didn’t, and the Packers must capitalize on that moving forward with new quarterback

Brett Hundley.

“When you call a football game, you have to get the ball to your playmakers, and we didn’t get that done yesterday,” McCarthy said on Monday just after dismissing his team for the bye week. “Jordy Nelson, Davante, Marty, Randall Cobb. Those guys have to touch the ball.

“How many times have we run for 180-plus yards? Not very often. You’re supposed to win those games. We have a lot to build off of.”

The building will continue with Hundley, who McCarthy remains confident will play better, particularly if rookie running back Aaron Jones can repeat his 17-carry, 131-yard rushing performance.

McCarthy laid out numerous factors behind Hundley’s struggles in going 12-of-25 for just 83 yards through the air.

Two failed third-and-ones in the first half, both coming on the heels of the defense’s two interceptions, contributed to Hundley only getting 50 snaps by game’s end. His “time clock and timing” were not sharp in the drop-back passing game. It was better off play-action, but McCarthy said there were a couple of protection breakdowns on those plays. Finding out on Friday that right tackle Bryan Bulaga would play but left guard Lane Taylor would not, the exact opposite of what the coaches planned for early in the week, led to some last-minute adjustments as well.

Those are the issues McCarthy is focused on, not the swirling suggestions or criticisms that the game plan was supposedly too conservative and didn’t allow Hundley the opportunity to make enough plays.

That said, there will be a process to Hundley’s in-game development.

“Was the game plan as big as it was the week before (with Aaron Rodgers)? Absolutely not,” McCarthy said. “And frankly, it’s going to get smaller. We need to be more creative.

“I feel the same way today as I did going into the week. I know this young man. I believe in him. That’s the direction we’re going.”

There’s plenty to clean up elsewhere, too. Four of the Packers’ eight accepted penalties occurred on special teams.

Also, because of players going in and out of the lineup during the game due to injuries, the Packers continue to have substitution problems on defense.

Once it cost them an early timeout, and another time only 10 defenders were on the field for Mark Ingram’s way-too-easy 12-yard TD run on third-and-1.

“It’s been excessive,” McCarthy said of the changing sub patterns and communication miscues. “Clearly not good enough.”

The loss of all-everything safety Morgan Burnett due to a hamstring injury the last two games hasn’t helped. If the defense has a glue guy from a communication and leadership standpoint, it’s Burnett, and defensive coordinator Dom Capers suggested his absence could be hindering the playmaking abilities of 2016 Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the back end as well.

At the same time, the play of tackling leader Blake Martinez and interception leader Damarious Randall, with three interceptions in the last three games, has been elevated. Rookie punter Justin Vogel had another field-flipping 60-yard boot.

The inconsistency in all phases can be maddening, but the most disheartening thing to McCarthy is seeing his team sharpen up some poor practice habits without getting the results in the game.

“We haven’t been very good the last two weeks. I told them before the Minnesota game they’re not practicing the right way, and this thing is going to bite us and we have to get on top of it,” McCarthy said. “We had a very good week of practice. We actually had our best week of practice. It happens. The Saints played a very good second half. We didn’t. So we’re not going to overreact to it, but we’re going to get better from it.

“We have to improve. You have to win your home games. To have opportunities and not take advantage of them, that second half of football, we have to be much, much better than that.”

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Aaron Rodgers and his Green Bay Packers teammates are asking fans at Lambeau Field for Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Bears to join them in linking arms during the national anthem.

Most of the Packers’ players did that on the sideline before Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, though three players — Martellus Bennett, Lance Kendricks and Kevin King — sat on the bench.

Most of the Packers with their arms linked but Lance Kendricks, Martellus Bennett and Kevin King were seated.

In a statement released by the players Tuesday night, the team said that players, coaches and staff will join together with arms intertwined to represent a coming together of people who want freedom, equality, tolerance, understanding and justice for those who have been unjustly treated, discriminated against or otherwise treated unfairly.

The statement, which noted that the NFL family is one of the most diverse communities in the world, and that the game of football brings people together, said that intertwining arms represents the many people who not only helped to build the country but who will continue to build a country that is more fair and just.

Rodgers said it’s not a protest.

“This is about equality,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “This is about unity and love and growing together as a society and starting a conversation around something that may be a little bit uncomfortable for people. But we’ve got to come together and talk about these things and grow as a community, as a connected group of individuals in our society, and we’re going to continue to show love and unity, and this week we’re going to ask the fans to join in as well and come together and show people that we can be connected and we can grow together.”

It sounds as if all the players — even the ones who sat during the anthem on Sunday — will participate after they held a meeting to discuss it.

“I think it was Marty’s idea,” said Kendricks, who said he sat during the anthem to bring awareness to people in Puerto Rico affected by Hurricane Maria. “Aaron spoke first and he kind of laid it out and laid out the fact that he’s on our side and he understands the message being conveyed and trying to get across. And then Marty wrote a statement and in the statement he said we’re going to lock arms and he’s going to challenge the fans to lock arms as well, so it kind of puts them in a position where it’s like, ‘Look you’re either going to unite with us or you’re not.’ I think that’s really cool because it puts them in a position where it’s like now we’re talking to you, so you make a decision, peacefully make a decision.”

Rodgers called the team meeting about it “fantastic.”

“We kind of talked about a lot of things — things I’m not going to talk about because it’s meant for just the locker room — but I think there’s been a great sense of unity and love and support in this locker room, guys coming together,” Rodgers said. “Outside the building, I think the message has been diluted a little bit and it’s been kind of taken away from what we were trying to do: show a united front, guys linking up together. There’s been a lot of hatred on my social media, probably other people’s social media as well. Frankly don’t understand it, a lot of it.”

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Defending Aaron Rodgers cost Martellus Bennett $9,115.The Green Bay Packers tight end was fined by the NFL for his unnecessary roughness penalty in Sunday’s regular-season opener against Seattle. But Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane, who was ejected from the game, was not docked any money.

Bennett came to the defense of his quarterback. He took exception to Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright’s tackle on Rodgers’ fourth-quarter scramble for a first down. Rodgers did not slide and Wright tackled him. Bennett gave Wright a two-handed shove.

“It’s my quarterback,” Bennett said after the game. “I’ve always got his back. It’s a bad penalty at that moment in time, but I thought it was a cheap shot. I saw him out of my peripheral, which isn’t the best all the time. I always protect the quarterback. I’ll never let anybody take a cheap shot on my guy. That’s any guy on the team. I’ve got everybody’s back.”

Rodgers said he appreciated Bennett coming to his defense.

“It meant a lot to me; it really did,” Rodgers said. “Any time your teammates do something [like] that, it’s special.”

Lane was ejected for an altercation with Packers receiver Davante Adams during the first quarter after officials said Lane threw a punch.

“I didn’t see the punch at all,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “I’m disappointed that play would have such a magnitude on the game. … I’m anxious to hear how the league tells us how that went and what should happen there.”