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NFL notebook

Patriots get Jones deal done

Top pick is signed; terms not released

CHANDLER JONES Another early signing CHANDLER JONES Another early signing
By Shalise Manza Young
Globe Staff / May 24, 2012
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The Patriots signed first-round draft pick Chandler Jones Wednesday.

Jones, the 21st overall pick out of Syracuse, is a 6-foot-5-inch, 265-pound pass rusher whom the Patriots selected after moving up from 27th by trading with the Bengals.

A three-year starter with the Orange, Jones played in just seven games last fall after suffering a leg injury against Wake Forest. He had four sacks and 39 tackles.

Financial terms were not released, but by the rules of the new collective bargaining agreement, first-round picks receive four-year contracts with a team option for a fifth.

Because of the CBA, rookie deals are getting done faster than ever. The draft began four weeks ago, and Jones already is the 10th first-rounder under contract. In past years, deals with top picks often weren’t finalized until the eve of training camp.

Just two of the Patriots’ seven draft picks are unsigned: linebacker Dont’a Hightower (first round) and defensive end Jake Bequette (third round). Both are taking part in organized team activities this week.

Union claims collusion

The players union claimed the NFL imposed a secret salary cap during the uncapped 2010 season that cost the players at least $1 billion.

The complaint was filed in US District Court in Minneapolis, which oversees the Reggie White settlement covering NFL labor matters. But the league says the union has no grounds for the action and is prohibited from filing it by the collective bargaining agreement.

The complaint claims a “conspiracy’’ to set a $123 million salary cap for the 2010 season, when owners did not have the authority to do so. The Cowboys and Redskins have had their future salary caps lowered for overspending in 2010, Dallas by $10 million over two seasons, Washington by a whopping $36 million.

Both teams lost a grievance against those reductions Tuesday.

“When the rules are broken in a way that hurts the game, we have an obligation to act. We cannot stand by when we now know that the owners conspired to collude,’’ union chief DeMaurice Smith said.

In response to the reopening of the Reggie White lawsuit, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said, “There was no collusion. There was no agreement. These claims are totally unfounded.’’

A league statement said the collective bargaining agreement signed last August to end the 4 1/2-month lockout prohibited the filing of these claims, and that players’ attorneys signed a separate agreement agreeing to the terms.

But NFLPA outside counsel Jeffrey Kessler said that agreement was rejected by the court.

“The document they are referring to was not accepted by the district court in Minnesota,’’ he said. “It was rejected and the court entered an order which only dismissed claims under White that were pending.’’

The NFL also points to a clause in the latest labor contract in which the union gives up the right to sue over “collusion with respect to any League Year prior to 2011.’’

Thus, the NFL has considered the 2010 uncapped season a closed matter since the new labor deal was signed last summer. Clearly, the players do not, and now are seeking compensation for lost wages caused by collusion among the teams.

Broncos get a Gronk

The Broncos traded defensive back Cassius Vaughn to the Colts for fullback Chris Gronkowski, the brother of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. “Our team has a lot of depth in the secondary and this is an opportunity for us to add a quality fullback to our roster,’’ said Denver president John Elway on Twitter. Gronkowski has played in 21 games with Dallas (2010) and Indianapolis (2011) . . . The Colts signed free agent outside linebacker Jerry Brown and waived outside linebacker Brandon Peguese. At 6-4 and 253 pounds, Brown gives the Colts a bigger presence on the outside - something coach Chuck Pagano needs as the Colts switch to a 3-4 defense. The Illinois alumni played last season with the San Antonio Talons of the Arena Football League . . . The 49ers signed three-time All-Pro punter Andy Lee to a six-year contract extension through the 2018 season . . . The Bears agreed to a one-year contract with free agent defensive tackle Nate Collins, who played in 13 games over the past two seasons with the Jaguars . . . Seahawks offensive tackle Allen Barbre was suspended for the first four regular-season games by the NFL for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances. He is eligible to participate in preseason practices and games.

Shalise Manza Young can be reached at syoung@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @shalisemyoung. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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