NFL news roundup: Maurkice Pouncey apologizes for 'Free Hernandez', Jets prepare for another controversy


It's good to support a former teammate, unless that teammate is Aaron Hernandez and you're advocating his freedom. Meanwhile the New York Jets are preparing for another QB controversy.

With most teams entering training camp in just under a month, these are well and truly the dog days of the NFL season. Monday afternoon marked the league's franchise tag deadline, but even tagging players became a quiet affair as most organizations already made their determinations on long-standing veterans. News this off-season has centered on off-field issues, and that continued on Monday. Here is the top news from around the league.

Maurkice Pouncey apologizes for controversial hat

While the New England Patriots have done their best to distance themselves from Aaron Hernandez, former Florida teammates Maurkice and Mike Pouncey have thrown themselves into the conversation at their joint birthday party in Florida.

Rather than keep a low profile, the Pouncey's elected to wear hats emblazoned with 'Free Hernandez', referring to their former Florida teammate. Backlash was severe, as expected -- causing Maurkice to issue an apology today.

I fully recognize the seriousness of the situation involving my former teammate, and I regret that my actions appear to make light of that serious situation. I apologize to anyone who was offended by my actions.

New QB plan is a lot like the old one for Jets

The New York Jets are no strangers to quarterback controversies. Last year the organization welcomed one when they traded for Tim Tebow, and the noise continued to be loud when the Jets elected to draft Geno Smith in the second round.

With under a month until camp the plan got a little clearer, but it's confusing. The plan is to use Smith as a "change of pace" quarterback, which sounds an awful lot like the team's plan for Tebow in 2012. Maybe second time's the charm.

Broncos suspend two executives for DUI

Denver looks to be every part of a Super Bowl contender in 2013, but their front office isn't behaving in a disciplined manner. As a result, director of player personnel Matt Russell has been suspended indefinitely, while director of pro personnel Tom Heckert has been suspended one month.

What makes matters worse is the realization that Russell was aware of the organization's stance on Heckert, who was arrested before. He was part of the decision-making process, and didn't avoid his own DUI charge.

Cowboys apply franchise tag to Anthony Spencer

One of the more likely decisions this off-season was Dallas applying the franchise tag to outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. A 12.0-sack defender in 2012, Spencer and the organization were unable to reach a long-term extension.

The sticking point is likely age, as he turns 30 years old early in 2014. This makes it difficult to justify a new multi-year contract, and Spencer appears to be hitting free agency next year.

More from SB Nation:

Ryan Clady signs 5-year deal with Broncos

No progress on Jairus Byrd, Bills talks

Victor Cruz apologizes for George Zimmerman tweet

Ndamukong Suh: Missing playoffs would be "absolute disappointment"

Photo: Maurkice Pouncey wears "Free Hernandez" hat

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