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Saints’ owner backs Loomis, Payton

- Associated Press - Monday, March 5, 2012

NEW ORLEANS — A New Orleans Saints official familiar with club owner Tom Benson's reaction to the NFL's bounty investigation says general manager Mickey Loomis and coach Sean Payton still have Benson's full support.

The official spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the investigation is ongoing. An NFL report says between 22 and 27 defensive players on the Saints, as well as a former assistant coach, maintained a bounty program for inflicting injuries on targeted opposing players during the past three seasons.

The official said Benson is "110 percent behind his guys," and wants them focused on improving the club for the upcoming season.

Mathis, Colts reach terms on long-term contract

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Colts answered one big question Monday — just not that one.

Less than 30 minutes after using the franchise tag on Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Mathis, the team confirmed it had agreed to terms on a new long-term deal with the Pro Bowl defensive end — keeping one of the NFL's most feared passing rushing tandems intact. The move comes three days before the Colts must make an even bigger decision about quarterback Peyton Manning's future, but keeping Mathis and Dwight Freeney together in Indianapolis clearly was one of the team's offseason priorities.

Foster agrees to five-year extension with Texans

HOUSTON — The agent for Arian Foster said the running back agreed to a five-year deal with the Houston Texans. Terms were not immediately available.

Foster was an undrafted free agent in 2009, and made $525,000 last season. He was the NFL's leading rusher in 2010 with 1,616 yards and ran for 1,224 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

Re-signing Foster was one of Houston's top priorities. The Texans also must make a decision on outside linebacker Mario Williams, who's an unrestricted free agent.

Around the league

Baltimore released cornerback Domonique Foxworth, 29, who played in 18 games during three seasons with the Ravens. ... New England placed the franchise tag on Wes Welker, who led the NFL with 122 receptions last season and was second in the league with 1,569 yards. ... Tennessee tagged safety Michael Griffin as its franchise player. The move to tag Griffin still allows the Titans to work on a long-term contract before July 16.

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