NFL reportedly rejects written affidavits submitted by players named in PED report

News broke Friday morning that Steelers star running back Le’Veon Bell is reportedly facing a four-game suspension due to a missed drug test. Assuming the suspension stands, Bell would be absent for a quarter of the season. As a result, he’s dropped outside of the top-five players at the position in our consensus rankings. Going first overall in many fantasy drafts, Bell is now likely to fall to the second round.

While the immediate take on the situation is negative, there is a silver lining. Coming off of a major knee injury (MCL and PCL) that sidelined him for the final 10 contests of last season (including postseason action), Bell now has a chance to further recover and potentially avoid any setbacks. A stud when healthy, Bell averaged 14.5 fantasy points per game in the six games he played last season and was the second overall fantasy producer at the position for that span of time.

Those players: The Steelers’ James Harrison (you can read his affidavit here), and the Packers’ Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers.
NFL rejected written affidavits from James Harrison, Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers; demands to interview them at training camp, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) July 22, 2016

In a longer Facebook post, Schefter included free agent Mike Neal in that group of players. According to Schefter, the NFL will start with Neal, which makes sense given the PED report could be hurting his stock on the open market:

NFL confirmed receipt of written statements by Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, James Harrison, Mike Neal. NFL rejected the union’s view that affidavits constitute reasonable cooperation by the players and confirmed that they are required to participate in in-person interviews. The PED policy reflects the NFL and NFLPA’s shared commitment to protect the fairness and integrity of the competition on the field, and league believes it owes it to the players, clubs and fans to fully address any claims of this nature. NFL advised NFLPA that to move forward to resolve the allegations, league would first proceed with the Neal interview after which it would follow with the other player interviews.

That Al Jazeera report, which surfaced in December, also claimed Manning ordered human-growth hormone under his wife’s name. Manning bashed the report as “garbage” and Charlie Sly, the source of the report, recanted his account.

The Cowboys have yet to release a statement on the matter, but ESPN’s Josina Anderson provided a comment from a team source:
“The kid, we’ve done our research on him (before he became a Cowboy), it doesn’t point to that (being) part of his nature. That’s all I know.” The source added, “There’s been no history or anything like that.”

The Star-Telegram reported something similar. According to Drew Davison, “The team believes the allegations are suspect and that Elliott had been trying to end a relationship.”