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NFL announces 32 compensatory picks for 15 teams

PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Two AFC North teams, the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, were awarded the most compensatory picks in this year's draft.

The Ravens (5-11) and Bengals (7-9) each received four picks, beginning in the third round of the April 26-27 draft. Those picks are slotted at the end of each of the last five rounds.

Baltimore lost four compensatory free agents in 2007, including star linebacker Adalius Thomas to New England, and didn't sign any. Cincinnati lost five such free agents, the most notable of which was guard Eric Steinbach, who signed with Cleveland.

Only Washington, which was given the top compensatory selection, 96th overall (33rd in the third round), Cincinnati (97th), Atlanta (98th) and Baltimore (99th) got extra choices in the third round.

In all, 15 teams were awarded compensatory picks. Washington, Chicago, Indianapolis and Philadelphia each got three selections. Receiving two were Buffalo, Carolina and Miami. Getting one apiece were Atlanta, Green Bay, St. Louis, San Diego, Tennessee and the New York Giants.

Attendance record

For the sixth straight year, the NFL set a paid attendance record, led by the Washington Redskins.

Attendance surpassed 22 million for the second successive season, with 22,256,502 fans paying their way into games, an increase of 56,790 over 2006. The 2007 NFL regular-season total paid attendance of 17,345,205 and the average of 67,755 per game were both records. And 4,119,278 tickets were sold for 65 preseason games, an average of 63,374.

Twelve postseason games drew 792,019 fans, including 71,101 for the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

The Redskins, who have the league's largest stadium, FedEx Field, led in regular-season home paid attendance for the eighth consecutive season. The Redskins drew 711,471, an NFL mark.

Three other teams topped 600,000 in paid home attendance: the New York Giants (629,391), Kansas City Chiefs (622,541) and New York Jets (616,756). Eleven teams drew more than 1.1 million in paid attendance home and away during the regular season, led by Washington (1,264,890). The others were the Giants (1,187,915), Jets (1,171,564), Miami Dolphins (1,156,762), Chiefs (1,145,938), New England Patriots (1,131,027), Buffalo Bills (1,129,052), Denver Broncos (1,120,996), Philadelphia Eagles (1,120,090), Green Bay Packers (1,112,753) and Carolina Panthers (1,100,147).

49ers Forfeit

Commissioner Roger Goodell cited San Francisco's "clear violation of policy" for his discipline against the 49ers for tampering with Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs.

Goodell stripped the 49ers of a fifth-round pick in the upcoming draft for early contact with the potential free agent, who wound up re-signing with the Bears.

He also ordered the teams to swap picks in the third round.

"Tampering charges normally are brought by clubs who believe they were grieved," he said Monday at the NFL owners meetings. "The Bears did that late last fall, we followed up on it and we came to a conclusion. It wasn't the 49ers being made an example of anything -- in my mind it was a clear violation of policy.

"Any time you violate a tampering policy, that is egregious. If it is done during the season, that is even a different factor. If they improperly contacted the player or his representative, that is the only thing you need for a violation."

Reese's Pieces

Jerry Reese, who became general manager of the New York Giants in January 2007, is accepting congratulations from everyone for last season's draft. All eight players he chose made the roster and all but one played important parts in helping the Giants win the Super Bowl.

Like any good football man, Reese says it was a team effort.

"We listen to everyone," he said Monday. "The scouts most of all. They're the people who see the players on a week-to-week basis, the people who get to know them and what kind of people they are."

One of those scouts -- although he's actually higher in the Giants' pecking order than that -- is Chris Mara, son of the late Wellington Mara and brother of team president John Mara. Chris, who has been scouting for a quarter-century, researched running back Ahmad Bradshaw, a second- or third-round talent whose stock had fallen because he had been arrested while at Marshall.

Mara vouched for Bradshaw to Reese and coach Tom Coughlin and Coughlin said, "OK, we'll take him." They did in the seventh round, six picks before the end of the draft. He had an 88-yard touchdown run to clinch the win over Buffalo that got the Giants a playoff spot, and was their leading rusher in the postseason while splitting time with Brandon Jacobs.

Reese says he has no "draft philosophy" as such.

"We just want good players," he said. "We trust our scouts to find them and vouch for them."

Dungy on Re-seeding

One reason the NFL is considering re-seeding the playoffs to allow wild-card teams to get home games in the postseason is it would encourage teams to play hard late in the regular season.

Yet one of the coaches the proposal seems aimed at, Indianapolis' Tony Dungy, says he approves in principle, noting that when the Colts won the Super Bowl in 2007, they played hard through the last regular-season game to guarantee they would have a home game in the first round of the playoffs.

But he has taken few risks the past few seasons after wrapping up the AFC South title, benching Peyton Manning after a couple of series and playing backups. Last December, with Jim Sorgi at quarterback for most of the game, the Colts lost their finale to Tennessee, enabling the Titans to make the playoffs.

Dungy said he also got his best experience in that kind of game as a backup defensive back for Pittsburgh's Super Bowl winners in the 1970s.

"Those were the only times I got to play," he said. "I looked forward to those games."

Super Consolation

Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, said it took him more than a month to get over his team's Super Bowl loss to the Giants after the Patriots started 18-0.

But he took consolation that he was close to two Giants co-owners, Wellington Mara and Robert Tisch, both of whom died during the 2005 season.

"I was thinking that Wellington Mara and Bob Tisch were both present," he said. "That's how I got through it."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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