<
>

NFL could sanction Rodgers despite plea deal

Green Bay rookie wide receiver Cory Rodgers, a fourth-round draft choice whose big-play potential impressed Packers in spring practices, has reached a plea agreement with Tarrant County (Texas) prosecutors on gun-related charges spawned by a May incident outside a Forth Worth nightclub.

Under the deferred adjudication agreement, Rodgers was sentenced to 15 months of probation for unlawfully carrying a firearm. He also received a $500 fine and must perform 80 hours of community service.

Provided that Rodgers completes the terms of his probation without further incident, the case will be dismissed and the conviction expunged from his record.

The agreement was first reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

But by pleading guilty to lesser charges -- prosecutors agreed not to pursue a more serious charge of firing a weapon when Rodgers pleaded to the misdemeanor charge of carrying a firearm -- the speedy wideout could still be subject to NFL discipline. The league's personal conduct policy stipulates that, even when a player pleads to a lesser charge, he can be sanctioned.

Although Rodgers, who played collegiately at TCU, has not yet signed his first NFL contract, he still comes under the purview of the personal conduct policy.

Rodgers, 23, was arrested May 26, less than a month after the draft, when it was alleged he fired two shots into the air in the parking lot of a nightclub. A brawl had broken out and police said as many as 50-60 people were involved, some wielding pool cues and swinging beer and liquor bottles. As police attempted to restore order, they said they heard two shots fired from Rodgers' car.

Rodgers' attorney conceded his client had fired the gun, but said he was not part of the fight and that he was only attempting to frighten off a group of men who had surrounded his car and threatened his safety. Prosecutor Kurt Stallings indicated that there was evidence Rodgers was trying to protect himself and that acknowledgement played some part in the plea agreement.

As part of the agreement, Rodgers will not have to report regularly to a probation officer if he earns a spot on the Green Bay roster. He must, however, return to Fort Worth after the season to complete his community service responsibility, which principally consists of working with at-risk youths.

Rodgers, who plays much faster than his mid-4.5s time in the 40-yard dash, is a dynamic special teams player who is expected to contribute immediately to the Packers as a return man. His 2,572 combined return yards in only three seasons at TCU were a school record, and Rodgers returned two kickoffs for touchdowns.

As a receiver, he totaled 150 catches for 2,111 yards and a school-record 17 touchdown receptions. With the Packers revamping their receiver corps in the wake of the departure of Javon Walker in a draft day trade, and with first-year coach Mike McCarthy having installed a new offense, there is a chance that Rodgers could carve out some playing time even in his rookie season.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.