Falcons cut all-time leading scorer Bryant

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ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Falcons released kicker Matt Bryant on Wednesday, ending the 10-year run of the team's all-time leading scorer.

The decision to not renew the team's option on the 43-year-old Bryant comes despite another strong season in 2018, when he made 20 of 21 field goals and 33 of 35 extra points.

Bryant's only missed field goal was from 53 yards at Green Bay. He said the miss was "probably like a 60-yarder on a normal field."

Health concerns could have played a role in the Falcons' decision. Bryant missed three games with a hamstring injury.

Bryant insisted he is healthy.

"I'm not retiring and I feel fine and plan on feeling even better with some changes to my offseason program," he said on Twitter .

Bryant also thanked Falcons fans for their support and added : "I take great pride in my body of work on and off the field. I hope I have represented you well while I was here."

Bryant recently told The Associated Press he wants to extend his career.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Major League Baseball and its players are discussing bold changes to spark the sport that include a three-batter minimum before a pitching change except at the start of an inning, a single trade deadline set before the All-Star break and expanded rosters.

The union renewed its push to extend the designated hitter to the National League, suggested amateur draft incentives for winning records and penalties for losing records and proposed a change in service-time rules that would lead to faster free agency for top rookies held in the minor leagues early in the season. Management proposed expanding minimum time on the disabled list and optional assignments to the minor leagues to 15 days.

SEATTLE (AP) - Major League Baseball says its independent investigation found no credible evidence to support claims of disparaging comments and discriminatory treatment by members of the Seattle Mariners front office.

MLB released a statement saying the investigation found the Mariners did not violate baseball's "workplace code of conduct, or applicable anti-discrimination law," in the treatment of Lorena Martin or in her termination by the club. Martin was the club's director of high performance for one season, then was fired following the 2018 season.

GOLF

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) - Six weeks into the new year, the new set of golf rules have their first adjustment on caddies standing behind their players.

Golf's two governing bodies released a clarification on the rule aimed at caddies no longer being able to help players line up a shot. The rule now says a player can avoid the penalty if he backs away from his stance and starts over anywhere on the golf course, and not just the putting green.

It also says caddies will not be in violation if they are standing behind their player without being aware the players are stepping into their stances.

The clarification was in response to a two-shot penalty on Denny McCarthy at the Phoenix Open that later was rescinded so the rule could be studied.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The selection committee that chooses the NCAA Tournament field is getting its first use of a new rankings formula that uses factors such as offensive and defensive efficiency when evaluating teams.

The committee is holding orientation meetings this week in Indianapolis. The work includes using the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings as part of the process to choose the top 16 seeds to this point ahead of a Saturday reveal, which comes about a month from Selection Sunday on March 17.

The NCAA announced in August that it was moving to the more analytical NET incorporating numerous factors after using the RPI since 1981.

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