Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:54 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 3/11/11

Sorry - not much to post these days.  Will try to update more often once this CBA crap is worked out.  Enjoy: 

Carson Palmer is making a stink in Cincinnati. Clearly, he wants out. And I have no doubt the Titans would love to get him. The big problem: Bengals owner Mike Brown probably isn't going to trade the veteran quarterback. Those who know Brown say he's stubborn, and won't cave no matter what Palmer says. If that's the case then Palmer would have to retire, and the Titans wouldn't be able to make a play on the guy they should want most. Right now, the Titans are waiting, just like everyone else. A new Collective Bargaining Agreement would change everything. But for now the Titans are exploring their options in the draft and waiting to see what options they might have in free agency……..


As the rumor mill fires up in anticipation of the NFL's eventual but undetermined free-agent signing period, so too does speculation over which teams may be interested in Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Throw the Tennessee Titans into the mix, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. Wyatt thinks Hasselbeck would be more attainable than Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer, and cites Hasselbeck's ties to the Titans franchise as reasons why the unrestricted free agent could draw considerable attention from Tennessee. Wyatt: I have no doubt Matt Hasselbeck is one name on the Titans' radar. The long-time Seahawks quarterback, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, has ties to a Titans front office that includes GM Mike Reinfeldt, VP of Player Personnel Ruston Webster and Director of Pro Scouting Lake Dawson. Hasselbeck and the Seahawks both gave strong indications during the season that they'd like to get a deal done, but ESPN's John Clayton reported recently that the two sides were still miles apart in negotiations.


Mike Florio of Profootballtalk.com reports that New Orleans Saints assistant defensive line coach Travis Jones on Wednesday received three years' probation and 100 hours of community service for his involvement in a real estate scam in Texas. Saints officials could not be reached for comment. Jones entered a plea agreement in June 2010. "Mr. Jones has entered a plea and hopes to receive a sentence of probation, so that he can concentrate on his career and spend time with his family, " Kreiss said in a statement made in conjunction with co-counsel Eric Schwartzreich in 2010.


Since Tuesday, when he announced his desire to return to football, Tiki Barber has had little to say. There is plenty of irony here. During the 2006 season, when he prematurely announced his retirement from the Giants, he couldn't keep his mouth shut. And for good reason. His mouth was going to make him a television star. A star so bright he would shine not only as a "regular" on NBC's "Today" show but also as a featured player on "Football Night In America." See, if Tiki Barber had made it in TV, made it so big NBC would have added years and dollars when his three-year, $6 million contract expired in 2009, there would be no need to put the pads back on and be reduced to a one-word punch line.


Quarterback Joe Flacco had a breakout 2010 season for the Baltimore Ravens, but he might have to find two new targets. Ravens coach John Harbaugh isn't sure if wide receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte' Stallworth will be back with the team next season. Harbaugh made the comments Wednesday night during a conference call with 6,000 season-ticket holders. "You can't really put a percentage basis on it because there are so many things up in the air at this time," Harbaugh said of the chance the receivers will return, according to the Ravens' official website. "There are obviously a lot of issues that haven't been a part of the equation in the past. It's just a different calendar now with free agency".


A surprise team with no ties to Tiki Barber has emerged as a possible landing spot for the soon-to-be no-longer-retired running back, who is attempting to defy the odds with a comeback after missing four full NFL seasons. There could be something down the line with Barber and the Steelers, according to two sources who stated that Barber would certainly be interested in restarting his career in Pittsburgh, playing for a player-friendly head coach in Mike Tomlin and a franchise that annually is a Super Bowl contender. The Giants cannot officially remove Barber from their reserve/retired list until there is a new collective bargaining agreement. The Giants, though, are not going to impede Barber's attempt to find a new team and are likely to give permission to Barber and his agent, Mark Lepselter, to start the process of drumming up interest -- without any tampering fears by other teams -- while the CBA negotiations are ongoing.


The Arizona Cardinals and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald failed to come to terms on a contract extension last week before the league's collective bargaining agreement was set to expire. But Fitzgerald said on Wednesday that he is "not really" interested in testing the free-agent market. Fitzgerald is entering the final year of a four-year, $40 million contract he signed in 2008. He said on Wednesday that he is "absolutely" hopeful that he can work out an extension with the Cardinals. Fitzgerald said "progress was being made" in contract talks between his agent and the Cardinals before the end of the NFL's business calendar on March 3.


A large portion of the Carolina Panthers coaching staff took a look at Auburn quarterback Cam Newton Tuesday at his pro day workout. The rest of their decision-makers will get a chance in a more intimate setting next week. The Panthers are one of nine teams to organize a private workout for Newton. Carolina's will take place on the same campus where he performed for the league Tuesday, and will be held sometime next week. His agent, Bus Cook, declined to provide specifics of Newton's travel schedule. The Panthers, who own the first pick in April's draft, have admitted he's part of a group of players they're considering with that pick.


The Vikings will conduct private workouts with some of the top quarterback prospects before the draft, vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said. And apparently, Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton is on the list. The NFL Network reported Wednesday that Newton has private workouts with eight teams, including the Vikings. The workouts will be led by each team's head coach at an undisclosed location, according to the network. Newton's father, Cecil, identified four of the teams -- including the Vikings -- for the network. Newton received positive reviews following his pro day at Auburn on Tuesday after struggling in passing drills at the NFL Scouting Combine two weeks ago.


Fullback Heath Evans will be an unrestricted free agent whenever the NFL's labor dispute is settled, but he said he hopes and expects to re-sign with the New Orleans Saints. He said Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis and Coach Sean Payton have expressed interest in bringing him back, though he said they wanted to wait until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached before working on a new deal with Evans. If he doesn't re-sign with the Saints, the 32-year-old Evans may turn to a second career in television. He has been a frequent guest analyst for pro and college football on ESPN this offseason and said he hopes to go down that road full-time after his playing days are over.


Although no earth-shattering news was revealed by Gerald Sensabaugh's agent, Kevin Conner, he did reiterate the fact his client intends to survey the market once the new collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association is enacted. "Our main goal and objective for Gerald is to secure a long-term deal," Conner told Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network on Wednesday. "We are strategically preparing for that opportunity, both with Dallas and the free-agent market. We have contingency plans for both scenarios. Gerald fully understands the nature of this side of the business."


Cam Newton and his agents, Tony Paige and Bus Cook, had dinner with Buffalo Bills executives on the eve of his compelling pro day workout on Tuesday at Auburn, indicating more than a passing interest in the quarterback, NFL.com senior analyst Gil Brandt reported Wednesday. The Bills have the third overall pick in April's NFL Draft, and the temptation to select Newton, a potential franchise quarterback, likely grew after his impressive workout Tuesday. Newton displayed rare arm strength and improved footwork during a 48-minute workout in front of representatives from all 32 teams (approximately 125 personnel members), including five head coaches -- Ron Rivera (Carolina Panthers), John Fox (Denver Broncos), Marvin Lewis (Cincinnati Bengals), Ken Whisenhunt (Arizona Cardinals) and Pat Shurmur (Cleveland Browns).


The Raiders have re-signed quarterback Kyle Boller to a one-year, $1.25 million contract, a $250,000 raise over last season. Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski said he hasn't heard from the Raiders and Charlie Frye is scheduled for unrestricted free agency.


Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has signed a multi-year contract extension, the team is set to announce. Since being named the general manager on Jan. 13, 2008, Dimitroff has helped to shape the roster that has led to two playoff trips in three seasons. The franchise has posted three consecutive-winning seasons for the first time in its history. "This extension of Thomas' contract ensures that he and coach (Mike) Smith, whose contract was extended last month, will be able to continue to work together on solidifying the long-term sustainability and success of our football team," said Falcons owner Arthur M. Blank.









Category: NFL
Posted on: March 1, 2011 1:22 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 3/1/11

Three players who are older than 30 received pink slips Monday from the New York Jets -- Kris Jenkins, Jason Taylor and Damien Woody. One player in that precarious age group who doesn't have to worry about his future is LaDainian Tomlinson. The Jets will retain the future Hall of Fame running back for the 2011 season, the final year of his contract, according to league sources. There had been mild speculation about Tomlinson, who turns 32 in June, but the team intends to go forward with a three-headed backfield -- Tomlinson, Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight.


The Patriots have signed free agent defensive lineman Marcus Stroud to a two-year deal, according to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter. Stroud, a three-time Pro Bowler, has been in Buffalo the past two seasons but was recently released by the team. The 10-year veteran, who is 32, didn't fare well as the Bills switched to a 3-4 defense from a 4-3. In 15 games, playing defensive end, he had 49 tackles and 3 sacks.


What long seemed inevitable became reality Monday when the Bears terminated the contract of former star defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who for the last four seasons struggled to regain his place as a cornerstone of coach Lovie Smith's defense. The simple truth is that Harris was due $3 million in bonuses before training camp and no longer was a player who commanded big money. "I kind of knew; it's nothing personal," Harris said. "I want to thank the McCaskeys. I want to tell my fans I love them, and I'm going to miss the city and my teammates. I think it's one of the best locker rooms in the NFL."


The Jaguars locked in their second quarterback for next season on Monday. Paperwork for backup quarterback Luke McCown's one-year deal went through for a deal agreed upon over the weekend. The Jaguars now have two quarterbacks on the roster for next season: McCown and starter David Garrard. Trent Edwards, who began last season as Buffalo's starter but was then claimed off waivers by the Jaguars, is set to become a free agent.


Raiders linebacker Kamerion Wimbley will sign his franchise tag after being unable to reach a long-term agreement with the team. Wimbley's agent, Joe Linta, confirmed a Fox Sports report Monday that Wimbley will sign the tag, which will guarantee him $11,312,000 next season. Linta and Raiders owner Al Davis talked about a long-term contract since the Raiders placed the tag on Wimbley last week, and Linta said those discussions would continue. The Raiders tried to keep Wimbley for much less money by exercising a $3.5 million buyback option that would have given him about $4.1 million next season. But the NFL ruled that contract was invalid, so the Raiders used the franchise tag………..


The Cowboys have not closed the door on Marcus Spears and Gerald Sensabaugh to return, but they have left it wide open for both starters to explore the free-agent market. Meanwhile, the club is poised to extend tender offers to key players in the next few days to get its house in order before an expected lockout plunges the NFL into darkness later this week. Spears and Sensabaugh will be unrestricted free agents in whatever system is adopted going forward. The club's stance with both should come as no surprise. The Cowboys retained Spears, their starting defensive end, with a tender offer last season that was less than what the club paid to his backups, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher.


The Giants told running back Ahmad Bradshaw that signing him this offseason is a "priority." They also want to make sure no one else will try. That's why the 24-year-old running back expects to receive the highest possible restricted free agent tender from the Giants this week, theoretically guaranteeing him at least a one-year deal worth about $3.4 million. Two sources said Bradshaw will "probably" receive a "first- and third-round tender," meaning any team that signs him to an offer sheet would owe the Giants first- and third-round picks if they don't match. The Giants have until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday to issue their RFA tenders.


Texans general manager Rick Smith met with Ralph Vitolo, the agent for fullback Vonta Leach, at the Indianapolis scouting combine, but no deal was done. Leach, who underwent arthroscopic knee surgery after playing in the Pro Bowl last month, said he's hopeful a deal can be reached before the current collective bargaining agreement expires Thursday at 11:59 p.m. "I'm hoping we can get something done because I want to return, but if we can't, I'll test the market when (free agency) begins," Leach said. "I think we're on the verge of something special. We're only a couple of players away, and I want to be here when we finally turn it around."


The Redskins announced Monday that they have released running back Clinton Portis, the second-leading rusher in franchise history with 6,824 yards. "Clinton provided excitement from the very first time he touched the ball as a Redskin and we were lucky to witness every ounce of energy, effort and passion he has given ever since," Redskins Owner Daniel M. Snyder said in a statement released by the team. "We have been through a lot both on and off of the field and we would like to wish him and his family the very best. He will always be a Redskin and go down as one of the franchise's all-time greats."


The agent for Sidney Rice said Sunday that the wide receiver will not re-sign with the Vikings before first testing the free-agent market. Drew Rosenhaus, who refused to talk about Rice's situation when approached Thursday, told ESPN that his client will become a free agent whenever that period starts. Rosenhaus and Vikings executives were scheduled to meet over the weekend at the NFL scouting combine, and the Vikings' hope was to sign Rice to a long-term deal. Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said Friday that the Vikings had offered Rice a contract. There is no certainty that Rice will hit unrestricted free agency this offseason.


All signs point toward the exorbitant "exclusive franchise'' tag staying affixed to Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for the foreseeable future. The lines of communication with Tom Condon, Manning's agent, remain open, according to Colts owner Jim Irsay, "but nothing is imminent right now." "We'll see what happens in the next (few days)," Irsay said. "If we can get something done before the deadline, we will. If not, it's not uncommon territory for us to go the other way (with the franchise tag).'' The NFL's collective bargaining agreement with its players expires Thursday night.


The question of whether Kevin Kolb should stay or go could end up being moot if the NFL's labor standoff results in a long lockout that goes into the summer or early fall. That would be unfortunate for Kolb, who desperately wants the opportunity to be a starter and isn't going to get it in Philly this year as long as Michael Vick is alive and well. And it would be unfortunate for the Eagles, who would have no difficulty getting a first-round pick for Kolb if they were able to trade him before the April draft. If you doubt that, take a gander around the league at the shocking number of teams in the market for a quarterback.


Bears safety Danieal Manning rejected an extension offer during the season worth $6 million over three years, with $2 million guaranteed, according to NFL sources, but last week the team extended him an original-compensation tender. Manning finds himself in an interesting situation. Without a salary cap and CBA, Manning is technically a restricted free agent, which means that if another team signed him to an offer sheet and Chicago failed to match it, the team signing the safety would owe the Bears a second-round pick.


Negotiations with the agent for Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald are "ongoing," General Manager Rod Graves said, but it's doubtful a deal will be reached before Thursday, when the NFL's collective-bargaining agreement expires. If a new CBA isn't reached by then, the owners likely would lock out the players, and no players can sign a contract until the matter is resolved. "Obviously the window is getting shorter in terms of us being able to close something before the end of the (league) year," Graves said. Though Fitzgerald has avoided the subject, there is no question he wants to see how the Cardinals address the quarterback position.


New Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has called himself "a quarterback freak" and has said how much he likes studying film of them. He's going to have plenty of opportunities over the next two months. With the coaching staff preparing for life without Carson Palmer, the Bengals are evaluating this year's draft class as they address what has morphed into an immediate need. If Sunday's workouts at the NFL Scouting Combine were any indication, the process has a lot more questions than answers. Ryan Mallett and Christian Ponder had the best days in their respective groups. Cam Newton showed a lot of the raw skills that could make him a top three pick but questions still remain.


Miami Dolphins DT Paul Soliai signed his franchise contract, his agent David Canter told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. Soliai will receive a one-year tender at $12.381 million -- the highest ever paid to a Miami defensive player. The contract would be guaranteed once he signs. The 27-year-old Soliai had 39 tackles and two sacks for the Dolphins last season.


At his introductory press conference in January, Ron Rivera said he would prefer the Panthers find one tight end rather than the committee approach they used last season. They might have found him. Emphasis on might. The Panthers will bring veteran TE Jeremy Shockey in for a physical next week and could reunite Shockey with his University of Miami position coach – Carolina offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. The move makes sense on a couple of levels, beginning with Shockey's familiarity with Chudzinski. Plus, as Rivera intimated at his presser, the type of offense he wants to run requires a capable tight end.


The Detroit Lions aren't using any of their 60 official combine interviews on quarterbacks, but that doesn't mean they're not doing due diligence on the position anyway. Agent Ray Brownell tweeted Saturday night that California (Pa.) quarterback Josh Portis met with a dozen teams at the combine, including the Lions. The meeting, however, was a casual introductory one (which teams try to do with as many prospects as possible), not a formal 15-minute session. Portis, the cousin of Redskins running back Clinton Portis, threw for 2,651 yards and 33 touchdowns last year after transferring to the Division 2 school from Maryland and Florida.


St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney said the team is aware of the situation and is gathering information on the arrest early Friday morning of team scout Luke Driscoll for public intoxication and public nudity. Driscoll has been with the Rams for 11 seasons and is part of the Rams' contingent at the NFL Scouting Combine.



Category: NFL
Posted on: February 25, 2011 3:21 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 2/25/11

All signs Thursday pointed toward Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith receiving a contract extension sooner rather than later. Now, it's official. Smith and the Bears agreed to a two-year contract extension, the financial terms of which were not immediately announced Friday. This will keep Smith with the Bears through the 2013 season, rewarding him for this year's unexpected appearance in the NFC title game. "Of course I feel great about the extension," Smith said from the NFL scouting combine. The new deal also runs the same length as that of general manager Jerry Angelo. "Jerry and I work together well," Smith said. "We feel like we're a good combination. "

Niners coach Jim Harbaugh continues to speak highly of Alex Smith, while general manager Trent Baalke remains mostly mum on the team's incumbent quarterback. Speaking at the NFL combine Thursday, Harbaugh said contract "talks are going on" between the 49ers and Smith's representatives. They have a week to finalize a deal to bring back the free-agent quarterback for a seventh year because the collective bargaining agreement will expire Thursday. "I very much like Alex," Harbaugh said. "I like being around Alex. I had an opportunity to evaluate the tape, and I think he's a very good football player. That being said, we're going to make the decision to bring in the best quarterbacks that we possibly can to compete for the starting quarterback job. "I'm hopeful that Alex, an unrestricted free agent, will choose that his next team he plays with, the fresh start, is with the San Francisco 49ers." Baalke was more guarded when he was asked about Smith. "Right now we're treating him as we do every other free-agent quarterback," he said. Smith might yet decide to test his value to other teams, but Baalke said that wouldn't influence the 49ers' draft plans. Not even with a lockout looming, and free agency possibly coming after the April draft. "You've got to be ready regardless," Baalke said. "You have to have a plan for free agency. You have to have a trade plan. You have to have a plan for the draft. The order of it, obviously, if it was a traditional order, it would make it easier for us to make decisions. But you got to be prepared. It's an obstacle and we're prepared for it."

Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman acknowledged Thursday that Pro Bowl running back Adrian Peterson's contract is "going to have to get addressed," once a new collective bargaining agreement is in place. Peterson wants a contract extension. He is due to make an eye-popping $10.720 million base salary in 2011, the final season of his rookie contract. Peterson is technically signed for 2012 but that year of the deal will void. The NFL did not have a salary cap in 2010, but if one returns Peterson's cap figure would be $12.775 million for this coming season, and the Vikings would like to restructure that.

The Vikings decision to place their franchise tag on linebacker Chad Greenway this week caused some questions about whether consideration was given to putting that designation on receiver Sidney Rice. Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman declined to provide much insight into the matter Thursday as he addressed a group of reporters at the NFL scouting combine. "I'm not going to go into what our internal discussions were," he said. "We made a decision that Chad was our franchise [player], and hopefully we'll be able to get Sidney under contract this year." Greenway has yet to sign the franchise tender, but is expected to in the coming days.

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he has "one major issue" with the offensive line this offseason — re-signing Marshal Yanda. "That's going to be a priority for us," Harbaugh said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine. Yanda, the Ravens' most versatile offensive lineman, is expected to be an unrestricted free agent when the new collective bargaining agreement is signed. A third-round pick in 2007, he started at right guard in 2009 and at right tackle in 2010. "I think he's a good player obviously, a very good player," Harbaugh said. "He's one of my favorite guys. He knows that. As a coach, you want those guys back. Other than that, we should be in pretty good shape……


Jeremy Shockey views Miami as his adopted home. The former Hurricane standout lives in South Florida during the offseason and comes home at every opportunity. It's possible the former Pro Bowl tight end could call South Florida his permanent home pretty soon. According to a league source Shockey, who was released by the Saints earlier this week to avoid paying him the $4.2 million he was due, took and passed a physical for the Miami Dolphins, which are in the market for a seam threat tight end to complement Anthony Fasano. "If you know me you know I'm going to look at every acorn that falls off the tree. He's another one so I'm going to do that," General Manager Jeff Ireland said………


In this offseason of discontent for the Bengals, the person most frustrated remains one of the central topics of conversation. Carson Palmer's request to be traded could make the Bengals consider taking a quarterback with their No. 4 pick in next month's NFL Draft. But of the quarterbacks in Indianapolis for the scouting combine, a franchise player might not exist. Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Auburn's Cam Newton have emerged as the two most likely to be selected in the top 10 of the draft, to be held April 28-30 in New York. But both quarterbacks would have to prove they can adjust to an NFL-style offensive scheme. The differences on offense in college and pro ball can be profound, especially for a quarterback.


Buffalo Bills coach Chan Gailey and General Manager Buddy Nix acknowledged defense is where the Bills have to focus a lot of their attention in filling out the roster this offseason. "Defense is where we're the thinnest," Gailey told The News in an interview. "We'll address all of that here in the next couple months. We'll make sure we take care of the needs going into the season." Nix said the draft is especially deep on the defensive line and at outside linebacker. "Defensive ends, defensive tackles and outside linebacker," Nix said. "That to me are the deepest areas. Defensive end is deeper than I can remember." The Bills are in need of a defensive end in the wake of last week's release of Marcus Stroud. Dwan Edwards, Spencer Johnson and Alex Carrington are the three incumbent defensive ends on the roster.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers don't want to lose free agents such as right guard Davin Joseph, linebacker Quincy Black and tackle Jeremy Trueblood, and they're taking every step possible to make sure they don't. Though a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could render them meaningless, the Bucs have sent restricted free-agent tender letters to all of their players preparing to test the market as unrestricted free agents. The tenders are for players whose contracts are set to expire in March and who have between four and six years of NFL service. Those players are expected to be unrestricted free agents, but the outcome of the CBA negotiations could change that.


The perceived needs of the Indianapolis Colts moving forward are many, but all are in lock step behind an obvious leader. A strong argument can be made that upgrades in certain areas -- defensive tackle, safety -- won't matter unless significant improvement is realized along the offensive line. And that starts with the high-profile left tackle position. The good news? The April 28-30 draft should offer immediate help. The Colts hold six selections, including the 22nd overall. "I believe that guy will be there for Indy," predicted NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock. It might be Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi, Boston College's Anthony Castonzo, Colorado's Nate Solder, USC's Tyron Smith or Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod. All are in town for the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.


The Green Bay Packers chose not to use a franchise or transition tag on any of their impending free agents and for defensive end Cullen Jenkins it means just one thing: He's out of here. After the deadline passed Thursday afternoon for NFL teams to apply the restrictive tag to their free agents, Jenkins said his chances of remaining with the Packers were slim and none. "I'm 99% sure something won't happen," Jenkins said when asked in a phone interview from his home in Michigan whether there was a chance the Packers could re-sign him before the start of free agency. "Not at this point. You get to a point where you want to go where you feel you're wanted. "


Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley apparently isn't the only player the Steelers hope to sign to a long-term deal. Director of football operations Kevin Colbert said Thursday the Steelers have had talks with cornerback Ike Taylor about a new contract. Taylor, who just completed his eighth season — sixth as a starter — becomes an unrestricted free agent after March 3. The Steelers could have used a transition tag on him — paying him the average salary of the 10 highest-paid cornerbacks in 2010 — and likely bought more negotiating time with him. Although they declined to offer Taylor a one-year deal worth $11.82 million, Colbert said bringing back the Steelers' top cornerback is one of the team's priorities.


David Harris signed his one-year franchise tender Wednesday night, a source confirmed to the Daily News. The Jets placed the franchise tag designation on the veteran linebacker less than three weeks ago. Harris, the team's leading tackler last season, will earn the average of the Top 5 players at his position in 2011, which is expected to be slightly more than $10 million.


The Jaguars will most likely keep their Pro Bowl tight end for at least another year. Jacksonville placed a non-exclusive franchise tag on Marcedes Lewis on Wednesday, unable to reach a long-term deal. The Jaguars will continue to negotiate with Lewis' representation until March 3, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires. After that, they will have to wait until a new collective bargaining agreement is in place before resuming negotiations. Because the tag is non-exclusive, Lewis can negotiate with other teams once the free agency period begins after a new CBA deal is reached. But any other team would have to give the Jaguars two first-round draft picks in order to sign Lewis.


Outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley's salary jumped exponentially Wednesday when he signed a one-year franchise tender with the Steelers. The question now is whether there will be an NFL season in 2011. With players facing a potential lockout by NFL owners next week, Woodley acted quickly to sign the tender. He is the first player designated with a team's franchise tag — the Steelers placed theirs on Woodley on Friday — to sign his tender this offseason. After making $550,000 last season in the final year of his rookie contract, Woodley will earn about $10.1 million next season. That is the average salary for the top five highest-paid players at his position last season.


A few months ago, former Jaguars defensive end Paul Spicer put in a call to the office of Paul Vance, the Jaguars' senior vice president of football operations and general counsel, saying he wanted to retire a Jaguar. On Monday, Vance called Spicer to tell him the Jaguars would indeed make that happen. The Jaguars signed Spicer to a one-day deal Tuesday and placed him on the retired/reserve list Wednesday. "If it wasn't for the organization giving me the opportunity to come in as a free agent, undrafted ... they ultimately made the decision to keep me," Spicer said. "... I'm not a New Orleans Saint. I'm always going to be a Jaguar at heart……."


"The Carolina Panthers did not elect to use the franchise tag on Charles Johnson or DeAngelo Williams Tuesday. That does not mean they're simply turning them out into the wilds of free agency, with little chance to retain their stars emerging and established. Johnson and Williams will be part of a large class of players with four years experience or more who under the old rules would have been unrestricted free agents. If a collective bargaining agreement is reached soon, they may still. But until a CBA is reached, they'll be treated the way players such as Thomas Davis and Richard Marshall were a year ago, with restricted free agent tenders.


Rams general manager Billy Devaney headed to Indiana on Wednesday for the NFL scouting combine secure in the knowledge that there will be a player worth getting excited about at No. 14 overall. In fact, he thinks there will be several such players available when it's time to pick in the first round of the NFL draft April 28. "No question," Devaney said. "We know that already. There's going to be a cluster of guys there — and really good players. That's a given." So much so that Devaney and the Rams' front office already are playing "fantasy football" about the possibility of trading down from No. 14. "Gosh, it'd be great if we get there and there's three or four guys that we really love, ," Devaney said. "Where we say we'd be happy with any of those guys and then we can move back a little bit, knowing that chances are you still may have a shot at one of those four guys. That's the best scenario to be in. Oh yeah, we've already started."

Obviously, there are a lot more variables when you're picking 14th as opposed to first or second, as has been the case the previous three drafts. So Devaney says the Rams have to be ready for anything."It'll start getting clearer and clearer as we get closer," Devaney said. "There'll be the obvious top five or top seven (prospects) — we'll see how that goes. At 14, there'll be a cluster of names. But we'll have a fairly good idea who's going to be there."Conventional wisdom says the Rams should take Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones if he's still on the board at 14. Entering the combine, Jones is generally considered the second-best receiver in the draft behind Georgia's A.J. Green. And together, Green and Jones are considered the only surefire first-rounders at wide receiver this year."If Julio's there, I think they probably sprint up to the podium with the card," said draft analyst Mike Mayock of the NFL Network. "I think he's a real logical fit and I think they have to start complementing Sam Bradford. They've got to get some talent out wide. So I think he's the most logical guy in the entire draft for them at 14. And to me, I think that's where he goes, somewhere between 10 and 18. He probably won't get past St. Louis if he's there."












Category: NFL
Posted on: February 18, 2011 1:36 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 2/18/11

Colts owner Jim Irsay posted on Twitter today that the team has released safety Bob Sanders. "We have released Bob Sanders today. We thank Bob 4 all his incredible contributions from his Sup Bowl pic 2 def player of year honors," Irsay said. Sanders has only played in 9 regular season games the past three seasons due to injuries. The Colts selected the safety in the 2nd round of the 2004 NFL Draft.


The New Orleans Saints wrapped up their visit with free agent defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. Rogers did not sign a contract, but Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said the visit went well. "Good visit," said Loomis, who described it as "fact finding for both sides at this point." Rogers, a three-time Pro Bowler who turns 32 next month, has also visited the Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs since he was released last week by the Cleveland Browns. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Rogers does not have any other visits scheduled for now. Rogers is free to sign with any team he wants up until March 4, since he was released before the end of the current league year.


Kris Jenkins is keeping the Jets involved as the defensive tackle recovers from a second serious knee injury. If the Jets want Jenkins involved with them next season, he doesn't know. NJ.com reports Jenkins is working out in New Jersey in an attempt to return to the NFL after his previous two seasons were ended by torn knee ligaments. The report says Jenkins talks to Jets trainers "every few days." The former Pro Bowl player is one of many decisions the Jets have to make about their 2011 roster.


"Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay's approach to reaching a long-term contract with quarterback Peyton Manning remains unchanged. Irsay said Thursday he has issued an offer that would make the NFL's only four-time MVP the highest-paid player in league history, and hopes to finalize a five- or six-year contract sooner rather than later. The Colts placed the "exclusive franchise" designation on Manning this week to keep him from hitting the free-agent market. He's in the final year of a seven-year, $98 million contract. The franchise tag will pay Manning, who turns 35 in March, $23.1 million for 2011. A long-term deal would surpass the four-year, $72 million extension the New England Patriots gave to Tom Brady.


John Elway, the Broncos' new front-office boss, re-emphasized by Twitter on Thursday the team's commitment to re-sign cornerback Champ Bailey before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. But no thanks to chief nemesis Al Davis, the Broncos have a ways to go before they can reach an agreement with their cornerback. Davis, the Oakland Raiders' owner, re-signed Richard Seymour, a defensive end who will turn 32 in October, to a two-year contract that has been reported by multiple outlets as having $22.5 million guaranteed. The Broncos' offer to Bailey, who will turn 33 in June, has less than $15 million guaranteed.


The Eagles placed the franchise tag on QB Michael Vick earlier this week, a move that is very likely a precursor to a long-term contract. So where does that leave fellow Philadelphia QB Kevin Kolb, who will be entering his fifth season without something he had at the start of his fourth year: a starting job. Though Kolb is an important insurance policy to the injury-prone Vick, he's also a valuable trade commodity given he's unsigned after 2011 and is only due $1.4 million next season -- a topic Philadelphia president Joe Banner has touched on. Kolb could follow the career paths of players like Matt Hasselbeck and Matt Schaub, signal callers who flourished in other cities after sitting and waiting as back-ups on the teams that drafted them.


The New York Jets are willing to let cornerback Antonio Cromartie explore free agency this offseason, sources said Wednesday. The Jets hope to re-sign wide receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards first because they want to maintain continuity on their offense. They believe surrounding young quarterback Mark Sanchez with veterans Holmes and Edwards is essential, according to a source. Edwards led the Jets with seven touchdown catches this past season and was second in receptions with 53. Holmes, whom the Jets acquired after the 2009 season from the Pittsburgh Steelers, was second in TD catches (six) and third in receptions (52) despite missing the first four regular-season games.


Having in recent years lost a premier pass rusher, the Chiefs were determined not to let it happen again, this time with outside linebacker Tamba Hali. They effectively prevented Hali, who led the AFC last season with 14 1/2 sacks, from becoming a free agent in 2011 by designating him as their franchise player. "You need a guy to go and get the quarterback," former Chiefs coach Herm Edwards said. "You've got to knock the quarterback down and that's what Tamba brings to the table." Edwards coached the Chiefs in 2008 when they traded the NFL's leading pass rusher, Jared Allen, to Minnesota. That deal netted the draft picks that brought three players, one of them Pro Bowl running back Jamaal Charles.


An extension for coach Lovie Smith remains a work in progress, but the Bears got some other business knocked out Wednesday. Two days after offensive line coach Mike Tice was prohibited from interviewing with the Titans for their offensive coordinator position, the offensive line coach was signed to a one-year extension through 2012. Smith long has talked about promoting his assistants when they have opportunities for advancement, but the organization has entrusted so much to Tice that it didn't believe it could afford to lose him.


Lovie Smith may get a contract extension, but he shouldn't expect a raise after Mike McCarthy signs his reported new deal with the Green Bay Packers. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Packers' coach will soon sign a three-year contract extension that will pay him $5 million per season. Since that's the same amount written on Smith's current W-2, it will be more difficult for the Bears' coach to persuade general manager Jerry Angelo and president Ted Phillips to add a bump in salary as well as more years to his new deal. How can Smith claim he is worth more than the coach of the defending Super Bowl champions? NFL coaching salaries are leveling off or going down, not up.


The Ravens are expected to give up a fifth-round pick in this year's draft to the Seattle Seahawks to complete last season's trade for cornerback Josh Wilson. Neither the Ravens nor the NFL would confirm it will be a fifth-round pick. But it was reported on Aug. 31 that the Ravens agreed to send a conditional fifth-round pick to the Seahawks. It could have improved to a fourth-round selection if Wilson started a particular number of games. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome confirmed that Wilson didn't meet "the requirements for the condition to kick in."


The Miami Dolphins are currently exploring the possibility of adding another former NFL player to its coaching staff, and this time it's a name Miami's fans know well. Bryan Cox, who was named to three Pro Bowls during a successful five-year stint as a linebacker for the Dolphins, interviewed this week to join coach Tony Sparano's staff, sources said Wednesday. The specialized capacity of his role is unknown. A fifth-round draft pick by the Dolphins in 1991, Cox most recently was a defensive line coach in Cleveland since 2009, but he was among the staff's casualties in the wake of last month's firing of head coach Eric Mangini.


The Buffalo Bills released defensive lineman Marcus Stroud, the team announced earlier this week in an e-mail. Stroud started 45 of 46 games and posted 7.5 sacks since joining Buffalo in 2008 via a trade with Jacksonville.


Defensive tackle Richard Seymour has signed a two-year contract worth $30 million, meaning the Raiders won't have to use the franchise tag to keep him off the open market, according to a CNN-Sports Illustrated report. An 11-year veteran, Seymour was expected to be hit with a franchise tag if the two sides couldn't come to an agreement. He played under that designation last season for just under $12.9 million, and was due for a 20 percent increase this year if tagged again, or just under $15 million. The reported deal includes $22.5 million guaranteed, including a $7.5 million guaranteed bonus this season. Seymour had 5.5 sacks while moving inside to defensive tackle full time in 2010.


Dick LeBeau spent the weekend playing golf in North Carolina, not mulling his future as defensive coordinator for the Steelers. After all, there was no reason to focus on anything other than pars and birdies. "I'm not coaching anywhere but here," LeBeau said Tuesday after returning from four days off before getting ready for the NFL combine that begins Feb. 23 in Indianapolis. The Steelers want LeBeau, 72, back as their defensive coordinator and he intends to sign a new one-year deal to return as the leader of a defense that ranked No. 2 overall and No. 1 against the run in 2010.


Just more than a year after announcing his retirement from the NFL, Chris Palmer returned to accept quite a challenge. He was named offensive coordinator of the Titans on Tuesday and will face the daunting task of improving an offense that ranked 27th in the league last season overall — 29th in first downs per game and last in time of possession. To add to the challenges ahead, the Titans don't know who will start at quarterback. They are preparing to part ways with Vince Young, and backup Kerry Collins is not under contract.



Category: NFL
Posted on: February 8, 2011 3:18 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 2/8/11

Sorry I wasn't able to do these last week.  Enjoy: 

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has denied Kevin and Pat Williamses' quest for a permanent injunction to block the NFL from punishing them, clearing the way for the league to suspend the Minnesota Vikings defensive tackles for four games next season for failing 2008 drug tests. Minnesota's Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace Act does not regulate bumetanide, the prescription drug found in StarCaps, the tainted weight-loss supplement the Williamses used, which means the NFL did not violate state law by trying to discipline them, the Court of Appeals ruled today.


The Green Bay Packers defied the odds in a number of ways, among them by overcoming injuries and becoming the first NFC sixth seed to win the Super Bowl. But the Packers aren't expected to take any chances with their football operations, wasting no time to lock up coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson for the foreseeable future. McCarthy and Thompson are under contract through the 2012 season, but president Mark Murphy indicated the team will be proactive in working out extensions. "We want Ted and Mike to be with the Packers long term, and I'm confident that they will be," Murphy said. Murphy will work on Thompson's extension, then Thompson will deal with McCarthy's.


New Titans head coach Mike Munchak informed Mike Heimerdinger on Tuesday he will not be retained as the team's offensive coordinator. Heimerdinger just finished this third season as offensive coordinator with the Titans, his second stint with the team. In 2010, the Titans offense ranked 27th in the NFL. "He decided to let me go," Heimerdinger said. "I am disappointed but Mike is going to do what's best for the Titans and I appreciate my time here. Hopefully I can move on and get a job down the road sometime.'' Heimerdinger just interviewed for the head coaching job with the Titans last week, but the job ended up going to Munchak, who was hired on Monday.


"It was only a few years ago when Eagles fans were begging the front office to deal for Larry Fitzgerald. Now, the Cardinals wideout is practically begging Arizona's front office to get him an Eagles quarterback. Fitzgerald, an annual Pro Bowl receiver, has told the quarterback-strapped Cardinals that he'd like to catch passes from Kevin Kolb, according to a report Sunday night from ESPN's Adam Schefter. Citing league sources, the report said the Cardinals approached Fitzgerald, the face of their franchise, and asked him for input on their quarterback situation. After the retirement of Kurt Warner and preseason trade of Matt Leinart, the Cardinals used three different quarterbacks in 2010……..


Darrelle Revis doesn't want to cover Chad Ochocinco anymore. "I want Chad to come here and play for us, to be a Jet," Revis told New York Metro leading up to the Super Bowl. "I've been in his ear a lot about it this week. ... I think he could do well here. I've been telling him to come here." The Jets could be in the market for wide receivers, with Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith heading toward free agency in an uncertain NFL labor climate. Ochocinco is currently with the Bengals but reportedly looking for a way out of Cincinnati. He reportedly thought about returning to his former surname Johnson but changed his mind back.


The Panthers have hired Joe Kenn to be their strength coach, and only need an assistant for him to finalize their coaching staff. Kenn has most recently worked out of the Proehlific Park facility of new Panthers offensive consultant Ricky Proehl (a former college teammate as well), but has an extensive resume at the college level.


One year ago today New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton woke up cradling the Vince Lombardi Trophy, went to a press conference and reiterated how much winning the Super Bowl meant because of the symbiotic relationship between rebuilt team and rebuilding city. Soon after he released a best-selling book, "Home Team," that chronicled his love for and inspiration he drew from the Gulf Coast as he powered the Saints to the championship. Then along came Monday when word leaked via ESPN's Ed Werder that Payton was moving his family out of Louisiana and to the tony Dallas suburb of Westlake; hence, the false Payton to Dallas rumors. They will now maintain two residences, according to the Times-Picayune.


The Jaguars began their offseason cuts on Monday, releasing veteran offensive tackle Jordan Black and signing first-year center Bradley Vierling. Black started the season as a backup entering games as an extra blocker on occasion. When starting right tackle Eben Britton tore the labrum in his right shoulder at Kansas City, the Jaguars turned to Black to be their starter for the rest of the season. A backup in a starting role, the eight-year veteran struggled at times, but was the Jaguars best option for most of the year.


The Titans have officially named Mike Munchak as their new head coach. Munchak, 50, replaces Coach Jeff Fisher, who coached the team the past 16 full season before the two sides opted to go separate ways last month. Munchak recently finished 14th year as the Titans offensive line coach. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001 after playing in 159 games for the Oilers over 12 seasons. After interviewing four candidates for the job last week, Titans Executive Vice President Steve Underwood and General Manager Mike Reinfeldt spent the weekend discussing the candidates before officially deciding on Munchak.


The Arizona Cardinals are formally pursuing Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler for their vacant defensive coordinator position, according to league sources. Butler is the coach-in-waiting behind Dick LeBeau as Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator, but he is intrigued by the Cardinals' opening and Steelers officials expect him to take it. A Steelers source said the team likely would not block the move. Monday is the first day the Cardinals can officially approach Butler for permission to interview and they intend to do just that. Butler is close with Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt from their time together on the Steelers staff and their friendship extends beyond football.


After a turn-back-the-clock game that ended with a disappointing outcome Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward said he has no plans to retire. "I'll be back," Ward said after the Steelers' 31-25 loss to the Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV. "I'm not going anywhere." Ward, 34, played one of his best games of the season and looked anything but aging in catching seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Those were his most receiving yards since going over 100 in a win against the Bengals on Dec. 12. Ward also became just the sixth player in NFL receiver with at least 10 touchdown catches in postseason play.


The Falcons aren't ready to talk about a report saying Jon Bon Jovi may buy a part of the team. But fans of the New Jersey rocker may be living on a prayer that the rumor is true. ESPN.com broke the news of the talks between Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Bon Jovi, who reportedly may buy a 15-percent stake in the franchise for $150 million. But the team later said rumors are slippery when wet. "The Falcons works under confidentiality agreements regarding discussions such as what was reported this morning," the team told the AJC in a statement. "The club will have no further comment." If true, this wouldn't be Bon Jovi's first run with football.


The Detroit Lions have already told linebacker Julian Peterson that he will not be back with the team and, under league rule, today marks the first day the Lions can officially release him. The Lions acquired Peterson two years ago in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks that sent Cory Redding (who is now with the Ravens) and a fifth-round draft pick to Seattle. Peterson was coming off three straight Pro Bowl appearances and, in his first season with Detroit, he had a solid, but not significant season. Peterson, who made $6.5 million that year, had 74 tackles, 4 ½ sacks and five forced fumbles in 16 starts.


Few teams have as many key free agents to re-sign as the New York Jets, who lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game and now have 17 players scheduled to hit free agency. But New York plans to use its lone franchise tag not on receivers Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, but on linebacker David Harris, according to a league source. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie and special teams ace Brad Smith also will be free agents. The linebacker franchise tag number last season was $9.6 million, but Harris would like a considerably longer-term deal than just one year.






Category: NFL
Posted on: January 28, 2011 3:04 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 1/28/10

Have a great weekend everyone.  Enjoy the read. 

The Titans, as Coach Jeff Fisher always liked to say, had a plan. In the days after a disappointing 2010 season, Titans owner Bud Adams decided to let Fisher coach the final year of his contract. He would be given one more chance to prove his worth, to coach for his future with the franchise. Everything changed on Thursday, however, when the Titans and Fisher decided it would be best to part ways. A number of disagreements in recent days over issues unrelated to Fisher's record prompted the sudden decision, according to sources familiar with the situation. And so ended Fisher's run with the franchise after 16 seasons as its icon, its constant presence.


An ESPN report caused a stir Thursday night, but recently fired Titans coach Jeff Fisher is not going to become the Eagles' next defensive coordinator, according to multiple NFL sources. ESPN reported that Eagles coach Andy Reid had informed candidates that the vacancy at coordinator had been filled. "Do not be surprised if Jeff Fisher winds up as the defensive coordinator in Philadelphia," the network's John Clayton said. The league sources said those statements were not true. As of Thursday, the Eagles had interviewed only one candidate for the job: Saints assistant Dennis Allen, who ended up taking the coordinator's job in Denver.


Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden are certain to be fan favorites, but it is more likely that the next head coach of the Titans will be someone currently on staff or who has a history with the franchise. Given the suddenness of Jeff Fisher's exit and the need for stability, Titans owner Bud Adams is likely to look for someone with whom he has some history — such as Mike Munchak, Dave McGinnis or Gregg Williams. Other possibilities extend to the coaching tree of Mike Holmgren. Titans General Manager Mike Reinfeldt, who is certain to be involved in the coaching search, worked in the front offices at first Green Bay and then Seattle when Holmgren was the head coach.


Teams are expected to still use the franchise tag next month, NFL officials told reporters at the league office on Thursday. That would allow the Ravens to keep defensive tackle Haloti Ngata off the free-agent market this season. The franchise tag on defensive tackles last season was a one-year tender worth $7 million. Under the 2010 rules, Ngata would only be a restricted free agent, and the Ravens could use a first-round tender to protect him. But the rules that define free agents could change in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, and Ngata might be an unrestricted free agent in the new CBA. To make sure Ngata isn't going anywhere, the Ravens could use the franchise tag on him…..


Coach Ken Whisenhunt wants to interview assistant coaches on both Super Bowl teams before hiring a defensive coordinator, he said on Thursday. "I interviewed a couple of guys at the Senior Bowl and felt good about that," said Whisenhunt from Mobile, Ala. "But there are guys on both teams I'm interested in talking to after the Super Bowl." Whisenhunt acknowledged interviewing Miami secondary coach/assistant head coach Todd Bowles, but declined to reveal any other names.


The Ravens fired Jim Zorn as their quarterbacks coach, a league source said. The team hasn't returned messages from The Sun. Zorn's release came after a seven-hour meeting with coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in which they questioned Joe Flacco's development this season, the source said. Zorn stayed with Harbaugh and Cameron at Ravens headquarters while the rest of the staff attended the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The Ravens hired Zorn on Jan. 30, 2010 to replace Hue Jackson, who left to become the Oakland Raiders' offensive coordinator. Zorn had just been fired as the Washington Redskins head coach after the 2009 season.


It was somewhat surprising that Matt Forte was named to USA Today's All-Joe Team, a collection of unsung stars who have quality seasons. That's because Forte has been anything but underappreciated by the Bears. After the dysfunction was taken out of the offense during the off week, Forte excelled. He had 961 yards from scrimmage in the final nine weeks, fifth in the NFL. Forte finished with an average of 4.5 yards per carry, the franchise's best from a back with 200 carries since Neal Anderson in 1989. He joined Walter Payton as the only back in Bears' history to have multiple seasons with 1,600 yards from scrimmage.


As the Jets face an offseason of roster uncertainty, one issue seems to loom over the rest: the who-should-stay/who-should-go dilemma at receiver, where it seems they're going to have to choose between Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes. Both players had terrific seasons for the Jets. Both are extremely talented. And both represent significant off-the-field risks. That makes the decision by Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan crucial. Can they keep both? It's possible, but unlikely. The Post yesterday contacted prominent NFL agents who have dealings with the Jets to ask them of their view of the Edwards-Holmes dilemma facing the Jets. The consensus among the agents, none of whom represent either Edwards or Holmes, is that the Jets will let Edwards, who had 53 catches and seven touchdowns and dropped only one pass all year, test the free-agent market and make more of a play to re-sign Holmes, who's the more dangerous game-breaker (eight touchdowns in 15 games, including playoffs). A couple of the agents speculated that the Jets, whose top priorities are re-signing linebacker David Harris and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, might let both Edwards and Holmes test the market. Everything, of course, is contingent upon how the uncertain labor situation unfolds. Holmes, for example, is entering his fifth season, which could mean he's a restricted free agent. Edwards, who's entering his sixth season, will be unrestricted. "I think the Jets are going to let Braylon go to free agency and test the market, see what he can get and then decide if they want to re-sign him," one agent said. "I think the Jets' priority among the two is to keep Santonio, because Santonio is the player among the two that keeps opposing defensive coaches up at night trying to game plan against him. I don't think receiver is a high priority for the Jets. The Jets can still keep Santonio and go out and rent T.O. [Terrell Owens] or Randy Moss or [Chad] Ochocinco for a year. If anyone can coach Randy Moss, it's Rex Ryan."


"When coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider took over the Seahawks last year, no player was safe. The two went through the Seattle roster like mechanics on overtime, overhauling both sides of the ball with a dizzying 284 roster transactions during the 2010 campaign. Current 49ers players – most of them, anyway – can rest more easily this offseason. The 49ers aren't switching defensive schemes and incoming coach Jim Harbaugh's offensive philosophy meshes nicely with the type of players already on the roster. "There's a lot of similarities to what we've done in the past," said Trent Baalke, who was recently promoted to general manager. "We're still working through with the coaches exactly what they're looking for at each position. … But the systems on both sides of the ball should marry up very well with the personnel that we have now and the personnel that we've been looking for." The defense that Vic Fangio ran last year at Stanford, for example, is similar to the one the 49ers used the past four seasons in that it doesn't call for a massive, 350-plus pound nose tackle like some of the three lineman, four linebacker defenses used in the NFL. In fact, Fangio's nose tackle at Stanford, Sione Fua, weighed in at 307 pounds this week at the Senior Bowl. Fua said that Fangio preferred movement to holding one's ground and that the Cardinal defensive linemen were encouraged to use their quickness to make plays in the backfield. "He'd move us around a lot, and we'd run a lot of stunts," Fua said. The 49ers' current nose tackle, Aubrayo Franklin, is listed at 317 pounds. He is known more for quickness and savvy than bulk, and he would appear to be a good fit with Fangio's style. Franklin is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in 2011 but could be retained with the franchise tag, which the 49ers also used on Franklin in 2010."


ESPN's Mel Kiper continues to link one player with the Redskins: Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. And there's one quarterback he said Mike Shanahan would have drafted last year at No. 4 that might not even go in the first round this year: Washington's Jake Locker. As usual, Kiper touched on a lot of subjects during an approximately 80-minute conference call today. But our main concern for now is quarterback, since the Redskins need one and because they pick high enough in the first round (10th) to land one. And what Kiper said they can't do is trade for another veteran, as they did with Donovan McNabb last season. "Shanahan needs to address the position with a young QB," Kiper said.




Category: NFL
Posted on: January 21, 2011 1:37 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 1/21/11

Enjoy the read, gang: 

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could move swiftly to hire Vikings offensive line coach Pat Morris after firing Pete Mangurian Friday. Morris, who is a 14-year NFL coaching veteran, has a history with Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson. They both served on the Detroit Lions staff under Steve Mariucci in 2004-05. Morris was the Lions offensive line coach both seasons while Olson coached quarterbacks in '04 and was offensive coordinator in '05. Morris has directed the league's No. 1 rushing attack three times during his career (1998-99, '07) and ranked in the NFL's top 10 on eight occasions.


The Browns are expected to hire former Philadelphia Eagles secondary coach Dick Jauron, 60, as their defensive coordinator soon, a league source told The Plain Dealer. One of the other leading candidates for the Browns job, Dave Wannstedt, accepted a job today with the Buffalo Bills to be their assistant head coach/linebackers coach, according to reports. A source close to Jauron said he "seriously doubts" a deal will get done today, but they are close enough to perhaps agree to "a general principle." Jauron has received multiple inquiries, including from the Philadelphia Eagles.


Veteran NFL coach Dave Wannstedt has agreed to join the Buffalo Bills' staff as assistant head coach, according to FoxSports.com. Wannstedt interviewed with the Bills last week and has a long relationship with Bills head coach Chan Gailey. Wannstedt interviewed with the Cleveland Browns for their defensive coordinator position on Thursday. A Bills spokesman said Friday morning the team has nothing to announce at this time. Wannstedt recently was forced to resign as University of Pittsburgh head coach after six season in that position. Wannstedt is a Pittsburgh native. Gailey was Wannstedt's first offensive coordinator when Wannstedt became head coach of the Miami Dolphins in 2000.


Well, maybe the Browns won't scrap the 3-4 defense after all. Bill Davis entered the mix as a defensive coordinator candidate and interviewed for the Browns' vacancy Thursday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported. During the past two seasons as the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator, Davis employed a hybrid 3-4. Earlier in his 19-year career as an NFL assistant coach, he worked with noted defensive coordinators and 3-4 gurus Dick LeBeau and Dom Capers. Davis' 3-4 background separates him from two other defensive coordinator candidates who are associated with the 4-3 alignment.


Among the 17 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next month, the Ravens have many tough decisions to make in terms of whom to retain and how much to offer. One decision that is not difficult involves Haloti Ngata. The two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle set a career high with 5½ sacks this season and contributed to a run defense that finished the regular season ranked fifth in the NFL in yards per game. That's why general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome said inking Ngata to a long-term contract is one of the foremost objectives the front office faces in the offseason.


After considering not one but two top assistant coach positions, Jim Mora may have ultimately decided he was better off not working at all. The Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, may feel like they were taken for a ride. Mora, a former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach, declined defensive coordinator offers Wednesday from the Broncos and the Eagles. One factor in Mora's change of heart, according to an NFL source, is that the Seahawks are still paying him a head coaching salary for one more season. He wouldn't get that full payout from Seattle if he accepted another job.


Re-signing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck is the Seahawks' top priority heading into the offseason, coach Pete Carroll said at his season-concluding press conference Wednesday at the VMAC. Hasselbeck said throughout the season and again on Monday that he'd like to return next season, and Carroll has made it clear the Seahawks would like to re-sign the veteran quarterback. He reiterated that statement again Wednesday. "It's the top priority," Carroll said. "It's the top priority in the program. You have to deal with this or you don't understand the game. I think we understand it really well."


The Seattle Seahawks have offered their offensive coordinator job to former Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, a source said. Bevell flew to Seattle on Tuesday for a two-day interview with head coach Pete Carroll. After the interview, he was offered the job and contract talks have started. The source said the negotiations should be concluded within the next day.


A new name has emerged in the Eagles' search for a defensive coordinator: Dennis Allen. The team received permission from the New Orleans Saints to talk with their secondary coach, a league source said Wednesday night. Allen's name surfaced after the Eagles lost a candidate for the job when Jim Mora withdrew his name from consideration for the defensive coordinator positions in Philadelphia and Denver. Mora was not a serious candidate for the Eagles, team sources said. Allen, however, comes out of nowhere, partly because of his age and inexperience. The 38-year-old has never been a coordinator at any level.


The Browns lost out to the Vikings for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave, but a new candidate has emerged in former Steelers quarterbacks coach and Miami Hurricanes offensive coordinator Mark Whipple, a report says.


The Carolina Panthers interviewed a Gruden for a job last weekend, and now they've brought in another name with even more history. The Panthers have interviewed former Alabama head coach and NFL assistant Mike Shula for one of the vacancies on their offensive staff, according to league source. Shula's father Don is the winningest coach in NFL history, but Mike could bring some valuable experience to an offensive staff that's in need of some. Mike Shula's been the quarterbacks coach in Jacksonville the past four seasons, but has also worked with tight ends and as a coordinator in his 23 seasons as a coach.



Category: NFL
Posted on: January 18, 2011 1:23 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - 1/18/10

Hue Jackson, who presided over one of the NFL's most improved offenses in 2010, was elevated from Raiders offensive coordinator to head coach Monday. Jackson, 45, replaces Tom Cable, who left the Raiders on Jan. 4 with a 17-27 record when the club declined to extend a two-year option on his contract after an 8-8 season. Jackson will be introduced at a news conference Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. at the club facility in Alameda. "The fire in Hue will set a flame that will burn for a long time in the hearts and minds of the Raider football team and the Raider Nation," Raiders managing general partner Al Davis said in a statement.


Broncos' head coach John Fox has nearly completed the hiring of his staff, with the likely addition of Jim Mora as defensive coordinator. Mora, a former Atlanta and Seattle head coach, traveled to Denver on Monday to meet with Fox. Mora, 49, was the defensive coordinator with San Francisco for five years before his two head coaching jobs, first Atlanta and then Seattle in 2009. He spent 2010 working as an analyst for the NFL Network.


The Ravens announced Monday their intentions to sign coach John Harbaugh to a contract extension and retain Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator. Harbaugh is entering the final season of his four-year contract that reportedly paid him between $2 million and $2.5 million per season. He could be seeking a deal similar to the one signed last July by Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, who is making more than $4 million per year. Since he was hired in January 2008, Harbaugh became just the fourth NFL coach since 1990 to guide a team to the playoffs in his first three seasons. He has a 32-16 record in the regular season and a 4-3 mark in the playoffs.


The Miami Dolphins are in the finishing stages of hiring former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to fill the same role in 2011, where he'll be challenged with reinvigorating the Dolphins' stale offense. Daboll, who was a member of Eric Mangini's staff with the New York Jets and Browns, will replace Dan Henning, whose offense struggled to score points (17.1), had a stagnant running game (3.7 yards per carry) and failed to score touchdowns in the red zone in 2010. The news of Daboll's hiring was first reported by ESPN, but Dolphins sources have confirmed the position has been offered, and a contract is being finalized.


Adrian Peterson isn't worried about the fact that if McDaniels is hired, the Vikings would go away from the West Coast offense they have run since the Pro Bowl running back arrived in 2007. "I'm not concerned at all," Peterson said Monday while attending the All Day Blizzard Blitz ice fishing event that he and the Starkey Hearing foundation hosted on Lake Waconia. "In this profession, you've got to be able to adapt and adjust. ... So that's what I'll do here if that happens." Peterson said he has been following the situation from afar since the season ended.


While former Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels was the leading candidate as the next offensive coordinator of the St. Louis Rams, a significant snag in negotiations has led the team to broaden its search to include coaches with West Coast-system roots in which quarterback Sam Bradford excelled during his rookie season, according to sources. The Rams went through league channels Tuesday morning to request interviews with coaches including Bill Musgrave of the Falcons and Darrell Bevell of the Vikings. Musgrave is the assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach in Atlanta and Bevell has been in limbo as the offensive coordinator in Minnesota.


Ron Rivera got his man, and the Carolina Panthers appear headed for some changes on offense. The Panthers agreed to a deal with San Diego assistant Rob Chudzinski to be their offensive coordinator, with only a contract signing standing in the way of the official announcement. He was the first choice of Rivera, who had to sell him to Panthers officials who had built their own list of candidates before hiring Rivera. Chudzinski, 42, interviewed Friday. Chudzinski, who played on two NCAA championship teams as a tight end at Miami, has a reputation for developing talent at that position, which would be new around here.

Turnover on the Ravens' 2009 roster was minimal after they scuffled through a 10-8 playoff season. Turnover on the 2010 roster — after a 13-5 playoff run — threatens to cut a wider swath through this season's locker room. Notables subtracted from that 2009 team that lost a divisional-round playoff game in Indianapolis were starting wide-out Mark Clayton and reserves Frank Walker and Kelley Washington. Next season — assuming there is labor peace between NFL owners and the players' union — the Ravens likely will look significantly different from the team that lost in the divisional round again this year. Of the 17 players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents in March, seven are starters and two are kicking specialists. And they're not the only ones who will be hard to keep. As the disappointed players filed out of the locker room Monday — carrying plastic garbage bags with personal effects — some clearly left for the last time. Pro Bowl fullback Le'Ron McClain said he expected to be gone, and both cornerback Fabian Washington and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh set their sights on a better opportunity. McClain's season-long campaign for more rushes went unheeded. He led the team in rushing in 2008 with 902 yards on 232 carries. But he had just 46 carries in 2009 and only 28 this season as the offense ran through Ray Rice and Willis McGahee. Will he be back?......

The Vikings' offseason "To-Do" list never seemed longer than this past weekend, when both of the team's division rivals made the NFC Championship Game. But just in case the list isn't daunting enough, Emmitt Smith, the NFL's career rushing leader, said giving Adrian Peterson a long-term contract should rank at or near the top. Smith went so far as to say he would hold out if he were Peterson and the Vikings didn't come up with a suitable long-term deal. Peterson's current contract, which pays him a base salary of $10.7 million in 2011, expires after next season.

The Eagles aren't going for anybody's understudy, this time around. The three publicly identified candidates to succeed Sean McDermott as the Birds' defensive coordinator are veteran coaches with extensive resumes. The front-runner would seem to be Jim Mora, the former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach who was Steve Mariucci's defensive coordinator in San Francisco in the late 1990s, when Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg ran the other side. The Eagles also seem to be considering just-fired Arizona defensive coordinator Bill Davis, whose father once was an Eagles linebackers coach under Dick Vermeil, and Dick Jauron, a member of McDermott's staff last season…………….

Brett Favre isn't messing around this time. He's finished playing football. For good. We think. Two sources told FOXSports.com on Monday that Favre has already filed his retirement papers with the NFL, just weeks after the end of his 20th season. While he could still change his mind like in the 2008 and 2009 offseasons, there is no indication Favre will return. The 41-year-old quarterback stated 2010 was his final season after rejoining the Vikings in August and reiterated that intent throughout an injury-plagued campaign. Favre's NFL-record string of 297 consecutive regular-season starts was broken last month when he was forced to miss a mid-December game against the New York Giants.

It appears Mike Singletary is close to joining the Vikings coaching staff. A league source said it "looks good" that Singletary will become linebackers coach on Leslie Frazier's staff. NFL.com also reported Sunday night that the Vikings are expected to reach a deal with the former San Francisco 49ers coach. The Carolina Panthers also were reportedly interested in hiring Singletary as linebackers coach.

New Browns coach Pat Shurmur will focus this week on assembling his staff, especially the all-important coordinator positions. Eagles senior assistant and secondary coach Dick Jauron, who's a candidate for Philadelphia's defensive coordinator post now that they've fired Sean McDermott, is still set to interview with the Browns this week. Jauron, 60, is one of four candidates for the Eagles job. The other three are former Falcons and Seahawks coach Jim Mora, recently fired Rams defensive coordinator Billy Davis, and former head coach Dave Wannstedt.

There's no question Nnamdi Asomugha is the biggest name to hit the free agent market after the Oakland Raiders cornerback's contract was voided after he didn't hit some incentives. More importantly, for Detroit Lions fans, is that their favorite team might make a play for him. As opposed to the past couple of years - when general manager Martin Mayhew's focus was on rebuilding the Lions into a competitive NFL franchise rather than on the free agent flavor of the month - a 4-0 finish to a 6-10 season has given Detroit hope that a player of Asomugha's caliber can turn the team into a viable playoff contender.




Category: NFL
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