The Jets are poised to add another player in what has been a busy offseason. Free agent wide receiver Laveranues Coles will work out for his former team in Florham Park, N.J. Friday with the expectation of signing a one-year deal for the veteran minimum, according to a league source. Coles, of course, had two separate stints with the Jets in 2000-2002 and 2005-08 before signing a four-year, $28 million contract with the Bengals last season. The 32-year-old had only 43 catches for 514 yards and five touchdowns in 2009 before the Bengals cut him in the offseason. Although Coles, the Jets' third-round pick in 2000, has lost some of his explosiveness, he should provide some quality depth.
Wes Welker may not have been in pads yesterday, but the Patriots receiver was as active as he could be the first day of training camp. Welker motored through agility drills, showing quick, fluid movements months after undergoing reconstructive left knee surgery. Welker was in view of his teammates as he worked with Joe Van Allen, a member of the training staff. All eyes were on the 5-foot-9-inch receiver, who has been watched closely since he crumbled in the last regular-season game. Welker is the only player remaining on the physically unable to perform list.
Redskins top draft pick Trent Williams agreed to a multiyear contract early Friday and is expected to sign the deal and participate in practices today at training camp, said one of his co-representatives. "We just got the deal done in the last couple of hours," said agent Vincent Taylor, who negotiated the deal along with Ben Dogra. "There are just a couple of things we have to still work out, a few details to work out, but Trent plans to be there [at Redskins Park] to sign it and get going." Taylor declined to reveal terms of the deal.
Veteran linebacker Derrick Burgess, who reportedly is mulling retirement, has been placed on the reserve/did not report list by the Patriots. The designation means he does not count against the team's 80-man training camp roster limit. Also, Sam Aiken, Ron Brace and Darnell Jenkins are on the team's non-football injury list, which is essentially the same as the active PUP list Wes Welker is on in terms of their being able to start practicing at any time. With other teams, players who are injured working out at another facility and/or not on their team's watch, are placed on the NFI list, though it is unknown right now if that is the case with Aiken, Brace and Jenkins.
The summer break did nothing to change one harsh reality for the Patriots: Guard Logan Mankins still isn't practicing. The two-time Pro Bowler sat out the first day of the Patriots' training camp, a move that was expected after he skipped the offseason workouts. Mankins has expressed frustration with his contract, even demanding a trade if the team didn't want to pay him like a top-tier guard. Still, Mankins is not officially a holdout, because he isn't under contract. Mankins hasn't signed his reduced restricted free agent tender that would pay him roughly $1.5 million for one season.
When you have decided to rebuild your team almost exclusively through the draft, it's probably a good idea to get all of your draft picks signed and in training camp before the start of workouts. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are still hoping to achieve that goal. But as today's reporting deadline and Saturday's first set of grueling two-a-day practices drew near Thursday, hope was starting to fade. Though general manager Mark Dominik has spoken daily with the agent for first-round draft pick DT Gerald McCoy, the two sides had not agreed on a deal by the eve of reporting day. And it could be a while before they do.
Jaguars first-round draft pick DE Tyson Alualu will be missing today when the Jaguars conduct their first two training camp practices, but owner Wayne Weaver sounded optimistic Thursday that a deal could be put together fairly quickly. "We're going to try to put a fair deal on the table to get him into camp," Weaver said. "Those conversations are starting now. It doesn't take long to make a deal if you're trying to be fair with somebody." The Jaguars had been waiting to get a sense of the market before making an offer, and Alualu didn't report Thursday with the rest of the players.
Teddy Williams sprang out of bed at 7 a.m. Thursday and got dressed for a workout, not a far cry from his usual morning routine. But once the former UTSA track star later arrived at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where the Dallas Cowboys stay for training camp, he quickly realized this wouldn't be his typical day. "I got valet (parking)," Williams said. "I've never got valet before." And it kicked in — he's actually a Cowboy now. Williams, who hadn't played football since breaking his ankle as a senior wideout at Tyler's John Tyler High School in 2005, signed with the team Thursday as a cornerback.
The bus carrying the Vikings rookies arrived in front of Julia A. Sears Residence Hall on Thursday evening, but Toby Gerhart wasn't on it. The team still was working to sign the second-round draft pick on the eve of the first practice of training camp. The Stanford running back was the only one of the team's eight picks that had not signed a contract as of Thursday night. The Vikings' first practice starts at 4 p.m. Friday, so the two sides still have time to finalize the deal without Gerhart missing any drills. The players selected immediately before and after Gerhart in the second round already have signed, so the parameters should be set. "He needs to get his tail signed," coach Brad Childress said"
With players due to report for training camp Friday, the Detroit Lions still have not signed their first-round draft picks. But coach Jim Schwartz said he expects teams to sign their players quickly after the higher draft picks reach deals. "I think, when you talk about first-round picks signing, there's a domino effect with a lot of those," Schwartz said today in a meeting with reporters. "So many teams wait for another team. And not just teams, agents wait. Nobody wants to be the first to stick their neck out, particularly from an agent's standpoint. That's just part of the business."
Get out your rosters, keep your eyes peeled and prepare for a wild ride in the Lions' secondary during training camp. Coach Jim Schwartz said all bets are off and all comers are welcome in the defensive backfield. From decorated veterans like Dré Bly to a promising rookie like Amari Spievey, Lions coaches will mix, match and manipulate lineups to get the best defensive backs on the field. And identifying the best players, regardless of existing notions of prescribed positions, is what it's going to come down to. "I think our goal is going to be in the secondary to put the best five players on the field," Schwartz said.
The Seattle Seahawks announced Thursday that they have signed free agent offensive guard Chester Pitts. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. The former Houston Texan played for current Seahawks offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, starting all 114 games for the Texans after being drafted in the second round (50th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. Pitts suffered a knee injury two games into the 2009 season that required microfracture knee surgery. Pitts attended San Diego State, where he walked-on to the football team in 1998.
Osi Umenyiora heads to training camp Sunday in Albany prepared to participate in the first practice that afternoon. The Giants medical staff firmly believes the lingering issues with Umenyiora's hip can be handled without surgery. Umenyiora, according to a published report, earlier this month sought a second opinion and visited the Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., to see Dr. Marc Philippon, a hip specialist who operated on Alex Rodriguez. Philippon's recommendation was surgery to repair the damage still present from the torn hip flexor that forced Umenyiora to miss five games in 2006.
There were no talks Wednesday night between the St. Louis Rams and the agents for No. 1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford. And that meant no 11th-hour agreement that would put Bradford on the practice field Thursday morning when rookies and selected veterans open training camp at Rams Park. The first full squad practice doesn't take place until Saturday. Less than half of the 80-man roster is expected to participate in Thursday's morning and afternoon practice sessions. But for a rookie, particularly a rookie quarterback expected to be the face of the franchise, every lost practice is time you can't get back.
The Jets signed free agent veteran quarterback Mark Brunell to be Mark Sanchez's backup and mentor. Brunell, who visited the Jets in April but wasn't signed because of the "final eight'' rule that prohibited the Jets from signing an unrestricted free agent until one of theirs was signed away, visited again and signed a two-year contract. It's unclear what that means for Kellen Clemens, who's was Sanchez's backup last year, but it would appear most likely Clemens would be released. The Jets also have Erik Ainge and Kevin O'Connell on the roster as reserve quarterbacks, so one or both of them could be in jeopardy of being released if the Jets decide to keep Clemens.
Unless something goes terribly wrong in the next 48 hours, the Green Bay Packers are going to have every member of their 82-man roster signed when their first training camp practice is held this weekend. Two sources indicated Wednesday that first-round pick Bryan Bulaga, the lone Packer still unsigned, was in striking distance of an agreement and was likely to be in camp on time. Given that team negotiator Russ Ball has only one contract to work on, there should be plenty of time for him to get a deal done with Bulaga. Ball and Bulaga's agent have had extensive talks this week, and there don't appear to be many road blocks.
It is that time of year in the NFL when fans scratch their heads and ask the simplest question: Why couldn't this have been taken care of by now? The Bills' first-round draft pick, running back C.J. Spiller, did not report to training camp at St. John Fisher College Wednesday with the rest of his new teammates. That's because like every other 2010 first-round pick, with the exception of Oakland's Rolando McClain, Dallas' Dez Bryant and New England's Devin McCourty, none has agreed to a contract. This is not breaking news, of course. This has been the case for almost every first-round pick as far back as memory serves, this silly game of waiting until camp opens to start talking.
Showing again that they value stability in the highest levels of their organization, not to mention Kevin Colbert's body of work, the Steelers signed the head of their player personnel department to a five-year contract extension Wednesday. Colbert, a Pittsburgh native who has been the Steelers' director of football operations since 2000, was heading into the final year of his contract. The Steelers generally have received high marks for their drafts, around which they have built their teams, since Colbert, 53, returned to Pittsburgh. During his tenure, the Steelers have won two Super Bowls and five division titles.
Defensive line help keeps flowing onto the Dolphins' ever-evolving roster. Wednesday night it was controversial former Saints defensive end Charles Grant who was reportedly headed to Miami. Grant, entering his ninth season, has signed a two-year deal that could be worth up to $4.5 million, according to NFL.com. E-mails to Grant's agents seeking confirmation were not immediately returned. In March he was released three years into a seven-year, $63 million contract with the Saints that paid him $20 million in guaranteed money. Grant was cleared in May of an involuntary manslaughter charge in his home state of Georgia.
After bouncing around the NFL with five teams in the past eight years, quarterback Patrick Ramsey landed back home in Louisiana on Wednesday, agreeing to a one-year deal with the Saints. The Saints also agreed to terms on a four-year deal with rookie tight end Jimmy Graham before players reported for their first meeting of training camp Wednesday night. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Ramsey's arrival has been anticipated for months, but the Saints couldn't sign him until last week because of new league rules that limit the number of unrestricted free agents that can be signed by the final four playoff teams.
The National Football Post is reporting that Golden Tate and the Seattle Seahawks have come to terms on a four-year deal that will pay Tate $3.261 million and includes $1.471 million in guarantees. In recent days, the 59th selection, Montario Hardesty (Cleveland), signed a four-year deal worth $3.372 Million ($1.52 guaranteed), and the 61st pick, offensive tackle Vladimir Ducasse $3.225 ($1.435 guaranteed) inked his deal with the Jets, so the Tate contract seems to sit right about where it should. Only Russell Okung (sixth pick overall) and Earl Thomas (14th pick overall) remain unsigned for Seattle.