Posted on: May 14, 2009 1:02 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - Updated 5/14/09

Some NFL tidbits & rumors from around the web. Enjoy:

Jason Taylor returned to the Dolphins on Wednesday, a hero who turned down the temptations of more money and grander promises from those villainous New England Patriots and New York Jets. Taylor accepted a bargain-rate contract to play for the Dolphins. He basically forced his way out of Washington this offseason and forfeited his $8.5 million salary in the process. Redskins owner Daniel Snyder flew to South Florida and met with Taylor at Joe's Stone Crab to try to convince the player to stay with the Redskins. It didn't work. Taylor turned down promises of a bigger contract offer from the Patriots and didn't even let the Jets or Packers get deep enough in conversations to talk money.

Progress in the Leon Washington negotiations? There seems to be a thaw after a tense couple of days of discussions between agent Alvin Keels and GM Mike Tannenbaum - at least that's the impression given by Keels on his Twitter page. "Positive talk with the Jets today," he tweeted. "Jets fans, everything will be fine. Myself and Mike T will put our heads together and continue to work." On Monday, Washington, frustrated by slow-moving negotiations, stopped attending voluntary workouts. Tomorrow is an open OTA, which means yours truly will be there to bring you the pageantry of an off-season practice in Florham Park.

Garrett Reid is behind bars. Again. Reid, eldest son of Eagles coach Andy Reid, was sent to Graterford Prison yesterday after he failed a drug test at a Hunting Park halfway house, said Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman. The 26-year-old tested positive for narcotics when he returned to the Luzerne Treatment Center, on Luzerne Street near G, where he was serving part of a three-year probation sentence. "He had been on a pass away from the facility for a brief period of time," Ferman said. Reports that Reid had been involved in a physical altercation at the center were unconfirmed, she added. Reid's troubles began on Jan. 30, 2007, when his SUV rammed another car in Montgomery County, injuring the other driver. Police said Reid was high on heroin at the time. While serving time for the car crash, Reid smuggled 89 pills into prison in his rectum. He was sentenced last summer to a drug-treatment program for nonviolent offenders. Reid served five months in state prison and was then moved to the halfway house, where he's subject to frequent drug tests, Ferman said.

Middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, the centerpiece of a young Bucs defense in the midst of an overhaul, is key to the unit's success in 2009. But Ruud did not participate in either of the voluntary workouts this week -- the first of 14 such practices this offseason -- even as he spoke Wednesday during a radio interview about taking ownership of coordinator Jim Bates' new scheme. Given his contract status -- he is entering the final year of his rookie deal -- and because talks aimed at an extension are in their infancy, the reason for his nonparticipation is the subject of much speculation. Ruud was present Tuesday but absent Wednesday. Reached Wednesday, Ruud said "everything's fine" and gave no specific reason for his absence. The team indicated he simply took some personal time.

Dallas Cowboys legends Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith disagree on wide receiver Terrell Owens. While Aikman believes the Cowboys' decision to release Owens in March was best for the franchise, a sort of addition by subtraction, Smith said it was a mistake. Both were in Arlington on Tuesday as special guests at a news conference announcing Super Bowl XLV venues. "Addition by subtraction?" Smith said. "Put it this way: I don't know the nuances of the locker room and all those kind of things, but I just know that guy is a player, and there are ways that they could have worked together. "I don't know if he was a scapegoat or whatever it was, but I tell you what, he was a talent. He was a talent, and he didn't get in any trouble, didn't create any issues. Whenever he had the opportunity to make plays, he pretty much made them. He may have said some things at times that were kind of stupid, but we all do that. "Bottom line is, I'm not sure [if cutting Owens makes the Cowboys better]. Who do they have who is going to be that explosive? That's the question. Who do you have that's going to be that explosive? I don't see it." When told that Roy Williams was going to replace Owens as the No. 1 receiver, Smith said: "Like I said, who do you have that's going to be that explosive?"

Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday in an interview on the morning show on WIP-AM (610) that the team checked into the availability of Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin before the NFL draft, but found the price too high. Reid suggested the price might have been first-, third- and fifth-round draft picks. "That's a lot of picks, No. 1," Reid said. "And then you're going to pay the guy $10 million. So you get hit on both sides of it." Instead, the Eagles traded up two spots and selected Missouri receiver Jeremy Maclin in the first round. Reid said he thought Arizona probably wasn't willing to part with Boldin. If the Cardinals were, a deal would have been struck.

GM Mark Dominik said the team was not surprised Kellen Winslow missed the first voluntary workout, saying Winslow was taking care of a "personal matter." Dominik said Winslow's absence is nothing the team, or it's fans, should be overly concerned about. Tight end Kellen Winslow, the team's biggest off-season acquisition, did not attend the Bucs' first day or organized team activities. Former Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who visited the club Tuesday, spared no criticism for Winslow. "So when your team fires up OTA's and you're not here, I guess you're being misunderstood again, right?'' Sapp said. "Your past don't equal your future, but it will damn sure give me some reflection of what you might do. I'll leave it at that.''

The National Football League, in what could be a precursor to a lawsuit against Delaware Gov. Jack Markell over sports betting, has filed a legal brief against the measure with the state Supreme Court. The league, in papers filed by a Wilmington law firm, argues that skill "plays an impermissible" role in sports betting, disqualifying such games as a lottery determined mainly by chance. If the high court rules that sports betting as envisioned by Markell and the legislature is more skill than chance, the proposal could fail to pass constitutional muster. America's most prominent sports league has long opposed sports betting as a threat to "the integrity" of its games, a phrase repeated in papers made public Tuesday. Commissioner Roger Goodell had written Markell in March, expressing his displeasure with the gambit that Markell said he took to help balance the state's ailing budget. Markell responded that the league was being hypocritical because ESPN and other networks that broadcast games promote gambling on air and on Web sites. ESPN currently has an eight-year $8.8 billion contract with the NFL for the rights to "Monday Night Football."

NFL owners meeting next week in Florida are unlikely to vote on expanding the regular-season schedule despite reports earlier this year that the league might act on the topic during its May gathering. Several league sources said the owners would not vote on adding games to the regular season, and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson also said there would be no vote. Early last week, a league spokesman said there would be no vote, but after Commissioner Roger Goodell told SportsBusiness Journal on Wednesday that the issue of a vote was still up in the air, the spokesman deferred to Goodell's comment. As commissioner, Goodell is in charge of the meeting agenda. Many of the complexities of expanding from 16 games to either 17 or 18 games have become highly visible, with labor implications being among the key considerations. New NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith has talked about the need to understand the physical harm players face in extending the regular season. Top agents agreed.

You may have seen the last of Brian Griese in a Tampa Bay uniform. The Bucs do not expect Griese to attend the first week of Organized Team Activities which begin Tuesday. The full-squad workouts are voluntary. But team officials and Griese's agent, Ralph Cindrich, say they do not expect the 34-year-old veteran to begin competing this week with four other quarterbacks on the Bucs roster -- Luke McCown, Byron Leftwich, Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson. The Bucs plan to take four quarterbacks to training camp and Griese is not expected to one of them. But Bucs still believe Griese could have trade value and may elect to hold onto his rights through the off-season in case another team suffers an injury at quarterback. The guess here is that the Bucs carry Griese on the roster for a couple months to see if there is another injury at QB around the league and release him before training camp, if not sooner.

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 11, 2009 12:35 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - Updated 5/11/09

Here are some NFL tidbits & rumors. Enjoy:

Chris McAlister, 31, is rehabbing from arthroscopic knee surgery in Los Angeles and is expected to be cleared for all football activities by late June. He'd like to stay near his native California. The Seahawks and Chargers have shown interest, as have the Cowboys, who intrigue McAlister very much.

Former Titans receiver Drew Bennett is scheduled to visit with team officials on Monday, possibly the first step of his return to the team. Bennett, a free agent, is scheduled to undergo a physical at Baptist Sports Park. He's also paid free agency visits to Cleveland and Atlanta this offseason after being released by the Rams in March. Bennett played six seasons with the Titans (2001-06) and led the team in receptions for two straight seasons and in receiving yards three straight seasons. He ranks eighth in Titans franchise history with 4,033 yards and ninth with 273 receptions. Bennett signed a 6-year, $30 million contract with the Rams in 2007, but was released by the team after two injury-filled seasons. Bennett had just 1 catch for 4 yards in '08 after suffering a foot injury in Week One. He ended the season on Injured Reserve.

After two spectacular seasons, wide receiver Roddy White and the Atlanta Falcons are in discussions for a contract extension. White, who made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season, is entering the final year of a five-year contract. "We haven't come to an agreement," said White, who is set to make $2.28 million next season under his current contract. Preferably, White said he would like to enter the season with his contract situations resolved. White's contract situation is impacted by the blockbuster deal that Arizona completed in March with Larry Fitzgerald, who received a four-year contract worth $40 million. Also, the labor situation between the NFL and the players union is an issue. The owner's have opted out of the collective bargaining agreement and 2010 is set to be an uncapped year.

Welcome to the National Football League, rookies. Next time, maybe get more water and do more stretching before practice. Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, the seventh overall pick of the NFL draft, missed a second straight practice Sunday with cramping, soreness and fatigue in his hamstring, Raiders coach Tom Cable said at the conclusion of the five-practice, three-day minicamp in Alameda. So ended a splash-less debut for Heyward-Bey, who was shut down by Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on Day 1 and dropped three consecutive passes on Day 2 before coming up limp. Heyward-Bey got in a few deep routes, and made a few catches, but made it clear that, as with most rookies who skipped their senior year in college, much work remains.

The agent for Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield said in a text message Sunday night that talks of an extension with the Vikings have broken down. "There are no active negotiations and there are no further talks planned," Ashanti Webb said in a text message. Asked how he feels about that, Webb said, "Disappointed. Very disappointed." Webb did not return follow-up messages asking whether he or the Vikings cut off talks and whether Winfield would attend the team's mandatory mini-camp later this month. Fresh off his first trip to the Pro Bowl, Winfield enters the final year of a six-year, $34.8 million contract. Due to make $6 million in 2009, Winfield told the Pioneer Press in an interview in March that he wanted to finish his career as a Viking and that he wanted to be "proactive" about his contract rather than wait.

Jason Taylor , the DE/actor; who danced his way into Bill Parcells' doghouse in Miami last year and was traded to the Redskins, who cut him when he refused to participate in their offseason program even though they were willing to insert a $500,000 incentive in his $8 million contract to get him to stick around their facility. Taylor, who lives in south Florida, didn't want to be away from his family. There has been talk of a reunion with the Dolphins, but from the moment Taylor became available, the Patriots seemed the best and most logical match. This has a good chance of happening by mid-June.

Cornerback Pacman Jones still wants to play in the NFL. Whether or not somebody wants him remains to be seen. The Jets have expressed interest, according to someone close to Jones, but are waiting things out. Jones' agent Worrick Robinson said he hopes to get his client signed by training camp and wouldn't discuss which teams are interested. When asked if the Cowboys, Jones' last employer, have requested a return engagement, Robinson said no.

Javon Walker said he did not tell Raiders officials about last month's knee surgery because he didn't want to "bother" them with it before the draft. He said the right knee has bothered him since 2007 knee surgery in Denver, and that he hasn't felt better than 65 percent healthy. The pain was so significant, Walker said it is why he considered retirement during training camp last summer. "It was a situation where I was going to make a decision based off what was going to be beneficial for me and it was nothing to do with the team," Walker said. "I basically did this to keep playing the game."

On his personal blog,, Detroit Lions running back Kevin Smith predicted, no wait, promised the Lions will make the NFL Playoffs in 2009. It makes you wonder, did he watch the video tape? "I won't make a prediction about how many games we're going to win, but I will say this: We will definitely make the playoffs this season. "Believe it or not we weren't far off last year. Almost every game we could have won, we were one play or one player short. Except for Tennessee on Thanksgiving, they just came out and beat us to sleep. They manhandled us, but nobody else did.'' The Lions weren't far off? They were 0-16.

When the Giants selected Sam Houston State quarterback Rhett Bomar with their fifth-round pick in this year's draft, Andre Woodson -- last year's sixth-round choice -- insists he didn't start squirming in his seat. "I didn't really have a big reaction," Woodson said yesterday. "I know this is the NFL, and you've got to compete for your spot, so that's what I'm doing." But the pressure is definitely on Woodson, who struggled through the preseason last year and spent the fall on the Giants practice squad. The addition of Bomar means his bid for a roster spot as the third quarterback behind Eli Manning and David Carr will be tighter. At this weekend's rookie minicamp -- which Woodson was eligible for because he doesn't have an accrued NFL season -- he had an up-and-down showing. He underthrew or overshot several targets and also threw three interceptions, one on Friday, two yesterday.

No to trading for Braylon Edwards. So says Giants running back Brandon Jacobs. "I don't want him," Jacobs said yesterday on ESPN 1050 Radio. "There are great players in the league that I don't want. I just think the chemistry between the teammates that I have now is great. We don't need to add a new veteran to the whole group." Jacobs also said no to trading for Anquan Boldin. "I'm good with where we are," Jacobs said. "I'm glad that we didn't go forward and get [Edwards] or Boldin. Those guys are great guys [but] I'm not interested in that idea."

Category: NFL
Posted on: May 1, 2009 1:20 pm
Edited on: May 1, 2009 4:36 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - Updated 5/1/09

Some NFL tidbits & rumors to get us through the day. Enjoy:

Latest buzz is that new free-agent QB Brett Favre has hired a personal trainer at home in Mississippi. It will be surprising if Favre isn't with the Vikings in training camp. Why did Favre now want to get released from the Jets? Favre's sudden arrival on the market makes you wonder if that's the reason the Vikings haven't spent much on free agency this year. Maybe they knew something. There could be two motives: wanting to play for the Vikings, who have wanted him for a year, and a $20 million pot of gold. The $20 million isn't a new playing contract. The Vikings probably could sign Favre for about $7 million for the coming season, with about $3 million more available in performance bonuses, such as winning the Super Bowl. The $20 million, remember, is what the Packers, for whom Favre played 16 seasons, offered Favre nearly a year ago to retire from Green Bay. The 10-year marketing deal would have made Favre an ambassador for the franchise. Now that the future hall of famer has been released by the Jets, Favre could have new leverage: Give me the $20 million and I'll stay retired. If not, I'll sign with the Vikings and make life miserable for the Packers.

The Carolina Panthers will return to the practice field Friday for the first time since last year's disappointing playoff loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but they will do so without a key member of their defense. According to two league sources, franchised defensive end Julius Peppers will be a no-show when the Panthers take the field for their mandatory three-day minicamp. That's hardly a surprise, but still significant in some respects since it suggests Peppers -- at least at this point -- is still not gung-ho about rejoining the Panthers. Under NFL rules, Peppers doesn't have to attend minicamp because he's not signed his tender. Peppers expressed after the 2008 season he didn't want to play for the Panthers and said he would ask to be traded if the team put the franchise tag on him. He was given the tag, but no team has approached the Panthers with an offer.

B.J. Raji confirmed widespread reports that he tested positive for marijuana while he was a player at Boston College. he Green Bay Packers' top draft pick this year, No. 9 overall, confirmed the reports while lamenting that fans might have a bad impression of him because of a false report that he also tested positive at the NFL scouting combine this spring. The distinction between the tests is important for a practical reason because if Raji had tested positive at the combine, he'd automatically be in the NFL's substance-abuse program and subject to a four-game suspension if he tested positive again. But because his only positive test was in college, he enters the NFL with a clean slate.

The owner of a minor league football team that offered Michael Vick a contract told a newspaper he didn't know about the publicity stunt and would not have approved it. "I'm a dog lover and I don't want anything to do with (Vick)," Albany Firebirds owner Walter Robb told The Times Union for a story posted on its website Tuesday night. Earlier in the day, the team, an arena football franchise, announced it had offered the 28-year-old quarterback a one-year contract at the league standard: $200 a week plus a $50 bonus for a win. "That's a joke," Robb said. "Can you imagine him playing for $200 a week? I think (the offer) was a big mistake." The announcement was later pulled from the team's website. Firebirds general manager Garen Szablewski told The Times Union the team's marketing department came up with the idea to make an offer to Vick.

DeMarcus Ware knows it is a question of when, not if, he and the Cowboys will agree to a contract extension. "I'm not frustrated because at the end of the day, I know I can play," said Ware, who led the league with 20 sacks in 2008. "Like I say, I'm a Ferrari. The only thing I do is appreciate. It's on them to get it done." The Cowboys have had discussions with Ware's agent, Pat Dye, over the last few months. With the draft done, those talks could increase over the next few months. The Cowboys have said signing Ware, who is entering the last year of his contract, is their top priority of the off-season. Coming up with the proper price tag, however, could take time. Washington signed defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth to a seven-year, $100 million deal that includes $41 million in guaranteed money. Earlier this month, Pittsburgh signed linebacker James Harrison, who beat Ware for the NFL's defensive player of the year award, to a six-year, $51.75 million deal with $20 million guaranteed.

The Dolphins players not drafted or signed by Big Tuna Bill Parcells and Tuna Helper Jeff Ireland continue to dwindle in numbers. A couple of days ago the Dolphins released quarterback John Beck, the sixth player from Randy Mueller's 2007 draft class that was either cut or traded by the new regime. The survivors remaining players from that class are first-rounder Ted Ginn Jr., fourth-rounder Paul Soliai and punter Brandon Fields, a seventh-rounder. The 2005 and 2006 draft classes, authored by Nick Saban, have been similarly decimated. Cam Cameron banished Fred Evans and Kevin Vickerson, while the current regime has cut or traded Travis Daniels, Derek Hagan, Anthony Alabi, and Joe Toledo. The survivors remaining players from those classes are Ronnie Brown, Matt Roth, Channing Crowder, Jason Allen and Rodrique Wright. Guess what? All those players, with the possible exception of Channing Crowder, are endangered in one regard or another.

Larry Foote played a lot of football as a starting inside linebacker for the Steelers the past five seasons, and in a strange twist, his search for more playing time will cause them to release him. Foote said he wants to continue his career as a starting linebacker where he can play more often and asked the Steelers to accommodate him. After finding no offers in a trade over the weekend of the draft, sources on the club say they plan to release him sometime after this weekend's minicamp, which Foote will not attend. They were going to release him this morning, then decided to wait as they pursue last-ditch efforts to trade him.

Will Josh Freeman start from day one? Very doubtful, but he just might be able to beat out the other quarterbacks on the Bucs' roster. All the talk about Byron Leftwich being signed as a smoke screen is just talk. I was told by a very good source that the reason they signed Leftwich was because Luke McCown was unimpressive in the recent mini-camp. The Bucs have many options at quarterback, but in reality, they have only one long-term solution -- Josh Freeman, and he will play soon. Any day now, back-up QB Brian Griese will either be traded or waived as the Bucs cut down on the number of players at that position.

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 17, 2009 12:49 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - Updated 4/17/09



Hall of Fame coach/broadcaster/video game king John Madden announced his retirement today from the television booth, ending a career that was as successful with a mic as it was a Raiders' head coach. So, with his Sundays freed up for the first time in forever, will Madden make a Raiders comeback? Not as a head coach, most certainly not at age 73. Raiders owner Al Davis once said Madden retired far too soon, but that ship has sailed. Rather, Davis dropped Madden's name a few years back when asked who would help run the team when his time had passed. The franchise itself will be passed onto his son Mark and wife Carol. But Davis also said he'd like to see Madden come back and offer some form of help on the football side of things, possibly as a de facto general manager or director of football operations.

In a move that could drastically change this year's NFL draft, the Ravens have expressed interest in acquiring wide receiver Anquan Boldin from the Arizona Cardinals, a league source confirmed Thursday. It would likely take a first- and a third-round draft pick to acquire Boldin, who had 89 catches for 1,038 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

Panthers GM Marty Hurney had nothing new on the Julius Peppers situation, except to say he still expects Peppers to play for Carolina next season. Peppers, the Panthers' franchise player who has said he doesn't want to play here next season, hasn't yet signed a one-year tender from the team. Hurney said the Panthers "haven't had any involvement" with any offers Peppers might have received from other teams.

The agent for Tennessee Titans running back LenDale White said his client is eager to prove himself this season, regardless of whether or not he is in a contract year. Christopher Brantley, who represents White, acknowledges that certainly White wants to do well as he enters the final year of his rookie contract, but said White's motivation stems more from wanting to prove his professionalism than anything else. Titans strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson had indicated that White had reported to the off-season workout program more than 20 pounds lighter than when he had done the previous year. Brantley corroborated that, saying that White's weight at the start of the off-season program was at 238 pounds. That number would mark the best of White's career as a Titan thus far. Before the 2007 season, White's weight was nearly 270 pounds when he reported for the off-season program.

Football could be in Fendi Onobun's future. Over the weekend, the former Arizona basketball player worked out for the New England Patriots, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills. He was joined by former Wildcat football players B.J. Dennard and Marquis Hundley. The reserve forward never played football, but he has the seemingly perfect build for it. He's 6 feet 6 inches tall, 250 pounds. That caught the attention of NFL scouts over the weekend.

Lions coach Jim Schwartz insists his team's draft board isn't set yet. And in a brief media session previewing Friday's start of a three-day mandatory mini-camp, Schwartz wouldn't go so far as to say the Lions have decided on their No. 1 overall pick. "No, not 100 percent," Schwartz said of making that top pick on April 25. "There's still discussions to be had." Still, with the Lions' draft board nearly complete -- by position and across the board "probably later this week," Schwartz said -- those discussions likely are nearing a conclusion, too. The Lions began preliminary contract talks with agents for multiple players late last month, and team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew have expressed a desire to have their top choice signed before the draft. But who will it be? The prevailing opinion around the league is it'll be Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford, but offensive tackles Eugene Monroe (Virginia) and Jason Smith (Baylor), linebacker Aaron Curry (Wake Forest) and possibly even quarterback Mark Sanchez (Southern California) also are candidates.

Will Thomas Jones show? Doubt it. The AFC's leading rusher, unhappy with his contract, has been skipping the Jets voluntary workouts. An opposing GM had this to say about Jones: "He's being very selfish. It's crap, what he's doing."

Cardinals officials acknowledged Wednesday they are listening to trade offers for Anquan Boldin but said their preference is to re-sign the Pro Bowl receiver. But the fact the Cardinals are taking calls about Boldin signals a shift in the team's stance. For the past year, team officials have been adamant about not trading Boldin, although they have left open the possibility that things could change. "A few" teams have called about Boldin, said coach Ken Whisenhunt, and the team, aware that stories could leak, didn't want to give the perception that it's trying to deal Boldin. "I think it would be foolish from our standpoint not to listen to those opportunities and see what actually exists," Whisenhunt said. "Our position on Anquan has been consistent and our goal hasn't changed. Reaching an agreement on a new contract has been, and continues to be, the preferred result. There are other options. Those do include fielding offers about trade."

Buffalo's search for a backup running back continued Tuesday with former Indianapolis starter Dominic Rhodes taking a free-agent visit, a source told With 538 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 152 attempts last season, he had almost equal production to Colts starter Joe Addai. Rhodes, 30, started four games last season when Addai was sidelined by injuries. Rhodes, 30, has enjoyed a solid eight-year NFL career despite being undrafted out of tiny Midwestern State. An 1,100-yard rusher as a rookie, Rhodes started all 16 regular season games for Indianapolis during its 2006 Super Bowl-winning season. The Bills began seeking a free-agent running back long before the NFL announced a three-game conduct suspension for starter Marshawn Lynch and backup Fred Jackson began boycotting the offseason workout program because of unhappiness with his contract.

Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said yesterday that the team didn't know who will be the starting left tackle when the season starts Sept. 13 against the Carolina Panthers. But Heckert suggested coach Andy Reid will know by the end of next weekend's NFL draft. More likely, Reid will know by the completion of the first round. Three tackles have top-10 potential in this draft -- Baylor's Jason Smith, Virginia's Eugene Monroe, and Alabama's Andre Smith. The Eagles have the 21st and 28th picks in the first round, so they have means to make a trade. Heckert said that if the Eagles want a rookie left tackle who can start in 2009, they probably have to get one of the elite guys.


Here are some NFL tidbits & rumors. Enjoy:

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 10, 2009 12:43 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - Updated 4/10/08


Some more NFL tidbits & Rumors. Enjoy:


With a glut of wide receivers and a 2008 first-round defensive back (Leodis McKelvin) who can return kicks on the roster, the Buffalo Bills are testing the waters for interest in Roscoe Parrish. According to a league source, the Bills are shopping Parrish, primarily as an exploratory measure. Parrish was a second-round pick in the 2005 draft, and he has appeared in 55 of a possible 64 career games. He has served primarily as a kick returner, with only 1,097 total receiving yards in four NFL seasons. He also has more fumbles (seven) than receiving touchdowns (five). Signed for three more seasons, Parrish is due to earn base salaries of $1 million in 2009, $1.025 million in 2010, and $1.025 million in 2011


We heard several weeks ago that the Giants had been unable to get in touch with receiver Plaxico Burress after the 2008 season. During a Thursday interview with Chris Russo of Sirius XM Radio's Mad Dog Unleashed, Giants co-owner John Mara confirmed that Burress wasn't being responsive. And Mara didn't like it. "[G.M.] Jerry Reese had attempted to contact him on a number of occasions and was not able to get a hold of him which, to be honest with you, irritated me quite a bit," Mara said. Mara also explained that the decision to sever ties with Burress resulted from the fact that his pending legal entanglement has not yet been resolved -- and that no resolution was in sight.


If you're looking for a late-round sleeper, there's probably no better one than Webber International University CB Vince Anderson. Anderson had virtually no chance of getting drafted a few months ago, but teams have started to do their homework on the NAIA product, and after his tape has been reviewed, the 6'2" defensive back has started to get attention. As noted several weeks ago by, Anderson is set to make a pre-draft visits with the New York Giants and Oakland Raiders, and he's expected to work out for the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars, and New England Patriots before the draft.


At some point, perhaps on the second day of the draft (April 26), the 49ers will select a running back to complement Frank Gore. Here is what coach Mike Singletary told me at the combine about what he envisions: "Frank is a special running back. But I think it would help to have someone come in and share that load, maybe someone who has a different style - someone who adds another dimension to our running game. That would be very advantageous for us."


A league source tells us that Ohio State running back Chris "Beanie" Wells was supposed to visit the Broncos on Wednesday. Per the source, Wells missed his flight. And, as a result, Wells didn't show for the meeting. It's unknown at this point whether the Broncos were informed that Wells wouldn't be there, or whether some dude dressed in black is still holding a sign that says "Beanie" in the Denver airport.


Don't count on seeing Jason Taylor in a Jets uniform. The 34-year-old defensive end has been rumored as a target of the Jets, but he made it clear to the Miami Herald that he's not eager to put on green and white. I'd be very, very, very difficult," Taylor said about signing with the Jets. "At the end of the day, if I couldn't find a job anywhere else and the Jets called, I guess I'd have to retire or go play." The Jets reportedly have contacted Taylor, who played 11 seasons for the Dolphins before joining the Redskins last season. During his time in Miami, the six-time Pro Bowler ripped the Jets repeatedly and threw gas on the rivalry between the two teams. The Patriots also are looking at Taylor, and yesterday Taylor admitted he has been talking to the Dolphins about a possible return. "I never said it wouldn't be difficult to play for either, but the Jets are the Jets," Taylor said. "I've had a lot of history saying bad things about Jets fans. The fireman hat guy and all of those people in New York that are Jets fans aren't the ones working on Wall Street. I've said all of those things, so I've got to leave it at that." Taylor is referring to comments he made in 2004 before the Jets played in Miami. He referenced how he expected many Jets fans to be at the game, "a bunch of them chanting their [dumb-bleep] chant and all that other stuff, being the ignorant fans they are. I said it. I don't care if they get mad at me or not. They don't like me anyway. Quite frankly, I don't care . . . I'm just being real. I'm telling the truth."


The Patriots are scheduled to host one of the NFL's more intriguing prospects on a predraft visit at Gillette Stadium next week, as West Virginia quarterback Pat White is scheduled to meet with team officials Monday and Tuesday, according to league sources. White (6 feet, 197 pounds) has been scouted as a quarterback and receiver, with some clubs also projecting him as a returner on special teams. He is considered a top prospect for teams looking for players to implement a "Wildcat" package - the successful strategy used by the Miami Dolphins last season in which running back Ronnie Brown took direct snaps from center.


Vikings coach Brad Childress isn't too concerned about Adrian Peterson's desire to add some size during the offseason. But he doesn't want the Pro Bowl running back playing at 230 pounds, either, the high end of Peterson's expressed range. Peterson said this week that he would like to go from his current weight of 217 or 218 pounds to 225 or 230 before next season. "You know what, 230's awful big," Childress said Wednesday. "From 17 to 30, just put a 10-pound sack of potatoes on your back and think about how that works for you. They're not required to weigh in right now, but I can tell you he doesn't look any different. Maybe even a little bit thinner right now than when he left (at the end of the season)." Childress said he would encourage Peterson to play at whatever weight makes him comfortable and yet still have stamina, speed, explosive movements and continued success. But that apparently won't be 230 pounds. "You just want guys to be efficient with what they have," Childress said. "The 230 or the 12 pounds extra? I don't know where that came from. Did it come out of Adrian's mouth? . . . I'm thinking he's probably not going to get to 230, nor does he want to be at 230, and I would have no trouble telling him that or you."


The Patriots hosted University of North Carolina receivers Brooks Foster (Tuesday) and Brandon Tate (Wednesday) at Gillette Stadium this week, emphasizing that their preparations for the April 25-26 draft are as much about 2010 as they are the upcoming season. With a wide receiver depth chart topped by Randy Moss and Wes Welker - arguably the NFL's top tandem - and veteran additions Joey Galloway (free agent) and Greg Lewis (trade with the Eagles) acquired this offseason, the Patriots wouldn't seem to need another pass catcher as a high priority. Yet as former vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli has noted in the past, the best teams in the NFL fill long-term needs before they become more urgent short-term needs. In that case, the meetings with Foster and Tate - and any other receivers the team might be considering in the draft - make more sense. Both early- to mid-round prospects have medical issues the Patriots probably wanted to double-check before placing a final grade on them, and both are classified as players who would have the luxury of being groomed slowly behind Moss, Welker, and Co.

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 8, 2009 1:52 pm

NFL Tidbits & rumors - Updated 4/8/09

 Enjoy the read: 

The Cowboys could find out soon just how much they like wide receiver Miles Austin. According to sources, the New York Jets will meet with Austin, a restricted free agent, later this week. The Cowboys gave Austin a tender worth $1.545 million, which would require a team to fork over a second-round pick if the Cowboys choose not to match an offer sheet. The Jets second rounder is No. 52 overall, one spot behind the Cowboys first pick of the upcoming draft. The restricted free agent signing period ends April 17. If the Jets sign Austin the Cowboys would have a week to match. It's an interesting dilemma for the Cowboys. Owner and GM Jerry Jones said he would not have cut Terrell Owens if he didn't have Austin, who has 18 catches in his three seasons. Austin is the Cowboys speediest receiver and is looked at as a possible starter opposite Roy Williams.

Mark Sanchez isn't the only high-profile college quarterback the 49ers are sniffing around. The team also has arranged a visit with Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman. USC's Sanchez is scheduled to be in Santa Clara tomorrow and Thursday. Freeman is generally regarded as the third-best quarterback prospect in the draft behind Sanchez and Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford.

A special master's ruling Monday made it far less expensive for the Chiefs to release running back Larry Johnson , if they so choose. The Chiefs prevailed in their grievance case against Johnson when a special master ruled that $3.75 million of his salary in 2009 and 2010 was no longer guaranteed. If the Chiefs decide to release or trade Johnson, the decision makes that move much easier on the Chiefs. His contract calls for $3.5 million of Johnson's 2009 salary and $250,000 of his 2010 salary to be guaranteed regardless of whether he plays for them or not. The special master ruled that Johnson forfeited his right to the guaranteed payments when he was suspended last year for one game by the NFL for a violation of the league's personal-conduct policy. Johnson would still receive his full 2009 salary of $4.55 million if he plays the season for the Chiefs. If he's released before the start of the regular season, the Chiefs are no longer obligated to pay him the $3.5 million, as they would have been before the special master's ruling. Johnson's agent, Peter Schaffer, said the running back, contrary to the comments he made early in the offseason, wants to play for the Chiefs.

With the NFL draft less than three weeks away, general manager Billy Devaney says the phone lines are open at Rams Park. In other words, the team is willing to listen to any trade proposals from clubs interested in moving up to the Rams No. 2 overall spot. "Yeah, in the position we're in, we'll consider everything," Devaney said. "It's a little early. We kind of play with scenarios in our mind right now. But we haven't gotten down to the nitty-gritty, if you will, to say: 'OK, how far back would we trade?' " With the Rams in a rebuilding mode, this is a good year to stockpile extra picks. However, finding someone willing to move up to No. 2 -- where the player will get a potential contract of $50 million-plus -- is another matter.

Adrian Peterson hasn't changed his mind about putting on weight for training camp. The Vikings' Pro Bowl running back said Tuesday he weighs about 217 or 218 pounds but would like to be between 225 and 230. "Just to see how it feels before the season starts, to see how it is when I run, cut, do different things," Peterson said. "I'm going to continue to work out. This is the time of year to really get down and dirty, to really start pumping." He doesn't believe the extra pounds would affect his speed.

This just doesn't make sense to the Giants. "To think that a player could carry a loaded gun into a night club, shoot himself and miss the rest of the season but get to keep his entire signing bonus illustrates one of the serious flaws in the current system," co-owner John Mara said yesterday. Yup, that's the way things roll for Plaxico Burress, who won the grievance against the Giants filed by the NFL Players Association on his behalf. The Giants were "very disappointed" and almost incredulous with the decision. "This ruling represents yet another example of why we need a new and improved CBA," Mara said. "We will have an opportunity in the upcoming negotiations to prevent such illogical results in the future." According to reports, Burress -- now a free agent -- has attracted interest from several teams. Burress, though, faces two felony gun charges that could land him in jail.

Patrick Ramsey was fishing with friends in Louisiana on Friday when he got the call from his agent, who informed him a deal had been reached with the Titans. Ramsey's role with the Titans is to be determined. The former first-round pick could be a threat to beat out Vince Young and take over the No. 2 quarterback job behind starter Kerry Collins. Or he could be another arm, the traditional role for a No. 3 quarterback. At the least, Ramsey is insurance in the event Young has a disappointing offseason and training camp. His goal, however, is to unseat Young.

Signing Kellen Winslow, 25, to an extension was not a condition of the trade, but rather what the Bucs viewed as an opportunity to lock up one of the league's best young tight ends rather than lose him to free agency after two seasons. "We made the trade with the future in mind," general manager Mark Dominik said Monday. "We consider Kellen a leader on the football team and when you trade away multiple draft picks, you obviously want the player for the long haul. Kellen has demonstrated he's very excited about being part of our community and part of the Bucs . We're excited to have him." Winslow only participated in the first day of a three-day, voluntary minicamp last week.

Cardinals inside linebacker Karlos Dansby fired his agent, Kirk Wood, over the weekend, according to NFL sources, and it's unclear how that will affect negotiations of a multiyear contract for Dansby. Wood was in Arizona last weekend negotiating with Cardinals General Manager Rod Graves. Both sides characterized the talks as positive and expected to talk again this week. Sources said the framework of a deal was in place, and the contract could have been completed this week. But Dansby apparently decided late last week to fire Wood, who has been his agent since Dansby entered the league out of Auburn in 2004. It's unknown which agent Dansby has chosen to replace Wood. After firing an agent, players can't officially hire a replacement until five days after the date on the termination letter. A union spokesperson said no termination letter had been received as of Monday afternoon. Dansby is close to Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson, who is represented by Eugene Parker. Sources close to the situation expect Dansby to hire Parker.

With the NFL draft 19 days away, the Cincinnati Bengals are beginning to narrow down their choices of potential prospects as possible draft day selections. University of Georgia redshirt sophomore sensation Knowshon Moreno is a player long believed to be high on the team's list. That being said Moreno will be in Cincinnati to meet with the organization today, April 6. The Bengals own the sixth overall pick in the draft and wouldn't be opposed to trading down to stockpile draft picks. But the team could consider using their first round selection on Moreno in either scenario. Recent reports have Moreno's stock taking a nosedive due to some less than impressive 40-times which he ran at the Combine and Pro day. Despite his efforts, there are a handful of teams picking in the Top 20 who covet the dynamic runner. Speed no problem The Denver Broncos , who own the No. 12 and 18 overall picks, are said to be very high on Moreno. He has already visited Denver.

The Vikings and the agent for Antoine Winfield continue to discuss a contract extension for the Pro Bowl cornerback, and negotations are expected to heat up again Monday. Ashanti Webb, who serves as Winfield's agent, termed the dealings as "intense negotiations" in a text message on Saturday evening but declined to say if a deal might be reached this week.

Brady Quinn fans shouldn't relax just yet. The possibility of a trade to Denver still exists. Kyle Orton, the quarterback the Broncos received in Thursday's trade of Jay Cutler to the Bears, is not the answer. Josh McDaniels, Denver's coach, has got to know that. Neither is Chris Simms, whom the Broncos signed before this brouhaha with Cutler became a daily story. As soon as the dust settled after the trade of Cutler to Chicago, the question became: So who's Denver's next quarterback? Speculation in Denver and elsewhere is that the Broncos might use their two first-round draft picks -- No. 12 and No. 18 -- to move up high enough to select Mark Sanchez of Southern California. Seattle, sitting at No. 4, already is giving signals it suddenly loves Sanchez, perhaps to sway a deal with Denver. The reality of the NFL is that nobody wants to be in the top five on draft day. And that includes Denver. So there's Quinn, still not endorsed by the Browns as their starting quarterback as he enters his third season. And there's McDaniels in Denver, filled with positive feedback about Quinn from Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, whom McDaniels adores as an offensive football coach. If McDaniels can't trust Weis, then who can he trust?

ESPN's Michael Smith said on NFL Live tonight that he's hearing the Eagles have interest in Bengals wide receiver Chad Johnson . Rather than paraphrase what Smith is reporting, here's exactly what he said so you can decide for yourself whether this is just a rumor or something more. "I am hearing there is interest in Chad Johnson ," Smith said. "Now there's been some back and forth as to whether or not he is officially on the market. I think everybody in Cincinnati has signed off on moving Chad Johnson except for owner Mike Brown. The Eagles could be in the picture. They have two first-round picks. They need a receiver." The other name Smith threw out there was Bills offensive tackle Jason Peters. Our beat guys have mentioned Peters' name in the past, and according to Smith, the Eagles have "engaged in serious discussions" with the Bills about him. Per Smith, those talks could heat up again as the draft approaches. Remember, Smith reported earlier this offseason that Donovan McNabb had met with Eagles management and wanted to see what weapons the Eagles would add before looking at a contract extension.



Category: NFL
Posted on: March 30, 2009 12:51 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - Updated 3/30/09


Here are the latest NFL tidbits & rumors. Enjoy the read.

Josh McDaniels has let Jay Cutler know he wants to talk, but so far Cutler has responded only by text. Each day Cutler holds out closes the window in corresponding increments on his return. The diss: McJaygate figures to last no longer than Day 57, which would bring the Broncos to the NFL draft. If the Broncos trade Cutler, they will do so by draft day. If his protest continues until then and he isn't traded, the Broncos will have decided to treat him as a "holdout," although in official terms, his first mandatory report date isn't until June 12. The gut: While several teams continue to communicate their interest in Cutler, the Broncos have not responded. They remain intent on bringing Cutler back.

A plea deal is being seriously considered in the gun possession case against Plaxico Burress, the New York Giants' wide receiver, and it appears likely that any agreement would require him to serve at least some time behind bars, a law enforcement official said on Sunday. The details had not been finalized, and it remained unclear whether an arrangement would be reached by Tuesday, when Mr. Burress is scheduled to appear in Manhattan Criminal Court.

Michael Vick's plan to climb out of bankruptcy partly depends on the suspended star suiting up again for the NFL after he gets out of prison. The embattled Atlanta Falcons quarterback is hoping to earn as much as $10 million a year or more, according to court filings in his bankruptcy case. Under the plan he submitted to the court, Vick would keep the first $750,000 of his annual income over the next five years. After that, a percentage would go to his creditors based on a sliding scale. Gil Brandt, a senior analyst for, predicted Roger Goodell would give Vick another chance to play, possibly after sanctioning him again. But he said Vick, who holds the NFL single-season record for rushing yards by a quarterback, would stand a better chance of making a team at a different position such as running back.

The Patriots are scheduled to host safeties Patrick Chung (Oregon), William Moore (Missouri) and Louis Delmas (Western Michigan) on pre-draft visits at Gillette Stadium, according to league sources. NFL teams are allowed up to 30 pre-draft visits with out-of-town prospects at their facility. The purpose of the visits can vary -- from genuine interest, to a smokescreen, to a final medical check. Sometimes, the coaches might want to put the players up on the board or watch game film, asking them to dissect Xs and Os. It's quite possible that a visit ends up ruling a player out of a team's plans (e.g. the player doesn't show the football acumen needed for a specific scheme). From this view, the visits are helpful to chart, but also important to keep in perspective. The Patriots, for example, did not host Logan Mankins on a pre-draft visit prior to drafting him in the first round in 2005. On the flip side, the team did host linebacker Jerod Mayo last year.

The offseason conditioning program for the Bengals begins Monday at Paul Brown Stadium, which means we're close to answering everyone's favorite question - will Chad Ocho Cinco be there? The short answer, at the moment, is we don't know. "I plan on everyone to be here until I hear that they're not," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "Now, there are some guys in weddings or classes who won't be here the first week but will the second, and vice versa. We should be at 90 percent or better in terms of attendance." If Ocho Cinco adheres to his word, he should be at PBS on Monday. During Super Bowl week, the wide receiver said he would participate in all offseason activities, which would be a complete change from last year. Ocho Cinco did not show up until minicamp in June after demanding to be traded for much of the offseason.

Clearly, Rex Ryan didn't want Favre, despite saying just the opposite last week. Ryan was hired on Jan. 19. Favre retired on Feb. 11. Not once did Ryan reach out to Favre and try to persuade him to play, claiming he didn't feel it was appropriate. If Ryan wanted Favre, he would have called him or shown up on his doorstep in Hattiesburg. The first time they spoke is when Favre called to say he was done.

The 49ers, coming off a 7-9 season, know they have an uphill climb this season. In more ways than one. Among the changes Mike Singletary has made in his first year as permanent head coach is the creation of a steep hill adjacent from the team's practice field. Singletary plans to have his players work out on the hill when it's completed in a few weeks. Singletary explained that he used to train on a hill in Houston with other NFL players such as Charlie Joiner, Darrell Green, and Earl Campbell. "I was very fortunate to be part of that group," Singletary said. "It was a tough workout. All of those guys that worked out on that hill had a long career." Singletary calls the hill "Pain." What was before a small slope is now a hill with 2,500 tons of dirt. From top to bottom is 45-50 feet. Players naturally had questions when they arrived at the practice field and saw the hill in the works.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Vikings, who are without fourth- and sixth-round picks in next month's NFL draft, try to slide down by trading their No. 22 overall pick for more picks. That's because they still might be able to fill their most glaring needs in the draft -- offensive tackle and a possession wide receiver -- later in the first round. If they can find a trade partner, they probably could satisfy both positions near the end of the first round. There is a decent chance that offensive tackle Eben Britton of Arizona will be available, as well as wide receivers Hakeem Nicks of North Carolina and Kenny Britt of Rutgers. It's virtually certain one of the three will be available near the end of the first round. The Vikings even could trade out of the first round and still get a decent offensive tackle and receiver, assuming they would get a second-round pick in return. They also would have their own second-round pick.

Jason Taylor could, in fact, return to the Dolphins one year after being traded, if that is what he really wanted. Before expanding on that point, let me update a matter that would cloud this picture were it still threatening like a South Florida thunderstorm: Taylor and Bill Parcells do not hate each other. If you are still back in that Dolphins conference room a year ago, when Parcells ignored Taylor, causing the player to storm off angrily and send his agent and friends into vitriol-laced frenzies, you are caught in yesterday's news. Today, Parcells and Taylor have an amicable relationship. They shared time and conversation at Grand Oaks last year after the trade that sent Taylor to the Washington Redskins. There is, at the moment, no ill will in the relationship. That, of course, doesn't ensure a renewed connection between the Dolphins and (still) their best player of the past decade. But it means the connection is at least possible.

Tom Coughlin has been leaving messages all over the Giants' locker room, even on players stools, reminding them of the disappointing end to last season. "Work ethic must exceed the expectation level," is one of them. Asked if his players make the connection, Coughlin said, "They get it. I'm in there spelling it out for them."

Jerry Jones removed the duct tape from the only NFL head coach under a gag order this week and let him speak during the owners' meeting. The removal of duct tape was necessary because head coaches must talk if they attend, per league rules. Still, it was a bad idea. All Phillips did is remind everyone why Jerry should've already hired Mike Shanahan. After the most sensitive coach in franchise history spent some time whining about all of the meanies in the local media, he actually said it usually takes four years to find out whether a coach is any good. Talk to enough players since the season ended, and they'll tell you they're disappointed Phillips declined to address the players after the debacle in Philadelphia. He also lost the respect of some players when he let former defensive coordinator Brian Stewart, the only coach he brought with him from San Diego, take the brunt of the criticism for a string of poor defensive performances and stripped him of his play-calling duties after six games. Later, Phillips took credit for the team's defensive resurgence before its December meltdown. Just so you know, Stewart viewed Phillips as a mentor and father figure. That's not how you treat family. And it's certainly not how you display loyalty.

Running back Larry Johnson's future in Kansas City could be determined by the outcome of his grievance hearing with the Chiefs on Wednesday. At issue is $3.75 million of guaranteed money Johnson is due from the Chiefs in the contract extension he signed in August 2007. Generally, NFL salaries are not guaranteed, but Johnson's contract calls for payments of $3.5 million this year and $250,000 in 2010 that the Chiefs must pay regardless of whether he plays for them. The Chiefs claim the one-game suspension he received from the NFL last year for violating the league's personal-conduct policy is a breach of his contract and frees them from having to pay the guaranteed money.

Jeff George, 41, hasn't thrown a pass in an NFL game in almost eight years, and he hasn't been on an NFL roster since 2004. Yet George insists he could have led the Vikings to their first Lombardi Trophy by now, citing the team's superstar, running back Adrian Peterson, and star-studded defense. "There's no doubt about it," George said in an interview with the Pioneer Press on Friday afternoon. "Because of the type of defensive personnel they have, and when you have an Adrian Peterson ... you line him up with a veteran quarterback, who knows where to go with the ball, it's an unstoppable combination." In a story posted earlier Friday, George told that, if he were playing for the Vikings, "I guarantee I'd be wearing a ring right now."

Since the Bucs cut linebacker legend Derrick Brooks, Joe has beat the drum that Bucs general manager Mark Dominik made a terrible mistake, should swallow his pride and re-sign Brooks. Joe has learned through multiple sources today that very well may happen. Problem is, Brooks won't be donning a Bucs uniform. Through Joe's sources, one of which is a highly placed academic source at Florida State where Brooks serves on the board of trustees of his alma mater, it has been revealed that shortly after the Bucs cut Brooks the Glazer Boys called Brooks in for a private meeting and offered him a front office position. The specific position that was offered to Brooks is unclear, but a job offer was made to Brooks. One source was inclined to believe the offer was partially motivated by damage control. Rather than take the offer, Brooks informed the Glazer Boys he wanted to exhaust all options as a player before he announced his retirement and became a Bucs employee.

Category: NFL
Posted on: March 24, 2009 1:57 pm

NFL Tidbits & Rumors - Updated 3/24/09


Here are the latest NFL tidbits & rumors floating around. Enjoy:

The Dolphins want everyone to understand there is no quarterback controversy on the team because a healthy Chad Pennington will be the unquestioned starter at the beginning of the 2009 season, but it is equally set in stone that the team wants Chad Henne to be the starting quarterback by 2010. And those facts will set into motion a series of conversations, negotiations and planning meetings that will begin in the coming months and play out in front of everyone in the preseason. According to a club source, the Dolphins plan to give Henne extended playing time in the preseason while giving Pennington more limited time.

The Broncos coach seems to be trying to make nice. Josh McDaniels told me weeks ago that he is able to "text message," which could have been depicted as a rip job (but wasn't) of predecessor Mike Shanahan, who had admitted he didn't know how to text message. So McDaniels text messaged Jay Cutler the other day, and Cutler didn't respond, according to an NFL source. A text message is for ordering a pizza or replying to a fishing buddy, not for contacting "our quarterback." Pick up the phone, Josh, or fly to Nashville. The word I get is that the Broncos won't trade Cutler, although the laughing hyenas are circling and drooling, knowing Cutler instantly would help teams in Tampa, Detroit, Washington, St. Louis, Cleveland, San Francisco, Buffalo, Washington, Chicago, New York (Jets) . . . need I go on? Meanwhile, Broncos owner Pat Bowlen told Mike Klis of The Post he doesn't want to get "involved." Involved?! This is the same owner who held up the Super Bowl trophy and said it was for the quarterback and fired the coach because he wanted to be more "involved."

Most of us have assumed that Edgerrin James would become an ex-Cardinal this off-season. And while that's still likely, don't rule out the possibility of James returning to the team for the final year of his contract. I talked to coach Ken Whisenhunt for a few minutes this morning between meetings at the NFL owners confab at Dana Point, Calif. I asked him about a few subjects (I'll have more later), but regarding Edge, Whisenhunt said he would like to shore up the running back position before deciding to release James. The Cardinals signed Jason Wright in free agency, and he could be the team's third-down back. The Cardinals are expected to draft a back to share time with Tim Hightower. But even with those three players, the position is thin. Whisenhunt said he could foresee James returning, depending upon personnel moves over the next month to six weeks or so. And it seems certain that James won't be released before the draft in late April. That's not going to make James happy. He wanted to be released right after the season in order to have a better shot at landing a featured role somewhere else. The Cardinals, however, have paid James $25 million of the $30 million contract he signed three years ago. They figure that kind of money gives them the right to cover themselves until the need at running back has been addressed. Despite his unhappiness, James has been a diligent worker and he proved late last season that he can still be effective. It will be hard for the Cardinals to release him and place the workload on Hightower, in his second year, and a draft choice.

Tom Brady hasn't even thrown a pass in his comeback, and he's already affected change for the 2009 NFL season. In part because of the season-ending left knee injury that Brady suffered in the Patriots' 2008 season opener against the Chiefs, the league's Competition Committee adopted a clarification of the current rule on hits to a quarterback in the knee area or below. The clarification specifically prohibits a defender on the ground who hasn't been blocked or fouled directly into the quarterback from lunging or diving at the quarterback's lower legs. Brady tore his left ACL and left MCL in the first quarter of the Patriots' 17-10 win over the Chiefs Sept. 7. As Brady stepped into a 28-yard completion to Randy Moss, Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard made a desperation dive into Brady's left knee after he had been blocked to the ground just short of Brady by running back Sammy Morris. Pollard was not flagged or fined for the hit. Under the revised rule, a play like his would be penalized, according to Titans coach Jeff Fisher and Falcons president Rich McKay, co-chairmen of the committee. "I think all the quarterbacks in this league are critical to what the game is about," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. "It's like if Peyton Manning were gone for a season, I think the whole NFL suffers, the same way the NFL suffered with Tommy out. So whatever we can do to protect quarterbacks and to minimize the opportunity of them being taken out with a year-ending injury I would support. "It's not good for the league. What makes it special is special players. It's like going to see a great movie and the star isn't in the movie. It's the same principle."

Embattled quarterback Michael Vick, with his potential release to a halfway house looming, has switched criminal defense attorneys. Daniel Meachum, an original member of Vick's defense team, has signed an exclusive three-year contract to represent Vick. Meachum, of Atlanta, has represented high-profile athletes before. Joel Segal, Vick's agent, will continue to represent him in football matters. "My concern is helping Michael get back to his family and surround him with people like Julius Erving, Tony Dungy and Bishop T. D. Jakes. We need people around him who can help him and his family get back on the right track. I'm more interested in that than anything else." Vick may be released from federal prison to a halfway house in late May. His scheduled released date from federal custody on dogfighting charges is July 21. He is currently suspended by the National Football League, while the Atlanta Falcons are seeking to trade his contract rights. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has refused to comment on Vick's potential re-instatement.

T.O. was a no-show Monday for the start of the Bills voluntary offseason conditioning program. That didn't stop his new teammates from eagerly awaiting Terrell Owens' arrival - whenever that might occur - and even getting in a laugh or two. "I'm really excited about meeting the guy," center Geoff Hangartner said. "I've heard he's a great teammate." Hangartner, who signed with the Bills on Feb. 28, even got a joke in at Owens' expense, showing there's more than one Bills newcomer with a playful side. Owens' absence was not a big concern for Bills strength and conditioning coach John Allaire. Stressing that the program is voluntary, Allaire said he was already impressed with the shape Owens was in when the two met shortly before the player signed with the Bills on March 7.

NFL owners are formulating a strategy to begin negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union, but commissioner Roger Goodell said Monday he expects a new deal will be in place before next March, when the salary cap is set to expire. "I don't believe that will be the case," Goodell said when asked about the possibilities in an uncapped season in 2010. Owners opted out of the current CBA last year, which will trigger the end of the salary cap if no new deal is reached before next March. Owners' priorities in the negotiations will include having the costs for building and operating stadiums recognized by the players and instituting a salary cap for rookies, Goodell said in a news conference at the NFL's annual meeting in Dana Point, Calif. There is no timetable yet for when negotiations on a new CBA will begin. Goodell met with new NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith Friday for the first time.

Amid comments from Lions president Tom Lewand indicating that the team will talk to multiple possible candidates for the No. 1 overall pick in the draft before making a final decision, the folks at KFFL are reporting, with Salisbury-esque certainty, that Baylor tackle Jason Smith will be the pick. There's no ambiguity in the one-sentence report: "KFFL has learned the Detroit Lions will take Baylor OT Jason Smith with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft."

Jay Cutler wants out of Denver and the Jets have told the Broncos they want him if they decide to trade him. Multiple sources told the Daily News Sunday at the opening of the NFL meetings that Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum contacted the Broncos to let them know the Jets are very interested in trading for Cutler. But the Jets have yet to make a trade offer, and the Broncos have not said what they want, because Denver has not determined the Cutler situation is beyond repair. But this much is clear: The Jets are definitely in the Cutler Derby.

The Cowboys have looked into the possibility of trading linebacker Bobby Carpenter, according to sources, but might be more reluctant to move the former first-round pick with Kevin Burnett's departure. Burnett signed a two-year deal with San Diego earlier this month, leaving Carpenter as the top backup on the roster and a leading candidate to take over Burnett's role in the substitute defensive packages. The 18th overall pick in 2006, Carpenter has been credited with just seven tackles in the last two seasons, spending most of his time at special teams, where he has made 30 tackles in the last two seasons. While Cowboys coaches want Carpenter to be more physical, he has shown in preseason work he can cover tight ends and running backs. He also has experience rushing the passer.

The Patriots have Tom Brady, Kevin O'Connell and Matt Gutierrez on the roster at quarterback, and earlier this month explored the possibility of adding a fourth option -- veteran Patrick Ramsey. The team hosted Ramsey on a free-agent visit at Gillette Stadium March 3-4. Ramsey has yet to sign with another club, and the Denver Post reported today that he is deciding between the Patriots and Titans. So while the Patriots' major work in free agency is over, the pursuit of Ramsey is one possibility that remains in play.

Category: NFL
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