Winners and losers: Sizing up rosters on NFL cutdown day

by | Senior Writer

I was on a radio show Saturday afternoon when someone asked what surprised me about the NFL's final roster cuts, and I'll tell you what: That nothing happened with Vincent Jackson, the disgruntled wide receiver of the San Diego Chargers.

Vincent Jackson's monetary demands have made it difficult for the Bolts to trade him. (US Presswire)  
Vincent Jackson's monetary demands have made it difficult for the Bolts to trade him. (US Presswire)  
I could've sworn he'd be long gone by now ... but he's not ... and not because San Diego resisted, because it didn't. In fact, the Bolts were more than willing to deal the guy.

At first, one NFC general manager told me, they asked for first- and third-round draft picks as compensation, but when that didn't fly they lowered their demands. In the end, he said, the price dropped so much so that, by the close of business Saturday, "they'd take almost anything."

Yet no deal was made, and there's a reason.

"The money," he said. "It's way too much. They're asking for more than Brandon Marshall [five years, $50 million], and there's no way people are interested."

Sorry, Vincent, and my apologies to the Chargers. Looks like you get to spend another weekend together. In the meantime, this is how I scored what went down in the last 24 hours:

The Winners

Derek Anderson, QB, Arizona: As an unrestricted free agent, he chose the Cardinals over Seattle -- and let's hear it for street smarts. In Seattle, he would've sat behind Matt Hasselbeck, which is where Charlie Whitehurst is now. In Arizona, he becomes the starter, and if you don't think that's an upset you didn't watch him in Cleveland. The Tribe's Tony Sipp was more accurate than Anderson, who last season completed 44.5 percent of his passes, threw three touchdown passes and 10 interceptions, had a passer rating of 42.1 and won a game 6-3 where he had two completions. Now he starts. What a great country.

Patrick Crayton, WR, San Diego: He was little more than ballast in Dallas, waiting to be released. Then the Chargers called, offered a conditional seventh-round draft pick for him, and -- presto! -- Crayton exchanged one Pro Bowl quarterback for another. One difference: This Pro Bowl quarterback, Philip Rivers, will throw to him.

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Sage Rosenfels, QB, N.Y. Giants: Better to back up Eli Manning than Tarvaris Jackson. He was never going to play in Minnesota. In New York, he steps in if anything happens to Manning.

Billy Cundiff, K, Baltimore: Let's be honest: The Ravens never filled the void left by the departure of Matt Stover. So they signed free-agent Shayne Graham to take the job ... only he didn't. Cundiff did. I remember talking to GM Ozzie Newsome at training camp and telling him that the one guy who made me nervous on this roster was Graham ... for a very simple reason: He doesn't make clutch kicks. "It's early," Newsome said. "He hasn't won the job yet." Guess I should've listened. Guess Graham should have, too.

The Philadelphia Eagles: First, they beef up their offensive line with Reggie Wells, a quality starter whom coach Andy Reid coveted for years. Wells is an important addition to an offensive line that must protect new quarterback Kevin Kolb with dependable guys -- and Wells is one of them. Then the Eagles beef up their pass defense with Antwan Barnes, a speed rusher who allows them to move defensive linemen and linebackers around on obvious passing downs. Philadelphia lost out last season when Dallas buried them three times, the last two by a combined score of 58-14. The gap between the clubs is closer today because of Philadelphia's maneuvers.

Mike Williams, WR, Seattle: This is one of the best feel-good stories of the summer. A former top-10 draft pick, Williams was out of football for two seasons before deciding to give the sport one last whirl. First, he called coach Pete Carroll, then at USC, and told him he was coming back. Carroll nodded and didn't think about Williams again until he heard he was down from 270 pounds to 235. The Seahawks worked him out, liked what they saw and the rest is documented. "He's not been like this since his sophomore year of college, his last year of football," said Carroll. He should know. He coached him at USC. Williams steps in for T.J. Houshmandzadeh, and now you know what -- no, who -- made him expendable.

Matt Millen: Surprise, surprise, surprise. Williams not only makes it; he starts. With the 10th pick of the 2005 draft, the choice for Millen -- then the GM of the Detroit Lions -- was Williams or linebacker DeMarcus Ware, and, OK, it's a no-brainer. He should've taken Ware. With Williams back in the league, Millen isn't off the hook, but he gets a hall pass from the dunce's corner.

Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, N.Y. Giants: Look no farther for the source of Brandon Jacobs' discontent. Bradshaw had more carries and more yards this summer, and while the expectation is that he and Jacobs share the position, Bradshaw gets the bulk of the carries; not Jacobs.

Chase Daniel, QB, New Orleans: He finally makes it as a second-string quarterback, beating out Patrick Ramsey as Drew Brees' caddy. Good things come to those who wait, and Daniel waited through three cuts last year before settling in. Though he and Ramsey were neck-and-neck this summer, Daniel's age (he's 23; Ramsey is 31) probably swung the vote. The Saints think he has potential, and, with Brees as the starter, will have time to develop.

The Losers

Matt Leinart, QB, Arizona: A week ago he thought he was the Cardinals' starting quarterback. Then the players spoke, coach Ken Whisenhunt listened, and Leinart became the Cardinals' latest bust. The problem: Teammates lost confidence in the guy, convinced they could not win with him. Leinart complained that he had better numbers than anyone -- and he did. But as Whisenhunt so carefully explained all summer he wouldn't make his decision based on numbers; he would make it based on team chemistry, and Matt Leinart just flunked the exam.

The Denver Broncos: Elvis Dumervil is out for the season. LenDale White is out for the season. Jarvis Green can't make the team. Tim Tebow isn't ready to play. And San Diego is still in the AFC West. Good luck, Josh McDaniels. You're going to need it.

Josh McDaniels, head coach, Denver: I presume he's the guy behind trading away a first-round pick for defensive back Alphonso Smith in the 2009 draft. Well, this just in: He dumped Smith for tight end Dan Gronkowski which means ... you spent a first-round draft pick on a tight end who was the 255th draft pick -- or next to last -- and who didn't fit in with the Lions, who cut him twice. Great. I also presume McDaniels was the genius behind signing defensive lineman Jarvis Green to that four-year, $20 million deal. It made sense because McDaniels and Green were on the same side in New England, so McDaniels had the book on the guy. Only he must have had the wrong one. Memo to McDaniels: Stick to coaching and leave personnel to somebody, anybody, else.

The Andrews brothers: They were supposed to be part of "The Great Wall" in Philadelphia, only the wall just crumbled. First the Eagles cut Shawn. Then they sent Stacy to Seattle after swinging the deal for Reggie Wells. Andrews can play guard or tackle and should help the Seahawks because he's better than he showed this summer with Philadelphia. People confuse Shawn with Stacy, but Stacy just needs a chance. Maybe he gets one in Seattle.

Willie Parker, RB, Washington: He's 31, and Washington just became the second team in five months to pass on him. Time to hire a career counselor for your next life, Willie.

The Seattle Seahawks: They just lost offensive line coach Alex Gibbs, who quit a week before the season. Gibbs is one of the best in the business, and getting him to Seattle was a coup for Pete Carroll. But Gibbs told people there he was worn out and almost surely couldn't make it through the season. So he decided to leave now rather than later, and that's tough luck for Carroll. He wants to pump up his rushing attack ... no, he must invigorate the league's 26th ranked unit ... and Gibbs was his trump card.

Rhett Bomar, QB, N.Y. Giants: Two days ago he was the backup to Eli Manning. Then Rosenfels arrived, and he was the backup to nobody. Blame it all on Jim Sorgi. Had he stayed healthy maybe, just maybe, Big Blue would've kept three quarterbacks. But stay tuned. There might be good news for Bomar yet. If he clears waivers, the Giants almost surely will sign him to their practice squad.

The Miami Dolphins: Barely a year after they made quarterback Pat White a second-round draft pick and wide receiver Patrick Turner a third-round choice, they cut both of them. That’s a knock at the team’s scouting department in general and executive VP Bill Parcells in particular. You don’t waste second and third-rounders on one-year flyers. No matter how you look at it, this looks bad for the Tuna.

Vincent Jackson, WR, San Diego: Looks like you should've believed A.J. Smith, Vincent. The Chargers have moved on, while you ... well, you're going to miss the next six games. You could have played one year at $3.268 million, but, no, you had a better idea. You refused to sign the tender, with this year's contract dropping to $583,000 on June 15. Now you just sit and wait for something, anything, to happen -- only nothing does. Congratulations on a brilliant career move.

Paul Allen, owner, Seattle: He's the poor sap on the hook for that $7 million guarantee that T.J. Houshmandzadeh pulls down this season. Guess that's what happens when you change coaches and front offices at the same time.

And somewhere in between

Sam Bradford, QB, St. Louis: Despite coach Steve Spagnuolo's waffling, there was never a doubt Bradford would open the season as the starter. I mean, really ... A.J. Feely or Bradford? Rewind the videos to Bradford's last two starts and tell me why anyone would think he would sit. So Bradford takes over a team that won one game last season, scored fewer points than anyone and just lost its top wide receiver. If I'm Bradford, I'm happy to take the ball but don't know that I might not prefer going the Carson Palmer route and wait a year on my next job.

Two logical moves that won't happen

Leinart to Seattle: It makes sense, but sometimes what seems logical doesn't always work out -- and this is one of those instances. The Seahawks are set at quarterback and have invested a lot of money in the position. So while Carroll coached Leinart at USC ... while the Seahawks have two quarterbacks ... and while backup Charlie Whitehurst hasn't exactly been lights-out this summer ... Seattle isn't interested. Bottom line: Don't look for a Leinart-Carroll reunion.

Houshmandzadeh to Minnesota: A year ago, the Vikings were hot to sign the guy ... but he wound up in Seattle, with Minnesota shocked to have lost out. Now, he's free to return, only the Vikings insist they're not interested. Huh? Having him back would seem to make sense, especially with Javon Walker out of the picture and Sidney Rice laid up for half the season, but the truth of the matter is that Houshmandzadeh can't run. He still has the hands but speed? People in Seattle say you could time him with an hour glass. Uh-oh.

And one that should

Jarvis Green to New England: He played there last year, so he knows the staff and he knows the system. Plus, he didn't burn any bridges when he left. So why not return? The Patriots need defensive linemen, and Green picks up where he left off. Remember, New England lost Ty Warren for the season with a hip injury and cut defensive tackle Damione Lewis, and while Green isn't the second coming of Richard Seymour he is better than some of the guys in the Patriots' rotation.


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