View Full Version : PFW Whispers March 8, 2008

03-09-2008, 12:22 PM
Pro Football Weekly
March 8, 2008

* Our Seahawks sources tell us the team never seriously considered signing ex-Falcons TE Alge Crumpler, who paid a visit to Seattle before eventually signing with the Titans. In addition to not having enough salary-cap space to make Crumpler the type of offer he was looking for, we hear the team had serious concerns about the condition of Crumpler?s knee, which limited him in Atlanta this past season.

* The Saints have a logjam of middle linebackers trying to return from injury following the additions of Jonathan Vilma, acquired in a trade with the Jets, and the signing of UFA Dan Morgan. Mark Simoneau, last year?s starter in the middle, was re-signed as well. However, if Morgan and Vilma can stay healthy, New Orleans will find a way to get both Pro Bowlers on the field, with Morgan most likely shifting to the weak side to share time with Scott Shanle.

* It?s not out of the question that Eagles CB Lito Sheppard could return to the team. Philadelphia has received a lot of offers for the unhappy cornerback and is said to be boiling them down in an effort to find the best deal. That said, the team?s approach this offseason has been to add useful players, and if the right deal doesn?t come along the Eagles could keep Sheppard for one year and worry about his status after this season.

* The Broncos? linebacker corps is beginning to take shape, thanks to the addition of two free-agent signings ? Lions UFA Boss Bailey and Seahawks UFA Niko Koutouvides. Word is D.J. Williams will move from the middle to the weak side and Bailey, the younger brother of Broncos Pro Bowl CB Champ Bailey, will take over on the strong side. That leaves Koutouvides, who made most of his contributions for Seattle on special teams, in the middle. However, while Williams and Bailey are entrenched as starters, Koutouvides could still get beaten out for the starting job by another veteran or rookie.

* The Bengals signed DE Antwan Odom for less money than it was going to take to bring back Justin Smith, and Odom had four times as many sacks as Smith did a season ago. So it?s easy to see why Cincinnati likes the signing. However, there are some in Tennessee who wonder if Odom is ready to deal with the extra attention he?s going to receive now that he has become one of the Bengals? highest-profile defensive players.

* Could longtime Broncos PK Jason Elam be kicking for the Chiefs in 2008? It appears so. Word is the Chiefs, whose placekicking was lousy in 2007, are seriously considering offering Elam, an unrestricted free agent, the type of money that would be difficult for him to turn down.

* Have the Redskins cooled on WR D.J. Hackett? The market for the free-agent receiver has been colder than many expected, and even the WR-needy Redskins and head coach Jim Zorn ? who coached Hackett in Seattle ? appear to be leaning in other directions right now, though we hear that could change.

* After failing to deal DT Dewayne Robertson to the Bengals, the Jets continue to harbor hope that they can find a willing partner to obtain his services. It might be difficult to do, seeing as how his bum knee continues to raise concerns for would-be suitors.

* Our Packers sources tell us that, even before Brett Favre announced his retirement, the team had its eye on UFA QB Quinn Gray of the Jaguars, who is now being seriously considered for the backup job behind Aaron Rodgers, among numerous other possibilities via free agency or trade.

* We hear the Rams would really like some insurance at the CB position because of concerns about the long-term status of starting CB Fakhir Brown. Brown missed four games at the start of the 2007 season for violating the NFL?s substance-abuse policy and is one more mishap away from facing a one-year suspension. Team insiders tell us the Rams were very interested in free-agent CBs Jacques Reeves and Drayton Florence, before they signed with other teams, and are one of about 15 teams that have recently looked into the availability of Eagles CB Lito Sheppard.

* Our Niners sources are in agreement that the four-year contract extension given to versatile third-year RB Michael Robinson was a smart move. While he remains on a learning curve as a runner, Robinson has become one of the team?s better special-teams players and has great potential as an emerging team leader. The former Penn State quarterback is also tailor-made for the kind of trick plays new Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz has been known to feature on occasion.

* We hear the Seahawks have only just begun to revamp the tight-end position with the acquisition of free agent Jeb Putzier, who caught just six passes for the Texans last season. In the best-case scenario, team insiders tell us the Seahawks envision Putzier as a much more dependable No. 3 tight end than Bennie Joppru, who, according to one source, was ?just dreadful? last season. Word is the team is more than willing to live with Will Heller as the No. 2 tight end, but considers finding an upgrade via the draft or free agency from disappointing 2007 starter Marcus Pollard a top priority.

*We hear the Cardinals have an interest in bringing back Tim Hasselbeck to compete for the No. 3 QB job with either a late-round draft pick or a rookie free agent. As for Tim Rattay, word is he?s probably out of the picture.

* In dire need of O-line help, we hear Bears head coach Lovie Smith is intrigued by Boise State junior OT Ryan Clady as an option with the 14th overall pick in the 2008 draft and is expected to give Clady a private workout in Boise, Idaho, some time early this coming week.

* We hear that it does not appear the Texans are going to push to re-sign RB Ron Dayne. Houston has interest in ex-Buccaneers and Falcons RB Warrick Dunn.

* The way we hear it, there was some surprise about the Texans not signing Dolphins unrestricted OG-C Rex Hadnot during his recent visit to Houston given Hadnot?s local ties, experience (55 career starts) and the team?s need at both positions.

*The signing of Ravens ST Brendon Ayanbadejo fits Baltimore?s free-agency blueprint: He came at an affordable price, and he upgrades the special-teams coverage units ? a group near and dear to the heart of new head coach John Harbaugh, who spent nine years coaching the Eagles? special teams.

* On the surface, the Titans? interest in Cowboys RB Julius Jones was surprising: The Titans have a starting runner in LenDale White, and Jones was regarded as the top unrestricted free-agent back left on the market. Although Jones signed with Seattle, the Titans still might sign a veteran to keep them from having to address the position in the draft, and perhaps as early as it has in each of the last two drafts.

* The Lions believe they have done enough in the secondary to move that spot down the totem pole of needs for the draft. In fact, it?s becoming less likely that they will take a defensive back with their first-round pick ? there are more pressing needs at running back, right tackle and defensive end.

* Money appears to be the biggest deterrent at this point for the Giants to be interested in working out a deal with the Falcons for CB DeAngelo Hall. They remain interested in potentially trading for him and don?t appear too concerned with what they might have to give up. It?s the contract situation that bothers them; Hall comes with baggage despite his talent, and investing a major financial commitment to him is risky in the team?s eyes.

* The Raiders? signing of S Gibril Wilson for six years, $39 million was one of the many staggering contracts they?ve doled out during free agency, but our source in Oakland said it was a vital addition because Wilson is the solid tackler in the secondary the team so badly needed.

* After dropping a bombshell at the Scouting Combine last month, saying he didn?t feel wanted and that he had been stabbed in the back by the team, Falcons CB DeAngelo Hall has quieted his trade demands, although his wish to go elsewhere remains. We hear a conversation that head coach Mike Smith had with Hall may have convinced the four-year veteran that venting to the media wouldn?t help his case and that the team would do what it could to accommodate his request.

* Don?t expect the Jaguars to spend any time bemoaning the loss of DT Marcus Stroud. Word is the team loved what they saw in 2007 from Rob Meier, who was one of the unheralded stars of their campaign. The team also thinks highly of second-year man Derek Landri, who came on strong toward the end of the season and should play a prominent role in the DT rotation.

* A team insider told us that if the season opened tomorrow, the Bills? starting LB corps would be free-agent addition Kawika Mitchell on the weak side, Paul Posluszny in the middle and Angelo Crowell on the strong side. However, 2007 starters Keith Ellison and John DiGiorgio have both gained the confidence of the coaches and will see significant minutes.

* We hear the Chiefs are taking a good look at free-agent OGs Jake Scott and Rex Hadnot. Both have been told by their old clubs ? the Colts and Dolphins, respectively ? that they aren?t in the teams? future plans. However, with as pressing a concern as the offensive line is, it?s surprising that the Chiefs aren?t taking a more aggressive approach on the matter.

The Patriots added three veteran defensive backs to their roster in the last week ? a clear indication that they realize the secondary is a serious area of concern. But all of the acquisitions come with injury or performance-related red flags. It?s looking more and more like a few impact DBs for the Pats in 2008 will come via the draft.