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Old 03-01-2008, 02:44 PM   #1
lamberts-lost-tooth
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Default PFW Whispers March 1, 2008

PFW Whispers March 1, 2008
March 1, 2008


*Word is many around the league were stunned after the Raiders gave Tommy Kelly the largest contract ever for a defensive tackle. Kelly, who agreed to a seven-year, $50.5 million deal, was seen as damaged goods, having suffered a torn ACL that limited him to seven games in 2007. Yet, Oakland clearly valued his versatility — he can play tackle or defensive end. Reports said the Broncos and Saints were interested in Kelly, who had 30 tackles and one sack last season, before he re-upped with Oakland.

*Our source in Denver said it was “surprising” that the Broncos and PK Jason Elam had yet to reach an agreement on a contract for next season. We hear Elam is seeking a deal worth $3 million per season, which would place him among the highest-paid kickers in the league, but Denver was not yet willing to sign off on that much of a cap hit.

*When some teams talk about wanting to get younger, it’s more of a general concept. But when the Chiefs have talked about it, they actually mean it. Following the release of OL John Welbourn, the Chiefs have severed ties with WR Eddie Kennison and CB Ty Law, both of whom were well past their prime and seen as something of dead weight.

*The Bills’ release of OLB Coy Wire came as a surprise to those close to the club. Wire, a tweener linebacker-safety, was a valuable reserve who played significant minutes for an injury-depleted LB corps in 2007. He also wasn’t attached to a high cap number. However, Friday’s signing of former Giants OLB Kawika Mitchell slightly lessens the dubiousness of the move.

*Just because Tedy Bruschi re-signed with the Patriots doesn’t mean inside linebacker isn’t a pressing concern in Foxborough. Bruschi wasn’t nearly the playmaker last season that he was throughout much of his career, and the Pats want to groom at least one new linebacker for the spot.

*Between adding the Cowboys’ massive DT Jason Ferguson and meeting with the Cardinals’ DE-OLB hybrid Calvin Pace, the Dolphins have made it abundantly clear that they intend to play a 3-4 defense in 2008. Ferguson, who’s coming off a torn right biceps, will step into the NT spot vacated by Keith Traylor. That being said, Pace may be a bit too pricey for the Dolphins, considering their many needs. Joey Porter and Jason Taylor are at least capable, if not special, outside linebackers, and Pace proved last year that he’s best-suited playing on the second level.

*The Dolphins’ addition of OG Justin Smiley is a significant upgrade to a moribund offensive line, though he doesn’t come without concerns. A shoulder injury ended his 2007 season prematurely, and his rehabilitation continues to be very much a work in progress. But the former second-round pick is said to have enough upside to mitigate the drawbacks. He’s an outstanding pulling guard, and pairing him with O-line guru Tony Sparano could help him realize his potential.

*Despite the trade of Jonathan Vilma to New Orleans, don’t expect the Jets to scour the ILB free-agent list. Second-year ILB David Harris is an absolute beast, and Eric Barton is a suitable short-term option. The far bigger need is at outside linebacker.

*As it stands, Chris Kemoeatu is the favorite to be the starting left guard in Pittsburgh if, as expected, Alan Faneca departs. But a source close to the club notes that’s a decision that’s hardly a slam dunk and could easily change if the Steelers make a move in free agency or in the draft.

*The Steelers are expected to sign or draft a kick returner to challenge Willie Reid in the wake of Allen Rossum’s release. Ex-Eagle Jeremy Bloom is also in the mix.

*The Browns would like to bring back reserve LB Chaun Thompson, but general manager Phil Savage expects the unrestricted free agent to test the market. “He’s in a tough spot, because he’s been a backup for us,” Savage recently said. “I think he probably feels it’s at least worth to maybe check and see if there are some teams out there that have more interest in him than being a backup and special-teams player.”

*The Colts surprised nobody by issuing tenders to five of their restricted free agents. Their motif is to keep the players already on their roster without having to dip into the free-agent pool throughout the league. Four of the players — S Matt Giordano, DT Darrell Reid, TE Ben Utecht and TE Bryan Fletcher — are looked on primarily as backup or rotation players. OG Dylan Gandy has a decent shot at a starting gig, considering that Jake Scott is almost certain to be playing elsewhere in 2008.

*Of their two headlining WR acquisitions of the past week, the Jaguars harbor greater hope for Jerry Porter than they do for Troy Williamson. Williamson had disappointed throughout his career in Minnesota, while Porter, a former Raider, has proven to be a very productive receiver when healthy and not at odds with the coaching staff.

*What does the Eagles’ signing of Asante Samuel do for Sheldon Brown and Lito Sheppard? We hear that the team will try to trade Sheppard — his contract ends after the 2009 season and he wants another extension — but moving Brown to safety isn’t happening just yet. The team isn’t convinced that Joselio Hanson is ready for full-time duty at cornerback.

*Just one week ago, Falcons coach Mike Smith said he thought having a tandem of Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood returning to Atlanta’s backfield would make for “a good mixture.” However, it appears the Falcons have interest in free-agent RB Michael Turner, formerly of the Chargers. If the Falcons obtain Turner, we hear Dunn will likely be released.

*We hear the Saints have not given RB Deuce McAllister any indication that he may be released before he’s due a $1 million roster bonus in March. There were some rumors that McAllister was a strong candidate to get cut, having suffered a torn ACL in two of the past three seasons.

*Free-agent DT Rod Coleman has garnered looks from several teams, but the Panthers may be the most-interested potential suitor. Carolina needs to add depth to its DT corps, following the trade of Kris Jenkins to the Jets. If healthy, Coleman would be a shrewd, perhaps inexpensive, addition.

*How much has Cardinals unrestricted free-agent OLB Calvin Pace’s market value gone up after his surprisingly strong 2007 campaign? Rumblings at the NFL Scouting Combine suggested Pace could cut a deal that ends up putting about $15 million in guaranteed money in his pocket.

*A check-up early in the week showed that Rams DE Leonard Little, who missed the final nine games last season due to a toe injury that required surgery, is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation.

*There have been rumblings in the Bay Area that the Niners might consider bringing back WR Antonio Bryant, whose off-the-field issues resulted in a short stay after having been signed as a free agent a few seasons ago. But we hear that, not only would Bryant have to show he can mentally handle being in the league again, he also would have to mend fences with QB Alex Smith. Team sources tell us the two of them were like oil and water.

*Don’t look for the Seahawks to re-sign unrestricted free-agent backup LB Kevin Bentley. Bentley’s agent, Kenneth Zuckerman, made it clear at the Scouting Combine that his client wants an opportunity to start, and that’s not going to happen any time soon in Seattle with Julian Peterson, Lofa Tatupu and Leroy Hill comprising one of the league’s strongest starting units.

*The numbers on new Seahawks OG Mike Wahle’s contract: We hear the deal is worth $20 million, with a $3.5 million signing bonus and $5.5 million in guaranteed money.

*With Jeff Robinson not expected to be retained, our Seahawks sources tell us there will be an open competition in training camp for the long-snapper’s job between a veteran free agent and an undrafted college player.

*Bears insiders consider it highly unlikely that unrestricted free-agent LB/special-teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo will re-sign with the team after he indicated last week that he wanted to play on a team that figures to give him more playing time at linebacker. The Bears would certainly miss Ayanbadejo’s special-teams acumen, but daily team observers believe players such as Nick Roach, Rod Wilson and Israel Idonije all have what it takes to replace Ayanbadejo as the Bears’ special-teams standout.

*Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, speaking at the Combine about 2007 first-round pick Justin Harrell, who will be depended on more with the team having traded fellow DT Corey Williams to Cleveland: “Justin missed a lot of time after the draft. He wasn’t really able to go through the OTAs, and we projected him there in training camp a little bit. He needs a full offseason, starting number one in the weight room March 17, and the individual time he’ll have with his coaches. We look for him to contribute.”
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