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Old 03-22-2008, 01:41 PM   #1
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Default PFW Whispers March 22, 2008

March 22, 2008

*WR Matt Jones can all but kiss Jacksonville goodbye. That’s what one team insider told us regarding the hugely disappointing 2005 first-rounder. The insider said the Jags will likely keep him around for training camp but that he would have to have a lights-out showing in camp to stick on the roster. The offseason acquisitions of Jerry
Porter and Troy Williamson have lessened the Jags’ need at receiver.

*The Colts are in need of another tight end. Following the departure of Ben Utecht to Cincinnati — the Colts opted not to match the Bengals' offer sheet to the restricted free agent — Indy is left with a void for a second tight end in twin-TE alignments opposite entrenched starter Dallas Clark. The addition is likely coming via the draft.

*That the Titans passed on UFA WRs D.J. Hackett and Bryant Johnson — both of whom signed short-term contracts — can be taken as an indication the club is willing to go into the ’08 season with what it has now at wide receiver, the way we hear it. The Titans re-signed Justin Gage before the start of free agency and signed veteran WR Justin McCareins, who began his career in Tennessee, in March.

*The Titans are said to be looking at ex-Lions pass-rush specialist Kalimba Edwards, but there are some who think the team needs to add one more run-stuffing presence at the position to complement the newly added Jevon Kearse.

*The Texans wanted to re-sign UFA SLB Danny Clark, but he signed with the Giants. However, they did sign former Browns UFA LB Chaun Thompson, who, like Clark, is a key contributor on special teams. Thompson will get a shot at competing for the starting job on the strong side.

*OT Kwame Harris has been viewed largely as a disappointment, having never lived up to expectations created after the 49ers drafted him 26th overall in 2003. Our sources in Oakland, however, think he could be a much more effective player with the Raiders, who recently signed him to a three-year, $16 million deal. We’re told Harris’ size (6-foot-7, 322 pounds) and athleticism could be a good fit in Oakland, where head coach Lane Kiffin oversaw a very successful transition to a new blocking scheme last season.

*Broncos C Casey Wiegmann, who spent the past seven seasons with the Chiefs, has started every game since 2001, but his streak could come to a close this season. Wiegmann, who will turn 35 in July, signed a two-year deal with Denver this week and will open training camp as C Tom Nalen’s backup.

*The Chiefs certainly want to get stouter at defensive tackle, though it’s not as pressing a concern as it seems. Word is the team likes what it sees in second-year DT Tank Tyler, who made little impact in his rookie season. Likewise, second-year DL Turk McBride has the versatility to play off the edge and in the middle, and he also holds promise of being a key defensive cog.

*The Bills starting FS position is up for grabs. Ko Simpson, the 2006 starter who sat out 2007 with a broken ankle, is the slight favorite over converted WR George Wilson, but recently re-signed Bryan Scott is also in the mix. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Bills add another safety to the competition via the draft.

*Despite his dynamic ability, it’s likely that Patriots CB Ellis Hobbs won’t be returning kickoffs next season. Hobbs, who’s coming off shoulder and groin injuries, is the best of a weak CB corps, and the Pats can ill afford to risk the possibility of his succumbing to injuries on special teams. WR Chad Jackson is a leading candidate to assume KR duties.

*Word out of Miami is that Michigan QB Chad Henne is emerging as the favorite to be the Dolphins’ first of two second-round selections. Henne has already had multiple meetings with team representatives, and more are scheduled. Boston College QB Matt Ryan remains in the mix for the No. 1 overall slot, but he’s losing momentum in favor of Michigan OT Jake Long and Virginia DE-OLB Chris Long.

*We hear that at least part of the reason the Jets are reluctant to meet WR Laveranues Coles’ demand for a long-term extension is the inevitability that fellow starting WR Jerricho Cotchery would expect similar treatment. Cotchery is arguably the team’s premier offensive player.

*The way we hear it, if the Browns sign another free agent, it will likely be a linebacker. The team has reportedly hosted ex-Broncos ILB Al Wilson and Steelers UFA OLB Clark Haggans.

*We’re told that Browns DL Shaun Smith may not start now that Corey Williams and Shaun Rogers have been added to the roster, but Smith looks to be one of the more integral parts of the line all the same. Smith can play either end or nose tackle, and such versatility figures to earn him significant playing time.

*The Bengals’ signing of Colts RFA TE Ben Utecht is an indication the TE position will be used more in the passing game this season. Utecht caught 31 passes for Indianapolis last season; the last time the Bengals had a tight end who caught that many passes was Tony McGee in ’97, when he snagged 34 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns.

*If the Cardinals can somehow finally officially close the deal on the Larry Fitzgerald signing and actually pick up the $8 million-plus in salary-cap savings the new four-year contract is supposed to produce, team sources expect them to quickly start re-upping with useful backup players such as DL Rodney Bailey, safeties Oliver Celestin and Matt Ware and WR/special-teamer Sean Morey, whom they reluctantly had to cut to make room for the signing of LS Nathan Hodel.

*We hear the Rams have expressed some interest in Buccaneers free-agent RB Michael Pittman.

*Word is that Niners OT Jonas Jennings was excused from the start of the team’s offseason program, which began last Monday, because of a serious family issue, and that neither injuries nor communication problems — he’s had his share of both with the Niners — had anything to do with it.

*Our sources in Seattle believe the team suffered another free-agent blow when UFA backup DL Ellis Wyms signed with the Vikings, especially after it had lost DT Cedric Darby, the team’s longtime defensive heart and soul, who signed with the Lions. Wyms was a very useful backup at two positions down the ’07 stretch, and with former first-round pick Marcus Tubbs remaining a major injury risk, Wyms’ departure increases the need for more DT depth.

*There was some sentiment in Seattle for the Seahawks to consider bringing back WR Darrell Jackson, recently cut loose by the Niners. But the way we hear it, Jackson has simply burned too many bridges with GM Tim Ruskell to have a serious shot at returning to Seattle.

*The Cowboys’ two biggest priorities between now and the draft appear to be getting DE Chris Canty and RB Marion Barber, both restricted free agents, signed to long-term contracts. The team would love to get it done and has had several discussions with both parties, but nothing is imminent.

*The only free agent on the market the Redskins are in current contact with is WR Reche Caldwell, their own. Caldwell is soon expected to make a decision on whether to accept a one-year deal and return to Washington or look elsewhere. Other than that, expect the Redskins to stay quiet until the draft.

*The Lions plan on adding at running back, but team sources say they think there’s a place in the rotation for Tatum Bell, who recently said he thinks he can gain 1,300 yards in this new system. That likely won’t happen, but don’t be surprised if Bell gets a dozen carries a game — as he expected going into last season.

*New Vikings S Michael Boulware has a chance to fill the Vikings’ No. 3 safety role. He’s a good special-teamer and a box safety.

*Our Bears sources are surprised the team hasn’t rewarded cost-effective PK Robbie Gould with a well-deserved contract extension by now.

*There’s no denying the fact that Boston College OT Gosder Cherilus is on Bears GM Jerry Angelo’s radar screen. Angelo has seen the 6-6, 315-pound Cherilus up close and personal at least twice this past season — at Notre Dame and in the Champs Sports Bowl vs. Michigan State.

*The word out of Green Bay is that LB Abdul Hodge, who had surgery on both knees last season, has been making excellent progress in his recovery. That said, it very much remains to be seen how well Hodge will hold up in training camp.

*The Falcons’ housecleaning has disposed of most of the remnants from what could end up being known as the Michael Vick era. Atlanta has only four players left from the 2004 team that went to the NFC championship game. MLB Keith Brooking, C Todd McClure, OT Todd Weiner and OG Kynan Forney are the only ones remaining from the club that came within one step of a Super Bowl appearance.

*There were some who took the Saints’ signing of DE Bobby McCray as an indication that DE Charles Grant would move inside to defensive tackle, at least on passing downs next season, to give New Orleans’ pass rush a boost. Our sources say that may have been too far of a leap, but McCray appears to have been penciled in as a pass rusher on nickel downs, regardless of what the team does with Grant.

Last edited by lamberts-lost-tooth; 03-22-2008 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 03-22-2008, 10:02 PM   #2

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Default Re: PFW Whispers March 22, 2008

Originally Posted by lamberts-lost-tooth View Post
*The way we hear it, if the Browns sign another free agent, it will likely be a linebacker. The team has reportedly hosted ex-Broncos ILB Al Wilson and Steelers UFA OLB Clark Haggans.

the broncos actually seem like a good fit for haggans
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Old 03-23-2008, 06:32 AM   #3
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Default Re: PFW Whispers March 22, 2008

I would kind of like to see Hagans stay in the burgh' atleast 1 more year atleast as a depth position.
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