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|03-15-2009, 04:10 PM||#1|
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Pro Football Weekly Whispers March 15, 2009
Pro Football Weekly
Whispers — league wrap-up
March 15, 2009
While the Raiders passed on bringing in one receiver who comes with baggage — namely, Terrell Owens — they have decided to keep another who has had his character questioned. Oakland considered cutting much-maligned WR Javon Walker but ended up restructuring his contract to keep him around, instead. Despite a disastrous first season with the team — 15 catches for 196 yards and one touchdown in eight games — owner Al Davis, sources say, has a soft spot for Walker and players like him, who have had their faculties questioned. Davis isn’t willing to quit on Walker yet.
The Chargers’ signing of LB Kevin Burnett this past week may mean the team will not look to take a linebacker with its first-round pick this April, a position many thought the club would target. The Bolts are in need of a starter at inside linebacker next to Stephen Cooper, and Burnett has experience playing in the 3-4 defense from his days in Dallas. That could give him the edge to step right into the starting lineup, allowing San Diego to address one of its other needs — like offensive line — with the 16th overall selection.
It might not be the sexiest position battle in the NFL, but if you’re looking for a full-throttle competition lurking beneath the radar, look no further than to the Bills’ cornerbacks. Among the always solid Terrence McGee, second-year standout Leodis McKelvin, Ashton Youboty — who was an early-season Most Improved Player candidate in 2008 before being derailed by injury — and free-agent find Drayton Florence, the competition will be fierce in the CB pecking order.
Greg Lewis looks like he may break in half with one good shot to the torso, but the Patriots are confident he has the goods to be a great No. 3 receiver, in part because of one remarkable quality: his hands. Sources we’ve spoken to in Philadelphia say Lewis, who was traded to New England last week, has some of best hands they’ve ever seen, which more than makes up for his slight build and average speed.
Though the Ravens have not completely ruled out the re-signing of UFA PK Matt Stover, we’re hearing he is a long shot to be back next season. Were the Ravens to re-sign Stover, they would likely also have to carry a kickoff specialist on the roster, and the club’s preference is to use devote only one roster spot to the position. This has opened the door for second-year PK Steven Hauschka to capture the job. Hauschka handled kickoffs for much of last season, averaging 65.9 yards. Also, he hit 1-of-2 field goals, with his only made attempt coming from 54 yards. Stover, 41, hit 27-of-33 field-goal attempts last season, with his longest success coming from 47 yards.
A source close to the Steelers said that although they failed to tender a contract to restricted free-agent S Anthony Smith and he has since moved on to Green Bay, the club hadn’t completely given up on him despite three generally disappointing seasons in Pittsburgh. However, by not tendering the former third-round pick a contract, the Steelers did save some money vs. the salary cap and also perhaps paved the way for young S Ryan Mundy to have a role on defense next season.
New Jaguars general manager Gene Smith has stressed two things more than anything else since his appointment. (1) He wants to build through the draft rather than free agency. (2) Character is paramount. By signing 34-year-old OLT Tra Thomas, Smith has already waned a bit on his draft declaration, but that can be justified due to the gravity of the team’s OT deficiency. As far as character is concerned, Smith almost has to pull the plug on legally troubled WR Matt Jones for him to stick to his stated principles. Should he give Jones another chance, Smith’s running an early risk of losing credibility.
We hear the Rams would love to bring back free-agent QB Gus Frerotte as the backup behind Marc Bulger. Frerotte, who previously backed up Bulger under Scott Linehan in 2006 and ’07, wasn’t very pretty in his 11 starts with the Vikings last season. But it’s worth noting that Minnesota was 8-3 in those games. In addition, the terminology in Minnesota’s offense is apparently quite similar to what the Rams plan to use under new offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Another free-agent option is Jeff Garcia, but our sources insist that the Rams have no interest in pursuing him.
While the contract concerns of Cardinals heavyweights Karlos Dansby, Adrian Wilson and Anquan Boldin have been getting a lot more notice, team insiders tell us another under-the-radar concern worth noting is the salary situation of starting FS Antrel Rolle. With escalator clauses in Rolle’s contract reportedly increasing his salary into the $8 million range by 2010, word is the team recognizes the need to rework his deal before then.
So what’s really up with veteran Niners WR Isaac Bruce, who is rumored to be seriously considering retirement? Because he’s notoriously evasive with the media, it’s been hard for team insiders to get a clear read on Bruce’s actual intentions. The one thing they do know, though, is that the team would like Bruce to make up his mind quickly. “Isaac probably didn’t like Mike Martz leaving,” one team insider speculated. “And the change to a more run-oriented offense could be another probable turnoff.”
We hear the Niners do not consider newly acquired free-agent QB Damon Huard a serious contender for the starting job, which should be a contest between Shaun Hill and Alex Smith. “He’s strictly an upgrade from (2008 No. 3 QB) Jamie Martin who’s (three) years younger,” one team source told PFW. “No more, no less.”
It would appear the Niners’ current interest in cornerbacks — free agents Karl Paymah and Eric Green (before he signed with Miami) recently paid the team visits — could be an indication that they aren’t overly interested in re-signing UFA CB Donald Strickland.
The Redskins were aware of the two misdemeanor traffic charges that DT Albert Haynesworth was indicted on before they signed him, we hear, and that the team felt — and still feels — confident that he should be able to get past this incident without too much trouble or serious jail time.
The Cowboys have no way of knowing who and what will be available when they are on the clock with their first draft pick, No. 51 overall. But we hear there’s a decent chance they could be focusing on a defensive lineman, should the right player be available. The Cowboys filled a need by signing DE Igor Olshansky, who should be the favorite to fill Chris Canty’s vacated DRE spot, but there are depth issues at every spot and the team has yet to re-sign DE Marcus Spears, whose contract ends after this coming season.
As the second wave of free agency takes form, it appears that the Eagles and Vikings — who essentially run the same offense — are among the top teams interested in Seahawks FB Leonard Weaver. Although Weaver is not considered an elite blocker, his running and receiving abilities appear to be a great fit in most West Coast schemes.
With the Packers thinking Mark Tauscher probably won’t be ready to play again until the 2009 halfway point following his mid-January knee surgery, team sources tell us the free-agent tackle remains a long shot to be re-signed. As for the top candidate to possibly replace Tauscher as the starting right tackle, we hear it probably no longer is second-year pro Breno Giacomini, who is expected to miss a substantial portion of the team’s offseason program after undergoing arthroscopic ankle surgery Feb. 11. Word is the most likely scenario could be moving either Daryn Colledge, the starting left guard last season, or second-year pro Josh Sitton outside.
The Bucs have a crowd at tight end following the acquisition of Kellen Winslow and the re-signing of Jerramy Stevens. Tampa has two other tight ends, John Gilmore and Alex Smith, under contract, as well, leaving it four deep at the position. Despite a greater level of depth than most teams carry at tight end, sources say the Bucs are likely to keep all four on the roster into next season. Winslow will spend many of his snaps split out wide, and he could function much like a wide receiver in Tampa’s offense, leaving space and a need for more conventional tight ends like Gilmore, Smith and Stevens.
Word out of Tampa is that the recently signed Mike Nugent has the early edge over Matt Bryant in the competition to become the Bucs’ placekicker next season. GM Mark Dominik wanted to get some fresher legs at the position, and Nugent, 27, is more than six years younger than Bryant, who’ll turn 34 in May. Bryant, who hasn’t made a kick longer than 49 yards since 2006, doesn’t have the leg strength he used to, giving his teammate an opening if Nugent can rebound after suffering through a strained thigh muscle for much of last season.
|03-15-2009, 04:25 PM||#2|
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Re: Pro Football Weekly Whispers March 15, 2009
i am rly high on ryan mundy getting some playing time next yr.. i thought he could of been a contributor this yr if he did not get hurt
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|03-15-2009, 07:33 PM||#3|
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Re: Pro Football Weekly Whispers March 15, 2009
I too like mundy and think he will be ready to step up
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