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Old 06-13-2005, 01:15 AM   #41
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Default Re: News Around the NFL

AP reports the smart money is on the Pittsburgh Steelers's doing the right thing and signing WR Hines Ward to a pricey contract extension right around the time training camp opens. How do we know that? Because the Rooney family indicated that Ward is a priority and Steelers ownership almost always does the right thing. But it's not as if the negotiations are surging ahead yet. "The Steelers do things at their pace and, when they are ready, I'm confident we'll get it done," agent Eugene Parker said. In the meantime, at a period when there are a lot of wide receivers skipping offseason practices because they are seeking new contracts, Ward is typically unflappable. "My performance will take care of my contract," said Ward, who is scheduled to earn $1.7 million in 2005. That said, Ward recently took out a $5 million injury protection insurance policy.

AP reports the agent for Cincinnati Bengals OT Willie Anderson, who is second on the club's list in years of continuous service, met with Cincinnati officials last week to propose an extension for his client. In the wake of the deals signed by OT Orlando Pace (St. Louis), OT Walter Jones (Seattle), OT Ryan Diem (Indianapolis), OT Jonas Jennings (San Francisco) and OT Kareem McKenzie (New York Giants) this offseason, agent Terry Bolar is seeking similarly big dollars for Anderson, a nine-year veteran who has played his entire career in Cincinnati. But there doesn't figure to be a quick resolution to this negotiation. Anderson is still rehabilitating from offseason knee surgery and isn't scheduled to get onto the field until training camp. Given that Anderson turns 30 next month, the Bengals are inclined to wait until camp, and then assess his recovery. Plus Anderson has two years remaining on his current contract, at base salaries of $3.85 million for 2005 and $4.75 million for 2006 and Cincinnati doesn't usually discuss an extension with a player who has more than one year on his deal. Bolar, who is looking for a five-year extension that would take Anderson through the 20ll campaign, when he would be 36 years old, makes some good points: Anderson has been a Pro Bowl player and an All-Pro, no small feats in Cincinnati, and is a guy who has embraced a franchise some peers have shunned. Signing Anderson to a long extension, in essence making him a Bengal for life, would send a positive message to some of the club's younger players. For now, though, Bengals officials aren't biting on the five-year model. They have floated a three-year deal with guaranteed money in the $10 million range (not exactly what Bolar had in mind, but still a positive starting point), and are likely to stick to an offer in that area.

AP reports the Carolina Panthers made one of the first big moves for the future by locking up S Mike Minter to a four-year, $10 million extension that will keep him with the team through the 2009 season. Minter, 31, was scheduled to be a free agent after the season. With the selection of Georgia S Thomas Davis, there was some question whether the Panthers would make an effort to re-sign him. But in the Panthers' eyes, Minter is one of the defensive leaders and they had no plans of letting him go. In signing roster and option bonuses, Minter received $5.2 million. He was scheduled to have a base salary of $4 million. The way this contract is structured, the Panthers will have a significant cap savings from the $5.943 million cap number they currently have on the books. Minter is the first future free agent to sign an extension. There have been extensive talks with LB Dan Morgan and LB Will Witherspoon.

AP reports Minnesota Vikings HC Mike Tice believes the team needs more depth at the position in the wake of RB Onterrio Smith's year-long suspension. Having gone through a series of practices shorthanded at running back has convinced Tice a personnel move needs to be made, certainly before training camp begins. "We'll look at some other guys," he said. "It's so hard to find someone who can come in and help you win at this point. We're not going to go trade for a running back. The guys we have all can play. [But] I don't know that there is any chance in heck we can go to camp with the numbers we have. We need to bring another guy in. Whether it's a guy to take reps off of players we have that can play, or if it's a guy who can give us something return-wise, we'll look at that." Tice added that he is not giving up on Smith. "The most important thing with Onterrio is he and his family and us -- his extended family -- have identified that he needs to go and take care of some things," said Tice in his first comments following Smith's season-long suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. "And we'll be there to support him and looking forward to having him back in a year, that much more mature and that much smarter." Tice took exception to suggestions that the team would be better off cutting all ties with Smith. "I don't understand when it's written by people that everything should be punishment and wash your hands of people," Tice said. "I don't think anybody who writes those things would do that to their children. I certainly would not do that with my children or my extended children."

AP reports Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin, due to make $380,000 and $460,000 in the next two years, has said he will report to training camp July 31 in Flagstaff, new contract or not. The Cardinals and agent Drew Rosenhaus have discussed extensions from four to six years, and the team has offered Boldin a contract that includes a guarantee of between $8 million and $10 million in signing bonuses.

AP reports the Patriots coaches have seen nothing but positive things from WR David Terrell, who wore out his welcome after four years in Chicago and was repeatedly dogged by maturity concerns. ``I like a lot of things about David,'' HC Bill Belichick [news] said. ``He works hard, he's very conscientious. He wants to know what to do, how to do it. He hasn't really missed anything since the day he got here.He's done everything he's supposed to do - all workouts and everything. And he's done a lot more. I think football is really important to him. And I think he takes a lot of pride in what he does, and I have a lot respect for that.'' On the field, Terrell's impact has yet to be determined. While Terrell (6-foot-3) has been noticeable as a size target amid the Pats' sea of undersized receivers, he appears to lack much of the quickness and explosion that players like WR Deion Branch and WR Troy Brown possess. Still, QB Tom Brady has looked comfortable hooking up with his former Michigan teammate on several plays in the back of the end zone. The hope is that Terrell's presence will allow Brady to utilize a heretofore unseen weapon in the playbook: the fade pass. ``I don't think there is anything we wouldn't want to do if we felt like it was productive,'' Belichick said. ``I'm all for it. Fades. Curly-ques. Slants. Gos. Ins. Outs. I wouldn't discriminate on any of those routes.'' Patriots second-year WR P.K. Sam made a nice jumping catch on a pass from QB Tom Brady in the back of the end zone in the drill during Friday's minicamp practice, although NFL Europe intern official Rodney Harrison ruled the play out of bounds from his viewpoint beneath the uprights. OT Matt Light, OG Russ Hochstein, C Dan Koppen, OG Stephen Neal and OT Tom Ashworth manned the first offensive line during first team offensive drills on Friday. Rookies Logan Mankins and Nick Kaczur worked at left tackle and left guard, respectively, with the second unit.
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