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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

NFL Team Needs in Free Agency

AFC SOUTH

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LBs Rocky Boiman, Cato June and Rob Morris; CB Nick Harper; DT Dan Klecko; S Mike Doss; WRs Aaron Moorehead, Ricky Proehl and Terrence Wilkins; RBs Dominic Rhodes and James Mungro.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Jason David; LB Gilbert Gardner; Gs Jake Scott and Ryan Lilja; DEs Josh Thomas and Bo Schobel; QB Jim Sorgi; TE Ben Utecht.

NEEDS: DE Dwight Freeney was made a franchise player. The Colts, as usual, are not expected to be a big player in free agency. But they're looking to solidify several spots. Both starting cornerbacks, David and Harper, and both starting guards, Lilja and Scott, could be signed away, although only Harper is unrestricted. Biggest need will be upgrade at outside linebacker, and they may need more than one OLB if former Pro Bowler June leaves. Also look for another running back if Rhodes gets a chance to start somewhere else.

TENNESSEE TITANS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WRs Drew Bennett and Bobby Wade; DTs Robaire Smith and Rien Long; QB Kerry Collins; S Donnie Nickey; RB Chris Brown; OT Seth Wand; LB Peter Sirmon.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Jacob Bell; Cs Justin Geisinger and Eugene Amano; LBs Robert Reynolds and Colby Bockwoldt; TEs Ben Hartsock and Casey Cramer; DTs Randy Starks and Tony Brown.

NEEDS: Cornerback already was high on the list before Adam "Pacman" Jones' recent involvement in a Las Vegas melee that resulted in a triple shooting. Now the Titans may have to overspend -- a lot -- to grab a top cornerback in case Jones isn't available or they finally lose patience and release or trade him. A defensive end to ease pressure on Kyle Vanden Bosch would help, and they need to re-sign Smith. Receiver is the other top focus. Bennett is ready to see how much money a once undrafted free agent can earn, and David Givens, a free agent signee last March, is recovering from a serious knee injury.

JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Kyle Brady; LB Tony Gilbert; FS Deon Grant; WR Cortez Hankton; RB LaBrandon Toefield; DE Marcellus Wiley; DT Tony Williams.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Ahmad Carroll; LB Jorge Cordova; QB Quinn Gray; TE Brian Jones; DEs Bobby McCray and Elton Patterson; PK Josh Scobee; WR Ernest Wilford.

NEEDS: Biggest need is at safety because Grant is a free agent and Donovin Darius is recovering from a leg injury. Jaguars could look at Ken Hamlin of Seattle, Tony Parrish of Dallas or Shaun Williams of Carolina, but they probably won't move as quickly as they did the last two years, when they signed DE Reggie Hayward (2005) and CB Brian Williams (2006) in the opening days of free agency. Team probably will try to retain Gray, McCray, Scobee and Wilford. Also look for Jags to sign a speedy receiver.

HOUSTON TEXANS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Mark Bruener; DEs Antwan Peek and N.D. Kalu; CBs Dexter McCleon and Lewis Sanders; OL Ephraim Salaam; DL Lional Dalton; RBs Ron Dayne and Wali Rainer; P Chad Stanley; T Brad Bedell; LBs Troy Evans and DaShon Polk; DT Cedric Killings; S Michael Stone.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Charlie Adams, LBs Shantee Orr and Charlie Anderson; CBs Von Hutchins and Roc Alexander; S Glenn Earl; FB Vonta Leach.

NEEDS: Entering their sixth season, Texans have yet to find a solid left tackle to protect David Carr, who has been sacked 249 times. Coach Gary Kubiak thought Charles Spencer could fill that role, but the rookie's future is in question because of a broken leg. After passing on Reggie Bush and losing Domanick Williams (formerly Davis) to injury, running game sputtered. With the health of Williams in question, Texans need to address that area. Houston could also use a receiver to take pressure off Pro Bowler Andre Johnson. Last year's No. 1 pick Mario Williams could be helped by addition of another big defensive end to play opposite him.

AFC NORTH

BALTIMORE RAVENS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LBs Adalius Thomas and Tim Johnson; RBs Musa Smith, Ovie Mughelli and Nick Luchey; WR Alex Bannister; DT Aubrayo Franklin: DE Jarret Johnson; OT Tony Pashos; DB Gerome Sapp.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WRs Devard Darling and Clarence Moore; KR B.J. Sams.

NEEDS: If Ravens lose Thomas, they'll need a linebacker to fill his place on the league's top-ranked defense. Baltimore could also find itself short of offensive tackles if Pashos leaves, especially if perennial Pro Bowler Jonathan Ogden retires. Other positions on offensive line need attention after guards Keydrick Vincent and Edwin Mulitalo missed significant time with injuries. Ravens also are looking for a running back with release of Jamal Lewis, although they could re-sign Lewis for less money.

CINCINNATI BENGALS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CBs Tory James and Rashad Bauman; TEs Reggie Kelly and Tony Stewart; QB Anthony Wright; RB Kenny Watson; Ss Anthony Mitchell and Kevin Kaesviharn; LB Marcus Wilkins; WR Kelley Washington; G Eric Steinbach; OL Scott Kooistra; DE Justin Smith.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Shaun Smith; CB Greg Brooks; LBs Caleb Miller and Landon Johnson; OL Stacy Andrews; P Kyle Larson.

NEEDS: Cornerback, where James played poorly last season and is a free agent, while Deltha O'Neal also struggled, is a priority. Linebacker after David Pollack's career has been threatened by neck injury and Odell Thurman is still suspended by NFL. Plus safety, defensive line depth (DT Sam Adams had knee/weight problems), offensive line depth (C Rich Braham has retired, Steinbach is a free agent), and backup quarterback. DE Smith was given team's franchise tag.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: Ss Mike Logan and Tyrone Carter; RB Najeh Davenport; WR Sean Morey; DB Chidi Iwuoma; DE Rodney Bailey; T Barrett Brooks.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RT Max Starks.

NEEDS: With Mike Tomlin replacing Bill Cowher, Steelers' priorities might change. Watch to see if they sign a player or two who fits a 4-3 defense (Tomlin's preferred scheme) rather than 3-4 Steelers have played since early 1980s. Steelers don't have much cap room because every key player is already signed. However, G Alan Faneca, S Troy Polamalu, DE Aaron Smith and LBs Joey Porter and Clark Haggans are in final year of their contracts; all won't return in 2008. C Jeff Hartings' retirement frees up $3.6 million in cap room Steelers could use for replacements for some longtime fixtures. Immediate needs are a new punter to replace Chris Gardocki, a backup RB and another WR.

CLEVELAND BROWNS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Brian Russell; C Hank Fraley; CB Ralph Brown; DEs Nick Eason and Alvin McKinley; Gs Cosey Coleman and Lennie Friedman; WR/KR Dennis Northcutt.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Ethan Kelly; LB Mason Unck; OL Nat Dorsey.

NEEDS: A bunch, with offensive linemen and a shutdown cornerback top priorities. Center LeCharles Bentley will likely miss his second straight season with a knee injury, making it critical the club find someone to anchor its weakest unit. Versatile guard Eric Steinbach is expected to be an early target for the Browns, who will have approximately $30 million to spend. DB Gary Baxter's uncertain future following two torn patellar tendons forces the club to look for alternatives, giving Cleveland native Nate Clements -- the best cornerback on the market -- another bargaining chip. Bringing in a veteran quarterback either through free agency, the draft or a trade, to compete with Charlie Frye and Derek Anderson is a strong possibility.

AFC WEST

SAN DIEGO CHARGERS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Kris Dielman; LB Randall Godfrey; WR Az-Zahir Hakim; OLs Cory Withrow and Leander Jordan; LB Carlos Polk.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Michael Turner; TE Ryan Krause.

NEEDS: It looks like Dielman will test the market, and if he leaves, it will be a big blow to a line that helped spring LaDainian Tomlinson to his MVP season. It wasn't just coincidence that Tomlinson ran a lot to the left side, where Dielman helped open big holes. Bolts have locked up a lot of young talent to long-term deals, though. Chargers also could be in market for a wide receiver, safety and linebackers.

KANSAS CITY


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OL Jordan Black; RB Dee Brown; DTs Ron Edwards, Jimmy Wilkerson and James Reed; LS Kendall Gammon; LB Kawika Mitchell; CB Lenny Walls.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DT Jared Allen; LB Keyaron Fox; WR Sammie Parker; OL Kevin Sampson; CB Benny Sapp; LB Rich Scanlon; PK Lawrence Tynes.

NEEDS: Push up the middle, both on offense and defense. The Chiefs want to play Cover 2 defense, but suffered for lack of any pressure from middle of the line. Left tackle Jordan Black improved in 2006, but is still not good enough to start at the position in the NFL. Right tackle also was a problem.

Both starting cornerbacks are well into their 30s. Wide receiver was a weakness when anybody but Eddie Kennison was the target, and Kennison, too, is past 30.

DENVER BRONCOS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Cooper Carlisle; DT Michael Myers; LB Keith Burns; DE Patrick Chukwurah; DL Kenny Peterson; KR-WR Quincy Morgan

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Louis Green; FB Kyle Johnson; RB Cecil Sapp.

NEEDS: The Broncos need line help on both sides. They lost former No. 1 overall draft pick Courtney Brown to a knee injury in training camp and the pass rush never measured up. They also need to start thinking about safety, where John Lynch and Nick Ferguson are approaching old-timer status in the NFL. And the tragic death of Darrent Williams means they might have to look at cornerback for backups, with Domonique Foxworth moving up to take the starter's job. They also need help at running back, where the duo of Mike Bell and Tatum Bell never clicked, and at wide receiver, where age quickly caught up to Rod Smith, their career receptions leader.

OAKLAND RAIDERS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QBs Aaron Brooks and Marques Tuiasosopo; OLs Langston Walker, Corey Hulsey and Chad Slaughter; DBs Derrick Gibson and Duane Starks; WR Alvis Whitted; LB Grant Irons.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RBs ReShard Lee and Adimchinobe Echemandu; DL Tommy Kelly.

NEEDS: After scoring only 12 offensive TDs last season, Raiders need plenty of help on that side of ball. Even though team is likely to take a QB with the No. 1 pick in draft, Raiders still plan to target a veteran in free agency; Andrew Walter is the only QB on the roster. The most help will be needed on an offensive line that allowed 72 sacks last season and also struggled in the running game. Oakland also could have interest in a RB to share the load with LaMont Jordan and a WR in case the team trades Randy Moss.

AFC EAST

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Troy Brown; TE Daniel Graham; LBs Junior Seau, Tully Banta-Cain, Larry Izzo and Don Davis; FB Heath Evans; RB Patrick Pass; OL Gene Mruczkowski; CB Ray Mickens; QB Vinny Testaverde; Ps Todd Sauerbrun and Ken Walter.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Randall Gay; OL Billy Yates; S Rashad Baker.

NEEDS: Patriots already needed wide receivers last year, and if Brown retires they will need to replace the longtime favorite target of Tom Brady. Also, WR Chad Jackson tore his ACL and might not be back for the opener. Other than Banta-Cain, the three other starting LBs are in their 30s. CB Asante Samuel was designated as franchise player. RB Corey Dillon, 32, who has been increasingly supplanted by Laurence Maroney, said he wants to be elsewhere next season.

NEW YORK JETS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: FBs B.J. Askew and James Hodgins; DT Monsanto Pope; OL Wade Smith; RT Anthony Clement.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Dave Ball; DT Rashad Moore; TE Sean Ryan; LB Cody Spencer.

NEEDS: A dominant, shutdown cornerback. Veteran Andre Dyson provided stability on left side, but Justin Miller, David Barrett, Drew Coleman and recently re-signed Hank Poteat all took turns at right cornerback. Miller's skills as Pro Bowl kick returner makes him invaluable, but he still struggles in pass coverage. Buffalo free agent Nate Clements could make sense. Jets also looking for big right tackle to replace the veteran Clement, who probably won't be re-signed. Despite having Leon Washington and Cedric Houston at running back, Jets will likely look to add another back who can carry the load after releasing disappointing Kevan Barlow. Could also focus on depth at wide receiver, tight end and defensive line.

BUFFALO BILLS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CBs Nate Clements and Kiwaukee Thomas; LB London Fletcher; RBs Anthony Thomas and Daimon Shelton; OL Mike Gandy; WR Andre' Davis.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Jabari Greer.

NEEDS: Team with modest budget and major needs must creatively fill some potentially gaping holes to build off 7-9 finish. Unable to afford Clements' high asking price, Bills must find capable starting cornerback and hope Ashton Youboty develops after 2006 third-round draft pick appeared in just three games. Linebacker might become another big need for defense that finished 28th against the run. Fletcher is expected to test market, while Bills haven't yet determined whether to keep Takeo Spikes, who struggled while coming back from torn Achilles' tendon. RB could suddenly become an issue as Buffalo considers trade offers for Willis McGahee. Expect Bills to continue perennial search on offensive line, particularly guards.

MIAMI DOLPHINS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DTs Keith Traylor and Jeff Zgonina; DE David Bowens; LBs Donnie Spragan and Keith Adams; S Travares Tillman; OLs Damion McIntosh, OL Toniu Fonoti and Kendul Jacox; RBs Sammy Morris and Travis Minor; FB Darian Barnes; CB Michael Lehan; QB Shane Matthews.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QB Cleo Lemon; S Yeremiah Bell; WR Wes Welker; CB Eddie Jackson; P Donnie Jones.

NEEDS: New coach Cam Cameron says he hasn't decided whether his 2007 quarterback is on the current roster, but he's unlikely to seek help in free agency. Instead, Miami will shop to shore up the offensive line and an aging defense, especially linebacker and the secondary. However, the Dolphins are in the lower half of the NFL in cap space, which will limit their options.

NFC

NFC SOUTH

NEW ORLEANS SAINTS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OLs Jon Stinchcomb and Montrae Holland; Ss Omar Stoutmire and Jay Bellamy; TE Billy Miller; LBs Danny Clark, James Allen and Tommy Polley; DT Antwan Lake; K Billy Cundiff, CB DeJuan Groce; RB Fred McAfee.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Terrance Melton; DT Rodney Leisle; WR Terrance Copper; CB Curtis Deloatch.

NEEDS: New Orleans has put the franchise tag on DE Charles Grant and likely will retain him. The Saints could be looking for a new cornerback following Fred Thomas' struggles late in season and playoffs. Their workmanlike linebacker corps last season was solid, but not dominant. The starters are all expected back with the recent re-signing of Scott Shanle, but Saints may aim for another LB to add depth and strengthen 23rd-ranked run defense.

CAROLINA PANTHERS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: Ss Shaun Williams and Colin Branch; LBs Chris Draft, Na'il Diggs and Vinny Ciurciu; Ts Todd Fordham and Dave Kadela; DE Kindal Moorehead; TE Mike Seidman.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Drew Carter; TE Michael Gaines; DT Jordan Carstens.

NEEDS: Linebacker, with Draft and Diggs free agents and uncertainty surrounding Dan Morgan, who hopes to return after multiple concussions limited him to one game last season. New offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson wants to run, and Carolina may need upgrades at tight end and on offensive line, which was devastated by injuries last season. Coach John Fox likes to rotate DLs, but Mike Rucker is recovering from a torn ACL and Al Wallace was released. S Williams had a subpar year and Mike Minter turned 33 in January. While No. 1 QB Jake Delhomme is likely safe, backup Chris Weinke could be replaced.

ATLANTA FALCONS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: FBs Justin Griffith and Fred McCrary; CB Chris Cash; PK Morten Andersen; DE Patrick Kerney; WR Ashley Lelie.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TE Dwayne Blakley; QB Matt Schaub; LB Demorrio Williams; C Austin King.

NEEDS: End of the Jim Mora era is also end of the Alex Gibbs era as mastermind of the blocking philosophy, so bigger offensive linemen will be needed for more conventional scheme. Veteran tackles Todd Weiner and Wayne Gandy have played in such schemes, but line needs better pass-blockers. Even with return of a healthy Brian Finneran, the Falcons need help at receiver, especially if Lelie is not re-signed. The team finished the season with only four receivers; more depth will be needed as new coach Bobby Petrino adds balance to the league's worst passing attack.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: FBs Mike Alstott and Jerald Sowell; CBs Phillip Buchanon and CB Torrie Cox; T Cornell Green; TEs Keith Heinrich and Doug Jolley; G Sean Mahan; LB Wesly Mallard; LS Dave Moore; QB Tim Rattay; DE Dewayne White.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: CB Blue Adams; G Jeb Terry; S Kalvin Pearson.

NEEDS: With about $24 million in salary cap space, Bucs expect to be major players in free agency for the first time since winning the Super Bowl four years ago. Landing a starting defensive end, a playmaking receiver or upgrading the offensive line, especially at left tackle, likely will impact coach Jon Gruden's approach to the draft, where Tampa Bay picks fourth. Could also use help at safety, where starters Jermaine Phillips and Will Allen have struggled, and linebacker. And don't be surprised to see Gruden bring in a veteran quarterback to compete with Chris Simms, who missed most of 2006 because of injury.

NFC NORTH

CHICAGO BEARS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Ruben Brown; DTs Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone; Ss Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell; WR Justin Gage

RESTRICTED FREE AGENT: TE Gabe Reid

NEEDS: Star LB Lance Briggs was made franchise player and could be a training camp holdout. Bears could use free agency to shore up aging offensive line, but are not expected to make a big splash. Secondary also could use some depth after injuries to Mike Brown the last several years. They are not going after a quarterback like Jeff Garcia despite Rex Grossman's inconsistent play because Brian Griese is quality backup. They are interested in re-signing Brown.

DETROIT LIONS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Corey Bradford; RBs Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason; G Rick DeMulling; CB Jamar Fletcher; Ss Terrence Holt and Jon McGraw; FB Cory Schlesinger; DE Corey Smith.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Alex Lewis; LS Don Muhlbach; DT Cleveland Pinkney; CB Keith Smith.

NEEDS: Entering his second season, coach Rod Marinelli desperately wants to add speed, especially on defense. Team has encouraged some players, such as CB Dre' Bly, to explore trade possibilities. Detroit doesn't know when RB Kevin Jones (foot) will be back, so adding insurance at RB makes sense. Adding a No. 3 receiver, perhaps Kevin Curtis, who has ties to offensive coordinator Mike Martz, also a priority. An OT and OG would help a lackluster line, too, though Lions might wait to fill one of those needs with Wisconsin OT Joe Thomas with the No. 2 pick overall in draft.

GREEN BAY PACKERS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: RB Ahman Green; TE David Martin; LBs Ben Taylor and Tracy White; DT Kenderick Allen; QB Todd Bouman; OL Tyson Walter.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

NEEDS: Playmakers in the passing game. The Packers didn't get productivity they were looking for out of tight ends last year -- particularly in the red zone -- and need another productive WR to take some defensive focus off Donald Driver. Team must decide whether to give Green a multiyear deal or move forward with backup RB Vernand Morency and possibly address the position in the draft.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Napoleon Harris; WRs Travis Taylor and Bethel Johnson; G Jason Whittle; DT Ross Kolodziej.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DE Darrion Scott; LB Rod Davis; G Anthony Herrera; TE Richard Owens; RB Artose Pinner; DT Spencer Johnson.

NEEDS: Some juice on the outside; mediocre receivers made life miserable for quarterbacks Brad Johnson and Tarvaris Jackson. Some heat by putting pressure on opposing QBs, a constant problem last season; DBs routinely had to cover opposing receivers for too long. A rush end should be a priority. Perhaps even a QB. Veteran Johnson was released, meaning second-year pro Jackson and backup Brooks Bollinger are only QBs on team.

NFC WEST

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: TEs Jerramy Stevens and Will Heller; WR Bobby Engram; G Chris Gray; Ss Jimmy Williams, John Howell and Ken Hamlin; LS J.P. Darche; OL Floyd Womack; LB D.D. Lewis; DEs Kemp Rasmussen and Joe Tafoya; CB Pete Hunter; RB Josh Scobey.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: OT Sean Locklear; WR D.J. Hackett; CB Jordan Babineaux; LB Niko Koutouvides; Ss Guss Scott and Oliver Celestin; DT Craig Terrill; RB Josh Parry; OL Thatcher Szalay.

NEEDS: Letting Stevens go means coach Mike Holmgren foremost needs a pass-catching TE for his West Coast offense, plus a run-blocking tight end. Primary defensive needs are two bigger safeties capable of starting immediately, plus more size along DL and depth at LB. WR is not a need, even with Engram likely leaving and Darrell Jackson being shopped for a trade, because of additions of Deion Branch and Nate Burleson last year.

ST. LOUIS RAMS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WRs Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald; CB Travis Fisher; LBs Isaiah Kacyvenski, Raonall Smith and Jamal Brooks; RBs Stephen Davis and Tony Fisher; DT Jason Fisk; DE Brandon Green; KR Willie Ponder; FB Paul Smith; OL Todd Steussie; P Matt Turk.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: LB Brandon Chillar; TE Aaron Walker; OL Adam Goldberg; S Dwaine Carpenter; OL Larry Turner.

NEEDS: Defensive line, wide receiver, running back. Leonard Little was the only proven pass rusher last year. Depth may be an issue at WR behind veterans Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce if Curtis, the No. 3 at his position last year, leaves. Steven Jackson had a breakout year at running back, but there's little depth at the position. Rams addressed two areas of need during season, signing Little and LB Pisa Tinoisamoa to extensions.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: DL Bryant Young; TE Eric Johnson; WR Bryan Gilmore; C Jeremy Newberry; DT Anthony Adams; FB Chris Hetherington; LBs Jay Foreman, Hannibal Navies and T.J. Slaughter; Ss Chad Williams and Deke Cooper.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: P Andy Lee; OL Tony Wragge; RB Maurice Hicks; S Mike Adams.

NEEDS: With more than $30 million in cap room, 49ers are expected to make a play for several top free agents to supplement a roster still fairly thin on talent despite 7-9 finish. Coach Mike Nolan would love to land LB Adalius Thomas, who played for him in Baltimore, while 49ers also need talented pass-rusher and depth in secondary. On offense, they'll bid for OT Leonard Davis and WR Donte' Stallworth before going after lesser targets. Young is expected back if he doesn't retire, while Johnson will search for a starting job before considering a return as Vernon Davis' backup.

ARIZONA CARDINALS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: T Leonard Davis; RB Marcel Shipp; LBs Orlando Huff, Monty Beisel and James Darling; Ss Robert Griffith, Jack Brewer and Hanik Milligan; CBs David Macklin and Robert Tate; WR Troy Walters; OL Fred Wakefield; DE Chris Cooper; OL Chris Liewienski.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: Cs Nick Leckey and Alex Stepanovich; QB John Navarre.

NEEDS: Everything but QB and WR. New coach Ken Whisenhunt was unimpressed with Davis, but team might re-sign him if no one offers big contract he desires. Regardless, Cardinals will go after offensive linemen. CB also was a weakness, with Tate and Macklin unlikely to be re-signed. The team needs LBs and could use a run-stuffing DT. There's also a need at FB and TE, and for a safety to play alongside Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson.

NFC EAST

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: QBs Jeff Garcia and Koy Detmer; WR Donte' Stallworth; RBs Correll Buckhalter and Reno Mahe; LB Shawn Barber; CBs Roderick Hood and William James; S Michael Lewis; DE Juqua Thomas.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.

NEEDS: Garcia was willing to return as a backup to Donovan McNabb, but he likely will get better offers from other teams. Eagles are comfortable with re-signed .J. Feeley as backup. They will try to re-sign Stallworth, but won't overpay because he's been prone to injuries. If Stallworth doesn't return, adding a playmaking receiver becomes a priority. Also need at least one starting linebacker, a power running back to complement Brian Westbrook, more depth on the defensive line, a nickel cornerback, a safety and a returner with game-breaking skills.

DALLAS COWBOYS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Marc Colombo; C Al Johnson; LB Al Singleton; DE Kenyon Coleman; K Martin Gramatica; S Tony Parrish.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: WR Patrick Crayton; CBs Jacques Reeves and Nate Jones; LBs Ryan Fowler and Junior Glymph; TE Brett Pierce.

NEEDS: Wade Phillips sure could use what predecessor Bill Parcells called "catalytic players" at the front of 3-4 defense, primarily a quarterback-crunching end. He also could use help in the secondary, primarily at safety but possibly at cornerback if starter Anthony Henry is moved to safety. OL a never-ending concern, even after giving center Andre Gurode a $10 million signing bonus. The Cowboys also will be after veteran quarterback to back up Tony Romo. Maybe the new backup can hold, too.

NEW YORK GIANTS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: PK Jay Feely; C Shaun O'Hara; G Grey Ruegamer; LB Brandon Short; OLs Steve Edwards and Lewis Kelly; TE Visanthe Shiancoe; CB Frank Walker.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: S Gibril Wilson; LB Reggie Torbor; RB Derrick Ward.

NEEDS: Making playoffs with an 8-8 record, having Tiki Barber retire and then releasing OT Luke Petitgout and LBs LaVar Arrington and Carlos Emmons mean Giants need help in all those areas. Season-ending knee injury to WR Amani Toomer and inconsistent play of Plaxico Burress showed the team needs another wideout. CBs Sam Madison and Corey Webster need improvement, and there was no depth at DT behind Fred Robbins and Barry Cofield. If Feely and O'Hara take free agency road, two more positions have to be filled. New GM Jerry Reese is going to earn his pay this year.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: G Derrick Dockery; LB Warrick Holdman; RB T.J. Duckett; CBs Kenny Wright and Ade Jimoh; S Vernon Fox; TEs Brian Kozlowski and Todd Yoder; T Todd Wade.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: P Derrick Frost; T Jim Molinaro; DT Ryan Boschetti.

NEEDS: Defense, defense, defense. Always aggressive in free agency, expect Redskins to quickly pursue and overpay for a cornerback, a linebacker, and perhaps a safety and a defensive lineman to help rebuild a defense that ranked 31st last season. CB Nate Clements and LB London Fletcher are among expected targets. Offense looks OK except (again) at the No. 2 receiver spot -- 2006 free agent signing Brandon Lloyd has so far been a bust.

Chicago Bears Offer Coach Lovie Smith Less Because He's Black - Chicago Sun-Times

Carol hit it right on the head. It serves as a reminder of the stupidity of racism.

Smith talks make you wonder
Race appears to be factor in contract negotiations

February 27, 2007
BY CAROL SLEZAK Sun-Times Columnist

Is it business as usual for the Bears, or something more? We know that chants of ''cheapskate'' won't shame Ted Phillips or his McCaskey superiors into coming to terms with Lovie Smith on a contract extension. When it comes to lowballing their employees, the Bears really have no shame.
But -- funny thing -- every so often they surprise us by opening up their checkbook. Like in 2003, when they approached middle linebacker Brian Urlacher to talk about a new deal while he still had two years remaining on his original contract. Quicker than you could say, ''He's a Bear for life,'' they locked up Urlacher through 2011. The $56.65 million deal included a $13 million signing bonus, an additional $6 million in roster bonuses and an 18-person suite at Soldier Field. The model for the deal was the $49 million contract that Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis had signed the year before.

''We're very, very comfortable with these numbers,'' general manager Jerry Angelo said at the time about Urlacher's contract.

So why is it so difficult to find a comfort level with Smith? Last year, Phillips said he needed to see more of Smith. Funny, all it took for the Bears to extend Dick Jauron's contract was one winning season. Based on the team's success in 2001, when it went 13-3, Jauron got a new four-year deal in 2002 reportedly worth more than $2 million a season, or more than double his original contract that had paid him $1 million a season.

''It's a fair deal,'' Phillips said. ''Tearing up Dick's last year was the smart thing to do in recognition of the job he did.''


A proven commodity
It turned out to be a bad decision. But then, Smith is not Jauron. I wonder, has Phillips seen enough of Smith yet? Because everyone else knows what Smith has accomplished in the last two seasons, beginning with two division titles and ending with an NFC championship. And everyone else knows what other head coaches are being paid. First-year head coaches Bobby Petrino ($4.8 million a season) and Cam Cameron ($2.5 million), for instance. Career underachievers Norv Turner (in excess of $3 million) and Wade Phillips (between $2M and $3M). And other recent Super Bowl coaches, such as Tony Dungy ($5M), Jeff Fisher ($5.4M), Brian Billick ($5.7M) and Mike Holmgren ($8M).
Smith, who is scheduled to make a league-low $1.45 million next season, has coached his way into the $5 million range. The Bears had no problem ripping up Urlacher's contract to pay him Ray Lewis money. Why are they having such a problem committing Jeff Fisher or Brian Billick money to Smith? He's the best coach the Bears have had since Mike Ditka, and he might be better than Ditka in the long run. Yet, as Smith reminded us last week, he has ''been trying to get a contract done since the start of last year.''

The picture that has emerged, while still blurry, gives rise to a legitimate question: Is Smith's race a factor in the Bears' hesitancy to pay him? If Smith, an African American, were white, would the deal have been done long ago? I'm sure the Bears would rather be called cheap than prejudiced. But they've opened themselves up to this scrutiny by their mishandling of Smith's negotiations.

Ordinarily a coach's contract would not give rise to concern in February, especially when the coach has a year left on his original deal, as Smith does. But Smith's situation is hardly ordinary. He was the NFL coach of the year in 2005, and he brought his team to the Super Bowl in 2006. The Bears have said they want to keep him around, yet they seem to be doing their best to alienate him. At last report, they had offered Smith less than $3.5 million a year. The entire league is wondering what's wrong in Chicago. Damage already has been done.

Smith isn't the only one feeling disenfranchised these days. Instead of an Urlacher-type deal, linebacker Lance Briggs got slapped with the franchise tag. Meaning the Bears want Briggs, who made the Pro Bowl the last two seasons, but they don't want to pay him what he's worth. A reminder, perhaps, that there can be only one face of the Bears, and the Bears have chosen Urlacher.


Lovie's got it coming

The Bears have the right to make their own decisions. But they must know that those decisions will be viewed in a broader context, as they should be. Sports have become a measuring stick for many societal issues. Just last week, for instance, Wimbledon finally recognized that women deserved the same prize money as men. The actual differential between the women's and men's prizes had been shrinking over the years; the paycheck for the women's champ -- $1.117 million -- was about 95 percent of the $1.17 million won by the men's champ last year. But it was still important, if only symbolically, to equalize the prizes.
It's just as important for the Bears to give Smith his due.

Fortunately for the Bears, the organization's long history of penny-pinching has many describing their treatment of Smith as business as usual. But is that really all that's going on here? I'm not so sure.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Willis McGahee Wants To Be Traded - Bills Coach Dick Jauron Will Seek Trade

Bills Would Listen to Offers for McGahee-See my Ending....
By JOHN WAWROW
AP Sports Writer

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Calling no player "untouchable," Buffalo Bills coach Dick Jauron said the team would consider trade offers for starting running back Willis McGahee.

"It's in our best interest to listen to everybody, and no people are untouchable," Jauron told The Associated Press at the NFL's annual scouting combine at Indianapolis on Monday. "He's a good back. He's our starting running back right now. It's no surprise to me at all that people are interested."

Asked specifically if McGahee is on the trading block, Jauron said: "Well, people talk. People talk in the league all the time."

It's unusual for trade discussions to be made public, or for a coach to acknowledge any talk that involves players -- particularly a player of McGahee's caliber. The three-year starter has one year left on his contract and had expressed interest in seeking an extension with Buffalo.

News that the Bills would shop McGahee first came up last weekend, when New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese expressed interest in the player as a potential replacement for Tiki Barber, who retired after last season.

"There is some Willis McGahee talk," Reese had said. "We'll investigate Willis, we'll investigate everybody with trade talk. We'll leave no stone unturned."

Reese's comments created a stir in Buffalo, where the Bills had previously sidestepped questions about McGahee's long-term status with the team.

McGahee was unavailable for comment and his phone number is not listed. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not immediately return calls.

Buffalo's first-round pick out of Miami in 2003, McGahee is coming off a down season in which he finished with a career-low 990 yards rushing, but led the team with six touchdowns rushing in 14 starts.

In 2005, he had 1,247 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 15 starts. He established himself as the Bills starter in 2004 with 1,128 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in 11 starts. That performance led the team to trade former starter Travis Henry to Tennessee the following summer.

McGahee sat out his rookie season recovering from major knee surgery.

The Bills have been disappointed in McGahee for conducting most of his offseason workouts in his native Miami, rather than traveling to the team's Orchard Park headquarters. McGahee also created a stir last month, when he was quoted in a magazine article suggesting the NFL consider moving the Bills to Toronto.

McGahee later released a statement saying his comments were taken out of context and that he would never suggest such a move.


Willis don't talk like that.......

We know you need to take the High road here or your current team will fine the Bejesus outta you.....but hey...if you can make more Money downstate? Why not. but what people don't remember is the Knee Injury you suffered at the end of your college career, or how your Slimebag of an agent Rosenhaus duped everyone in the NFL into thinking you were Really talking to other teams on the phone while you were on ESPN Supposedly waiting for a call...when it was Drew himself hanging dead air on your cell phone.

The question is will that Knee take another hit?? or were these last few years the Peak of your Playing performance.....are you On the decline Willis?? Or could you Put out another 4 or 5 years(the average life span of a NFL runningback at peak player performance is 4.6 years).......

St. Louis Rams Release Veteran G Adam Timmerman

Rams Release Veteran G Adam Timmerman See my ending.....
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams have released veteran guard Adam Timmerman, a team stalwart who played in two Super Bowls for the team.

Timmerman was informed by Rams coach Scott Linehan on Monday that he was being released from the club, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, said. Timmerman, 35, has no plans to retire.

"I think they just wanted to make a change," Bartelstein said. "It's a difficult thing for Adam. He feels great and he's looking forward to having a great season.

"His body feels great and he's ready to go. This is a tough part of the business."

The Rams were expected to announce the release on Wednesday, though Bartelstein said it could happen as early as Tuesday. Linehan was at the NFL's annual scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Timmerman ended this season with a rib injury.

The Rams signed Timmerman as a free agent from Green Bay after the 1998 season. He became part of the starting lineup at right guard and stayed there the next eight seasons, earning two Pro Bowl selections and appearing in 10 playoff games and two Super Bowls for the Rams.

Timmerman had a streak of 204 consecutive games, including the playoffs, since his rookie season in 1995 with the Packers. However, he missed the Rams' last three games last season due to cracked ribs.

The Rams brought in a young offensive line that included Richie Incognito at Timmerman's right guard spot. Incognito will have that spot at the start of training camp.

Rams offensive coordinator Greg Olson said in January that the team has some "aging veterans up front who have done a tremendous job for the team," but who eventually would be replaced.

So another team is cutting veteran depth and veteran salary to get Young....too Bad because Timmerman still had some fuel left to burn.....

Linebackers stand to make Big Money

Linebackers Vying for Top of Draft Chart --See my endnote.

By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer


INDIANAPOLIS -- Patrick Willis and Paul Posluszny grew up in different worlds. One considered attending the Naval Academy and representing his country on the battlefield -- if he couldn't become the next Western Pennsylvania kid to star at Linebacker U. The other dreamed of creating a better life for his siblings in the South.

Now their divergent paths have crossed here, at the NFL's annual scouting combine, where the award-winning linebackers are vying to become first-round picks in April's NFL draft.

"It would be a blessing, especially the way I grew up," Willis said, when asked what he would do with his riches. "It would help me take care of those who helped me along the way and make sure that if I have children they won't have to go through what I went through."

Willis endured the kind of childhood experiences no youngster should.

The real-life nightmare began when his mother left home, abandoning her four children and forcing them to fend for themselves with an uninterested father. Willis was 4 years old.

Two years later, Willis was cooking meals for his siblings, and by age 10, Willis was working in Tennessee's cotton fields with his grandmother, earning $110 per week. The money went to his dad so he could pay the family's bills.

As a teenager, the situation worsened. When Willis learned his father was abusing his sister, Ernicka, he turned him in to child services and suddenly, Willis and his siblings needed to find a new family, one that would give them the love and respect they deserved.

When Chris and Julie Finley took in Willis, becoming his legal guardians, things changed. Eventually, Willis earned a scholarship to Mississippi and began emerging as one of the Rebels top players.

As a junior, he led the nation with 90 solo tackles despite playing with a broken finger, a sprained knee, a sprained foot and a separated right shoulder -- pains that paled in comparison to his life off the field.

But just when it seemed everything was finally going right, Willis was struck by another tragic chapter. Last summer, his 17-year-old brother, Detris, a two-way starter on his high school football team in Bruceton, Tenn., drowned while swimming with friends. Willis delivered the eulogy.

He played his senior season like he a man on a mission. Willis finished with 137 tackles, 11 1/2 for losses and three sacks. He was an All-American, the SEC's defensive player of the year and the Butkus Award winner as the nation's top linebacker. He also earned the coveted Chucky Mullins Courage Award, named for the former Mississippi player who was paralyzed during a game in 1989. Mullins died in 1991.

Last month, he added the Senior Bowl's defensive MVP award to his list of honors.

Yet even now, the wounds still cut deeply. Asked to explain what happened to his parents, the soft-spoken, polite linebacker simply said: "There were complications with my dad, and my mother was never really around."

In 22 years, he's overcome more obstacles, challenges and disappointments than most people experience in a lifetime and Willis believes the tribulations have helped him grow as a player, too.

"My real-life experience taught me how to compete through adversity," he said. "No matter what happens, if someone knocks you down, you have to find a way to get up and get the job done. That's what you have to do."

Posluszny's road to the combine took a more conventional route.

After sweeping both the 2005 Butkus and Bednarik awards, most figured he was off to the NFL. The expectations increased when Hall of Famer Jack Ham called Posluszny the best linebacker to ever play at Penn State, a comment that even surprised the humblest of players.

"I couldn't believe he said it because I know all the great linebackers that went before me, and I can't stack up to them," Posluszny said. "(Shane) Conlan, (LaVar) Arrington, whoever. If I picked the best, I'd have to say it was Jack Ham because he's in the Hall of Fame."

Yes, Posluszny admits he contemplated leaving school early -- until one play late in last year's Orange Bowl took away that option. When Posluszny tried to leap over a block by Lorenzo Booker, the Florida State running back hit Posluszny in the knee with his helmet.

The toughest Nittany Lion on the roster couldn't just shake off this one; two ligaments were partially torn. Posluszny feared he might need surgery, but doctors said he simply needed rest.

To Posluszny, it was an agonizing two months.

"It was long, long and boring," he said. "The injury wasn't very significant, but it was a long rehab process."

The other part was that Posluszny had to start all over, proving to scouts he could make it all the way back to his old form.

While he matched his 2005 totals with 116 tackles and three sacks, Willis wound up winning the Butkus Award and may have unseated Posluszny as the No. 1 linebacker in this year's draft.

The way teams look at it, though, they can't go wrong. Both are talented, tested and terrific on the field. And in a world where team officials often talk about needing "character guys," they will be hard-pressed to find two more compelling cases than those offered by Posluszny's comeback and Willis' fight for survival.

"Stepping up to this level, I'm going to have to do something regardless of what background I came from or what division I played at," Willis said. "It doesn't matter where you're from, as long as you show up when it's time."


Here we have a Great piece about the top twp LB's in this Draft. What you never get from the piece is that after Willis and Posluszny the talent level drops off a considerable amount. The Next best LB might not get selected untll the latter part of the second round, unlike last year where there were ten valid LB's who could have been selected in the TOP half of round 1.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Could Willis find Happyness wearing a different color Blue??

From Pro Football weekly's "the Whay we Hear It".....
Reese’s comments about McGahee offer new wrinkle to Giants’ RB outlook


The most intriguing thing to come out of new Giants GM Jerry Reese’s mouth at the Scouting Combine shouldn’t have come out at all. When asked about the possibility of acquiring Bills RB Willis McGahee, Reese did not refuse to comment — as he should have, given that McGahee is still under contract and that it could be considered tampering for another team to talk about a player’s availability. Yet, the comment that the Giants will do their due diligence on McGahee at least raised the intrigue level around one of the more interesting positions on the team heading into free agency. Sources with knowledge of the Giants’ interests suggest that the team will add at least one, perhaps two, backs this season — either through free agency, the draft or a trade. The latter had been considered the least likely until Reese’s comments, because the organization is believed to like Brandon Jacobs as a lead back, albeit one who will carry less responsibility than the recently retired Tiki Barber. Later, Reese even went on to say that, ideally, Jacobs would carry the ball 20 times and that another back might get 15 carries in a hypothetical division of labor before the Giants have even made any moves.


Ok so we know that The Giants are Panting like a wanton schoolgirl over McGahee and the Packers Ahman Green, and the Giants RB coach Jerheld Ingrham is something of a magic man when it comes to Backs with issues(can we call him the RUNNINGBACK wisperer??) But you can't call this "tampering" when the player himself has made it known that he wants a trade, the team he plays for has said they will make a trade, and the Giants didn't offer a contract number in thin air like the Jets did last year with the Deion Branch affair(which they were cleared of any wrongdoing BTW).
Still, not that Bright on Reese's part to tip his hand that way, and it's not something either of his two predecessors would have done. The Late George Young, who Had a hand in bringing Reese into the organization would have talked a 1,000 dollar an hour escort out of her 401K without telling her he was giving it to the little sisters of the poor, and Ernie Accorsi could be accused of many things, but one of them was not loose lips...so unless this was a big smoke screen....

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Small School Prospects-IVY LEAUGE

Prospects From the IVY LEAGUE who could be drafted or signed as free
agents in 2007-By Bill Chachkes (the Draftnik)

Everyone knows or seems to know the players available for this draft
from the big named schools, but what about the "Unknowns", the
"Sleepers". These are the players who are good enough to play
somewhere, who could make a roster if they were to have a chance.

As i spent the 2006 college football season on the inside of IVY
League Football, i got to focus on these players who otherwise might
not get a mention by most outlets. While they are not ranked in order,
DeOssie and McCarthy stand out as two of the better prospects at their
positions in ALL of college football, Artis is versatile, Mizell and
Fuseiler add senior depth to the skill positions they play, and
Terrell displays the ability to be a quality QB at the next level. All
16 players deserve a mention if for no other reason then they helped
elevate their teams level of play.


1)LB Zak DeOssie(6'4"240)-The premier defensive player in The Ivy the
last 2 years-he's every bit the player his dad Steve was(Cowboys &
Giants) and them some. Great Moves toward the ball most times but can
look out of place in open space. Excellent Tackler, a tireless worker
and very bright.Will find himself on an NFL roster in 07.

2) J.J. Artis-DB-Princeton(6'0"195) The Leader of the Tigers
Defense-Helped earn the team it's first IVY title since 1964. Was in a
3 way tie for the team lead with 3 int's. Very fluid runner in the
open field. Might be able to convert to FS. Very good cover skills.
Doesn't get turned around easily by opposing WR's. able to take on
bigger WR's and bring them down in the open field.

3) Chris Mizell-TE-Penn(6"4" 250) This quiet powerhouse of a young man
was the team's best downfield blocker the last two years. He had 31
grabs for 292 yards with a 9.4 Yards per catch avg. Played HS Ball at
NYC's Horace Mann, one of the best private school football programs in
the northeast. Soft Hands, but could use work on deep routes.

4) Ed McCarthy-OL-Yale(6'5" 302) Easily the Best OL in the ivy this
year. Ed has been Honored by the National Football Foudation, named to
the Walter Camp 1-AA All America Team, American Football Coaches Assn.
1-AA Team, and won the Boston Gridiron club's "Swede Nelson" award. Ed
also has football in his Family DNA, as his Dad also played at Yale
and had a brief stint in the NFL. The Bulldogs led the ivy in Rushing
with over 200 yds. avg per game, as McCarthy led the way blocking.

5) Matt Barsamian-OL-Columbia(6'5"282) Can play every position on the
line, but would best be suited to play Guard or Center at the next
level. Can also long snap. Great footwork and knows how to keep his
hands from getting him into trouble. Good leader, was one of team
co-captains in 05 and 06. Could make a team based on his special teams
contribution.

6) Jeff Terrell-QB-Princeton(6'3"220) Terrell has passed for nearly
4,500 yards the last two seasons, and rushed for nearly 800 yards as
well. A gunslinger with a strong arm, he's not afraid to pull it down
and run or take a sack if need be.Great passing accuracy and tight
spiral. Lead his team to a share of the 2006 Ivy title and has
compiled 16 out of 20 wins the last two years.

7) Ryan Fuseiler-WR/TE-Dartmouth(6'5"228) This is the next Colston, no
doubt. Smooth routes, great hands, good footwork. Not afraid to go
over the middle and take a hit going for the ball.Very hard to tackle
afterthe catch. Not Blessed with blazing speed,but has a burst after
the catch and could clock a sub 4.5 40 time with a good personal
training coach. If he's not on a roster in 07, someone isn't watching
enough tape.

8) Joe Sandberg-RB-Penn(6'0"200) This is a no nonsense young man who
gets the job done. 210 attempts in 10 games with 1,042 net yards
rushing, a 5.0 yd. per carry average and 104.2 yds. per game. A strait
forward runner between the tackles who doesn't have many moves, but
hits the open hole with a nice burst. Also has good hands as a
receiver out of the backfield. Might have wound up a Cowboy if
Parcells had stayed, as he hails from Parcells hometown(Oradell NJ)
and Played HS ball at Bergen Catholic.

9) Tad Crawford-DB-Columbia(6'3" 196) Tad posted his second 100+
Tackle season in a row, and earned all Ivy Honors for the second time
as well, Very "ball aware", very good coverage skills. Could play in
nickel or dime situations. Very fast and hard to tackle after an
interception. Could also play specials as a gunner or return man.
another player who belongs on a roster at the next level.

10) Mike Berg-DL-Harvard(6'2.5" 268) A unanimous all Ivy selection for
the second year, Berg is a fierce competitior and a penetrating
defensive lineman. Not only did Harvard lead the nation in sacks, the
average rushing attempt vs their defense was less then 2 yards per
carry! Controls the "Pit" with his dominating play, and seems to play
bigger then he actually is. Second on the team in sacks over his four
years.

And 6 more....Frank Fernandez(OC) and Clifton Dawson(RB) of Harvard,
Colin MDonough(P) of Princeton, Brian Fairbanks(DL) and Sean
Estrada(OL) from Penn, and Adam Brekke(LB) of Columbia

Oakland Raiders Head Coach Lane Kiffin Gives New Life To WR Jerry Porter and WR Randy Moss



Contrary to reports, Oakland Raiders new Head Coach Lane Kiffin does not have a bad relationship with WR Randy Moss and has given WR Jerry Porter a new lease on his playing life, causing Porter to say he's excited. This is good news for the Raiders and is hopefully a sign of things to come.

A new day for Porter, Raiders
Outcast receiver excited to be playing under new coach Kiffin
By Bill SolidaySTAFF WRITER - OAKLAND TRIBUNE
Article Last Updated: 02/22/2007 09:21:01 AM PST

Peace with Jerry Porter certainly wasn't about to happen in Art Shell's time, but it already appears to have been achieved under new Raiders coach Lane Kiffin.
The two parties appear to have kissed and made up.
Porter, banished to the status of a fifth wheel for nearly all the 2006 season by Shell, is by all appearances, back in the good graces of the organization and vice versa.
That became apparent in a brief and unusual press release from the club Wednesday in which Porter was quoted as saying he has changed his number — and apparently his tune — and is once again "excited" to be a Raider.
He will now wear Tim Brown's old number (81) instead of his old one (84).
"I am truly honored and excited about changing my number to 81," Porter was quoted as saying. "For me, the new number represents a new start, a new beginning and new attitude."
Since being drafted by the Raiders in the second round of the 2000 draft, Porter has worn No. 84. The honor Porter to which refers is the retired club receiving leader and Porter confidante.
After a much-publicized falling out with Shell over his offseason workout agenda in the first meeting of the two a year ago, Porter, 28,from Sports 1
became the team's invisible man.
He caught only one pass for 19 yards and did not start a single game after starting 31 of 32 games the previous two seasons. He was the team's receiving leader both of those years, hauling in 64 and 76 passes for
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998 and 942 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns.
But after the argument with Shell, with his being thrown out of the coach's office and subsequently either benched, suspended or inactive for all but four games, there was no denying the team missed him.
Replacement Alvis Whitted had only 27 catches for 299 yards and no touchdowns as the Raiders finished last in the league in offense and next-to-last in passing.
In 2006, Porter was inactive for nine games, suspended for two, on injured reserve for one and appeared in four games with no starts.
His lone catch came against Pittsburgh, the week after spending two weeks on the suspended list. The club had originally suspended him for four weeks for conduct deemed detrimental to the team, but it was cut in half on an appeal.
From the time of the blowup with Shell, Porter made his desire to be traded quite clear. With the advent of Shell's dismissal and the hiring of Kiffin, that no longer appears to be the case.
"I've had multiple meetings with coach Kiffin, and I am very excited about the direction of our team and especially our offense," Porter said. "I can't wait to get started."
The apparent resolution of Porter's desire to be traded now poses the question of what happens with the other Raiders starting receiver — Randy Moss.
Like Porter, Moss was critical of Shell's offense and hinted he, too, would have no objections to leaving Oakland. Moss had the least productive season of his career with 42 catches for 553 yards and three touchdowns while missing three games.
Kiffin, in an interview with ESPN radio Wednesday, hinted that the Moss situation also appeared headed in a positive direction.
"We had a great conversation," Kiffin told ESPN. "I am excited about Randy. Randy said he was excited about being here. We are looking forward to working together."
When Moss left Minnesota to join the Raiders as a free agent in 2005, he gave up his usual No. 84 in deference to Porter, switching to No. 18. He now has an opportunity to reclaim his old number.
The significance of Porter taking Brown's old number was not lost on Brown.
"He wanted to do it the year I left (2003), but it was too soon," Brown said. "I talked to him yesterday, and he feels some people might trip, but it's been four years since I had that jersey on.
"Obviously this is a sign of respect for him to want to change ... so I look for him to do a lot of things different than he's done in the past."
Brown also said he made one thing clear, telling Porter, "I can't stop you from doing it, but you have to understand, if you put that jersey on, people are going to expect certain things."
But the retired Raiders great added: "I think this will be a good change for him. Hopefully, when he thinks about acting like a nut, he'll remember the number, and maybe that will be enough to keep him in line. I don't foresee that happening, though. I think the problem was Art, and now that situation is not there. It's a new beginning for him."
Staff writer Jerry McDonald contributed to this
report.
What's your take on where No. 81 Jerry Porter and the Raiders now stand? And where do you think this leaves Randy Moss? Include your first/last name and your city, and send comments (50-100 words) to Turn2@angnewspapers.com.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Jets make moves

Newsday's Tom Rock brings us more news from Gang Green

Jets re-sign Poteat; Barlow let go
BY TOM ROCK
tom.rock@newsday.com

February 21, 2007, 9:31 PM EST

Anyone who paid attention to the final quarter of the Jets' season would not be surprised by the moves the team made Wednesday, re-signing cornerback Hank Poteat and releasing running back Kevan Barlow.

Poteat went from training camp casualty, cut just before the regular season, to starting right cornerback for the final six regular-season games and the playoffs. Eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next month, Poteat signed a one-year deal worth $635,000.

In contrast, Barlow was brought in late in training camp as a possible successor to Curtis Martin; the Jets traded a fourth-round draft pick to the 49ers to get him after a deal for the Browns' Lee Suggs fell through. But Barlow was inactive in five of the last six games, a decision Jets coach Eric Mangini pointed out had nothing to do with injury.

Barlow ran for only 370 yards on 131 carries but managed six touchdowns. His best game as a Jet was a 75-yard effort in the mud in a November win over the Patriots, but he had only 30 carries after that.

The Jets, already a healthy $25 million or so under the salary cap, will avoid the $3.25 million Barlow was due to earn in 2007 but still will be docked two-thirds of the guaranteed million dollars they gave him in a restructuring in September, according to a source.

The Jets also released offensive lineman Trey Teague, who was signed last spring to help replace Kevin Mawae at center but broke an ankle in minicamp and never played a down. They signed safety Raymond Ventrone to a reserve/future contract.

The team also made a formal announcement regarding several previously reported coaching changes, most notably naming former Patriots receivers coach Mike Daboll as quarterbacks coach. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer handled those duties last season, and Daboll, who was close with Mangini in New England, could become the Jets' offensive coordinator if and when Schottenheimer leaves for a head coaching opportunity.

and my View: Barlow was slow to learn the system and would have only been a minor contributor to the offense at best.
still, he came east with great promise, and his next stop will be?? Teauge never got off on the right foot(Ohhhh my bad!)
so to speak, he never recovered from the broken ankle even though he worked very hard. Truth is, Nick Mangold will be the Jets center for the next decade+ if he stays healthy. Tannenbaum is making all the right moves here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dwight Freeney Is Colts Franchise Player for 2007 - Indy Star - Mike Chappell



Dwight Freeney Is Colts Franchise Player for 2007 - Indy Star - Mike Chappell

As expected, the Colts have made certain defensive end Dwight Freeney’s career will continue in Indianapolis.

The team has affixed the exclusive “franchise’’ designation to their career sack leader. That assures Freeney a one-year contract in 2007 of at least $8.644 million, and eliminates the possibility of him testing his value of the NFL’s veteran free-agent market in March. Team president Bill Polian says he will now try to work on a long-term deal.

“He wasn’t going to go anywhere,’’ Polian said this afternoon. “I’ve had a good talk with his agent today and we’ll continue to talk.’’

Freeney, Polian added, is “an integral part of this team and we want to see (that a long-term deal) gets done if at all possible.’’

Freeney was the Colts’ first-round draft pick in 2002, the 11th overall selection. He has earned three Pro Bowl berths during his five-year career and piled up 51 sacks. He was limited to a career-low 5 1/2 sacks this past season but posted a team-high 33 quarterback pressures.

As an exclusive franchise player, Freeney is prohibited from seeking a contract offer from another team. He will receive a one-year contract at the average of the top five players at his position at the end of the upcoming free-agent period. The non-exclusive franchise tag would have allowed Freeney to talk with other teams and paid him a one-year contract at the average of the top five players at his position from last season -- $8.644 million. The exclusive tag is sure to bring at least that much.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Cal Berkeley - Grad Ron Rivera Out As Chicago Bears Defensive Coordinator - Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com

This story was broken by none other than Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com

Bears head coach Lovie Smith is making long-term plans for the future of the team and one of the plans could surprise many Bears fans.

FOXSports.com has learned that Chicago has decided to not renew the contract of defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Team sources say that Smith and Rivera met recently and agreed to allow Rivera to pursue other opportunities. The sources also contend that Smith will likely end up promoting Bob Babich from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator.
People inside the Bears saw this coming for a while as Babich has been reached out to from a handful of teams in the last two off-seasons and Smith, who unlike many other coaches does not block his assistants from moving up, did not want to lose him. Thus, the head coach had a tough decision to make and promoting Babich was his choice.

Babich is also viewed as more of a long-term option for Smith as Rivera was in the running for several head coaching jobs this off-season and last year. To this point, however, he has failed to land one. He did not sign an extension last off-season, which allowed him to be a free agent after the Bears' Super Bowl run. Most teams figured he'd get one of the vacant head coaching openings and as a result has been left out in the cold.

As for a defensive coordinator opening, there's only one open right now and that is Ted Cottrell's for the taking in San Diego. Still, now that Rivera is officially free another team may decide to make a run at a man who helped guide a unit to this year's prized game.

Rivera has been with Smith since he took over the head coaching duties in Chicago.

Norv Turner - 58-82-1 - Replaces Marty Schottenheimer - 205-139-1 - As Chargers Coach - FOXSports.com and ESPN.com



Profootballtalk.com reports that the hard-working Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com broke this story and not ESPN.

Whatever, this is not good news for the Oakland Raiders, who fired Turner just two years ago. Now they have to deal with two angry ex-Raider coaches: Turner and Denver Broncos Head Coach Mike Shanahan.




Chargers hire Turner as new head coach
By Len Pasquarelli
ESPN.com


Hoping the third time will be a winner for Norv Turner, the San Diego Chargers on Monday hired the San Francisco offensive coordinator to succeed Marty Schottenheimer as head coach.


Norv Turner's Coaching Record

The Chargers are giving Norv Turner his third crack at being an NFL head coach. He's 58-82-1 with one playoff appearance in nine seasons leading an NFL team.


Year Team Record Playoffs
1994 WAS 3-13 None
1995 WAS 6-10 None
1996 WAS 9-7 None
1997 WAS 8-7-1 None
1998 WAS 6-10 None
1999 WAS 10-6 1-1
2000 WAS 7-6 None
2004 OAK 5-11 None
2005 OAK 4-12 None


The Chargers have scheduled a 4:30 p.m. ET news conference to introduce Turner as their new head coach.

Longtime league assistant coach Ted Cottrell, whose experience with the 3-4 defense is extensive, has been hired as defensive coordinator for the Chargers.

Turner, 54, compiled a 58-82-1 record as head coach of the Washington Redskins (1994-2000) and the Oakland Raiders (2004-2005). He served as the San Francisco offensive coordinator last season and was credited with the dramatic progress achieved by 49ers' second-year quarterback Alex Smith.

Contract details were not immediately available.

One of six known candidates interviewed by San Diego officials after Schottenheimer was dismissed, Turner was the lone man with primary expertise on the offensive side. Originally, it was believed the Chargers preferred that their new head coach have a background on the defensive side of the ball.

Turner interviewed earlier this month for the head coach vacancy in Dallas, where he played a big role as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator during the team's dominance in the 1990s, but did not land that job.

In San Diego, he will inherit a high-octane Chargers offense featuring star tailback and 2006 most valuable player LaDainian Tomlinson. But Turner will also be responsible for the continued development of quarterback Philip Rivers, who was in his first year as the starter in 2006.

Beyond Turner, the other known San Diego head coach candidates -- Gary Gibbs (New Orleans), Mike Zimmer (Atlanta), Mike Singletary (San Francisco), Ron Rivera (Chicago) and Rex Ryan (Baltimore) -- are all coaches whose expertise is on the defensive side. All but Singletary are current coordinators.

Cottrell has interviewed in the past for head coach positions, and came very close to landing the top job in San Francisco four years ago.

San Diego officials prefer to retain a 3-4 defense, the scheme for which the personnel is best suited, and hiring Cottrell allows that. Cottrell was actually recommended to Schottenheimer by Smith when then-Chargers defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was hired by the Dallas Cowboys as their new head coach.

Schottenheimer instead leaned toward hiring his younger brother, Kurt Schottenheimer, as the replacement for Phillips. In addition to Marty Schottenheimer, the Chargers, who posted an NFL-best 14-2 record in 2006 but were ousted in the divisional round of the playoffs, have lost five assistant coaches since the end of the season. That includes both coordinators.

Cottrell, 59, possesses 22 seasons of NFL experience as an assistant coach, including three stints as a defensive coordinator. He most recently worked as coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings (2004-2005). Cottrell lost his job when the Vikings fired coach Mike Tice after the 2005 season, and he worked in the NFL office in 2006.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Rumor: Chicago Bears NFC Champion Head Coach Lovie Smith Offered Just $3.2 million - Profootballtalk.com



Thanks to Profootballtalk.com for bird-dogging the story on the Chicago Bears and the foot-dragging they've done in giving NFC Champion-head-coach Lovie Smith an offer of just $3.2 million a year for his new contract. That's terrible. $4 million at least. Here's the story...

BEARS LOW-BALLED LOVIE

A league source tells us that the Bears have offered coach Lovie Smith an extension worth less than $3.2 million per year.

And we're told that the low-ball offer was made since the Super Bowl.

Though we'd love to be so underpaid, the number is a slap in the face to a guy who took his team to the Super Bowl in his third year on the job.

Our advice to Lovie? Coach out your lame-duck season and head to the highest bidder.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Chicago Bears Not Given Head Coach Lovie Smith New Contract; Team Upset - Profootballtalk.com

Profootballtalk.com reports on this terrible state of affairs.

MUTINY BREWING IN CHICAGO - Profootball talk.com

Keep a close eye on the situation in Chicago, where the Bears have still not given coach Lovie Smith a new contract, and where there is no evidence that significant discussions between the team and the Super Bowl coach aimed at extending the deal that expires after the 2007 have begun in earnest.

A source with knowledge of the situation tells us that some members of the team have agreed among themselves to refuse to do any contract extensions or restructurings until Smith gets rewarded for the team's performance on his watch.

And there's also an intention among some of the players to be candid with the free agents whom the Bears plan to target in March, with some current Bears players ready and willing to tell any new recruits not to count on Smith being around in 2008.

We think the team should move very quickly to lock Lovie up for the next four or five years, at $4 million or so per season. That's fair value for a guy who has one Super Bowl appearance and three years of total head-coaching experience.

The sticking point could be that the Bears hope Smith will have reduced expectations because the team lost in the Super Bowl. Then again, the guy who lost Super Bowl XL ended up with an extension that reportedly pays him $7.5 million to $8.5 million per year.

Smith would have had more leverage if he'd tried to do a new deal in the dead week before Super Bowl preparations, since there was a much better overall feeling in the air about the Bears and their coach before the team put on a so-so at best performance in the February 4 loss to the Colts. But Smith gambled that the Bears would win the Super Bowl, which might have put him in line for a deal worth more than $5 million per season.

Wally Matthews Of Newsday Might have something more going on then most mainstream sports media!

I'm starting to Like Wally-He's finally Making Sense!

Wallace Matthews
Lesson in Tiki's leaving
February 15, 2007

It is more than a little distressing that here in the 21st century, too many of us still have a plantation mentality when it comes to our professional athletes. Too many of us want ballplayers, even the best and brightest of them, to say nothing more than "yes sir," and "no sir."

It is not racist, per se, but it is certainly classist. No matter how good they are or how much they get paid, they are the entertainers, the hired help. They are supposed to just shut up and hit the baseball, shoot the basketball or carry the football.

Case in point: Tiki Barber. The other day, to kick off his new career as a television commentator, Barber made the perfectly reasonable observation that his former coach, Tom Coughlin, could be a tad inflexible.

In doing so, Barber implied that his decision to walk away from the NFL at the peak of his career was aided in no small part by the realization that if he were to come back, he would have to play another season for a man so obsessed with some warped version of discipline that he would not allow his 31-year-old running back, who had more touches than anyone in the league over the past four years, to take it a little easier on Wednesdays.

For this, Barber has been roundly criticized as disloyal, egotistical, self-centered and a headache the Giants will be better off without. And that's just from members of the media, who ought to know better and who ought to want more from the people they cover than a lowered head, a shuffle and an "Aw, shucks, ma'am" brand of false modesty that should have been banished from the vernacular around the time Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier.

It is bad enough when the fickle fans start bashing a player such as Barber, who brought his A-plus game every Sunday and never missed a start in the last five years, for talking out of turn. But when journalists start becoming more concerned with what people say rather than what they do, then the world has officially gone nuts.

Now, white is black, day is night, down is up and wrong is right.

Today, Tiki Barber is the bad guy, Tom Coughlin the victim. Doesn't he know that only fans, commentators and journalists are allow to analyze, criticize, pontificate?

The truth is, six months from now Barber will be missed a hell of a lot more than Coughlin will be wanted. The "headache," Barber, may be gone, but the tumor, Coughlin, lingers on.

The Giants knew Barber was leaning toward retirement more than a year ago, but did nothing to plan for his absence and took no steps to procure his replacement. And as this past dreadful season wound down and it was obvious the only Giant worth holding onto was Barber, the Giants made no known effort to dissuade him from his decision, even out of respect.

Can you imagine if a week from now, Derek Jeter tells a reporter he is thinking of retiring after the season? You can bet your baseballs the Yankees would spend all season trying to talk him out of it. Yet there is no evidence anyone in the Giants organization, from John Mara to Ernie Accorsi to Jerry Reese to Coughlin himself ever sat down with Barber to ask what, if anything, could be done to change his mind.

Instead, they treated the best player to wear their uniform since LT, and arguably the best offensive player in their history, as if he were Barry Bonds, saying goodbye but thinking "Good riddance!"

And all because he had the temerity to say what he was thinking, rather than what they would have wanted him to say.

You ask me, he should have gone all the way and told the whole truth, said that it was running backs coach Jerald Ingram, not Coughlin, who really taught him to kick his fumbling problem; that the Giants will never win with a befuddled kid like Eli Manning at quarterback; that the sainted Accorsi was actually a failure as a GM, and that Reese, his successor, was a willing accomplice as his head of player personnel.

He could have said that without him, there will be no real reason to watch the Giants offense next season, and that unless they overhaul the defense and pick up some linebackers, there will be no reason to watch a Giants game for the next several seasons.

He could have pointed out what an injury-prone malcontent Michael Strahan has become since he signed that big contract a couple of years ago.

And he might have added that while running backs like Tiki Barber come along once in a generation, losing coaches like Coughlin, guys who lose their tempers, their players, their teams, their games and ultimately their jobs are a drug on the market.

But we don't want that from our athletes. We want them to shut up and do their jobs, and leave the talking to those of us who can't do anything else.



SO i finally agree 100% with Wally! I don't dislike Tom C as a Coach, because he was what the Giants Needed after "Fast" Jimmy Fassel, but he can be overly Strict at times, as Tiki can attest to. He kind of reminds me of my High school coach Marty Tamchester, who had a Brief NFL career with Cleveland, and NY before becoming a Stock Broker, and then Burning out on Wall St. and becoming a Teacher and Football coach. He was always working us Hard up untill the day before a game, too hard for some. Years later I would work for him as an asst. coach in Semi Pro Ball with The NY Bandits and i asked him " why Gassers the day before a game? " "Bill" he said. " if you can run like that in Practice, you can run like that in a game."
That's that old Vince Lombardi Mentality which worked in the 60's and 70's, but doesn't work with the Players of today who have the advantage of medical advances that tell us not to overwork players or they get injured more often(see LaVar Arrington)......

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Former Packer Jerry Kramer is a Saint of a man

Drive Raises Funds for Needy NFL Players
By JOHN HARTZELL
Associated Press Writer

February 14, 2007, 5:41 PM EST

MILWAUKEE -- About $125,000 has been raised to aid needy, retired National Football League players.

The Gridiron Greats Assistance Fund was launched by Jerry Kramer, star right guard of the Green Bay Packers four decades ago under Vince Lombardi. Kramer auctioned off a replica of his Super Bowl I ring last spring, raising more than $22,000 to help supplement pension and disability benefits for other former players.

Mike Ditka's 1975 NFC Championship ring -- when he was an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys -- sold for $12,200, a tennis experience with John McEnroe went for $11,250 and hand-drawn plays by Lombardi sold for $7,101 at an auction that began two weeks ago and ended Tuesday night.

"It's amazing how this initiative has taken off," Kramer said. "The fact that so many fans and so many NFL legends are working together to provide assistance to some of the retired players who helped build the league into what it is today is just wonderful."

Jennifer Smith, the fund's executive director, said that reports about the auction resulted in more donated tiems and prompted a second phase of the auction, which will run until Feb. 20.

About $100,000 was raised by auctioning about 50 items in the first phase, Smith said. The second phase has started with about the same number, but other items will be added.

Kramer's Web site, http://www.jerrykramer.com, will continue to serve as the portal to the auction, Smith said.

Items being offered during the second phase include a helmet donated by former Packers quarterback Bart Starr, bearing his signature and those of teammates Paul Hornung and Jim Taylor, and a behind-the-scenes trip at the NFL Network.

About $25,000 was raised through Tuesday in about 225 donations ranging from $2 to $10,000, Smith said.

Ditka and fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame members Willie Davis, Gale Sayers, Harry Carson and Joe DeLamielleure were recently named to the GGAF board of directors, which Smith said will set up policies on how the money will be distributed.

"It is important for everyone to remember who the funds that are raised are going to," Ditka said in a statement. "It's going to the guys who started football, not the guys who are making the money off it."

The Super Bowl ring that Kramer auctioned last May was made for him after his original disappeared in 1981. The original ring showed up last April in an online auction, but was pulled after Kramer learned about it. It eventually was returned to him.

"More than anything else, the fundraising effort has been an opportunity to raise awareness of the problem," Kramer said.

The former Packers guard said he was gratified that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had addressed the matter when asked about players from the 1950s through the 1970s at his news conference a few days before the Super Bowl.

"There are players that do have issues that need to be addressed. And we are going to need to address that directly with them," Goodell said.

Smith said the group plans to hold an annual auction around the time of the Super Bowl and will accept donations at any time.

Mike Sportelli, 45, a sales representative for a Los Angeles area construction company, made the winning bid for Ditka's ring.

"It's a nice way to start my collection. And it gives me an opportunity to help former players in need," said Sportelli, who also had a winning bid on spending a day with Carson, a former New York Giants linebacker. "These guys took quite a beating back then."

Darrel Wright, 65, of LaQuinta, Calif., who formerly served as the timekeeper for NFL games at the Los Angeles Coliseum, donated $10,000 to the cause.

"These guys loved football and didn't make a lot of money. They provided me with a lot of entertainment," he said.

This is a cause we should all rally behind. I'm dissapointed that the NFL has not addressed the issue until now.....
every Player should be giving 1% of their Gross income before taxes.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chargers Interviewing

So now the fun begins for the Bolts Fans.....


SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Chargers received permission Tuesday to interview four candidates to replace fired head coach Marty Schottenheimer, including one-time San Diego offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

Turner was offensive coordinator with the Chargers in 2001. He's currently the offensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. He interviewed for the Dallas Cowboys' head coaching job that went to Wade Phillips, the Chargers' former defensive coordinator.

The Chargers also received permission to interview Hall of Famer 49ers assistant head coach Mike Singletary and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, both of whom interviewed for the Cowboys job. The fourth candidate is Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan.

The Chargers did not say when the candidates would be interviewed.

Schottenheimer was fired Monday night by team president Dean Spanos, who cited a "dysfunctional situation" between Schottenheimer and general manager A.J. Smith.

The Chargers were an NFL-best 14-2 before losing their playoff opener to New England.

So what we want to determine here is weather Coach Singletary is a Rooney rule interview or a legit contender. With the Spanos family you just can't be too sure. I had also heard a wisper about Ted Cottrell at least being considered.

Tiki Barber takes a final Shot at Coach Coughlin

Ahhh Tiki Tiki Tiki........ see my end notes


Tired of Tom
Practices made Tiki think of quitting

BY NEIL BEST
neil.best@newsday.com

February 14, 2007

On his first full day as a retired player, Tiki Barber lobbed a hypothetical hand grenade yesterday during a news conference to announce his hiring by NBC.

Barber several times suggested Giants coach Tom Coughlin set the wheels of his retirement in motion because of the "physical grind" through which he put players. Which led to an obvious question for the reporters who gathered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza along with the network's top news and sports executives.

If someone other than Coughlin had been his coach the past three seasons, might he still be a Giant rather than a correspondent for the "Today" show and an analyst for "Football Night in America"?

"Possibly, but that's speculation," he said. "I don't know. I'm 31 years old. I'll be 32 this year, which is way past the average for my position."

The fact Barber would even address the possibility at the moment of his hiring by NBC was another odd twist in a strained relationship with Coughlin, whose stewardship he criticized at times as a player. NBC loved it, because the network hired Barber in part for his outspokenness. The Giants likely did not, but they declined to comment.

Barber first invoked Coughlin by saying, "The grind started to take a toll on me and the principles of our head coach started taking a toll on me, so I started looking for the next thing."

To which NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol joked Barber would be permitted to cross his legs during meetings with NBC executives.

Later, though, Barber explained it wasn't so much Coughlin's rules as his approach to the physical part of the game that wore on him. Barber said he did not get enough time to rest and recuperate, saying, "It was a constant physical grind on me that started to take a toll.

"While it didn't show up a lot on Sundays because I had my three best seasons under him, and I give him a lot of credit of that, I could feel a difference."

Barber said the team practiced in full pads all season despite numerous injuries and said that eventually "you physically don't want to be out there when your body feels like you do in full pads.

"While it probably doesn't have a really detrimental effect on how you practice or play, it does on your mind, and if you lose your mind in [football], you lose a lot."

Barber said he discussed his concerns with Coughlin and the coach gave a little, such as when Barber told him he could not go full speed in some practices. Still, it was not enough.

"He has changed in little ways," the former running back said, "but I think he still has to come more. The game has changed. Players are different, and you have to understand them and get to know them in order to encourage and motivate them to be successful.

"Twenty years ago it was different. You could push a player until he broke down because you had 15 other guys who could come in and take his place."

On "Today," where he starts April 16, Barber will report on everything from technology to education to politics, from the news-heavy first half-hour to a planned, lighter fourth hour.

On "Football Night in America" he will analyze games and weigh in on topics such as the debate over the long-term effects of concussions, replacing Sterling Sharpe in the studio cast.

NBC so appealed to Barber that he accepted less money than ABC/ESPN and Fox are believed to have offered. His three-year contract is worth about $6 million overall. Barber would have made twice that per season playing, but he lost his passion for the job.

"Coach Coughlin was nothing but great for me as a player, but the grind took its toll on me and it really forced me to start thinking about what I wanted to do next," he said.

"That's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. At least for me it is. Maybe not for the Giants, because they lose one of their great players."



Tiki on Coughlin:

Jan. 8, 2006: After a 23-0 rout by the Panthers in a wild-card playoff game.

"In some ways we were outcoached."

"We spend a lot of time at the line of scrimmage sometimes dissecting the defense, and that allows them to bring up extra guys in the box. When we were going on quick [counts] we were effective. We were getting 4 or 5 yards per play. but we played into their scheme and it ended up ultimately costing us the game."

Nov. 22, 2006: In the wake of a 26-10 loss to the Jaguars in which the offense stagnated and the running game was inconsequential,

"I felt insignificant . . . I'm not here to be a cheerleader. My job is to help the team win."

He argued the running game should be the foundation of the offense, saying,

"This isn't rocket science. Its football."


Well,...This was the unspoken reason why Tiki Hung it up early? hey.....I'm not surprised that it didn't come out until now,...Tiki is a class act...but he should just leave it alone.... he's done....he's a member of the media now......let it be....because you know he will have to interview Coughlin on October 28th when the Gianst play Miami in London.....

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Giants Cut 3

From NFL.com---See My Notes at the end
Giants release Arrington, Emmons, Petitgout
NFL.com wire reports


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Feb. 12, 2007) -- The New York Giants released linebacker LaVar Arrington and two other starters in the first major shake-up under new general manager Jerry Reese.

New York also cut linebacker Carlos Emmons and offensive tackle Luke Petitgout, both of whom were slowed by injuries over the last two seasons.

The release of Arrington ended a brief and unsatisfying tenure with the Giants for the former Pro Bowler, who was signed last year to a seven-year deal but suffered an Achilles injury against Dallas on Oct. 23 and played in only six games.

"LaVar's situation is unfortunate because he was just starting to really become a factor in our defense at the time of his injury," Reese said.

Reese, who replaced the retired Ernie Accorsi, served notice that he will not stand pat with a team that won the NFC East in 2005 but was humiliated in a first-round playoff loss to Carolina, then scraped into the playoffs last season with an 8-8 record and again lost in the first round.

"These are difficult decisions," Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said. "But as Jerry and I looked at the roster, they are decisions we felt we had to make as we start to compose our team for the upcoming season."

Petitgout started 106 games at tackle and guard over eight seasons for the Giants. He broke his leg against Chicago on Nov. 12 and missed the Giants' final seven games.

Emmons, acquired from Philadelphia in 2004, played in 36 games in three seasons but missed a total of 11 games in the last two seasons with a pectoral injury.


So I'm not surprised about Emmons, But I would have thought Arrington would have lasted at least one more year since he was starting to come around. Luke P was a difficult call,..but he had been stable even through injury.

Monday, February 12, 2007

San Diego Chargers' GM A.J. Smith's Constant Fucking With Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer Reaches Boling Point - Schott Fired



Yep. That headline sums it all up. "Chargers' GM A.J. Smith's Constant Fucking With Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer Reaches Boling Point - Schott Fired"

It has been known and well-told that San Diego Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith has not worked to get along with Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer. Indeed, A.J. Smith doesn't have the best image with a number of people. In my book, and that of others, this is stupid. The GM's supposed to get along with the coach -- indeed, supply the coach with a steady stream of capable players that the coach can teach his system to and hopefully win a Super Bowl or two.

But A.J. Smith doesnt' see life this way. Indeed, Smith can be considered as one who was openly screwing with the desires and fortunes of Coach Schottenheimer, from not only failing to retain star quarterback Drew Brees, but earlier passing on Michael Vick -- a sure jersey-seller if not star quarterback -- and basically stocking up on look-alike immoblie White QB's A.J. Feeley, Drew Brees, Phillip Rivers, and Eli Manning for a New York minute. You can't fault Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips or Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron for taking head jobs, you know and I know that typical teams at least lift a wallet to retain their most talented teachers.

This is weird.

Everything about it reads hollow. Look at Chargers' President Dean Spanos statement:

"Today I made an extremely difficult decision: Marty Schottenheimer is no longer the head coach of the San Diego Chargers.

"This decision was so hard because Marty has been both a friend and valued coach of our team. But my first obligation is always to do what is in the best interest of our fans and the entire Charger organization. I must take whatever steps are necessary to deliver a Super Bowl trophy to San Diego. Events of the last month have now convinced me that it is not possible for our organization to function at a championship level under the current structure. On the contrary, and in the plainest possible language, we have a dysfunctional situation here. Today I am resolving that situation once and for all.

"My decision means that our organization will be obligated to pay the last year of Marty Schottenheimer's contract and will begin an intense search for a new head coach at this relatively late date, but these are sacrifices that I believe are necessary to give the Chargers the best possible chance to win on the field this season.

"Our fans deserve to know what changed for me over the last month. When I decided to move ahead with Marty Schottenheimer in mid-January, I did so with the expectation that the core of his fine coaching staff would remain intact. Unfortunately, that did not prove to be the case, and the process of dealing with these coaching changes convinced me that we simply could not move forward with such dysfunction between our head coach and general manager. In short, this entire process over the last month convinced me beyond any doubt that I had to act to change this untenable situation and create an environment where everyone at Charger Park would be pulling in the same direction and working at a championship level. I expect exactly that from our entire Charger organization in 2007."


Dean Spanos must be smoking a big one to think the Chargers are going to have "the best possible chance to win on the field this season." In one fell swoop, he took the best-team in the NFL from early 2008 Super Bowl favorite, to possible division cellar foder for the Oakland Raiders, much to the delight of the Raider Nation.

Ohhh!!!!!!!!

Dean and A.J. have taken a big risk and there's no high reward. Keeping their head guy - a renowned teacher -- was the action that had the best upside. Now, that's gone.

I'm going to go out on a limb and state that Spanos decision was one based on emotion, a snap-judgement, and an argument with Marty. It wasn't calculated at all. How could it be? Spanos himself described the climate as a 'dysfunctional situation.' What does that tell you? It explains that at some point in the recent past, someone had a big angry discussion. I'm betting it was Smith and Schott, with Spanos getting in the middle.

Nick Campena laid it out first back in March 6, 2006, when he wrote: "Looking out from shore, it appears the reluctant marriage between Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith and coach Marty Schottenheimer is this close to the rocks – and the surf's up. There's trouble in what not long ago was perceived as a replenishing paradise."

Campena pointed to the Drew Brees matters, and a February 26th article by Jim Trotter of the San Diego Union-Tribune, where Trotter noted Schottenheimer as stating "I think it's important that there always be communication between the coach and the general manager,” he said during a break at the annual NFL Scouting Combine. (of 2006) “I've sought to see that realized, but, quite frankly, there hasn't been as much communication as I would like.. I think we all understand that ours is a very difficult, competitive enterprise, and in my opinion it's important that everybody is aimed in the same direction.”

Is that the case with the Chargers?

“We'll have to maybe wait and see,” he said.

Well, apparently it's not -- the Chargers are apparently torn apart. And the last time this happened, Bobby Ross was the head guy and Bobby Bethard was the GM. The Chargers never smelled a playoff end-zone after that affair.

Some online newhounds -- the people at Profotballtalk.com seem to think that A.J. Smith is the next person to be fired. This corner says "great" but I also state that allowing rumors of hiring Pete Carroll to replace Schottenheimer is wrong-headed. First, there's nothing to state that Carroll will be a great NFL head coach, second, you don't need the Rooney Rule to know their are great Black and Latino head coaches out there.

Indeed, if the Chargers can't find a good Black head coach out of the 131 assistants in the NFL game, they must be totally stupid. I hope I'm wrong.

But now that I think about it, racism is borne of stupidity, so the Chargers shoud be careful.

Young wants to finish as a 49er

Although a deal isn't yet near, the San Francisco 49ers have begun negotiations aimed at accommodating the wishes of star defensive tackle Bryant Young to play at least one more season, and to finish his career with the only team for which he has ever worked.

Bryant Young
Defensive End
San Francisco 49ers

Profile
2006 SEASON STATISTICS
Tot Ast Solo FF Sack Int
52 42 10 0 6 0

Young, 35, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on March 2, and the 13-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowl performer wants to play again in 2007, as long as it's with the 49ers.

One of the NFL's premier defensive tackles during his tenure in the league, and also one of its classiest performers, Young is clearly nearing the end of a celebrated career. But he demonstrated in 2006, when his playing time was purposely reduced in an effort to maximize his production, that he can still be an effective defender.

In 16 games, most of them at tackle, Young posted 52 tackles and he led all 49ers' defensive linemen in sacks, with 5½. The performance earned him a spot as a Pro Bowl alternate. Young played some at left end, when San Francisco was aligned in a 3-4 front, a scheme coach Mike Nolan wants to use even more in 2007.

"He still has something left," Nolan said. "And you always want people like him around your football team. Any organization, any community, wants guys like him."

Flush with plenty of salary cap space this spring, San Francisco figures to add some veteran players as the team continues to transition to a 3-4, but the feeling is that Young can still contribute as a strongside end.

He earned a base salary of $2.25 million and part of the current negotiations are based on finding financial ground that meets the needs of both sides.

The reduced workload, something on which San Francisco coaches have been working the past several seasons, has helped extend Young's career and his effectiveness. He has missed only three games the last two years and has never been sidelined more than four games in a season.

In 192 career games, the former Notre Dame star, a first-round choice in the 1994 draft, has 570 tackles, 83 sacks, 10 forced fumbles and six recoveries.

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