|03-08-2006, 10:08 AM||#1|
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: The Ville
NFL Report 3-8-06
Ravens coach Brian Billick denied reports that linebacker Ray Lewis wants to play elsewhere next season. "Has anyone heard from Ray himself? I've talked to Ray and he is about winning and always has been," Billick said. "I believe that's where his focus is now. I believe he thoroughly understands our situation and his. I have no reason to believe that Ray is going to be anything but what he has been before: a huge part of this team and the consummate professional in practice, in the classroom and on game day." According to Billick, Lewis' unhappiness with his contract situation has been "blown out of proportion."
Leigh Steinberg, the agent for USC quarterback Matt Leinart, said yesterday the Jets have contacted him to set up a private workout sometime in April. Leinart is scheduled to have his pro day workout at USC on April 2. It's uncertain whether the Jets would stage the workout in California or New York. "They've inquired about a workout," Steinberg said of the Jets. He believes Leinart will be the first quarterback drafted, possibly with the No. 1 overall pick. "I feel as sure about Matt as I was about Ben Roethlisberger," said Steinberg, who also represents the Steelers quarterback. Roethlisberger won the Super Bowl last month in his second pro season.
Considering coach Nick Saban's respect for Bill Belichick, it's no surprise the Dolphins are expected to pursue Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest (likely to be released) and free agent receiver David Givens and offensive tackle Tom Ashworth. Miami also has interest in free agent receiver Josh Reed (Buffalo) and offensive tackle L.J. Shelton (Cleveland).
The agent for free-agent defensive tackle Sam Adams said his client's meeting with the Dolphins at the team's headquarters Tuesday went well, but nothing is expected to be finalized until the owners and players resolve the ongoing CBA dispute. Adams, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, finished his 12th season with a career-low 19 tackles for Buffalo. He missed time with nagging injuries and disputes with the coaching staff.
Mark Bartelstein, agent for recently released Jets center Kevin Mawae, said yesterday he has spoken with the Eagles about his client. That's a bit of a surprise, because the Birds have been reported to be poised to sign New Orleans free-agent-to-be center LeCharles Bentley. One explanation might be that if a new CBA emerges from the current owners meeting in Dallas, the $94.5 million salary cap will rise dramatically and Bentley might suddenly have more suitors and a higher price tag.
The Vikings have bigger free-agent needs than wide receiver, but they are on a short list of possible teams for New England's David Givens. "I've drafted a list of six or seven teams that have a lot of cap room," Givens' agent, Brad Blank, said Tuesday. "Minnesota's one of them. If there's not a new collective bargaining agreement, I'll be calling them."
Chris Landry, Fox Sports Radio's NFL Scout, in the Chicago Tribune... Ty Law would fit well in the Bears cover-2 scheme but Jacksonville and Kansas City have shown the most interest to this point.
Washington hopes to trade Patrick Ramsey, who has one year left on his contract, for a second- or third-round draft pick. Chicago, Miami, Oakland and the New York Jets are believed to be interested in Ramsey but hope to acquire him for a lower-round selection.
The Texans are one of many teams interested in former St. Louis receiver Isaac Bruce, who was waived by the Rams when he declined to take a pay cut. Although the Rams are hoping to re-sign Bruce, 33, he's going to test the market once the NFL allows free agency. Because Jabar Gaffney and Corey Bradford will be unrestricted free agents, receiver is one of the Texans' priority positions this offseason.
Released Denver defensive lineman Trevor Pryce became the first confirmed free agent to visit the Browns on Tuesday. "This is his first visit. He's excited to meet with coach [Romeo] Crennel," Pryce's agent, Peter Schaffer, said from Denver. Pryce is able to visit and negotiate with teams ahead of the official opening of free agency because he was released rather than have his contract expire naturally.
Chris Landry, Fox Sports Radio's NFL Scout, in the Chicago Tribune... Drew Brees is being considered by every team in the NFC North but the Bears. They feel they have a good situation at quarterback and need to upgrade their weapons in the passing game at tight end and wide receiver along with keeping the offensive line solid protection wise.
A report that Seahawks free safety Marquand Manuel is expected to sign with the Green Bay Packers when the NFL free-agency period starts is false, Manuel's agent said Tuesday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing sources close to the situation, reported Tuesday that Manuel was prepared to sign with the Packers soon after he becomes a free agent. The Journal Sentinel reported the agreement is for five years and $10 million, including a $2 million signing bonus. "The report is not true," Manuel's agent, Neil Schwartz, said. "It's tampering. We'll go to free agency and keep open the lines of communication."
Tackle Brad Hopkins, released by the Titans last week, is already getting interest from other teams around the league. Hopkins is scheduled to visit the Jets today, and has trips scheduled for Tampa Bay and Atlanta later in the week.
Chris Landry, Fox Sports Radio's NFL Scout, talked about the Bears free agent plans in the Chicago Tribune. "Like every other team, the result of the CBA extension will depend on how active they will be but they would like to make a run at a receiver like Antwaan Randle El of the Steelers and re-sign their restricted guys like Ian Scott and Hunter Hillenmeyer."
A popular figure in trade rumors, cornerback Chris McAlister will be playing for the Ravens next season, according to Brian Billick. "Chris made a lot of improvement this season in terms of the way he approaches his job both on and off the field," Billick said. "There is not anything active whatsoever with regards to [us] marketing Chris around. When we gave him the contract last year, it was with the idea Chris would be around here for a long time, and I see no reason to think that's changed."
Among the veterans who might draw interest from Miami as a backup is former Steelers backup Tommy Maddox, who was released by the Super Bowl champions last week. Maddox is a great admirer of new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey from when Mularkey held the same job in Pittsburgh.
Weak-side linebacker LaVar Arrington, who bought his way out of his Washington Redskins contract, told reporters he wants to stay in the NFC East and play for the Eagles or the New York Giants. The Giants have considerably less cap room than the Eagles but also have a connection in middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, who emerged as a star playing next to Arrington. The Eagles like free-agent wide receiver Antwaan Randle El, although a source close to the player expects him to stick with the Steelers.
A major reason the Ravens didn't use the franchise tag on running back Jamal Lewis - which keeps a player off the free-agent market with a one-year contract - is the unwanted tension that it brings. Players who receive the tag often skip minicamps and training camp in protest. "Franchising tends to not be a productive situation, so you try to avoid it if you can," said Billick, who still holds hope that the Ravens can re-sign Lewis.
With the loss of LaVar Arrington, a weak-side linebacker is needed in Washington, with Carolina's Will Witherspoon perhaps the best option available. Chris Clemons played on third down for much of the season in place of Arrington but sprained his knee Dec. 24 against the New York Giants. He has not yet been offered a contract.
Drew Brees is expected to visit the Dolphins shortly after the start of free agency whether the cap is extended or not. However, if the cap is not extended, there is a strong belief that Minnesota will strongly pursue Brees and then trade or cut quarterback Daunte Culpepper. The Dolphins would then pursue Culpepper. The Vikings will have ample cap room to pursue Brees whether the cap is extended or not. If the Dolphins don't get Brees or Culpepper, they also have expressed strong interest in Arizona quarterback Josh McCown and interest in Washington's Patrick Ramsey. McCown is set to be an unrestricted free agent. Ramsey could be traded or cut.
The Redskins could pursue a defensive end. The Jets' John Abraham is available via trade and New Orleans's Darren Howard is the best available free agent. The Redskins finished the season 20th in the league with 35 sacks.
One of the world's foremost steroids experts said medical records he reviewed for the federal case against Dr. James Shortt raise serious questions about the effectiveness of the NFL's steroids testing system. Dr. Gary Wadler, whose report was given to the judge who will sentence Shortt, told the Observer in an exclusive interview Tuesday that the records show that five of the six current or former Carolina Panthers players included in his review used the steroids they obtained from Shortt. Wadler said even though Shortt assured the players they wouldn't test positive for steroids, Shortt failed to take the steps necessary to fulfill his promise. Wadler said Shortt used saliva samples to measure players' testosterone levels instead of the more sophisticated urine tests used by the NFL. Wadler said Shortt did nothing to monitor whether the players were within the specific testosterone-related ratios allowed by the NFL.
Although the Texans had no problem getting under the $94.5 million salary cap, general manager Charley Casserly will enter free agency with more revenue to spend because of the cap dollars freed up Tuesday by guard Steve McKinney's deal. McKinney agreed on a four-year extension worth $9 million, including a $2 million bonus. It saves the Texans $2.2 million.
The quarterbacks who would be given the opportunity to battle Kyle Boller in training camp probably include Kerry Collins and Brian Griese. Others such as Gus Frerotte and Chris Weinke likely would be backups.
Chris Landry, Fox Sports Radio's NFL Scout, on sleeper NFL draft prospects in the Chicago Tribune... North Texas running back Patrick Cobbs is a smallish but tough, between-the-tackles runner. Free safety Terryl Fenton of Louisiana Lafayette has a real good size and speed combination. Illinois State's Brent Hawkins has a big motor and was very productive with 18 sacks and seven forced fumbles. If he can improve his use of hands and prove he can play outside linebacker in the 3-4, he has a chance to stick. Arkansas' De'Arrius Howard can be an effective size/speed back if he improves his blocking. Purdue quarterback Brandon Kirsch should have returned to school but his size and arm strength are intriguing. West Texas A&M has two interesting offensive tackles in Patrick McCoy and Dejuan Skinner. Both are very raw but are in the 6-6, 330-pound range with decent pass protection skills. Defensive tackle Steve Williams is an undersized run defender from Northwest Missouri and is a double transfer from Indiana and Northern Illinois.
The Dolphins tentatively plan to release Gus Frerotte today if there is no extension of the collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners and free agency is reached. If that's the case, teams must get below the salary cap by tonight and free agency will begin at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.
Former New York Jets Pro Bowl center Kevin Mawae is scheduled to visit the Dolphins today. The 35-year-old Mawae was cut in a salary-cap move by the Jets -- a move he called a ''mistake'' during a conversation Monday with New York reporters. ''I still believe that I'm probably the best guy on the market. I guess people look down on 35-year-old centers who make the Pro Bowl six times,'' said Mawae, who has played 12 NFL seasons.
The closer the deadline for releasing players gets, the more it seems Brian Griese will be among those let go by the Bucs. Though negotiations aimed at keeping the former starting quarterback off the free-agent market are ongoing, Bucs general manager Bruce Allen said Tuesday there's a chance Griese will hit the market anyway. "It might turn out that [Griese] will want to be a free agent for a few days or so and maybe still come back to the Bucs," Allen told radio host Dan Sileo on WDAE, 620 AM.
The Eagles have been linked in media reports to a number of pending free agents, a list probably topped by LeCharles Bentley and Pittsburgh wide receiver-punt returner Antwaan Randle El. Other prominent names include Kansas City linebacker Shawn Barber, Detroit quarterback Jeff Garcia, Denver running back Mike Anderson (Barber and Anderson are in Mawae's category, having been released last week) and New York Giants defensive tackle Kendrick Clancy.
Vic Carucci, NFL.com, National Editor, on his top five quarterbacks in the NFL Draft:
1.) Matt Leinart, USC
2.) Vince Young, Texas
3.) Jay Cutler, Vanderbilt
4.) Omar Jacobs, Bowling Green
5.) Brodie Croyle, Alabama
Still, a secondary wide receiver appears to be high on the Redskins' list. This week, the St. Louis Rams cut Isaac Bruce. New England's David Givens and Pittsburgh's Antwaan Randle El are both restricted free agents. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported yesterday that the Redskins had contacted Bruce's agent, Jimmy Sexton. The Redskins did not return calls for comment.