Profootballweekly.com wrote:Titans WR Drew Bennett, in Jacksonville last week as a finalist for the Snickers Hungriest Player of the Year Award, told PFW he expects QB Steve McNair to return to the Titans next season. “He has a lot of football left, I think,” Bennett said. “We’ll see, but I would be surprised to see him (retire).”
PFW spies saw Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, owner Daniel Snyder and agent Jimmy Sexton huddling at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in Mobile, Ala. prior to the Senior Bowl to discuss restructuring OLT Chris Samuels’ contract. Samuels is due to count about $10 million against the ’05 salary cap.
Eagles TE Chad Lewis told PFW last week that he “absolutely” plans to be back next year after breaking his foot in the NFC title game. However, as an impending free agent, he might not be back with Philadelphia. Team sources think Lewis might return with a one-year deal, and Lewis would prefer to stay.
The Chargers are believed to be leaning toward a wide receiver and a defensive end with their two first-round picks (Nos. 12 and 28) in April’s draft, though the order of importance may not be decided until they’re on the clock.
Giants DE Michael Strahan, who tore his pectoral muscle, told PFW that he is going through his rehab well and that he fully plans to be healthy and ready to go when training camp starts.
Some Saints sources have speculated that the team isn’t doing enough to overhaul the franchise and instead is just in love with the team’s 4-0 finish rather than remembering the 4-8 start.
We hear the Giants’ interest in Raiders CB Phillip Buchanon is not as great as some might think. Although the team would like to add a playmaker at corner, Buchanon might not be a legitimate option. If the team cannot land a top tackle with its first draft pick — either its high second-rounder or a higher pick if it tries to move into the first round, as rumored — don’t be shocked if it looks to add a corner early in the draft.
Expect the Cowboys to target a No. 1 receiver this offseason. The team was disappointed with the play of Antonio Bryant, who was expected to fill that role this season but was traded to Cleveland after not earning the trust of the coaching staff. Quincy Morgan, the man acquired for Bryant, didn’t show enough for coaches to think he can be a No. 1 guy. Keyshawn Johnson is no longer a first option. A deep threat to complement Johnson and Terry Glenn should be a high priority.
Word is the Saints may be in the market for a wide receiver considering how much of a disappointment Donté Stallworth has been so far in his career.
We’re told Bucs head coach Jon Gruden’s appearance in an NFL Network commercial during the Super Bowl could help convince free agents to come to One Buc Place because it showed the softer side of Gruden that rarely is seen on the sideline.
Buccaneers LB Derrick Brooks skipped out on the Pro Bowl due to tendinitis in his knee. It was an injury he could have played with, but he didn’t want to risk aggravating it in a meaningless game.
Panthers RB Stephen Davis said his knee is getting better, but we’re told there is no guarantee that he will be ready for the start of training camp.
If Brett Favre is indeed serious about retiring, don’t be surprised if the Packers’ top choice to replace him is Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck, provided the Seahawks don’t re-sign him first.
At this writing, the top candidates, in no particular order, to become Seattle’s new president of football operations were: Denver GM Ted Sundquist, Kansas City VP/pro personnel Bill Kuharich, Miami executive VP-COO Bryan Wiedmeier and former Seahawks and Saints front-office exec Randy Mueller. We hear Mueller might have slipped down the list because of concerns that he might completely overhaul the team’s scouting department, which wouldn’t sit well with head coach Mike Holmgren.
Our Niners sources tell us the team definitely seems to be leaning toward designating LB Julian Peterson with the franchise tag again in 2005 and switching back to a 3-4 as their primary defense, with Peterson playing a much bigger role as a pass rusher. The Niners’ new defensive coordinator, Billy Davis, has coached a 3-4 scheme in nine of his 13 NFL seasons.
There are rumors spreading through the desert air that Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin, whose agent is Drew Rosenhaus, could be gearing up for a training-camp holdout if Boldin’s contract isn’t reworked in the next few months.
The Broncos were more than content to fill the TE coaching vacancy Brian Pariani left, when he went to Syracuse, with Tim Brewster, who was considered a major factor in the development of Antonio Gates in San Diego. Brewster says he believes Broncos TE Jeb Putzier is only “scratching the surface” of his potential after making 36 catches in his third season.
In a recent talk with PFW, new Ravens QB coach Rick Neuheisel reserved much comment on QB Kyle Boller’s 2004 play, saying he had yet to watch much film of his new pupil. But Neuheisel, the former University of Washington head coach, did say he was impressed with the skills Boller showed as a collegiate player at Cal. Neuheisel said he knew Boller had first-round talent.
Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger reportedly will spend time in the offseason in Pittsburgh learning more about NFL defenses from defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. This news drew raves from at least one source close to the team, who has no doubt Roethlisberger will improve after a tough finish to his rookie season.
The way we hear it, Steelers CB Chad Scott is likely to be cut in the offseason. Scott began the 2004 season as the starter at the LCB spot, but he suffered a quadriceps injury in October and could not take back his starting job from Willie Williams once he returned. Scott is due $3.885 million in salary in 2005 and $4.297 million in ’06. A Pittsburgh mole believes Ricardo Colclough and Deshea Townsend will be the Steelers’ starting cornerbacks next season. Williams, an organization favorite who will be an unrestricted free agent in March, could come back if the price is right.
Don’t be surprised if the Rams’ offensive line looks very different next season. Not only does it appear ORT Kyle Turley is going out of his way to make sure he won’t be back, with his continued barbs directed at head coach Mike Martz. We also hear OLGs Tom Nütten (toe) and Chris Dishman (knee) may have to retire once and for all because of injury (Dishman is more likely to quit than Nütten, who might be having some second thoughts), and young blockers Scott Tercero and Blaine Saipaia may be moved to new positions (right tackle and left guard, respectively).
Packers defensive coordinator and ex-Dolphins coach Jim Bates told PFW that CB Patrick Surtain is worth top money from potential suitors. “He’s played at an All-Pro level. I think he can be a shutdown cornerback in the right scheme. What he did for us is play great cornerback on the outside on first and second down and then was our nickel. He can do any number of things. He’s quick and has great, great hands. Patrick prepares well and has a good understanding of the game.”
The first order of business for the Vikings at the annual Scouting Combine in Indianapolis this month is fielding serious offers for WR Randy Moss. Owner Red McCombs’ stamp of approval may be forthcoming, and the Vikings will send a full contingent to Indianapolis in hopes of weeding out minimal offers and deciding if Moss will be a part of the team photo in 2005. The Vikings have plenty of cap space but cannot map out their future until deciding on a sure route for Moss. A personnel source in Minnesota said the Vikings are lukewarm on making a trade and will only deal the wide receiver if they receive a package that makes sense for the team next year.
Don’t be surprised if the Jets make a concerted effort to trade for WR Randy Moss. His relationship with QB Chad Pennington, which dates back to college when the two played at Marshall, is very strong, and the Jets crave a big receiving target for their offense.
The importance of a tight end in today’s game cannot be overlooked, and won’t be by the Packers. Sources close to the team said in early February that they are likely to use the franchise tag, resulting in a $2.687 million cap number, to keep unrestricted free-agent TE Bubba Franks. “He’s not Speed Racer, but he seals that edge as well as any tight end in our conference,” the source said.
The Vikings are considering further alterations to their field surface after one year with its new FieldTurf instead of the previous AstroTurf. An NFLPA poll resulted in the Vikings’ surface being voted the third-worst in the league. During the regular season, head coach Mike Tice ordered a study of the surface, the shoes the team wore and the underlayment in an attempt to find out if the FieldTurf was the source of injuries.
New offensive coordinator Steve Loney will call plays for the Vikings, at least until the team identifies the system that works best. Head coach Mike Tice gives significant input to the game plan and has mulled calling plays on game day. For now, Tice will stay out of the play-calling role in order to better allow him to manage the game.
The Vikings have shifted OLG Chris Liwienski to right guard and are unlikely to re-sign ORG David Dixon. Adam Goldberg, who played well at right tackle the final month of the season, is the first-string left guard on the team’s official depth chart. ORT Mike Rosenthal is expected to return from a foot injury.
The Colts are toying with the idea of moving DE Robert Mathis to a LB-DE role next season. Mathis is only 235 pounds and hasn’t been able to hold more weight. The thinking would be, if Mathis can pick up the LB intricacies he began learning during the 2004 regular season, there is no need to delay the move. Mathis would still be a presence in the nickel and dime defenses, when he would put his hand on the ground and rush from the DLE spot.
The Bears haven’t made the move official on the depth chart, but expect ORT John Tait to switch to the left side next season. Without investing further in what already ranks as one of the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lines, the Bears see Tait as the best available option. Even drafting a rookie would include an adjustment period, and the hope is to install the new offense, with as many starters in place as possible, during QB school next month.
There was a lot to like with young OL coach Aaron Kromer in Oakland, but his departure to Tampa Bay to reunite with Jon Gruden was a move that allowed the Raiders to get more serious about a running game that ranked dead last in 2004. Jim Colletto, released by the Ravens on Jan. 10, helped Baltimore establish one of the game’s elite power-running games and was hired by the Raiders to take over a unit that boasts impressive young talent in OT Robert Gallery and OG Jake Grove. “Jim brings an attitude and mentality about the run game that will help us,” head coach Norv Turner said.
The Chargers would’ve liked to have kept well-regarded OL coach Hudson Houck in the fold, but his asking price was too much for the the team’s coaching allotment. With offensive coordinator Cam Cameron re-signed for $625,000 next season, it didn’t make sense for the Chargers to compete with the Dolphins’ price tag of $2.5 million over three years for Houck.
After having some late-season success as a kick returner, including a 94-yard TD return in Week 17, Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery told PFW that he would love to continue in that role in 2005, “The thing about it that I liked — I feel like the game was in my control. Once they kicked the ball off and the ball was in my hands, I controlled everything. I loved that feeling every time I returned a kick, so I think that made me love it even more.”
We’re told even the Panthers’ coaching staff was a bit surprised that LB Mark Fields earned a Pro Bowl spot because of the time he missed this season and the fact that he started the campaign pretty slowly.
Word is that the injury that Patriots FS Eugene Wilson suffered in the first half of Super Bowl XXXIX was a broken right arm.
Jon Gruden, at the Senior Bowl, discussing whether it’s tougher to win your first title or sustain a high level of play over time: “I don’t know. Winning a championship is pretty damn hard. Not very many people have won Super Bowls. Watching Jerome Bettis and the brilliant career that he’s had, and seeing him unable to get there. Seeing Karl Malone and John Stockton. Phil Mickelson, it took him a long time to get there. Took the Red Sox 90 years. It’s hard to get there. As far as sustaining, when you have a salary cap, that is a problem, a real problem, and you don’t have draft picks to replace some of the blue-chip players you might be losing. It’s just a matter of time before people start catching up to you.”
Although Shane Olivea started all 16 games at right tackle as a rookie for the Chargers, we hear his future could be at guard a couple of years down the line.
Giants No. 3 QB Jesse Palmer says he is looking forward to free agency this offseason. “It’s my experience with this,” he said. “I would love the opportunity to go somewhere where I could get a chance to compete for the starting job, but I also really like playing in New York and certainly would consider returning.”
Expect the Falcons to demand more out of WRs Brian Finneran and Peerless Price this offseason, and there is word that the team may be willing to make some major changes in the WR corps.
The way we hear it, former Browns defensive coordinator Dave Campo is the favorite to claim the same job with LSU.
The Texans are likely to add a nickel cornerback in the offseason, according to a source close to the team. Current nickel back Demarcus Faggins is thought to be a candidate to start once veteran CB Aaron Glenn is phased out of the lineup.
The Falcons won’t make decisions about which direction they should go with personnel until the middle of February because the coaching staff wanted to take some time off to cool down before making any plans for the future.