Someone was asking about these tidbits last week,well they're back and here ya go...from Pro Football Weekly.
Feb. 4, 2004
Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio has privately expressed interest in acquiring WR Keyshawn Johnson, who has connections to the team. Johnson served as a ballboy at USC while Del Rio played linebacker there. Jaguars vice president of player personnel James Harris also served as the Jets’ assistant general manager when New York drafted Johnson in 1996.
Look for Panthers QB Jake Delhomme and WR Steve Smith to sign lucrative, long-term contracts in the next few weeks.
We’re told Falcons general manager Rich McKay thought it was important to keep QB coach Mike Johnson around because he believes Johnson is the biggest reason QB Michael Vick’s passing improved as much as it did in limited action last season.
Depending on what happens when they try to restructure Rich Gannon’s ballooning contract, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise if the Raiders make a pitch for Mark Brunell’s services.
Although he spent Super Bowl week denying such a move was in the works, Dan Marino abruptly resigned from his post as Dolphins senior vice president of football operations. Marino said in a statement he was not comfortable with juggling the job with his personal life. Even though he had not started his new gig, Marino had incurred the ire of the Panthers, who were not pleased during Super Bowl week that Marino was allowed to attend a team practice as a CBS employee, since there are 17 potential free agents.
Titans officials will analyze tapes of how QB Steve McNair suffered his injuries during the season in the hopes of keeping him more healthy for the 2004 season.
A source close to the situation said 49ers RB Kevan Barlow, a restricted free agent, would love to reunite with Lions head coach Steve Mariucci and RB coach Tom Rathman in Detroit. Barlow expected to become the 49ers’ starter early last season but saw his role reduced until veteran Garrison Hearst was injured. Barlow finished the season strong, rushing for 433 yards and four touchdowns in the final four games of the season, and the Niners say he is part of their future. Hearst, on the other hand, may be released for salary cap-related reasons. Detroit would have an interest in Hearst despite his age because of his pass-catching skills.
The Dolphins’ QB situation most likely will look very different in 2004 than it did in ’03. Backup Brian Griese is all but gone, given his high price, and word is starter Jay Fiedler isn’t far behind him out the door. Sage Rosenfels will be the primary backup, and the Dolphins, whom team observers believe will be armed with two first-round picks because it will decline to match any huge offers to restricted free agent DE Adewale Ogunleye, will be on the market for a youngster at quarterback. North Carolina State’s Philip Rivers and Tulane’s J.P. Losman are names that have been mentioned early on, and Miami also is expected to be a player in the Drew Henson sweepstakes.
Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray voiced his support of 2003 second-round pick Chris Kelsay, who did not log much time on the field last season and was a disappointment as a result. Gray believes the young defensive end will be outstanding, so long as he gets more playing time, something that came at a premium under DL coach Tim Krumrie. Sources say Gray’s comments were a thinly veiled shot at Krumrie’s rotation system, and that Gray would like to see Kelsay on the field much more.
Strategy-wise, Bills observers believe the team would be way off base not to focus heavily on the run in 2004 given the RB stable they have (Travis Henry and Willis McGahee) and the fact that OL coach Jim McNally could turn the offensive line around.
The Patriots may feel more comfortable cutting ties with disappointing P Ken Walter now than they were during the season, as they can use the offseason to groom a new holder for placement kicks. Walter, who was released during the season but brought back because of his abilities as a holder, did not punt well in the Super Bowl, and with head coach Bill Belichick’s desire for good special-teams play, Walter’s job could be in serious jeopardy.
Don’t underestimate what the loss of Donnie Henderson means to Baltimore’s defense. Henderson, formerly the Ravens DB coach, was recently named the Jets’ defensive coordinator. A source close to the Ravens says Henderson is credited for turning around CB Chris McAlister’s season, and coach and player were said to have a very good relationship. (McAlister is an unrestricted free agent, but the Ravens are unlikely to let him get away without a fight.) Former Giants defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn took Henderson’s place in Baltimore. We hear the Ravens expected to lose Henderson or DL coach Rex Ryan to a coordinator’s job but did not want to lose both coaches. The Raiders reportedly had interest in interviewing Ryan, but head coach Brian Billick indicated he will not let any other assistants leave.
Don’t be surprised if the Ravens trade up in the second round, according to a source close to the team. The Ravens are without a first-round pick, having traded it to the Patriots to move up to get Kyle Boller. The Ravens will target WR, OL and DL help in the draft. Getting a young offensive tackle is of particular importance, according to the source.
Look for the Bengals to work at re-signing OG Mike Goff and C Rich Braham, according to a source close to the team.
Steelers OL coach Russ Grimm told PFW he benefited from being a finalist for the Bears head-coaching vacancy and indicated he learned from the numerous questions he had to answer during the process.
Although little progress has been made in negotiations with unrestricted free agent Donovin Darius, we hear the Jaguars want the safety back.
Despite rumors speculating that Colts offensive coordinator Tom Moore wants a head-coaching job, he has said that he is very comfortable with his current position. At age 65, he does not expect to take a higher title. Plus, he and his wife remain very happy in the Indianapolis area.
We hear that the Colts have not decided whether CB Walt Harris, who has a salary-cap figure of $3.3 million, will return. Team officials want to evaluate his aching knees before making a decision on his status for next year.
Sources close to the Titans do not expect the team’s roster to be set until after training camp and preseason. If the team still has holes, Titans officials are confident that they can plug them with late-season acquistions as they have done the last couple of years with LB Greg Favors, S Rich Coady, S Lamont Thompson and S Scott McGarrahan, among others.
An NFL team executive told PFW that 5-9, 216-pound RB Domanick Davis has a lot talent but may not be able to hold up for an entire season.
Contract negotiations between the Broncos and unrestricted free agent Al Wilson are said to be progressing, but talks with fellow LB Ian Gold are moving a bit slower. According to sources close to the team, re-signing Wilson is easily priority No. 1 early in the offseason.
With Steve Beuerlein likely headed toward retirement, expect the Broncos to sign a veteran backup quarterback who won’t break the bank and/or draft a quarterback in the middle to late rounds to compete with Jarious Jackson and Danny Kanell in training camp.
Chiefs head coach Dick Vermeil on his team’s offensive system: “It’s proven to be an effective offense and you’re seeing more people borrowing aspects of what we do. The shifting, the use of motion, some of the pass routes … . But you have to remember, the only way to be successful is to have the players who can make it work. Players make the system, not the other way around.”
Gary Stills may not have panned out as a linebacker like the Chiefs had hoped, but the five-year veteran has proven to be an effective situational pass rusher and is well-regarded for his special-teams play. He racked up 29 tackles on coverage teams to lead Kansas City, forced two fumbles and recovered another. Last week he was added to the Pro Bowl for his special-teams prowess as an injury replacement for the Ravens’ Adalius Thomas.
The rumors that have the Chiefs and Steelers talking about a Larry Johnson-for-Plaxico Burress trade appear to have no validity whatsoever.
This will be a key offseason for Cowboys backup QB Chad Hutchinson, who has not played much football the past six years. He’s off to NFL Europe, where head coach Bill Parcells hopes Hutchinson can get more reps. Parcells also reportedly considered sending third-string QB Tony Romo, but Romo will work in the team’s conditioning program and study with assistant head coach Sean Payton.
The Cowboys still want C Al Johnson — rebounding from microfracture knee surgery that wiped out his entire rookie season — to compete for the starting job in 2004, but they might like to re-sign Matt Lehr and Gennaro DiNapoli just in case.
The Redskins are likely to face the Broncos in the Hall of Fame game Aug. 9 in Canton, Ohio, according to reports.
DE Renaldo Wynn appears to be the only Redskins defensive lineman who is a safe bet to get any significant playing time next season.
Sources close to the team indicate that one of the reasons Eagles assistant head coach Marty Mornhinweg stayed with the team is added responsibility and more game-planning duties.
An import from Kansas City, Bears offensive coordinator Terry Shea wants to stress the TE position in the passing game. Familiar with TE Desmond Clark from Clark’s days with the Broncos, Shea also is from the Bill Walsh school of thought that makes the tight end a primary read on third downs and in short yardage. Clark is not the athlete Chiefs All-Pro Tony Gonzalez is, but Clark, a former wide receiver, can beat most linebackers in one-on-one coverage.
The Bears are torn on whether to keep CB R.W. McQuarters or look elsewhere for a strong replacement. A favorite of retained DB coach Vance Bedford, McQuarters started early in 2003 but was benched in favor of Jerry Azumah, who already had been bumped from the starting rotation by rookie LCB Charles Tillman and drew mixed reviews for his coverage ability. McQuarters’ fate likely depends on how the Bears spend their free-agent dollars. If Chicago fills holes at key spots — defensive tackle, offensive tackle or running back — on the open market, it would be more apt to draft a cornerback. But if the Bears are stringent spenders, they may have to patch both lines via the draft, meaning McQuarters would get a stay of execution.
Although there have been some grumblings about the news that the Bucs are raising ticket prices for the second straight season, sources say the team’s fan base shouldn’t suffer because it still is enjoying some of the good feelings from the Super Bowl win two seasons ago.
Look for the Buccaneers to use the draft to help shore up depth in the LB corps, although Tampa isn’t likely to select a player that will make an impact next season.
We hear the Falcons decided to retain nine coaches from Dan Reeves’ coaching staff because owner Arthur Blank wasn’t upset about the way individual positions were handled, but rather he thought the sideline lacked the proper leadership.
We hear negotiations between the Saints and FB Terrelle Smith are not progressing very well because Smith isn’t really a true fullback and the Saints aren’t willing to shell out decent money for what amounts to a backup running back.
Don’t be too concerned about Saints RB Deuce McAllister sitting out the Pro Bowl with a partial tear of his posterior cruciate ligament. McAllister played with the injury in the last game of the season, but he didn’t believe playing in the Pro Bowl was worth the risk of possibly injuring himself even worse.
Although RB Stephen Davis put up huge numbers for the Panthers this season, look for RB DeShaun Foster to get a lot more carries next season to ease some of Davis’ workload.
We hear the Niners were pretty far apart at presstime with Steve Baker, the agent of QB Jeff Garcia, in discussions to reduce Garcia’s hefty contract, and that Garcia’s recent arrest on suspicion of DUI might have become more of an issue than initially expected.
Word is the Niners believe WR Arnaz Battle, a sixth-round pick this past season who was limited by ligament damage in his toe, has a great shot at making an impact provided he can stay healthy.
Vann McElroy, the agent for 49ers unrestricted free agent Jason Webster, told PFW that the cornerback is fully healthy after a season that took its toll physically. “(Webster) is one of the best tackling corners in the league and will receive a lot of interest in the free-agent market from teams that are well aware of his ability,” McElroy said.
We hear the Cardinals are reserving judgment on the future of RB Damien Anderson, who suffered serious injuries to his spleen, liver and face in a rollover automobile accident Jan. 3. Anderson’s agent, Mike McCartney, said his client was expected to make a full recovery, but our sources have their doubts that Anderson will be totally ready when offseason workouts begin in March.
Don’t look for the Cardinals to go out of their way to re-sign any of their players who have become free agents. We also hear it’s doubtful the team will use any of its franchise or transition tags this offseason.
Jim Hanifan, who just retired as the Rams’ OL coach, on Rams ORT Kyle Turley: ”He’s the closest thing to (former Cardinals OG Conrad) Dobler I’ve ever seen. He’s just as nasty. Whatever he needed to do, Conrad did, and Kyle’s a very passionate, high-energy player.”