Around the NFC West: No Dansby deal for Cards

A look inside the camps of the 49ers' three divisional rivals in the NFC West as training camps prepare to open at the end of this month.

=================
ARIZONA CARDINALS
=================


It's likely 2009 will be inside linebacker Karlos Dansby's last season with the club.

Dansby has been the franchise player the past two years, and the team had until July 15 to sign him to a long term deal.

For the second consecutive year, it failed, and Dansby will player under a franchise figure of $9.7 million.

The club has tried to reach agreement with Dansby's agents for the past two years, yet reportedly came close to re-signing him once.

That reportedly happened earlier this year, but according to sources, Dansby fired agent Kirk Wood just as a deal was getting close.

Dansby, who then hired Todd France, denied that. Dansby isn't bitter or angry. He's continually said he understands the business, and that he has made a business decision, too.

Dansby has long anticipated becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2010, which could be an uncapped season. He thinks a playmaking inside linebacker, who is only 28, will be an attractive commodity.

The Cardinals are unlikely to franchise Dansby again, given a third consecutive franchise number calls for a 44 percent raise, up to nearly $14 million.

The Cardinals won't pay that. Dansby reportedly is seeking a long-term deal that includes more than $20 million guaranteed. It's doubtful the Cardinals are going to pay that, either.

CAMP CALENDAR: Players report July 29. There is a conditioning test on July 30 and the first practice is July 31. Camp breaks on Aug. 20. On Saturday, Aug. 8, the Cardinals will host a "Red and White" practice that includes an autograph session a live goal-line session. The team will also have two night practices, on Aug. 5 and Aug. 18.

***** ***** *****

Strength and conditioning coach John Lott continued a tradition of having the rookies hike a local mountain to conclude summer workouts. It's a steep trail and a solid workout. More importantly, Lott views it a team building exercise.

***** ***** *****

Coach Ken Whisenhunt might be the best golfer among NFL head coaches. He's going to get a chance to prove it this week as he plays in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship in Lake Tahoe. It's Whisenhunt's first appearance in the event.

***** ***** *****

Rookie RB Beanie Wells was a diligent participant in workouts once he was allowed to participate under NFL rules.

Wells couldn't participate in practices because classes at Ohio State were in session. But he arrived in Arizona the first day possible and spent a considerable amount of time with receiver Larry Fitzgerald, even staying at Fitzgerald's house.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's hard to put into words what I feel about you, what you have done for me and this team. I have great respect for how you handled everything, and I thank God we are on this journey together." -- Coach Ken Whisenhunt's text message to Kurt Warner after the Super Bowl, as published in Warner's new book "First things First," co-written by Brenda Warner.


==============
ST. LOUIS RAMS
==============


It was no surprise when free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe signed his one-year contract July 15 as the Rams' franchise player.

Unlike most franchise players in the NFL, Atogwe was present throughout the entire offseason, in workouts and minicamps.

When asked recently by espn.com why he took the risk of practicing without signing the guaranteed $6.342 million tender, Atogwe said, "Me personally, I believe my future is in God's hands, so I don't worry about risks when I make decisions. I think about what I could possibly gain from this and what could benefit me in this situation. I am committed to this team and I am waiting to see what their commitment to me is. If it's one year, then so be it. It's one year. When I sign it, I'm here with the team. Going forward, if they want to do a long-term deal and sign me and have me here for years to come, then I want to keep that option open in a way that is beneficial for both of us.

"As a player, you're really only guaranteed your next play or the play that you're in or the year that you get. So I have this year. Going forth, I don't know what's going to happen after this year, I don't know what's going to happen after this day so I'm blessed just to be able to say, 'OK, I get another year to play. Let me focus on that one year that I'm in and then after that we'll worry about that.' For today I'm worried about today."

Many players look at being the franchise player as being a negative. Not Atogwe.

"I think everything is a good thing," he said during the offseason. "It's a blessing to come out here and play. And to be thought of as one of the top five at my position is an honor. I relish this.

"I don't have to be (here) contractually, but I feel like I'm obligated to be here for my teammates and for my coaches. Going forward in this year, if I want to be a part of this team I want to be a part of this team from the beginning to the end and I think it's important that we all put aside our own personal stuff and just really sacrifice for the team. Put the team first and allow us to come together as one unit so we can get a lot done this year."

The NFL maintains that franchise players who haven't signed a long-term contract by July 15 are ineligible to do so after the season. However, there is some gray area in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Article XX, Section 2(k) of the CBA says: "Any Club designating a Franchise Player shall have until 4:00 p.m., New York time, on July 15 of the League Year (or, if July 15 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the first Monday thereafter) for which the designation takes effect to sign the player to a multi-year contract or extension. After that date, the player may sign only a one-year Player Contract with his Prior Club for that season, and such Player Contract may not be extended until after the Club's last regular season game."

Some of the language ("After that date, the player may sign only a one-year Player Contract with his Prior Club") seems to include only players that hadn't signed their tender by July 15. However, other language ("to sign the player to a multi-year contract or extension") appears to cover a player that had signed his tender because a long-term contract signed before the end of the season would be considered an extension.

The reality, however, is that Atogwe will likely play the entire season on the one-year deal. Speculation that the deal was consummated so the Rams could trade him is just that. Signing the tender wouldn't spur sudden interest from other teams. If there was serious interest, teams have already had almost five months to make a deal.

It's not out of the question the Rams and Atogwe could agree to a deal, and try to make it valid with the league. There also could be an agreement in principle that would be officially consummated after the 2009 season.

The Rams retain the right to franchise Atogwe again in 2010 at 120 percent of his 2008 salary ($7.61 million) or, if there is no salary cap in 2010, tender him as a restricted free agent at 110 percent of his '08 salary ($6.976 million).

As a restricted free agent, draft-choice compensation if an offer wasn't matched would be first- and third-round draft picks instead of the two No. 1 picks it takes to acquire a franchise player. In addition, there is no deadline for long-term contracts to be signed for restricted free agents.

CAMP CALENDAR: Rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans report to camp July 29 at the club's Earth City training facility. That group will have two practices July 30, the same day the rest of the squad will report. The first full-squad practices will be July 31.

***** ***** *****

The Rams had a good amount of roster turnover in the offseason, but there are 43 players on the training camp roster that were on the roster or injured reserve at the end of the 2008 season.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo said one of the first things he did after being named the team's coach in January was to watch tape of the final stretch of games last season.

He said, "Even though they had struggled to a 2-14 season, I saw a team that continued to play hard in all of those games, and that's a credit to the staff that was here before and also a reflection of the players that are here. I feel like if you at least have that, and can do some of the right things in building around that, then you have a chance."

***** ***** *****

The Rams hope rookie James Laurinaitis wins the starting middle linebacker job, but he won't be competing with second-year player Larry Grant.

That was the case in 2006 when the two were at Ohio State trying to win the starting spot in the middle. Laurinaitis won, and was drafted in the second round this year.

Grant was a seventh-round pick of the 49ers last year, was cut and added to the practice squad in the beginning of the season. The Rams signed him off San Francisco's practice squad on Nov. 26.

He played mostly on special teams, but this offseason practiced on the strong side, sometimes with the first unit.

Laurinaitis called Grant "extremely talented," and added, "He was a leader at Ohio State, and to see him here with me is awesome, because he's helping me out with some things in the defense. I think with Larry, you get a guy who's extremely good with his hands, and he makes some plays. I think if he gets the chance to play football, he's going to show some people that he's going to be pretty good linebacker.

"We're doing things here that we'd been used to doing at Ohio State - staying after, watching film on our own, trying to get things down. When you have guys that are already comfortable with each other, it gives you a head start communicating."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Spags is Spags. He has a plan. He has a goal. It's about respect. You can see it in his eyes that he will go to bat for you and give us a chance in the fourth quarter to win games. Who's to say we can't be that team?" -- WR Keenan Burton on new coach Steve Spagnuolo.


================
SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
================


Seahawks backup quarterback Seneca Wallace still believes he can be a starter in the National Football League. Whether or not he gets a chance to prove he can be starter remains to be seen.

Wallace threw for more than 1,500 yards, finishing with 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions while starting eight games for Seattle last season, with Matt Hasselbeck out because of bulging disk in his back. Wallace completed 58 percent of his passes. The Seahawks finished 3-5 in games Wallace started last season.

"You always have to have confidence that you can come in and be the starter on any team," Wallace said. "I always feel that way. I'm adamant about it. And I'm going to keep working to improve each day, and hopefully something happens."

Still, Wallace is considered by most league observers as a solid backup with good athleticism that could provide an added spark for a team by running the Wildcat offense.

Wallace, 28, is signed by Seattle through the 2010 season and due to make a base salary of $1.5 million in 2009 and 2010.

The Seahawks tried to use Wallace as a receiver in 2008 after injuries depleted the position, but Wallace injured his calf during warm-ups before the San Francisco game at Qwest Field, and limped through the first half of the season.

Hasselbeck has said he's healthy heading into this year's training camp, which means there is a possibility Seattle may try to get Wallace on the field in another capacity.

If that is the case, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp has not told Wallace yet, letting him instead get comfortable with the new offensive system during offseason workouts.

"As soon as we come back and start getting into training camp maybe, but right now we're not doing too much," Wallace said about the possibility of playing other positions besides quarterback. "We're just trying to grind through this offense, trying to learn the offense and see where it takes us from there.

"It's a new scheme for everybody. So every time we come out we're trying to get better. Mistakes are going to happen in a new system. But you just try and push those behind you and not keep making the same mistake twice."

CAMP CALENDAR: Rookies are scheduled to report to camp July 30, with veterans reporting July 31 and the first practice scheduled for July 31.

***** ***** *****

With the majestic Mount Rainier as their backdrop, Seattle head coach Jim Mora and league Commissioner Roger Goodell - two men who combined have been involved in the league for more than 50 years - got a chance to get better acquainted during their recent, three-day hike up the 14,411-foot peak.

"I love Jim," Goodell said. "He's one of those passionate guys who when he sets his mind on doing something he does it and he does it well. And he loves the Pacific Northwest, as you know. And he was very proud of Rainier, and he's very proud of this region and the people.

"So it meant a lot to him what we were doing."

Goodell said he and Mora spent a sleepless night before the final ascent looking at the imposing mountain, and that they also went to dinner together before traveling to Rainier.

Mora said the climb was an opportunity for the two men to bond, along with bringing some national attention to the Seahawks, with Seattle often taking a backseat to bigger market teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and New York Giants. Mora joked about talking to Goodell about changing the 10 a.m. kickoffs on the East Coast that the Seahawks have traditionally struggled to win in the last couple years.

Mora said watching Goodell struggle through and succeed in completing the climb up Rainier showed the characteristics that help make Goodell a successful head of the league.

"He's no-nonsense," Mora said. "I think he's fair. I think he's thoughtful about the issues that affect our league. And then after watching him perform for a couple days out there, because I think there is a carry over, you learn about a man, how he handles adversity and how he handles challenges.

"And to watch him handle these things, you think 'Yeah, this is the right guy. This is the guy I want running the league that I work in.'"

***** ***** *****

Matt Hasselbeck has been doing a little offseason conditioning on his own that requires him to get wet. Hasselbeck said during an interview with a Seattle-area radio station that he's been swimming across the Columbia River while vacationing with family at Lake Chelan, about an hour and a half east of Seattle.

"It's not warm," added Hasselbeck said. "Right now is a great time to kind of train on your own."

***** ***** *****

Seattle Seahawks running back T.J. Duckett told a Seattle-area radio station that he's looking forward to expanding his role as a short-yardage back, and believes the team's new zone-blocking system fits his style as a one-cut, downhill runner.

"I would love to have more carries," Duckett said. "I'm not just wanting to settle with being a short-yardage back just because of my size. So yeah, definitely, mentally I'm ready to compete for that.

"Physically I'm ready, so it's just a matter of now going into camp and working. Working and showing what I can do. And trying - I don't want to say knocking the stigma of a big back off - but showing I can be more of a guy who runs inside the 20s or a first and second-down guy. And give the coaches more confidence that I can make things happen."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "There's some fear involved. You're out there in the middle of this mountain and it's pitch black, and you're out there with 12 people or so and you have flashlights on your helmet, you're looking off the side of the mountain and literally if you make one misstep you're going down. So there was a fair amount of fear involved with it, too." - League commissioner Roger Goodell on climbing Mount Rainier with Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim Mora.



Niners Digest Top Stories