TSX Around the League (Part II)

The Sports Xchange discusses this year's supplemental draft, illegal contact between players and teams, the paycheck of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Richard Seymour and more.

The names certainly aren't set, and neither is the exact date, but the NFL plans on having a supplemental draft this summer.

There has been some question about the legality of the special-cases draft, which has produced just one player taken in the top three rounds -- Kentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon by Washington in the third round in 2009 -- since 2006. But league vice president Greg Aiello confirmed to The Sports Xchange that the supplemental draft is covered explicitly in the expired collective bargaining agreement, the same way the regular-phase draft last month was directly addressed.

As previously reported here, the supplemental draft lost a potential big-name player when former University of Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins opted to transfer and continue his college career elsewhere. There have been unsubstantiated rumors that Michael Floyd of Notre Dame might opt for the supplemental draft, but sources close to the wide receiver contend that isn't the case.

Code of silence

Amid reports last week that Pittsburgh and Washington had a draft day deal arranged in the first round that fell apart because the player the Steelers coveted was gone have come denials from all sides. Redskins vice president of public relations Tony Wyllie and general manager Bruce Allen both pooh-poohed the reports, as did a trusted Steelers source.

The alleged trade would have had the Steelers moving up to the 16th slot in the opening round from the 31st, presumably to grab University of Florida guard Mike Pouncey. But the brother of Pittsburgh Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey was taken by Miami with the 15th choice. According to the Pittsburgh source, the two teams spoke in the days preceding the draft, doing the type of due diligence all franchises conduct, but there was not a phone call at all between the two clubs once the lottery began.

Punts --There have been numerous reports over the past two weeks of contact between coaches and players, forbidden under terms of the lockout, and it would probably be naive to think there's isn't some sort of communication occurring in some cases. But league officials said Thursday that, after investigating some of the reports, they have unearthed no violations. From a personal standpoint, we can report that several teams where The Sports Xchange sought interviews with coaches politely declined the requests of lack of clarity with lockout rules.
--With the presumptive retirement of Phil Jackson from the Los Angeles Lakers, Forbes Magazine has tabbed Belichick as the highest paid coach in any of the four North American professional leagues. Coaching salaries in the NFL are notoriously tough to pinpoint, and New England is particularly cryptic about Belichick's deal, but Forbes pegs his contract at about $7.5 million per year. There are six other NFL coaches -- Mike Shanahan, Pete Carroll, Lovie Smith, Ken Whisenhunt, Tom Coughlin, and Mike Tomlin -- in the top 10. The other three are NBA coaches.
--Last week in this spot, we noted that Philadelphia will jettison veteran kicker David Akers after the lockout, not only for age and salary, but because some in the organization have grown weary of what they perceive as attitude problems. This week, Eagles special teams coach Bobby April all but confirmed Akers' pending departure when he said that rookie Alex Henery of Nebraska, the club's fourth-round pick in last month's draft, could be the club's leading scorer for many years.
--Contracts from the UFL began landing in the mailboxes of players and agents this week, and the fledgling, five-team league has made some notable cuts: The salary for the season has been reduced to $40,000, from $50,000 a year ago. Training camp per diem payments went from $55 to $50. Most notable was the reduction for the title game. Last year, the league champion received $20,000 and the runner-up bagged $10,000. For 2011, the payments are $6,000 and $5,000, respectively. --As noted this week in several spots, Oakland defensive lineman Richard Seymour, who early in the year signed a new two-year, $30 million contract that makes him the NFL's priciest defensive player on a per-year average basis, will foot the bill for a four-day session with teammates in Atlanta Tuesday through Friday. Agent Eugene Parker told The Sports Xchange he has not spoken to his client about the price, and could not confirm it is six figures, but said: "The one thing about Richard is that he does everything first-class, so he's not going to cut corners, believe me. He feels like this is important for the team and he's going to do it right." According to the plan, Seymour will supervise the defensive workouts and Campbell will run the offensive practices. The sessions will be at Competitive Edge Sports in suburban Atlanta, and will be monitored by noted trainer Chip Smith, the subject of a column by The Sports Xchange at the outset of the lockout.
--The lockout could scuttle plans by the New Orleans staff for working third-round draft pick Martez Wilson, a middle 'backer at Illinois, on the strong side. If the lockout wipes out most minicamps and OTAs, it's likely Wilson will be relegated to backup duty behind Jonathan Vilma in the middle.
--The Eagles could also switch middle linebacker Stewart Bradley to the strong-side spot to make room for either Omar Gaither or Jamar Chaney, both of whom logged two starts in 2010, at the "Mike" position.
--Eleven-year veteran cornerback Dre Bly, who didn't play in the league at all in 2010, still hopes to catch on with someone for camp. Bly, who will be 34 on Sunday, averaged 13.5 starts in eight seasons until sitting out last year.
Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, who played in only five games in 2010 because of meniscus surgery, reported last week that his knee feels fine and he's ready to roll. But there continue to be suspicions that this could be the final season in Green Bay for Finley, who possesses monstrous athletic skills and was on his way to a career season in '10 before the injury. Finley is in the final year of his contract and, if he hits the market, will draw plenty of suitors. The Packers, who are always conscious of depth under general manager Ted Thompson, have three other veteran tight ends on the roster, and added two more. D.J. Williams of Arkansas and North Carolina's Ryan Taylor, in the draft.
--There has been a lot of attention paid to veteran wide receivers who might be available in free agency -- Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Vincent Jackson, among others -- and justifiably so. And the status of Carolina's Steve Smith, who is said to have asked for a trade, is worth watching for teams in the market. But clubs are monitoring as well a group of young wideouts whose free agency status will be determined by the CBA negotiations. The group includes Steve Breaston, Malcom Floyd, James Jones, Lance Moore, Sidney Rice, and Mike Sims-Walker.
--The above-mentioned Fitzpatrick told The Sports Xchange that Buffalo skill-position players will assemble next week for workouts. The group of about nine running backs and receivers also met last month.
--The Palm Beach Post had an interesting Friday column in which it noted that some front office employees, whose salaries have been reduced because of the lockout, are actually rooting for the players to prevail. We don't know about that, but we can attest there are some assistant coaches, who are about to go stir-crazy, who privately wish the players would cave, so they can get back to work.
--Notable leftover from the draft is that Dallas owner Jerry Jones, who made 58 draft day trades since acquiring the franchise in 1989, made none this year.
--Although they have yet to see first-round pick Ryan Kerrigan on the practice field, some Washington coaches remain borderline skeptical that the former Purdue star will make a seamless transition from 4-3 defensive end to 3-4 outside linebacker. Kerrigan has a great motor, but has struggled at times in space. Of course, the Kerrigan supporters note that, under coordinator Jim Haslett, the Redskins' linebackers don't drop and cover much anyway.

The last word
"I could play today and help a team out. There is no doubt in my mind. ... I know I couldn't play a whole game, but I could contribute a lot." -- Former NFL tailback Herschel Walker, who is 49 and hasn't played since 1997, per The Dallas Morning News.

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