There has been some interest in Randy Moss expressed to The Sports Xchange in conversations with personnel officials from a few teams. But the set of potential suitors isn't expected to be large, despite the contention this week from agent Joel Segal that his client is in "freakish" shape, and the potential payday might be considered an affront of sorts by the 13-year veteran.
At age 34, Moss might be impacted by the perceptions that he has lost some deep speed and the reality that he is hardly a middle-of-the-field option. Said one NFC general manager of Moss, who had only 28 combined receptions with three different teams in 2010: "If all he's going to do is run up the boundary, you can get younger and cheaper guys who can do that for you."
There's also this factor: Moss doesn't play special teams, never has, and as a fourth or fifth receiver, would have to do.
CB Johnathan Joseph
"He'd be a luxury," said the NFC general manager. "And there aren't a lot of teams that can afford a luxury ... not from a money situation, but more from a personnel standpoint."
No Ordinary Joseph
Keep an eye on Cincinnati cornerback Johnathan Joseph in free agency. Although the Bengals often note his injury history, and point out that the former first-rounder (2006) has started all 16 games only once in his career, the five-year veteran has been whispered by several teams as a far less expensive (although his price won't be cheap) alternative to fellow free agent Nnamdi Asomugha.
Joseph is only 27 and, if he can stay healthy, is a solid cover guy who may not be as physical as some teams like, but who has benefitted from playing in the AFC North. The Bengals aren't going to spend the $8-$10 million per year Joseph likely could command somewhere else. Compounding the situation is that Cincinnati prefers to try to keep cornerback Leon Hall, who is entering the final season of his contract.
On a side note, people in Cincy have told The Sports Xchange that, even though recent surgery to address the neck injury suffered last season by Pacman Jones isn't considered serious by some, there remain reservations in the organization about whether the veteran corner will be able to play in 2011.
Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor remains the biggest name in the supplemental draft likely to be held later this month, but he was joined this week by onetime Georgia tailback Caleb King, and could soon find a few others in the summertime lottery. Indications are that former North Carolina defensive end Michael McAdoo, who was ruled permanently ineligible by school officials and recently lost his court appeal to have that judgment overturned, is at least considering the supplemental option. So are a couple of Pryor's onetime OSU teammates who were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season.
Meanwhile, King, whose three-year tenure at Georgia was marked by turbulence and irresponsibility before he was declared academically ineligible last week, will begin hard training next week for the supplemental draft. King, who rushed for 1,271 yards in a disappointing career with the Bulldogs, and who will be represented by Atlanta-area agent Kevin Conner, will meet with people to help him prepare for any interview sessions with NFL teams, and also will work out in front of some folks with NFL-level expertise.
Given that they play in one of the league's toughest divisions, it's hard at times to discern any progress achieved by the Buffalo Bills, who haven't been to the playoffs since gaining a wild card berth in 1999. But the Bills have assembled what might be one of the NFL's best young receiving corps.
"We have some guys who can go and get (the ball), and they're just going to get better," quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick told The Sports Xchange. "There are guys who can run, who can come underneath, work the edges, work out of the slot, you name it."
The veterans are Lee Evans and Roscoe Parrish, two players whose names have been raised in the past in trade rumors. But of the nine wide receivers currently listed on the Buffalo roster, six have three or fewer seasons of NFL experience. And the group includes 2010 leading receiver Steve Johnson (three years), along with Donald Jones and slot man David Nelson (both rookies in 2010), along with 2010 rookies Marcus Easley (who missed his entire rookie season because of injury) and Naaman Roosevelt, who has great potential.
WR Steve Johnson
It might be hyperbole to suggest that the Bills had put together the best young group in the league, but Fitzpatrick thinks the young wideouts can develop into "a real force."
--Although 2010 camp sensation Montario Hardesty is said to have recovered from the knee surgery that cost him his entire rookie campaign, Cleveland is expected to pursue a veteran tailback who can relieve Peyton Hillis of some of the workload he confronted last year.
--The abrupt retirement of 16-year veteran quarterback Kerry Collins last week not only cast first-round choice Jake Locker as the potential starter, but also put prominent agent David Dunn unwittingly perhaps in the middle of the Tennessee quarterback situation. Dunn represented Collins and is the agent for Locker. He also represents pending unrestricted free agent Matt Hasselbeck of Seattle, whom some unsubstantiated reports have linked to the Titans.
--Denver officials aren't quite as disappointed in former first-round tailback Knowshon Moreno (2009) as indicated in reports this week, but there is a feeling among the new coaching staff that the two-year veteran might not be best suited to the one-cut style new coach John Fox will retain. Notably, pending free agent DeAngelo Williams, who played for Fox in Carolina, but whom the Panthers will try hard to retain (and who will be a target for first-refusal rights if that is a part of a new CBA), flourished when the zone-blocking style was incorporated there. "It's so similar to what I did in college," Williams told The Sports Xchange. "It's natural for me."
--Former Miami offensive coordinator Dan Henning suggested this week that the "Wildcat" likely will remain as part of the Dolphins' attack in 2011. Sure enough, rookie Daniel Thomas, the second-rounder who is most likely to assume a starter's role if Brown and Williams depart in free agency, played some quarterback in high school. And some of the pending free agents who might be Miami targets are well suited to the "Wildcat" formation. But first-rounder Mike Pouncey, who could start at center, had troubles with the shotgun snap at Florida early last season, isn't as comfortable with it and will need some work.
--As first reported by the Sports Xchange on May 13, veteran agent Eugene Parker will serve as presenter for Deion Sanders at the Hall of Fame. Parker is one of two agents chosen as Hall presenters, the other being Rocky Arceneaux for Marshall Faulk. It's the first time there have been two agent/presenters in the same class and equals the total of agents who have presented Hall of Fame inductees in the previous history of the Canton shrine.
--In denying the DUI with which he was charged this week, Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward may have unwittingly conceded a far less serious illegality. Ward allowed that he often texts while driving, a violation in Georgia, albeit one that carries only a $100 fine for adults. The state has made it a priority to reduce the number of accidents that occur while texting and driving.
--Just one day after The Sports Xchange suggested in a column this week that joint-team practice session could be another victim of the lockout, the New Orleans and Houston officials announced they will not conduct the mixed camp practices the clubs have held each of the past three years. Jacksonville and Atlanta, which practiced together last summer, followed suit. Because of the lockout, and the increased pressure to put together teams minus the benefit of minicamps and OTAs, there might not be any camp sessions this summer in which teams combine for workouts.
--When the San Diego Chargers signed former Dallas second-round linebacker Kevin Burnett (2005) in the summer of 2009, the addition wasn't viewed as a significant one. But with his performance in 2010 - 80 tackles, six sacks and 16 starts for the first time in his career - re-signing the free agent Burnett has become a priority for the Chargers.
--The four-year probation imposed Thursday on Georgia Tech identified a few of the players, agents and "runners" involved in indiscretions there, but there remain a few Atlanta-based agents, and former Yellow Jackets players who worked for them, who played a part in the problems and may not be welcome back on campus.
--As noted this week by ol' buddy Mike O'Hara of FOXSports in Detroit, the improving Lions have targeted pending free agent linebackers Justin Durant (Jacksonville) and Stephen Tulloch (Tennessee) as possible additions when the lockout ends. But not to be forgotten, either, is Stephen Nicholas (Atlanta). Nor should it be overlooked that Tulloch is strictly a middle linebacker, and some Lions coaches feel that might be the best position for two-year veteran DeAndre Levy, who has struggled at times when he has played outside.
The last word
"It's hard to talk to a person when they have millions, man, because there is so much noise in their life. Everybody around them is employed, and they have ‘yes men.' You got to start hiring a ‘no man.'" - Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders in an interview with an Atlanta radio station, on cutting ties with troubled Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, whom he once mentored.
Len Pasquarelli is a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange. He has covered the NFL for 33 years and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. His NFL coverage earned recognition as the winner of the McCann Award for distinguished reporting in 2008.