Cleveland Browns - Starting RB Jamal Lewis confirmed this week on Sirius NFL
Radio that his agent, Mitch Frankel, had discussions with the team recently
about a new deal but nothing appeared imminent. A league source believes that
the veteran back would have a hard time finding much interest around the league
for a few reasons.
Lewis turns 29 this August and while he stayed relatively healthy this season, the power back is at the age where backs start to lose a step or two (see Shaun Alexander). The source also points out there are very few projected situations that won't have a committee or sharing situations at the position in 2008 so that would make it hard for Lewis to find a better situation than he has with the Browns.
All that said, the team is expected to make a stronger push to re-sign him before the start of free agency considering there's no one left on the roster who could replace him.
As for QB Derek Anderson, who is set to become a restricted free agent, various league sources believe it would be a surprise if Anderson didn't play for the club for at least one more season. While Anderson certainly has his issues (especially displayed down the final quarter of the season) he clearly gives the team the best chance to win.
As for QB Brady Quinn, he had a better understanding of the offense and showed that in practices as the season progressed but he's probably not ready yet to take over the job full time. Getting in their off-season program on time certainly should speed up his progress. A league source who talked to Quinn recently notes he's on a training program that has gotten him even in better condition and he's lost weight and isn't as overdeveloped physically as he was leading up to the 2007 draft. This could give him increased flexibility.
And for those rumors of head coach Romeo Crennel possibly going to the Miami Dolphins as their new head coach, don't bet on it. As noted in the Week 16 Insider, new executive VP of football operations has his eye on Dallas Cowboys assistant coach Tony Sparano. A league source who knows both men very well points out Parcells has a ton of respect for Sparano and is the kind of hard nosed, no non-sense coach that fits Parcells' personality. Crennel would only be a backup option if all else fails according to sources.
Atlanta Falcons - A league source believes a big reason, and possibly the
only reason why the team is really interested in interviewing Dallas Cowboys
assistant head coach Tony Sparano for their vacant head coaching position, is to
get back at Bill Parcells who spurned an offer by Atlanta owner Arthur Blank to
run their football operations. It's not secret that Parcells, who is in charge
of the football operations of the Miami Dolphins, has Sparano high on his list
to candidates to possibly replace Cam Cameron as the head coach.
Cincinnati Bengals - Head coach Marvin Lewis made it clear recently that there will be changes in personnel for 2008 and while he declined to say whether or not there would be coaching changes, it wouldn't be a surprise if there were some made--especially from the defensive side of the ball. While the defense made some small strides in the second half of the season, the sack and turnover numbers weren't there. And as noted in Week 15 Insider, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan could be on the hot seat and this is usually the time when coaching changes are made. Long-time defensive assistant and colleague of Lewis, Donnie Henderson, has been a paid consultant to the team for most of 2007.
But it should also be pointed out, the defensive side of the ball saw its share of injuries. Starting MLB Ahmad Brooks (groin) missed most the season due to injury and SLB David Pollack (neck), a first-round pick in 2005, missed the entire season and his career is very much up in the air. And his replacement, Rashad Jeanty, also missed six games due to injury.
Miami Dolphins - According to a league source, one of the moves that recently disposed GM Randy Mueller was looking to make for next season was possibly finding a new starting center. Why? Despite how well rookie C Samson Satele, it's believed the coaching staff was going to look to move him to guard in 2008 where they thought he could make an even bigger impact. In fact, it's believed Mueller was putting together a list of the best available centers recently to get ready for free agency.
New England Patriots - While offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has done a nice job of running the team's offense and he could get a few head coaching interviews, the prevailing belief around the league is he's a bit too young and doesn't have enough experience and is probably about two years away from being a head coach. The 31-year old assistant coach is in his second-year in the coordinator position.
Oakland Raiders - As first noted in Week 15 Insider, head coach Lane Kiffin's father Monte could be joining the team soon. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, in no surprise, has been told he won't be retained. As noted in the previous piece, the elder Kiffin's contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will expire after the 2007 season. But Oakland's scheme under Ryan uses mostly man coverage which would be departure from Tampa Bay's cover-2 zone scheme.
As an interesting side note, a league source points out that Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan (twin brother of Rob), was also a candidate for the defensive coordinator job with Oakland in 2004. But the source, who was involved in the process assisting the Raiders in setting up coaching interviews, notes Baltimore denied Oakland the chance to interview him for the job.
San Diego Chargers - One of the key matchups in this week's game is OLT Marcus McNeill against Tennessee Titans RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch. While it hasn't been talked about much, McNeill struggled mightily in the Week 15 contest between the two teams and McNeill's play, according to league sources, has dropped off in a big way from his rookie season of 2006.
Seattle Seahawks - This week's game has taken on increasingly greater importance for WR D.J. Hackett. The fourth-year pro, who missed 10 games this season due to recurring ankle problems, is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. Hackett, at times this season, has displayed great run after the catch ability which is a trait he showed last season. But the problem, according to a league source who comes from a team that is currently evaluating free agent receivers, is teams are having a hard time deciding if he's a No.1 or No.2 receiver. Hackett probably would work better off of a speedy receiver opposite him which is the situation he's in with Seattle. While the free agent crop of receivers appears to be weak, Hackett may be better off re-signing with his current team for at least another season.