NFC East Hot News Roundup

Hot News goes on daily and is a huge perk for our Total Access Pass subscribers. Complete updates on all of the teams in the NFC East, including the Cowboys are contained in this report.

DALLAS COWBOYS

Emmitt to visit Tampa Bay
The Bucs may be bracing for a visit from Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith next week. The NFL's all-time rushing leader met the Arizona Cardinals Thursday and indicated he might visit another team before deciding where to continue his career. Smith had one possible team removed from his list when Carolina signed Redskins free agent Stephen Davis. The Bucs have indicated that Smith would have to accept close to a minimum salary and a back up role to running back Michael Pittman if he wants to resume his career in Tampa Bay. But Smith said winning a Super Bowl, not money, is his primary objective. The Cardinals have reached the playoffs just once since moving to Arizona in 1988. "It's winning, playing time and then money," Smith said. "If I'm able to play at the level I'm accustomed to playing at, and we are able to do all those things we talked about, then the money will come into play.

Donald Mitchell Visits
CB Donald Mitchell visited with the Dallas Cowboys on Wednesday.

Filling Needs
The Cowboys filled two huge needs this week when they signed free-agent tight end Dan Campbell and free-agent linebacker Al Singleton to contracts. Singleton will immediately step in to replace the departed Kevin Hardy (Cincinnati) at strongside linebacker.

Singleton, who visited Dallas on Sunday and Monday, chose the Cowboys after two days of contemplation. He got $8 million over four years, including a signing bonus of about $2 million. All that matters to the Cowboys is that he finally did decide on them over interest from the Lions and the Buccaneers. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Singleton is also a good fit because he already knows the Cowboys defense, considering that defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer borrowed the scheme from the Buccaneers two years ago.

"Al is an athletic linebacker with very good speed," said Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones. "He also brings unique intangibles to the table with a first-hand understanding of our defensive scheme and how it can be executed at a championship level. Al is a productive player in the prime of his career.

He knows how to win and how to produce in this scheme." Singleton was originally drafted in the fourth round (128th overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft. He moved into the starting lineup at strongside linebacker for the Buccaneers last season and finished fifth on the team with a career-high 89 tackles for the NFL's top ranked defense. He started 14-of-16 regular season games and two of three playoff games as Tampa Bay claimed the Super Bowl title.

NEW YORK GIANTS

Rumor of return to Giants gains steam
The latest rumor (on a scale of 1 to 10, make this a 7) is that the Giants are interested in re-signing kicker Morten Andersen, who was allowed to escape to Kansas City last year when the Giants had an intractable salary cap problem.

At the time, GM Ernie Accorsi reviewed his decision as "reluctant" and added that "we really wanted to keep Mort but we just couldn't, and he waited as long as he could to see if we could somehow make the [cap] room for him." In any case, he left, and after going through training camp with Owen Pochman, who was inconsistent at best, the Giants got lucky and found FA Matt Bryant right there in their camp, among the players head coach Jim Fassel admitted "I didn't pay much attention to."

Bryant made 26 of 32 FGs, second highest production in team history, and yet somehow was always considered unsatisfactory. Now with Andersen possible available, the Giants are actually thinking of releasing a kicker who netted 108 points for them last season, the third-highest figure in team history and second best for a kicker (Ali Haji-Sheikh had 127 in 1983.

Coming Home
The Giants' signing of FB Jimmy Finn (6-0, 250, Indianapolis) turned into a local community festival. Finn, who attended Penn, is a native of Fair Lawn, N.J., and attended Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) High School, and spent his teen years attending Giants' games.

"We sat up real high," he said, "but I wouldn't trade that for anything." Now he gets the chance to "replace" TE Dan Campbell and perhaps FB Charles Stackhouse, who was a FA rookie last season but didn't exactly inspire thoughts of Pro Bowls ahead. "I don't really think I have ever played with a team that uses what I can do," Finn said, "but when the Giants explained their offense to me, all the things I would do, it got me very excited."

Details on a published rumor...
Lane Adkins provided some additional detail behind the rumor published this morning in the Redding Record. "I was told that the team has a marginal interest, as they do in many players.", Lane told the Ask the Insiders forum, "If the Browns were to attempt to sign Sehorn, it would be a low scale deal as a backup, something that Sehorn is not willing to accept at this time according to his agent."

Staying with Chiefs
Kicker Morten Andersen has agreed to a four-year deal to stay with Kansas City. He had been rumored to be considering a return to the New York Giants.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES

Will replace Barber
Linebacker Nate Wayne, who signed with the Eagles on Friday, will replace Shawn Barber at weakside linebacker. Barber signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Wayne is looking forward to playing in defensive coordinator Jim Johnson's aggressive scheme. "From watching this defense, I think I fit in perfect," he said. "This defense allows the (weakside) linebacker to fly around and just make plays. They're very aggressive, they try to get after you and confuse you. It's very exciting." Wayne visited the Eagles on Wednesday, but left town without agreeing to a contract. After visiting with the Detroit Lions on Thursday, he decided to sign with the Eagles.

Wary of 30-and-out philosophy
The Eagles have made it clear that they are reluctant to invest a lot of guaranteed money in players after they hit 30. This philosophy hasn't endeared them to some of their older players, including 32-year-old cornerback Troy Vincent. Vincent, a three-time Pro Bowl, has one year left on his contract, as does the club's other starting corner, 29-year-old Bobby Taylor, and 29-year-old free safety Brian Dawkins. Vincent is of the opinion that the club's over-thirty philosophy is strictly the brainchild of club president Joe Banner.

He's worried that Banner's financial opinions will override the opinions of head coach and executive vice president of football operations Andy Reid. "Coach Reid and I have a very good relationship," Vincent said. "I respect him and I respect what he's done and I respect what he can do. I just hope the front office continues to give him every opportunity to win. I hope they don't take the decision-making out of his hands."

Jets interested?
WR Antonio Freeman is expected to meet with the New York Jets some time this week.

WASHINGTON REDSKINS

Move could backfire big time on Redskins
The Washington Redskins might have crossed a line. To date, all their busy activity in free agency drew little criticism from an economic standpoint. But they might have begun compromising their future when they signed wide receiver Laveranues Coles to a seven-year, $35 million offer sheet and subsequently restructured linebacker LaVar Arrington's contract.

Here's why: Washington knew it would sign a starting-caliber receiver, one likely in Coles' price range. But the expectation was for the draft. The Redskins were trying to trade up and select Michigan State's Charles Rogers or Miami's Andre Johnson. There's a lot about the Coles signing that makes sense. He costs about what Rogers or Johnson would, will contribute far more (one would think) this season, and there's no extra expenditure in terms of what it would take to trade up (say, a second-round pick or cornerback Fred Smoot). But Washington wouldn't have to pay for a draftee until late July.

By accelerating the time at which cap money was needed, the Redskins were forced to restructure Arrington's deal. By waiting, they could have redone defensive tackle Dan Wilkinson instead. After June 1, they'll have significant leverage on Wilkinson and could get him to take a pay cut or change much of his salary into incentives. Arrington, in contrast, already was making crazy money and had all the leverage in the world. Washington restructured more than $7 million of his compensation, saving more than $5 million of cap space.

That's a lot--possibly more than the club needs to get to the season. A number of NFL insiders were saying it was time to rewrite Arrington's deal, not prorate more money into 2004 (when his cap figure already was $8.8 million) and 2005 (already over $10 million). But the Redskins didn't have time to negotiate a new contract. They needed the money right away. Sure, one might argue, it was time to sign Coles. But they also made 11 other acquisitions (with another outstanding tender) in the first two weeks of free agency.

Building in the cap era requires choices, and the Redskins chose only who to pursue, not whether to pursue. In 2004 or 2005, Washington might have to part with one of its young cornerstones, Arrington. Or, even under a new deal, his cap figures will be insane because there's so much prorated signing bonus built up. Bottom line: This move could cost the Redskins big-time cap dollars next season.

Saga with Skins might not be over yet The NFL Players Association kept Washington's hopes for KR Chad Morton alive when it challenged the Jets' matching of an offer sheet. The Management Council had ruled that the Jets didn't need to match the void in Morton's offer, but the NFLPA contends otherwise. A hearing will happen in 10 days. If the NFLPA wins, Morton could be awarded to the Redskins outright.

Signs with Bucs
Tampa Bay signed former Redskins and Bears quarterback Shane Matthews to a 1-year contract.

Suitors lining up
While the Titans are being patient, free agent cornerback Donald Mitchell is trying to do the same. "In actuality, it's like you don't have a job," he said. "You don't know what city you are going to be playing in, where you are going to be. You just have to wait for the best opportunity to come to you."

The Titans were realistic about the chance of luring Denard Walker back - he left when he became a free agent for Denver, and recently signed with Minnesota. Titans GM Floyd Reese said he expects Mitchell to make some visits. Among reported suitors: Minnesota, Miami, Indianapolis and Washington. "I get the vibe that the Titans want to sign me back, but things haven't been progressing so far," Mitchell said.

"I want to try and stay patient and want to be here, but at the same time in free agency it gets to a point where if a team is not making a move, unfortunately people end up going somewhere else. "I think I'll have to at least explore some other opportunities to see what else is out there. Free agency is a scary thing. You just don't know."

Gets attention from Redskins
With the Jets matching the offer sheet for Chad Morton, Redskins officials already were turning their attention to KR Jermaine Lewis. Some in the organization feel Lewis, primarily a punt returner, is a better fit than Morton, primarily a kickoff returner. Punt returners are tougher to find and the Redskins already have a capable kickoff man in RB Ladell Betts.

Jets won't match offer
The Jets have decided not to match the Washington Redskins offer sheet to Laveranues Coles.

"You never want to lose good football players, but we feel this is the best decision for our football team in the short term and the long term," said Jets GM Terry Bradway. "It was an easy decision and a hard decision. The contract was hard to swallow as far as the signing bonus, but it was tough to lose Lavaranues who has blossomed the last two years."

The Jets feel they made Coles a fair offer before the Redskins tendered him.

"The first offer we made him would have made him the highest paid receiver in Jets history," said Bradway. "It was a fair offer, but not our final offer."

The Jets were shocked at the Redskins offer which included a $13 million bonus.

"It is extremely rare for a team to pay more than a player ask for," said Bradway about the Redskins.

Another factor in not matching offer sheet was the impending free agency of some of the Jets best players in the near future. Players like Chad Pennington, John Abraham and Kareem McKenzie to name a few.

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