Notes Around the NFC

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones made it pretty clear when he spoke at the NFL Combine last weekend that if they sign or draft another QB, Quincy Carter is still the starter at QB and whoever comes in will vie for the backup role.

The strongest word around the Eagles that we received at the NFL Combine last week is if the Titans tender WR Justin McCareins at the lowest tender (4th-round), look for the Eagles to show strong interest in the former Northern Illinois University star. In fact, they would likely have an interview set up rather quickly with him. They'd have less interest in the highest tender (1st-round compensation) which would be the case with most teams. Because this draft is rich in WR talent, teams feel that they can get a quality potential starting WR late in the first round or even in the second. However, the Eagles, who have over $20-million in cap space, can make it difficult for the Titans to match any offer by front loading the contract. The feeling is that the Titans wouldn't match a contract offer of over $3 million/season because of their cap situation.

In a conversation with McCareins' agent Cliff Brady Thursday evening, he told us that McCareins would definitely have interest in playing with the Eagles but he would have to wait until 3/3 to talk to them (when McCareins officially would become a free agent).

Brady pointed out to us a few interesting items in the course of conversation:

The only restricted free agent that the Titans have ever tendered the highest level (first-round) was CB Samari Rolle. This makes it more than likely that McCareins won't get the high tender based on past history.

McCareins father and Eagles QB Donovan McNabb's father grew up together and know each other well. McNabb actually has been putting the word in for McCareins with the Eagle coaches.

We would add the Titans are high on fellow restricted free agent WR Drew Bennett who many believe will come a lot cheaper to sign. In fact, Bennett wouldn't require any draft picks in compensation because he wasn't drafted. The Titans would only go so far to bring McCareins back because they're still pretty deep at the position. They have second-year WR Tyrone Calico who they are developing.

We'll check back with Brady this Wednesday at the start of free agency to see what their plans are--if the Titans don't re-sign McCareins before then.

Bears fourth-year WR David Terrell will start with a clean slate with the new coaching staff. As one team source told us last weekend, "I would be shocked if Terrell didn't start." With free agent WR Dez White not expected to re-sign with the club, Terrell gets first dibs on the starting job opposite veteran WR Marty Booker. Defensively, with veteran LB Warrick Holdman expected to be released, starting SLB Lance Briggs is expected to move over to WLB in place of Holdman. In head coach Lovie Smith's defense, the WLB plays a major part in the scheme.

We're told this evening that the Vikings have identified several areas of need and they will fill them in free agency and the draft. The club is looking for a WR that can help stretch the field. They are expected to sign Bears free agent WR Dez White who the Vikings believe offers more downfield speed than last year's Bear refugee D'Wayne Bates.

Defensively, the club is expected to go after one of the prime free agent CBs--either the (BUF) Antoine Winfield, (PHI) Bobby Taylor or Troy Vincent. They also plan to either draft or sign a LB to compete for the starting job opposite veteran Chris Claiborne.

The Falcons, we're told, will either look to sign a solid free agent CB or draft one on the first day that can come in and play right away. They also are expected to invest a first-day pick or free agent dollars in a WR that will have an impact immediately.

Look for Panthers free agent OLB Greg Favors will be looking for at least twice as much as veteran LB Brant Boyer received from Cleveland in base salary. Favors started twice six more games this past season as Boyer did and Favors also has seen more playing time than Boyer over the course of their respective careers.

Why would Tampa Bay have interest in Cowboys WR Joey Galloway? They badly covet downfield speed opposite veteran WR Keenan McCardell and Galloway would give them that. With WR Joe Jurevicius coming back healthy, he would give them the size they need at the position. They also remain high on WR Charles Lee who played well down the stretch of last season.

The Saints signing of former Lions WR Germane Crowell is interesting. Although he didn't play in 2003 as he continued his rehab his knees, he was a tremendous prospect at one time and he looked to be a rising star before a series of injuries set him back. With WR Donte' Stallworth yet to prove himself, the Saints have nothing to lose by signing Crowell to a low wage contract. Very smart move.

With WRs Terrell Owens and Dennis Northcutt off of the free agent market, Seahawks soon-to-be unrestricted free agent WR Darrell Jackson now becomes the #1 free agent WR. However, because of the strong WR crop in the draft, Jackson's market value isn't looking as good as it was earlier this year.

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