Scout.com has arrived in Indianapolis and already things have been heating up. Lets take a look at what's going on around the NFL.
Arizona Cardinals – According to a league source, soon-to-be free agent quarterback Josh McCown has the Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins on his wish list to sign with Miami at the top of the list. He's looking for a team that will give him the best chance to start. The New York Jets are also a possibility.
Carolina Panthers – While many fans are speculating that the team would make a run at signing running back Shaun Alexander should he not re-sign with Seattle, don't look for it. The team is right against the salary cap limit and they're concentrating on re-signing their own players first—namely running back DeShaun Foster and linebacker Will Witherspoon.
Dallas Cowboys – Head coach Bill Parcells puts a high premium on special teams so don't be surprised if he makes a run at signing veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri if the New England Patriots aren't able to re-sign him before the start of free agency or don't place the franchise tag on him by Thursday's deadline. Vinatieri played for Parcells when he was a rookie in 1996 and Parcells didn't find much success with his place kickers last season (Jose Cortez, Shaun Suisham and Billy Cundiff).
Green Bay Packers – According to a league source, the team hasn't had any contract discussions with veteran defensive tackle Grady Jackson and it's almost a certainty that the team won't re-sign him. One player who the team might look to replace him is defensive tackle Rocky Bernard is who set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 3 should he not be able come to a contract agreement to re-sign with Seattle. Jackson is coming off of his best season in his four-year career and many around the league think he can become a star. The Packers are well under the salary cap and Executive V.P., General Manager & Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson was involved in drafting Bernard when he was with Seattle.
Minnesota Vikings – Don't look for the team to acquire free agent running back Jamal Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens. Those who have studied new head coach Brad Childress's offense say Lewis would be a bad fit and he doesn't offer enough versatility.
New Orleans Saints – Unless the team surprisingly decides to place the franchise tag on center LeCharles Bentley by Thursday's deadline, don't look for him to re-sign with the team. Bentley's representatives haven't had any meaningful contract discussions and those close to the team don't expect any before the free agency deadline of March 3. The team also decided months ago not to re-sign defensive end Darren Howard who still should receive a lot of attention in free agency. Howard told the team back in December that he wouldn't re-sign wasn't happy with their decision not to play him in the final month of the season. Howard said his chronic knee issue had nothing to do with their decision not to play him.
New York Giants – If linebacker Nick Greisen isn't re-signed by the free agent deadline of March 3, he should be able to find a starting job elsewhere. According to a few NFL scouts that scout.com has talked to recently, they believe the versatile Greisen is a rising star who is in the upper half at weak side or inside of all linebackers in the league.
Philadelphia Eagles – Second-year offensive lineman Todd Herremans is progressing well coming back from the ankle injury he suffered in December. Herremans told scout.com recently that is walking around fine and is doing water exercises to strengthen the ankle. He expects to be ready for the post-draft minicamp.
If right tackle Jon Runyan isn't re-signed, Herremans would be the favorite to replace him from the current roster. If Runyan re-signs, look for Herremans to compete for the starting left guard job against Artis Hicks who had an up and down season.
Speaking of Runyan, a league source told scout.com recently that Runyan would be willing to accept up to 25% less than another team would offer because he wants to finish his career with the Eagles. The team is expected to resume contract discussions with Runyan's representative this week in Indianapolis.
San Francisco 49ers – The decision not to place the franchise tag on veteran linebacker Julian Peterson shouldn't come to that much of a surprise. A few scouts who have studied his game tape from last season say he hasn't been quite the same player since suffering a torn Achilles two years ago. While Peterson is still a good player, he's not a great one like he was before the injury. It would cost the team $7.169 million to franchise him.
Seattle Seahawks – The saga of running back Shaun Alexander continues. His agent Jim Steiner called Vice President/Football Administration Mike Reinfeldt early last week to resume contract discussions. Still, according to a league source, both sides remain far apart.
As noted in this space during Super Bowl week, Alexander would like to get a deal close to what San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson got two years ago. Tomlinson's eight-year, $60 million deal included close to $20 in bonus money. His signing bonus was 12.4 million and he was paid $7.56 million in two roster bonuses in the first two years of the new deal.
The problem Seattle is having is paying Alexander a big chunk of guaranteed money for a running back that turns 29 next season.
A league source told scout.com this week that the team isn't expected to re-sign reserve running back Maurice Morris and they're looking for an upgrade over him. They may look for one with bigger size.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Those who know fullback Mike Alstott well told scout.com recently that they expect the 10-year pro to come back for his 11th season assuming the team and work out a restructured deal with him. Alstott felt good at the end of the season and it appears he should be ready to play in 2006.
Washington Redskins – According to a league source, look for quarterback Patrick Ramsey to be moved before April's NFL Draft. Ramsey requested a trade last season after Mark Brunell was named starter and Brunell is expected to be the starter in 2006. He's on the final year of his contract and is set to be paid $1.688 million this season.
The team turned down trade offers from other teams last season but they want to speed up the maturation process of second-year signal caller Jason Campbell and to do that, Ramsey would have to be moved.
Potential suitors of Ramsey are the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets (they called the Redskins last season inquiring about Ramsey's availability).
Baltimore Ravens – While his status with the team remains up in the air, running back Jamal Lewis has put his home up for sale. That's not a true indicator of what will happen with a player but more often in not, a player will make that kind of move when he doesn't expect to re-sign with his team.
Cincinnati Bengals – A league source told scout.com recently that the team is expected to select a defensive lineman, probably a tackle in this year's draft. The team badly wants to improve their run defense and they're also looking to beef up their rotation on the defensive line. They're also expected to select one or two safeties and at least one on the first day of the draft.
Cleveland Browns – Many fans of the team were wondering why general manager Phil Savage made it known that they will let wide receiver Antonio Bryant make it to free agency.
scout.com had a chance to talk to a personnel evaluator recently about the mercurial Bryant recently who said while Bryant is still very talented, he has many "chinks in the armor."
Bryant still drops too many passes (seven last season), isn't a precise route runner (still freelances from time to time which was a problem with Dallas), and clearly has concentration lapses. Bryant, despite his solid numbers from last season, isn't seen as a No.1 type of receiver.
Denver Broncos – Tight end Jeb Putzier's agent still hasn't gotten an indication whether or not the team will exercise the roster bonus by the deadline of March 3. Joe Linta told scout.com this week that Putzier's bonus is $1.5 million.
Houston Texans – Because the team is changing their defensive scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3, many who follow the team closely are wondering what they will do with their linebackers since one will have to come off of the field. The team has committed a lot of cap dollars to linebackers Morlon Greenwood and Kailee Wong. Both figure to be starters next season (one inside and one on the weakside). The big issue is where to play Antwan Peek and last year's surprise Shantee Orr. It's possible Peek gets moved to end to make sure he gets on the field.
Indianapolis Colts – With running back Edgerrin James not expected to re-sign with the team, don't look for his backup, Dominic Rhodes to be his replacement. Rhodes has done a nice job in limited playing time but the feeling he's too small to be an every down back. He's seen more as a change of pace. Look for the team to address a potential starting job in free agency or in the draft.
Kansas City Chiefs – The feeling from those who know him well feel that veteran guard Will Shields will return to play for his 14th season with the team as his ailing back seems to be under control. The key for Shields is getting through training camp. If he feels new head coach Herman Edwards will take it easy on him in camp, look for Shields to play. Former head coach Dick Vermeil gave Shields lots of rest which helped him to go full speed during the regular season.
Miami Dolphins – The team is expected to acquire a younger quarterback in the draft or in free agency. The NFL signal callers that they are said to have interest in are Patrick Ramsey, Josh McCown, and Drew Brees (should he not re-sign). Brees would cost them the most and the team isn't in great cap shape so he could be out of their price range.
New England Patriots –Wide receiver David Givens would like to re-sign with the team but that won't happen unless he's willing to accept less than he might be able to make in free agency. The feeling in league circles is the team sees him as a complimentary receiver and if Givens wants to be paid like a No.1, he'll be playing elsewhere next season.
A player that the team is trying to get a good look at is running back Earl Charles who is playing over in NFL Europe (Hamburg). Charles has good size and ability and if he has a productive showing, he should find his way to training camp this summer. The team is looking for a developmental prospect who could vie for a backup job over the next few seasons.
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