NFL Draft Insider Blog

Where will Anquan Boldin wind up playing this season?...Which player could be a surprise early pick by the Jets?...Which position have the Patriots shown the most interest in?...Information on a running back who could be traded on draft weekend...Which position and who are the players the Broncos are looking at?...Details on these situations and many more inside...

April 20-April 26

Cardinals: Boldin Update

While many around the NFL believe the Arizona Cardinals will wind up trading Anquan Boldin, a league source from one of the teams that has been rumored to be interested in the receiver believes there's a strong chance that the Cardinals won't be trading Boldin after all.

The problem is that teams are wary of his age (he turns 29 in October) and injury history (he has only played two full seasons in his six years of play) and no teams are currently willing to give up a first-round pick and other compensation for him. The source adds that while Boldin is very talented, it's hard to pay a receiver an average of $8-$9 million per season that's not a down field threat.

The Baltimore Ravens, who are believed to be the only team that is serious about trading for Boldin at this point, are said to be haggling with Arizona on the total draft pick compensation. If Arizona does wind up trading Boldin to the Ravens, sources believe the deal probably will go down over NFL draft weekend.

Boldin has two years left on his contract and the Cardinals, according to various league sources, aren't dead set on trading him. As one source put it, it's a similar situation to what the Philadelphia Eagles had to deal with last season with CB Lito Sheppard. It was widely speculated that he would be traded by the 2008 draft, but Philadelphia didn't get what they deemed as good enough trade offers, so they wound up not moving him until last month.


April 13-April 19

Jets: Team Has Strong Interest in Pettigrew?

Despite spending a first-round pick on Dustin Keller last year, a league source said that the New York Jets have strong interest in Oklahoma St. TE Brandon Pettigrew.

The Jets released TE Chris Baker earlier this year and veteran TE Bubba Franks hasn't been re-signed, so their interest in a tight end shouldn't be a surprise considering Keller is the only tight end that remains the roster.

Pettigrew is known as the most complete tight end available for this month's NFL draft and he's a much better blocker than Keller. Because the Jets will likely get back to power running, selecting a tight end who can block well is seen as a big need.


Patriots: Team Eyeing Cornerbacks

If pre-draft visits or workouts are any indication, the New England Patriots will likely select a cornerback high in this month's NFL draft.

According to sources, the team has either worked out or visited with at least 10 cornerbacks including cover men such as Vontae Davis/Virginia Tech (visit), Malcolm Jenkins/Ohio St. (visit), and Alphonso Smith/Wake Forest (visit).

New England's interest in improving or stabilizing the secondary shouldn't be a surprise since starting CB Ellis Hobbs is on the final year of his contract and the team doesn't have a starter set opposite him.


Titans: Running Back Could be Dealt

Despite having two former second-round and a first-round pick on their roster, the Tennessee Titans have shown strong interest in other running backs.

Four backs, Andre Brown (North Carolina St.), Glen Coffee (Alabama), Jeremiah Johnson (Oregon), and Javon Ringer (Michigan St.), have visited the Titans.

As a league source points out, fourth-year RB LenDale White is on the final year of his rookie contract and his work ethic has been questioned throughout his career. However, the former USC back reported to the team's off-season conditioning program about 20 pounds lighter than he ended last season.

The one back who might have a problem sticking on the roster is Chris Henry. The former second-round pick only had one carry last season and was inactive for 15 out of 16 regular season games. Offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger is not believed to be high on Henry and sources believe the team will look to move Henry on draft weekend.


April 6-April 12

Broncos: Team Targeting DE-OLB's

With the expected conversion on defense to a 3-4 scheme, the Denver Broncos have been showing interest in a lot of the top DE-OLB's.

According to sources, the team has shown interest in David Veikune (workout), Connor Barwin (workout), Larry English (visit), Robert Ayers (workout/visit), and Paul Kruger (workout). All are considered "tweener" players who can play defensive end or outside linebacker, depending on the defensive front.


Bengals: Team Eyeing Offensive Linemen and Running Backs

Although they re-signed RB Cedric Benson to a two-year deal last month, the team has shown interest in other running backs of late.

According to sources, the team has shown interest in at least four top running backs available for this month's NFL draft including Rashad Jennings (visit), Knowshon Moreno (visit), Donald Brown (visit), and LeSean McCoy (workout).

The Bengals have former first-round pick Chris Perry still under contract for one more season and also have three other backs under contract (Kenny Watson, DeDe Dorsey, and James Johnson).

Running back isn't the only position the team has been showing strong interest in as the team has scheduled three of the top offensive tackles for visits including Michael Oher, Jason Smith, and Andre Smith.

As of now, second-year OT Anthony Collins is projected to start at RT, but he hardly played last season.


Bears: Team Looking Hard at Receivers

Despite not owning a first-round pick, the Chicago Bears have either have worked or visited with at least six wide receivers so far.

Kenny Britt
(workout), Juaquin Iglesias (workout), and Hakeem Nicks (workout) are among the receivers who are expected to be selected in the first two rounds.

Chicago has also looked at late-round receivers such as Jason Chery (visit/workout), Derek Kinder (visit).


Patriots: Second-Year Player Looking at Increased Role

The New England Patriots are looking for pass rushing help and second-year OLB Vince Redd could be a player that helps them in that area this season.

According to a league source, Redd was one of New England's best practice players last season and is expected to compete for one of the top backup outside linebacker roles in 2009.

Redd was signed as an undrafted free agent last year and is recognized already as one of the most athletic defensive players on the roster.


Browns: Team Looking Hard at Offensive Linemen

By the time the Cleveland Browns are done with their pre-draft visits and workouts on 4/17, they'll have either worked our or visited with several key offensive linemen available for this year's NFL draft.

Among the top offensive linemen Cleveland has shown interest in are: C Eric Wood (visit), OT Jason Smith (workout), C Alex Mack (visit), and OT Phil Loadholt (workout).

Cleveland's interest in Wood and Mack make sense since the team has no developmental player behind starting C Hank Fraley, who turns 32 in September. Fraley is signed through 2010.

Cleveland also needs to get younger at right tackle and Loadholt could fit in as a solid second-round selection.


Burress Cap Impact

When the New York Giants decided to release WR Plaxico Burress last week, the salary cap impact wasn't as great as some feared. But it's the dead money where the team will take the greatest hit.

According to a league source, the team will take a small cap hit of roughly $1.8 million, but will absorb close to $6 million in dead money. The team now has less than $5 million left on their 2009 salary cap.


Late-Round Center Making Visits

BYU C Dallas Reynolds has attracted the attention of two West Coast teams. The interior lineman already visited the San Diego Chargers and is scheduled to visit the Seattle Seahawks next Tuesday (4/14).

San Diego does not have another center on their roster other than starter Nick Hardwick.

Seattle has projected starter Chris Spencer and third-year OL Steve Vallos at center.

Reynolds is projected to go off the board in rounds 5-6.


Reilly Could Be The Next Big Sleeper Quarterback

While his name isn't being discussed much in the main stream media because he plays at the Division II level, Central Washington University QB Mike Reilly could be moving up draft boards much like former San Diego St. QB Kevin O'Connell did last year.

Most draft "experts" had O'Connell as a late-round selection, but the New England Patriots wound up selecting him in the third round and was the fifth quarterback taken overall in the entire draft 2008 draft.

As a long-time NFL personnel evaluator told Monday, the main stream media isn't talking about Reilly because they can't get any tape of him. However, Reilly has one of the strongest arms of any quarterback available for this draft and he also is very accurate. He also doesn't flinch under pressure, has good mobility, and can make any throw.

Not that pre-draft visits or workouts are any kind of indicator of where or when a player will be drafted, but so far the San Francisco 49ers are the only team that he's expected to work out privately for before the draft. He has yet to make any visits.


Falcons: Team Looking Hard at Tight Ends/Defensive Backs

By looking at their current roster, it's probably not a secret that the Atlanta Falcons need upgrades at tight end, linebacker, and in the secondary. With that being the case, their scouts and coaching staff has worked out several players at each of those positions.

According to sources, the team has either visited with or will visit with or worked out or will work out three of the top tight ends available for this year's draft including Jared Cook, Brandon Pettigrew, and Chase Coffman. The team currently has veterans Justin Peelle and Ben Hartsock, but could use a more athletic player at the position.

By our count, the team has worked out or will work out or visited or will visit with at least eight defensive backs including safeties Louis Delmas, Patrick Chung, Will Moore and cornerbacks Darius Butler and Alphonso Smith.

Atlanta is said to be looking for depth and possible upgrades at strong safety and cornerback.


March 30-April 5

Cardinals/Seahawks: Teams Eyeing Sleeper Back

Each year, there are players that are selected late in the NFL draft that are completely under the radar. University of Pittsburgh's LaRod Stephens-Howling is one of those guys.

The smallish running back (5'7"/180) probably was destined to be an undrafted free agent had it not been for a spectacular Pro Day last month.

He projects to be a change of pace back at the next level and ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and had a vertical jump of 33'. He also benched an impressive 18 reps at 225 pounds.

An NFL scout compared Stephens-Howling to San Diego Chargers RB Darren Sproles and now projects him to be selected in rounds 6-7.

Because of his strong Pro Day performance, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks have scheduled pre-draft visits with him.


Panthers: Team Eying Mid-Round Quarterback?

It's not a secret that the Carolina Panthers are interesting in developing a young quarterback who could eventually take over for veteran Jake Delhomme, who turned 34 this past January.

According to a league source, the team has shown significant interest in Michigan St. signal caller Brian Hoyer.

Although the team has yet to have a pre-draft visit with him, the coaching staff had a meeting with Hoyer during February's NFL combine and they may work him out prior to this month's draft.

Several league sources said Hoyer is projected to go off the board in rounds 3-5.


Eagles and Buccaneers Lead the Way in Cap Space

Since free agency started on February 27, the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had the most salary cap space. According to league sources, here's a look at the teams with the most and least cap space available:

Note: totals are approximations

Teams With The Most Cap Space

Philadelphia Eagles/Tampa Bay Buccaneers-$37 million.
Kansas City Chiefs-$34 million.
San Francisco 49ers-$32 million.
Green Bay Packers-28 million.
Chicago Bears-$27 million.
Atlanta Falcons-$22 million
Jacksonville Jaguars-$21 million.
Cleveland Browns-$20 million.
Denver Broncos-$19 million.
Minnesota Vikings-$17 million.

Teams With The Least Amount of Cap Space

Baltimore Ravens/Arizona Cardinals-$2 million.
Carolina Panthers-$3 million.
Pittsburgh Steelers/New Orleans Saints-$4 million.
New England Patriots-$5 million.
Washington Redskins-$6 million.
New York Giants/Seattle Seahawks-$7 million.
Indianapolis Colts-$8 million.
San Diego Chargers-$9 million.
Oakland Raiders-$10 million.
Dallas Cowboys-$11 million.


Defensive End Getting Interest

University of Hawaii DE-OLB David Veikune, who is projected to go off the board in April's NFL draft as high as round two, is starting to gain interest of several teams.

According to a league source, the athletic defensive lineman has visits scheduled with the Dallas Cowboys, Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tennessee Titans.

He also has private workouts scheduled with the Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, and Dolphins.

Philadelphia's interest is interesting considering they seem to be deep at defensive and at outside linebacker.

Miami's interest isn't surprising since they could use pass rush help. Same with Tennessee, who lost DT Albert Haynesworth. The interior defensive lineman saw plenty of snaps at end the past few seasons.

Dallas' interest makes sense since they could use another outside pass rusher.

Cleveland probably needs the most pass rushing help of all the teams listed. Denver would be a close second and both teams will use a 3-4 defensive scheme this season.


Trade Compensation Confirmed

There have been differing reports on the compensation in the recent trade of Miami Dolphins C Samson Satele to the Oakland Raiders.

A source with one of the teams has confirmed Miami will receive Oakland's fourth-round pick (#8 in the round) and sixth-round pick (#8 in the round). Oakland will receive Miami's fourth-round pick (#26 in the round) in addition to getting Satele.


Jaguars: Interest In Freeman Makes Sense

Kansas St. QB Josh Freeman said recently that he'll visiting with the Jacksonville Jaguars during his cross-country pre-draft visit tour.

At first, it would seem to be a surprise that Jacksonville would be looking for a quarterback with their first-round pick considering they signed starting QB David Garrard to a seven-year, $62.5 million deal last April.

However, a league source points out that there's no proration of bonus money in remaining six years of his contract. Jacksonville will pay Garrard a $3 million roster bonus this season, but they won't be responsible for anything but high base salaries over the final five seasons of his deal. So they could easily get rid of him without any ramifications after this season should they decide to part ways with him.


Buccaneers: Carter Likely to Return?

According to a league source, free agent DL Kevin Carter will probably re-sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before training camp starts.

Carter's ability to play inside or outside on the defensive line make him an attractive target to bring back since the team has depth issues.


Saints: Young Likely to Stick Around?

Local media reports have speculated that the New Orleans Saints might release veteran DT Brian Young. However, according to a league source, the interior defensive lineman had his contract restructured before the start of free agency and is likely to stick around until at least training camp. He's now signed through 2010.


Cardinals: Back Likely an Early Selection?

According to a team source, the Arizona Cardinals are likely to select a running back within the first few rounds of next month's NFL draft. Arizona lost veteran RB J.J Arrington in free agency, but still has Edgerrin James, Tim Hightower, and recently signed RB Jason Wright under contract.

The source said the coaches don't believe Hightower is feature back material at this point, but is more of a power back who can handle a variety of roles.


Updates 3/16-3/22

Jaguars: Thomas Gets Modest Contract

When the Jacksonville Jaguars signed OLT Tra Thomas to a three-year deal, it was assumed he would start for the foreseeable future. However, a league source said almost half of the $13 million contract is tied up in incentives. The deal is more like three years, $7 million and Thomas didn't receive a signing bonus. While it's not known if any of Thomas' base salaries are guaranteed, it seems to be a deal the team could easily could get out of should Thomas not perform well.


Jets: Pace and Rhodes Lower Cap Number

In a move to save salary cap space, has confirmed the New York Jets have lowered the salary cap numbers of OLB Calvin Pace and FS Kerry Rhodes for 2009.

Pace's cap number was reduced from $11.8 million to $7.1 million with Rhodes' cap number going from $10.6 million to $5.7 million (total savings over $9 million).


Cardinals: Team Looking For Depth

According to a league source, the Arizona Cardinals are looking to add at least two to three more veteran players before next month's draft.

The source adds the coaches want to add a center who could compete for the starting job against Lyle Sendlein as well as depth at guard and offensive tackle.


Bills: Potential Peters Suitors Lining Up?

Should the Buffalo Bills decide to trade starting OLT Jason Peters, who wants to be paid as one top players at his position, there should be at least three to four teams that vie for his services.

According to a league source, the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could wind up having an interest in the former undrafted free agent should be be made available.

It's been rumored for some time that the Bengals are down on LT Levi Jones. Should Cincinnati trade or release Jones, they'd save about $500,000 of cap space, but would absorb $5.5 million in dead money.

Philadelphia is looking for a replacement for LT Tra Thomas and it's expected they address that position in the draft should they not acquire one from another team.

San Francisco will release starting LT Jonas Jennings soon, but are considering moving Joe Staley over from right tackle to replace him. However, many in the league feel Staley is better off staying on the right side. Staley played mostly on the left side last year because Jennings only played in two games due to injury.

St. Louis cut long-time starting LT Orlando Pace and have decided to move Alex Barron from right tackle to replace him. However, Barron hasn't played on the left side since his college days.

Tampa Bay placed a first and third round tender on LT Donald Penn. However, many believe he's a low-end starter and Peters would be a major upgrade.


Panthers: Unlikely to Trade Peppers?

Amid reports that Carolina Panthers DE Julius Peppers could be a traded, a team source said it's highly unlikely the former first-round pick out of the 2002 NFL draft will be moved.

Putting aside the salary cap ramifications, the source notes Carolina would want much more than the reported high second-round pick from the New England Patriots. In fact, the source adds the Panthers would want similar compensation for Peppers which the Kansas City Chiefs received in return for DE Jared Allen last year (first-round pick, two third-round picks, and swap of sixth-round picks).

As of Wednesday, the source said Carolina has yet to be contacted by New England.


Eagles: Andrews Likely To Move?

With veteran Tra Thomas moving on with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Philadelphia Eagles have an opening at left tackle. A team source said the coaching staff is leaning on moving RG Shawn Andrews in Thomas' spot for this season unless they selected a left tackle with one of their two first-round picks.


Cowboys: Kitna Extends Deal

When the Dallas Cowboys acquired Jon Kitna late last month, it was assumed he would play on the final year of his contract this season. However, the veteran signal caller signed an extension earlier this month which will take him through the 2013 season--when he turns 42.

A league source notes Kitna signed a five-year deal worth $15 million.


Steelers: Extending Harrison Still a Priority

According to a league source, the Pittsburgh Steelers still have starting OLB James Harrison as their top priority to re-sign. Harrison's current deal will expire after 2009 and he's set to make $1.4 in base salary. The source adds the team likely will not seek to extend the contracts of ORT Willie Colon and others until Harrison's new deal is completed.

Pittsburgh is carrying only around $7 million or so in salary cap space, according to sources.


Buccaneers: Team Still Leading The Way With Cap Space

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers started free agency off with close to $64 million in available salary cap space. According to a league source, they still have the most cap space available at $39 million. The Philadelphia Eagles are a close second with close to $38 million remaining.

Tampa Bay led the league with over $25 million in cap credits from last season. Philadelphia had just over $20 million in credits.


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