In My Opinion

Why are Javon Walker, Richard Seymour and Shaun Alexander more justified for mounting potential holdouts than Terrell Owens? Walker, Seymour and Alexander are playing through their rookie contracts; Owens wants his contract restructured after signing the contract he desired a year ago.

In fact, Owens signed a deal with Philadelphia that the NFLPA disapproved last year, citing that he would be paid less in guaranteed money than he deserved. The Eagles and Owens' agent at the time, David Joseph, negotiated a contract in good faith. Therefore, Philadelphia has every right to expect Owens to play through his current deal, especially one year after he agreed to terms.

The Eagles' front office has all of the leverage in this tug of war battle. If Owens holds out for a significant portion of time, perhaps through the first two or three games of the season, Philadelphia can start deducting his paychecks. In addition, the Eagles are versatile enough to win without Owens on the field

Another problem facing Owens is that he is signed for six more years. If he holds out, he will still have to report to the Eagles every year until he retires, unless he can force management to trade him or release him. While Seymour, Walker and Alexander may have the chance to escape if they don't receive new contracts, Owens is shackled.

It's clear that Owens needs the Eagles more than they need him. Philadelphia's stance is absolute, and should be unbending, which will lead to Owens eventually report to training camp…

Minnesota will be a better team without Randy Moss on the roster. While Moss is arguably the dangerous offensive weapon in football, the Vikings have enough parts on offense to score points. Culpepper has finally broken through. He not only has the arm to make every throw, but his short area accuracy has improved, and his decision making is much better. Culpepper also has the confidence and leadership skills he lacked a couple of years ago.

Around Culpepper is a solid, yet unspectacular supporting cast. Nate Burleson flourished in Moss's spot a year ago, snagging 29 catches and scoring 4 TDs while Moss missed five games. Burleson is no Moss, but he's a solid possession receiver who gains yards after contact. Troy Williamson has great explosiveness, but is a raw prospect, and former Raven castoffs Marcus Robinson and Travis Taylor are good vertical threats. At tight end, Jermaine Wiggins is an effective pass catcher who bailed Culpepper out of a number of sticky situations last season.

The key will be whether the Vikings can produce a more consistent ground attack. Michael Bennett does not have the burst and game-breaking speed he had a couple of years ago, and while Mewelde Moore is a tough runner, the two may not be good enough duo to make up the difference felt with Moss' departure.

The Vikings wisely invested Moss' money on the defensive side of the ball, signing unrestricted free agents Pat Williams, Fred Smoot and Darren Sharper. Sharper, Smoot, Corey Chavous and Antoine Winfield comprise one of the deepest starting backfields in the league, with Brian Williams serving as a great nickel cornerback.

Up front, the Vikings may not have enough speed at linebacker, but the front line will be stout, especially right up the middle. Pat Williams is one of the best run stuffers in the game; Kevin Williams is perhaps the best pass rushing defensive tackle in the NFL. If Kenechi Udeze and Urasmus James maximize their potential on the edges, the Vikings will dominate offensive lines all season long.

With a more talented, complete ball club, Mike Tice will be under tremendous pressure to not only win the NFC North, but to also challenge for a Super Bowl birth. While the Eagles remain the elite team in the NFC, Minnesota should win two or three more games than it did a year ago, and build on the playoff run it put together last season…

For all of the fantasy football geeks out there, keep an eye on J.J. Arrington, who will challenge Marcel Shipp for the starting tailback position in Arizona. Arrington is a compact back with good speed and quickness. He complements Shipp pretty well, because Shipp can gain yards in-between the tackles, while Arrington can turn the corner. As the season progresses, Arrington should steal more and more carries away from Shipp.

Arizona will be a pass first offense, emphasizing the use of three-wide sets, and Arrington is a better fit in that scheme because he does not need a lot of touches and a fullback in front of him to gain yards.

Dev Panchwagh is a journalism major at the University of Maryland and a long time member of the RavensInsider message boards where he posts under the super-secret pseudonym 'Dev21'.  
 


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