NFL Small Talk

The off-season is a time where player movement, circled by news and rumors about specific teams lights a fire under the fan of an NFL team. From the purely speculative to the fact in signing, the off-season news around the National Football League can be as exciting at times as the game itself.

Miami: With new Head Coach Nick Saban in place, the Dolphins quickly sought to change the complexion of the organization. In are offensive coordinator Scott Linehan from the Vikings and are expected to add Dean Pees from New England as their defensive coordinator. The Dolphins would like to get something for retired/un-retired running back Ricky Williams, while looking at Cadillac Williams from Auburn as a replacement. Serious discussions regarding the status and salary issues of cornerbacks Patrick Surtain, Sam Madison, and linebacker Zach Thomas will get a lot of time early this off-season.

Buffalo: The Bills initial plan is on trading or at the least releasing veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Presently there is not much interest in Bledsoe, but there was some talk of Bledsoe being on the move while league personnel were in Mobile, Alabama for Senior Bowl week. Running back Travis Henry, who lost his starting spot to Willis McGahee during the season, has garnered interest, with the Raiders, Cardinals, and Panthers leading the pack. Indications are a second or high third-round selection in the 2005 draft could secure the services of Henry.

Cleveland: The Browns are expected to offer New England defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel the Head Coach position for the team immediately following the Super Bowl. The Browns have been quiet regarding Crennel, but there is a belief amongst league personnel that Crennel is a slam-dunk and coaching staff candidates have already been discussed through third parties and the Browns themselves. Look for the Browns to release quarterback Jeff Garcia, restructure the contract of defensive end Courtney Brown, and play an active role in free agency.

Minnesota: Talk of the team being close to a sale is erroneous. Owner Red McCombs has disputed the notion of selling the team, which he has had discussions in the past, but at this time there is nothing serious in the works. Of possibly more interest, the Vikings are not actively shopping wide receiver Randy Moss, but team sources indicate they are willing to listen to talk regarding Moss and didn't discount the notion that some discussions have taken place. Look for the Vikings to trade one of their running backs in the off-season, with Michael Bennett being the number-one candidate if the team can secure a high draft selection or solid defensive starter.

New York Giants: Expect the Giants to release quarterback Kurt Warner prior to March 1st. The team also is also in the market for a veteran starting wide receiver and a starting quality left tackle.

Houston: The Texans are looking to add a receiver to compliment Andre Johnson. While a veteran presence would be welcome, the Texans like the ability to college standouts Mike Williams and Braylon Williams. Offensive lineman, especially a solid left tackle is on the Houston wish-list heading into the off-season.

Oakland: The Raiders will acquire a starting running back in the off-season. Oakland would love to secure the services of Ricky Williams, but he remains indecisive about playing and the team has looked at Travis Henry. Indications are the Raiders will either sign or trade for a back, as well as selecting one in the draft. Talks are ongoing with wide receiver Jerry Porter who can void the remaining years of his contract and become a free agent. At this time progress is slow and it appears Porter will head to free agency.

Tampa Bay: The Buccaneers are battling salary-cap issues which may hamper the efforts to retool for the 2005 season. Between 12-14 million over the cap, Tampa Bay needs to acquire a starting quality running back, wide receiver, and determine their direction at quarterback. Indications are the Buccaneers will get a deal in place with quarterback Brian Griese, but making a run at running back LaMont Jordan in free agency could prove to be impossible without some significant creative financing.

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