NFL Combine Buzz

Indianapolis-- has arrived in Indianapolis and already things have been heating up. Pending free agency has been the main topic of discussion at the NFL Combines.

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 (Shaun Suisham and Bill 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. Bernard is who set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 3 should he not be able come to a contract agreement 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 and 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 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 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 recently that Runyan would be willing to accept up to 25-precent 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 $8.75 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 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 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).

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