Friday's NFL Blog: Early Edition

January 12, 2007 ... Gonzalez stays put ... some key matchups in the Colts-Ravens contest ... Pats not the biggest threat to San Diego ... offensive strategy could change in Cleveland ... some brutal player analysis and more!

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Gonzalez staying put: was told by Chiefs TE Tony Gonzales that he is very close to a six-year deal to remain in Kansas City rather than become an unrestricted free agent. The deal reportedly includes $16 million in bonus money and averages more than $6 million per year. The Chiefs announced that it's a five-year contract extension, but wouldn't provide any details. Chiefs President Carl Peterson said, "It will, in all essence, allow Tony Gonzalez to finish his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. The obvious is he's been a very, very productive player for us. I think for our fans in Kansas City it was important for us to get this done. He's done a marvelous job for us both on and off the football field."

Quotable:  "...the main thing we have to do is bring the energy and intensity that we played with last week."  -- Colts starting safety Antoine Bethea regarding Saturday's matchup with the Ravens. subscribers can check out this exclusive playoff preview interview with Bethea to see what else he had to say about the Ravens and the Colts defense.

Money to spend, but on who?  Our Vikings site says that the team has close to $23 million in cap money heading into free agency, but will the talent be out there for them to spend it on? "...this year's free-agent class does not shape up to be as strong as last year's in part because the cap will increase by about $7 million in 2007, enabling teams to retain players," according to their report. Find out what they're thinking about their options in this article.

Ravens CB Samari Rolle (David Maxwell/Getty Images)
I remember you... Aaron Wilson at our Ravens site looks at one of the big matchups for the Ravens defense against the high-powered Colts offense -- Baltimore CB Samari Rolle vs Indy WR Reggie Wayne. "Rolle is extremely familiar with covering Wayne from his time with the Tennessee Titans, one of the Colts' chief rivals in the AFC South," he says. "In six seasons, Wayne has caught 390 passes for 5,474 yards and 37 touchdowns and it appears that he's only getting better. When asked if he's looking forward to this matchup, Rolle replied: 'You have to. If you don't, you might as well not even be out there.' " subscribers can read the complete article here.

Pats not the biggest threat: At our Patriots site, they posed some questions to Chargers insider Michael Lombardo about this weekend's matchup and to dig out some info about San Diego's prospects for a Super Bowl run. Patriots fans surely won't like his answer to the question of which team is the biggest threat to San Diego. "I think the Colts pose the most match-up problems for San Diego," he says. "The Indianapolis receivers can get open so quickly they don't give the Chargers pass rush much time to get to Peyton Manning. And although their porous run defense would seem primed for a shredding by Tomlinson, their team speed actually neutralizes much of what he likes to do." Check out this great pregame Q&A feature at our Patriots site.

Go west: With former Falcons offensive coordinator Greg Knapp as a possible candidate for the same position with the Browns, it could mean some significant changes for Cleveland. Greg Hensley at our Browns site takes a look at how a switch to the West Coast Offense would impact the current talent on the Cleveland Browns roster and the direction the team would go in the draft. subscribers can learn more here.

Eagles DB Rod Hood (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Hopes are high:  Chuck Hixson at our Eagles site reports that Rod Hood will take the place of the injured Lito Sheppard in the Philly secondary this weekend. So will New Orleans' QB Drew Brees be able do exploit the backup in this weekend's matchup? "Reid didn't seem concerned about his secondary's ability to defend the pass Saturday," says Hixson. Find out more about this development here.

Grading them out: ...and I do mean out!  Harry Sydney uses his unique grading system to rate every member of the Green Bay offense, telling you which ones are keepers and which ones need to be replaced. And he's brutally candid with his assessment of each player, good or bad. Take this one on TE Bubba Franks, for example:  "The coaches didn't use Franks right, but he made enough mistakes to make me want to give him an F because the way he played he was stealing from the organization. I don't care about all the good stuff he does off the field. They pay him to produce on the field and he didn't get it done, plain and simple." Ouch. Even if you're not a Packers fan, this has high entertainment value. subscribers can check out his analysis here.

GameScout:  Get the details on this weekend's Bears-Seahawks matchup in this game preview at our Seahawks site.

Key playoff matchup:  Greg Talmage at our Colts site provides you with some great analysis on the matchup this Saturday between Ravens tight end Todd Heap and the Colts' zone defense. "The Colt to watch who will have a big impact on Heap's results on Saturday is Bob Sanders," he says. "If the Colts are forced to bring him down into the box to help support against the run frequently, it will mean more room in which Heap can operate in the secondary. Last week the Colts were able to get away with putting an extra man in the box. That just might not be the case this week, and Heap's the reason why." subscribers can check out his detailed analysis of this matchup here.

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