Championship Round League Insider

A key AFC receiver has talked to an NFC player about being traded to his team ... Coaching news and analysis... Why the Giants needed to get a deal done with Justin Tuck ... More on two top quarterbacks who will be competing in the Senior Bowl ... Get the details inside...

Chad Talks Trade?

According to a league source, Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Johnson talked to a prominent starter on the Philadelphia Eagles within the last week of the possibility of being traded over to the NFC East team.

Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis said earlier this week that Johnson would not be traded despite Johnson's displeasure with the team and how he has been treated over the past year.

If Lewis relented and decided to deal Johnson, his current contract wouldn't likely be a  prohibitive factor.

Johnson signed a six-year, $35 million deal back in March of 2006. The final year of the deal is a club option. The contract, sources indicate, included a $5 million signing bonus. Also included in Johnson's contract are reporting, workout, and Pro Bowl bonuses. A league source also points out that Johnson has bonus language in his contract for leading the NFL in receiving yardage or winning the Super Bowl MVP award. Both of those bonuses are valued at $100,000 for each season of achievement.

Johnson's base salaries aren't really an issue either for a player of his stature. He's set to make: $3 million in 2008, $4.5 million in 2009, $5 million in 2010, and $6 million in the option year (2011).

So if a team could convince the Bengals to trade Johnson, his current deal shouldn't be an issue. Getting another extension is a different issue entirely.

Palmer Could be Moving On

New Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano hasn't named his offensive coordinator yet but he could do so very soon. In fact, if the New York Giants lose on Sunday to the Green Bay Packers, New York's quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer could wind up getting the job. Miami has to wait until the Giants are out of the playoffs in order to seek permission to talk to Palmer.

It was Palmer who hired Sparano on his coaching staffs at Boston University and the University of New Haven. Palmer also hired Sparano on his staff with the Cleveland Browns and also recommended the Jacksonville Jaguars to hire him as an assistant.  A league source who knows both men well says it would "be an upset" if Palmer didn't get the offensive coordinator job with Miami as the source points out that almost every job Sparano has in coaching on the professional or collegiate level comes from knowing Palmer.

Palmer's had very good success coaching quarterbacks over the years such as Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell, Tony Romo and others. But it should be noted that sources believe Palmer is more of a pass-happy play-caller and Sparano's philosophy is more based on a power-running game and having more balance on offense. So if Palmer is named as Miami's offensive coordinator, it would be interesting to see how both coaches mesh the offensive philosophy of the team.

Crennel Deal in the Works

As first noted by earlier this week, the Cleveland Browns have begun contract extension discussions with the representative of head coach Romeo Crennel. If a deal is not struck this weekend, it's believed that both sides will continue talks next week in Mobile, Alabama which is the site of the Senior Bowl.

Crennel has two years left on his original five-year deal which is valued at more than $2 million per season. While it's not known exactly how much money Crennel is seeking, a league source believes he'll look to make between $3.5 and $5 million in each season over the final three years.

The team also made some other coaching news recently by extending the contract of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski for two more seasons (his deal will expire after 2011) and they also fired defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Defensive backs coach Mel Tucker will replace Grantham. Tucker will be expected to get players to play with more discipline against the run and pass. A league source points out that many times the Cleveland defensive backs, specifically the safeties, were not lined up correctly, which caused the defense to give up big plays. And the gap integrity against the run was poor for most of the season.

Tuck Deal Makes Sense

As first reported a week ago, the New York Giants were close to signing DE Justin Tuck to a contract extension. On Thursday evening,'s Jay Glazer reported the Giants and Tuck reached a five-year, $30 million deal that includes $16 million in guaranteed money. Tuck's rookie deal was set to expire after the 2008 season.

Despite the lofty contract, sources believe it makes sense to sign Tuck now to a big deal. With the salary cap continuing to rise and veteran DE Michael Strahan's great career nearing the end, Tuck will be counted on for even more playing time and could have cost the club more to sign him to a new deal next year. And as a league source who is involved in personnel evaluation notes, you can't have enough good pass rushers just as in baseball you can't have enough good pitchers. And good, young pass rushers with Tuck's upside are hard to find. It's also worth noting that Tuck plays inside in some passing situations which gives the club another look for opposing offenses to deal with. In fact, Tuck played inside quite a bit during last week's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

College Player News

As first noted by last week, University of Delaware QB Joe Flacco withdrew from competing in the East-West Shrine game and instead accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl. Flacco is expected to replace Boston College University QB Matt Ryan. It's believed that Ryan isn't pulling out due injury as former Notre Dame and currently Cleveland Browns QB Brady Quinn did last year. A league source with knowledge of Quinn's pre-draft workouts notes that Quinn's knee injury was legitimate and the knee wasn't 100 percent leading up to Senior Bowl week.

Flacco is being tutored by former NFL and Delaware QB Scott Brunner. League sources indicate that Flacco is the highest rising player on draft boards at the quarterback position over the past six to eight weeks based on his play during Delaware's playoff run.

There had been rumors that University of Kentucky signal caller Andre Woodson would be pulling out of Senior Bowl week, but those rumors were untrue. Woodson is being tutored by former NFL offensive assistant coach Mark Trestman who currently is the head coach of the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.

Woodson, sources say, has proved to be a willing learner and has been very coachable. In fact, Woodson has done a good job of understanding concepts and has also done a good job of showing his knowledge of the passing game in classroom sessions.

But the knock on Woodson has been consistent overall accuracy and having consistent mechanics. Those traits will be heavily scrutinized during Senior Bowl practices.

While Ryan enters next week's Senior Bowl as the top player at his position, he may not keep that ranking if Flacco and Woodson have a series of strong practice performances.

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