NFL Notebook: What's Vince Young's status?

Does Jeff Fisher leaving the Titans change the status of Vince Young? It's an interesting development for those concerned with connect-the-dots rumors that Young could be of interest to the Vikings, and sources in the know have the answer. Plus, will the Super Bowl spotlight shine too brightly for Aaron Rodgers?

Not forever Young: The divorce of Fisher and the Titans almost certainly will have no ramifications on the team's decision to cut ties with quarterback Vince Young, a team source told The Sports Xchange. And that also appears to be the understanding of Young's representatives, who are preparing as if the five-year veteran will be either traded or released, likely the latter.

"It probably doesn't change anything at all," a source close to Young said. "The ship hasn't sailed yet, obviously, because they haven't done anything yet. But the anchor is (pulled) up, that's for sure."

It is expected that, with Fisher gone, a few pro-Young players in the locker room, and there are several, could lobby to retain the former starter. But it's a good bet he'll be playing elsewhere in 2011.

Devil in the Saints' details: The New Orleans Saints are in the very early stages of crafting a contract extension for quarterback Drew Brees, but there seems little doubt an add-on deal will be consummated this spring, with or without a new labor deal. The parameters are still in the formative stages, but the four-year, $72 million extension signed by Tom Brady of New England in September will help to clarify the value of the deal. And Brees also shares an agent, Tom Condon, with Peyton Manning, who received some opening parameters from the Colts last week. So that should assist as well in determining market value.

Much less clear, it seems, is just how the Saints will handle Reggie Bush, whose base salary climbs to $11.8 million in 2011, and who missed half the 2010 season with a leg injury. Conventional wisdom in the past, including in this space, has been that New Orleans officials would rework Bush's deal, to ameliorate the '11 salary by signing the former first-round pick to an extension. But that doesn't seem to be such a sure thing anymore.

As noted here in the past, the tailback spot is not an overriding priority in the Sean Payton offense, and the Saints have succeeded with undrafted free agent types such as Pierre Thomas and Chris Ivory. While Bush remains a matchup nightmare, and a big part of the screen game the Saints employ so much, he might not be affordable. Thomas, who last year lobbied for a pricey, long-term, deal and ended up signing the one-year restricted tender, could be disappointed again this time around.

Super Bowl virgins: With the way that Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been playing, it's not likely that the Super Bowl spotlight will burn too brightly for the Green Bay star to handle. Nor should anyone necessarily assume that because Ben Roethlisberger's weighty resume includes two previous Super Bowl appearances, the Steelers' quarterback owns a distinct edge in the matchup.

The record for the last half-dozen first-time Super Bowl-starting quarterbacks, including Drew Brees of New Orleans last year, of course, is 4-2.

"Everybody talks about how it's just another football game," Brees said. "Let's face it, OK, it isn't. But the closer you can come to making it about football, and just playing your game once all the other stuff is out of the way, then the better it gets."

In the last 10 seasons, first-time Super Bowl starters are 7-6. Quarterbacks making a repeat appearance are just 3-4.

Munchak the man? The Titans will commence the pursuit of a successor to Fisher on Friday, team officials say, but don't expect the search to last very long. As is the case with every franchise, Tennessee must comply with the Rooney Rule, which stipulates the club must interview a minority candidate, and there is no one on the current staff who probably qualifies.

But at the end of the day, offensive line coach Mike Munchak figures to be the guy. The Hall of Fame lineman, who as a player and a coach has been a fixture with the franchise for three decades, garnered the support of several players to whom The Sports Xchange spoke on Thursday night and Friday morning. Said one veteran: "He's one of us, he knows the ropes around here, and not a lot would change."

One thing that will have to change, of course, is that Munchak (or whoever is the new coach) will have to address the quarterback situation. Look for Adams to sniff around New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who once had the same job with the Titans and remains popular with the players and fans. But word around the league on Thursday night was that Williams is staying put.

Horton hears a who: With four defensive coordinators openings still remaining in the league – at Arizona, Oakland, Philadelphia, and Tennessee – things seem to have hit a state of inertia. And the abrupt departure of Fisher in Tennessee certainly didn't make things any less murky. It's fairly obvious that at least one team, perhaps two, with a vacancy are waiting to interview candidates currently employed by the two Super Bowl teams.

One guy to keep an eye on is Pittsburgh secondary coach Ray Horton, who could be in play. There have been reports that the Cardinals will attempt to lure LeBeau to join Steelers expatriates Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm but that remains a long shot. Whisenhunt has long been interested in Pittsburgh linebackers coach Keith Butler, but when the team denied him permission to speak with Miami a year ago, it essentially promised he would be LeBeau's eventual successor.

It's not certain if that "promise" is a part of Butler's contract or just a verbal understanding. If it's the latter, Whisenhunt and the Cardinals might attempt to challenge it. But don't rule out Horton, who is highly regarded in some quarters, who was quietly as a prime candidate in Dallas before the Cowboys opted to turn the defense over to Rob Ryan when he was cut loose by Cleveland.

Horton, 49, played 10 seasons in the NFL, with Cincinnati (1983-88) and Dallas (1989-92), and has been an assistant with four teams, joining the Pittsburgh staff in 2004. His name isn't raised much, and he is anything but a self-promoter, but he's definitely on the radar screen.

"Trgo" could go: Another assistant from the Super Bowl teams who appears to be in demand, and who could wind up with one of the remaining coordinator vacancies is Green Bay defensive line coach Mike Trgovac. A 17-year league veteran, Trgovac has been a coordinator in the past, with Carolina (2003-2008), and did a nice job with the Panthers.

There is some scuttlebutt that Trgovac could end up in Philadelphia, where he actually began his pro coaching career (1995-98) under Ray Rhodes, and where Andy Reid is telling people he's pretty much closed down interviews for the position that has been vacant since the club fired Sean McDermott. Trgovac is credited with the improvement of the Green Bay defensive front and the players there are very high on him.

"He's tremendous; he's our man," defensive end Ryan Pickett told The Sports Xchange last week.

Punts: It's early in the process, but one of the major points in the Colts' negotiations with Manning is the term (length) of his contract extension: Manning will be 35 in March and, while no one doubts he's got several productive years remaining, the club doesn't want to stretch the deal out too long. ... The Colts and every other team with a high-profile pending free agent – like Baltimore and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata – got some good news Thursday when the NFL took the stance that clubs will have the "franchise" designation at their disposal in February, even without an extension to the collective bargaining agreement. The announcement provided not only security but also a key bit of leverage. ... Some Pittsburgh veterans feel that right offensive tackle Flozell Adams could retire if the Steelers win Super Bowl XLV. Adams made the switch from left tackle, and has started every game in helping to rescue the Steelers from injuries on the blocking unit, but might want to go out on top. Players have given a lot of credit to first-year line coach Sean Kugler for his ability to cobble together a unit that's lost both starting tackles, Willie Colon (Achilles) and Max Starks (neck). The club expects both players to return in 2011. Now Kugler will be challenged in the Super Bowl, where he will be without center Maurkice Pouncey (ankle), who many felt should garner offensive rookie of the year consideration. ... The X-factor candidate in the Hall of Fame balloting next week in Dallas figures to be NFL Films founder Ed Sabol, who is receiving strong support from some selectors. There is a faction of the electorate that feels players should be favored over so-called "contributors," but the Sabol candidacy could be a much-debated one.

The last word: "Everybody is paparazzi right now." – Pittsburgh reserve quarterback Charlie Batch on the proliferation of social media outlets, and NFL players' use of them

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