NFC Combine Notes

INDIANAPOLIS — Scout.com has arrived in Indianapolis and already things have been heating up. Here's what's going on around the NFC, including an updated evaluation on if Jamal Lewis would be a good fit for the Vikings. Plus, find out the buzz on two linebackers and another running back who might look fine in purple.

Minnesota VikingsDon'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. In fact, on Wednesday the Ravens announced that they will not use the franchise tag on Lewis and he will be free to negotiate with other teams.

"The Ravens have decided not to franchise or transition Jamal Lewis. At the same time, we will still consider the possibility of talking with Jamal about a long-term contract with us. I've spoken with Jamal and his agent (Mitch Frankel) today to let them know," General Manager Ozzie Newsome said.

That said, if the Ravens are still interested in trading for Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, they have defensive players like safety Ed Reed and linebacker Ray Lewis who are not happy with their contract situations. Lewis would like to be traded and Reed is looking for a new contract, according to what an NFL source told Viking Update.

Arizona CardinalsAccording 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, 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 PanthersWhile 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 CowboysHead 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 PackersAccording 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, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 3 should he not be able come to a contract agreement to re-sign 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.

New Orleans SaintsUnless 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 GiantsIf 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 Scout.com 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 EaglesSecond-year offensive lineman Todd Herremans is progressing well coming back from the ankle injury he suffered in December. Herremans told Scout.com 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 Scout.com recently that Runyan would be willing to accept up to 25 percent 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 49ersThe 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 (using the 110 percent increase rule from a player who was franchised last year) to franchise him again this season.

Seattle SeahawksThe 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 Scout.com 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 BuccaneersThose who know fullback Mike Alstott well told Scout.com recently that they expect the 10-year pro to come back for his 11th season, assuming the team can 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 RedskinsAccording 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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