NFL Player Wire

What's going on with some of the bigger names in the NFL? We've got news regarding more than 30 players as contract squabbles heat up and players report to offseason practices.

  • QB Tyler Thigpen took most of the snaps behind Brodie Croyle on Thursday, the first workout session open to the media by the Chiefs. Damon Huard, the team said, could still be the backup. But there have been suggestions that Kansas City is looking to deal Huard.

  • WR Limas Sweed drew rave reviews at early Steelers workouts. He's battling Nate Washington for the No. 3 receiver job.

    "We can move Santonio around, which we started doing a lot last year because he plays in the slot very well," offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said. "Limas can play in the slot, no problem. Hines can obviously play everywhere. Nate can play everywhere -- he's had to play every position on the team the last two years."

  • C Jeff Saturday isn't concerned that the Colts used one-third of their total available draft choices on standout college centers. Saturday, a free agent after this season, turns 33 next month. He's entering his 10th NFL season and is scheduled to earn $3 million in 2008.

    Ralph Cindrich, Saturday's agent, has had preliminary discussions with Colts officials on a new contract. He has informed them of Pro Bowl center's desire to remain in Indianapolis, and the team said the feeling is mutual.

    "You always want to know what your future holds, but I'm sure they have thoughts about what they're going to do," Saturday said.

    Team owner Jim Irsay dismissed the possibility the team would sign Saturday to an extension before his contract expires, or at least until late in the 2008 season.

    "I don't see an extension," Irsay said, "but I do see him being a guy that we certainly have to be aware of going into next year that we would want to re-sign. You don't know what road it will go down. You may franchise-tag him.

    "We all know how important Jeff is to our team. We're all hopeful Jeff's here in 2009."

  • DE Charles Grant was indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge in Blakely, Ga., early last week. Grant, who has been taking part in the team's offseason program, was indicted for his part in a February nightclub altercation that escalated and resulted in the shooting death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child on the morning of Feb. 3. Grant, who was stabbed in the neck during the melee, was one of seven men indicted by a grand jury on an involuntary manslaughter charge in the death of the pregnant woman. Korynda Reed, 23, was a bystander who was shot and killed by a stray bullet during a nightclub fracas. Grant, a seven-year veteran, also received misdemeanor fighting charges.

    "It's something that we take very seriously and certainly our condolences go out to the family," Payton said Wednesday during a scheduled news conference following an Organized Team Activity (OTA).

  • TE Kellen Winslow is working out in San Diego rather than with the team at Browns' training complex in Berea. Fans are anxious because Winslow wants a new contract. Three years remain on his current deal.

    Drew Rosenhaus, Winslow's agent said on a Youtube video Winslow will report when he it is required.

    "These are voluntary activities," Rosenhaus said. "They are not mandatory, and a player has a right to train on his own. Kellen is coming off an off-season knee injury and he is doing his rehabilitation and his training with a very fine trainer in his hometown of San Diego.

    "He will be at the mandatory minicamp and at the mandatory training camp. What's the big to-do? There shouldn't be so much scrutiny on players who choose to work out on their own. Kellen's going to be ready to go and everything should be just fine with him."

  • Bills WR Lee Evans received a contract offer from the Bills, but a contract extension is not imminent.

    "I don't really want to speak on it now," Evans said after practice as Buffalo began a series of voluntary organized team activities. "There was an offer put out there but that's as much as I'll speak on it now."

    Evans' contract expires after this season. Whether an extension is consummated before September or he gets a new deal next year, he's in line for a huge pay raise.

  • Bills OT Jason Peters is coming off a sports hernia surgery. But it's also known that one reason he chose to stay away from voluntary organized team activities the week of May 19 was that he's begun the process of angling for a new contract. And he's likely to get one, too. Peters is scheduled to make $3.3 million this year, making the team's best offensive linemen its third highest-paid behind LG Derrick Dockery ($7 million per year) and RT Langston Walker ($5 million per year). Peters signed his current deal, good through 2010, while a right tackle but switched to the more difficult and more important left tackle spot midway through 2006.

    The Bills set a precedent for making the contract pecking order right last season when they re-worked DE Aaron Schobel's deal to make sure he made more than Chris Kelsay. They will have little leverage dealing with Peters, who has outperformed his contract and is one of the NFL's rising young stars at age 26. Just last month, Tennessee gave its version of Peters, Michael Roos, a deal averaging $7.1 million.

  • Giants TE Jeremy Shockey is not likely to be traded at this point but could be back on the market after the 2008 season. Shockey will remain with the team as offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride tinkers with new formations to utilize two TEs (Shockey and last year's surprisingly good rookie, Kevin Boss).

  • Packers DT Justin Harrell is testing the patience of the Packers.

    He isn't participating in the team's offseason workouts this spring for the second straight year. Harrell suffered an injury to a disk in his back lifting weights in April and subsequently underwent surgery.

    "We're just taking it slow (with Harrell's recovery)," head coach Mike McCarthy said.

    Harrell isn't expected to be cleared by the medical staff for on-field work until the start of training camp in late July.

    He missed all offseason workouts as a rookie last year because of a torn biceps muscle he sustained in the early part of his senior season of college at Tennessee. In turn, Harrell wasn't physically ready for the start of the regular season and was deactivated for the first four games. He later was sidelined five games because of a midseason ankle injury.

    Having Harrell healthy this offseason to expedite his development was paramount because he stands to have a significant role on the defensive line next season. The Packers deemed former starter Corey Williams expendable, trading him to Cleveland for a second-round draft pick this year, as they looked to count on a quartet of Johnny Jolly, hybrid lineman Cullen Jenkins, Colin Cole and Harrell to complement nose tackle Ryan Pickett.

    Green Bay, however, was considerably thin in the interior when its organized team activities began May 19. Jolly also will be out until training camp as he recovers from a shoulder injury he suffered late l

  • Dolphins RB Ricky Williams, the named backup to Ronnie Brown in a shared RB situation, looked excellent in the team's first on-field training sessions.

    "I'm not surprised. Just knowing how hungry Ricky is to get at this thing. I love his attitude," Sparano said. "I love everything about what he's doing out there right now.... I'm excited for the guy."

    Brown is on the field and ahead of schedule, but he's not taking part in full workouts.

  • RB Ronnie Brown is way ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation of an ACL injury that usually takes 9-12 months to recover from. He is already cutting on the knee, although not in team drills.

    "He's out there and he's getting a little bit of work," said coach Tony Sparano. "We're going to take it easy with him and see where it goes."

  • Cowboys S Ken Hamlin received a contract offer Tuesday just as Marion Barber and Terence Newman did, but the two sides could not come to an agreement. The Cowboys designated Hamlin their franchise player in February to keep him at least through next season and allow time to negotiate a long-term contract. Hamlin has been given a one-year franchise tender of $4 million.

  • Cowboys SS Roy Williams missed OTAs this week because of a family vacation.

  • Rams RB Steven Jackson did not participate in a May 22 OTA practice after tweaking his ankle near the end of a practice the day before.

  • Rams WR Torry Holt drew attention from St. Louis media this week after comments he made about playing with his brother, Terrence Holt, a safety with the Carolina Panthers. Holt grew up in North Carolina and attended North Carolina State.

    "The real story is that I have this year and next year (on my contract) and hopefully I can finish those years out. Then I will see where I am at. I will see where I am at physically and emotionally and financially. Then, if they would like to do something here I will consider it. If not, then I will have the option to go and explore and give my services somewhere else.

    "If that happens, Carolina will definitely be my first choice. There is no question about it. I have 2008 and 2009 left to play and that is what I plan on doing."

    Holt wasn't around much during the early part of the offseason, partly to try and put the 2007 season behind him, and also because he wasn't pleased with the way the team treated fellow wide receiver Isaac Bruce, who was released in late February.

    "From a mental standpoint, I just wanted to relax and get away from the building and get away from football for a while so I can come back with a fresh mind and give the guys and my teammates what it is they need to go out there and try to win some more games this year and try to get our first playoff berth in a while," he said.

  • Chiefs QB Damon Huard is getting little work in the Chiefs' first week of OTA (organized team activities), but the Chiefs insist this does not necessarily mean is no longer is the backup to Brodie Croyle. There is speculation that the Chiefs are looking for a trade for Huard, who started 10 games last year. But with Tyler Thigpen having virtually no NFL experience, there also is a feeling that the Chiefs need at least one proven backup should something happen to Croyle.

  • RB Larry Johnson, who the Chiefs insist is fully healed from the fractured foot that cost him the final half of the 2007 season, did not participate in the first open-to-the-media OTA session on March 22. But coach Herm Edwards insisted that Johnson had done a full workout in the week's three closed sessions. The May 22 workout was moved indoors because of wet weather, and Edwards said the Chiefs did not want Johnson running on the hard artificial turf.

  • Falcons WR Joe Horn has decided to skip voluntary offseason training activities (OTAs). "These are optional workouts right now and Joe's option is he chose not to be here," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "There's not really anything we can do about that. You'd like to have all your guys here but the (collective bargaining agreement) is pretty concrete in what we can do and can't do.

    "We've had our mandatory workouts. When we open up (training) camp we anticipate Joe will be here."

    The 36-year-old wide receiver, who started most of last season after signing a four-year, $19 million contract that guarantees him $7.5 million, feels he is not in the rebuilding team's plans. Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff have said that is not the case.

  • LB Dan Morgan's attempt at a comeback after two injury-filled seasons was short-lived.

    Morgan, who signed a one-year contract with the Saints on March 11, announced his retirement last Monday. The 29-year-old Morgan played seven seasons in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers, but had participated in just four games over the last two seasons because of head and leg injuries.

    Morgan missed the final 13 games of the 2007 season because of a partially-torn Achilles' tendon, an injury which played a major factor in the former Pro Bowler's decision to retire.

    "When we signed Dan, he was committed to making a fresh start, and he was making every effort to rehabilitate the leg injury that he suffered last year," said Saints coach Sean Payton. "But it wasn't responding as well as he had hoped it would. We wish him well in his continued recovery, and he will be remembered for the excellent player he was during his career."

  • DB Charles Godfrey continues to open eyes at Panthers camp.

    "He played with the first group to start with (at minicamp), and I thought he handled it very well," Fox said. "He adapted well. It didn't look like it was too big for him. He fit in well. Our players liked him. Maybe one of the good (things) was Steve Smith said, 'Man, that (number) 30 is pretty good.' Smitty doesn't give out a lot of compliments."

  • RB Jonathan Stewart's turf toe injury was a blessing in disguise as far as the Panthers are concerned. Yes, he's missing valuable time in the offseason, but the Panthers are taking the approach that, if healthy, Stewart would've been employed elsewhere.

    "Truth be known, if Jonathan hadn't had the toe situation, he probably never would've gotten to us (with the 13th pick)," Fox said. "We were fortunate that we were familiar with it. One of our team doctors did the actual surgery, so we had a pretty good feel of timing (of his return). At one point, he was not going to have the surgery, which would have affected maybe what we did, too. The fact that he got the surgery done and we knew about what his comeback time would be made us feel much more comfortable. He's a powerful guy with a thick lower body, excellent balance, great feet, so he breaks a lot of tackles and gets yards after the first contact, which is something we look for."

  • S Mike Brown, who recently had his contract restructured to limit the Bears' financial responsibility if he suffers a debilitating injury for the fifth straight season, was running with the first team on Wednesday.

    Brown suffered a season-ending torn ACL in last year's season opener and has missed 43 of 64 games the past four seasons after playing in 64 straight, and starting 63, in his first four seasons.

    Brown's base salary for this season was scheduled to be $2.44 million in the final year of the five-year, $17 million extension he signed in July 2003. Brown now has a base salary of $950,000 for 2008. The $1.49 million difference can be made up with unlikely-to-be-earned incentives based on playing time. If Brown is injured before the season starts and released, he would be paid $320,000.

  • QB J.P. Losman was in attendance early in the week before leaving for scheduled commitments. He did not speak with reporters. WR Lee Evans, his closest friend on the team and his biggest supporter, said Losman is OK with having to play backup to second-year man Trent Edwards despite voicing a desire (through his agent) to be traded.

    "I spoke with him numerous times here in the offseason and he has to sit back and wait for an opportunity and that's his mindset," Evans said. "He'll prepare himself to be as good as he can and if he gets a chance to step in and gets that opportunity, then he'll be ready. Me knowing him and people who know him around here know he'll be accountable when he steps up and gets a chance."

  • WR James Hardy said he never brandished a gun and the woman who reported to police that two men were fighting in her backyard got the story all wrong. Hardy was never arrested and police said the case is closed.

    "A woman came outside and believed something else was happening and it wasn't," Hardy said. "That's why my father didn't know what was going on and honestly I didn't know what was going on until later that evening. I called and let coach (Dick Jauron) know and everybody know what definitely happened."

    Hardy said he regretted getting his NFL career off to a negative start in the media but vowed to put the incident behind him.

    "It's something I felt I couldn't control at the time," Hardy said. "The only thing is I shouldn't have been there. It sort of feels like every time I go home something negative (happens and) I'm always on the end of it.

    "Now I'm in Buffalo and this is the best thing to happen to me since the birth of my son and I just want to get on the right track in Buffalo. This is something that will never happen again and nothing will ever be blown out of proportion again because I will never be in this situation."

  • Giants DE Michael Strahan cannot be accused of not being aware of market value. Strahan, who still hasn't decided whether he'll play or retire, is said to have asked for $8 million if he does play and not the $4 million he is scheduled to receive in 2008. The reason is pride -- Miami DE Jason Taylor, who seems to be persona non grata with the Dolphins' new boss, Bill Parcells -- is to earn $7.5 million and Strahan wants to go out as the top-paid DE in the league.

  • WR Mario Manningham, because of his off-field transgression at Michigan, will be scrutinized closely, it seems, by the New York media. Coach Tom Coughlin have an even description of Manningham's early impression on the Giants.

    "He showed some flashes," said Coughlin. "He was still confused about all the work we piled on him, and all the rest of them, but he did show the stuff we wanted to see. He has a lot of tools."

  • CB Charles Woodson, as per usual, is a no-show at the Packers' offseason workouts. He and Al Harris, the Packers' other starting corner, could make an appearance or two before the end of team OTAs on June 12.

    "Charles has been in and out of town. I talked to Al probably about a week to 10 days ago," McCarthy said May 21. "In their particular case and where they are in the years, their work during the OTAs will be limited, but we'll definitely hit our targets with them."

  • RB Ryan Grant, a regular in individual workouts, hasn't been allowed to participate in the OTAs because he's not under contract. Grant, a second-year player, has refused to sign the club's one-year minimum tender of $370,000 as an exclusive-rights free agent because he wants a lucrative long-term contract.

    Grant is willing to be a spectator at practice until the situation is resolved. He's confident that team management will reward him after his breakthrough second half of last season by the time training camp starts July 28.

    "I just felt like it was in my best (interest) to handle it this way, and I think both sides feel like I'm going about it in the correct way," Grant said. "It's not a matter of unhappiness. There's no hard feelings or anything like that. It's the business aspect."

  • RB Frank Gore remained in the San Francisco Bay Area after the conclusion of the season to get a head start on learning Mike Martz's complex system in which he's being cast in the role once played by Marshall Faulk.

    "I think I'll touch the ball more in the passing game," Gore said. "I just want to show that I can do it all, that I'm a complete running back."

    Faulk has gone out of his way to help Gore, too. Faulk and Gore have spoken over the phone. Faulk has volunteered to travel to meet with Gore to help him with the offense. After all, no running back knows about the Martz offense like Faulk. And running backs have to know everything about the offense.

    "This is going to be fun," Gore said. "I know I won't be facing eight and nine guys in the box anymore."

  • WR DeSean Jackson was considered a bit of a diva by some draft experts, which many believe is one reason he lasted to the No. 49 overall pick. Jackson's college coach, Jeff Tedford, is hopeful that if the Eagles fashion the proper environment for the talented but undersized (5-9, 175 pounds) wideout, he will work hard and be successful.

    "I don't know that he worked as hard as he could have (at Cal) because he's a very natural player," Tedford said. "Now that he's in the NFL, and he has to compete with guys who are all as good as he is, he'll figure out he needs to work.

    "He got away with doing things on natural ability a lot at this level, that he probably won't be able to do at that level. I don't think he's opposed to it, but he'd probably even admit he can work harder."

  • DT Albert Haynesworth continues to work out on his own in hopes of earning a long-term contract. The Titans made Haynesworth their franchise player in February. Haynesworth's deal, according to agent Chad Speck, is unlikely to be impacted by the decision of NFL owners to dissolve the current labor deal.

    "It just throws a few different dynamics in there that you have to think about moving forward," Speck told The Tennessean. "But I don't think it changes things at all. It certainly doesn't change the fact Albert wants to remain a Titan and would like to execute a long-term contract."

    The Titans declined to discuss the matter.

  • CB Adam Jones has moved to Dallas. He passed his physical to make the trade from Tennessee to Dallas official, and he has already begun bonding with his teammates. The final step is being allowed to practice with the team and then being reinstated to the league by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

    "I think the commissioner will, at some point, evaluate where this thing has gone with Adam over the last several months and we'll see where that goes from there," owner Jerry Jones said.

    "It's his (Goodell) decision-making but I'm not going to speculate there. I wouldn't comment about my conversations with the league about Adam. Obviously, we've been in communication with the league because we've had to work through contracts. We've had to do several things. Now, he has done his medical, his physical, he cleared that with flying colors, so any of that factor relative to the trade with Tennessee is no longer a factor."

  • WR Terrell Owens has one year left on his contract. In the past, he might have rumbled about the soon-to-lapse deal while Marion Barber and Terence Newman inked megadeals. But both owner Jerry Jones and Owens say there's no rush, and that a deal will come in time.

    "It's not an issue," Owens said. "For me, I'm going to go out and let my play do the talking. Jerry (Jones) is aware of my ability."

  • RB Travis Henry missed the first week of Broncos camp with a hamstring injury suffered during a workout. The team figures he will be able to participate in the second week of the camp.

  • WR Eric Moulds, 34, worked out for the Buccaneers on Monday. Moulds caught 34 passes for 342 yards last season with the Tennessee Titans and is an unrestricted free agent.

  • QB David Garrard enters this season for the first time as the undisputed starter in Jacksonville. Garrard said he feels the players have responded differently to his leadership now that it's clear the starting job is his to keep for some time.

    "The guys definitely know now that there is no question. We signed our big deal in the offseason and so they know I'm not going anywhere and the team knows that I'm here as the starting quarterback," Garrard said. "They approach me as the same person but knowing that we don't have any doubts on our minds that if we have any questions, we can come to Dave and ask him anything about what's going on, on the field or whatever."

  • WR Andre Johnson will not participate in any of the 13 voluntary workouts held by the Texans. Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday to try to clean up problems lingering from the knee injury that sidelined him for seven games last year. He will focus the next two months on rehabilitating his knee and preparing for training camp.

    "We went back and forth with the knee throughout the offseason," coach Gary Kubiak said. "It wasn't feeling the way (Johnson) wanted it to feel. So we tried to do some things, some rest and those types of things, to get it better.

    "He wasn't really comfortable coming out of (mini-)camp, so we said, 'Hey, let's go scope it and see if there are any issues. We want you to feel comfortable.' Everything was fine. They cleaned it up. Now he feels good about it. He's not going to be hurt by missing some of these reps, so we'll just get him back to 100 percent and get him ready to go."

    Johnson, who originally injured the knee during the second game of last season, said it started bothering him when he returned to the field last season. When he joined his teammates for the offseason conditioning program, the pain returned when he was running.

    "It bothered me in the inside of my knee," said Johnson, who had his knee covered with a white sleeve Monday. "It was just something that just got real aggravating."

  • QB JaMarcus Russell is hitting his stride with the Raiders, working closely and often individually wirh offensive coordinator Greg Knapp to advance his assimilation to starting NFL quarterback. Russell, who had been reported to weigh almost 300 pounds, said he checked in at 269.

    "From this time last year, I feel 100 percent better," Russell said. "I feel a lot better and am able to move a lot better."

    Coach Lane Kiffin termed the difference in Russell "like night and day," and sees progress in all areas.

    "The confidence factor, the way he feels about his body, he's been around these guys this whole time working out, running with them," Kiffin said. "He looks completely different."

  • Chargers TE Antonio Gates continues with his rehab on his mending toe. He might not test it until training camp -- if then.

  • QB Matt Ryan's rookie contract was the target of veteran criticism, who began speaking out against unproven rookies getting more money than most veterans, citing Ryan's contract. The most potent rebuke came from NFLPA president and Tennessee Titans center Kevin Mawae, whose union head, Gene Upshaw, is against a salary scale for rookies.

    "As a guy who has been in the league for 14 now going on 15 years and being around other veteran guys, for a young guy to get paid that kind of money and never steps foot on an NFL football field, it's a little disheartening to think of," Mawae said. "It makes it tough for a guy who's proven himself to say 'I want that kind of money' when the owners, all they're going to say is, 'well, you weren't a first-round pick.

    "I know there is sentiment around the league amongst the players like, 'Let's do something to control these salaries and control these signing bonuses' and things like that.'"

    Ryan said he was aware of the backlash and didn't feel any of it was directed at him but more likely at the system.

    "I have a lot of respect for the guys who've put in a lot of time in this league," Ryan said. "They've worked hard and they are the backbone of this league. For me, the situation I was in, it's the nature of being a rookie at this time and where I was picked and the position I play.

  • Jets DT Kris Jenkins certainly looks the part of a nose tackle, at 6-foot-4 and 360 pounds. Yet the position is totally new to him, after being a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle in Carolina's 4-3 before coming to the Jets in a trade.

    "It's different," Jenkins admitted after a voluntary practice. "My whole career, except for my rookie year, I have always played a single-gap defense -- just go up the field and disrupt. Now it's fun. I love the challenge; now I have to basically be a stud. You have two gaps, you can't let anybody block you. Double teams, whams, everything -- you have to take it head on.

    "It's different," he added, "but I think it's something that lets me express myself. In a 4-3 defense you are basically restricted to that one gap. In the 3-4 defense I get to express myself a little bit more and show what I'm capable of doing. As camp goes, I'll get more familiar with it and can pick the speed up a little bit."

    Jenkins' new five-year, $30.3 million contract has weight-clause incentives, according to sources. But Jenkins says his immediate family of fiancee Tashia and three children, Kris Jr., Marcus and 6-month-old daughter Jesse, provided him with all the motivation he needed to shed 30 pounds between the end of the 2007 season and the beginning of spring practices.


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