Teams around the NFL were cutting salary on Thursday whether they needed to or not while others were making some last-minute signings before their players reached the open market.
QB Brad Johnson was released by Dallas. Johnson lost two of three games in place of the injured Tony Romo and never showed the arm strength or the decision-making ability to give the Cowboys a chance to win with him in the lineup.
CB Adam "Pacman" Jones has yet to sign with a team, but he believes he will find a home in the NFL next season after being cut by the Cowboys last week. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones didn't necessarily close the door on a return for Pacman Jones to the Cowboys. But he made it clear that both are better off with Pacman out of the Cowboys' locker room. "I'm not going to go that far," Jerry Jones said when asked if Pacman was gone for good. "That's pretty sweeping; it covers a lot. But he's better off, and we're better off him not being on our roster."
LG Derrick Dockery was released by Buffalo. Dockery signed a seven-year, $49 million contract two years ago.
RB Fred Taylor's career would come full circle were he to sign with the Bills as a free agent. In 1998, the Bills traded their first-round pick (No. 9 overall) to Jacksonville for quarterback Rob Johnson. With 11,000-plus rushing yards, Taylor's career far surpassed what Johnson did for Buffalo. "I have heard that story a little bit this morning," Taylor said of how the Bills provided the pick that brought him to Jacksonville. "It was kind of funny, but I guess you could say as far as that pick is concerned, I got it somewhat better."
RG Kendall Simmons, who tore his Achilles last September and went on injured reserve, was released. Simmons (6-3, 315) played seven seasons with the Steelers after being drafted in the first round (30th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. Simmons had made 30 straight starts at right guard before the Achilles injury.
TE Robert Royal was released by the Bills after three years with the team.
QB Trent Green is not thinking retirement. "It's a matter of finding the right situations and the right team," said Green, who turns 39 in July. The Rams terminated Green's contract as failed physical because of an elbow injury he suffered during the 2008 season. However, it is not considered serious and he will not need surgery.
WR Anquan Boldin's contract situation isn't a priority for the Cardinals, although Boldin and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, would like for it to be. Boldin's camp is keeping the issue at the forefront of the news cycle by changing their negotiating stance. Rosenhaus told the Cardinals at the NFL Scouting Combine that Boldin would consider re-signing with the team, a dramatic change from Boldin's previous stance.
He has said since last July that he would never re-sign in Arizona and repeated it as recently as the Pro Bowl. By retreating from that view, Boldin and Rosenhaus hope to put the onus on the team to address the situation. But the Cardinals front office, led by General Manager Rod Graves, isn't in any hurry to rush to the bargaining table. Most of the Cardinals focus has been on re-signing quarterback Kurt Warner and talking to the agent for inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, their franchise player. Graves said the Cardinals will address Boldin's situation at the first window of opportunity. But he declined to say if that window would open this spring. Boldin doesn't have much leverage. He has two years remaining on a four-year extension he signed in the summer of 2005. Rosenhaus was his agent then, too, and the extension paid him $23 million or so in new money, including $10 million in bonuses. The Cardinals have other priorities. And the rhetoric from Boldin's camp isn't going to quicken their pace. Boldin arrived in camp last summer and ripped the team and head coach Ken Whisenhunt. Those words haven't been forgotten by people in the organization.
LB Ray Lewis will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his 13-year career. But where will the 10-time Pro Bowl linebacker end up? While there is talk that Lewis could bolt for the Dallas Cowboys or New York Jets, the Ravens believe they could still retain the face of their franchise. "Economics are always a part of it," general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "I don't know what the other part of it would be. He has a very good relationship with Coach Harbaugh. You know of his relationship with (owner) Steve (Bisciotti), and he and I have a very good relationship. And I think he realizes where our football team is at right now, in that we have Joe (Flacco), and that we can contend in our division and in our conference to try to get him to another Super Bowl. So those things are in place. But economics always play a big part of it."
Lewis had one of his better seasons in recent years, finishing with 117 tackles, 3? sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles. The Ravens had talked in the offseason about limiting his snaps in passing situations to save the wear-and-tear on his body. But Lewis remained an every-down linebacker and played a full 16 games for the first time since 2003 (when he won his second NFL defensive player of the year award).
Ravens officials have said Lewis' value to the Ravens goes beyond tackles and sacks. Asked whether Lewis had more value in Baltimore than anywhere else, Newsome said, "We like to think that. What you all do not get the opportunity to see like I do on a daily basis is how he interacts with the young players. He's a great mentor not only to the other young linebackers, but some of the young offensive players. ... So he has value that goes beyond his production on the football field." Since the Ravens' season ended with a loss in the AFC championship game, Lewis has talked about the possibilities of playing for the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets. Over the past year, the Ravens have repeatedly talked ab
CB Jabari Greer has received a strong offer to remain in Buffalo but is poised to test the market as an unrestricted free agent. Greer has 23 starts and four interceptions over the past two seasons. After waiting five years, seeing big-money deals being signed by others at his coveted position, and recognizing that last year's first-round pick, Leodis McKelvin, is poised to take his place in the lineup, Greer wants to consider other opportunities. Buffalo's last offer was a reported five years worth $20 million.Driving up the price was a five-year, $21-million deal given Philadelphia backup Joselio Hanson. A five-year, $43-million deal given the Giants' Corey Webster and a similar one for the Colts' Kelvin Hayden also muddied the waters green.
"There's a difference between loyalty and self-interest and I want them (the Bills) to know that as long as the opportunity is here, I'm going to be here," Greer said. "But if the opportunity is someplace else, then I have to do what's best for my family." While Buffalo's chief operating officer Russ Brandon told reporters at the Indianapolis Combine, "Jabari knows how I feel about him ... We'd love to have Jabari back in the mix," the reality is that the Bills are in position not to panic and overspend. That's because McKelvin showed so much promise at the end of last season.
OT John St. Clair, scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent Feb. 27, is a bigger priority to retain for the Bears now that starting RT John Tait's retirement seems all but a done deal. "John St. Clair was big for us even before John Tait retired," coach Lovie Smith said. "John played well for us throughout the year. He was consistent each week, we knew what we were gonna get from him. Of course we'd like for him to remain a member of our team."
Even if the Bears re-sign St. Clair, they might still use their first-round draft pick (18th overall) for an offensive tackle for the second straight year after taking Chris Williams 14th overall last year. "John has said he's going to retire," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "In all likelihood that's probably going to happen. We're talking to John St. Clair. We certainly like John. But we still need to continue to bring in young offensive linemen and develop them. We've gone through a big changeover with our offensive line in the last few years. Some of it had to do with the age and players moving on, and we have to replenish."
LB Brandon Johnson, who will be a restricted free agent, received a second-round tender of $1.45 million. He started the last nine games after rookie Keith Rivers was injured and was second on the team in tackles. He is very quick and an effective pass rusher.
LB/DE Darryl Blackstock re-signed with the Bengals. Financial terms of the one-year deal were not released. Had he not signed, he would have become an unrestricted free agent.
LB Rashad Jeanty, who will be a restricted free agent, received a second-round tender of $1.545 million after making 15 starts. He was fourth on the team in tackles and second on special teams tackles.
NT Shaun Rogers is no longer a happy camper, according to reports, and no matter how the Browns spin it, that is not good. According to NFL.com, Rogers wants out of his contract that runs through 2013. Rogers is due a guaranteed bonus of $6 million next month, but according to the report Rogers would rather be released than be paid the bonus ?- part of $15 million he is still owed in guaranteed money by the Browns -? because he felt snubbed by Coach Eric Mangini twice.The first incident occurred when Mangini walked into the Browns' training room one day in January. Rogers was there, but Mangini did not say hello. The second incident occurred at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards presentation on Jan. 23. Mangini and Rogers were in the media room at the same time engaged in separate conversations, but neither acknowledged the other. Mangini was asked about it during a press conference Feb. 4 and said he did not know Rogers was there. But there could be deeper, unspecified reasons the Browns' best defensive player wants out. According to friends of the big nose tackle Rogers, 29, laughed off the two perceived snubs by Mangini and said after eight years in the league he does not need to be babied.
"The Browns are not going to release Shaun Rogers," a team source said. "There was a misunderstanding. I'm sure Eric is going to get together with Shaun. He's very important to the team. We haven't had any calls from Shaun or his agent asking for his release." Calls to Rogers' agent, Kenard McGuire, were not returned. Rogers was acquired one year ago at the start of free agency from the Lions for Leigh Bodden and a third-round draft choice. He was a headache for the coaches in Detroit, but he was not a problem, nor was he a slacker, for coach Romeo Crennel. Crennel was fired Dec. 29. Rogers had three years left on his contract when the trade was made. The Browns extended it by three years to raise the total value to $42 million. A total of $20 million was guaranteed, with
QB Dan Orlovsky, who will test the market, is being wooed to re-sign with the Lions as a backup. General manager Martin Mayhew said he told Orlovsky he sees him as a backup, but the best player would play. "He's been a backup his whole career," Mayhew said, "and I'm not sure he'll go out in the market and he'll get starter money."
RT Mark Tauscher's return to Green Bay is up in the air as he will need the entire offseason to recover from reconstructive surgery in mid-January for a torn ACL. The Packers are allowing Tauscher to do his rehab at their facilities.
"Mark is definitely part of the plan as you move forward, but really when I look at Mark right now, he is in a medical category as far as how we move forward and so forth," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "But, he is there also every day. I see him a lot down in the training room, and I know he is progressing well through his rehab." Tauscher, a starter since his rookie season with the club in 2000, will be an unrestricted free agent. General manager Ted Thompson said he'd like to re-sign Tauscher.
S Gibril Wilson agreed to a contract with Miami. Terms were not known, but Wilson is expected to play free safety with the team re-signing SS Yeremiah Bell. Wilson, who signed a six-year, $39 million contract with Oakland last offseason, was released last week. The Dolphins' starting safeties last season, Yeremiah Bell and Renaldo Hill, are free agents.
SS Yeremiah Bell has signed a four-year, $20 million deal with the Dolphins, according to the NFL Network. That means newly-signed Gibril Wilson is likely to play free safety.
RG Jahri Evans, a three-year starter, was tendered at the highest level at $2.792 million with first- and third-round draft picks as compensation if he receives an offer sheet and the Saints decline to match.
WR Lance Moore was tendered at $1.545 million, which means the Saints get a second-round pick if he receives an offer sheet and they don't match for the restricted free agent.
RB Brandon Jacobs said he never doubted he and the Giants would reach agreement on a new contract. The Giants signed their franchise playe to a four-year, $25 million contract Wednesday night. It is being reported that $13 million of the contract is guaranteed. Jacobs has had two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons (1,009 in 2007 and 1,089 last year), and is now certain to be a Giant through the 2012 season, when he will be 30 years old. "I was confident all along that this was going to get done," Jacobs said. "I didn't panic at all (at the franchise tag). I knew I was going to be with the Giants and I was super confident that things would work out."
CB Kevin Dockery will be a restricted free agent. The Giants tendered him a $2.1 million offer. If he signs with another team, the Giants will receive a second-round draft pick as compensation.
RT Jon Runyan, who is an unrestricted free agent, had microfracture surgery on his knee early this month and will be on the shelf for at least 4 months. While the Eagles aren't closing the door on re-signing Runyan, they want to see how his recovery goes before they decide anything. "Time will tell on that," coach Andy Reid said. "They're all different. I've seen (microfracture surgeries) that worked and I've seen ones that didn't."
CB Joselio Hanson's new five-year deal is worth $21 million with a $3 million signing bonus.
OT Tra Thomas appears ready to test the free-agent market. With the Carolina Panthers re-signing Jordan Gross, Thomas figures to be the top-rated left tackle in free agency. Despite his age, he is expected to draw a lot of interest. "I would love for the Eagles to stop up to the plate and get (a new deal) done," Thomas said earlier in the week. "If not, I'm ready to move on. It's weird, but it's also exciting. I haven't been in this position for a long time. For 11 years, I've always known what would take place next year."
Steelers FB Sean McHugh, a restricted free agent, was tendered $1.01 million.
Steelers OT Willie Colon, a restricted free agent, was tendered S2.198 million.
DT Albert Haynesworth appears to be heading elsewhere in unrestricted free agency as perhaps the highest-paid defensive player in the NFL, something the Titans are not likely to match.
CB Chris Carr is poised to test the market as an unrestricted free agent and has value as a return man. The Titans want him back, but Carr could be seeking more playing time as well as a bigger payday.
CB DeAngelo Hall was poised to hit the market as the No. 1 unrestricted free agent cornerback, which would likely make him an ex-Redskin. "I was the highest-paid DB for eight weeks, but I learned it's not all about the money," Hall said on Feb. 24. "When teams are courting you, everybody's real nice. But Oakland wanted me to do things that would be like you writing your stories backwards. The Redskins have an advantage since we've had a chance to feel each other out. I'm optimistic that we can get something done in time, but there's not much time (before the opening of free agency at midnight on Feb. 27)." And if the Redskins somehow managed to re-sign the 25-year-old Hall, who made two Pro Bowls with Atlanta, they would almost surely have to come up with a big chunk of the money by cutting Shawn Springs and his $6 million base salary. Springs remains an elite corner when healthy but he missed seven games with injuries last season and will be 34 in March.