Thursday, March 31, 2011

Locker Impressive During Pro Day

NFL Draft analysts wanted to see if University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker had answered the one question that has lingered over his head: Is he an accurate enough passer for a team to use a first-round pick on him.

Throwing in climate-controlled conditions in a workout run by UW offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, Locker completed 40 of 42 passes, with his two misses occurring on well-thrown deep balls that were just out of the reach of wide receiver D'Andre Goodwin.

Locker has always had a strong arm and decent mechanics, but has been in Irvine, California working with former NFL quarterback Ken O'Brien on his footwork, mechanics, X's-and-O's--since his college career officially ended in January.

Reports out of the workout place a dozen NFL teams on site, including a large contingent from the Seattle Seahawks, who are looking for a quarterback and could take one with the 25th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The Tennessee Titans, who will work Locker out privately on Thursday, sent offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and personnel executive Ruston Webster to take in the workout.

Several mock drafts have Locker being targeted by the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings, two quarterback-needy teams who pick 10th and 12th, respectively.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Packers DE Johnny Jolly Remains Jailed

Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly was denied bond and will remain jailed in Houston on felony drug possession charges, The Associated Press reports.

During a traffic stop last Friday, police discovered 600 grams of codeine, prompting in Jolly's arrest for possession of a controlled substance.

Jolly was suspended for the entire 2010 season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. That discipline was tied to a 2008 arrest in Houston on drug possession charges, also involving codeine.

Last August, Jolly avoided jail time by entering into a pretrial diversion program that would have resulted in the dismissal of charges if Jolly stayed out of trouble for one year.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Carson Palmer’s house can now be yours

After more than a month of preparation, Carson Palmer’s Cincinnati house is officially on the market.
Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer has the vital details:
“The house, which is made of stone and brick, sits on five acres and also features a gourmet kitchen, 5 1/2 bathrooms, solarium, swimming pool, spa, golf green and pond.”
Tomorrow, we’ll break down whether Palmer’s new window treatments were really a good idea or not.  In the meantime, you may also like to know that the listing of Palmer’s house says it  “exudes comfort, character and privacy.”
On a related note, we’d like to tell NFL owners and players we are really beginning to hate you right now for this lockout.

author:  Gregg Rosenthal

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett to Visit 49ers

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett will visit the San Francisco 49ers on April 11-12, Matthew Barrows of The Sacramento Bee reports.

The 49ers have the seventh overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and are one of the many teams in search of a quarterback for the future. A Top 10 pick might be a bit early to pick Mallett, who could be an option if the 49ers move back in the first or trade up in the second round during the draft.

Mallett (6-7, 253) began his college career at the University of Michigan, 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh's alma mater, before transferring to Arkansas in 2008. A two-year starter for the Razorbacks, Mallett completed 60.3% of his 814 pass attempts for 7,496 yards with 62 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.

In addition to the 49ers, Mallett has or is scheduled to work out for/visit with the Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans, Minnesota Vikings, and Seattle Seahawks.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Sam Huff wants Drew Brees to shut his mouth

Sam Huff, the Hall of Fame linebacker who played for the Redskins and Giants in the 1950s and 1960s, always provides an interesting perspective on today’s NFL, from the viewpoint of someone who was tough as nails in his playing days and doesn’t think the league has changed for the better. Huff is often highly critical (as he was in discussing the league’s crackdown on helmet-to-helmet hits) and the latest subject of his criticism is Drew Brees.

According to Huff, Brees hasn’t been supportive enough of retired players, and as a result, Huff doesn’t want Brees speaking for retired players now as Brees takes an active role in the ongoing dispute with the owners.

“Drew Brees should keep his mouth shut,” Huff told

As Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post points out, Huff is still in a huff over comments Brees made in 2009, saying that some of the retired players who want the active players to fight on their behalf are actually in financial trouble because of their own bad business decisions, not because their union isn’t taking care of them.

It’s not quite clear why Huff is weighing in now on something Brees said two years ago. But Huff, who was active in the formation of the players’ union, doesn’t think much of the players who are currently leading the pro football players’ labor movement.

“If anyone is overpaid, it’s Brees,” Huff said. “Why did he open his mouth?”

author:  Michael David Smith

Romo, Witten to Organize Cowboys Workouts

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten will organize group workouts next month, backup quarterback Stephen McGee told Terrence Hunley of the Amarillo Globe-News.

"We are going to start working out as a team around April," McGee said on Monday from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet in Amarillo. "We are going to find a way to get work in. The off-season work is always very important even if it’s just doing light 7-on-7s to get refreshed."

A potential hiccup to the 7-on-7 plan is that the Cowboys running back Marion Barber, fullback Chris Gronkowski, wide receiver Kevin Ogltree, and cornerback Mike Jenkins are represented by Drew Rosenhaus, who is advising his clients to avoid football-related workouts.

Other agents are likely providing similar advice to their clients, who aren't protected against injury right now.

"The playbooks are really thick in the NFL. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done," said McGee. "In our case Witten and Romo are going to take charge of that. When Witten and Romo get on the phone and need a place to work out it tends to happen. There’s going to be an NFL season, there’s gotta be."

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

NFLPA Announces Draft Week Events

The NFLPA announced the details of the 2011 NFLPA Rookie Debut, a three-day draft event "designed to welcome incoming rookies and their families to the NFLPA family".

None of the scheduled events conflict with the primetime broadcasts of the first three rounds of the 2011 NFL Draft on April 28-29.

Here's a breakdown of events:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

4:00 PM Private Reception

Friday, April 29, 2011

9:30 AM Public Appearances (Media, etc.)

11:00 AM Lunch with Corporate Sponsors

Afternoon Public Appearances (Media, etc)

Late Afternoon Afternoon Social Engagement

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Morning “Let Us Play” Fitness & Skills Clinic (Harlem, N.Y.)

Afternoon Player-Fan Connection/Engagement Activity – TBD

7:00 PM + 2011 NFLPA Rookie Debut & “One Team” Celebration (Players, draftees, sponsors, VIPs and family members invited)

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Steelers, Browns to Check Out Baylor DT Phil Taylor

Baylor defensive tackle Phil Taylor will spend April 11 and 12 visiting with two teams from the AFC North.

ESPN's James Walker reports that Taylor will visit the Cleveland Browns on the 11th before crossing into western Pennsylvania to meet the Pittsburgh Steelers on the 12th.

Taylor started his college career at Penn State before he was suspended in 2008, prompting his transfer to Baylor, where he was a two-year starter and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors after last season.

At 6-3 and 334 pounds, Taylor has the size to play nose tackle in a 3-4 defense, and could provide depth behind 33-year old Casey Hampton in Pittsburgh. Cleveland is converting to a 4-3 under new coordinator Dick Jauron, so the Browns likely view Taylor as a run-stuffing tackle who can keep blockers off D'Qwell Jackson.

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reported that, in addition to the Steelers and Browns, Taylor has visits lined up with the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans, Kansas City Chiefs, and San Francisco 49ers.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Chad Ochocinco looks “ragged” in first soccer game action

Reviews are in for Chad Ochocinco’s first game action as a member of Sporting Kansas City.
The Associated Press says Ocho’s performance was “ragged” and afterward he agreed that his conditioning skills were lacking.  He participated in a “reserve” game with other backups against a local minor league team.
Ochocinco knew ahead of time he had no real chance of making the team.  He said as much to the team’s coach Peter Vermes in a behind-the-scenes meeting that was aired during a segment on Sportscenter Monday.
Vermes said he’ll meet with Ochocinco on Tuesday to decide what comes next.  Most likely, Ochocinco’s soccer experiment will be up.
“I’ve been away from the game since I was a little kid,” Ochocinco said. “I’m just having fun. The skill set is not there like it should be. All I can do out here on the pitch is probably just run fast. Other than that, I just enjoyed it.”

author:  Gregg Rosenthal

Monday, March 28, 2011

Practice squad player says life in a lockout is rather different

Tom Brady may have his name on the antitrust lawsuit filed by the NFLPA*, but he’s not a great example of the typical NFL player.  There are a lot more guys like Panthers second-year defensive back R.J. Stanford.
In an interview with Peter Schrager for Esquire, Stanford described how his life has changed during the lockout.  He was on the practice squad for most of last year, then earned a few weeks of active roster pay that he tried to save.
“With my 401K contributions, all my health-benefit deductions, and my bills — I couldn’t save much last year,” Stanford said.
So without the guarantee of any income on the way, Stanford has changed his lifestyle a bit.
“The nightlife thing has completely changed. I wasn’t ever an extravagant guy, but now it’s really toned-down,” Stanford said, before describing his new meal plan.   “I’ve gone back to basics. I had to. It’s like I’m in college all over again. I’m eating Ramen noodles, Cup-a-Soups, peanut butter and jelly, and oatmeal for dinner.”
Stanford may be exaggerating about the food, but he was serious when talking about watching his money.  He says losing his $400-per-week offseason check is significant.  He scaled back his vacation plans, and decided to rent for another year instead of buy a condo in Carolina.
We want to point out Stanford wasn’t looking for sympathy; he was just answering questions.  He just wants this strange and embarrassing offseason for the NFL to get back to normal.
“I’m bored. I just want to get back to work,” he said.

author:  Gregg Rosenthal

NFLPA* decides not to hold event at same time as draft

As Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported in Monday Morning Quarterback, the NFLPA* met Monday to decide whether to hold an event in New York at the same time the NFL conducts the draft.
Per multiple reports, the NFLPA* apparently has decided not to go head-to-head against the draft.
Adam Schefter of reports that it is “unlikely” that the NFLPA* will hold a competing event.  Dan Graziano of reports that the NFLPA* will not be holding an event concurrently with the draft.  Instead, a party will be held at a later date, possibly on Saturday night.
Graziano also reports that the NFLPA* plans to schedule Thursday, Friday, and Saturday events for incoming draft picks, but that none of the events would conflict with the draft.
The news suggests that the NFLPA* has decided not to discourage rookies invited to the draft from attending it.
If that’s the case, the NFLPA* needs to make that message clear to the rookies.
UPDATE:  Albert Breer of NFL Network reports that a reception and dinner will be held for incoming rookies on Thursday, April 28 at 4:00 p.m. ET.   The event will end with sufficient time for the prospects to make the trek to Radio City Music Hall.  Another event will be held before the second day of the draft begins on Friday night, and the NFLPA* will host a party on Saturday night, after the draft ends.

author:  Mike Florio

Mike Tomlin may ride Rashard Mendenhall until the wheels come off

In this era of NFL running backs sharing workloads, Pittsburgh’s use of Rashard Mendenhall last season was a bit of an anomaly.
His 324 carries was fourth in the NFL; no one else on the Steelers had more than 53 carries.   If you include the playoffs, Mendenhall’s workload went all the way up to 385 carries.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t apologize for the approach or plan to change it.
“You know, that’s why you draft running backs, to hand them the ball,” Tomlin told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Wear and tear is part of the game, especially at that position. You worry about it, but it doesn’t dominate your thought. It’s just part of the game.”
Tomlin originally envisioned spreading carries around more, but he says reality has a way of changing plans.  If anything, Tomlin says he only plans to expand Mendenhall’s role and build the team’s run game around his “unique talents.”  He hopes Mendenhall becomes more of a leader.
Tomlin famously once said he wouldn’t hesitate to run Willie Parker “until the wheels came off.”   And they did — Parker is out of the league.
Mendenhall is only turning 24 years old this year and his wheels should remain in place for a while.  Tomlin plans to get as much use out of him as possible in the meantime.

author:  Gregg Rosenthal

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Arthur Blank Says Players Walked Away From Fair Deal

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank wrote another letter to fans on Sunday, providing an update on the status of labor talks, as well as the new rule changes that were voted on during last week's owners meetings.

"During the last day of our mediated discussions on March 11, the NFL clubs put a balanced and fair proposal on the table in a good-faith effort to resolve our differences," Blank wrote. "The proposal included payments to players of approximately $19-20 billion over the next four years, including a 14 percent increase from 2011-2014. In addition, there would be no pay-cut for our players--only a slowing in the growth rate of their compensation...

"In my opinion, the NFLPA walked away from a deal that was more than fair, but I also recognize that they did it in order to file a lawsuit. So instead of working productively through collective bargaining, we are being stalled through the legal process. I can speak for the NFL and its owners in telling you that we all want a quick resolution of the current labor dispute, and we are ready to get back to the negotiating table at any time."

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Jim Schwartz: Jahvid Best can do whatever we need

The biggest question about Jahvid Best coming out of college was whether he could stay healthy in the NFL after an injury-plagued career at Cal. So after he struggled through an injury-plagued rookie season with the Lions, that could be a concern in Detroit.
But Lions head coach Jim Schwartz says he’s not concerned at all about the turf toe injuries that slowed Best down last year.
“Whatever we need him to do, he can do it,” Schwartz said, per the Detroit Free Press. “Obviously, his toes didn’t allow him to be able to do that for about eight or nine games in the middle of the season, and obviously he wasn’t the player that he can be and that he is.”
In the first two games of the season, Best totaled 98 rushing yards, 170 receiving yards and five touchdowns. But he suffered his first toe injury in Week 3, and he wasn’t the same player the rest of the year.
Schwartz, however, seems to think the Lions can expect the healthy version of Best for 16 games in 2011. If there are 16 games in 2011.

author:  Michael David Smith

Rex Ryan Wants His Son to Play at Alabama

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan wants his youngest son to play at the University of Alabama, Izzy Gould of reports.

"I want him to learn football," Ryan said of his son, Seth Ryan. "He wants to be a coach and all that. Alabama's not going to be excited about him. He's not a great player, but he's a good one.

"But he's going to be a great coach one day. I want him to be around the best, and that's why I want to bring him here."

Between grandfather Buddy, father Rex, and uncle Rob, there's little doubt that coaching football would come naturally to Seth, who is a sophomore wide receiver/defensive back at Summit (NJ) High School.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Saturday, March 26, 2011

“Most teams” don’t have first-round grade on Jake Locker

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock, a Wednesday guest on PFT Live, told Mike Florio that Washington quarterback Jake Locker is a “first-round talent” who could fall in the draft because teams don’t know if he’ll ever “be accurate from the pocket.”

It sounds like Mayock’s concern about Locker’s ball placement is shared around the league.

According to FOX Sports’ Adam Caplan, “most teams” don’t have a first-round grade on Locker.  His accuracy is reportedly viewed as a “major problem,” and may not outweigh Locker’s pluses in terms of athleticism and arm strength.

“There’s a lot to like with him,” writes Caplan, referring to Locker’s character and raw physical tools. “But he needs help with his mechanics, too.”

Our latest mock draft pegged Locker for the Vikings at No. 12 overall, although Tom Pelissero of ESPN 1500 covers the team closely and believes Minnesota covets Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. In order to draft Gabbert, G.M. Rick Spielman would likely have to trade up in the draft.

If the Vikings do settle for Locker, it appears most people in the NFL would view the pick as a major reach.

author:  Evan Silva

George Martin describes his meeting with NFLPA* as “defiant, accusatory, and outright disrespectful”

NFL Alumni president George Martin put a happy public face on his recent meeting with the NFLPA*.
Privately, he’s singing a much different tune.
In a memo to the group’s Board of Directors and its 32 chapter heads, a copy of which PFT has obtained, Martin said the “atmosphere was very defiant, accusatory, and outright disrespectful.”

Also, Martin said he still has not received a private meeting the head of the decertified players’ union.
“Regrettably, the long awaited and greatly anticipated one on one meeting with Mr. DeMaurice Smith never materialized as I had hoped,” Martin wrote.  “Although he was present during my two hour interrogation, no accommodation of my request for the private meeting was ever addressed.”
Martin had a much better experience with the NFL, according to the memo.
“On Tuesday morning, I had the pleasure of addressing NFL owners, executive staff, and head coaches as the NFL Annual Meetings,” Martin said.  “The genuine support and enthusiasm for our organization exhibited by these distinguished individuals was both exciting and overwhelming.”
The players apparently suspect that Martin and his group are shills for the NFL.  If they weren’t before this past week, they may be inclined to be now.
Really, if the players are going to treat Martin and the group he runs as the enemy, why shouldn’t Martin and NFL Alumni respond in kind?  At some point, it’s the only logical move.

author:  Mike Florio

NorthPark Mall Welcomes Dez Bryant Back

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant has been cleared to resume shopping at NorthPark Mall in Dallas, the shopping center announced on Friday.

"Mr. Bryant is welcome to join the millions of customers who shop and dine at NorthPark Center," NorthPark spokesman David Mardulies said via Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The mall considers last weekend's issue closed."

According to Hill, both sides apologized to one another, ending a week of senseless controversy for the 24th overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Friday, March 25, 2011

Johnny Jolly Faces Felony Possession Charges

Green Bay Packers defensive end Johnny Jolly was arrested and charged with felony drug possession early Friday morning in Houston, CBS Houston reports.

Jolly was stopped for a traffic violation at 12:45am. During the stop, officers discovered 600 grams of codeine, which constitutes a felony possession charge.

In 2010, Jolly was suspended indefinitely for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy after facing felony drug possession charges stemming from an arrest in Houston in July of 2008.

Jolly was facing up to 20 years in prison, but agreed to a plea deal on those charges last August, avoiding jail time by entering pretrial diversion that would result in the charges being dismissed if he stayed out of trouble for the next year.

Jolly became eligible to apply for reinstatement following Super Bowl XLV. That reinstatement appears highly unlikely to occur anytime soon in the wake of Jolly's latest arrest for drug possession charges, which could result in jail time for the former sixth-round pick out of Texas A&M.

Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe, who was covering the Packers last summer for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, adds that if the current report on felony drug possession charges are true, Jolly would not receive a trial, he would be subject to sentencing on the previous guilty plea.

In 48 career games during his four-year career, Jolly (6-3, 325) has 113 tackles and 2 quarterback sacks.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

NFL Plans to Award 2015 Super Bowl in October

In recent off-seasons, the NFL has awarded future Super Bowls during their league meetings in May.

Dallas was awarded the Super Bowl XLV on May 22, 2007, the city of Indianapolis was awarded the 2012 Super Bowl on May 20, 2008, and New Orleans was awarded the 2013 Super Bowl on May 19, 2009. New York/New Jersey was awarded the 2014 Super Bowl on May 26, 2010.

ESPN's Pat Yasinskas reports that the NFL's "current plan" is to hold off awarding the 2015 Super Bowl until the league meetings in October.

Mike Florio of suggests the delay hints at a possible loss of the 2012 game, as Indianapolis, which is scheduled to host the 2012 game, will be awarded the 2015 Super Bowl if that game is not played.

Initially, I suspected that perhaps the NFL was using the awarding of the 2015 Super Bowl as a pawn in the labor chess match. After some Internet sleuthing, it appears as though awarding Super Bowl 2015 in October was the plan even before the NFL locked the players out on March 12.

"We're hopeful that if the National Football League's collective bargaining agreement is resolved we would be invited to New York to make a presentation to the National Football League in October," Paul Catoe, president and CEO of Tampa Bay & Company, said to the The Tampa Tribune on January 27 regarding Tampa's plan to bid on the 2015 Super Bowl.

Tampa Bay finished second to the New York/New Jersey bid in 2010, and are expected to be favorites to land the 2015 game.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre 

Cowboys Fined For Illegal Meetings

Several members of the Dallas Cowboys defense met with newly hired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan during a "dead" period of the 2010 league year, which has prompted the NFL to fine the organization, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports.

The players had hoped to get a jump on Ryan's system before the lockout, but NFL teams are prohibited from having contact with players during that period of the league calendar. NFL teams were reminded of the rule, though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell indicated that five clubs were subject to discipline for violating the rule.

Goodell declined to disclose the five teams, but in addition to the Cowboys, the Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers, and Cleveland Browns are also believed to have violated the policy.

Fraley was kind enough to post a statement from the NFL, which outlined the rules for players using the team's facilities prior to the start of the off-season program:

(i) such players may not receive per diem payments or workout bonuses of any kind and may not be paid or reimbursed expenses for travel, board or lodging during this period;

(ii) such players are not permitted to participate in organized workouts, practices or meetings of any kind;

(iii) the Club's strength and conditioning coaches may not direct such players' individual workouts, but may supervise use of the weight room to prevent injury, correct misuse of equipment, etc.;

(iv) such players may not be directed or supervised by position coaches during this period.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

NFL News and Notes

New England Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia led o-line drills during Boston College's pro day, reports Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston.

New York Jets wide receiver/return specialist Brad Smith was disappointed by the kickoff rule change.

Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton will workout privately for the Miami Dolphins before heading to meet with the Buffalo Bills, reports Steve Wyche of

Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano issued a challenge to nose tackle Paul Soliai.

Because his DUI arrest occurred before the lockout, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Sergio Kindle would be subject to the personal conduct policy.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch could lose his Super Bowl rings to bankruptcy.

The Cleveland Browns may have a shot at one of the elite defensive linemen in the 2011 NFL Draft, writes Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco began his MLS tryout on Wednesday.

Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney is a 14-seed in the tournament for the cover of Madden '12.

ESPN's Paul Kuharsky applauds Tennessee Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan's push for accountability.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver will attend a "Team Teal" corporate rally on Friday, reports Ashley Gurbal of the Jacksonville Business Journal.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle doesn't expect Amobi Okoye to be back with the Houston Texans in 2011.

Former Kansas City Chiefs and San Diego Chargers head coach Marty Schottenheimer has come out of retirement to coach the UFL's Virginia Destroyers.

Denver Broncos head coach John Fox outlined what his defense will look like in 2011.

The new kickoff rules hurt the Oakland Raiders, writes Cam Inman of the Contra Costa Times.
Store clerks at a Dallas mall say they'll miss Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, who was barred from the mall for 90 days.

New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora is giving pass-rushing advice to Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo.

Philadelphia Eagles fullback Leonard Weaver walked back his "slavery" remarks on Wednesday.
Carolina Panthers fans scored low on a "fan loyalty" poll.

The Atlanta Falcons will likely use a mid-round pick on a linebacker, writes D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The lockout will reduce the impact of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2011 draft class, writes Rick Stroud of the St. Petersburg Times.

Head coach Sean Payton appears poised for a lengthy tenure with the New Orleans Saints, writes Ed Daniels of

ESPN's Todd McShay has the Detroit Lions using the 13th pick on Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara.

Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave will adjust the offense to whoever the quarterback is.

One mock draft has the Green Bay Packers picking Villanova offensive tackle Benjamin Ijalana in the first round.

Chicago Bears president Ted Phillips thinks the team's continuity will give them an edge when the lockout ends, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.

St. Louis Rams general manager Billy Devaney defended the NFC West at the league meetings.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's five-year old son has a future as a bracketologist.

San Francisco 49ers head coach John Harbaugh's meetings with Alex Smith likely violated the "no contact" period at the end of the 2010 league year, writes Matt Maiocco of

The Arizona Cardinals spent Tuesday night and Wednesday with Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dolphins Owner Says NFL Business Model Is Broken

Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross says the NFL's business model is broken, with the main issue being out-of-control player costs, Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

"Costs are going up. We're at the point now people can't afford to pay more for their entertainment," Ross said. "Typically, that's what has always happened. You always raised the prices. But we're at the point where you can't raise prices anymore. I think everybody accepts that but our costs keep going up. You have people earning $2 million-plus a year. Where do you think the line of reason falls?"

Kelly notes that Ross is the NFL's newest owner, plopping down $1.1 billion to purchase the Dolphins from Wayne Huzienga.

Ross purchased the Dolphins in two phases.

The first half occurred in February of 2008, three months before his fellow owners voted to opt out of the collective bargaining agreement. Ross is a smart businessman, so why would he commit to spending over a billion dollars for a team in a league with a "broken business model" if he a.) wasn't aware of the perceived problem, and b.) didn't know that a fight to reign in player costs was on the horizon?

Ross purchased the remaining 50% in January of 2009.

Kelly also reports that Ross doesn't think the players are motivated to get a deal done right now because they aren't losing money.

According to my unofficial salary database, players stand to lose over $40 million in workout bonuses this off-season. Nearly $250 million in salary advances and option bonuses are being delayed by the lockout, not to mention the hundreds of millions of dollars that are not being spent on free agent contracts this month.

Considering that we know that the owners sought $4 billion from the networks to fund the league's first work stoppage in a quarter century, and that 31 of the 32 NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins, are requiring season-ticket holders to submit payment on their invoices, I think its rather disingenuous for any owner to suggest that players aren't motivated to get a deal because they're not losing money.

They may not be losing game checks, but as a group, they're losing hundreds of millions of dollars right now.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

"Aggressive Market" For Kevin Kolb

Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner would not confirm that the team received an offer of a first-round pick for quarterback Kevin Kolb, but did not that the market for Kolb is more aggressive this off-season, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

"You can figure if there's a quarterback that a number of teams are interested in, you're going to end up with some meaningful compensation," Banner said Monday. "You can kind of figure out what that means and speculate from there. That's the situation we're in."

Banner confirmed to McLane that the teams interested a year ago "remain interested" in Kolb.

The Cleveland Browns, which filled its front office and scouting staff last off-season with former Eagles employees, and Seattle Seahawks reportedly made offers for Kolb last off-season, but were rebuffed.

"But the pool of teams interested in him is much bigger this year, by the dynamic of how many teams need a quarterback and how few other options there are to get one," Banner added. "There were a group of teams that last year tried to get by with OK quarterback situations and it didn't work out very well at all - all the West Coast teams, the Carolinas, the Miamis."

The Minnesota Vikings, who pick 12th overall in April, are also in need of a quarterback, and head coach Leslie Frazier discussed the Vikings' interest in Kolb at this morning's breakfast.

"He’s a good young quarterback," Frazier said of Kolb according to Judd Zulgad of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "There’s a reason that they had him slated as the number one guy going into training camp and they made the trade letting Donovan [McNabb] move on. They saw some things in him they really liked, and I respect Andy [Reid] and their staff tremendously.

"So you’d have to consider a guy like Kevin if he becomes available. He’ll be part of the conversation, as well if that were to occur. Right now, there is no free agency, there are no trade talks but we’re going to talk internally about a bunch of different scenarios and just talk about players throughout our league."

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Seahawks "Made a Run" At Re-Signing Hasselbeck

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll says the team "made a run" at re-signing quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, but weren't able to reach a deal before the lockout, ESPN's Mike Sando reports.

"We made a run at getting it done before the stoppage and just weren't able to work anything out," Carroll said this morning from the league meetings in New Orleans. "As we go forward, Matt has been in our plans the whole time and now that it's in free agency (at some point in the future), we just have to see what happens."

Hasselbeck has been with the Seahawks since 2001, passing for nearly 30,000 yards and 174 touchdowns while being named to three Pro Bowls and leading the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance.

However, Hasselbeck has struggled with injuries and turnovers the last three seasons, tossing 44 interceptions in his last 35 starts, including 10 in a four-week stretch towards the end of the 2010 season. Hasselbeck bounced back from a hip injury to have an outstanding post-season, which in part spurred Seattle's interest in re-signing the now 35-year old quarterback, who will be a free agent if and when the lockout is lifted this off-season.

Seattle is expected to find a long-term solution at the quarterback position, and are rumored to once again be interested in acquiring Kevin Kolb from the Philadelphia Eagles.

How Seattle fills the quarterback position depends on the labor situation. If the draft occurs before free agency, during which Seattle acquires Kolb from the Eagles, Hasselbeck will likely be finishing his career in a different uniform.

Should the players prevail in court on April 6, and the lockout is lifted, free agency begins and Seattle re-signs Hasselbeck, the Seahawks are likely to use the 25th overall pick to fill one of their many needs, which may include drafting a quarterback to develop behind Hasselbeck.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Belichick Approves of New Kickoff Rules

On Monday, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called the competition committee's proposal to change the rules regarding kickoffs "confusing".

After blowing off the Coaches Breakfast, Belichick emerged from the meeting room and disclosed that the team voted for the kickoff rule change, which underwent some modifications within the last 24 hours.

"Yeah, it’s going back to where it was," Belichick said according to Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald. "Yeah, we voted for it. It’s fine. It’s not that big of a deal. We have a good kicker, it’s all right."

Belichick, who chalked his absence at this morning's breakfast to him oversleeping, said that a simpler approach to the rule changed earned the team's vote.

"Well, they were getting rid of the wedge and a lot of other stuff," said Belichick. "This is a lot simpler. It’s clean.

"I think you’re still looking at least two thirds of the kicks being returned, maybe three quarters," Belichick added. "At the end of year, it goes down anyway. There’s a lot more touchbacks at the beginning of the season than there are at the end. The ball just doesn’t carry as far in the cold. It just doesn’t go as far."

According to reports out of New Orleans, the rule change received either 25 or 26 votes, one or two more than the 24 required for passage.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Josh Cribbs, Brandon Banks React to Kickoff Rule Change

Josh Cribbs of the Cleveland Browns and Brandon Banks of the Washington Redskins responded to the NFL owners vote to modify the rules on kickoffs.

"NFL rule changes are BS," Cribbs announced on Twitter. "U not making the game safer u messing a great sport, trynna hide behind safety just to add 2 games...smh."

"I don’t like that, man," Banks told Rich Campbell of The Free Lance-Star. "It’s gonna be tougher because there will be less opportunities to get up the field."

Cribbs is a two-time Pro Bowler based on his return prowess, while Banks made the Redskins' 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Kansas State based on his abilities as a return specialist.

Despite battling a knee injury, Banks averaged 25.1 yards on 46 returns as a rookie, including a 96-yard return for a touchdown against the Detroit Lions.

Banks' teammate, kicker Graham Gano, has a different outlook on the rule change.

"It will be easier to hit touchbacks," Gano said. "If we’re playing against, say, a Devin Hester, it will be easier to just kick it out of the end zone."

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dez Bryant's Advisor Disputes Report

David Wells, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant's advisor, disputes a reports that Bryant received a criminal trespass warning last Saturday at a Dallas mall.

"I was an actual witness to the fact that there was no citation or verbal warning issued to Dez Bryant at NorthPark on Saturday in my presence," Wells tells Josina Anderson FOX-31 in Denver. "Furthermore, Dez was not one of the guys wearing his pants low."

WFAA's report claimed that off-duty officers at NorthPark Center issued the warning after Bryant made a scene when after being asked to leave the premises after he and his associates refused to raise their pants to avoid displaying their underwear.

"What the [expletive] are you stopping me, like I stole something," Bryant allegedly told the officers. "I'm not leaving until my attorney and my representative get here."

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Extension for Sean Payton on Saints' "To Do" List

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton acknowledged that a contract extension for himself is on the team's to-do list, Bradley Handwerger of WWLTV.comp reports.

"I think there’s a time for that," Payton said on Tuesday. "It’s not necessarily March or April, but it’s on the list. It’s something that when the time comes, I think I’d have a strong interest in going through that."

Payton has two remaining on an extension he signed in 2008, so there's no rush in getting a deal done. Payton cited his purchase of a $6 million home in the Dallas area for his family as fueling speculation about his long-term future in New Orleans.

"We’ve become a lot like players in timing of contracts," Payton said. "It’s not like next year in the last year. It’s two more years. I think the speculation maybe has arisen from our decision of our family to live in Dallas. I think the speculation arises from that more than anything else."
source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre 

USC OT Tyron Smith to Visit Redskins, Cowboys

USC offensive tackle Tyron Smith has visits scheduled with the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

Chris Russell of ESPN-980 AM reports that Smith will visit Redskins Park on April 18, while ESPN's Calvin Watkins reports Smith will be in Dallas in early April.

Dallas has the ninth overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, with the Redskins right behind them at #10.

A two-year starter at right tackle for the Trojans, the 6-5, 307-pound Smith is coming off knee surgery that limited him to the bench press (29 reps) at the 2011 Scouting Combine. Smith is scheduled to work out at USC's pro day on March 30.

Smith's size and athleticism project him to left tackle in the NFL, but he could continue to play on the right side opposite a Trent Williams in Washington.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Monday, March 21, 2011

Patriots Players Have No Workouts Scheduled During Lockout

New England Patriots All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo says that the team has no lockout workouts planned, but that may change if the lockout persists, Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reports.

"As a captain of the team, I’m going to try to hold everybody accountable," Mayo said. "It’s all about beating the lockout at this point. Whatever team can beat the lockout has a good chance of success in the upcoming season. So, we’re going to do the most we can. Whether it’s on the phone or on Skype, whatever we have to do."

The Patriots are a young team, particularly on defense, a unit the 25-year old Mayo has captained the last two seasons.

"We have a young football team," Mayo said. "This is everybody’s first lockout, but at the same time, people handle it different. People are at different stages in their career. You have to hold everybody accountable and make sure everybody’s minding their P’s and Q’s and ready to come back to work when it’s time."

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Patriots OT Matt Light Disappointed With Kraft's Absence During Labor Talks

Two days before Super Bowl XLV, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was confident a new labor deal could be reached in a week if business people were at the forefront of talks.

"In my opinion, we could get a deal done in the next week," Kraft said after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's press conference on February 4. "If business people sat down on both sides, and we tried to get the lawyers in the background."

During the final week of mediated talks, which culminated in the NFLPA decertifying on March 11 and the NFL locking the players out on March 12, Kraft the only member of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee not in attendance in Washington, D.C.

Patriots offensive tackle and player rep Matt Light was disappointed in Kraft's absence, Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe reports.

"No doubt, 100 percent. I’m not going to lie to you," Light said from the players meetings in Marco Island, Florida. "We had people in that room that could get a deal done at any point. Do I know how they’re structured within the league? No, I have no clue.

"But I can tell you one thing: (the league's negotiating team) didn’t seem to have the ability to do any of that when they had to leave the room," said Light. "If it was me, I would have every one of my guys in those seats making sure that we had one voice and we could get a deal done."

Kraft was accompanying Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick on a trade mission to Israel and the U.K. that week, but was reportedly in contact with league officials regarding the status of labor talks.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

DeMaurice Smith to Reduce Salary to $0

NFLPA Executive Director DeMaurice Smith told players at the players' meetings in Marco Island, Florida that he will cut his salary to $0 during the lockout, Albert Breer of the NFL Network reports.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and vice president Jeff Pash followed through on pre-lockout pledges and have reduced their salaries to $1.

Smith, who reportedly makes $1.8 million annually, had previously promised to reduce his salary to 68 cents if a new labor deal was in place by Super Bowl XLV. That obviously did not happen, so Smith has gone a step further.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Patriots TE Alge Crumpler Underwent Shoulder Surgery

New England Patriots tight end Alge Crumpler underwent shoulder surgery in January, Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe reports.

Crumpler played through the "significant" injury for much of the 2010 season, Young adds.

Signed to a two-year, $5.2 million contract last March, Crumpler caught six passes for 52 yards and two touchdowns in 2010. A four-time Pro Bowler, the 33-year old is valued primarily for his blocking and mentoring abilities at this stage of his career.

Crumpler is set to earn $2.4 million in base salary in 2011.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Dolphins Looking Hard at Quarterbacks

At some point during the 2011 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins are expected to upgrade their quarterback position.

With the 15th overall pick, it's unlikely the Dolphins will get a chance to pick Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton or Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who are potential Top 5 picks and would require the Dolphins to spend multiple picks to trade up in the first round.

Miami plans to workout both quarterbacks, and will be taking closer looks at other draft-eligible quarterbacks over the next few weeks, reports Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

According to Jackson, the Dolphins have private workouts scheduled with Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Ryan Mallett (Arkansas), Christian Ponder (Florida State), and Andy Dalton (TCU).

University of Washington quarterback Jake Locker and Idaho's Nathan Enderle may also be on the Dolphins' radar, though no workouts or visits are scheduled, Jackson adds.

Miami will also be present at Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi's pro day on Monday, and on Tuesday, have a private workout scheduled with Josh Portis, an intriguing late-round prospect from division II California University (Pennsylvania).

The Dolphins used a second-round pick in 2008 on Chad Henne and a 2009 second-round pick on Pat White, who left the team to pursue a professional baseball career, which he retired from earlier this month.

Henne (6-3, 230) started 27 of 29 games over the last two seasons, completing 61.1% of his pass attempts for 6,179 yards and 27 touchdowns. Henne has also been intercepted 33 times, and hasn't displayed the consistency to convince Miami's brass that he's capable of being the long-term solution at the position.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Former NFL WR Drew Hill Passes Away

Former NFL wide receiver Drew Hill passed away Friday night in an Atlanta hospital after suffering two massive strokes, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports.

Hill was 54.

A 12th round pick out of Georgia Tech by the Los Angeles Rams in 1979, Hill was traded to the Oilers in 1984, where he emerged as a Pro Bowl wide receiver in the team's run-and-shoot offense, catching 480 passes for 7,477 yards and 47 touchdowns over seven seasons.

Hill went to the Pro Bowl following the 1988 and 1990 seasons, and ranks 4th in Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans history in receptions, second in receiving yards, and is tied for second in receiving touchdowns.

"I’m shocked," Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon, Hill's teammate in Houston, said. "I can’t believe it. Drew meant so much to us as a player and as a person. I counted on him so much. He was the consummate professional. It’s just so sad."

During his 14-year career, which concluded with a two-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons, Hill caught 634 passes for 9,831 yards and 60 touchdowns.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Saturday, March 19, 2011

2011 QB Wonderlic Scores

In response to a question about quarterback Wonderlic scores on Twitter, ESPN's Chris Mortensen noted that it's a "book-smart/processing" test that players in the current era are better prepared for than their counterparts from drafts in the 1980s and 1990s.

According to Mortensen, Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway scored a 29, and Dan Marino and Jim Kelly each scored a 15 on the Wonderlic. Current quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Drew Brew Brees, who were drafted in 1998 and 2001, scored 28s.

Ryan Leaf, the second overall pick of the 1998 NFL Draft, scored a 27.

Among the current crop of quarterbacks, Alabama's Greg McElroy scored a 43, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert a 42, and Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder, one of the fastest risers in this year's draft, scored a 35.

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick scored a 37.

Iowa's Ricky Stanzi (30), TCU's Andy Dalton (29), Arkansas' Ryan Mallett (26) each scored above the 24 that quarterbacks average on the 50-question test. Auburn quarterback Cam Newton (21) and Washington's Jake Locker (20) had below average scores, but both are expected to go in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

source:  Mac's Football Blog
Posted by Brian McIntyre

Eagles' Andy Reid says other teams interested in Kevin Kolb

Andy Reid confirmed what has been widely speculated since last offseason: Other NFL teams are interested in Kevin Kolb.
Last year, though, Reid had no desire to trade the quarterback and instead dealt away Donovan McNabb. But with the Eagles committed to Michael Vick as their starter next season and with Kolb's value perhaps no greater than it is now, Reid intimated that he would consider trade offers for the 26-year-old.

"People have shown a little interest, and as this thing picks up I'm sure it'll continue," Reid said during a recent interview posted on the Eagles' website. "Listen, we'll sit back and evaluate."
Reid and general manager Howie Roseman could get a better idea of the market come Sunday when they land in New Orleans for the owners meetings.
There are a few obstacles to clear before Reid can even entertain offers from quarterback-desperate teams. For one, there is no collective bargaining agreement between the owners and players, and until there is, player movement won't be allowed.
And then Reid presumably would need for a new CBA to be in place prior to the draft next month. If the Eagles want a draft pick or picks in return for Kolb - and that would be their preference - they're not going to trade the backup after the draft for 2012 picks.
Kolb's stock will also drop the longer the lockout lasts, with teams unwilling to bring in a new quarterback so close to the start of the season.
There is hope for Kolb, who has said he would rather start elsewhere than be the Eagles backup yet again. If the players win their injunction against the league on April 6, then the lockout will be lifted and trades permitted.
Reid did preface his comments with the statement that he was "not in a big hurry to get rid of" Kolb, who has one year left on his contract. Kolb opened last season as the starter but was injured in the opener and eventually lost his spot to Vick. He has only seven career starts to his name but could fetch as much as a first-round draft pick.
The Eagles' willingness to trade Kolb will essentially come down to the offer. If Reid can get a first-round pick in return it would give the Eagles two - they already have the No. 23 selection - and plenty of maneuverability to perhaps move up and grab a top player, such as Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara.
There are approximately a dozen teams in need of a quarterback, and there isn't a slam-dunk prospect in this year's draft class.
There is a strong argument to keep Kolb no matter the offer. Proven backups are hard to come by, and Vick's style of play lends itself to more quarterback hits. Also, Kolb is on the books for only $1.4 million next season. Vick stands to make $16 million after he signed the Eagles' one-year tender on March 2.

source:  Philadelphia Inquirer
author:  Jeff McLane

Andy Reid: Eagles will 'sit back and evaluate' Kevin Kolb offers

Andy Reid didn’t announce anything we didn’t know – that the Philadelphia Eagles are fielding offers for quarterback Kevin Kolb – but he reinforced it this week in an interview with the team’s Web site.
The key, as Paul Domowitch of the Philadelphia Daily News noted, will be whether or not NFL business resumes before the draft in late April. That will give the Eagles a window to shop Kolb to the teams out there that are otherwise sifting through candidates for the draft.
“People have shown a little interest (in Kolb), and as this thing picks up, I’m sure it will continue," Reid said. “Listen, we’ll sit back and we’ll evaluate.
“He’s ours. Everything else from there is easy. It’s kind of like what I said last year. If people are interested, they’ll come to you. But on the other hand, do we love Kevin Kolb? Are you kidding me? I mean, this guy is a helluva football player.
"You look at his numbers and the things he did when he had the opportunity to start, and you start six or seven games and you’re the NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice, and all the 300-yard games he put together and the way he commands the offense and all these things, you’re not in a big hurry to get rid of Kevin Kolb.”
Kolb is under contract for only one more season so the Eagles risk losing him a year from now and getting nothing in return. If they’re fully committed to Michael Vick, dealing Kolb while his value is high makes sense. They need a chance to do it before the draft to maximize their opportunities.

source:  The National Football Post
author:  Brad Biggs

Friday, March 18, 2011

Antonio Cromartie thinks prospects should attend the draft

As far as New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie is concerned, top draft prospects should attend the NFL draft in New York as they usually do.
That's a defiant statement considering that the decertified NFL Players Association is expected to organize its own competing draft event..
"I hope all the top guys go to Radio City and get the experience as everyone else did," Cromartie wrote on his Twitter account. "I think the fans that go radio city loves it. I'm speaking as fan and as a guy who got drafted. I couldn't wait till that day."
This isn't the first time that Cromartie has offered a strong opinion.
After the season, he ripped owners and NFLPA  executive director DeMaurice Smith.
“You got our head union rep acting like an a--hole. They got their guys acting like a---holes. So they just need to get their sh-- together and just get it done.”
When a fan asked if Cromartie will attend the draft, he replied, "ok I'm there."

source:  The National Football Post
author:  Aaron Wilson