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Volume 5, Issue 30 (Tuesday, May 25th)

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Looking for a league where you can compete for great prizes? Don't have the cash to travel to Las Vegas? Here is the perfect opportunity. Emil Kadlec of WCOFF.com and Ryan Houston of FantasyAsylum.com present FantasyFootballMasters.com!

FantasyFootballMasters.com allows anybody with an internet connection to participate in a high stakes league with an array of exciting prizes, including: $50,000.00 Grand Prize, Airfare and Accommodations for two to Jacksonville for Super Bowl XXXIX Festivities and Award Presentation, Official Fantasy Football Masters Green Jacket and Extensive Early Bird Prizes!

Recently FantasyFootballMasters.com announced that San Diego WR Kevin Dyson has officially registered to participate. We believe this is the first time an actual NFL player will participate in a public fantasy football event. We are excited to be the first league to offer this opportunity. FantasyFootballMasters.com is THE league to play in 2004 with 25 percent of our 408 spots already filled!

See for yourself why people are excited at FantasyFootballMasters.com

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Hi Folks,

Big Big Big news today as we're inching closer to unveiling the coolest tool ever to hit Fantasy Football. The Footballguys Draft Dominator. We've also got our daily News and Notes from Mark Wimer. Let's get right to it.

Joe

*******************
Joe Bryant
Owner www.footballguys.com


Site News

A. Draft Dominator Sneak Peek - Most of you have used the Draft Dominator with great success over the years. If you liked it before, you're going to LOVE it now. We'll have the full version ready to download very soon but while you're waiting, we wanted to throw some screen shots your way. We've also got a discussion thread going on our message board that you should check out

We had the beta version to play with at our Footballguys Staff Retreat in Vegas this Spring and I can promise you, this thing will blow you away. It's that cool. Trust me here.

B. New Bang Cartoon - Our friend John "Bang" Tayman takes a look at the Giants Training Camp in "Scandalous".


News and Notes


1. QB Kordell Stewart: Unsure About Baltimore
2. TE Stephen Alexander, DT Dana Stubblefield: To Detroit?
3. Patriots Extend WR Troy Brown's Contract Through 2005
4. Browns' Davis: WR Northcutt "He's competing for a starting job."
5. Steelers' PK Jeff Reed: Kicking Again and Doing Well
6. IDP Alert: Indianapolis CB Joseph Jefferson Involved in Ongoing DUI Incident
7. Titans: LB Godfrey's 2003 Sacking Causing Karmic Whiplash
8. Titans' Rookies Are Hard at Work
9. Cardinal's Rookie WR Fitzgerald: Impressive in Mini-Camp
10. Chiefs: Impressed With Their Depth on D
11. Kerry Collins: I'll Play Backup to Gannon
12. Gannon: Still the Best Fit at QB in Oakland?

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1. QB Kordell Stewart: Unsure About Baltimore

Clipped from: Washington Post article by Mark Maske, 5/25/04

Free agent quarterback Kordell Stewart is mulling a contract offer from the Baltimore Ravens that apparently would pay him around the minimum salary. Agent Leigh Steinberg said that Stewart had not decided as of early last night whether to accept the offer. Stewart would back up Kyle Boller in place of Anthony Wright, who underwent shoulder surgery yesterday and said, according to the Associated Press, that he was told by doctors not to resume throwing for four months.

The Ravens also could wait to see if Tampa Bay's Brad Johnson becomes available if Rich Gannon is released by the Oakland Raiders and joins the Bucs.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

This is a developing situation - if Brad Johnson becomes available, the situation at QB in Baltimore could change quickly. However, they'll still have Jamal Lewis and an offense featuring 2 TE sets a lot of the time.

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2. TE Stephen Alexander, DT Dana Stubblefield: To Detroit?

Clipped from: Detroit Free Press story by Curt Sylvester, 5/25/04

President Matt Millen has finished the power shopping phase of the Lions' free agent signings, but he's still interested in a couple of veterans -- defensive tackle Dana Stubblefield and tight end Stephen Alexander.

Although neither player has made a final commitment, Millen expressed high hopes he would reach an agreement with Stubblefield this week and said talks were continuing with Alexander.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

These moves would add veteran depth and leadership to a very young Lions' squad. Unless Mikhael Ricks/Casey Fitzsimmons falter in pre-season, there's not a lot of fantasy potential to be found here - but injuries are always a specter in the NFL.

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3. Patriots Extend WR Troy Brown's Contract Through 2005

Clipped from: Boston Herald article by Michael Felger, 5/25/04

The Pats last week guaranteed Brown's 2004 base salary of $2.25 million while extending the veteran receiver's contract by a year for cap purposes.

The maneuver will save the Pats roughly $1 million against the 2004 cap while virtually ensuring that one of the most popular and recognizable players on the two-time Super Bowl champions will play this year in New England.

It also means Brown, who will turn 33 in July, will wind up being paid all the money due to him from the five-year, $12.5 million deal he signed with the Pats in 2000.

Brown said repeatedly this offseason he would not accept a cut.

Brown's 2004 cap number was slated to be around $4 million. Now it's near $3 million. NFL Players' Association figures list Brown's 2005 salary at $2.5 million, which means another restructuring will be in order if Brown is to return for that season.

Brown has agreed to similar guarantees in each of the past three years, maneuvers that have pushed roughly $3 million in prorated cap charges into future years. The latest restructuring allows the Pats to move some of that load onto the 2005 cap, which currently has considerably more room than the Pats' 2004 ledger sheet.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The Patriots spread around the ball a lot, but Brown has the potential to "lead the pack" if he can stay healthy this season. However, that's not a sure bet when you play WR at 30+ years old in the NFL (heck, it's not a sure bet when you're 22). You have to go back to 2001 to find Brown's last complete 16 game season, and his production tanked last year to 40/472/4 receiving. Don't invest a high pick on Brown - but he could represent value towards the end of your draft due to his poor 2003 campaign.

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4. Browns' Davis: WR Northcutt "He's competing for a starting job."

Clipped from: Cleveland Plain Dealer article by Mary Kay Cabot, 5/25/04

Receiver Dennis Northcutt has gone from being called just a punt returner to competing for a starting job.

Browns coach Butch Davis said Monday that Northcutt, who signed a three-year deal on Sunday that makes him the highest paid receiver on the team, will have an increased role and compete for a starting job with incumbents Quincy Morgan and Andre Davis.

"Our football team is dramatically better with Dennis on it," coach Davis said. "[His role] is probably going to grow. We expect Dennis' career to continue to improve and take off in future years. He's competing for a starting job."

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Northcutt led the team with 62 receptions for 729 yards last season (2 TDs), so he has a good shot at stepping into one of the top jobs in Cleveland. It'll be interesting to see who emerges as Jeff Garcia's top receiver during training camp and pre-season. Several reports have indicated that Garcia contacted Northcutt upon arriving in Cleveland and expressed the hope that they could work together.

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5. Steelers' PK Jeff Reed: Kicking Again and Doing Well

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Ed Bouchette, 5/25/04

The football soared three stories high and rattled onto a catwalk where cameramen videotape practice behind the goal post at the Steelers' UPMC indoor complex. Jeff Reed is alive, and kicking.

"A God-given talent doesn't go away; you just have to get it back," said Reed, the Steelers' placekicker.

Reed ended a four-month layoff after hip surgery when he kicked a football for the first time last week. Yesterday he kicked for the first time with punter Chris Gardocki, who will serve as his new holder. For the first time, Reed cut loose, which is why one ball wound up on the catwalk and another split the uprights from 52 yards away.

"He hit the ball well today," said Kevin Spencer, the Steelers' special teams coach. "I was really happy with it. He hit from 52, which is really good. The ball's popping off his foot like it always does. I feel pretty good about it right now."

All went well in the operating room, where a piece of cartilage was removed and a ligament strengthened. But Reed was as anxious about kicking a football again as a ballerina taking to the slippers for the first time after toe surgery.

"Your body has to get used to it again," said Reed, who had surgery on the hip that controls his plant foot. "My ankle's a little sore just from the total body lean, which is not easy on your plant leg. My hip doesn't hurt. Everything's great, my ankle just has to get used to doing it again."

One thing he does not want to repeat is his .719 field-goal percentage from last season, which ranked 15th among the 17 AFC kickers who attempted at least 10 field goals. Reed made 23 of 32 tries in his second NFL season. That was far off his rookie pace, when he joined the team at midseason and converted 17 of 19. Worse, three of his misses last season came from 24, 23 and 20 yards, and he also shanked a conversion kick.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Reed's horrendous 2003 campaign may make him a value pick in the final rounds of your draft - every point helps, after all.

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6. IDP Alert: Indianapolis CB Joseph Jefferson Involved in Ongoing DUI Incident

Clipped from: Indianapolis Star article by Mike Chappell, 5/25/04

The Indianapolis Colts are taking a wait-and-see approach regarding cornerback Joseph Jefferson, who was arrested in April on a charge of driving while intoxicated.

Jefferson, who is expected to compete for a starting position when training camp opens on Aug. 1, declined to comment on his situation after Monday morning's summer-school practice at the Union Federal Football Center.

In a statement, Colts president Bill Polian said it was inappropriate for the team to address the matter until "the legal system and the league process has run its course . . ."

According to the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, Jefferson was arrested at approximately 12:25 a.m. April 3 after driving his Chevrolet Impala into a ditch along northbound I-65. His blood alcohol level was .15, nearly twice the Indiana legal limit of .08.

Initially, Jefferson appeared in Franklin City Court without legal representation and pleaded guilty to two counts of driving while intoxicated and a charge of driving with a suspended license.

After being sentenced to 30 days in jail and ordered to pay a $300 fine, Jefferson contacted an attorney. He is seeking a new trial and sentencing, which is allowed.

"Everything that happened before has been set aside," Jim Voyles, one of Jefferson's legal representatives, said Monday. "We're starting anew."

A spokesman for the NFL said the league would have no comment on Jefferson's situation until after it is resolved in court.

According to research by the Johnson County Sheriff's Office, Jefferson had a previous drunken driving arrest in 2003 in Kentucky. His 2003 driving record shows that his license had been suspended on three occasions.

The league's Discipline for Alcohol-Related Violations of Law or Abuse of Alcohol policy empowers commissioner Paul Tagliabue to review and impose a fine, suspension or other appropriate discipline if a player is convicted or admits to a violation of the law relating to the use of alcohol.

The policy allows the commissioner to discipline a first-time offender, providing there are no aggravating circumstances, with a maximum fine of $20,000. Discipline for a second or subsequent offense likely would be a suspension, the duration of which may escalate for repeat offenses.

It's uncertain whether the NFL has disciplined Jefferson previously. The league keeps such matters confidential.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

As the report mentions, we don't know if Jefferson has other demerits in commissioner Tagliabue's book, but the 3 license suspensions in 2003 are suggestive, to say the least. Jefferson may be headed for some unpaid vacation. Stay tuned...

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7. Titans: LB Godfrey's 2003 Sacking Causing Karmic Whiplash

Clipped from: Nashville City Paper Editorial by Mark Howard, 5/25/04

As the sensitive negotiations-turned-high stakes game of chicken between Titans running back Eddie George and general manager Floyd Reese reaches critical mass, remember June 19, 2003.

That's a little-known date that will live in infamy for this franchise. It's when the Titans released middle linebacker Randall Godfrey. Not only was Godfrey a popular veteran leader, but just a couple of months previously he took a $2.5 million pay cut...

One of the major dissenters that day was George, who believed among other things that Godfrey "kind of got backstabbed." But more than anything else, George, along with several other players, insisted in the case of management and Reese they would forgive, but never, ever forget.

And now in so many ways, the Randall Godfrey axing has come back to haunt the Titans. One of the reasons that Reese could not put the franchise tag on sackmaster Jevon Kearse was that cornerback Samari Rolle and wide receiver Derrick Mason balked at redoing their deals, which would have given the Titans some additional wiggle room under the cap.

It is widely believed that the primary motivation for Rolle and Mason to no-go the redo was a show of support for George, who remains hesitant to take too much of a pay cut from his $4.25 million salary and $7.32 million salary cap figure. Of course, pulling the strings in these proceedings is Lamont Smith, who happens to represent, Rolle, Mason and George.

There is also a principle involved here for George, who feels strongly that he should in some way be compensated for his contribution to the franchise and not take a monetary hit. He is 31 and has lost a little off his fastball, but George still rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2003. At 10,009 for his career, George is well in range of the 11,000-yard plateau, which is an automatic ticket to the Hall of Fame.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The numbers tell the rest of the story here: George hasn't broken the 4.0 yards per carry average in the last 4 seasons, and managed only 3.3 yards per carry in 2003. He's an aging back, on the wrong side of 30, and Chris Brown is waiting in the wings. When it's all said and done, $4.25 million is a lot to pay for 3.3 yards per carry. As they say, the NFL stands for "Not For Long"...

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8. Titans' Rookies Are Hard at Work

Clipped from: Nashville City Paper article by Terry McCormick, 5/25/04

With the Tennessee Titans becoming more and more reliant on getting rookies ready to play, each day of this off-season becomes extremely precious.

That's why even though there are no organized team activities with the veterans scheduled for this week, the coaching staff and their 2004 class of rookies - complete with 13 draft picks and 24 undrafted free agents - are still working at Baptist Sports Park to get the newest Titans up to speed.

"The rookies are getting a lot of work done on the non-O.T.A. days with the coaches, which obviously is permissible," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "We are taking advantage of that time. We are actually keeping the coaches in here [this] week to do that as well. The rookies will be out every day with the coaches."

That means not only getting a chance to learn what to do on the field and in the classroom, but plenty of time with strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson as well.

With holes to fill on the defensive line and in other areas, having players such as Travis LaBoy, Antwan Odom, Bo Schobel, Randy Starks and Ben Troupe step in and play immediately is not a luxury, but a necessity.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

This story extends the scope of the one excerpted above - the Titans have a squad with a lot of bloated veteran salaries dragging on the salary cap, and so need to find a lot of inexpensive rookie help this season. Will the youngsters be able to fill the gap? Rookie Ben Troupe at TE is an interesting opportunity in leagues that require the TE position.

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9. Cardinal's Rookie WR Fitzgerald: Impressive in Mini-Camp

Clipped from: Arizona Republic article by Kent Sommers, 5/25/04

Fitzgerald has been impressive through every practice, while (LB) Dansby appears to have recovered from a groin strain that limited him during a minicamp earlier this month.

All the rookies have impressed Green, but he singled out the four free agents - safety Adrian Mayes, tight end Eric Edwards, running back Larry Croom and receiver Romby Bryant.

"Adrian Mayes looks very good," Green said. "We signed him primarily for special teams, and he was one of the best at LSU on a very good special-teams unit. Eric Edwards moves very well for a big guy, a 250-pounder. He has good quickness, good hands. Croom is very quick, every explosive. Bryant, the wide receiver, is also very smooth."

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The Cardinals have a load of talent at WR heading into 2004 - now, can QB Josh McCown deliver the ball into their hands on a regular basis? We'll find out soon.

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10. Chiefs: Impressed With Their Depth on D

Clipped from: Kansas City Star article by Ivan Carter

The interesting thing is that unlike the last three seasons, Vermeil saw something new in his squad:

Depth.

"I've never had the kind of depth we have on defense at any place I've ever coached," Vermeil said. "Defensive line, linebackers ... they can all play. It'll be an unbelievable training camp."

Because middle linebacker Mike Maslowski is still recovering from a knee injury and has been limited to mostly non-contact drills during recent workouts, and because starting cornerbacks Eric Warfield and Dexter McCleon have been limited by nagging injuries, Vermeil and his staff have been able to see such players as linebackers Kawika Mitchell and Monty Beisel and defensive backs William Bartee, Julian Battle and Shaunard Harts working against the first-team offense.

Mitchell, who started the final six games in place of Maslowski last season, looks bigger, faster and more sure of himself now that he has a full season under his belt. Bartee had one of his best practices as a Chief on Monday, intercepting a pass in one 11-on-11 situation and breaking up several others.

On one play, Bartee was locked up in man coverage against Marc Boerigter when the defense came with a blitz, leaving Bartee with no safety help. Quarterback Trent Green was looking Boerigter's way after taking the snap but had to pull the ball down and run because Bartee was in perfect position to defend against a pass.

Bartee could be pushed hard by Battle, who has all of the physical tools necessary to be a great cornerback. Battle has impressed coaches most with his mental approach to the game this off-season.

"Julian Battle has been doing super," Vermeil said. "(He has) talent and he's matured so much since last year in everything he's done. He has a mature approach to everything he's doing."

The development of players such as Battle could provide defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham with all kinds of options. For instance, when the Chiefs go to a nickel defense, Cunningham will be able to use either Bartee or Battle as the third corner, or he could slide Jerome Woods into the slot as the third corner and put Harts back at safety.

Competition along the defensive line will be especially fierce, and the coaching staff has experimented with several combinations during workouts.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Here's a reality check: the Chiefs were 29th in total defense last season, 30th vs. the run in yards allowed per game and 20th vs. the pass. Only Oakland, Houston and Atlanta were worse - the Chiefs' DT needs to improve significantly just to be mediocre in 2004.

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11. Kerry Collins: I'll Play Backup to Gannon

Clipped from: GoPBI.com AP article by Josh Dubow, 5/25/04

"Obviously I've played a lot in this league and started a lot of games," Collins said Tuesday. "But when I came here they made it clear what the situation would be. I understood that Rich would be the starter and I will be the guy that's there if something happens to Rich. That will be my approach."

The addition of a big, strong-armed quarterback who led a team to the Super Bowl just more than three years ago gives the Raiders insurance should Gannon go down with another injury. He hurt his shoulder on Oct. 20 and had season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum.

Backup Marques Tuiasosopo also got hurt, contributing to Oakland's slide from AFC champions to 4-12 - the worst drop ever for a Super Bowl team.

Seeing what happened to the Raiders and Atlanta - who lost star quarterback Michael Vick in preseason for most of the year - motivated new coach Norv Turner to seek a more experienced backup.

"If something happens to Rich, we have a guy who is not just a proven player but a proven winner," Turner said.

Turner talked to Gannon last week when discussions with Collins heated up and said Gannon endorsed the move. Gannon is due to make $7 million this season and he has said he won't take a pay cut.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The Raiders are spending $16 million over three years for a backup to a $7 million starter? That's an interesting story... we'll see what's going to happen after June 1st.

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12. Gannon: Still the Best Fit at QB in Oakland?

Clipped from: ESPN.com Editorial sidebar by John Clayton, 5/25/04

Is Kerry Collins a good fit at quarterback for the Raiders?

Depends on the timing. To come in late May and knock out Rich Gannon sets back the Raiders offense. Collins first has to get comfortable with Norv Turner's offense and then win over the team, which isn't easy for a quarterback this late. As long as Gannon is still with the team, it's his team. Obviously, Collins has the arm strength that fits the new emphasis to throw deep.

But as strange as it seems, Gannon is still the best fit in the offense this year if he's healthy. For one, he makes plays with his feet. That's important because the Raiders could have three new starters on the offensive line and two of them could be rookies, Robert Gallery and Jake Grove. Since coming off shoulder surgery, Gannon has been throwing the ball harder and better than last year. Leadership is another benefit of Gannon's game. Though he can be stubborn on what he wants the offense to do, Gannon is a leader who will go to management if teammates want something. The Raiders have a lot of egos on their offense, which makes it tough for a quiet quarterback such as Collins to keep everybody happy.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Nobody knows exactly what the Raiders have in mind with the Kerry Collins move. One thing is clear - they will have more leverage with Gannon about his salary with an heir apparent waiting in the wings. There may be a lot more to this story in a few weeks - or Collins may stay on the bench in 2004. Time will tell.

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That'll do it for today, Folks. Have a great Wednesday and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.

Joe

*******************
Joe Bryant
Owner www.footballguys.com
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