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Volume 6, Issue 1 (Thursday, February 24th)

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Hi Folks, Ok, the Footballguys.com "Off Season" is officially over. We're rested from the 2004 season and we're already gearing up to make 2005 better than ever. That starts today with issue #1 of our 6th year for sending these email updates. There's a ton of news happening and we'll gather everything for you so you can stay busy with other things. Like having a life (we gave that up long ago…) Seriously, staying on top of the stories is something we'll do for you this offseason. We'll be sending some Weekly and Bi Monthly updates and then kick into our Daily Email Updates in April. You don't need to do anything but sit back and enjoy. Thanks to our Mark Wimer for putting this update together. Have a great weekend and enjoy the update. Joe ****************************** Joe Bryant Owner www.footballguys.com ****************************** INSIDE THIS ISSUE 1. WR Randy Moss: Traded to Raiders, Agent Reports 2. Oakland Re-signs WR Jerry Porter to 5 Year, $21 Million Contract 3. QB J.P. Losman: The Man in Buffalo for 2005 4. WR Moulds: New Deal in Buffalo? 5. QB Bledsoe: A Cowboy Now 6. QB Fiedler: A Dolphin No More; WR Boston Probably Gone Too. 7. RB Westbrook: Tendered an Offer by Eagles – Negotiations Continue 8. QB Pennington: Expected to Be Back for Training Camp 9. RB Jordan: To Test Free Agent Market, But Doesn't Rule Out Jets (Yet) 10. WR S. Moss: Headed to Reserve Status on the Jets? 11. Ravens: Desperate for a Veteran WR 12. WR Coles: Where Will He Play in 2005? Not Washington, It Appears 13. Bears' QB: Unknown as of Start of Free Agency 14. RB Johnson: Staying a Bengal? 15. Browns: Who'll QB in 2005, Who'll QB in Years Beyond? 16. Lions: Bringing in A Hired Gun to Supplant Harrington? 17. RB Bettis: Will He Play or Analyze Football in 2005? 18. QB Favre: Still No Decision on 2005, May Not Decide for Awhile 19. TE Franks: Transitional Tag Applied by Packers 20. RB James: Franchised by Colts 21. QB McNair: Cap Casualty of WR Mason Won't Force QB's Retirement 22. RB Foster: Likely Starting RB for the Panthers 23. QB Plummer: Restructured Contract; Entrenched as Bronco Starter 24. RB Droughns: Probably on the Way Out of Denver 25. QB Griese's Agent: Our Final Offer to Bucs is on the Table 26. RB Henry: Trade Scenario Lands Henry with Cardinals? 27. RB Faulk: Out as Starter, Jackson Elevated to Ram's Featured Role 28. QB Brees: Franchised and Excited to Play with Chargers in 05 29. RB Alexander: Franchised by Seahawks 30. QB Hasselbeck (Sea) Cashes in with $49.4 million, 6-Year Contract 31. IDP: CB Charles Woodson "Tagged" By Raiders 32. IDP: LB Tedy Bruschi's Future Uncertain After Stroke 33. IDP: SS Darius is Franchised by Jaguars (Again) 34. IDP: S Jay Bellamy Resigns with Saints 35. IDP: S Archuleta Played with Herniated Disk During '04 36. IDP: LB Julian Peterson Tagged by 49ers
1. WR Randy Moss: Traded to Raiders, Agent Reports Clipped from: startribune.com article by Mark Craig, 2/24/05 A trade agreement was reached Wednesday morning that will send the immensely talented and highly controversial receiver to the Oakland Raiders, the NFL's well-known outpost of misfit players who have worn out their welcomes in other NFL cities…In return, the Vikings will receive the seventh overall pick in this year's draft, starting linebacker Napoleon Harris and a seventh-round draft pick, either this year or in a future draft. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Reports out of Minneapolis indicate that Moss had basically worn out his welcome (http://www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress/sports/10975845.htm) "A little birdie says the Vikings had been intent on trading controversial wide receiver Randy Moss for the past month for three reasons: his behavior problems, the fact that some prominent teammates were tired of him, and the supposition that his best days as a player are behind him. In addition, Moss' health has been questionable. By trading him now, the Vikings figure they can get optimum price." Given that the Raiders have a strong-armed QB in Kerry Collins, and that they retained explosive WR Jerry Porter earlier this week (See below), this move will have a profound impact on the Raider's offense – If Moss can stay healthy, and if he and Porter can keep their attitudes positive, this has to be seen as a huge boost for Kerry Collins.
2. Oakland Resigns WR Jerry Porter to 5 Year, $21 Million Contract Clipped from: San Francisco Chronicle article by Nancy Gay, 2/23/05 Hours after deciding to use a franchise tag to secure cornerback Charles Woodson, the Raiders on Tuesday kept wide receiver Jerry Porter from entering the free-agent market by signing him to a five-year contract worth about $21 million. Porter, 26, will receive $7 million guaranteed in the deal, which he can void after the third season, NFL sources said. In return, the Raiders retained the services of a rising star who is coming off a career season in both number of catches (64) and receiving yards (998). Porter's nine touchdowns last season also tied a career high. "Although he posted career numbers last year, we feel that Jerry's best football is still ahead of him," Raiders coach Norv Turner said. Porter has 163 catches for 2,273 yards and 19 touchdowns in 32 starts and 69 games in five NFL seasons. One year after battling to return from multiple hernia surgery during an injury-marred 2003 season, Porter returned strong and had the breakout performances he always had envisioned since the Raiders made him a second- round draft pick out of West Virginia in 2000. Porter had only one touchdown catch in the Raiders' first 10 games as he struggled to find his place following the release of Tim Brown and the October trade of Jerry Rice. But as Porter and quarterback Kerry Collins developed an on-field chemistry, Porter's statistics began to soar. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Porter produced for his fantasy owners down the stretch last season, once he and Collins got on the same page. Combining Porter and Moss could create a passing attack that is a fantasy force. Keep an eye on how the chemistry between Collins, Porter and Moss develops during training camp/preseason.
3. QB J.P. Losman: The Man in Buffalo for 2005 Clipped from: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle article by Sal Maiorana, 2/17/05 The Buffalo Bills picked J.P. Losman in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft to be their quarterback of the future, and the future is now upon them. "Our starting quarterback next year will be J.P. Losman," coach Mike Mularkey said Wednesday. In announcing that the team will release 12-year veteran Drew Bledsoe next week, Mularkey said he felt now was the time to turn the reins over to Losman because he thinks Bledsoe has taken the Bills as far as he can take them. "We had a good year last year, but as I told the team and this organization, it was not a super year," said Mularkey. "We did not reach some of the goals we set out for. You're constantly trying to grow and with that comes change. Sometimes that's subtle and sometimes it can be large, and that's why we're here today." There has been speculation that the Bills — a team that was clearly on the rise during the second half of 2004 — would be retarding their progress by handing the keys over to a player who has thrown a mere five NFL passes, all in mop-up duty. General manager Tom Donahoe disputed that theory. After all, the Bills never made the playoffs with Bledsoe, and while he did not pin Buffalo's failure this year to advance to the postseason solely on Bledsoe, he made it clear that it was the offense that held the Bills back. Buffalo ranked 25th in yards, 25th in first downs, 26th in yards per play and 27th in passing yardage. True, the Bills ranked seventh in points scored with 395, their highest total since 1999, but 10 touchdowns came from the special teams and defense. "Our defense was, we felt, playoff caliber, and our special teams ended up first in the league," Donahoe said. "If we're going to take that next step, we've got to get better on the offensive side of the ball. "I don't want to be negative toward Drew. I think Drew helped us take a very important step. We were a 3-13 team when he came here ... he helped us get to a good level. We want to go beyond that level." Donahoe and Mularkey believe the unproven Losman — who was not made available for comment Wednesday — can take the Bills to that next level. "There are some things J.P. has special skills for and we're trying to take advantage of them," said Mularkey. "Strong arm, especially in the conditions here. Running the ball to complement his throws. And he has the advantage of having Tom Clements and Sam Wyche here to develop with. That had a lot to do with the decision." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] As the article notes, Losman obviously has very limited game-time experience at the NFL level. He's bound to suffer through the growing pains that every young QB has to endure during 2005 – look for the Bills to emphasize their running game (read, hand off the ball to Willis McGahee a ton next season) in order to take the pressure off of Losman as he develops.
4. WR Moulds: New Deal in Buffalo? Clipped from: Buffalo News article by Mark Gaughan, 2/10/05 The Buffalo Bills are close to reaching an agreement on a contract extension for receiver Eric Moulds. The deal, which could be finalized in the next few days, would give the Bills relief in their 2005 salary cap and give Moulds more security. Moulds was scheduled to cost the Bills $8.7 million against the cap this year and was to receive about $6.6 million in cash. His contract was to run two more years, through the 2006 season. While terms of the negotiations were not available…" [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] In J.P. Losman, Moulds will have a very green QB throwing the ball to him during 2005 – he may have a hard time matching or exceeding the 88/1043/5 mark he set last season (his average yards per catch of 11.9 was the second-lowest mark in that department during his career so far).
5. QB Bledsoe: A Cowboy Now Clipped from: Express-News article by Tom Orsborn, 2/24/05 Introduced Wednesday at a news conference in Irving, Bledsoe, 33, made no attempt to hide his contempt for his former employers. But a day after the Buffalo Bills released him, it also was clear Bledsoe had no desire to conceal how happy he was to be reunited with Cowboys coach Bill Parcells. Parcells was New England's coach when he used the draft's first overall pick to select Bledsoe in 1993. They led the Patriots to the Super Bowl after the '1996 season, their last year together. "I anticipate us having a lot of success," Bledsoe said, "and I hope he chooses to stay here as long as I do." Bledsoe's first-year base salary is $2million. His contract includes a signing bonus of nearly $2 million and some guaranteed money in the second year, an indication that he will be with the team at least two seasons. Bledsoe said Parcells, who has two years left on his contract, has named him the 2005 starter. Parcells did not attend the news conference, but owner Jerry Jones said the Cowboys signed Bledsoe because they needed a veteran quarterback and have little faith in untested Drew Henson and Tony Romo. "We could not risk going into the season with an inexperienced quarterback such as Drew or Tony," Jones said. "We always had in mind a veteran quarterback. And I completely buy into that plan." Jones said the signing of Bledsoe allows Dallas to think Super Bowl while giving Henson time to develop. The Cowboys traded a third-round pick to the Houston Texans last year to sign Henson to an eight-year contract. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] 1996 is a long time ago, folks. Bledsoe is a "Parcells guy", but he just isn't an exciting fantasy prospect from where we sit. He was 29th in fantasy points per game among all starting QBs last season, with 256/449 for 2932 yards, 20 TDs and 16 interceptions (an improvement over this dismal 274/471 for 2860 yards, 11 TDs and 12 interception performance in 2003). The Cowboy's receiving corps isn't getting any younger, either. (You can read Terry Glenn and Keyshawn Johnson's reactions to the Bledsoe move here.
6. QB Fiedler: A Dolphin No More; WR Boston Probably Gone Too. Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Jason Cole, 2/24/05 Jay Fiedler got a head start on his departure from Miami by going on vacation to the Bahamas this week. The Dolphins finished the situation by making official what had been known for weeks, if not months, by cutting Fiedler among a flurry of moves Wednesday as the team tries to clear more than $17 million to get under the salary cap. Aside from cutting Fiedler, free safety Arturo Freeman, defensive lineman Jay Williams and safety Shawn Wooden were let go. The combination of moves saves the Dolphins more than $11 million. The team is also expected to restructure the contract of wide receiver Chris Chambers, release wide receiver David Boston and either restructure linebacker Junior Seau's deal or release him to trim another $9 million. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] This move is no surprise. Fiedler has publicly stated that he'd like to play for the Jets (backing up Chad Pennington) – a scenario that could work out, given the persistent rumors of Quincy Carter's problems.
7. RB Westbrook: Tendered an Offer by Eagles – Negotiations Continue Clipped from: Philadelphia Daily News article by Les Bowen, 2/24/05 As expected, the Eagles yesterday announced they had tendered a 1-year qualifying offer to restricted free-agent running back Brian Westbrook. The team tendered Westbrook at the "first- round" level, meaning the Eagles will receive a first-round draft choice in compensation should they decide not to match a contract offer from another team. This level also is known as the "middle" tender because it is the second of the three qualifying-offer levels. Since the Eagles have plenty of cap room and don't want to lose Westbrook, it's unlikely other teams will bid for him, or that the Eagles would decline to match if they did. Westbrook's base salary last season was $380,000, for the final season of the 3-year contract he signed after the team drafted him in the third round in 2002. He will make $1.43 million under the terms of the 1-year tender. Westbrook's 1,515 total yards led the Eagles last season and ranked fourth in the NFC. His 73 receptions led all NFL running backs, and he went to his first Pro Bowl, as an injury replacement. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Westbrook will remain an Eagle in all probability. He was the 10th-best fantasy RB in fantasy points per game last season (appearing in 13 games before being "rested" by the Eagles to close the regular season).
8. QB Pennington: Expected to Be Back for Training Camp Clipped from: New York Post article by Mark Cannizzaro, 2/10/05 Despite two reports saying the extent of Chad Pennington's right shoulder surgery was more involved than it was originally believed to be, Jets' officials yesterday insisted that's not the case and that Pennington's projected return to the field remains the same as it always was: The beginning of training camp. "There was nothing that took place in the surgery that wasn't projected by team doctors," one Jets' official said yesterday. "The procedure was an arthroscopic procedure. And, Dr. Montgomery (Jets' orthopedist Kenneth Montgomery) stated in the original press briefing that Dr. James Andrews might find something else in there to make an added incision." Indeed, Montgomery said, "Well, when you do the arthroscopy, sometimes you can find some additional injury that needs to be taken care of. It almost never requires the rehabilitation overall to be changed in any significant way. So based on his symptoms, his findings and his MRIs, we don't expect to find anything different in there. But if there was something else in addition, it would be repaired at the same time and would not change the timetable for recovery." Once Dr. Andrews gets in there, Montgomery was asked, is it possible that he'll find something that you're not able to repair with the scope and you'll have to do something more invasive? "Sometimes some surgeons like to do a little mini-open incision to have some additional fixation, and that's something that Dr. Andrews will leave up to his own discretion at the time of the procedure depending on how comfortable he feels with the fixation that he gets through the scope," Montgomery said. According to a published report, Dr. Andrews told Pennington's parents that Chad had a full, not partial, tear of the supraspinatus muscle in the rotator cuff. An incision was needed. A Jets' official reiterated that, despite the added incision, the procedure remained arthroscopic and that added portion of the operation will have no effect on when Pennington returns. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Pennington's shoulder is going to be a subject of concern for his dynasty league owners – we're taking a wait-and-see approach regarding Pennington until we get a chance to see him in action during training camp/pre-season.
9. RB Jordan: To Test Free Agent Market, But Doesn't Rule Out Jets (Yet) Clipped from: Star Ledger article by Dave Hutchinson, 2/23/05 The agent for Jets running back LaMont Jordan said yesterday that his client will test the free-agent market but hasn't shut the door on a possible return to the club. Free agency starts next Wednesday. Jordan, who just completed his fourth NFL season, is considered by many the top running back in free agency now that the Seahawks and Colts put their franchise tags on Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James. Jordan hopes to sign a deal that would pay him at least $12 million in guaranteed money. The Buccaneers, Cardinals, Dolphins, Panthers and Raiders are among the teams who may express an interest in Jordan. "The Jets have presented us with a very fair offer," Jordan's agent, Alvin Keels, told The Star-Ledger. "LaMont doesn't feel slighted at all. The Jets want to keep him in New York. I realize that and LaMont realizes it. But LaMont feels he owes it to himself to test the market. "He's excited. He's looking forward to it. But LaMont stressed to me that it's not totally out of the question that he won't be back with the Jets." That, however, seems unlikely. Jordan, 26, badly wants to be a starter and that's not going to happen with the Jets next season. That job belongs to Curtis Martin, who won the NFL rushing title last season with 1,377 yards and will earn a base salary of $4.7 million in 2005. At 31, he is showing no signs of slowing down. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Jordan has made no secret of his desire to be a starting running back in 2005. With 4 seasons under his belt and a 5.2 yards-per-carry average to his credit last season (93/479/2 rushing, with 15/112/0 receiving), there will be no shortage of suitors for his services. Stay tuned to see where this top fantasy prospect lands during free agency.
10. WR S. Moss: Headed to Reserve Status on the Jets? Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Ken Berger, 2/24/05 Moss, the 2001 first-round pick, is scheduled to make $448,000 in the final year of his contract this season. After a breakout season in 2003 (74 catches, 1,105 yards, 10 TDs), Moss took a step backward with 45 catches for 838 yards and five TDs. He also was ineffective as a punt returner with a career-low 8.3-yard average. Moss' hope for a lucrative new deal is further hampered because the Jets' receiving corps is in flux. Although the Jets never were really involved in the Randy Moss sweepstakes, team officials are believed to be seeking another elite receiver to play opposite Justin McCareins, which would push Santana Moss into a reserve role. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Other reports out of New York indicate that the team may go after Ex-Titan Derrick Mason. Santana Moss's fantasy prospects for 2005 don't look too bright at this point. Dynasty leaguers may want to consider moving Moss if possible.
11. Ravens: Desperate for a Veteran WR Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Jamison Hensley, 2/23/05 As the NFL free-agent market continues to take shape, the Ravens' offseason focus couldn't be clearer: They desperately need a veteran wide receiver. How the Ravens acquire a playmaker in the passing game is still up in the air. Coach Brian Billick indicated yesterday that the Ravens are keeping their options open as far as signing a free-agent receiver or trading for one. He said the team completed its most detailed analysis of free agency in his seven years here but acknowledged later that a trade is a "real" option. If the Ravens decide to pursue a free-agent receiver, their top choices likely would be Derrick Mason, Muhsin Muhammad and Plaxico Burress. If they opt for a trade, they could come away with the Washington Redskins' Laveranues Coles or Minnesota Vikings' Randy Moss. Billick said the Ravens have an interest in Mason, a salary cap casualty of the Tennessee Titans on Monday and the only free agent he can comment on under league rules. The other players won't officially become free agents until next Wednesday, when they can sign with other teams. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Whoever lands with the Ravens will still have Kyle Boller throwing to them (he was 36th among all starting QBs last season in fantasy points per game, with 258/464 for 2559 yards, 13 TDs and 11 interceptions). They'll also have to contend with TE Todd Heap in sharing catches. All in all, it's still hard to get too excited about WRs in Baltimore.
12. WR Coles: Where Will He Play in 2005? Not Washington, It Appears Clipped from: Washington Post article by Nunyo Demasio, 2/23/05 The Washington Post reported yesterday that the Redskins are trying to trade Coles to avoid having to release him without anything in return; they gave up a first-round pick when they signed him as a restricted free agent in 2003. But Coles, who wants out of Washington because he is unhappy with the team's conservative offense, apparently wants to become an unrestricted free agent instead, if he forfeits part of his signing bonus. Coach Joe Gibbs called a report in Monday's editions of The Post, which stated that Coles would be released, "inaccurate." Gibbs was unavailable to comment early last night. ESPN.com reported Monday that a deal to release Coles was in place but that the team was trying "to back off" its agreement and make a trade instead. If Coles does not agree to forfeit a portion of the $13 million signing bonus he received when he signed a seven-year, $35-million contract in 2003, the Redskins probably could not trade him because the team would absorb a huge salary cap hit. A source said Monday that talks centered on Coles forfeiting a $5 million signing bonus payment he is due April 1. Coles's contract does not expire until 2010, which means the team can force him to return. And according to one teammate with knowledge of the situation, Coles has said he would return -- and play hard -- if necessary. However, Coles's unhappiness was evident last season, said one starter on the offense, and made it difficult for players to endure the team's struggles. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Coles' status is unsettled as of the week before free-agency. He's a talented receiver who underperformed in fantasy terms last year, despite catching 90 passes for 950 yards, because he only scored 1 TD. His saga is definitely one of the more intriguing fantasy story lines this off-season – stay tuned.
13. Bears' QB: Unknown as of Start of Free Agency Clipped from: ChicagoSports.com article by Terry Bannon, 2/23/05 Cutting ties with (Jonathan) Quinn, who turns 30 Sunday, and (Jeff) George, 37, makes it clear to veteran quarterbacks that there's a job opening in Chicago. Free agency begins March 2 and the Bears are in the market for someone to compete with Grossman, who has played in six games in two seasons. "We plan to sign a quarterback with starting experience," general manager Jerry Angelo said. "We don't plan to be quick out of the box. We'll see how things play out." Former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner, who is leaving the New York Giants, is the most interesting name available. The Bears passed on Warner last season when Grossman was set as the starter and Warner wanted a chance to compete. Now it may be the Bears' good fortune that there are some experienced quarterbacks available, such as Jeff Garcia, Warner, Jeff Blake, Vinny Testaverde and possibly either Brad Johnson or Brian Griese of Tampa Bay. Cleveland backup Kelly Holcombe also is scheduled to be a free agent, but he may stay now that Garcia is gone. As the Bears prepare for coach Lovie Smith's second season with new offensive coordinator Ron Turner, Grossman, Chad Hutchinson and Craig Krenzel are their experienced quarterbacks. With the commitment to bring in a veteran, there wasn't room for George. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] You don't need us to tell you that the Bears' passing attack was pathetic last season. They have no reliable WRs, and the team is strapped for cash, so they can't afford to do much in free agency. All the above does not usually ad up to a team with top-tier fantasy performers.
14. RB Johnson: Staying a Bengal? Clipped from: Dayton Daily News article by Chick Ludwig Tailback Rudi Johnson is looking at the bright side of being tagged the Bengals' franchise player. He can vacation in Hawaii a little bit longer and not have to endure the rigors of a cross-country tour when free agency begins March 2. "It wasn't really a shock," Johnson told Doug Russell on The Sporting News Radio network after getting slapped with the franchise tag. "It's something the team had to do to protect them and definitely not let me hit the market. "Even though they placed the franchise tag on me, we're still going to work on a long-term deal. Hopefully, we'll get something done by the 16th of March." League rules state that if Johnson and his agent, Peter Schaffer, can't hammer out a long-term contract with the Bengals by March 16, negotiations can't pick up again until July 15. As the franchise player, Johnson is guaranteed a one-year tender of $6.3 million, a salary that is causing him to back off his threat to sit out the 2005 season. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] It looks like the Bengals and Johnson will find a way to hammer out a new deal. The good news for his dynasty league owners is that he is backing off the threat to sit out 2005 – stay tuned as the negotiations continue into March.
15. Browns: Who'll QB 2005, Who'll QB in Years Beyond? Clipped from: Plain Dealer article by Tony Grossi, 2/24/05 The quarterback position for the Browns begins with Kelly Holcomb, but it doesn't end with him. Not hardly. The team is focusing on re-signing Holcomb before he becomes a free agent March 2. At the same time, one of the priorities for General Manager Phil Savage and his staff is to determine the Browns' quarterback of the future. Is it Luke McCown, the Butch Davis fourth-round draft pick last year who Terry Robiskie threw to the wolves in the final month of a 4-12 season? Is it Josh Harris, the Baltimore Ravens sixth-round draft pick last year who joined the Browns in December because he saw a better opportunity to play? Is it one of the top two quarterbacks in the upcoming draft - Alex Smith of Utah or Aaron Rodgers of California? The Browns would have to use their first pick, No. 3 overall, to select either of them. Or is it Charlie Frye of Akron, the latest in the assembly line of NFL quarterbacks churned out by the blue-collar Mid-American Conference? Upon checking into the NFL scouting combine here Wednesday, Savage called the franchise's conclusion on its future quarterback "a huge decision." "You can look at it a couple different ways," Savage said of drafting a quarterback with the first pick. "Do we plan on being in the top five again in the future? Well, you hope not. "So if you're up there and have the chance to get a real good player, do you go ahead and take a shot on the guy, or do you just put it off, ultimately knowing that you've got to put somebody in the chair?" [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] There's a lot of uncertainty in Cleveland about the QB position (again) – it'll be interesting to see who ultimately ends up under center for 2005. The team has a nicely stocked corps of WR's and should have a healthy TE in Kellen Winslow, so whoever lands with Cleveland will have plenty of targets to throw at…
16. Lions: Bringing in A Hired Gun to Supplant Harrington? Clipped from: Detroit News commentary by Rob Parker, 2/23/05 The Lions have a huge decision to make, one that could mean the difference between making the playoffs or failing to reach the postseason for the sixth straight season. That's why they can't get it wrong. The Lions have to acquire a back-up quarterback who is both good enough to beat out starter Joey Harrington in training camp or be ready to take over and lead this team to the playoffs if Harrington falters four games into the regular season. The last thing the Lions need is a good-hat-wearing, firm-clipboard-holding quarterback who's around more for show than anything else. The Lions don't want anything close to Mike McMahon, Rick Mirer or Ty Detmer on the sidelines for the '05 season. As teams all around NFL America start letting go high-priced talent and free agency begins, Lions president Matt Millen must land a big-timer on the market. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Harrington certainly appears to be on thin ice heading into 2005, and he'll need to come out the gates strongly to hold off whoever his challenger ends up being. The return of Charles Rogers (if his clavicle will hold up) to team with Roy Williams should boost Harrington. However, if you have Harrington on your dynasty (or keeper) league roster, you'll probably want to pick up the #2 QB in Detroit for insurance purposes. Go here for Detroit News' Mike O'Hara's gloss of the available free agent QBs (from 2/22/05).
17. RB Bettis: Will He Play or Analyze Football in 2005? Clipped from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Ed Bouchette, 2/24/05 The actions and words this week of his agent, Lamont Smith, indicate that Bettis will return to play one more season with the Steelers provided they agree on a contract by Wednesday. If not, he might retire and accept an offer from a television network to join its NFL studio staff. There's also a chance he could play elsewhere next season. The Steelers and Smith have exchanged contract proposals, and negotiations are ongoing. But before those talks took place, Bettis spoke to former NFL players about the circumstances that led to their retirements so he could gain insight into making a decision. Among the former players he spoke with were Hall of Famers Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long, and two others likely to be inducted at Canton once they become eligible, Rod Woodson and Troy Aikman. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Bettis had a lot more in the tank than anyone expected during 2004, and he was a basic-scoring league stud. He has also prepared himself for a studio job by doing numerous guest appearances on pre-game shows – it'll all come down to whether the Steelers offer him enough money/respect to convince him to stay in Pittsburgh.
18. QB Favre: Still No Decision on 2005, May Not Decide for Awhile Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article by Bob McGinn, 2/17/05 The Green Bay Packers' front office and coaching staff appear confident that quarterback Brett Favre will play in 2005 and aren't worried about having his answer by the start of free agency March 2. "We'd be able to handle that," coach Mike Sherman said Thursday. "There was never any set deadline. I told him that, 'As we get into free agency, if you can tell us that'd be great.' " Two weeks ago, wide receiver Donald Driver caused a stir by predicting that the 35-year-old Favre would retire. Running back Ahman Green went on the radio one day later and said Driver probably was closer to Favre than anyone on the team except quarterback Doug Pederson. "From knowing Brett . . . and what I've known from the season . . . it could go either way," Green said. Back home in Hattiesburg, Miss., Favre hasn't informed the Packers if he will return for a 15th season. "I don't believe people should speak for other people, particularly a Hall of Fame quarterback," Sherman said. "Somebody on our staff calls him once a week just to touch base. We don't press him for an answer. I don't think anybody's asked him what he's decided to do. We just ask him how he's doing, how Deanna's doing, how's his golf game and how's his grass growing." Favre spent last weekend at Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Both Packers President Bob Harlan and offensive coordinator Tom Rossley said they expected Favre to play. "It's strictly my guess, because Brett and I never talked about it," Harlan said. "My guess is that he would come back for another year. I would just hope, early in March, we would know. It would aid us tremendously." Said Rossley: "I think he is (playing), if I had to guess. Any assumption on my part would be premature." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] The Packers brass had originally asked for a decision by the start of the free agency period, but they have softened their tone in recent days. Hopefully, we'll know something by the start of free agency.
19. TE Franks: Transitional Tag Applied by Packers Clipped from: PackersNews.com article by Pete Dougherty, 2/22/05 Thompson could have taken Franks off the open market by designating him a franchise player, which would have guaranteed the Packers two first-round draft picks as compensation if Franks signed with another team and the Packers didn't match the offer. But by using the transition tag, Thompson saved about $600,000 in salary-cap space over the franchise tag. The one-year transition tender offer is $2.095 million; the one-year franchise tender offer is $2.687 million. However, if another team signs Franks, the Packers will have the right to match the offer but won't get compensation if they don't match. Choosing the lesser tag also could be important when the sides begin negotiations for a long-term contract. Those talks likely will start immediately if they haven't already begun. Had Franks been given the franchise tag, he could have argued he deserved to be one of the top-five-paid tight ends in the NFL, because the franchise tender is based on the average pay of the top five players at a position. But the transition tag is the average of the top-10-paid players at a position, so Franks won't have as much negotiating leverage. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Franks has been a steady producer in the red-zone most years (with 7 TDs last season, 4 in 2003, 7 in 2002, and 9 in 2001), and his average yards per catch spiked to 10.6 last year (up from the low 8's in 2002 and 2003). He was the 12th ranked fantasy TE last season in fantasy points per game – making him a borderline starter in TE required leagues.
20. RB James: Franchised by Colts Clipped from: Indy Star article by Mike Chappell, 2/23/05 As expected, the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday designated James their "franchise" player, essentially giving them final say on where their career rushing leader plays in 2005. So, what does the future hold? Stay tuned. Asked repeatedly if he expected James to man his usual spot in the Colts' backfield when the regular season opens in September, team president Bill Polian stopped short of issuing a guarantee. "What's going to happen, I haven't the vaguest idea," he said. "I don't want to say (James will return), because I don't know." Whatever the future holds for James, the Colts made certain they maintained "maximum flexibility," Polian said. The team opted to affix James with the "non-exclusive" franchise designation. The one-year contract comes at a steep price -- approximately $8 million, which is a 20 percent increase over James' 2004 salary cap figure -- and includes a couple of options for the player and team. James may: • Sign the franchise deal, play for the Colts in '05, then be eligible for unrestricted free agency next offseason. • Negotiate a long-term contract with another team. If he signs the offer sheet, the Colts would have seven days to match it. If the team opts not to match the offer, it would receive two first-round draft picks from James' new team as compensation. • Negotiate a long-term contract with the Colts. According to league guidelines, the two sides have 14 days to reach agreement on a multiyear deal. Failing that, no further discussions are allowed until July 15. Polian declined to speculate on how the situation might unfold. James could not be reached for comment, but he made it clear in a conversation with owner Jim Irsay this past weekend that his preference is a long-term contract, not the one-year deal. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] James is an integral part of the Colt's offense, but they have made do without him in the past – he missed 10 games in 2001, 2 in 2002, and 3 in 2003. The Colts are making backup plans as they locked up RB Dominic Rhodes for two years on the same day they franchised James: http://www.indystar.com/articles/7/224316-5797-036.html) The team has a lot of money tied up in Peyton Manning and the receiving corps, so there is only so much room to sign James to a long-term deal (James' preference). This situation could take a long while to play out – stay tuned.
21. QB McNair: Cap Casualty of WR Mason Won't Force QBs Retirement Clipped from: Tennessean article by Jim Wyatt, 2/23/05 News that his favorite receiver and one of his offensive linemen were going to be released by the Titans shook the quarterback, but didn't knock him down. McNair said the team's decision to release six players — including wide receiver Derrick Mason and tackle Fred Miller — to help get below the NFL's salary cap didn't make his retirement decision for him either. "I've said from the very beginning that this decision was about my health and my family and not the makeup of the team," McNair said yesterday. "And that still remains the case." McNair, who continues to recover from sternum surgery, is reworking his contract to help the Titans get below the cap by the NFL deadline of March 2. His restructured deal will end up saving the team more than $5 million, though the Titans have opted to release six of his teammates to free up additional room. Along with Mason, who has four consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, and Miller, the Titans are also parting ways with cornerback Samari Rolle, defensive tackle Kevin Carter, fullback Robert Holcombe and kicker Joe Nedney. McNair said he hates seeing them go, especially Mason, who he spoke with on Monday. Mason and McNair have been teammates since Mason was drafted by Tennessee in 1997. "I've been in this league for a long time and I understand that this is a business. They are doing what is best for the organization," McNair said. "Unfortunately it is happening to people who are friends of mine who have given a great deal to this team. These decisions were not based upon their ability, it is all about the salary cap. All of these guys will continue to have productive NFL careers…" [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] The Titans are going through the proverbial "Salary Cap Hell" and they figure to have a lot of youngsters playing in key positions next season Said GM Floyd Reese, "We've seen, really in our opinion, one team try to do this and do a pretty good job of it, and that was Baltimore." …"We think that is the way we're going to go. We're approaching it from this standpoint: We want to take all the cap hits, we want to take all the acceleration, we want to take all the dead money, we want to take all the financial hits that we're going to take now." Given that the team will be very inexperienced, you can count on McNair taking a long look at his options before deciding whether to retire or not. With Norm Chow in as the Titan's offensive coordinator, the Titans will be remaking their offense during 2005, as well and that could provide it's own set of twists. If Chow can produce any sort of success mirroring what he did at USC, this could be very interesting.
22. RB Foster: Likely Starting RB for the Panthers Clipped from: Herald article by Darin Gantt, 2/20/05 The Panthers don't need to make such an announcement, since Stephen Davis probably won't be ready for the regular-season opener and DeShaun Foster will. Even without Davis' recovery from knee surgery, he probably wasn't going to get the nod this year. When Davis was signed prior to the 2003 season and Foster was recovering from knee surgery, there was a clear if not well-stated plan from the organization. The hope was that Davis could carry the burden in '03 as Foster recovered slowly. Then the two could split carries more evenly in '04, probably something closer to a 60-40 split, with Davis out front. The hope for the coming season was that Foster would take over as the lead dog, with Davis still on hand. The situation also resembles what Pittsburgh put together last season, with Duce Staley brought in to get the bulk of the carries and Jerome Bettis kept around for short-yardage and plenty of late-season work. Injuries derailed the Panthers' plan, although it will likely end up as they anticipated anyway. Foster's on track to return after breaking his collarbone, and it will be July or August before the Panthers know for sure whether Davis will be well enough to play. Early signs are positive for the veteran back, although it could take longer for him to return to health. Either way, when they open training camp, don't be surprised to see Foster out there with the starters, whether Davis is there or not. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] DeShaun Foster enjoyed some strong outings before injuring his collarbone (32/174/1 rushing vs. Kansas City, 19/51 rushing with 54 receiving yards and a TD vs. Atlanta) and looks like a very exciting fantasy prospect for 2005 (assuming he can stay healthy).
23. QB Plummer: Restructured Contract; Entrenched as Bronco Starter Clipped from: Denver Post article by Bill Williamson, 2/18/05 Jake Plummer's future with the Broncos is secure. The quarterback joined other key veterans in agreeing to restructure contracts to help the team in free agency. The Broncos and Plummer agreed to tweak his contract to help create salary-cap room, although Plummer eventually will receive all of the salary and option bonus money he originally agreed to, general manager Ted Sundquist said. Plummer is likely to receive the majority of the $6 million option bonus this year then get the remainder next year. His $3.3 million base salary may be adjusted to help the team. "We're committed to Jake and that commitment will be fulfilled," Sundquist said. If the Broncos did not exercise the option and voided the final five years and nearly $32 million of the contract, Plummer would have been a free agent March 2. Plummer, 30, signed a seven-year, $40 million contract with Denver in March 2003. "Jake's our guy," Sundquist said. "The players love him and he just fits in. ... Now, there's no question, not that there ever should have been, that Jake will be our quarterback for several more years." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Plummer threw for over 4000 yards last season, and hit for 27 TDs (plus 20 interceptions) In leagues that don't penalize too heavily for INTs, he figures to remain among the top 10-12 fantasy QBs (he was 6th in fantasy points per game last season).
24. RB Droughns: Probably on the Way Out of Denver Clipped from: Denver Post article by Bill Williamson, 2/23/05 The frustrated running back knows there's a chance his ticket out of town could be punched in the next week. However, the idea of leaving Denver saddens Droughns, in spite of last month's request to be traded. The realization hit him hard when he was participating in some NBA All-Star Weekend events. "You see all the fans and they all say, 'Don't leave,' and that's hard. That's really the hardest part," Droughns said Monday. "I still love Denver and the idea of leaving is tough, but it's what's best for me at this point." With an usually high amount of NFL players on the market - including Broncos defensive end Trevor Pryce - there are bound to be trade discussions later this week at the NFL combine, where college prospects will be joined by team officials and agents. While deals can be agreed upon, trades cannot become official until March 2. Droughns, who gained 1,240 yards last season as an injury replacement at tailback, does not want the fullback role. But if he isn't traded, Droughns doesn't see himself holding out from the Broncos' training camp. "If I have to be a fullback, this is where I want to be," Droughns said. "But moving on is what I want at this point." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] With Tatum Bell waiting in the wings, and Quentin Griffin another option (assuming his knee heals properly during the coming months), the Broncos feel that Droughns is expendable. Keep an eye on where he lands, as he proved a reliable performer last season.
25. QB Griese's Agent: Our Final Offer to Bucs is on the Table Clipped from: St. Petersburg Times article by Rick Stroud and Roger Mills Brian Griese's agent has made what is likely his final offer to the Bucs. Agent Ralph Cindrich faxed the proposal to general manager Bruce Allen on Wednesday, on the eve of a meeting scheduled for tonight at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "We changed the structure of our proposal and sent it to them, and we'll see how it flies," Cindrich said. "If they don't go for it, it's unlikely we'll be able to get it done." The Bucs have offered Griese a long-term deal, but Cindrich said so far they have been unwilling to pay him the average salary of a starting quarterback. Griese, who turns 30 next month, wants a contract that shows Tampa Bay is committed to him as the starter beyond 2005. If no agreement is reached by Tuesday, when Griese is owed a $6-million roster bonus, he will be released. Griese could establish his market value and re-sign with the Bucs, but Cindrich said that is unlikely. "We've been talking back and forth," he said. "I guess it's time to see where all this is going to finally lead. I think their salary cap situation is a real problem." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Griese enjoyed a renaissance season once he got under center in Tampa, with 233/336 for 2632 yards, 20 TDs and 12 interceptions in 11 games (that effort put him at 13th among fantasy QBs in fantasy points per game last season). If he doesn't end up in Tampa, the Bucs will need to decide if they want to go with Chris Simms or find another arm in Free agency. Several teams have a need at QB – Griese will be mentioned for a lot of the open jobs. For what it's worth (not much, we believe) the Bucs have signed first-round flop Akili Smith and assigned him to NFLEL
26. RB Henry: Trade Scenario Lands Henry with Cardinals? Clipped from: Arizona Republic article by Kent Somers, 2/19/05 Cardinals offensive tackle L.J. Shelton met with Bills coaches and officials Thursday in Buffalo, a visit that could lead to a trade for running back Travis Henry. Shelton's trip included a physical, but trade talks are preliminary and other teams are interested in Shelton. The Cardinals have given Shelton's agents permission to seek a trade, and it's believed at least four teams are interested. The other three are Tampa Bay, Chicago and St. Louis. Rod Graves, Cardinals vice president for football operations, declined comment, as did Eric Metz, one of Shelton's agents. Trade talks are expected to turn serious next week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. If a deal is made with Buffalo, it could be a rare player-for-player trade. The Cardinals are interested in Henry, who wants out of Buffalo after losing his job to Willis McGahee last season. The Cardinals have a need at running back. The only experienced one on the roster is Marcel Shipp, who missed last season with a fractured left fibula. The Bills have a need for a left tackle, where Shelton has played for most of his six NFL seasons. Jonas Jennings is an unrestricted free agent, and the Bills aren't expected to re-sign him. Shelton, who turns 29 next month, fell out of favor with Cardinals coach Dennis Green. Shelton had ankle surgery last off-season and reported to minicamp overweight. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Henry to the Cards is an interesting scenario from the fantasy perspective – keep an eye on where Henry lands during the off-season.
27. RB Faulk: Out as Starter, Jackson Elevated to Ram's Featured Role Clipped from: Post-Dispatch article by Jim Thomas, 2/16/05 Based on how the 2004 season ended, it almost qualifies as stating the obvious. But Steven Jackson will be the Rams' starting running back in 2005, with veteran Marshall Faulk in what coach Mike Martz called a significant supporting role. "This is not news," Martz said Wednesday. "Marshall knows all of this. We've talked to him a great deal about this. He's excited for Steven, and Marshall knows he'll have a significant role. I think he has a chance to be outstanding in that role." As early as the second San Francisco game on Dec. 5, Jackson became the starter in the backfield, with Faulk worked in off the bench. But knee problems bothered Jackson the next couple of weeks, and he split time with Faulk the rest of the season. "It gives us our best lineup," Martz said. "It allows Marshall to stay fresh all year and be at the top of his game. A veteran like that can come off the sideline and have a great deal of impact." Martz said Jackson's recent arthroscopic knee surgery went well. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] The only question is, will "Mad Martz" remember to call plays that hand off the ball to Jackson during the games? Jackson has tons of potential, but the scatter-shot play calling of coach Martz is a concern.
28. QB Brees: Franchised and Excited to Play with Chargers in 05 Clipped from: North County Times article by Steve Scholfield, 2/17/05 The NFL has a built in provision called the "franchise tag," which allows the Chargers to keep Brees for at least this year or receive two first-round draft picks as compensation for him. Brees will make $8.078 million next season, the average price of the value of the league's five highest paid quarterbacks at the end of last season. Brees made $1.56 million in base pay last season. But the Chargers have many options left with Brees because there are two types of franchise players. One is called exclusive, meaning no other team could negotiate with Brees. The other is non-exclusive, which means Brees and his agent, Tom Condon, can negotiate with other teams. Brees was tabbed a non-exclusive franchise player. Should another team offer Brees a long-term deal, the Chargers would have two options: Match the offer or receive two first-round picks from the team buying Brees' services. The latter is not likely to happen because no team wants to part with two high draft picks. General manager A.J. Smith said he could not remember any team receiving two draft picks for a franchise player. But Smith put the "non-exclusive" franchise tag on Brees on Thursday to see what will happen in the market. "To franchise him is a no-brainer because if we didn't we would not get any compensation and he would not be here. He would be going to the airport," Smith said. "We want him to be our quarterback. I mean, a little over $8 million for one year for a quarterback tells you clearly what we think of his abilities. We want him to be our quarterback." Brees, who is vacationing in Australia after playing in the Pro Bowl at Honolulu on Sunday, issued a statement. "I'm very excited to be staying with the Chargers," he said. "We've built a solid foundation, and I feel we can really make a run. I'm excited about being part of that." This is a mere formality for the Chargers. It basically protects them from losing the 26-year-old Brees. Smith indicated that the club would not negotiate any long-term contracts with Brees this year. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Brees had quite a season last year, played in the Pro Bowl for the first time, and kept N.C. State wunderkind Philip Rivers firmly seated on the bench. Now, the Chargers will be able to evaluate Brees as their starter for one more season. If he flops (unlikely, --considering how well he played in 2004 – 262/400 for 3159 yards, 27 TDs and only 7 interceptions over 15 games), then Rivers becomes the guy. If Brees has another strong season, then the Chargers will have to decide what to do about their very highly paid bench-warmer from N.C. State.
29. RB Alexander: Franchised by Seahawks Clipped from: News-Tribune article by Mike Sando, 2/23/05 Shaun Alexander is the Seattle Seahawks' franchise player in title only. While the Seahawks were committing $100 million in contracts for Walter Jones and Matt Hasselbeck over the last week, they weren't offering a penny to their Pro Bowl running back. Perhaps that will change with the impending arrival of new team president Tim Ruskell. For now, the team's only gesture toward Alexander was the one-year, $6.3 million contract mandated by NFL rules governing franchise players. Alexander, 27, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in a week. But when Jones and Hasselbeck signed, the Seahawks used their franchise-player designation to protect Alexander. Franchise players can solicit offers in free agency, but their current teams can match any offer or receive two first-round draft choices as compensation. Teams had until 1 p.m. Tuesday to designate franchise players. Rules allow for teams to negotiate with their franchise players through March 16 and after July 15. The Seahawks have yet to offer a long-term contract to Alexander. Upon naming him their franchise player Tuesday, they informed him of the news by leaving a voice-mail message. CEO Tod Leiweke and consultant Mike Reinfeldt said Alexander remains in the Seahawks' plans. "When we franchise-tag a person, we do that because we think he is an invaluable part of what we do," Reinfeldt said, "so we want Shaun to be here. He is a great player and we would like him to be here. "That is the intent when you franchise somebody. Other things may happen, but that has to be your intent going in." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Alexander did not endear himself to head coach Holmgren with his tantrum over missing the NFL rushing title by 1 yard – whether he actually stays with the Seahawks in 2005 is yet to be determined. He's clashed with Holmgren before, but his play is at such an elite level right now that the Seahawks would be unlikely to be able to replace him. As author Mike Sando notes at the end of the article: "Alexander set franchise records in 2004 with 353 carries for 1,696 yards and 20 total touchdowns. His rushing numbers have improved in each of the past three seasons, and Alexander has never missed a game."
30. QB Hasselbeck (Sea) Cashes in with $49.4 million, 6-Year Contract Clipped from: Seattle Times article by Greg Bishop, 2/23/05 It does start there, though, with Hasselbeck's six-year deal worth roughly $49.4 million with bonuses and incentives. The signing bonus is $16 million, and there is a roster bonus of $1 million due next month, according to his agent, David Dunn. During the first three years of his contract, Hasselbeck will make about $28.25 million. Next season, he counts $6.2 million toward the cap. Throw in Jones' cap number of $4.9 million and Alexander's franchise tender of $6.3 million when signed, and that's $17.4 million of about $27 million of available cap space the Big Three will consume next season. Jones used the term "domino effect" when he signed Feb. 16. And, as Hasselbeck noted yesterday, the 6-foot-5, 315-pound Pro Bowler is "a big domino." "It's an honor for me," Hasselbeck said. "I can say this now that I signed the contract, but I really would do this job for free. It's just a dream come true, it really is." "Matt said he would play for free, but I will also declare today that we weren't going to let Matt go," Seahawks CEO Tod Leiweke added. "He is a centerpiece for this franchise, and everyone felt that he is absolutely critical to do what we want to do." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Hasselbeck played fairly well in 2004, and his numbers would have been even better if Darrell Jackson, Koren Robinson, and company could manage to catch the easy passes that they habitually drop – remember Hasselbeck pounding the turf in frustration after the drop by Bobby Engram in the end-zone at the buzzer vs. St. Louis in the playoffs? Hasselbeck put up 279/474 for 3382 yards, 22 TDs and 15 interceptions passing last season, 12th among all fantasy QBs in fantasy points per game. Hopefully, the team will be able to find some sure-handed receivers from somewhere to help Hasselbeck out during 2005.
31. IDP: CB Charles Woodson "Tagged" By Raiders Clipped from: San Francisco Chronicle article by Nancy Gay, 2/23/05 The Raiders, meanwhile, extended a one-year, $10.5 million franchise offer sheet to Woodson, in part, to ensure themselves of at least some compensation or the right to match if Woodson chooses to sign with another team. The team also is expected to explore trade options for its starting left cornerback. Negotiations toward a long-term agreement with the four-time Pro Bowl cornerback have "ceased to exist" in recent weeks, a source close to the Raiders said Tuesday. That breakdown in communication, as well as Woodson's acknowledged value on the open market, led the team to put a non-exclusive franchise tag on Woodson rather than an exclusive franchise tag, as the Raiders did prior to the 2004 season. The Raiders also may decide to rescind the franchise designation, although the team would not be permitted to use it again in 2005. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Woodson had attitude and injury problems last season, as well as an embarrassing brush with the law over being publicly intoxicated and disorderly. He is a very talented player who could be a force for a team, if he can get his act straightened out.
32. IDP: LB Tedy Bruschi's Future Uncertain After Stroke Clipped from: BostonHerald.com article by Michael Felger, 2/18/05 Tedy Bruschi, the Patriots heart and soul, is fighting back after suffering a mild stroke. The popular linebacker, who complained of blurred vision and headaches, may be released from Massachusetts General Hospital as early as today. "It has been determined that these symptoms were the results of a mild stroke," team spokesman Stacey James said last night. "Tedy is in good condition and, as always, his spirits are high." Bruschi, 31, was said to show marked improvement from Wednesday, when he entered the hospital suffering blurred vision and a loss of feeling in his right side. "He kind of snapped out of it (yesterday), but he was in rough shape on Wednesday," one source said. Bruschi's football future remains in question. Sources say Bruschi, with the help of his doctors, will determine that over the coming weeks and months. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Obviously, Bruschi's career is in jeopardy at this point – stay tuned as he continues to recover from this. A Kevin Mannix report on 2/20/05 was very pessimistic about Bruschi's chances to return to the football field: "Hearing that the Pro Bowl linebacker was going to be released from Massachusetts General Hospital after only a couple of days created a sense of optimism that he can come back and play again despite the "mild stroke" that sent him to the hospital last week. Seeing him make his way out of the hospital on Friday afternoon voided that optimism. You can't feel confident about his being able to play again after seeing him make his way to his SUV. He wasn't in a wheelchair or pushing a walker or leaning on a cane. But Bruschi was definitely walking cautiously, requiring the helping hand of his wife Heidi as he made his way out of the hospital and off the sidewalk before beginning the trip home. Maybe that will pass. Maybe therapy and medication combined with time and Bruschi's always indomitable spirit will allow him to suit up for the Patriots when they open camp this summer. Maybe by then he'll be moving like a linebacker again, getting ready for a 10th season and the chase of a fourth Super Bowl championship. But the combination of hearing about him suffering a stroke, minor or otherwise, and the sight of him making his way out of the hospital make it difficult to envision seeing No. 54 back on the field again." /**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/ 33. IDP: SS Darius is Franchised by Jaguars (Again) Clipped from: Times-Union article by Bart Hubbuch, 2/23/05 The Jaguars still can't get a long-term contract done with Donovin Darius, but that doesn't mean they are ready to let their veteran strong safety walk away. The team made that clear Tuesday by designating Darius as their franchise player for the third year in a row, guaranteeing him a salary of $4.97 million this season and all but keeping him off the open market. The Jaguars designated Darius their "non-exclusive" franchise player, which means he and his agent are free to talk with other teams. But an outside offer is unlikely because any club wanting Darius would have to give up two first-round draft picks for a player who has never made the Pro Bowl in his seven NFL seasons. Jaguars senior vice president Paul Vance said the team tagged Darius again after much internal discussion and only after it was clear that long-running talks on a contract with Darius' agent, Tom Condon, remained at a stalemate. A decision was reached by the Jaguars just hours before the league's 4 p.m. deadline Tuesday for franchise designations. "We talked about it a long time," Vance said Tuesday. "We made a sincere effort to get a long-term deal done and couldn't get close on that, so we were faced with options. We picked what we hope will be the best one." [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Darius the 16th best fantasy DB last year, with 61 solo tackles, 28 assists, 5 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries and 7 passes defensed – he's a solid fantasy option in the Jaguars' defense. His dynasty-league owners should be glad to see him stay in the Jaguars' system.
34. IDP: S Jay Bellamy Resigns with Saints Clipped from: Times-Picayune article by Jeff Duncan, 2/23/05 "Once Jay saw that it was going to be status quo with Coach Haslett, he made it clear to me that he wanted to get a deal done," said Brian Mackler, Bellamy's New York-based agent. "Jay has been with Mickey and (director of player personnel) Rick (Mueller) for his whole career in Seattle and New Orleans. They value him, and he's comfortable with them. Plus, he loves New Orleans and really enjoys playing for Coach Haslett. It was an easy decision. Jay wanted to stay." Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed, but the deal was expected to average a little more than $1 million annually. Bellamy, 5 feet 11, 200 pounds, led the Saints with 116 tackles in 2004. He also forced two fumbles and had three fumble recoveries. Bellamy also led the team in tackles with 115 in 2003. He has started all 64 games since signing with the Saints as an unrestricted free agent in 2001. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Actually, Bellamy had 92 tackles (74 solo tackles with 18 assists) last season, with 2 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries – he was the 51st fantasy DB in fantasy points per week, making him a fantasy backup/bye week fill-in type player. He does make a lot of tackles, though, so if your league's IDP scoring is slanted towards tackles Bellamy would have enhanced value.
35. IDP: Rams' S Archuleta Played with Herniated Disk During '04 Clipped from: Post-Dispatch article by Jim Thomas Adam Archuleta got some jarring news when he visited a back specialist in San Francisco in late January. Namely, that he had played at least part of the 2004 season with a herniated disc in his back. At least that was the diagnosis of Jeff Saal, a nationally recognized expert in non-surgical treatment for back injuries. Archuleta's reaction was part disappointment. "I'm dealing with kind of a career (threatening) deal," Archuleta said. "A back, if not taken care of, can cause serious problems. I'm kind of scared. But at the same time, I'm kind of amazed that I was actually able to play strong safety with this type of deal going on."… There are no more scheduled epidurals, just more treatment and rehabilitation before gradually getting back to a normal schedule of offseason workouts and conditioning. "Now it's just a question of trying to keep him corralled," Wichard said. "He wants to work out. He's feeling good. But he's got to stay fairly inactive the next couple weeks, and then start back into his (workout) program." Surgery is not being contemplated, and Archuleta scoffed at the suggestion that his playing status might be clouded for the 2005 season. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Archuleta's recovery from his condition is something to keep an eye on if you have him on a dynasty roster – it is also something to keep in mind when considering your draft strategy next season. Back injuries are difficult to rehabilitate…
36. IDP: LB Julian Peterson Tagged by 49ers Clipped from: Mercury News article by Dennis Georgatos, 2/23/05 Julian Peterson was designated the 49ers' franchise player for the second consecutive season Tuesday after the team received assurances from its medical staff that the All-Pro linebacker would make a complete recovery from a season-ending Achilles' tendon injury. Peterson, 26, finished last season on injured reserve after tearing his left Achilles' tendon against Arizona on Oct. 10. He has been making good progress in his rehabilitation, though the team might not see him back on the field until training camp, Coach Mike Nolan said in a conference call Tuesday. "We'll continue to evaluate his progress," Nolan said. "But it is our understanding that he is going to make a full recovery and that is kind of what we're banking on." Jerry Rice, meanwhile, shouldn't bank on returning for an encore season with the 49ers, where he spent 16 of his 20 years in the league. If the 42-year-old receiving great makes it known that he would like a ceremonial return preceding a retirement announcement, "it's something we would be very open to," Nolan said. "But it is my understanding right now that those aren't his desires. . . . Jerry still wants to test the market and see if someone is interested in having him on the team as a full-time participant." While Rice's future remains unsettled, Peterson's was resolved for the moment with the 49ers tendering him a one-year deal worth $7.29 million as their non-exclusive franchise player. Under the designation, Peterson can negotiate with other teams, but the 49ers have the right to match any offer and are entitled to two first-round draft picks if they decline to match. [[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]] Julian Peterson was one of the top LB's in the league prior to his Achille's injury. Hopefully, he'll be able to attain that level of play again once he's healed his injury.
That'll do it for now, Folks. Have yourselves a great weekend and we'll keep an eye out for you here. Joe
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