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Volume 6, Issue 2 (Wednesday, March 9th)

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Hi Folks,

It's time again for another installment of our "off season" News and
Notes. It's a quick run down of all that's happening around the league
so you can keep tabs on the NFL. Just one more way we'll keep working
for you all year long.

Thanks to our Mark Wimer for putting this one together.

Have a great Wednesday and we'll see you soon.


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Owner –
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1. WR Burress: Flu Stops NYG Visit – Other Teams in Mix
2. QB Fiedler: Bound for the NYJ?
3. TE Pollard: A Lion Now
4. WR Boston: Cut by Dolphins
5. QB Holcomb: Ready to Back Up, Help Develop Bill's Losman
6. Patriots: Shedding Several Veteran Players from O and D
7. RB Buckhalter: Back in Philly
8. WRs Coles/Moss: Coles' Physical Final Hurdle to Trade
9. Jets: Seek TE Putzier from Broncos; Move to Fill Other Holes Due
to Defections
10. RB Johnson: Returning to Bengals for 2005, at Least
11. WR Houshmandzadeh: Staying in Cincinnati
12. QB Dilfer: The Brown's Starter Throughout 2005? (Commentary)
13. Packers' OL: Guards Wahle and Rivera Raided by Carolina, Dallas
14. RB Bettis: A Steeler for 2005
15. WR Wilson: A Steeler Now
16. WR Mason: Joins the Ravens' Woeful Passing Attack
17. WR Muhammad: A Bear Now
18. Minnesota: WR Burress Too High-Priced; WR Gardner a Possibility
19. QB Garcia: Denver Bound?
20. QB Warner: A Top Performer During 2005 With Arizona? (Commentary)
21. RB Jordan: The Capstone of the Raiders' Plan
22. Patriots: No OC in 2005?
23. IDP: Seahawks lose CB Lucas to Carolina
24. IDP: LB Kendrell Bell to Chiefs
25. IDP: DE Okeafor Joins Cardinals
26. Cowboy's DT: CB Henry, NT Ferguson Now in Fold
27. IDP: Dolphins add 2 DE's: Ex-Titan Carter, Ex-Chief Holliday
28. IDP: CB Rolle to Baltimore; Replaces Baxter (to Cle)
29. IDP: Buc's FS Dwight Smith to the Saints
30. IDP: CB Fred Smoot to the Vikings


1. WR Burress: Flu Stops NYG Visit – Other Teams in Mix

Clipped from: New York Daily News article by Ralph Vacchiano, 3/8/05

Plaxico Burress, the top receiver remaining on the free-agent market,
did not make his scheduled visit to the Giants yesterday. Instead,
according to a source, he remained home in Miami nursing a case of the

It was not immediately clear when - or if - the visit would be
rescheduled, though one source said Burress hoped to fly to New York
sometime this afternoon. Another source said the visit might not take
place until tomorrow, if at all. Burress' agent, Michael Harrison, did
not return several calls.

When and if Burress arrives, the Giants may have to act quickly if
they want to sign him because the delay may have opened the door for
other teams to get involved. The market had appeared to dry up for the
27-year-old receiver. But late last night there were indications the
Minnesota Vikings had reconsidered and now were interested. And there
was a report that the Philadelphia Eagles suddenly were interested.

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

Burress has shown nice flashes at points during his career, but he has
declined in fantasy production from his 2002 peak (78/1325/7) over the
past 2 seasons – hopefully, a new start with another team will allow
him to return to the top echelon of WRs. As is the case with most free
agents, it's all about situation so it's hard to speculate too much
until we see where he lands.

The article also notes that QB Jim Miller, most recently with the
Patriots, has been brought in to NY to mentor Eli Manning, and to
provide a veteran presence at the position in case of injury to
Manning. K Jay Feely was signed by the Giants away from the Falcons
yesterday as well.


2. QB Fiedler: Bound for the NYJ?

Clipped from: New York Daily News article by Gary Myers, 3/8/05

He (Fiedler) would provide the ideal veteran insurance in the event
Chad Pennington has a slow recovery from surgery last month for a torn
rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder.
Fiedler's knowledge of the AFC East, after five years in Miami, would
be a bonus.

The Jets opened talks with Fiedler's agent, Brian Levy, on Friday and
the talks continued yesterday. Levy indicated the Giants were
disappointed Fiedler left the building last week without signing, a
point Giants GM Ernie Accorsi disputed. Levy said Fiedler was
determined to fully investigate his options, which include a meeting
today with the Bears, who are committed to starting Rex Grossman. Levy
anticipates Fielder will make a decision by the end of the weekend.

"It's important for him to get an education before he signs," Levy
said. "He will visit the Bears and the Jets and take all the
information and figure it out. Pennington is the Jets starter and we
know that."

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

Fiedler has completed 1100 of 1704 passes (58.7 completion percentage)
for 11,737 yards, 68 TDs and 66 interceptions during his pro career –
the guy has been around the block, but couldn't manage to cement his
hold on the Miami job over the years, appearing in 8 games during last
year's disastrous season. His numbers haven't been very exciting from
the fantasy perspective over the past few seasons, but he is an
experienced NFL signal caller who would give the Jets quality, veteran
depth behind Chad Pennington.


3. TE Pollard: A Lion Now

Clipped from: article by Tom Kowalski, 3/8/05

They arrived in town Monday with big reputations and the Detroit Lions
are gambling $20 million that both players will live up to that

Strong safety Kenoy Kennedy (formerly of the Denver Broncos) and tight
end Marcus Pollard (Indianapolis Colts) each signed long-term,
free-agent contracts with the Lions on Monday. Kennedy, 27, inked a
five-year, $14 million deal that included a $4.4 million signing bonus
while Pollard, 33, signed a three-year, $6 million contract with a
$2.3 signing bonus.

"We got better today," Lions president Matt Millen said…

Pollard earned his reputation as a good blocker and big receiving
threat for Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning. He had a breakout season
in 2001 when he established career highs with 47 receptions for 739
yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 14 catches of 20 yards or

However, Pollard is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 10-year
career. He caught just 29 passes for 309 yards and his average of 10.7
yards per catch was the lowest of his career. He had only three
receptions of 20 yards or more.

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

While it is true that Pollard had an off year in 2004, the article
neglects to mention that he was competing with TE Dallas Clark for
touches (both players were on the field in 2 TE sets) – if he can stay
healthy, he'll probably have more opportunities to make plays in
Detroit next season (the team doesn't expect to retain last year's
starting TE, Stephen Alexander).


4. WR Boston: Cut by Dolphins

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post article by Joe Schad, 3/8/05

Boston, acquired before last season for a sixth-round draft choice and
cornerback Jamar Fletcher, never played a game for Miami after
rupturing an Achilles' tendon in a pre-season scrimmage at Houston.

In December, Boston was suspended four games for testing positive for
steroids, which he denies taking. Because of myriad injuries and
personal problems, Boston has followed two 1,000-yard receiving
seasons in Arizona with 22 games and 102 catches in the past three

A league source said the 49ers and Raiders are among the teams
interested in Boston. Former Cardinals and Dolphins receivers coach
Jerry Sullivan, one of Boston's mentors, is now in San Francisco.
Boston also would be interested in the Ravens.

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

David Boston was a hot fantasy commodity a few years ago, but his
attitude and injury problems since leaving Arizona make him a very
risky proposition heading into 2005. Even if he lands in a situation
where he might be a starter, we will be skeptics on Boston's chances
for a renewal until we see how he plays during the upcoming


5. QB Holcomb: Ready to Back Up, Help Develop Bill's Losman

Clipped from: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle article by Leo Roth, 3/8/05

Enter Kelly Holcomb.

The eight-year veteran, who officially signed a four-year contract on
Monday to be Losman's backup, knows a thing or two about pushing young
hot shot prospects. He backed up superstar Peyton Manning in
Indianapolis and super flop Tim Couch in Cleveland.

"I've been through it a couple times," said Holcomb, who spoke with
reporters at Ralph Wilson Stadium. "You have to understand what the
situation is. I know what the situation is. He (Losman) is a young guy
and they brought him in here to be THE guy. I have to help him as much
as I can. I told the people in Cleveland and I'll say it here, it's
all about winning football games."

Which means supporting Losman, but also being ready in a pinch should
Losman struggle or get injured.

Those things occurred all too frequently for Couch, a former No. 1
overall pick, and Jeff Garcia, pressing Holcomb into action 20 times
the past four seasons in Cleveland.
Holcomb, in fact, played well enough to earn the starting job coming
out of training camp in 2003 after a spirited competition with Couch.
In 13 starts overall for the Browns, Holcomb posted a 4-9 record. Two
of those losses, however, were record-setting games in which Holcomb
threw for more than 400 yards and totaled eight touchdowns and
deserved a better fate.

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

Holcomb is as tough as they come (he has played through a variety of
injuries while with the Browns), and has the potential to explode for
big games (as noted above). However, the Bills are a run-oriented team
that will rely on ball-control and their excellent defense to win
games – we don't expect to see elite QB numbers out of the Bills'
current offense.


6. Patriots: Shedding Several Veteran Players from O and D

Clipped from: Providence Journal article by Tom E. Curran, 3/4/05

The steady trickle of departures from the Super Bowl champion Patriots
continued yesterday. Wide receiver David Patten agreed to terms with
the Washington Redskins.

Patten, an eight-year veteran who had 44 catches for 800 yards and
seven touchdowns in 2004, was in Washington D.C. last night.

The Pats, however, managed to add a new player last night, acquiring
cornerback Duane Starks from the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for a
third-round draft pick this year…

…Patten's departure concludes a week in which Ty Law, Troy Brown,
Roman Phifer and Joe Andruzzi -- all key members of the three Super
Bowl wins -- hit the road.

Patten, who will be a candidate to replace Rod Gardner at the No. 2
receiver spot in Washington, has started 58 career games over eight
seasons with the New York Giants (1997-99), Cleveland (2000) and New
England (2001-04).

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

The Patriots are shedding high-priced veterans this off-season – the
question is, will they be able to replace the talent during
free-agency and the college draft? Patten's move to Washington is
worthy of note in fantasy circles, as he may end up starting there in
2005 (Laveranues Coles is heading back to the Jets, with Santana Moss
swapping to the Redskins – the competition for the starting spots in
Washington at WR looks wide open at this point).

Click here for Tom Curran's analysis of the Patriots' recent personnel moves.


7. RB Buckhalter: Back in Philly

Clipped from: Daily Times article by Paul Flannery, 3/4/05

Every day since Correll Buckhalter tore his patella tendon in his
right knee in an exhibition game against the Ravens, the running back
has been a constant presence at the Eagles' training facility. Despite
not having a contract for the 2005 season, Buckhalter continued
rehabbing, not knowing where he would be getting his next paycheck or
for whom he would be carrying the football.

It was a difficult time for the fourth-year running back from Nebraska
who has tantalized the Eagles with flashes of potential, but has also
been on the receiving end of two devastating knee injuries.

"Frustrating," Buckhalter said. "Ain't no other words can describe it.
I went through it before with the ACL (which he tore in min-camp in
2002) and I came back stronger. I know I can come back stronger from
this and now that I have this out of the way, I can breathe."

"This" is a two-year contract from the Eagles that Buckhalter agreed
to on the first day of free agency before he had a chance to test the
free-agent waters.

In truth, Buckhalter never wanted to go anywhere else.

"Anything is possible," he said. "My main focus was to stay here and
play. Guys around here know me, and they know what I'm capable of
doing. It felt like if I went anywhere else I would be starting over
again and that's not what I wanted to do."

One of the popular notions floating around the Eagles is if they had a
strong running compliment to Brian Westbrook, the Super Bowl could
have turned out differently.

Buckhalter also thought he could have made a difference, as he did every week.

"I thought that every game, not just the Super Bowl," he said. "I
always thought about being back out there just to help those guys. I'm
back now, so I'll be able to do that."

Buckhalter's signing answers one nagging question hanging over the
Eagles offseason: Who will complement Westbrook in the backfield?

If healthy, and that's a big if for Buckhalter who has missed two
entire seasons with knee injuries, he is the kind of big, slashing
back who can perfectly compliment Westbrook's unique and myriad

No offense to Dorsey Levens, who truly performed above and beyond what
any reasonable person could have expected, but Buckhalter is a much
better fit.

"Brian Westbrook is a great back," Buckhalter said. "He can do a lot
of things. I feel like I can bring an added dimension along with him.
I think we can be great together."

While financial terms were not disclosed, Buckhalter's deal is said to
be worth about $1.3 million, meaning it was a smart and cost-effective
signing for the Eagles.

Once the top free-agent runners, Shaun Alexander and Edgerrin James,
were slapped with franchise tags, the running back market evaporated
quickly. That made signing Buckhalter an easy choice with a relatively
low financial risk.

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

In his 2 seasons of action (2001 and 2003), Buckhalter has amassed
255/1128/10 rushing (a 4.4 yards-per-carry average) and 23/263/1
receiving. He will not be the "featured" back, with Brian Westbrook's
versatility and explosive speed also present in the backfield, but he
may end up reducing the number of touches that Westbrook sees in the
rushing phase (Westbrook had 117 carries in 2003 when Buckhalter was
in the lineup – he saw 177 this past season in Buckhalter's absence).
With 2 devastating knee injuries under his belt, though, we have to
wonder if Buckhalter has lost a half-step (or not)…if he's on your
"sleeper" list at RB this year, you'll want to pay close attention to
his performance during the pre-season.


8. WRs Coles/Moss: Coles' Physical Final Hurdle to Trade

Clipped from: article by Ken Berger, 3/8/05

The Jets' long-anticipated acquisition of receiver Laveranues Coles
will have to wait until at least tomorrow, when the receiver is
scheduled to undergo his physical at the team's complex.

The trade that will send receiver Santana Moss to the Redskins cannot
be finalized until both players pass a physical. Moss took his
yesterday in Washington, but the Redskins cannot report on the results
until Coles is examined by the Jets' doctors.

Although Coles has a right big toe injury that was a concern to the
Redskins, the Jets' medical staff is familiar with the injury and
isn't overly concerned. Barring any surprises, the trade should be
made official by tomorrow afternoon.

Coles will want that toe in tip-top shape, because he is about to
become an extremely rich individual. In addition to receiving $5
million from the Redskins April 1 -- the final installment of the
$13-million signing bonus paid to him as a restricted free agent in
2003 -- Coles will bank a reported $8 million from the Jets as the
signing bonus on a new five-year deal.

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

Coles caught a ton of passes (90/950/1) last season in Washington, but
only managed a single TD, partially due to the team's struggles at the
QB position (and also due to their run-oriented offense). He began his
career as a Jet, and had the highest yardage total for a season during
his career so far as a Jet (89/1264/5 in 2002) – as long as the toe
holds up, he looks positioned to do well during 2005 across from
Justin McCareins.


9. Jets: Seek TE Putzier from Broncos; Move to Fill Other Holes Due to Defections

Clipped from: New York Daily News article by Rich Cimini, 3/5/04

…the Jets may have solved their long search for a pass-receiving tight
end, signing the Broncos' Jeb Putzier to a five-year, $12.5 million
offer sheet that includes a $2.5 million signing bonus.

The unheralded Putzier is a restricted free agent, which means the
Broncos have seven days to match the offer. If they decline, they
would receive the Jets' sixth-round draft pick as compensation. The
Broncos see Putzier as an emerging player, and there's a good chance
they will match.

The Jets also signed former Giants defensive tackle Lance Legree, who
received a five-year, $7.3 million package, including $500,000 to
sign. No, he won't fill the nose-tackle vacancy created by Jason
Ferguson's departure to the Cowboys, but Legree should provide
valuable depth.

The additions came on a day in which talented right tackle Kareem
McKenzie signed a seven-year, $37.75 million deal with the Giants.
Once the season ended, the Jets never were in the running. It's
unclear how they plan to replace McKenzie.

In the first three days of free agency, the Jets lost LaMont Jordan,
Ferguson and McKenzie to contracts totaling $86 million.

The Jets have yet to make a big splash, but they will have secured one
of the top sleepers in the free-agent pool if they wind up with
Putzier, who caught 36 passes last season for 572 yards and two

Of the 14 tight ends who recorded at least 30 receptions, Putzier's
15.9 yards-per-catch average was second only to the Falcons' Alge
Crumpler (16.1). The Broncos may have goofed by not putting a
first-round tender on Putzier, opening the door for suitors.

The Jets didn't announce the offer sheet, but it was confirmed by
Putzier's agent, Joseph Linta.

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

Putzier is definitely a player to keep an eye on if you play in a TE
required league. A 15.9 yards-per-catch average is outstanding for a
TE. It'll be interesting to see if the Broncos try to retain Putzier.
We expect Denver to retain him.


10. RB Johnson: Returning to Bengals for 2005, at Least

Clipped from: Cincinnati Enquirer article by Mark Curnutte, 3/8/05

Rudi Johnson will be a Bengal for at least one more year.

The tailback signed his one-year contract Monday as the team's
designated franchise player.

Work continues on a potential long-term deal. The Bengals and
Johnson's agent, Peter Schaffer, can work on a multi-year contract
until March 15 but then will enter a "blackout" period when
negotiations must cease until July 15.

Johnson's contract is for $6.3 million, the average of the top five
running back contracts in the NFL for the 2004 season.

"I'm ready to play and do what I do best," Johnson said. "I'm glad to
still be a Bengal. I like my teammates and this city and our fans. The
fans have always been great to me.
Their support helps me be a better player, and I think our team can
give them a lot to cheer about this year."

Johnson set single-season franchise records with 361 rushing attempts
for 1,454 yards.
The Bengals named Johnson as their franchise player Feb. 15.

"I'm happy for Rudi and our fans that he continues to be a productive
and exciting member of the Bengals," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said.

"By signing the tender, Rudi has shown his commitment to being a pro.
We will continue to have discussions with Rudi's representatives to
come to terms on a longer contract."

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

The team has Chris Perry in reserve behind Johnson – Perry struggled
to get on the field due to injuries in 2004, but the team still likes
his abilities. Johnson will be looking over his shoulder at Perry
during training camp, despite the franchise records that he set last
year. Johnson owners will want to keep a close eye on the duel between
the backs during training camp.


11. WR Houshmandzadeh: Staying in Cincinnati

Clipped from: Enquirer article by Mark Curnutte, 3/3/05

T.J. Houshmandzadeh, a favorite target of Carson Palmer's in 2004,
will work with the quarterback for at least four more seasons.

The free-agent wide receiver signed a four-year contract worth $13
million Wednesday to remain with the Bengals.

Houshmandzadeh, a four-year veteran who caught 73 passes for 978 yards
in 2004, was expected to hit the open market Wednesday, the first day
of free agency.

"It was tempting to get out and really test the water as a free agent,
but in my heart, what I wanted was to be in Cincinnati,"
Houshmandzadeh said. "I told my agents that, and we were able to get a
good deal done. I'm glad to have it all off my mind so I can start
getting focused. I think the Bengals are going to have a great season,
and I want to be a part of it."

He set a Bengals record with 22 receptions in consecutive games. He
had 10 on Dec. 5 at Baltimore and 12 on Dec. 12 at New England. His 12
catches against the Patriots were one short of the team's single-game
record, and his yardage total of 316 against the Ravens and Patriots
was second most in consecutive games in franchise history.

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

Houshmandzadeh has developed into an excellent counter-weight to Chad
Johnson. With Carson Palmer's development as a pro expected to
continue during 2005, Houshmandzadeh and Johnson could be among the
top fantasy WRs this coming season. He was 36th among all fantasy
wideouts in 2004 with 73/978/4 (Johnson was 11th with 95/1274/9).


12. QB Dilfer: The Brown's Starter Throughout 2005? (Commentary)

Clipped from: Akron Beacon-Journal article by Terry Pluto, 3/7/05

Ever wonder how the Browns have reached the point where Trent Dilfer
is the starting quarterback, and the team is relieved to have him.

This is not a knock on new general manager Phil Savage, who needed
someone to play quarterback.

Nor is it to say they should have kept Kelly Holcomb instead.

Dilfer, Holcomb? What's the difference?

It's like saying do you want peas or parsley? No matter who you pick,
it won't be long before you're hungry for something more.

Savage clearly is not a Holcomb fan, or he would have made sure the
Browns outbid the Buffalo Bills for the career backup. He might have
warm-fuzzy feelings for Dilfer, who was the quarterback for most of
the Baltimore Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl season when Savage was the
team's super scout.

But keep in mind the Ravens were so inspired by Dilfer's playoff
heroics, they cut him after the season.

The fact is neither Dilfer nor Holcomb is any sort of answer for the
Browns' quarterback question, which enters Year 7 this fall. To think
they've already gone through a No. 1 pick (Tim Couch), a three-time
Pro Bowler (Jeff Garcia) along with Holcomb, Spurgeon Wynn and Luke

None of them could survive for long behind the travesty that the
Browns have called an offensive line.

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

The Browns have signed G Joe Andruzzi, and are seeking others to help
on the OL, so hopefully Dilfer will have some sort of protection when
he drops back to pass. The Browns have a lot of potential amongst
their receiving corps, with TE Kellen Winslow II returning to action
this year (hopefully) and a group of younger WRs in the stable –
however, we don't expect Dilfer to be a fantasy starter in 2005.
Dilfer's best-ever yardage total passing came in 1996 with Tampa Bay
(2859), and he's hit 21 TDs during a season twice during his career
(1997 and 1998, with Tampa Bay).

For another take on Dilfer's prospects in Cleveland, go here:


13. Packers' OL: Guards Wahle and Rivera Raided by Carolina, Dallas

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article by Tom Silverstein, 3/3/05

In refusing to meet the demands of an inflated free-agent market, new
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson allowed the Carolina
Panthers and Dallas Cowboys to strip him of two of his most dependable
and effective players.

But as difficult as it was to see starting guards Mike Wahle and Marco
Rivera walk without compensation Thursday, Thompson felt no regret
over the decision and vowed that the Packers would rebuild the
position before the start of the 2005 season.

"Those are losses," Thompson said after Wahle signed with the Panthers
and Rivera with the Cowboys. "But this is what we do. We work at it
and we try to assemble the best team we can, and maybe the next left
guard and the next right guard isn't as good as the one we had before.
"But maybe we're a little better somewhere else. That's the way we'll
attack it and do the best we can."

The Packers weren't surprised to see Wahle receive a deal that a
source with access to NFL Players Association salary data said was
worth $28 million over five years and included a two-tiered signing
bonus of $11.5 million. But when Rivera received a five-year, $20
million deal that included a $9 million signing bonus from
re-energized free spender Jerry Jones, they knew they were

Wahle's deal eclipsed the six-year, $32.3 million deal ($11 million in
bonuses) signed last year by Packers left tackle Chad Clifton and
provided him the second-highest signing bonus for a guard in league
history. Rivera benefited from what apparently turned into a bidding
war between the Cowboys and Detroit Lions, resulting in the
third-highest bonus for a guard.

Later, the Packers found out that safety Bhawoh Jue, an unrestricted
free agent, had signed a three-year deal worth $4.5 million ($1.6
million signing bonus) with the San Diego Chargers. In less than 24
hours, they had lost three of their most prominent free agents.

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

Fantasy owners interested in Ahman Green/Brett Favre (Green Bay tied
Indianapolis for the fewest sacks allowed last season (14), and
averaged 4.3 yards per carry as a unit, tied for 11th in the NFL) will
want to keep the rebuilding project along the Packers' OL in mind. The
unit was a team strength in years' past – it remains to be seen if
Green Bay can overcome these 2 key free agent defections.


14. RB Bettis: A Steeler for 2005

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article by Jerry DiPaola, 2/27/05

Running back Jerome Bettis has agreed to play one more season for the
Steelers, accepting a nearly $3 million pay cut that helps the team
get under the salary cap by the Wednesday deadline.

Bettis, who has recently contemplated retirement, will play his 13th
season for $1.5 million, plus performance incentives. He was scheduled
to earn a prohibitive $4.484 million in the fifth year of a six-year,
$30 million contract he signed in 2001.

"We're elated the deal worked out," Bettis' agent, Lamont Smith, told
The Associated Press in Indianapolis, where Smith is attending the NFL
Scouting Combine. "We anticipate the Steelers will make another run at
the Super Bowl and that is Jerome's motivation to come back, to play
in the Super Bowl."

Super Bowl XL will be played in Bettis' hometown of Detroit.

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

Bettis proved that he had plenty of gas left in the tank during 2004,
and he was a TD machine throughout the season (ending with 250/941/13
rushing and 6/46/0 receiving), ranking 24th among all fantasy backs in
fantasy points per game. Duce Staley is still in the mix in
Pittsburgh, so it's unlikely that we'll see any improvement in Bettis'
numbers next season, but he will still probably be a borderline
#2/solid #3 fantasy RB depending on your league's scoring paradigm.


15. WR Wilson: A Steeler Now

Clipped from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article by Ed Bouchette, 3/8/05

Receiver Cedrick Wilson, who had his breakout season in San Francisco
last year when he caught 47 passes for 641 yards, spent the entire day
and much of the evening with the Steelers as they negotiated a
contract with agent Tom Condon.

"It always feels good to be wanted," said Wilson, 26, who believed a
contract agreement could be reached sometime last night because "I am
definitely interested and they are definitely interested, so let's
hope so."

After meeting with the coaching staff and the Rooneys, Wilson went to
dinner with Kevin Colbert, the Steelers' director of football
operations, and planned to stay in Pittsburgh last night.

If they sign Wilson, it will seal the end of the Burress era with the
Steelers. Wilson started 15 games for the 49ers last season before his
left fibula was broken. He has been running the past two weeks and the
Steelers passed him medically. He would join Hines Ward and Antwaan
Randle El as the team's top three receivers.

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

This is now official as Wilson signed an 8 million dollar deal with a
reported 2 million dollar signing bonus. It will be an interesting
camp battle to watch between Wilson and Randle-El for the #2 WR spot
on the team. Pittsburgh threw for 2970 yards and 20 TDs last year in
spite of their run-oriented offense, so there are a significant number
of fantasy points to be had if Roethlisberger develops a good
chemistry with either Wilson or Randle-El in the #2 spot.

It also means Rashaun Woods will likely have a big opportunity in San
Francisco with Wilson gone.


16. WR Mason: Joins the Ravens' Woeful Passing Attack

Clipped from: Carroll County Times article by Aaron Wilson, 3/3/05

The Ravens agreed in principle Wednesday morning to a five-year
contract with Mason that included a $7 million signing bonus and $11
million in guaranteed money, filling an obvious void for the
31st-ranked passing game in the NFL. The total worth of the contract
wasn't disclosed, but Mason said it was comparable in scale to his
last Titans' deal of five years and $23 million.

"It came down between the Ravens and New England," Mason said. "The
Ravens stepped up to the plate and made things happen for me.
Everything about [New England] was first class, but it came down to
the fact that my family and I decided that the Ravens and the Maryland
area were the most appealing and the best situation for us as a

Mason, 31, led all NFL receivers last season with 96 receptions for
1,128 yards and seven touchdowns before being cut last week in a
salary-cap upheaval.

The only major drawbacks on Mason are his age and size at 5-foot-10,
192 pounds, but he's been fairly durable and has only started for four
seasons after breaking into the league as a return specialist.

"The biggest thing is, he's a playmaker," said Baltimore general
manager Ozzie Newsome, who didn't rule out signing another veteran.
"You like his attitude, the way he carries himself on the football
field. The biggest thing we've lacked IS some quickness at receiver
and he brings some quickness to us.

"Derrick just fits that Ravens personality. I think he's going to add
something to our huddle, just his leadership and the way he carries

The addition of Mason could prevent defenses from keying on running
back Jamal Lewis and tight end Todd Heap as well as reduce the
pressure on third-year quarterback Kyle Boller. Lewis and Heap wore
down with injuries last season as Baltimore was the only team in the
NFL to not have a receiver catch at least 40 passes.

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

There's no doubt that Mason has a ton of talent, but there isn't much
of a supporting cast around him at WR, and Kyle Boller doesn't remind
anyone of Peyton Manning (or Steve McNair or Billy Volek) at this
stage in his career. Mason should easily surpass the 40 reception
threshold, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him regress from the
fantasy numbers we saw from him in Tennessee over the past 4 years.


17. WR Muhammad: A Bear Now

Clipped from: Chicago Sun-Times article by Brad Biggs, 3/2/05

Muhsin Muhammad was introduced at Halas Hall, but not before the wide
receiver introduced himself to quarterback Rex Grossman.

"I think we were both just excited to see each other,'' Muhammad said.
"It was almost like an arranged marriage, and we're like, 'Hey!'''

Seeing Muhammad was another glimpse of the light at the end of the
tunnel for Grossman, who has been in Lake Forest almost daily
rehabilitating his right knee. He began doing positional work with
drop-backs for the first time Monday, and Muhammad said he plans to
return before the end of the month to be on the receiving end of
Grossman's passes.

Grossman was the happiest man in the building with a true No. 1 target
after the Bears agreed to a six-year, $30 million contract with
Muhammad in the wee hours Saturday.

For Muhammad, who will be 32 in May, the deal could be viewed as a
three-year, $16 million package, but he said that he plans to fulfill
the entire contract and that he is not slowing down after coming off a
career year.

His $12 million in bonus money comes in three parts: a $6 million
signing bonus, a $2 million roster bonus this year and a $4 million
roster bonus next year. It will be money well spent if he continues to
produce the way he has. His 16 touchdowns last season for the Carolina
Panthers were 13 more than Bears wide receivers had as a unit.

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

Muhammad becomes the clear-cut #1 WR in Chicago with this move –
something he might not have been in Carolina if Steve Smith returns to
form after last season's injury. Muhammad snagged only 2 TDs and one
100+ yard receiving game during the first 6 games of 2004, but then
caught fire down the stretch (ending with 93/1405/16 on the season,
the #1 fantasy WR in the land last year) as the Panthers made an
improbable but impressive run at the playoffs. If he can keep up such
a torrid pace moving into 2005 with the inexperienced and injury-prone
Grossman under center remains to be seen.


18. Minnesota: WR Burress Too High-Priced; WR Gardner a Possibility

Clipped from: Pioneer Press article by Don Seeholzer, 3/8/05

"We gained some interest after the initial call came from his agent
(last week)," Tice said. "After doing our research on the player —
additional research beyond the film study — we didn't feel at this
point it was a good fit at the level Rob and the agent were talking."

In other words, if Burress and agent Michael Harrison were willing to
lower their asking price, the Vikings would listen.

"We do have an interest in Plaxico," Tice said, "but we don't have an
interest at the level the agent was talking about."

Wide receiver is a top priority for the Vikings after the trade that
sent Randy Moss to Oakland, but Burress isn't their only option. The
Vikings and Washington Redskins have discussed a trade for Rod
Gardner, a former No. 1 draft choice who likely would cost a third- or
fourth-round pick.

Brzezinski would not comment specifically on Gardner, but he did say:
"We are investigating opportunities to improve our football team any
way possible. I would not rule out a trade at some point."

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

Attempting to replace a player as talented as Randy Moss isn't going
to be easy – the Vikings will be looking at a lot of options as free
agency moves forward. With a hot QB like Daunte Culpepper slinging the
football around in the Metrodome, though, you have to like the fantasy
prospects of whomever the team does eventually sign. Mike Williams in
the draft is a name that keeps coming up as well.


19. QB Garcia: Denver Bound?

Clipped from: Rocky Mountain News article by Jeff Legwold, 3/8/05

"I already somewhat know about the history of the Broncos and have
tremendous respect for the organization, what they've done over the
years being part of the NFL," Garcia said. "And just what coach (Mike)
Shanahan has done here. So if I have the opportunity to be a part of
this, I think it will be an awesome experience for me and something
that I'll look forward to."

Garcia had dinner Sunday night with Broncos offensive coordinator Gary
Kubiak and quarterbacks coach Pat McPherson. He met with Shanahan on
Monday at the Broncos' Dove Valley complex.

Garcia also had met with Shanahan, over dinner Feb. 26 at
Indianapolis, during the league's scouting combine.

The Broncos are the third team Garcia has met with since his Feb. 14
release by the Cleveland Browns. He also has visited with the Detroit
Lions - Garcia played for Lions coach Steve Mariucci when both were in
San Francisco - and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Garcia said Monday he would make his decision after the visit with the

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

At this point, it looks like wherever Garcia lands, he'll start off as
the #2 QB. Joey Harrington is on shaky ground in Detroit, but Griese
(Tampa), Plummer (Denver) and Hasselbeck (Seattle) are all entrenched
starters. Injuries are a fact of life in the NFL, though, so it'll be
worth noting where Garcia signs.


20. QB Warner: A Top Performer During 2005 With Arizona? (Commentary)

Clipped from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch article by Jeff Gordon, 3/7/05

…Barring an unexpected development, Warner will get to run an offense
with interesting potential. Receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry
Fitzgerald have vast promise.

Cardinals coach Dennis Green hates to lose and the Gridbirds, like the
Rams, get to play in one of the weakest NFL divisions.

Arizona will run a version of the Air Martz offense, so Warner will
feel right at home as he settles in for the quarterback school and the
mini-camps. He had to learn the conservative Giants scheme on
relatively short notice last summer.

"It was hard to pick up all those little things in the month and a
half before we got into training camp," he said.

The Arizona offense features pass routes and protection schemes that
are comparable to the Rams' scheme. "I have a good feel for all that
stuff," Warner said.

So there will be no excuses this season. Warner will get his chance to
excel again. He will operate in the offense he starred in. He will
have big, capable wide receivers that go get the ball. He will play
for a coach willing to do whatever it takes to build a winner.

There is no millionaire prospect waiting to replace him; there is only
so-so incumbent Josh McCown. Warner will get every opportunity to grab
the ring again. Arizona is starving for a winner and the Cardinals are
hungry for leadership.

"It gives you an opportunity to go to a team where expectations
haven't been very high," Warner said. "Nobody expects them to do much,
It gives you a chance a turn it around.

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

There's no denying that the Cardinal's receiving corps is top-notch –
and there is no star RB in Arizona to demand a lot of touches. If
Warner still has "it", he'll have plenty of opportunities to hit Larry
Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Bryant Johnson. The pieces are in place
for Warner to surge back to the top of the league – we'll see if he
can capitalize on the excellent receivers in the Arizona stable.


21. RB Jordan: The Capstone of the Raiders' Plan

Clipped from: Contra Costa Times article by Steve Corkran, 3/4/05

The Raiders finalized a contract with free-agent running back LaMont
Jordan on Thursday, adding the last piece to an offense that figures
to be among the NFL's best in the 2005 season.

The Jordan move came on the same day the Raiders made official their
trade for Randy Moss by clearing enough room under the $85.5 million
salary cap limit to accommodate the wide receiver's $7.25 million
salary for 2005.

Jordan's salary cap burden for next season is $1.9 million. He signed
a five-year, $27 million contract, including $15.8 million in
guaranteed money.

The changes didn't come without a price. The Raiders released guard
Ron Stone and defensive end/linebacker DeLawrence Grant to free up the
needed cap space. Coach Norv
Turner said one or both might be re-signed.

"We believe he's going to be a premier runner for our organization,"
Turner said of Jordan in a release.

Turner based that assessment, he said, on Jordan's possessing the
three things Turner looks for in a running back: power, explosiveness
and receiving prowess.

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

Jordan has racked up some impressive numbers in limited opportunities
with the Jets: 262/1277/10 over 4 seasons backing up Curtis Martin (a
4.9 yards-per-carry average), with 50/417/1 during that same span.
Last season he carried the ball 93 times for 479 yards and 2 TDs (a
5.2 yards-per-carry average). Considering how lethal the Kerry
Collins/Randy Moss/Jerry Porter trio figures to be in the passing
phase, Jordan should find ample running room (teams won't be able to
stack the line to load up vs. Jordan). He is in a very favorable
position heading into 2005.


22. Patriots: No OC in 2005?

Clipped from: Boston Herald article by Michael Felger, 3/8/05

The Patriots sent out a press release yesterday announcing a change to
their coaching staff. The notice was noteworthy not for the words it
contained - Pete Mangurian is the new tight ends coach - but for the
two that it didn't:

Offensive coordinator.

In listing their final 2005 coaching roster, that position was
conspicuously absent from the release. A team spokesman said last
night that barring any unforeseen circumstances, that was the way the
Patriots will go into the 2005 season.

That confirmed the belief that rather than naming a successor to
Charlie Weis, coach Bill Belichick will handle the duties in
conjunction with his offensive assistants.

Tops on that list is receivers coach Brian Daboll, who is said to be a
riser on the staff but is only 29 years old and has just five years of
NFL experience, only three as a full-time positional assistant. Dante
Scarnecchia is also very highly regarded by Belichick, but he's never
called the plays in his 21 years in New England. Scarnecchia said
during the Super Bowl that he did not covet the coordinator position.

Belichick always maintained he had no desire to bring in a coordinator
from another system. He intended to keep the playbook and the language
of the offense the same as it was under Weis. In taking over the
offense, those objectives would be met.

As for who will hold the play sheet and call the offensive plays on
game days, that remains to be seen.

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

This is an interesting interim position for the Patriots to take – it
remains to be seen if they will actually go into 2005 without an
official OC. Keep an eye on coach Belichick's game management during
the preseason if this "No OC" situation actually lasts through
training camp. There's not a bright future in betting against Bill
Belichick but this seems like an obstacle to us.


23. IDP: Seahawks lose CB Lucas to Carolina

Clipped from: Seattle Times article by Jose Miguel Romero, 3/4/05

Cornerback Ken Lucas signed a six-year, $36 million contract with the
Carolina Panthers yesterday, just two days into the NFL's free-agency
season. The deal includes a signing bonus of about $13 million.

Lucas becomes just the fourth Panther to get an eight-figure bonus.
Carolina had a big day, also signing offensive lineman Mike Wahle, a
former Green Bay Packer.

Lucas, 26, will start at right cornerback for the Panthers opposite
second-year player Chris Gamble.

Lucas joins a defense that features tackle Kris Jenkins, end Julius
Peppers and linebacker Dan Morgan.

"As a defensive back, it's your dream to come in and play with a front
seven like they have here," Lucas told the Panthers' Web site. "It's
going to make my job a whole lot easier back there."

He said he had his mind made up about Carolina before he got off the
plane in Charlotte, N.C.

The Seahawks' second-round pick in 2001, Lucas spent four seasons in
Seattle and played in 64 of 66 games, starting 48. He had 11

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

Lucas was a top-20 IDP DB last year, with 60 solo tackles, 7 assists,
6 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries, and 21 passes
defensed. Obviously, he is a ball-hawking player who goes for impact
plays (he had the most passes defensed among the top 20 DBs last
season, and tied for the second-most interceptions (Baltimore's Ed
Reed had 9 interceptions to lead the DBs last season)). The move to
Carolina will place him into a secondary with S Mike Minter and CB
Chris Gamble – both in the top 50 among fantasy DB's last season (#47
and #48 respectively).


24. IDP: LB Kendrell Bell to Chiefs

Clipped from: Palm Beach Post AP article, 3/8/05

Linebacker Kendrell Bell, the defensive rookie of the year four years
ago, signed a seven-year contract with the defensively troubled Kansas
City Chiefs on Tuesday.

Bell, 6-foot-1, 257 pounds, was one of the last name free agents on
the markets even though he played just three games last season with
Pittsburgh. His best season came as a rookie in 2001, when made the
Pro Bowl after recording 88 tackles, nine sacks and a pair of forced
fumbles in his first season.

Bell was troubled with shoulder and groin injuries last week and the
New York Giants passed on him as a free agent after a physical,
although they did not specify the exact problem.

"I had a conversation with (the Giants') general manager and he said
he did not fail their physical," team president Carl Peterson said.

"I'm doing good. I'm great," Bell said. "I can play today. I can play
right now."

In Bell's only other full season, 2003, he was a Pro Bowl alternate
after recording 108 tackles and five sacks, an interception and a
forced fumble.

"We're pleased to acquire Kendrell's services and we think he will
make an impact for the Chiefs in 2005 and beyond," Peterson said.
"He's a quality football player, as well as a quality person."

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

Bell is a tantalizing fantasy prospect at LB – when healthy, he can
produce top-notch numbers. The question is, can he stay healthy?


25. IDP: DE Okeafor Joins Cardinals

Clipped from: Arizona Republic article by Kent Somers, 3/7/05

The latest acquisition is Seattle defensive end Chike Okeafor, who is
expected to sign a five-year contract.

Financial terms were not immediately available.

Okeafor, who had 16½ sacks the past two years, becomes the starter at
left end. With Bertrand Berry on the right side, the Cardinals have a
pass rush threat from each end.

"He's such an explosive player," coach Dennis Green said of Okeafor.
"He can really run, which fits into our style of defense."

Okeafor often will play the same side as linebacker Karlos Dansby,
another fast, rangy player. With safety Adrian Wilson often playing
near scrimmage, "I think we become one of the fastest defenses in the
NFL," Green said.

Okeafor also considered Denver and a return to Seattle. He'll turn 31
later this month and hasn't missed a game the past three seasons.

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

Okeafor has been a reliable DL player, and he may be in a position to
rack up sacks in the revamped Arizona defense. If your league's
scoring system places a premium on sacks, Okeafor in Arizona could be
an attractive option.


26. Cowboy's DT: CB Henry, NT Ferguson Now in Fold

Clipped from: San Antonio Express-News article by Tom Orsborn, 3/4/05

Determined to spend freely and quickly, the owner of the Dallas
Cowboys opened eyes throughout the NFL by giving five-year contracts
and $29 million in combined signing bonuses to three quality players:
Pro Bowl guard Marco Rivera, nose tackle Jason Ferguson and cornerback
Anthony Henry…

"The value wasn't there last year," Jones said. "While these players
were very expensive, by the same token, the value is there."

Jones said Henry is a perfect example. Henry will start at right
corner, where Dallas started four players last season after passing on
free agent Antoine Winfield, who signed with Minnesota.

"We didn't see the fit last year," Jones said. "(In Henry), we have
the player we wanted, with the size (6 foot 1, 205 pounds), age,
experience (four seasons) and health we wanted."

Henry, who turns 29 on Nov. 3, led Cleveland in interceptions last
season with four. The Cowboys targeted Henry after hiring former
Browns secondary coach Todd Bowles.

"Todd's knowledge of Anthony as a player and as a person was a big
factor," Jones said.

In Ferguson, the Cowboys landed the top-rated interior defensive
lineman available in
free agency. The former Georgia standout carries 305 pounds on a 6-3
frame and would be the centerpiece of what could be a 3-4 front next

"He's got a motor," Jones said of Ferguson, who coach Bill Parcells
drafted for the New York Jets in 1997.

Parcells wasn't available for comment.

Ferguson is known as a run stuffer, but he has also impressed with his
ability to rush the passer, recording 11 sacks over the last three

"He's big and thick," Rivera said. "He plays with great leverage. You
can't push him back. He's a classic nose tackle, a hard-nosed, tough
guy that plays with a little attitude."

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

The Cowboys ranked 16th in the league in total defense during 2004
(allowing an average of 330.3 combined yards per contest) – their unit
was in need of a major overhaul. It looks like Owner Jerry Jones and
coach Parcells are doing their best to address the problems. It'll be
interesting to see how the units' chemistry develops with all the new
faces in the lineup – stay tuned.


27. Dolphins add 2 DE's: Ex-Titan Carter, Ex-Chief Holliday

Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Jason Cole, 3/8/05 (Carter Story)
Miami Herald article by Jason Cole, 3/6/05 (Holliday Story)

On Kevin Carter:

The Dolphins reached an agreement on a five-year, $30 million deal
with defensive lineman Kevin Carter on Monday, but then cut ties with
wide receiver David Boston. At least the ties were cut for the moment.

Carter, who was talking exclusively with the Dolphins during the first
week of free agency, signed on to be a linchpin of the revamped
defense the Dolphins plan to run this season. The current plan is to
feature a three-man and four-man defensive line scheme, depending on
the situation.

The deal with Carter, who was released by Tennessee last month in a
salary-cap purge, will pay him at least $10 million during the first
two years and could be worth $16 million during the first three.
Carter, 31, has played both left defensive end and defensive tackle
during his 10-year career.

''We are pleased to have the opportunity to add someone of Kevin's
caliber to our defense,'' Dolphins coach Nick Saban said in a
statement. ``Kevin has been a quality player who has contributed to
winning teams in both St. Louis and Tennessee, including a Super Bowl
championship with the Rams. In addition, he has been a positive
influence in the locker room throughout his career, and we're looking
for him to add to our veteran leadership.''

On Vonnie Holliday:

The Dolphins closed in on revamping their defensive line as they
prepare to play a combination of both three- and four-man defensive
fronts this season.

The Dolphins signed defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday to a two-year
deal, which includes a signing bonus of just more than $1 million,
minimum base salaries and could be worth a total of $5 million overall
with incentives. Agent Brian Levy confirmed the deal but declined to
discus any details…

…Holliday, who was cut last month by Kansas City, and Carter, who was
let go by Tennessee, are both capable of playing inside even though
they started their careers as defensive ends. Carter played primarily
at defensive tackle last season, and Holliday has extensive experience
at tackle in pass-rush situations.

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

Carter has been a very durable, reliable performer during his career,
and is a big addition to the Dolphin's cast. Holliday, however, has
struggled with injuries during the last few years in Kansas City,
seeing little playing time and miniscule fantasy production.


28. IDP: CB Rolle to Baltimore; Replaces Baxter (to Cle)

Clipped from: Baltimore Sun article by Jamison Hensley, 3/8/05

The Ravens' signing of Samari Rolle yesterday capped off an unlikely
four-day search for a starting cornerback, from fumbling an agreement
with Gary Baxter to scoring a coup with a Pro Bowl defender.

Rolle, perhaps the top free agent in the NFL this offseason, agreed on
a six-year deal worth $30.5 million (including an $11 million signing
bonus), a deal reached between two sides that were narrowly close to
going in different directions.

On Friday night - only hours after a misunderstanding on a signing
bonus led Baxter to sign with the Cleveland Browns - Rolle's agent,
Lamont Smith, called general manager Ozzie Newsome and asked if the
now-needy Ravens would have any interest.

That's when Rolle went from closing a deal with the Kansas City Chiefs
to starting negotiations with the Ravens.

"As soon as Lamont called me and said Baltimore is a possibility,
everything else stopped. I said, 'That's where I want to be,'" Rolle
said at his introductory news conference. "What I like is that this
defense earns their name every year. I was looking for a defense that
fit my abilities and this was it. This is where I'm supposed to be."

The aggressiveness it took to sign Rolle likely will be the same
attitude struck on the field.

A salary cap casualty last month by the Tennessee Titans, Rolle will
team with Chris McAlister, giving the Ravens two shutdown cornerbacks
and a variety of attacking options. With two defenders able to lock
down receivers, new coordinator Rex Ryan can blitz frequently without
the risk of giving up a big play.

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

Teaming up with McAlister may help to increase Rolle's fantasy value –
he was 149th among all DB's last season, appearing in 12 games, but
the Titan's secondary melted down due to injuries, allowing opposing
offenses to pick on an assortment of 3rd-string and 4th-string DBs.
Chris McAlister is top-notch, which may direct more balls Rolle's way
in 2005.


29. IDP: Buc's FS Dwight Smith to the Saints

Clipped from: Tampa Bay Online article by Roy Cummings, 3/8/05

Smith's deal includes a $3.5 million signing bonus. More importantly,
though, it leaves the Bucs without a starting safety that they have
been grooming since they chose Smith in the third round of the 2001

Smith, 26, started all 16 games for the Bucs last season, recording 83
tackles and three interceptions. He had 223 tackles and 12
interceptions in four seasons with Tampa Bay.

Potential replacements include Dexter Jackson, the Super Bowl XXXVII
MVP who left the Bucs for Arizona in spring 2003 and returned late
last season; and Will Allen, a fourth- round draft pick last year...

… Smith's desire was to move on to another team and another position.
With the Saints, he is expected to remain at free safety and will be
matched up against slot receivers in passing situations.

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

Smith was the 36th-ranked IDP DB last season, racking up 72 solo
tackles, 11 assists, 3 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 13 passes
defensed. He's just now coming into his prime as a DB, and should
definitely be on your list of IDP DB's to consider for 2005.


30. IDP: CB Fred Smoot to the Vikings

Clipped from: Fox Sports article by Jay Glazer, 3/8/05 has learned that the Vikings have agreed to terms with
former Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot on a multi-year, $34 million
deal that includes $10.8 million to sign.

Smoot is the third major addition the Vikings have made to their
defense, including former Raiders linebacker Napoleon Harris (acquired
in the Randy Moss trade) and former Bills defensive tackle Pat
Williams (acquired via free agency).

The Redskins had earlier offered Smoot a deal for $10 million to sign,
but he was able to better the deal in Minnesota, the team with the
best cap position in the NFL entering free agency.

Smoot, who turns 26 in April, had 16 total interceptions in four
seasons with the Redskins.

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

In Washington, Smoot was a good but not starting caliber fantasy DB
(he ranked 66th last season in fantasy points per game, with 55 solo
tackles, 6 assists, 3 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble
recovery, and 13 passes defensed). However, the Vikings have a lot of
high-profile DB's on the roster, so Smoot may see more opportunities
in 2005 (opposing QBs may prefer to throw at Smoot rather than fellow
CB Antoine Winfield or SS Corey Chavous). More opportunities could
equate to more tackles, more turnovers, and more passes defensed to
Smoot's credit.
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