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Volume 6, Issue 19 (Saturday, May 7th)

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Hi Folks,

I know we have a lot more Dads on this mailing list than we do Moms
but for you mothers out there, Happy Mother's Day. Hope you have a
great one. It was a slow news day but we've gathered up what's out
there for you. Thanks to our Aaron Rudnicki for rounding these up.
Let's get to it.

Joe

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Site News:

More Team Reports

1. Oakland Team Report
by Mike Brown, Shawn Culcasi, Chris Smith and Mike Herman 

2. Tennessee Team Report
by Marc Levin, David Baker, Chris Smith and Mike Herman 

3. San Diego Team Report
by Mike Brown, Shawn Culcasi, Chris Smith and Mike Herman 

4. Philadelphia Tam Report
by Jason Wood, Shawn Culcasi, Chris Smith and Mike Herman 

5. Dallas Team Report
by Jason Wood, Shawn Culcasi, Chris Smith and Mike Herman


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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. NE  QB Brady now among the NFL's highest paid players
2. ARI  WR Boldin plans to report on Monday
3. NYG  Rookie RB Jacobs impresses on his first day
4. SF  QB Alex Smith is hit and miss in his first practice
5. IDP: SD  LB Merriman refuses to attend offseason workouts
6. IDP: NE  LB Chad Brown signs with the Patriots
7. IDP: NE  DL Marquise Hill hopes for greater contribution in 2005
8. IDP: NE  DT Traylor's release opens up opportunity for Ethan Kelley
9. IDP: BAL  CB Dale Carter healthy and ready to return to the Ravens

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1. NE  QB Brady now among the NFL's highest paid players

Clipped from: Yahoo Sports article: 5/7/05

Tom Brady apparently has received a handsome reward for leading the
New England Patriots to three of the last four Super Bowl titles.

ESPN.com is reporting that the two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback has
signed a six-year, $60 million contract.

According to the report, the contract includes a $14.5 million signing
bonus and a $12 million option bonus that is due next spring. Brady
had two years remaining on his previous deal but now is signed through
2010.

Since being drafted in the sixth round out of Michigan in 2000, Brady
has guided the Patriots to victories in Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII and
XXXIX. He was named MVP in the first two Super Bowls.

Having drawn numerous comparisons to Hall of Famer Joe Montana, Brady
has compiled a 48-14 record in the regular season, the best winning
percentage (.774) among quarterbacks with at least 40 starts in the
Super Bowl era. Montana's record was 117-47 (.713).

Brady, 27, also is unbeaten in the postseason at 9-0, matching Bart
Starr's postseason record of nine consecutive wins.

In his career, Brady has completed 1,243-of-2,018 passes for 13,925
yards, 97 touchdowns and 52 interceptions.

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

This signing gives Brady some long-term security and frees up some
space under the cap for the Patriots in 2005. Even though Brady's
statistical totals may not warrant a contract like this, his value to
the team is immeasurable, as he's led them to three Super Bowl wins in
four years and has never lost a playoff game. Therefore, it is not
very surprising that they'd want to make him one of the highest paid
players in the game. The scariest part for the rest of the league is
that Brady is just entering the prime of his career and may still get
better. Like Peyton Manning, Brady doesn't seem like the type of
player who will become complacent after getting a big contract. Note
that the Patriots split up his signing bonus over 2 years, but the
total of $26.5 is quite a bit lower than the bonuses that were
recently given to Peyton Manning and Michael Vick, which should allow
the Patriots to maintain some flexibility compared to the Falcons and
Colts.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

2. ARI  WR Boldin plans to report on Monday

Clipped from: Arizona Republic article by Kent Somers, 5/6/05

Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin, absent during the team's recent
mandatory minicamp, plans to begin working out at the team's facility
Monday, said his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Boldin is seeking a new contract and has not participated in any
off-season workouts or practices.

The Cardinals are in the midst of their 14-week voluntary workout
period, so Boldin's presence is not required under the collective
bargaining agreement.

While Boldin's return is a positive sign, the two sides are not close
to a new agreement. The parameters of a deal may have come this week
when two prominent NFL receivers agreed to contract extensions.
Washington's Santana Moss and New Orleans' Joe Horn each agreed to
six-year extensions. Moss reportedly will receive $11 million in
combined bonuses, while Horn will receive about $8 million.

Both of those players had just one year left on their contracts, while
Boldin has two years remaining. It's clear the Cardinals aren't going
to pay Boldin as if he's about to enter unrestricted free agency.
"We're very concerned about the timing and if the deal is favorable
for the club, given the fact we're doing it this far in advance," said
Rod Graves, the team's vice president for football operations.

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

Since these are voluntary workouts, Boldin's absence probably
shouldn't be huge news. For fantasy purposes, however, it certainly
wouldn't hurt for Boldin to report and get a chance to start
developing some chemistry with his new QB Kurt Warner. This
negotiation could take awhile when you consider that his agent is Drew
Rosenhaus, who is known to be a tough negotiator. Also, Boldin has
only been in the league for 2 years and still has 2 years remaining on
his contract, so he doesn't have as much leverage as some of the other
players he is being compared to. The Cardinals under Bill Bidwell
haven't always been willing to pay big dollars to keep their players,
so it will be interesting to see how this situation plays out and
whether the presence of Dennis Green is really changing the way they
do business.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

3. NYG  Rookie RB Jacobs impresses on his first day

Clipped from: Newsday.com article by Neil Best, 5/7/05

Ron Dayne is gone at last after five disappointing seasons, and in his
place is a runner so large, it is as if the 5-10, 245-pound Dayne had
been stretched into a taller version of his famously bulky self.

The new No. 27 is Brandon Jacobs, a fourth-round draft choice out of
Southern Illinois who put on a Giants jersey for the start of a
three-day rookie minicamp and clearly stood out at 6-4, 265 pounds.

After spending the morning slashing his way through the line and
running smoothly downfield, Jacobs answered a series of questions from
reporters wondering how such a large target will be able to succeed
where Dayne failed as a pro.

When he needs a yard or two at the goal line or in short-yardage
situations, Jacobs said, he has a sense for getting his pads low and
burrowing forward. When he is in the clear, he tends to run upright
and chew up yardage quickly because of his long stride.

The Giants hope he will succeed where Dayne failed as a short-yardage
runner to ease the burden on Tiki Barber. Last season, the Giants were
an awful 13-for-27 on third-and-1 conversions. The goal is to have
Jacobs improve that statistic in the short run and perhaps develop
into an every-down runner who can succeed Barber, 30.

Whereas Dayne won a Heisman Trophy in 1999, Jacobs' more humble resume
includes a transfer out of Auburn - where he was stuck behind future
top-five draft picks Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams - to Division
I-AA Southern Illinois, where he scored 19 touchdowns last season.

Jacobs certainly talks the talk of a short-yardage back. Asked if he
would go around or through a defender at the goal line, he said: "It's
six points no matter which way I choose to go. But I think I'm going
to go over them. You're on the goal line. Don't chitter-chatter. Just
get in."

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

At 6'4", 265 pounds, Jacobs may be the biggest RB in the entire
league. While listed as a fullback on draft day, he was a highly
regarded RB prospect at Auburn despite being stuck behind top-5 picks
Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams. After scoring 19 TDs at Southern
Illinois last year, he appears to be the favorite for goal line duties
in New York and could make a serious dent in Tiki Barber's TD total in
2005. Barber had a career-high 13 rushing TDs last year and is
currently ranked as the #11 RB in our consensus rankings
(http://apps.footballguys.com/05rbrank1.cfm), but he will likely move
down if Jacobs continues to impress.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

4. SF  QB Alex Smith is hit and miss in his first practice

Clipped from: Tracy Press article by James Leonard, 5/7/05

The Alex Smith era began with little fanfare.

When 11-on-11 drills began, it was incumbent Tim Rattay under center.
After three downs, it was Smith's turn. And in case anyone forgot he
was a rookie in the midst of his first NFL practice, the 20-year-old
Smith  who turns 21 today  offered proof with a false start and a
fumble in his first three plays.

There were other miscues in the nearly two-hour practice session, the
first of five over the three days of the camp, but there were also
flashes of the potential that earned Smith the honor of being picked
first.

First-year coach Mike Nolan liked what he saw of Smith's dropback and
passing drills, and he seemed pleased with the manifestation of the
intangibles he spoke so often of leading up to and following the draft
 namely, Smith's leadership and intelligence.

Nolan said he plans to bring Smith along quickly, exposing him to the
entire offense over the course of 12 to 15 practices and meetings in
the next month. Smith admitted he's struggled with Niners' massive
playbook so far. "There's a lot that goes on the quarterback's
shoulders in this offense," Smith said. "There's a lot of terminology.
The bad thing would be to go out there and think too much."

Friday was also Nolan's first opportunity to see Rattay in action, as
the sixth-year quarterback missed the team's first minicamp while
recovering from a torn tendon at the bottom of his right foot.

Nolan hesitated uncharacteristically when asked about Rattay's
performance, but generally spoke highly of him and said his on-field
experience was apparent.

Healthy or not, it appears Rattay's days as the Niners' starting
quarterback are numbered. Nolan said he intends to give Smith as much
as he can handle and anoint him the starter once he's digested the
offense more than Rattay has  though no one's quite sure when that
will be.

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

Nothing surprising here. You can insert the "stumbled early but showed
flashes of potential" line for the first practice report of just about
every highly drafted QB just about every year. The 49ers obviously
have very high hopes for Alex Smith, but it takes time for a young QB
to learn a new offensive system and adjust to the speed of the game.
Smith has an even bigger adjustment to make as he played primarily out
of the shotgun while at Utah, and will need to get comfortable taking
snaps from under center. Two of his biggest strengths are his
intelligence and his mobility, and both should serve him well as he
attempts to digest the 49ers playbook and play behind an offensive
line that is currently a work in progress. Also, based on the article,
Nolan doesn't sound like he will stick with Rattay as the starter
longer than he absolutely has to.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

5. IDP: SD  LB Merriman refuses to attend offseason workouts

Clipped from: Washington Post AP article by Bernie Wilson, 5/6/05

Merriman, the 12th pick in the draft two weeks ago, is staying away
from all offseason workouts on the advice of his new agent, Kevin
Poston. Poston wants the Chargers to change the language that protects
unsigned players in case of injury. The Chargers refused, and
Merriman, an outside linebacker from Maryland, was the only no-show
Friday.

The Chargers projected Merriman to start opposite Foley, who had 10
sacks in an otherwise lethargic pass rush.

"We know what happens when guys usually miss significant time, they
end up being left behind," Foley said. "They want to get upset because
they're not in there playing a significant amount of time or that big
role that they feel they should. In this defense, you really have to
be in tune with what's going on. If you're not, you won't be out
there. I don't care how gifted you are, how good of a player you are."

As he usually does, coach Marty Schottenheimer downplayed the absence.
"Last time I checked, we went 12-4 last year, and Shawne Merriman was
at Maryland," Schottenheimer said. But the coach did say that
offseason workouts are the time to receive one-one-one coaching, as
opposed to training camp, "when it's more about the team. "Listen,
it's going to have a very definite adverse affect on his ability to
play," Schottenheimer said.

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

It is hard to fault Merriman too much for this decision when you see a
player like Buffalo's Kevin Everett tear an ACL in his first team
practice. Even though there is no contact in these practices, players
do occasionally suffer serious injuries. However, nearly every team in
the league has a way of protecting unsigned players in the event of an
injury, so he is probably only hurting himself in the long run by not
showing up and upsetting his coaches. Merriman was the highest rated
DE going into the draft, but he'll be moved to LB in the Chargers 3-4
defense. In his favor, the player he most likely would have to beat
out for the starting job is veteran Ben Leber, who is also not
practicing due to a foot injury that he is recovering from.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

6. IDP: NE  LB Chad Brown signs with the Patriots

Clipped from: Boston Globe article by Nick Cafardo, 5/7/05

The Patriots made another move to bolster their linebacker corps,
agreeing to a two-year deal with veteran Chad Brown.

The 34-year-old former Seahawk and Steeler went back and forth between
the New Orleans Saints and the Patriots over the past 24 hours, but
late yesterday informed Saints general manager Mickey Loomis he would
sign with the New England. He is expected to earn a payout of about
$1.5 million this season between salary and incentives.

The Patriots have also been negotiating with former Bears and Browns
linebacker Warrick Holdman and Brown's former Seahawks teammate,
Anthony Simmons. Both are outside linebackers.

Brown, along with Kansas City veteran Monty Beisel, could be the
answer to losing veteran Roman Phifer, who was released, and the
uncertainty of Tedy Bruschi's career after suffering a stroke in early
February.

The Patriots will bring back Ted Johnson and they drafted Ryan
Claridge, a 6-foot-2-inch, 260-pound linebacker from University of
Nevada-Las Vegas, who could play inside.

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

It is hard to know exactly what the Patriots plan on using their
linebackers in 2005. With Bruschi possibly taking the year off, they
appear to have a significant hole at ILB, yet they are overloaded at
OLB with McGinest, Vrabel, Colvin, and now Brown. Monty Beisel seems
the most obvious candidate to replace Bruschi on the inside, but they
may try to move one of the other guys inside as well. Brown has had
some problems staying healthy over the past 3 years, but when healthy
he is still a very versatile player and a very good pass rusher.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

7. IDP: NE  DL Marquise Hill hopes for greater contribution in 2005

Clipped from: Patriots.com article by Andy Hart, 5/6/05

The 6-6, 300-pound defensive end out of LSU spent most of last season,
quite literally, watching from the sidelines as the Patriots marched
to a second straight Super Bowl title. He tasted his first NFL action
in the season finale against the 49ers, but in the midst of another
offseason continuing to work to learn the system and improve his
physical skills Hill thinks he's ready to be a contributor for the
two-time defending champs.

Hill also cautions that his limited playing time as a rookie doesn't
necessarily reflect his potential talents or what he might offer in
the future. "I don't think it was my ability, I just think it was the
situation I was in at the time," Hill said of his limited role as a
rookie.

Hill knows at some point though he is expected to contribute for a
youthful Patriots defensive line that includes former first-round
picks Seymour, Warren and Vince Wilfork, as well as recent draft picks
Hill and Green. Add restricted free agent acquisition Rodney Bailey to
the mix and New England has invested heavily in its defensive front in
recent years, an investment that brings expectations to both the
individual players and the group as a whole.

The potential that made a Hill a second-round pick, defending both the
pass and the run from his end position as he gets a better hold on New
England's 3-4 front, is something that he showed hints of in his
limited debut against San Francisco.

"I think I excel whenever the opportunity presents itself against
either the run or pass," Hill said giving a self-scouting report. "In
the San Francisco game last year, for the time I did play I almost had
two sacks and I knocked the ball out of [quarterback Ken] Dorsey's
hands. People see that, the coaches see that and they say, 'Well,
there is life in this kid. He's getting pressure on the quarterback.'
And it isn't like anyone ran right over me when I was out there. It's
one of those things that when I line up and play, people know that I
am out there. You don't have to worry about me disappearing out there
on the field."

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

Marquise Hill was a player that some experts felt has as much upside
as any other defensive end in last year's draft. He's very strong and
has a huge wingspan that helps him clog up passing lanes. Hill may
have to wait awhile to get his chance though because the Patriots have
one of the deepest defensive lines in the league, and Richard Seymour
and Ty Warren are entrenched as the starters and not likely to be
going away anytime soon.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

8. IDP: NE  DT Traylor's release opens up opportunity for Ethan Kelley

Clipped from: Patriots.com article by Andy Hart, 5/5/05

One of the underlying themes throughout the run of success the
Patriots have had over the last four seasons revolves around
lesser-known players stepping up when an opportunity to perform
presents itself.

When a guy goes down to injury, or at this point in the offseason when
a guy is released, someone else on the depth chart gets the chance to
move up a notch. With Wednesday's release of veteran nose tackle Keith
Traylor, who started 10 of 16 games played a year ago, third-year nose
tackle prospect Ethan Kelley knows the door could be open for a guy
who has spent most of the last two seasons as a 2003 practice squad
player and 2004 day-of-game inactive.

Kelley got his first taste of action in last year's season finale
against the 49ers, recording a single tackle in action along the
defensive line. In 2006, Kelley hopes to be among a herd of young,
talented Patriots defensive linemen that includes three former
first-round picks in Richard Seymour, Ty Warren and Vince Wilfork, as
well as Jarvis Green, Rodney Bailey and Marquise Hill. As the only
other true nose tackle type on the roster other than Wilfork, there is
a good chance Kelley will be a key player in the mix in the middle of
the defense for the defending champs.

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

Lots of Patriot news today. The release of Keith Traylor earlier this
week went under the radar for most, but it is significant for several
reasons. Vince Wilfork is now the unquestioned starter at NT, and
should see an increase in playing time. Also, the unproven Ethan
Kelley will now be pushed into the primary backup role. If anything
were to happen to Wilfork, that would leave a pretty big hole in the
defense and could potentially cause the Patriots to use more 4-3
fronts than usual.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

9. IDP: BAL  CB Dale Carter healthy and ready to return to the Ravens

Clipped from: Carroll County Times article by Aaron Wilson, 5/4/05

Dale Carter is doubly grateful. Most importantly, the Baltimore
Ravens' veteran cornerback survived a potential life-threatening blood
clot in his lungs that sidelined him for the entire season. Now,
Carter, 35, is back at the Ravens' training complex, training in
anticipation of a possible role as the team's nickel back that hinges
on his health and the undetermined status of Deion Sanders.

After Carter experienced severe discomfort during workouts at his
Houston home weeks before training camp in July, he "fell out" but
managed to drive himself to the emergency room. Doctors discovered the
ailment, and informed Carter that if he had sought treatment only a
few hours later he likely would have died. Today, Carter has a clean
bill of health after being prescribed blood thinners for nearly seven
months.

"The doctors told me I was the luckiest person in the world," said
Carter, who spent a week in the hospital. "I was so close to dying,
and that makes you appreciate life so much more. You don't take the
simple things for granted. I just thank God all the time that I'm
alive."

Because Carter was placed on the non-football illness list prior to
the regular season, his one-year contract carries over to 2005 because
he didn't play at all last year. Secondary coach Johnnie Lynn said he
anticipates Carter being in the defensive game plan behind starting
cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle.

Sanders, who will turn 38 in August, hasn't indicated what he'll do
after being limited to nine games last season with foot and hamstring
injuries. The Ravens have extended an open invitation to Sanders and
are optimistic that he might return.

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

This is promising news for the Ravens, who don't have much depth
behind their starting cornerbacks. Carter was once one of the best
defensive backs in the league, but he hasn't made much of an impact
since 1999. With McAllister and Rolle locking down receivers on the
outside, his size and physical play would make him a good fit in the
nickel defense. Although Carter and Deion are well past their primes,
they have a lot of experience and would provide great depth at the CB
position.

/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/**/

That'll do it for today, Folks. Have a great Mother's Day and I'll see
you tomorrow with the update.

J


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