Posted on: June 14, 2010 9:40 pm

Deuce Lutui signs tender, but what about his job?

Deuce Lutui has improved each year since joining the Cardinals as a second-round pick in 2006. Originally sloppy in his footwork and hand technique, he polished himself into Arizona’s most consistent blocker last season. Lutui is still not quite nimble enough to make every lead or pull as a run-blocker, but he knows how to compensate by creating good angles without having to over-extend. Most impressive is the nasty way he finishes blocks.

That said, Lutui could find himself in a backup role for the first time in his NFL career. He’s been away from the club all offseason, refusing to sign his RFA tender until today. His hope of receiving a long-term contract is understandable but, given the team’s current economy and tenuous CBA situation, misguided.

Because free agent acquisition Alan Faneca immediately took the left guard position upon signing in Arizona, versatile veteran Reggie Wells finds himself vying for Lutui’s right guard job. So does less-noted free agent pickup Rex Hadnot (another versatile veteran, by the way).

We often see players avoid offseason team activities and workouts. But aside from a friendly demotion early in training camp, rarely do we see these players lose their starting job. No promises, but Lutui could change that. (The bet here is that he begins training camp on the second string but manages to crack the starting lineup sometime during the preseason.)

---Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl

Posted on: June 14, 2010 8:51 pm

Rex Ryan Talks, Takes Another Shot at Crowder

In addition to saying the Jets plan on “being the team that wins the whole thing,” Rex Ryan trumpeted his team’s OTA attendance and threw another jab in his friendly, ongoing war of words with Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder:

"We did have 100 percent participation in the voluntary OTAs. If there are teams that are looking at us not having chemistry, I think you’d be hard to find any other team with the [attendance] record we had in the OTAs.

"I'm not saying we're going to be OTA champion. I'll leave that to  Channing Crowder, but I believe we were OTA champions again this year. One of these days, we're going to be Super Bowl champions. We'll see when that is, sooner rather than later."


--Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl
Category: NFL
Posted on: June 14, 2010 8:15 pm

Five Fun, Misc. News Tidbits From Monday

T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a great response when asked whether he thought it was wise for head coach Pete Carroll to have left USC:
"Yeah, of course. Get out when the house is burning.”
By the way, Houshmandzadeh’s comments were made to TMZ.

The Oakland Raiders are making their final OTA session closed to the media, which prevents Tom Cable and Co. from having to answer about the team’s OTA violations.

Cowboys tight end Martellus Bennett (of all people) Tweeted this about Vince Young: “Mann I dunno wat 2 say abt VY that was childish & very unprofessional u cant do [expletive] like that when u play qb. He needs better ppl round him." Anyone who remembers Bennett as a rookie on Hard Knocks is smilingly right now. In an testament to the tight end’s own maturity, it should be noted that his Twitter account is “KungFuAstronaut”.

Bears great DE Richard Dent, analyzing the Chicago sports scene, had this to say about the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup title: "I don't think it ranks up there with our championship. People had a swagger when they talked about our championship because they know we would go out and kick ass and take names and come home with a victory. There was no doubt, there was no worry. It was all about taking care of business. If (the Blackhawks) play like that over the next three or four years....then you can start talking about other stuff." (If you feel like harping on Dent for favoring the Bears, read the entire article. He gives some pretty fair and balanced commentary on the entire Chicago sports scene.)

Sports Illustrated sent Peter King to South Africa to cover that lower-scoring brand of football, so Raiders erudite cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha wrote the Monday Morning Quarterback this week. You can view it here. It was well written but full of fluffy advice for rookies on page 1. The most interesting part was Asomugha saying that because he transitioned from safety to cornerback upon entering the NFL, he didn’t start to feel comfortable until his third year. A lot of people forget that he was considered a bust early in his career. Page 2 was more interesting. Asomugha wrote, “I think that Raiders fans and the 49ers fans would not be happy campers if they had to share a stadium together.”

---Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl

Posted on: June 14, 2010 7:40 pm

Dunta Robinson Key in Atlanta

Falcons defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder spoke to the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the upgrades to the Falcons defense. The article refers to the upgrades as a “$75 million renovation”, though a huge chunk of that derives from non-guaranteed money in cornerback Dunta Robinson’s $57 million contract.

With Atlanta adding no prominent pass-rushers to a unit that ranked 26th in total sacks last season, Robinson is the key piece. He’s not a playmaker (seven interceptions over the last five seasons), but he’s a play-stopper. In Houston, he often shadowed the opposing team’s top wide receiver.

However, Mike Smith runs a zone-based scheme that designates a left and right corner. Robinson may not be given the freedom to shadow a specific opponent; VanGorder said the Falcons have not yet decided how they will use their corners in 2010.

VanGorder was asked two really good questions in this interview. Below are his responses, followed by analysis from a non-invested third party.

Q: Are we going to see more blitzing from the defense in 2010?
VanGorder: You just don't decide that you're a blitzing team. There are down and distance factors. There are quarterback factors. There's your personnel with respect to playing man-to-man. There are so many variables that go into making that decision. I think philosophically, we'd like to be considered a very aggressive defense. We'll continue to work that way.

Analysis: Often, the Falcons’ only chance at generating pressure last season was via the blitz. Man coverage is key in blitzing; with Robinson’s abilities and Atlanta still having no keynote pass-rushers other than John Abraham, expect even more aggressive blitz concepts in 2010.

Q: Do you have people who can get to the quarterback?
VanGorder: We're better. I think we're better. I think that the process over the last three years has been to build a bigger, faster defense. We certainly have added to the depth of our defense. I like where we are right now with respect to our personnel. We have to keep developing and decide what they are going to do well and take advantage of all of their skills.

Analysis: Almost anytime a coach uses words like “development” and “depth”, what he’s really saying is that his starters stink. VanGorder knows that defensive end Jamaal Anderson can’t rush the passer, and he’s praying (but not betting) that either Lawrence Sidbury or Kroy Biermann emerges as a genuine pass-rushing specialist in training camp.

---Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl

Posted on: June 14, 2010 7:02 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2010 7:04 pm

Jared Gaither Is Blowing It

You won’t find many offensive tackles as gifted as Jared Gaither. Beside being the size of a small house (6’9”, 340 to be exact), Gaither has light feet and a preternatural feel for harnessing his immense strength. He makes football look easy.

With Michael Oher moving to the left tackle position that he played at an Oscar-worthy level in high school and college, Gaither has been tasked with learning to play right tackle. The fourth-year pro is gifted enough to become a perennial Pro Bowler, but Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun wrote this earlier today:

“Gaither, the former Maryland player, has been unpredictable. According to a team official, Gaither has only suited up twice for the organized minicamps, and participated in only two offseason weight-training sessions.

Gaither has been treated for a foot injury, but what has bothered some members of the coaching staff is that Gaither acts like he really doesn't want to be around the team.

There is speculation that Gaither wants a new contract, but that isn't going to happen. There was trade talk about Gaither during the offseason, but no team wanted to ante up anything for him because of past and current problems.”

That last part should really jump out: no team wanted any part of Gaither because of past and current problems? How serious must these problems be considering we’re talking about a young, top-five quality offensive tackle? Generally, gifted but troubled young players are inconsistent and fundamentally unsound. But Gaither, at least last season, was anything but. He has improved with each snap he takes. This almost certainly won't be the last Gaither-related post we have this offseason. The guy is an intriguing enigma.

---Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl

Posted on: June 14, 2010 6:12 pm

Marshawn Lynch to Seattle?

It would be a little weird for the Seahawks to dump LenDale White for character issues (failed drug test, iffy work ethic) only to sign Marshawn Lynch weeks later. But according to Jason La Canfora of NFL Network, they are “very interested” in doing exactly that.

Lynch is unhappy in Buffalo (he doesn’t like the town or organization) and the Bills aren’t thrilled with him either. Lynch’s off-field problems are a factor, but what many outsiders don’t realize is he’s not a valuable commodity on the field. Lynch struggles reading his blocks and defensive fronts, and he often shows a concerning lack of patience with the ball in his hand. He’s athletic and tough, but not drastically more than most running backs. Last season Fred Jackson was far and away Buffalo’s best runner.

Still, it may seem worthwhile for Seattle to give Lynch a shot, assuming they don’t surrender anything more than a fourth-round pick. After all, Lynch was a first-round pick only four years ago. Plus, Pete Carroll and his new regime don’t seem too high on Julius Jones. The seventh-year veteran has failed to rush for 700 yards in each of his first two seasons in Seattle.

That said, Jones’s style of play is a good fit in Seattle’s new zone-blocking scheme. Though not a quick direction-changer, Jones is a finesse-runner who can eat up ground when given initial space between the tackles. He’d be more likely to succeed with the scheme’s one-cut-and-go responsibilities than would Lynch. Either way, expect diminutive Justin Forsett to wind up being Seattle’s most dangerous running back in 2010.

---Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl

Posted on: June 14, 2010 5:22 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2010 5:28 pm

Linebackers Giving In, Signing Tenders

As expected, more restricted free agents have chosen to sign for what they believe is “less than fair market value” today. Broncos outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil, Redskins inside linebacker Rocky McIntosh, Titans middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch and Browns inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson all signed tenders. It was an obvious choice, given that their other option was to hold out and risk signing for “far, far less than fair market value” later. At midnight, teams can reduce their original tenders to restricted free agents, leaving players with two options: sign for just 110 percent of their ’09 base salary or sit out the season and get nothing.

There has been speculation that Dumervil, the AFC’s sack leader in ’09 and Denver’s only bona fide pass-rusher, could be in line for a long-term deal. However, the Broncos have been quiet on that front.

McIntosh, while presumably pining for a long-term contract, could break an even bigger bank in 2011. The fifth-year pro is coming off a career season. Given his continuously improving run-stopping abilities, McIntosh should be even more productive (read: more valuable) in Washington’s new 3-4 scheme. Plus, London Fletcher is 35. Fletcher has yet to show any hint of decline, but if he hits a wall in ’10, McIntosh’s value to the Redskins becomes even greater.

Tulloch’s presence is critical for Tennessee given the absence of injured veterans Keith Bulluck (currently a free agent) and David Thornton (likely to be released). Jackson, one of the league’s most productive tacklers (statistically speaking), is looking to bounce back after an injury-riddled ’09 campaign.

---Andy Benoit

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl.

Posted on: June 14, 2010 4:21 pm
Edited on: June 14, 2010 9:47 pm

Mankins wants out of New England

Count New England G Logan Mankins as one unhappy Patriot.

Mankins told Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston that he wants to be traded and there is “no way” he’ll sign his $3.26 million tender offer.

"At this point, I'm pretty frustrated, from everything that's happened and the way negotiations have gone," Mankins told Reiss in a phone interview. "I want to be traded. I don't need to be here any more."

One source of Mankins’ frustration is his free agent status. As a sixth-year player, he would have been an unrestricted free agent in normal years. But because this is a non-salary cap season – the final year of the existing Collective Bargaining Agreement – he reverted back to being a restricted free agent.

Naturally, Mankins isn’t expected to attend New England’s min-camp that begins Tuesday.

--Josh Katzowitz

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl.

UPDATE: According to's Albert Breer, the Patriots offered Mankins a five-year deal worth around $7 million per season, which would have made him one of the five highest-paid guards in the game.
Category: NFL
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