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Tag:Will Brinson
Posted on: February 13, 2012 12:52 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 1:26 pm
 

Lewand: Lions have 'positive' talks with Megatron

Detroit needs to get a Megatron extension done ASAP. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Calvin Johnson established himself as the premiere NFL wide receiver during a monster 1,681-yard, 16-touchdown season in 2011. Johnson played well enough last year to unlock a $4.5 million contract bonus, but the real money he'll unlock will come between now and the beginning of the 2013 season.

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Johnson's a free agent after the 2012 season, but if the Lions get their druthers, they'll ink Johnson to an extension before then. According to Lions president Tom Lewand, via our Lions Rapid Reporter John Kreger, the team and Johnson have had "positive" talks about a new deal.

"[Johnson’s] got a good relationship with Matthew [Stafford]," Lewand said on WBBL radio. "There’s a desire to keep that [relationship] together. When that desire exists, you can get deals done."

Lewand's spot on -- we talked to Matthew Stafford at the Super Bowl, and the quarterback, working with DirecTV for their "Displaced Fan" contest, said he'd love to play his entire career with Megatron.

"Yeah, obviously we'd love it," Stafford told CBSSports.com. "We'll see if it happens. I know they'll probably start talking about something here pretty soon and hopefully they can get something done. He's a great talent and a great teammate and hopefully a guy I get to play my whole career with."

What makes the Johnson deal particularly interesting is that the Lions need to extend him, and they need to do it quickly if they want to remain competitive in 2012. Johnson's set to make $14 million in base salary alone, and that doesn't count all those incentives, which will put him north of $21 million in terms of his salary-cap number.

Re-negotiating Johnson before this season not only avoids an impossible franchise-tag situation (120 percent of his base salary from 2011), but it creates cap space for the Lions to go after other players and address other needs.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:58 am
Edited on: February 14, 2012 6:20 am
 

Tommie Harris' wife dies Sunday night

Thoughts and prayers go out to Harris and his family. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Ashley Harris, the wife of defensive lineman Tommie Harris, was hospitalized on Sunday with a stroke or brain aneurysm and died on Sunday evening, Harris family friend Bill Horn said.

That's via Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times, who initially reported Harris' condition on Sunday afternoon.

Harris was drafted by the Bears with the 14th overall pick in the 2004 NFL Draft and played for Chicago until being released in February 2011. He then signed on with the Colts but was released before playing a game in Indianapolis. The Chargers signed Harris, who played 13 games for San Diego in 2011.

Tommie and Ashley, 29, were married in January.

Harris, according to Jensen, "remains popular with Bears teammates" and a few of them even made the trip to Oklahoma to be with the defensive lineman during his time of need.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Harris and his family for their tragic loss.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 9:29 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:32 am
 

Report: Eagles plan to franchise DeSean Jackson

D-Jax looks like a likely target for the Philly franchise tag. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson wants a new contract. This is not new news. But the latest reason for this discussion won't likely end with Jackson being any happier, as the Eagles are reportedly planning to place the franchise tag on Jackson before he gets to free agency.

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That's according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who says to "count on" the Eagles franchising Jackson because the team will not let Jackson "walk without getting something in return."

Philly has from February 20 to March 5 to apply the franchise tag. After that, Jackson would become a free agent. Jackson's already said he's fine with playing under the franchise tag in 2012, probably because he'd be willing to make around $9.5 million guaranteed. (More than three times the value of the entire rookie deal he just finished playing out.)

A pile of disastrous events -- an insurance policy, missed team meetings, a fourth-quarter benching, getting called out by teammates, you name it -- are sandwiched between Jackson's holdout before 2011 and his impending free agency in 2012. That being said, the Eagles need Jackson. The explosive wide receiver had just 58 catches for 961 yards in 2011, but his value to the Eagles offense as a deep threat can't be understated.

Additionally, the Eagles may seek a trade with Jackson once they use the franchise tag on the wideout, according to McLane. There are plenty of other wideout-needy teams in the NFL who might be interested in giving Jackson a long-term deal, and the Eagles would love to get something back for him.

Could a long-term deal with Jackson still happen? Of course it could. But Jackson and agent Drew Rosenhaus want Jackson to be paid like a top-five wideout.

"I think right in that range," Jackson said last year. "Maybe top-5 in the NFL. ...My playmaking skills and abilities, my punt returns, and the ability to get the ball and score on any play. I mean, Fitzgerald, he's a special receiver -- don't get me wrong -- but he doesn't play special teams so that adds an extra edge to it."

Jackson's not "wrong," per se, when discussing how his skills make him a valuable commodity. The problem is his attitude, which is so poor -- at times -- that it's reduced his effectiveness on the field and made him a distraction off of it. That's not exactly the type of behavior that sends teams scrambling to throw big-time, long-term money at a player.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Ben's heard 'good and bad things' about Haley

Ben doesn't sound thrilled about Haley coming to Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Friday's Pick-Six Podcast, we talked in-depth about the Steelers hiring Todd Haley as their offensive coordinator. I think it's a great move; Wilson hates it. And he's not the only one, either. Ben Roethlisberger doesn't sound too thrilled.

In an interview with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said he's heard things, "both good and bad" about Haley from various people around the league.

"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him," Roethlisberger said. "Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and they're letting me know what their interaction with him was -- good, bad and indifferent. I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion."


Thus far, Roethlisberger's made no bones about his unhappiness with the Steelers "retiring" Bruce Arians. Typically when you see a new hire like this, the quarterback and/or face of the franchise guy spits standard lines like "I'm really excited about working with him" and "Obviously I'm sad that Bruce is gone, but I think Todd can help us continue to have one of the best offenses in the league."

Or something. Not for Roethlisberger -- he's enthusiastically terrified of change.

"That was my biggest talking point to Mike and those guys -- I would hate to just throw everything out and start over because I feel it would set us back two or three years because these guys are just starting to get it," Roethlisberger said. "I hope we don't have to start over and, if we do, you know what, here we go. Let's do it. We'll do it. We're not going to complain about it. But I would hate to have to set certain guys back who are doing so well right now."

Roethlisberger's concern is warranted, mainly because the Steelers passing game has really evolved into one of the league's best over the past few years. If hiring Haley meant taking a step back, that would obviously be problematic.

But the Rooney family has a decent history of producing good football teams and as much as Ben might be upset about the transition, he's better served to just trust the process and get to know Haley before passing too much judgment.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:56 pm
 

Report: Rob Gronkowski had ankle surgery Friday

Perhaps we can stop talking about Gronk's ankle for a while now? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, the subject of an unholy amount of media scrutiny over the past two weeks, reportedly underwent ankle surgery on Friday to repair the high-ankle sprain that he injured during the AFC Championship Game.

That's according to Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal, who reports that the arthroscopic surgery was successful and that the recovery time for Gronkowski is "expected to be 10 weeks."

Gronk suffered the injury when he was tackled by "Pats Killer" and Ravens safety Bernard Pollard in the AFC title game. Gronk's ankle was the focus of pre-Super Bowl media coverage to an annoying extent and the tight end managed to play, but was essentially a decoy, catching just two passes for 26 yards.

Since then, Gronkowski's been spotted dancing shirtless at the Pats post-Super Bowl party and taken way too much guff from former Patriots like Rodney Harrison.

The fact is, Gronk suited up for the Super Bowl with an injury that many athletes wouldn't be able to play with; he wasn't necessarily effective, but he was still on the field and running routes.

He got his surgery done immediately following the season and though he probably won't get to dance much in the future, there's really no need to criticize him for what he did once the season was over. Unless you want to rip Bill Belichick for playing golf this week too anyway.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 9:21 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Haley a good fit in Pittsburgh?

Revisiting the week that was in Indianapolis: Super Bowl XLVI. (Getty Images)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Ah, the NFL offseason. When every franchise's hopes spring eternal and stuff. Except the Steelers, who are doomed -- DOOMED, WE SAY! -- with the addition of Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. Actually, we don't say that; Ryan says that.

To calm him down, we brought on Lance Zierlein noted Houston sports savant (The Chronicle, Houston radio), co-owner of TheSidelineView.com and son of former Steelers offensive line coach Larry Zierlein to break down the hire.

Ryan and Will then fight about Haley's addition and debate who's the favorite to land Peyton Manning in 2012. They also hit all the latest NFL news fit to print.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:57 am
 

Bills GM Nix: 'We want to extend Fred' Jackson

Fred-Ex could be in line for a big contract from Buffalo. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Buffalo Bills were a surprise team for the early part of 2011 and much of that success had to do with perennially unappreciated running back Fred Jackson, who ran for 934 yards in the team's first 10 games. That includes Week 10's 35-8 loss to Miami where Jackson suffered the injury.

In other words, he was having a monster year before going down. And the Bills, according to general manager Buddy Nix, are prepared to reward Jackson, who'll be a free agent after 2012, with a new contract.

"We want to extend Fred," Nix said his recent press conference. "I’d like for Fred to finish his career as a Bill. He’s meant a lot to us. I’ve got great respect for him. I tell him that. We’re going to try to get something done. Does it matter if we do it or if we do it next week or a month from now? As long as we get it done before the season starts it’s all the same, really, seems to me. And it’s not like he’s going to get hurt playing now.

"But we do want Fred back and we do intend to try to workout a deal with him. I’ve told him that and I’m going to tell him again this week before I leave here."

Jackson was, as Clark Judge pointed out, having an MVP-type season before his injury. Having signed a four-year, $7.5 million deal before the 2009 season, Jackson hasn't really hit a monster payday yet.

What'll be interesting is how much the Bills are willing to invest in Jackson. He's only got 817 career carries (topping out at 237 in 2009), but he is on the wrong side of 30.

Additionally, C.J. Spiller came on strong at the end of 2011, rushing for 446 yards in Buffalo's final six games, and averaging over 100 yards from scrimmage and 5.19 yards per carry during that span. He also scored six touchdowns and because he was the Bills first-round pick in 2010, there has to be some commitment to making him a bigger part of the offense.

Jackson's the steadier presence on the ground, however and could form a potentially dynamic combination with Spiller if the Bills line can stay healthy. And if the Bills are willing to pay him. Otherwise he might be running for a new deal in 2012.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 9:48 am
 

Handicapping where Peyton Manning plays in 2012

Anyone else see what stadium they're in? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

This is the season of Peyton Manning rumors. We hear he has "a noodle arm." We hear he cannot "throw the ball to the left." We think there's no way he could play for the Colts again after all the drama leading up to the Super Bowl in Indianapolis. But what do we know?

Nothing, at least when it comes to Manning's future. In the interest of trying to figure out what uniform -- if any -- Peyton will play, let's handicap the race for one of the all-time greats in 2012.

Anything and everything is in play, except for teams that already have what we'll loosely term a "franchise quarterback." The Patriots, Steelers, Ravens, Bengals, Texans, Chargers, Giants, Cowboys, Packers, Lions, Bears, Saints, Falcons, Panthers and Rams all have their guy.

The Jaguars, Raiders, Vikings, Buccaneers and Broncos have very recent first-round investments in quarterbacks and aren't likely to pursue Manning. The Bills have a lot invested in Ryan Fitzpatrick, but Peyton Manning isn't going to play in Buffalo. It's like Cleveland. Ain't happening.

That leaves the 49ers, Titans, Chiefs, Jets, Seahawks, Colts, Redskins, Cardinals and Dolphins as possible landing spots. We'll break down the scenarios in our order of likelihood and provide actual available odds from Bovada.lv and/or the Vegas percentages from RJ Bell of Pregame.com.

Longshots

49ers: The Niners could perceive Manning as the guy to put them over the top. But Jim Harbaugh says he's got "their guy" in incumbent-but-still-free-agent quarterback Alex Smith. Maybe he means it. Or maybe he's just doing good public relations. It would be a fascinating fit for a number of reasons (Andrew Luck's old coach anyone?) though.
Vegas Odds: 2%


Chiefs: Matt Cassel isn't the long-term answer for anyone, but he did make a Pro Bowl (thanks, schedule-makers!) and he is Scott Pioli's guy. Plus, Romeo Crennel -- a defensive coordinator -- is from the previous regime as well. Oh, and this is Patriots Midwest. Makes no sense.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%


Titans: This would make sense ... except the Titans have already invested in a veteran (Matt Hasselbeck, three-year deal) and a rookie (Jake Locker, first round in 2011). Plus, they came out and said they're not chasing him.
Vegas Odds: 1.5%

Jets

Vegas Odds: 11%
Actual Line: 5/1
Everyone will tell you the Jets are the perfect fit, as they're "just one piece away." This couldn't be further from the truth: the Jets are "several pieces away" at least. Some of those pieces are on defense and some of those piece are on offense. Quarterback is one of the pieces they need, but plugging Peyton onto Rex Ryan's roster wouldn't even make them the favorite to win the AFC East, unless he was 100 percent healthy.

There are also people that will tell Eli vs. Peyton in New York is the ultimate storyline. While that's true, that doesn't mean it's something either of those guys want to deal with for the length of their current contracts. You saw what happened at the Super Bowl, right? Every question pointed to Eli was about Peyton's neck and his recovery ... even though Eli was playing for a Super Bowl. It would be magnified in the Big Apple.

And don't think Manning doesn't see a parallel to Brett Favre with the Jets option either. Look at the way he's handled his business thus far; looking like Favre is the last thing he wants.

Seahawks

Vegas Odds: N/A
Actual Line: N/A
Everyone's sleeping on Pete Carroll! That terrifies me to no end. Look, there are plenty of reasons why this doesn't make sense. There's no guaranteed running game (Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett are both free agents), the offensive line's young and injury-prone thus far and Sidney Rice is the best receiving option.

But the defense is good in Seattle, the coach is enthusiastic, and as we note with the Cardinals below, the NFC West is a much better path to the Super Bowl than a lot of other spots. There are also plenty of offensive skill-position guys available in free agency, so it's possible the Seahawks could convince Peyton to take snaps in Seattle and then let him play pied piper for other talented players.

Retirement

Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: N/A
We have to talk about it, you know? Bovada's not offering a betting line on this, but this is the most-likely scenario according to RJ Bell, as Vegas' odds give it a 20 percent chance.

I don't buy it ... but only for this year. Even if -- hypothetically speaking -- there are still reports about Manning only being able to sling his noodle to the right side of the field when March 13 comes around and -- somehow -- no one signs him, he'll keep rehabbing the entire season, getting healthy and will get a call from someone with an injured quarterback midway through the year. Last year there was a waiver scramble for Kyle Orton and the Bears actually considering calling Favre.

Manning would get a job, worst case, by November. Which is precisely why someone like the Redskins would go ahead sign him anyway, regardless of how healthy he is.

Colts

Vegas Odds: 14%
Actual Line: 3/1
Here's a theory I meant to throw out there during Super Bowl week: Jim Irsay and Peyton are punking everyone. They're having fun with everyone by acting like they hate each other, even though they have a master plan in place. Irsay will not pick up Manning's option on March 8, allowing him to become a free agent. But then Manning will re-sign with the Colts as a free agent, allowing them to limit the cap damage his contract does. He would still have $10.4 million in dead cap space if they don't pick up the option, which still gives them something like $18 million to work with.

The Colts can make his new contract cap-friendly and incentive-laden, and let Peyton finish his career as a Colt. They can also draft Andrew Luck or, if Luck decides to make a stink about playing behind Peyton, trade the pick or draft Robert Griffin, III.

There are reasons why this makes no sense: the actual disdain between Irsay and Peyton, the distraction that Peyton's situation was to Eli in the Super Bowl, Peyton's unwillingness to take less money to play for the same team and the Colts need to rebuild all the way, to name a few. But we're still throwing it out there.

Cardinals

Vegas Odds: 3%
Actual Line: 2.5/1

Vegas doesn't like this option, but it makes a lot of sense to me. They need to do work on the offensive line, but those problems can be addressed through free agency and the draft. Arizona has Larry Fitzgerald, a top-five wideout in the NFL, who somehow managed to catch 170 passes for 2,548 yards with John Skelton, Max Hall and Kevin Kolb under center the last two years. They have Beanie Wells and Ryan Williams in the backfield and a defense that came on strong at the end of 2011.

The Cardinals also play in a division that's conquerable right away; the NFC West might pose the path of least resistance when it comes to obtaining a Super Bowl. Arizona's lacked a franchise quarterback since Kurt Warner retired two years ago, and don't think Fitzgerald wouldn't welcome this move with open arms.

The Kurt Warner parallel here is perfect for Manning, even if Warner's path to Arizona was much different than Manning's would be.

Shanahan and Peyton together: What could go wrong? (Getty Images)

Redskins

Vegas Odds: 17%
Actual Line: 2.5/1
No surprise here, but Vegas likes the Redskins a lot. After all, it's the Redskins. They throw big money at the biggest names, and no name in the history of free agency would be bigger than Peyton Manning. (I agree with Mike Freeman that Reggie White was a bigger free agent, but only because he wasn't an unknown. But Peyton's a bigger "name.")

The Redskins also think they're one piece away from making a run in the NFC East, even though they lack a lot more than just a quarterback. Who's Peyton throwing to? Who's running the ball behind Peyton? Who's protecting Peyton? WHY IS KYLE SHANAHAN ROLLING HIM OUT TO THE RIGHT?

But seriously: Mike and Kyle Shanahan have an offensive system that is absolutely tailored to a guy like RG3. They should make their all-in move on draft day, hop the Browns and grab the Baylor quarterback. He would be an instant superstar in Shanny's system and, in my opinion, more effective than Peyton for Washington in 2012. Of course, having said all that, this is Dan Snyder's team. Don't count them out to grab Peyton.

Dolphins

Vegas Odds: 20%
Actual Line: 3/1
The Dolphins are everyone's favorite, and it makes good sense. They have a blossoming running game and with Manning under center, Reggie Bush would only be more effective. They have talented wide receivers, with Brandon Marshall holding No. 1 potential. (Davonne Bess ain't no slouch, and Bush is a fantastic receiving option as well.)

They have a franchise left tackle in Jake Long. They have a talented defense, with only a limited number of free agents that need re-signing. They have an owner who wants to sexy-up the offense and bring in celebrities to the stadium. No one is, um, sexier than Peyton Manning. (And Stephen Ross is "infatuated" with him, reportedly. Me-ow.)

Manning owns a condo in South Beach. He'd get to play his top rival, Tom Brady, twice a year. He'd also get a ridiculously easy schedule in 2012, as outside the AFC East the Dolphins play the Jaguars, Titans, Rams, Seahawks, Raiders, Texans, 49ers, Cardinals and Bengals.

Oh right, one more team: the Colts. In Indy. It's all a little too perfect.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com