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Tag:Matt Flynn
Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2012 12:25 am
 

Are the Browns interested in Matt Flynn?

Flynn would allow Cleveland to keep the two first-rounders they'd have to give up to acquire RG3 in the draft. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

In our AFC North free agency preview Wednesday, we mentioned that should Matt Flynn not end up in Miami, the Browns would certainly be interested. This is based on the assumption that Cleveland isn't yet fully committed to Colt McCoy and that Flynn is considered one of the best available free-agent quarterbacks.

On Thursday, Browns general manager Tom Heckert said that Peyton Manning wasn't in the team's future ("probably not the direction we're gonna go") but Flynn, at least according to the Canton Repository's Steve Doerschuk, is definitely an option. Doerschuk writes that "the gates are wide open to signing Matt Flynn next week." And when Heckert was asked if Flynn would be in Ohio for a visit after free agency begins Tuesday afternoon, he offered this:

“Ummmmmmm.”

That's a lot to glean from one long syllable, but Flynn makes a ton of sense.

He's not a physical specimen, nor does he possess a particularly strong arm. But in the right system, his smarts and accuracy are assets. NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who watches more game film than anyone whose not an NFL coach, wrote recently about Flynn's strengths.

"His attributes, based on film breakdown of his two NFL starts, derive from his talent as a timing and rhythm passer who’s decisive with his reads and throws, and has shown good accuracy in the short to intermediate areas. …One thing I liked was his pocket movement. He showed the ability to slide and maintain his downfield focus. That’s a far more important trait than running out of the pocket."

CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco was impressed with Flynn's Week 17 performance against the Lions, but he's also wary of trying to draw conclusions based on two meaningful games in four NFL seasons.

"Watching this game would leave me wanting more. And that's the problem, there isn't much more. He has just one other start, in 2010 against the Patriots. He put up good numbers that day, throwing for 251 yards and three touchdowns, but as this Lions game taught us numbers can be deceiving. Signing him to a huge deal is essentially rolling the dice he can be a Super Bowl-quality starter."

Is the risk worth it? It's hard to say, but this much is certain: Flynn will be cheaper than what it will cost the Browns to trade up from No. 4 to No. 2 to take Robert Griffin III. When asked generally about the Browns' plans to draft a quarterback, Heckert was noncommittal:

“We might do it. We’re not saying that’s the case," he said. Heckert also admitted to talking to the Rams, who hold the second-overall selection, but wouldn't classify the discussions as "serious." He called media reports surrounding the team's draft plans "crazy" and suggested the Browns could stay put.

"We feel very comfortable staying at [No.] 4 and getting a good player there, and that could happen," he said. "And we feel comfortable in moving down and getting more picks, we really do. It's way early to start talking about this stuff."

The News-Herald's Jeff Schudal wrote Tuesday that bidding for Flynn is expected to involve Cleveland, Miami and Seattle (though the Seahawks and Dolphins could be caught up in Manning Mania in the coming days). Schudal also notes that Flynn would be cost-effective option to RG3:
"Flynn could cost $40 million or more on a multiyear contract, but the Browns would retain all their draft choices if that is what they choose. Flynn, a seventh-round draft choice from LSU in 2008, would be able to step right in and play in the Browns' West Coast offense because what the Browns run and what the Packers run have roots in Green Bay from the time current Browns president Mike Holmgren was the Packers' head coach from 1992-98."
But on Thursday, attending the same Heckert press conference as Doerschuk, Schudal had a completely different take on the probability Flynn ends up in Cleveland.

"[Heckert] … implied the Browns will not go after Matt Flynn when the Packers quarterback becomes a free agent Tuesday."

"We're not down on Colt McCoy," Heckert added. "I want to make that clear. We talked (in January) about the protection stuff and receivers dropping balls. All that does factor in. If we catch more balls and protect him better can Colt be a lot better? Yes. That's our goal. We still think Colt can play in this league and it's our job to help him out."

Returning to what we wrote in the AFC North free agency preview: after a promising rookie season, McCoy regressed in Year 2, but again, that wasn't entirely his fault. There were allegations that the offense was too predictable, but this is what happens when a second-year quarterback is without his Pro Bowl running back, doesn't have a go-to receiver, and the offense line struggles to keep him upright. McCoy should get an opportunity to compete for the starting job but he likely won't head into training camp with his name atop the depth chart.

Either way, we'll know more come Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 8:20 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 11:20 pm
 

Peyton Manning's release: Winners/Losers

Manning

By Josh Katzowitz

With the news that the Colts and Peyton Manning will part ways Wednesday, there will, of course, be bystanders who are positively and negatively affected by the news. Here’s our list of winners and losers.

Winners

Andrew Luck: In his first year in a Colts uniform, Luck will get to experience the highs and lows of playing as a rookie quarterback. Sometimes this goes well (see Cam Newton and Andy Dalton). Sometimes this goes poorly (see, um, Peyton Manning). And while we could make the argument that Luck would do well apprenticing under a veteran for a season -- he wouldn’t have to deal with the top pick pressure for an extra year and he could learn the new offense without the media spotlight trained on his every move -- Luck will learn much more if he’s actually playing. Plus, he won’t have the Peyton Manning shadow hanging over his rookie season.

Jim Irsay: Already, Irsay has begun to renovate his team, firing Bill Polian and former coach Jim Caldwell, following the 2-14 season. Irsay has done a wonderful job turning the Colts franchise into a perennial Super Bowl contender (2011, of course, being the exception), and now, he gets to be involved in another massive rebuilding project. Manning, of course, has done perhaps more than anybody to get Super Bowl XLVI to Indianapolis and to get Lucas Oil Stadium built, but Irsay now can remake the team as he sees fit. Plus, like Luck, his team won’t have the Peyton Manning shadow hanging over the franchise in 2012.

ManningAFC South: We’ve seen what happens when Manning isn’t playing for the Colts: the rest of the division gets better! Well, except for the Jaguars, of course. But without their franchise quarterback in the lineup, the Colts went from being the scariest team in the AFC South to being the most toothless. That probably won’t change in 2012, in which the Texans -- who never could get over the Manning hump and who couldn’t make the playoffs until he wasn’t playing -- will be one of the favorites in the AFC. Without Manning, Houston might have the chance to become the new Indianapolis.

Colts fans: In some sense, the city has been held hostage by the Manning-Irsay impasse, and it actually overshadowed the early part of Super Bowl week. But without Manning around, the salary cap won’t be as rigid, and with Luck coming into town (we assume), he’ll bring a new sense of excitement to the organization and to the city in general. Yes, Indianapolis will miss a community leader in Manning, but who’s to say Luck couldn’t fill that role anyway.

Losers

Matt Flynn: In our free agent quarterback rankings, we listed Drew Brees as No. 1, Manning as No. 2, and Flynn as No. 3. Brees has been franchise-tagged by the Saints, and it’s clear that the possibility of landing Manning will overshadow whatever Flynn will be trying to do. Flynn to Miami? Well, let’s see if the Dolphins can land Manning first. Flynn to (fill in the blank)? Well, let’s see if (fill in the blank) can land Manning first. Flynn likely won’t be anybody’s first choice, and you have to wonder how that will affect his bottom line. Would you rather have Manning, even if he’s not completely healthy, or Flynn? The answer is obvious.

Robert Griffin III: While the Manning release is good news for Andrew Luck, it might mean something different for RG3. Like Flynn (though probably not as much as Flynn), other quarterback-needy teams will look at Manning first before (possibly) trying to trade up with the Rams in order to draft Griffin after Luck. Like Flynn, this might limit Griffin’s options, and it might actually mean Griffin isn’t taken with the No. 2 pick. That probably won’t happen, but if one of the teams (say, ahem, Washington) looking at Griffin ultimately goes with Manning and the rest of league believe St. Louis’ price is too high, you have to wonder if Griffin will fall to the fourth pick.

Manning’s bank account: Not that he needs financial assistance, but cashing in on a $28 million bonus would have been pretty sweet.

Rob Lowe: I guess we can forget about Lowe’s budding journalism career. While he was right in believing that Manning was done in Indianapolis, Lowe also reported that Manning would retire. That’s not going to happen, and unfortunately for Lowe, reporters don’t credit for being half-right.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 5:33 pm
 

2012 NFL Franchise Tags: Winners and losers

Jackson's a big winner Monday, as he escaped the franchise tag like it was a defensive back. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

A record 21 players received a franchise tag in advance of Monday's 4 p.m. ET deadline, including six kicker-types. You can see everyone that got tagged at our 2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker. Let's break down the winners and losers below.

Winners

Vincent Jackson: Jackson held out most of 2010 because he wanted to get paid. He then signed his franchise-tag tender in 2011 because he wanted to get guaranteed money. Now that the Bolts declined to tag him, he's going to get filthy rich as one of the top two wide receivers to hit the free-agent market on March 13. Jackson and Marques Colston are the two top talents on a market that features several teams -- the Redskins, Rams, Jaguars, Vikings, and Seahawks, to name a few -- in need of a wideout.

Carl Nicks: Nicks reportedly hasn't heard anything on a new deal from the Saints and with New Orleans not reaching a deal with quarterback Drew Brees before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, Nicks is going to hit the open market on March 13. He's 26, a two-time Pro Bowler and made the All-Pro team in

Matt Flynn: Flynn wasn't expected to receive a tag from the Packers, but it's official now, and that means he'll hit the free-agent market. This is critical for Flynn given the number of quarterback-needy teams out there. It's also critical because the Packers won't control his next destination; if they tagged Flynn for the price of $14.4 million guaranteed (which he would sprint to sign), then they'd almost certainly end up trading him. Now Flynn gets to land a bigger contract on the open market.

Brandon Carr: The Chiefs decided to use their franchise tag on wideout Dwayne Bowe. That's a smart move, considering they signed cornerback Stanford Routt recently. But it also means that Carr, a 25-year-old defensive back coming off his best season in 2011, will have the chance to hit the open market. Young free-agent cornerbacks are a coveted commodity, and Carr should expect to get paid handsomely.

Stevie Johnson: The leverage of the guaranteed money involved with using the franchise tag on a wide receiver ($9.4 million) coupled with the deadline on Monday really escalated the talks with the Bills and Johnson, and he ended up netting a deal worth $7.25 million per year. That's not exactly on par with the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL, but

Losers

Wes Welker: The Pats could very well end up getting Wes Welker signed to a long-term deal, but he can't be happy about being put in a situation that could have him not reaching full free agency until he turns 32 (he'll turn 31 in May of this offseason) if the Patriots simply want him to play another year on the franchise-tag value. Welker would've hit a market that paid him handsomely and it might be difficult for the Patriots to pay him the money he wants over longer period of time. We could see a holdout here.

New Orleans Saints: As if things weren't bad enough for the Saints -- see here, here, here, here, here and, whew, here -- they're likely going to lose their top wide receiver (Marques Colston) and one of their top offensive linemen (Nicks) to free agency. Their quarterback (Drew Brees) is not happy with his contract situation, and losing two weapons like that won't do much to improve his mood. So once they get done with BountyGate, there should be plenty of more fun to deal with.

Cliff Avril
: Detroit should be thrilled that they bring Avril back, but that doesn't mean the defensive end has to be happy. He's not, because he knows he'd kill on the open market this season. He'll get more than $10 million guaranteed next year and that's why it seemed possible that the Lions could let him walk -- they've got more than half their salary cap tied up in Avril, Matthew Stafford, Ndamukong Suh and Calvin Johnson next year. So there's some good news: the Lions very much would like to lock up Avril to a long deal.

Houston Texans
: The Texans locked up Arian Foster to a five-year deal that takes him through his 30-year-old season, which is perfect timing for a running back. But it's also giving a lot of money to a running back. (Foster is a tremendously talented guy, a perfect fit for what the Texans do, a great pass-blocker, a great pass-catcher and many other things. But he is still a running back.) On that same day, they were unable to secure Mario Williams, who was their No. 1 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. Super Mario will become a free agent, and unless he's willing to take a serious discount to stay with the Texans, it's hard to fathom how they keep him.

Pittsburgh Steelers: It seemed like the Steelers decision to go on a cutting spree and get below the salary-cap line would result in them using the franchise tag on Mike Wallace, who's a restricted free agent. They didn't and because of a confluence of events, they could be in trouble. One, Stevie got $7.2 million a year just now. Two, Jackson and Colston will get big money in free agency. And three, various tags on other high-profile wide receivers will draw more interest for teams that could consider giving Wallace an offer sheet. He may very well end up staying with the Steelers, but there's at least reason to be concerned.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 11:49 am
 

For now, market for STL No. 2 pick is soft

At this point, it's unclear who will draft RG3. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

Coming off his standout performance at the scouting combine last month, the stock for Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III might not ever be higher than it is right now. And thus, it makes sense that the Rams would like to trade their No. 2 draft pick as soon as possible in order to get the biggest booty in exchange for the rights to select Griffin in April.

Once free agency begins on March 13 and a number of quarterbacks like Kyle Orton, Matt Flynn, Jason Campbell and Chad Henne hit the open market, the desire to trade a trove of draft picks to the Rams for RG3 might decrease significantly.

Who wants RG3
But even before free agency begins, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports, the Rams haven’t found a huge seller’s market.

According to the paper, the Browns, who already hold the No. 4 overall pick and obviously would have to give that up to move up to No. 2, aren’t willing to part with their second first-round pick this year (at No. 22). The idea of St. Louis not getting -- at the absolute bare minimum -- two first-round picks to give up their No. 2 selection is ridiculous, and if Cleveland sticks to that plan, perhaps the organization feels better about current quarterback Colt McCoy than many people might have guessed.

Adding to the Rams woes, the Redskins apparently are willing to part with their No. 6 pick this year and their first-round pick in 2013 but don’t want to give up their second-round pick this year. As the paper writes, that simply isn’t acceptable to the Rams.

The Post Dispatch also writes that trades won’t be worked out with eiter the Dolphins (the No. 8 pick) because Miami doesn’t want to deal with the coach in Jeff Fisher who spurned them for a job or the Seahawks (No. 12) because St. Louis doesn’t want to have to face RG3 twice a year for the foreseeable future.

What’s interesting about this scenario is if the Browns feel they can gamble and not trade for the No. 2 pick and still hope RG3 falls to them at No. 4, especially with the Vikings probably not looking at RG3 with Christian Ponder, a first-round pick last year, as the starting quarterback.

But as always, you have to take with a grain of salt any trade reports that occur before the NFL draft. At this point, it’s still a poker game with plenty of bluffing from all sides.

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 7:02 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Henne could make $4M, challenge for starting job?

Some teams view Henne as a QB who could push the incumbent for the starting gig. Miami disagrees.  (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Dolphins may have no interest in Chad Henne, but Miami's 2008 second-round pick (and the No. 5 quarterback in our free-agency rankings) will generate plenty of interest from QB-needy teams.  In fact, FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez goes so far as to suggest that after Peyton Manning and Matt Flynn, Henne "has emerged as the NFL’s hottest quarterbacking commodity set to hit the market when the signing period begins March 13."

We had to read that twice, too.

But after the aforementioned Manning and Flynn (and for completeness, we'll throw in Drew Brees), it's a decidedly mediocre crop of candidates. Maybe Marvez is onto something, or more specifically: Marvez's sources, one of whom described Henne as a good fit for teams seeking a "1A" option (a player who can push the so-so incumbent for the starting gig but who ain't looking for starter's money), are onto something.

"That’s not to say he will come cheap, especially with the limited free-agent options available," Marvez wrote Wednesday. "Regarded in some circles as a better alternative than second-tier retreads like Jason Campbell, David Garrard, Vince Young and Kyle Orton, Henne is expected to land a contract that averages between $4 million to $5 million a season. Excluding demoted starters, the NFL’s top backup quarterbacks command no more than $3 million a year."

Not bad for a guy who never lived up to expectations in a market not known for its die-hard NFL fan base. Then again, we'd take Henne over Garrard, Young and Orton. (We have a soft spot for Campbell, who must've been a horrible person in a previous life to suffer his NFL fate in this one.)

We say that with the understanding that Henne is a backup, not a guy you build a team around, which is the same conclusion the Dolphins came to. So why does there appear to be legitimate interest in Henne? First: it's slim pickins' (see this link again). Second: just like the combine, coaches, scouts and front-office types fall in love with measurables. Henne looks like he should be good. And at times, he's shown promise. But frustratingly inconsistent is a more apt description of his first four years in the league.

But as PFT's Gregg Rosenthal notes, he'd take Henne over Mark Sanchez. This redefines the term "soft bigotry of low expectations." Put differently: in the right system, Henne would be adequate, maybe slightly better. And in the right system, that could be good enough. Sanchez got two two AFC Championship games, after all.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:50 am
 

McCarthy on Flynn: 'It's his time to play'

After playing behind Rodgers, Flynn's in line for a starting job in 2012. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

As is the case most years, the 2012 combine is all about the quarterback. Sure, there are plenty of other players to evaluate but the NFL is a passing league. To win consistently, teams need franchise quarterbacks. (Just take a look at the recent Super Bowl winners for proof -- Eli Manning (twice), Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger (twice), Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.)

While much of the focus falls on Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, there has been plenty of talk about current NFL QBs -- old faces possibly playing in new places in 2012. Peyton Manning tops that list even if no one can speak to when he'll be healthy enough to return to the field.

After Manning, there's Matt Flynn who has often been compared to Kevin Kolb for his lack of on-the-job training followed by what's sure to be a big payday to be some team's starter. The comparisons are probably unfair, especially if Flynn can play in a system that fits his strengths (like, say, Miami).

First things first, though; after the Packers signed tight end Jermichael Finley to a two-year deal this week, the speculation was that the organization would then franchise Flynn with the plan to then tag and trade him before March 5.

On Friday, Packers general manager Ted Thompson wasn't interested in speaking in particulars, telling the media that “I’m not going to stand here and tell all the 31 other teams what I think about Matt Flynn.”

Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, however, was much more forthcoming.

“Matt’s had a chance to play versus New England (in 2010), versus Detroit (in 2011), so based on what I’ve seen in the every day — classroom, practice field — he’s ready,” McCarthy said via NFL.com. “It’s his time to play.”

“You don’t ever know if that backup quarterback can take that next step and go out and play 16 games. I know mentally, he’s ready; emotionally, he’s definitely ready,” McCarthy continued. “But until you play the position and go play those 1,100, 1,200 snaps, that’s when you really find out. I think Matt’s ready for that.”

On Thursday, NFL Films' Greg Cosell made the case for Flynn to the Dolphins and it came down to this: "It would make good sense for Flynn to join his former offensive coordinator in Miami. [New head coach Joe] Philbin understands from personal experience Flynn’s strengths and limitations. If he gets the chance, he will take a page from the Bill Walsh book, and cast Flynn in his rightful role: an efficient passer in a multi-dimensional passing game in which the scheme rules, not the quarterback."

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is reportedly "infatuated" with Manning but Sports Illustrated's Peter King thinks Peyton-to-South Beach doesn't make a lot of sense.

"As one GM told me today, problem with Peyton to Miami is Philbin wants to control his team and his offense -- not cede it to Manning," King tweeted Friday.

General manager Jeff Ireland said the organization would be okay with a "short-term solution" at quarterback but added that "Obviously you'd like a long-term solution, but you can do both."

The pool of free-agent quarterbacks is pretty thin. In fact, if you're willing to accept that Manning's future remains uncertain, Flynn is easily Miami's best option. If they agree, then the question becomes whether they can get him for a good price.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:26 pm
 

Report: Packers to cut Clifton; redo Driver deal

Cliftonem>By Josh Katzowitz

With the Packers recently agreeing to a two-year contract worth $15 million with tight end Jermichael Finley and with the team trying to figure out what to do with backup quarterback Matt Flynn, Yahoo Sports is reporting that Green Bay will cut left tackle Chad Clifton and restructure receiver Donald Driver’s contract.

If the Packers were to release Clifton and Driver, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out that the team would save about $10 million in the salary cap, which could be enough for it to franchise-tag Flynn (for the likely purposes of trading him somewhere else).

Clifton represents $5.7 million of that salary cap total, but assuming Driver restructures his contract, the Packers will add significantly to the reported $10-13 million they’re already supposedly under the cap. Tagging Flynn, meanwhile, would cost about $14 million for 2012.

While Clifton has been a key component of the Green Bay offense since the 2000 season, he only played six regular-season games last year because of a hamstring injury. Though Clifton returned for the playoffs, Marshall Newhouse played well enough in replacing Clifton that the Packers must believe he’s ready to take over the job full time.

Newhouse wasn’t great, especially in early performances, but compared to Clifton’s $5.5 million salary, the Packers could be looking at Newhouse’s $490,000 base salary for 2012 and figuring that Clifton is not 10 times the player Newhouse is.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:27 pm
 

Dolphins OK with 'short-term' fix at QB right now

The Fins are open to a long- or short-term fix at quarterback. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Perhaps you've heard already: the Miami Dolphins are in the market for a quarterback. There are myriad rumors about who they want; Matt Flynn works because Joe Philbin's his old coach. Peyton Manning works because, well, he's Peyton Manning. What about Robert Griffin III? And don't sleep on Ryan Tannehill, who Mike Sherman coached at Texas A&M.

According to Philbin and general manager Jeff Ireland, the team is in fact open to a short-term solution at the position, despite having never successfully filled the role since the departure of my esteemed colleague Mr. Marino many moons ago.

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"I don't think it has to be a long-term solution," Ireland said. "I think you can get a short-term solution. Obviously you'd like a long-term solution, but you can do both. You can certainly try and get both in that regard. But it's my job to try and grow the team for today and for the future. And Joe's responsibility is to try and win today with a mind to the future as well."

Philbin echoed Ireland's sentiments, saying that there's "not necessarily" a preference when it comes to acquiring a quarterback for the future or a quarterback who can step in right now and win.

"Not necessarily," Philbin said. "The quarterback is an important position in the offense and an important position on the football team. We've got to have a player perform with success at that position. But we don't have a mandate that the player has to be 24-years-old or 33-years-old or 29-years old.

"We're looking for a manager, a leader, an accurate passer, a decision maker and a guy who can make a play when we need it. And however that shakes out, it's fine by us."

Since Marino departed, the Dolphins have rolled out the following quarterbacks as starters: Jay Fiedler, Damon Huard, A.J. Feeley, Gus Frerotte, Sage Rosenfels, Brian Griese, Joey Harrington, Daunte Culpepper, Cleo Lemon, Trent Green, John Beck, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne, Tyler Thigpen and Matt Moore.

That's sixteen quarterbacks since Marino last played in 1999. The Dolphins, more than almost any team in the NFL (with the possible exception of the Redskins) need a long-term answer at quarterback.

But that long-term answer might not come this year, especially whatever short-term solution they're eying gives the Dolphins a chance to win now.

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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