Tag:Tennessee TItans
Posted on: March 8, 2012 10:19 am
Edited on: March 8, 2012 3:29 pm
 

Up to 12 teams contacted Peyton Manning Wednesday

So ... many ... choices ... (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Wednesday, the Colts released Peyton Manning, a sentence that still seems weird to write.

Also on Wednesday, the Manning-to-Team-X rumor mill got chugging along nicely. It's believed that as many as a dozen NFL teams (12!) have been in contact with Manning's camp, or Manning's agent Tom Condon. However, CBSSports.com's NFL Insider Mike Freeman reported Thursday morning that some folks believe Manning's already narrowed his list. Freeman points to the Dolphins, Redskins and ... Broncos as the short list.

Peyton's Free Agency

But for the sake of really figuring out who's in play, let's break down the teams that could've/should've/might've contacted Manning on Wednesday. Follow the parenthesis for the full count.

49ers (X) general manager Trent Baalke told everyone that the 49ers are not interested in Manning. That doesn't technically preclude any contact on their part, but it does point to a low interest level.

Despite the presence of Tebowmania, the Broncos (1) are absolutely interested in Manning. See: Freeman's report, as well as a report from Mike Klis of The Denver Post Wednesday, in which Klis says the Broncos will check in with Manning but believes they will likely stick with Tebow. That's probably more as a result of striking out on Manning, but as Freeman notes, maybe they're in play after all.  

The Dolphins (2) are quite obviously interested. Our buddy Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post believes the Dolphins are in the pole position to land Manning. And there's good reason to think Volin is right, the least of which is that he's in South Beach right now. (Well, we assume he's still there.) Adding to the pressure of Miami, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat Twitter account are all recruiting/harassing Peyton.

Speaking of the AFC East, the Jets (3) are another divisional team purportedly in hot pursuit of Manning. Or purportedly "split" about whether or not they want to chase Manning. They do. They know it. The problem? They just don't think they can actually get him, so they're trying to play it cool.

The most obvious suitor? The Washington Redskins (4), who essentially feel like they're already drunk-dialing Condon to talk about Manning. What? That counts as an "aggressive" pursuit of a free agent.

Or maybe the Seahawks (5) are the most aggressive team ... only they're going about it quietly. Albert Breer of the NFL Network reported they'd be the first team on the phone with Peyton Wednesday, and Peter King and Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated both believe John Schneider and Pete Carroll would be in hot pursuit of Manning. It's interesting, as Doug Farrar of Shutdown Corner notes, because Schneider said at the combine that he wasn't interested in "passing camp" quarterbacks.

Thursday, Adam Schefter of ESPN named a couple additional teams as well. Most notably, he cited the Chiefs (6) as a suitor for Manning. They make a lot of sense. Schefter also listed the Titans (7) as a team that contacted Manning, but that goes contrary to what they said they'd do. Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean also reports that the Titans have not (6) had contact with Manning.

That's six teams, which is a lot. And yes, I'm ignoring the Titans. I'm also ignoring the Texans, who were already ruled out by King. So who are the other six teams?

The Cardinals (7) are a team that we haven't mentioned yet, but they're still my favorite to land Manning. They have a limited window to land Manning because of the Kevin Kolb roster bonus due on March 17, and they can't be too public about their pursuit of Manning (well, Darnell Dockett can). But maybe they don't have to be public about anything: Manning has reportedly put out his own "feelers" to talk with the Cards. It probably has nothing to do with Larry Fitzgerald.

Then there's a slew of cruddy teams that we should add off the bat: the Browns (8), the Bills (9) and the Jaguars (10) are all teams with quarterbacks. But they're also teams with quarterbacks who are not Peyton Manning. And if the respective GMs of those clubs didn't at least call and say "Hey, would he be interested in playing in our city for our team?" then they should be jailed for negligence.

So we need a pair of sleepers now. Let's rule out the rest of the AFC; for one reason or another, everyone has a quarterback. Let's also rule out the NFC East. We've already included the NFC West, sans the Rams. Only one team from the NFC South and the NFC North needs a quarterback.

So only two teams remain: the Vikings (11) and the Buccaneers (12). OK, Christian Ponder and Josh Freeman are both recent first-round picks, but this is Peyton Manning we're talking about. They'd be nuts not to at least inquire through backchannels if there was any possible interest.

If you think I missed someone, leave em in the comments. Or argue why your team deserves Manning.

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Posted on: March 7, 2012 1:57 pm
 

Dolphins odds-on favorite to get Manning

By Josh Katzowitz

In case you’re a gambling man or woman (and I know you are), here are the latest odds of where Peyton Manning will end up next.

If you want expert picks, here’s what we at CBSSports.com think. Otherwise, study what Sportsbook.com -- which is making the Dolphins the odds-on favorite to win Manning's services -- has to offer.

Cardinals + 350

Broncos +2000

Field (Any Other Team) +300

Texans +1000

Chiefs +550

Dolphins +250

Jets +600

No Team (Doesn’t throw a pass in 2012/2013 Regular Season) +1500

49ers +1500

Seahawks +800

Titans +2500

Redskins +600

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:28 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 12:40 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Offensive line rankings

Is Nicks, our top free-agent offensive lineman, done hoisting Brees? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling lists of the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the offensive linemen.

It's not the sexiest position in the NFL -- just ask Andre "C-Cup" Smith -- and there's a feeling in the NFL these days, whether it's right or wrong, that offensive line is becoming a fungible position. It's OK to laugh at that idea, because a few years ago, wide receiver was the same way. It'll shift back and forth in the next few years. Right now, you'll pay a nice price to land a wideout and offensive linemen are relatively cheap.

Some of the guys on the list below won't be cheap however. There's a pretty nice group of offensive linemen hitting the market this year, and teams might be wise to avoid trying to race in the free-agent market and focus their efforts on improving protection.

1. Carl Nicks

Breakdown: Nicks is probably the best guard in the league, and it doesn't help that his teammate, Jahri Evans, signed a $56.7 million deal for the next seven years. Especially since Nicks wants more money. With Drew Brees franchised, the Saints are essentially forced to let Nicks and top wideout Marques Colston both hit the market and good luck bringing Nicks back. He's the only guy who can hurt the guard-related stock for Stanford's David DeCastro.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints, Cowboys, Chargers, 49ers

2. Chris Myers

Breakdown: Honestly if Meyers left it would be a) a huge mistake for the Texans and b) a big surprise. Everyone talks about Mario Williams as the guy they need to re-sign, but Meyers is substantially more valuable to what they do (especially with the defensive personnel vs. the offensive personnel). Houston's offensive line is by far and away the most underrated in the NFL and while Eric Winston is the anchor, Meyers is the leader. I'd like to think that Houston won't let him walk, simply because the AFC South window is too big not to keep making a run at another division title.
Potential Landing Spots: Texans, Packers, Ravens

3. Jared Gaither

Breakdown: Gaither was a supplemental draft pick with the Ravens in 2007, washed out, went to the Chiefs and then looked finished in the NFL at an early age. But he was a big factor in revitalizing the Chargers run late in the season; after Marcus McNeil went down, Philip Rivers was offered no protection until Gaither came into town. The Chargers want to keep him, but this is a very shallow class for free-agent tackles, and Gaither could pull in good money on the market. He's got gobs of talent and is still young, but keeping him motivated is a concern.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

4. Ben Grubbs

Breakdown: Grubbs, the Ravens 2007 first-round pick, made the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2011. He's a free agent only because Baltimore's had to use their franchise tag on Ray Rice and couldn't commit to the guard. The Ravens still want to re-sign Grubbs, and that could happen between now and March 13 when free agency begins. Working in the Ravens favor is the deep nature of this crop of free-agent guards.
Potential Landing Spots: Ravens, Bengals, Giants, Bears, 49ers

4. Scott Wells

Breakdown: Wells and the Packers are in the middle of a headed non-discussion about a new contract. Wells believes he deserves big money, and the Packers believe he deserves the type of money that a shorter, 31-year-old center would get on an open market. But Wells isn't just any center; he's proven his worth in working with different quarterbacks in Green Bay and helping to develop Aaron Rodgers. Wells made his first Pro Bowl in 2011 and has missed just one game since 2006. He won't want to leave Green Bay but he also won't take less than he's worth. It wouldn't be surprising to see him move closer to Tennessee (he's from there and played for the Vols in college) either.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Texans, Broncos

5. Demetrius Bell

Breakdown: Bell's been playing football for less than 10 years, but he's clearly quite good at it. Or at least good enough to keep being named the Bills left tackle. The seventh-round pick out of Northwestern State could come back to Buffalo, but if there are teams in need of offensive line help, there's a good chance he'll bail. The offensive line market is odd this year, in that it appears to be guard and center heavy. The tackles aren't exactly stacked and that could result in a nice deal for a guy like Bell.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Bills, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

6. Evan Mathis

Breakdown: Mathis hasn't started 16 games since coming into the NFL. But he's coming off easily the best season of his career and has said he'll take a discount to remain with the Eagles under the tutelage of Howard Mudd. Mathis said he'd work for "$20 and a pizza," but the reality is he got paid the league minimum last year, and at 30, he'd be insane not to maximize his money-making ability.
Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers

8. Geoff Schwartz

Breakdown: Schwartz played all over the line for Carolina in 2010 before missing all of 2011 with injury. It'll be interesting to see Ron Rivera's coaching staff handles the offensive line: Schwartz and Jeff Otah are holdovers from a previous regime and might not necessarily stick. But Schwartz, at 25, would be a nice, versatile and discounted signing for someone who needs help and depth across the line.
Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Bills, Panthers, Seahawks

9. Dan Koppen

Breakdown: You know what's weird? Everyone's willing to toss out the "system" word as it relates to anything with the Patriots quarterback but don't bother discussing how their offensive line, which features a pretty cohesive unit, helps Tom Brady's success. Whatever, it's fine. That's the "Patriot Way." But Koppen isn't going to get the franchise tag like fellow lineman Logan Mankins and he stands to make more money for a team that needs a center.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Ravens

10. Jake Scott

Breakdown: The good news is this: Scott played for an offensive-line monster in Mike Munchak. Munchak consistently creates cohesive offensive units that over-produce relative to their value. But the bad news is that Scott's 30 (not too old) and if you bring him into another organization, he's not going to have that same Titans cohesiveness. Is that overplayed? Yeah, maybe. But Scott will have bigger questions when it comes to Chris Johnson's production in 2011, whether that's fair or not.
Potential Landing Spots: Titans, Saints, Eagles, Seahawks

HONORABLE MENTION

Jeff Backus, Nick Hardwick, Vernon Carey, Anthony Collins

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 1:21 pm
 

Safety Michael Griffin franchise tagged by Titans

Griffin, seen here tagging Lee Evans, got tagged himself on Monday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

The Tennessee Titans informed safety Michael Griffin that they would use their franchise tag on him, the team announced on Monday afternoon.

With the deadline for utilizing franchise tags (4 p.m. ET) fast approaching, the Titans faced a decision as to whether Griffin or cornerback Cortland Finnegan would receive the designation.

The team ultimately chose to tag Griffin, who will receive a guaranteed, one-year salary of $6.2 million if he signs his tender. Griffin's not always the most consistent player, but that's good value for a position that doesn't feature much available elite talent.

Griffin's the third safety to be tagged this offseason, with 49ers safety Dashon Goldson and Raiders safety Tyvon Branch already receiving the tag. (Keep up with all franchise tags by bookmarking our handy 2012 NFL Franchise Tag Tracker.)

Franchising Griffin means that Finnegan is likely to hit the open market; Aaron Wilson of Scout.com reports that the Titans and Finnegan haven't had any serious talks about a long-term deal.

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Posted on: March 4, 2012 2:36 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 5:11 pm
 

CJ2K predicts he'll be league leader again

Johnson believes he can lead the league in rushing once again. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

In case you missed it last year, Titans running back Chris Johnson didn’t exactly have a stellar 2011.

After holding out and missing all of training camp and most of the preseason because he wanted a new long-term contract -- you couldn’t blame him for his desire for a raise, considering his original base salary was $800,000 -- he eventually signed a four-year, $53.5 million contract. And proceeded to tank.

The season, in fact, went so poorly that we wondered midway through whether Tennessee would simply part ways with Johnson.

Johnson finished the year with 1,042 rushing yards, but his yards per carry and his touchdowns significantly decreased. It was, by far, the worst season of his career, and with questions about his elusiveness and his desire to be a top player, it was easy to forget the 2,006 yards he gained in 2009.

Clearly, though, Johnson hasn’t lost confidence in himself. Or his predilection to make predictions about what he plans to accomplish in the next season. So, he’s taking to the Twitter machine for his latest proclamation.

“Statement is I'm gonna lead the league n rushing this year save this,” Johnson wrote Saturday.

Surely, the Titans wouldn’t mind that prediction coming true for the man who finished tied for 14th in the league last season. And there’s also this to think about: Johnson didn’t only miss the entire offseason because of the lockout but he also held out for all of August as well. Clearly, his body never caught up after so much time missed.

With a full offseason and training camp to prepare, Johnson very well could return to the form that allowed him to make so much money in the first place. Johnson’s prediction isn’t necessarily a bold one, because we saw his top form not too long ago.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 9:40 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 11:38 am
 

Report: Bucs want to hire Schiano; Jerry Gray out

Greg Schiano apparently has been offered the Tampa Bay job (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

While the Buccaneers coaching search has turned somewhat disastrous -- a flip-flop rejection from Oregon’s Chip Kelly will do that for you -- it seems like Tampa Bay also is getting closer to naming their next head coach.

And that new head coach is reportedly Rutgers coach Greg Schiano.

620 WDAE in Tampa reported (via the Tampa Bay Tribune) that Rutgers coach Greg Schiano also is a candidate, and ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported that team plans to hire Schiano and that the two sides are working out a contract agreement.

The Newark Star Ledger reported earlier this month that Schiano wouldn't have an interest in coaching in the NFL. Schiano was a secondary coach for the Bears from 1996-98, and he's been at Rutgers for the past 11 years. In the past, he's turned down potential head coaching opportunities at the University of Michigan and the University of Miami.

But like the Chip Kelly story, this potential hire has seemingly come ouf nowhere.

As CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson wrote Wednesday, former Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman and Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski were reported to haved received second interviews with the team. On Thursday, Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray told the Tampa Bay Times that he’s officially out of the running.

"Told me they were going in a different direction," Gray told the newspaper.

Latest Coaching News, Rumors


Gray found out he was no longer in the running during an early-morning call from Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik, and the paper also reported that a source said the team is planning to continue paring down the coaching candidate list today.

Other than Chudzinski, Sherman and Gray, the team also was connected to Marty Schottenheimer, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (who pulled his name out of the search a few weeks ago) and Packers quarterback coach Tom Clements.

Gray also had been a candidate for the Colts job that went to Chuck Pagano on Wednesday.

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Posted on: January 13, 2012 3:35 pm
Edited on: January 13, 2012 3:44 pm
 

Winners/losers from the Jeff Fisher saga

In every contest, even coach hirings, there are winners and losers. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

With the news that Jeff Fisher picked the Rams over the Dolphins now confirmed by CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman, we figured we'd take a look at the saga from the knee-jerk perspective of picking winners and losers.

Trust us, someone always wins. And someone always loses. It's life. Leave yours in the comments.

WINNERS

Jeff Fisher: Stop us if we're being too obvious, but the dude straight cleaned up, you guys. We don't have contract details yet, but Mike Freeman's already reported that the Dolphins feel "used." If that's the case, Fisher's getting a pile of money from the Rams and the word on the street is he'll be picking his own general manager. He got everything he wanted and more when he became the top candidate in the coaching candidate class, even if he's not worth it.

Mike Zimmer: As Albert Breer of the NFL Network notes, Zimmer now moves to the front of the Dolphins coaching list. He's previously worked with 'Fins general manager Jeff Ireland in Dallas, and could be a good fit in Miami. He's also getting mentioned for the Buccaneers gig (and will interview with Tampa Bay), which means the Dolphins might feel a need to hurry things up on Zimmer and get something done, which could land him his first job as a head coach. At the very least, he has leverage now.

Carolina Panthers: When Jay Gruden pulled out of the running for the Rams gig, it looked like Fisher picking the Dolphins could really open up the door for St. Louis to hire Panthers offensive coordinator Rod Chudzinski. Instead, Chud's primary option is to bolt for the Bucs, which seems less likely.

Gregg Williams: Williams is doing just fine with the Saints now, but his contract's up and there's a decent chance he bolts to work with his old boss in Tennessee. It's not like he was going to get canned from New Orleans (we don't expect him to anyway), but now he has leverage with both the Saints and Rams and could potentially pick the job he wants. Or, if New Orleans wanted to move along after a bad defensive year, Williams wouldn't be burnt. Plus, if he can turn around the Rams defense, he'll likely parlay that into another head-coaching gig.

Lake Dawson: The current VP of Football Operations for the Titans has already interviewed with the Rams. He seems like a pretty solid bet to land the general manager position with St. Louis now.

Mustaches: Fisher's got one a stash that's strong enough to grow icicles, store lunch for later and generally support the weight of a pint of Guinness head. Him patrolling the sidelines for an NFL football team only enhances the manly allure of lip fur.

LOSERS

Stephen Ross: For the second year in a row, Ross' Dolphins have come in second place while chasing a big-name coaching candidate. Last year it was Jim Harbaugh (how's that working out for the 49ers?) and this year it was Fisher. At least this time Ross wasn't already employing a coach when he went chasing after a big name.

Stan Kroenke: If the reports that Fisher doesn't have a contract are true, um, WUT? Why would Kroenke let himself get in this situation? No general manager, a coach who "picked" him and no agreement with that coach in place other than "you get power"? Doesn't this mean Fisher kind of runs the negotiations on his contract and salary from here on out?

Jeff Ireland: Whether or not the rumors about Fisher demanding power are true is irrelevant, because they're out there, and that means it looks like, to many people, that the Dolphins front office is a bit of a mess. (The "Carl Peterson might be running his own coaching search" rumors don't help much either.)

St. Louis Rams: Oh yeah, we went there. Though it's entirely possible that Fisher will be a good hire and he'll lead the Rams back to respectability quickly, St. Louis is still going all in on Fisher at this point. What if they're wrong and just handed a pile of cash, the power to select a general manager and a long contract to a guy who only won 10-plus games six times in his 17-year career with the Titans? Oh, right. They did just do that.

Justin Blackmon: Given that the Titans only once used a first-round pick on a wide receiver (1998, Kevin Dyson), it would be somewhat surprising to see them pull the trigger on Blackmon at No. 2 overall. Obviously this can change depending on how he works out and what sort of trades emerge, but Fisher's spent a lot of picks on defense during his days in Tennessee.

LeBron James: Because one of Fisher's highly-publicized choices was the Miami area, everyone and his brother will now use the line "Take his talents to St. Louis." It won't ever die, LeBron.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 12:16 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 12:57 pm
 

Report: Williams could follow Fisher (to Rams?)

Could Jeff Fisher and Gregg Williams join forces in 2012? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is known for his aggressive, blitz-happy style and it's served New Orleans well in recent years (also helping: having Drew Brees on the other side of the ball dropping 400 yards a game on helpless opponents). But Williams has been an NFL coach for more than two decades, getting his start with the Houston Oilers in 1990. He coached under Buddy Ryan during that time, and became the Titans' defensive coordinator in 1997, four seasons into Jeff Fisher's tenure.

Williams and Fisher's paths have diverged in the years since; the former was the Bills' head coach from 2001-03, the Redskins defensive coordinator under Joe Gibbs (2004-07), the Jags' DC (2008), before landing in New Orleans in 2009. The latter coached the Titans through 2010, took 2011 off and now looks to be a prime candidate for either the Rams or Dolphins gig in '12.

And when Fisher returns, he could be interested in bringing Williams with him. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, "many around the league" will leave New Orleans after the season and -- to borrow a phrase -- join forces with Fisher. The two helped lead the Titans to Super Bowl XXXIV in January 2000, a 23-16 loss to the "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams.

Meanwhile, sources tell CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman that it's "95 percent certain" that Fisher is headed to St. Louis. 

More corroboration: FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer reported during Sunday's pregame show that the Dolphins have moved on from Fisher, presumably because they think he's leaning towards taking the St. Louis gig. (Glazer tweets: "I'd be shocked if Fisher isn't Rams new coach in next 48 hours. He's at Rams complex mtg w Bradford and others.")

Then there's this: "Unless something didn't work for the Rams or for Jeff when they met Thursday, it was always planned that there would be a follow-up in St. Louis," a source very close to Fisher told the St. Louis Post-Distpatch's Jim Thomas. Like Glazer, Thomas thinks that "Fisher wouldn't be visiting Rams Park on Sunday if he wasn't seriously considering becoming the next head coach of the St. Louis Rams."

More details via Thomas:
In interviews with Miami and St. Louis, Fisher did a lot of listening. He wanted to get a sense of each owner's vision for the franchise, but also check on more mundane matters as well.

Fisher went into both meetings with a checklist of all the non-economic things important to him, seeking to get those answered to his — and the club's — satisfaction. …The idea was to avoid any remorse or misunderstanding once the parties started discussing financial terms.
As for the Dolphins, other candidates they might now be interested in include Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, Packer offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, and Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. 

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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