Play Fantasy The Most Award Winning Fantasy game with real time scoring, top expert analysis, custom settings, and more. Play Now
 
Category:NFL
Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:26 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:27 pm
 

Ravens unlikely to chase RFA Mike Wallace

Don't expect Baltimore to pursue Wallace off the field. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Though the Steelers now look much more likely to retain wide receiver Mike Wallace, there's still a fear among Pittsburgh-area football fans that Wallace, a restricted free agent, could be lured away by another team. That team, according to GM Ozzie Newsome and coach John Harbaugh, won't be the Baltimore Ravens.

When asked about the Ravens going after potential restricted free agents, Newsome stressed the difficulty involved in doing so.

"The problem with going after a restricted free agent is that at that point, the player and the agent have all the leverage," Newsome said on Friday at the NFL combine. "Because you have to do a deal that you don't think the other team is going to match. And then giving up a first round pick -- with the new rules, that first-round pick, the amount of money you have to pay over the next four years, it's not like it was in the previous CBA.

"So you have to factor all of those things in before you decide to do it. There are some teams that have two [first-round picks] this year, but they'll be thinking about all those other ramifications."

Harbaugh was more blunt than Newsome, simply pointing out that pushing money towards a free-agent wide receiver simply isn't "smart" given the Ravens financial situation.

'I don’t see us spending high numbers on a wide receiver," Harbaugh said. "We just don’t have the cap room. It wouldn’t be smart."

And then there's this: the Ravens already have a deep-threat wide receiver. Asked about the need for one, with Torrey Smith on the roster, Newsome offered only good-natured, sarcastic-laced rhetorical questions.

"Did you watch us play this year? Do you think we need a deep threat?" Newsome said.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:11 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 1:29 am
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Wide receiver rankings

The 2012 free-agent wide receivers is a stacked group of players. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

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

Everyone knows the NFL is a passing league these days and that you need an elite quarterback to succeed. But take a look at the teams who made the playoffs in 2011 and you might just realize that having talented wide receivers is a must too. (Just ask Eli Manning.)

Only the Ravens, 49ers and Broncos bucked the trend, and there are mitigating circumstances. Each of those teams is run-heavy, and each of those teams has burned an early-round pick on a wideout -- Torrey Smith, Michael Crabtree and Demaryius Thomas, respectively -- in the last three years. So it’s not like they’re not trying here.

The need for wideouts was especially glaring amongst the NFL’s dregs: the Jaguars, Rams, Browns, Vikings, Redskins and Buccaneers all have something on common besides their terrible records.

Good news, then, for those teams -- this free-agent class is absolutely stacked with talented wideouts. A good portion of them could be franchise-tagged, but the guys who make it to the market are going to get straight paid.

1. Wes Welker

Breakdown: Welker’s considered the perfect fit for the Patriots, and it’s hard to argue: his numbers working in New England’s system since 2007 are absolutely bananas. 111 catches, 1,221 yards and six touchdowns ... on average. “The Patriot Way” might mean one thing on the field and at press conferences, but in the front office it means not over-paying for veterans who want too much money. That’s what Welker is right now, as he’s reportedly seeking $14-15 million per year, more than the Pats have probably invested in all their wideouts in a long time. Franchise-tagging Welker has “hold-out” written all over it, and there’s a common belief that Bill Belichick will call Welker’s bluff and let him test the market.
Potential Landing Spots: Patriots, Jets, Rams, Bears

2. Mike Wallace

Breakdown: Wallace is a restricted free agent and what happens to him this offseason is one of the more fascinating storylines to emerge from the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. If the Steelers simply tender Wallace at their non-franchise-tag max, a team in need of a deep threat could negotiate a deal with Wallace. Pittsburgh would have the right to match, but they’re in a major cap quagmire right now; if the team offering Wallace the contract simply front-loaded the deal, it would be nearly impossible for the Steelers to retain him.

They’d get a first-round pick in return, and you can bet Kevin Colbert will turn it into something nice. But there’s no better way to hurt your competition than by taking one its best players. Good news emerged for the Steelers on Thursday, as they restructured Ben Roethlisberger's contract and may have gotten under the cap. Now they just need to whack another $10 million off their total and Wallace, who is just 25 and has averaged 66 catches, 1,225 yards and nine touchdowns the past two seasons, can "finish his career" in Pittsburgh.
Potential Landing Spots: Steelers, Ravens, Patriots, Bears

3. Marques Colston

Breakdown: Colston’s the rare player who re-negotiated his rookie contract after just two years. But that’s what happens when you crank out back-to-back seasons with more than 1,000 yards and establish yourself as Drew Brees’ top target. Colston’s no longer the true No. 1 option in New Orleans -- Jimmy Graham and Darren Sproles were more involved in the passing game in 2011 -- but he’s got the tools of an elite wide receiver. And at age 28 and as the only guy not sweating a franchise tag, he’s going to get paid like one too.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Rams, 49ers

4. Dwayne Bowe

Breakdown: Bowe was a 50/50 shot to make it to the market, because the Chiefs also needed to retain cornerback Brandon Carr. But then KC landed Stanford Routt after the defensive back was discarded by the Raiders. That gives the Chiefs some flexibility with Bowe; they can franchise tag him and try to re-sign Carr later. Bowe’s a hulking presence on the field and a physical receiver capable of acrobatic and explosive plays.

Somehow he’s broken out twice in his short career (no, really, he has, even though he's just 27), and it’s scary to think what he could do in a high-octane offense with an elite quarterback. Don’t expect him to hit the market just yet though; the Chiefs can't afford to lose him in what should be a rebound year for KC's offense. He's well worth the $9.4 million.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs

5. Vincent Jackson

Breakdown: The Bolts reportedly want to pay V-Jax and keep him in San Diego long term. Which is a fantastic sentiment, but one that’s too tardy to get Jackson to take a deal that doesn’t max out his value. Because he was franchised in 2011, his franchise-tag salary for 2012 would be prohibitive. There’s some concern with his off-field history; Jackson's got a pair of DUI arrests on his record. But if A.J. Smith can’t lock him up between now and March 13, he’s going to make a boatload.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Chargers, Jaguars, 49ers, Rams

6. DeSean Jackson

Breakdown: The Eagles are expected to use the franchise tag on D-Jax, but there’s also a possibility that they’ll look to deal him elsewhere after locking him into that tag, which means another team would likely shell out an extension for the oftentimes troubling wideout. Howie Roseman said at the combine that the Eagles want to work something out long term with the receiver.

Jackson’s a home-run hitter and one of the most explosive receivers in the game, but he also feels like a powder keg at times. He’s held out from Eagles camp, he’s talked openly about wanting more money, he’s been vulnerable to injury and he’s been accused of not trying his hardest on the field at times. Will that change if he gets a big contract?
Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Redskins, Bears

7. Brandon Lloyd

Breakdown: It’s considered a near lock that Lloyd will figure out a way to land with in New England; he’s hitched his wagon to new Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. There’s good reason for that: McD is the guy who turned him into a Pro Bowler in Denver and salvaged his career. Lloyd would fit what the Patriots need well, as a wide receiver not named Ochocinco who can actually still stretch the field. But don’t count out the Rams -- Lloyd told us at the Super Bowl that with a new coaching staff in town, he’s certainly interested in sticking around and helping Sam Bradford grow.

There are some concerns with Lloyd. He's older (he'll turn 31 in July), the majority of his success came while working directly with Josh McDaniels. And there's Lloyd's 45.5 percent catch rate (according to Pro Football Focus, that's the fourth-lowest among wideouts who played at least 50 percent of their team's snaps), which could be alarming. But you could also point to the quarterbacks -- Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton, a dinged-up Sam Bradford, Kellen Clemens and A.J. Feeley, as the problem there.
Potential Landing Spots: Patriots, Rams

8. Stevie Johnson

Breakdown: It’s hard not to be fascinated by Johnson. A seventh-round pick out of Kentucky, Johnson came on strong during the 2010 season, catching 82 passes for 1,073 yards and 10 touchdowns. He repeated the feat in 2011, posting similar, albeit slightly depressed numbers. But it’s also hard not to be frustrated by Johnson. He cost his team a pair of wins -- against the Steelers in 2010 and the Jets in 2011 -- thanks to dropped passes that came after aggressive touchdown celebrations (the drop against Pittsburgh was the week after his "Why So Serious?" shot at Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens).

Johnson says he’s done with those now, but the only way he’s going to get elite money ($8 million per year range) is if someone actually believes him. The one thing no one's talking about with Johnson, though, is his ability to put up big numbers against all-world Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. In four games against the Jets over the past two years, Johnson's piled up 19 catches for 262 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His final performance against Revis in 2011 -- eight catches for 75 yards and a teeter -- should especially have, as Mike Freeman wrote in November, fellow AFC East coaches curious
Potential Landing Spots: Bills, Bengals, Rams, Jaguars, 49ers

9. Reggie Wayne

Breakdown: Lost in the whole Peyton Manning shuffle is the way that the Colts appear to be discarding Wayne, one of the organization’s all-time great receivers. Wayne grew up under Marvin Harrison, honed his craft with Manning and turned into one of the best receivers in the NFL. He’s clearly lost a step at this point, but if a team wants a veteran who can lead in the clubhouse and on the field, or simply someone who runs ridiculous precise crafts and works his tail off to prepare, Wayne’s going to be a fantastic addition. Belichick’s openly stated his admiration for Wayne, so New England’s not out of the question. He could also simply heading wherever Manning lands.
Potential Landing Spots: Patriots, Dolphins, Redskins, Cardinals, Jets

Honorable Mention: Laurent Robinson, Robert Meachem, Mario Manningham, Eddie Royal, Jerome Simpson, Pierre Garcon

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:22 pm
 

TJ Graham guarantees 'sub-4.3' 40 time at combine

TJ Graham reps NC State with a Wolfpack sign. (Will Brinson, CBSSports.com)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Wide receiver T.J. Graham produced loud numbers -- compiling 1,713 total yards on receptions (46) and kick returns (44) -- for NC State in 2011. But he'll make a bigger noise over the weekend if he follows up on a guarantee he made at the combine to run a sub-4.3 second 40-yard dash.

On Friday, we asked Graham what he expected his time to be over the weekend.

"Sub 4.3," Graham told CBSSports.com.

Thinking we might have misheard, we asked him to confirm that number. Since, as Rob Rang noted on yesterday, only 10 guys have gone sub-4.3 since 2000.

"You guaranteeing that?"

"Yup," a smiling Graham said.

40 times aren't the end-all, be-all obviously. But look at the wideouts on Rang's list of players who have gone under 4.3 seconds: Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jerome Mathis, Mike Wallace and Johnny Knox. That's a reasonably productive group of guys; if you want to argue that speed doesn't really count for anything, you'd have some work to do.

None of this means Graham is going to vault up draft boards if he posts a low number. And he could fall if he whiffs on the guarantee (especially with the Raiders not having a first-round pick this year). But Graham, the 219th overall prospect according to Rang, could certainly leapfrog some of the 27 wide receivers ranked ahead of him if he goes particularly low over the weekend.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 2:59 pm
 

Luck, Griffin won't throw at combine this week

GriffinBy Josh Katzowitz

We already knew that Robert Griffin III wasn’t planning on throwing at the scouting combine -- he confirmed that today in his talk with the media (while wearing Ninja Turtle socks!) by saying he didn’t want to throw to unfamiliar receivers.

And while there was a report that Andrew Luck wanted to throw but was told not to do so by the Colts (the team denies saying that), he confirmed today that he also won’t be showcasing his arm this weekend.

As CBSSports.com’s Clark Judge notes, Luck said he made the decision not to throw after conferring with his father.

Also, Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon won’t be running the 40 at the combine. As NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang writes, Blackmon injured his hamstring last week and though Blackmon said he might participate in a few short routes during receiver drills, he “won't do anything this week that requires ‘opening up’ and threaten his ability to perform at the Cowboys' March 7 Pro Day.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 2:10 pm
 

RG3 clearly a Ninja Turtle enthusiast

Of course RG3 wore Ninja Turtle socks today. (Will Brinson, CBSSports.com)
Eye on Football staff report

INDIANAPOLIS -- While it seems that former Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III absolutely nailed his meeting with the media today -- we seriously haven’t seen a single negative tweet about him since he started speaking, and we must have read at least 100 positive ones -- he also slam-dunked his choice of footwear.

In particular his socks, which you can see above in the photo provided by CBSSports.com’s Will Brinson.

They are Ninja Turtle socks, and though we don’t know who Griffin’s favorite Ninja Turtle is and how much Griffin might like pizza, we’re pretty sure Griffin is one of the coolest guys walking around Indianapolis this week.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:23 pm
 

Frazier: AP will NOT start running this month

Turns out AP will not be starting a running program by the end of this month. (AP)
Eye on Football staff report

INDIANAPOLIS -- Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has talked lately about returning to a running schedule by Feb. 28 in his attempt to rehab his torn ACL/MCL from the end of last season. During his talk with reporters Friday, though, Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier threw cold water all over Peterson’s optimism.

“He’s very optimistic about where he is in his rehab and the progress he’s making,” Frazier said. “He’s come along. He’s right on schedule, and he feels he’s ahead of schedule. But we do have to temper his emotions at times.”

Frazier said he and Peterson talked about that point Thursday, and that probably stems from a radio interview Peterson conducted earlier this week when he said, “I’m definitely making improvement. I’m starting to get my muscle tone and strength back into the legs. I’m happy with the progress I’ve made so far. I’m extremely happy.”

Besides, Frazier knows what can happen when Peterson attempts to return to the field before he’s completely healthy. That is, after all, what happened in December when Peterson returned from a high ankle sprain so his fantasy owners wouldn’t be mad at him. Peterson ended up suffering that gruesome season-ending injury after taking a helmet to the knee (Peterson actually heard the knee go pop-pop-pop).

“He’s got to listen to what the doctors are telling him and the rehab specialists and go at their pace,” Frazier said. “There are steps to take before you actually start running. He has to go through those steps.”

First up for Peterson before he can run on land is to begin running in the pool. Considering Peterson wanted to start running four days from now without running in the pool first, that’s just not going to happen with Frazier looming over his shoulder.

So, will Peterson stop trying to get himself ahead of schedule and stay the course set by his doctors?

“He’s begun to understand that he’s got to listen to the doctors and go at the pace they expect him to and not try to force this,” Frazier said. “Because he can do more damage than he realizes.”

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:35 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 12:45 pm
 

Fisher: Trading Bradford 'wouldn't be an option'

Bradford won't be playing anywhere other than St. Louis. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- As we noted in Thursday's "Winners and Losers" edition from the NFL combine, the Rams are sitting pretty with the No. 2 pick in the draft and the stock of Robert Griffin III growning as quickly as his measured height (RG3's added 3/8th of an inch since college!).

2012 scouting combine coverage
Draft prospect rankings
Latest mock drafts
2012 NFL scouting combine More combine coverage
Combine blog | On iTunes | Newsletter

They're likely to make a move at some point, with one of the Dolphins, Redskins or Browns making sense as a trading partner.

"We have options," Jeff Fisher said Friday at the combine. "There's the option to stay there and take the best player or listen to whoever's willing to talk."

Just don't expect them to do anything too crazy. Like, say, trade quarterback Sam Bradford.

"That wouldn't be an option," Fisher said when asked specifically about moving his current quarterback.

There's an argument that dealing Bradford would actually make sense, particularly if Robert Griffin III is as good as everyone thinks. (He is.) But Fisher's sticking with the guy he knows.

And he might bring in more familiar figures as well, noting that the Rams have had talks about bringing in Albert Haynesworth, who played for Fisher when he coached the Titans.

"There's some unrestricted free agents out there, now, that are not under contract that we are talking about" Fisher said when asked about a Haynesworth reunion. "He's one of them. Whether we go ahead and do something remains to be seen."

Haynesworth isn't the only fascinating football figure currently an unrestricted free agent. USTREAM star Randy Moss is out there as well. And Fisher not only didn't close the door on possibly bringing Moss to St. Louis either.

"You guys know my familiarity with Randy," Fisher said. "I thought he was good for the locker room."

Hmm. Perhaps we shouldn't be throwing around the phrase "nothing too crazy" after all.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed

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