Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:24 pm
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Rivera says Jeremy Shockey might retire

Ron Rivera isn't sure whether Shockey wants to play next season. (US Presswire)
Eye on Football staff report

INDIANAPOLIS -- There’s little question Jeremy Shockey isn’t the same player he was when he averaged 62 catches per season from 2004-07 with the Giants and was considered one of the best tight ends in the game. But after the Saints cut him before the 2011 season, he signed with the Panthers on a one-year, $4 million contract and played admirably alongside Greg Olsen.

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His 37 catches last year were a career-low, but the fact he played 15 games, matching the most ever during his injury-ravaged career, was a good sign. Now, however, at least one person believes he’s contemplating ending his career after 10 years in the league. 

That was the word from Carolina coach Ron Rivera at Thursday’s media session at the scouting combine.

“It was a great conversation and he just said, 'Well, we'll see,'” Rivera said. “With him, who knows?”

The last time Shockey and Rivera talked was in January after the season ended. But since then, Rivera told Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer that he hasn’t heard an update because Shockey -- who’s either a hero or a scoundrel -- has been traveling abroad.

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney, though, isn't buying it, telling the AP, "We’ve gotten no indication that Jeremy’s considering retirement at this point,” and that, “it’s ultimately a question for Jeremy but all indications we are getting is that he wants to play.”

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:44 pm
 

Eagles sign Trent Edwards to one-year deal

EdwardsBy Josh Katzowitz

In 2008, quarterback Trent Edwards had a decent-enough season with the Bills, completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 2,699 yards, 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 7-9 Buffalo squad.

But after Ryan Fitzpatrick took over the starting quarterback job -- the dance between Edwards and Fitzpatrick was enough to make former Bills star Jim Kelly go mad -- Edwards has been a non-factor in the league.

He played two games for the Bills in 2010 before Buffalo cut him and then played three games with the Jaguars. Though his name always seemed to pop up among teams who were desperate for a fill-in quarterback last season, he didn’t play at all in 2011 after the Raiders released him before the year began.

Looks like Edwards might not be unemployed for 2012, though, as the Eagles announced Thursday that they’ve signed him to a one-year deal.

Although Edwards (obviously) won’t compete with Michael Vick for the Philadelphia starting job, he’ll have a chance to beat out Mike Kafka for the right to back up Vick. And though it’s questionable whether Edwards is a legit starting quarterback in this league, he still can be a solid backup.

For a team that employs the oft-injured Vick, that’s an important component for the Eagles.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 7:54 pm
 

Harbaugh on Luck: 'He's got all the qualities'

Breaking news: Jim Harbaugh loves Andrew Luck. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- There's a weird bit of symmetry going on in Indy for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. He spent Wednesday night sitting on the bench with his brother-in-law, Indiana Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, and several of Harbaugh's former players at Stanford are prominent prospects for the 2012 NFL Draft.

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Perhaps you've heard of one of them: Andrew Luck. Luck is, according to what one scout told Mike Freeman, "almost the perfect prospect." While Harbaugh wasn't quite as effusive with his praise of Luck, he's clearly enamored with the former Stanford quarterback.

"You ever play spades?" Harbaugh asked a confused-looking crowd of reporters. "It's a trump game? He's holding a lot of aces in a lot of suits."

Harbaugh, in case you're wondering, is having fun this week. He continued to have fun with the media, bantering back and forth with a group of reporters "looking for bullet points" about his former pupil.

"He's got all the qualities, really, mentally, physically," Harbaugh said. "He's really good? How about that one? He's got a lot of talent."

Hooray for platitudes! But, no, seriously, Jim. People are putting a lot of pressure on Luck, who's been deemed the best thing since Peyton Manning supplanted sliced bread (and Harbaugh himself, actually) as the greatest thing on the planet. Is it fair?

"Fair or unfair, it's the nature of the business," Harbaugh said. "And he's very equipped to deal with. He's very mature."

Luck's definitely mature. We spoke to him at the Super Bowl and even in a few minutes, it's clear just how measured he is in his responses, without being contrite in the slightest. That doesn't make his task -- which is almost certainly going to be "filling Peyton's shoes" -- any easier. But if anyone's going to be able to do it, it's Luck.

Just ask Jim Harbaugh. Or don't.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:53 pm
 

Seahawks GM says RB Lynch will be on team in 2012

Will Lynch be a Seahawk in 2012? 'Yeah' (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was the fourth-best running back on our list of potential free agents. But it doesn't sound like there's much of a chance of him getting out of Seattle.

We noted a few days ago a report that Lynch and the Seahawks were "deep" in contract negotiations. And on Thursday at the NFL combine, John Schneider confirmed just that, saying the two sides have had "great discussions."
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"We're having great discussions and I'm actually meeting with his guy tonight," Schneider said. "But we've had great discussions since, man, probably two-to-three weeks left in the season. So there's no animosity at all. It's a good dialogue. No fistfights."

As everyone knows, the No. 1 rule of contract negotiations is "no fistfights." So that's good. Asked about the possibility of Lynch getting the franchise tag in 2012, Schneider said "sure." He also later confirmed to Clare Farnsworth of Seahawks.com ("yeah") that Lynch would be with the Seahawks for at least one more season.

We previously mentioned that Marshawn's up-and-down production in 2011 should be a big, red flag for the Seahawks. But Schneider believes (and, perhaps, rightly so) that Lynch's struggles were more a byproduct of a shortened offseason and an offensive line that didn't gel until late in the year.

"Not necessarily," Schneider said when asked if Lynch's splits were a concern. "Because were kind of coming together with our offensive line. There was a new group and an odd, odd offseason," Schneider said. "So with him it was more of a timing thing with his reads and anticipation. Once the guys up front started coming together he kind of took off, and we had those injuries to [James] Moffitt and [James] Carpenter and we had some guys step in and play real well. Once those guys became more of a cohesive group he just continued to perform at a high level."

The price for Lynch, either in a long-term deal or via the $7.7 million tag, is pretty steep. But if putting Lynch on a one-year contract motivates him to run like he did in the latter half of 2011, it'll look like a steal by this time next year.

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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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Posted on: February 23, 2012 6:07 pm
 

Report: Browns will go after Matt Flynn

Flynn

By Josh Katzowitz

The list of potential suitors for Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn continues to grow. Already, you know the Dolphins are interested, and Green Bay probably would like to bring him back so the team can then (possibly) trade him away.

But according to the Canton Repository, the Browns also will make a play for the fourth-year veteran who’s made exactly two starts in his career (though he admittedly was pretty awesome in both those starts).

As Steve Doerschuk writes, “There will be a budget that will not be exceeded in the play for Flynn. Peyton Manning’s presence on the market drives down his price.  … That still leaves the Dolphins as a suitor … and as the likely lander of Flynn.”

The paper also notes that Browns president Mike Holmgren is “no great fan” of quarterback competition, and if Cleveland can land Flynn, the team would make him the starter instead of Colt McCoy.

It’s still unclear whether the Browns, who hold the No. 4 spot in April’s draft, will try to trade with the Rams to move up to the No. 2 position to grab Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, but on Wednesday, Browns coach Pat Shurmur had some nice things to say about McCoy*.

In like Flynn?
"We're looking forward him to improving through the offseason," Shurmur said. "I think it will make a big difference in year two (of) me being here.  I told him to prepare himself to get as much out of this offseason as possible. I'm expecting him to attack this offseason and get as good as he can get within our system. He really works at things and that's going to help him."

*Basically, it seems like nobody has any idea what the Browns will do.

Flynn, meanwhile, is looking forward to striking out on his own as a potential starting quarterback.

"I'm a confident person but the element of the unknown makes you wish March 13 was tomorrow," Flynn said this week. "I've loved being a Packer, and it's not 100 percent sure I'm leaving Green Bay, but as a competitor and football player, that's what you play the game for -- to be a starter in the league. Hopefully some teams will be interested in me and I can find a good opportunity. I want to lead a team and I'm excited about it. But I can't talk to teams now. I don't know if I'm on their radar. It's going to be a long month leading up to that time -- waiting and wondering."

While you still have to consider Miami the favorite to land Flynn (even if there are no billboards of him on I-95) because of the connection with new Dolphins coach/former Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, it will be interesting to see if the Browns actually can make themselves a player in this lottery.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 5:09 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 9:19 pm
 

Report: Big Ben restructures contract for PIT

It's not ideal, but the Steelers can survive in a Wallace-less offense. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Since it now seems that the most important thing in the world for the Steelers to do this offseason is keep Mike Wallace in the organization -- clearly the franchise is being truthful when it says it wants the receiver to spend his entire career in Pittsburgh -- even Ben Roethlisberger is willing to sacrifice.

According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Roethlisberger has restructured his contract so the Steelers can save about $8 million in cap space for 2012. Reporter Ed Bouchette writes that the cap space saved by the Roethlisberger restructuring will put the Steelers at about the cap limit of $120 million (the deadline is March 13).

Roethlisberger signed an eight-year, $102 million deal in 2008, and though he was originally supposed to make $11.6 million in 2012, Pittsburgh has taken $10.7 million of that and converted it into a signing bonus. As Mac’s Football Blog points out, the signing bonus will then add $2.675 million to the Steelers salary cap from 2013-2015. Roethlisberger, who now has restructured his deal for the second time in six months, will make at least $11.6 million per year in those three seasons.

Pittsburgh clearly wants to keep Wallace, a restricted free agent this offseason, for the long term, and in order to do that, the Steelers will have to sign him to a long, rich contract. Or they could franchise tag him, which would cost the team about $9.5 million for 2012. Even with Roethlisberger’s restructuring -- and he's not the only one, as the team has reworked the contracts of Lawrence Timmons, LaMarr Woodley and Ike Taylor -- reaching that mark probably will be tough.

And at this point, Wallace isn’t sure he’ll return to his team.

"(Pittsburgh is) where I would like to be, but we all know that it is a business and you have certain things you have to handle," Wallace told Sirius XM NFL radio on Wednesday. "So if I have to go elsewhere, you know Pittsburgh will always be in my heart, but I have to do what I have to do.

"Yeah, we are talking, but I don`t know how far they are going to get right now because of the situation. I know that they are working hard trying to take care of it, but I don`t know. We`ll see.”

Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert is a bit more optimistic, saying Thursdasy (via the AP), "I'm confident Mike wants to finish his career with the Steelers."

Most likely, the Steelers will place a first-round tender on Wallace, but a team that needs receiver help and that has plenty of space under its respective salary cap (and can let go of a first-round pick) might have a better chance of making an offer to Wallace the Steelers simply can’t match. Then, it won’t matter what Roethlisberger has sacrificed, because one of his top targets will be gone.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 4:55 pm
 

OT Martin says he's top tackle 'without a doubt'

Stanford's Martin doesn't exactly lack for confidence. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Stanford's Jonathan Martin is NFLDraftScout.com's third-ranked offensive tackle in the 2012 NFL Draft. He would absolutely disagree with that assessment, however.

And Martin, who measured in at 6'5" and 312 pounds, said as much on Thursday at the NFL combine, stating that he is "without a doubt" the best tackle in this draft. He then compared himself directly with NDS' top-rated tackle, USC's Matt Kalil.

"I don't know if there are specifics I can really name," Martin said when asked to compare the two. "I just think all around I'm a better player. He is own right is a really good player. We have similar offenses so I've watched a lot of him on film these past couple of years also."

Martin confirmed a report from Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com that he's been dealing with food poisoning and that he wouldn't do any lifting or field drills at the combine because he's "been sick the last couple of days," waiting until his pro day to workout.

When asked about contact with teams, Martin said he hasn't had "any formal interviews yet." He did say that he he spoke to the Redskins on Wednesday night and hasn't had any contact with the Lions as of yet.

In the latest slate of mock drafts, only Pat Kirwan has Martin "sliding" -- and Pat pegs Martin to the Cardinals at 13 (everyone else has Martin going eleventh-overall to the Chiefs). He's a top-end talent with plenty of upside. And, as Rang pointed out, missing the combine workouts won't hurt him too much.

There should be one or two pro scouts in attendance for Stanford's pro day.

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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