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Tag:2012 Combine
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!).

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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.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 11:29 am
Edited on: February 24, 2012 12:16 pm
 

Elway: Broncos open to 'either' kind of backup QB

John Elway and Denver haven't made a decision about Tebow's potential backup quarterbacks. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- John Elway has a tough task in front of him when it comes to filling out his quarterback depth chart. Logic dictates that the Broncos would like to get backup quarterbacks for Tebow that can run the read-option offense, or at least a version of it.

But Elway said the Broncos haven't made a decision on what kind of backup quarterbacks they'll seek out, and that be believes either a "ordinary" quarterback or "one like Tim" could work in the Broncos offense.

"We're going through that process now," Elway said Friday at the combine. "We kind of have to let it happen. I don't know if we're looking for one like Tim, or your ordinary dropback or somewhere in between. Until we find out the interest out there, it's going to be hard to fill those spots. But I think that when I look at Tim and our offense, we can go with either one, whether it be a guy like Tim or if it's more of a dropback guy. We feel like either one is going to fit."

We'd probably disagree with his assessment here, at least based on what we saw from the Broncos in 2011. Their offense worked well at times, but it's impossibly difficult to ask the rest of Denver's personnel to switch back-and-forth from a read-option-type offense to a "normal" NFL offense.

Additionally, there's are different personnel requirements for each type of offense; obviously everyone "wants talent" and whatnot, but if you're constructing the ideal offensive line for a Tebow-style offense, by nature it's going to be different than the type of line you'd construct for a "normal" offense.

The Broncos could still end up grabbing one of each -- how does a Chad Henne/Russell Wilson combo strike you? -- but it may be harder to effectively fill out and organize the quarterback depth chart than Elway could possibly ever expect.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:45 am
 

2012 NFL Combine Day 1: Winners and losers

Whatever you say, Mr. Ryan. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Forgive us for not primarily focusing on draft-related players in this edition of knee-jerk judgments. But on the first day of the NFL combine, there were relatively few players of note to talk to; none of the interior linemen made appearances with the media, there were some lonely kickers and punters present, and not all of the tight ends showed up.

Most of the media sessions were spent chatting up various general manages and coaches, every single one of whom was asked about Peyton Manning and/or Andrew Luck. Or their own quarterback.

Winners

Andrew Luck: Luck isn't even in Indianapolis yet (that we know of) and he's already getting swooned over, as Mike Freeman wrote earlier on Thursday. The only flaw that people can find is his arm strength, and even that's a stretch. More good news is that his former coach, Jim Harbaugh, thinks he'll handle the pressure of all the expectations surrounding him just fine. Don't expect the hypemobile to drop speed between now and late April.

St. Louis Rams
: On Thursday night, we told a St. Louis radio station that Jeff Fisher would be sitting back and smoking a cigar by the time Robert Griffin III finished running his 40-yard dash. That's because Fisher and the Rams will be holding an auction for Griffin, the clear-cut, second-best (if second ...) quarterback in the draft. Everyone in Indy's glowing about the kid and he hasn't arrived yet either. And everyone interested should get involved. If the Browns, Dolphins and Redskins don't get involved, they're doing themselves a disservice, because RG3 is going to good in the NFL. Make the move, pay the picks and reap the benefits. Fisher's willing to do just that.

Green Bay Packers: There seems to be a lot of speculation about teams wanting Packers backup quarterback Matt Flynn around Indy right now. (The Browns, Dolphins and Seahawks could all be interested parties.) Now that Green Bay's locked up Jermichael Finley for two more years, they can, if they want, apply the franchise tag to Flynn and then trade him for the best offer they get from one of the interested teams. As long as they get more than whatever the compensatory pick would be, they win in this deal.

Pittsburgh Steelers: Shortly after Kevin Colbert stated that he wanted wide receiver Mike Wallace to retire as a Steeler, Pittsburgh managed to restructure Ben Roethlisberger's contract. Making Ben more expensive in the future might not help in the future, but it means right now the Steelers can keep Mike Wallace. The No. 1 wideout in Pittsburgh's gotten flak as the heat's cranked up on the possibility of him leaving, but the fact remains that he's the team's best wideout. Antonio Brown is a stud -- the only guy who we know that loves Brown more than we do is fantasy expert Dave Richard -- and he'll keep improving. But Brown doesn't become team MVP without Wallace keeping top cornerbacks away from his side of the field.

LaRon Landry: Holy muscles, Batman. Did he hijack Ryan Braun's FedEx package or something? We kid, we kid. (But no, seriously: we're joking.) On the first day of young football playing fellas flexing their muscles for the public, Landry stole the show with his ripped Twitter pics.

Losers

Jonathan Martin: Forgive us for not loving everyone out of Stanford, or for not giving Martin credit for having confidence. But the athletic offensive tackle won't be participating in most of the drills at the combine, because of food poisoning. (We asked him what he ate, and he didn't remember, but said it was in Arizona. Fear not, consumers of spicy shrimp cocktails.) Martin also repeatedly said he's the best tackle available in the draft, and said "without a doubt" he's better than Matt Kalil. Competition is fun, and confidence is good, but we're not sure why he's talking a big game if he's not participating in the drills.

Mark Sanchez: As Clark Judge noted, "Sanchez should be worried." That's because Rex Ryan came out and made no bold guarantees (a staple of the combine for Ryan) regarding the job security of his starting quarterback. It's OK for Rex to downplay the interest the Jets could have in Peyton Manning; Manning's not a free agent yet, and there are roughly 25 NFL teams that will at least discuss what Manning could do to their franchise. But the lack of guarantees for Sanchez during a tumultuous offseason should be concerning for the Jets current starting quarterback.

Kevin Kolb: Like Sanchez, Kolb didn't exactly get ringing endorsements from the guys who cut his checks. Ken Whisenhunt and Rod Graves didn't explicitly say they'd think about dumping Kolb (due a roster bonus on March 17) if Manning became available, but they sure didn't slam the door on the idea. 

Tight Ends: This is the new position that's redefining the NFL, right? Well, um, here's the problem (as also noted by CBSSports.com's own Pete Prisco): where were these guys during their big combine day? Rob Gronkowski was the story during the Super Bowl, and for a week after. Jimmy Graham shattered records. Vernon Davis was the guy who made Alex Smith great. And Orson Charles, the third-rated tight end by NFLDraftScout.com, said he's happy to sit and learn behind someone like Tony Gonzalez?Love the attitude. Love it, and Gonzo's the man. But if you're a coming into college and someone tries to steer you away from playing tight end in college, don't listen to them. Or listen to them and stop playing basketball?

Stevie Johnson: We've thought he'd get the franchise tag from Buffalo at minimum. But in listening to Bills head coach Chan Gailey, that's just not happening. Or it might; but Gailey's description of Johnson was quintessential "we're sorry to lose Stevie." He said he wouldn't miss Stevie until Stevie was gone and then cited the "business" of the game. Those aren't the words of a coach who's pumped to be celebrating a new contract for his franchise wideout.

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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 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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Posted on: February 23, 2012 4:21 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 4:31 pm
 

Rex regrets guarantee, won't rule out Peyton

The Manning-to-New York speculation won't die just quite yet. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- This time last year, Rex Ryan stood up on the podium at the NFL combine and guaranteed that the Jets would win a Super Bowl in 2011. Whoops.

No such guarantees from Rex this year, but last year's promise was the topic of his opening remarks for his 2012 press conference. And Ryan said that he believes his guarantee "contributed" to last year's "terrible" season.

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"It's something I've been thinking about a great deal and obviously we had a terrible season and I'll take full responsibility for it," Ryan said. "I think part of that guarantee really contributed to that. Now looking forward, which I can't wait to do, with that upcoming season. First off: no promises. There won't be any promises."

Rex's own comments weren't the only ones he didn't like. Asked about Greg McElroy's comments regarding the team's locker-room chemistry, Rex made it clear that didn't sit well with him.

"I was angry about it," Ryan said. "I never agreed with all the statements he made, but hey, the thing about our football team is that we're truly a transparent organization. You're going to know a lot about the New York Jets in the great times, but you're also going to know a lot about us in the not-so-good times."

"Are you talking about my son? Or some other Peyton?" "First off, Peyton's under contract to a different team so I can't talk about him specifically. But with our organization, we will look at everybody. There's a list of 10 free-agent quarterbacks that I've looked at. There's the draft guys I've looked at. In my opinion, we have the best cornerback in football history -- along with Deion Sanders -- and we're still looking at a million corners.

"We will do -- always -- what's in the best interest of our organization. For us, that means we're going to be prepared. We're going to look at any possibility that out's there, perceived or otherwise.

"We will look at all possibilities."

In other words, even though Rex is currently throwing his full support behind Mark Sanchez, the Jets not looking at Peyton is far from a guarantee.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 2:03 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 2:08 pm
 

Cardinals won't shut the door on Peyton Manning

Eye on Football Illustration (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- The Cardinals, despite having Kevin Kolb and John Skelton on their roster, are considered a candidate to land Peyton Manning if/when he's released by the Colts. CBS Sports Charley Casserly first talked about this way back in January, and with Arizona's freedom to get out of Kolb's contract before March 17, speculation has only increased.

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Ken Whisenhunt and GM Rod Graves, speaking Thursday at the NFL combine, did nothing to quell that speculation, leaving the door wide open for the possibility of making a change at quarterback.

"We're about opportunities to get better," Graves said when asked about the Cardinals depth at quarterback. "Everyone out there associated with our team understands that this is a competitive game and we're all looking to get better. So if those opportunities present themselves, so be it. Otherwise we've got an outstanding group of quarterbacks right now.

"We believe we can win with those quarterbacks and we're preparing as if they're going to be the group we're working with and we'll see what other opportunities present themselves if that happens."

So what about the bonus due to Kolb on March 17? Have the Cardinals talked about whether or not they're going to exercise it?

"No, we haven't had any discussions about that," Whisenhunt, not looking entirely pleased to be asked about it, said.

Graves was less direct about the discussions surrounding the Kolb decision, but also made it pretty clear (without being too precise) that the Cardinals will explore options if and when they become available.

"Every day you have to work with the information you have at hand," Graves said. "Right now as I look at it, we fully expect that Kevin's going to be with us so we'll honor the contract as it is, obviously. But we'll see what every day brings forward and we'll make that decision accordingly. Right now, as it stands today, we're not anticipating anything different."

Based on what Whisenhunt and Graves said, it's unfair to simply state that the Cardinals will ditch Kolb and chase Manning. But it's also pretty clear that such a process is something they haven't ruled out as of right 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