Category:NFL
Posted on: March 6, 2012 2:32 pm
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Report: Randy Moss 'lit it up' at Saints workout

Moss reportedly looked 'like the old Randy' on Tuesday. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday night, CBSSports.com's Ryan Wilson passed along a report that Randy Moss, currently a free agent, would be working out with the Saints on Tuesday. Some interesting reports have surfaced surrounding Moss since then.

Latest NFL News, Notes

For starters, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Moss has a pair of other tryouts lined up for next week. And more importantly, Jay Glazer of FOXSports.com reports that Moss "lit it up" in his workout with the Saints.

"Hearing from multiple sources re Randy Moss workout today he lit it up. Was told he ran about 45 routes and 'looked like the old Randy,'" Glazer tweeted on Tuesday afternoon.

If this is accurate, it's fascinating. And not just because no one expected any good news out of New Orleans for a while, hey-o. Moss has already rebounded once in his career from a season where he looked to be finished as an NFL player (in 2006, with the Raiders) to post record numbers the following year (in 2007, with the Patriots).

So it's not unfathomable that he could do the same thing again. Sure, he's several years older and took a year off of football this time. But Moss' game is predicated on speed, and if his speed is back and he's able to torch defensive backs on vertical routes, he's going to draw interest from teams in the NFL.

And even if the reports of Moss performance are being overblown a bit, he should still expect to hear his phone ringing more often in the coming weeks.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 12:37 pm
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:02 pm
 

Starke: Gibbs handed out $100 bills for QB hits

Gibbs, in his second stint as Skins coach. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Gregg Williams, the man at the center of "Bountygate," worked under Joe Gibbs as the Redskins defensive coordinator from 2004 to 2007 (before he became head coach of the Bills; there is also a concern he ran a bounty program there). So naturally, Gibbs was asked about whether bounty programs existed in Washington. And he said they absolutely did not.

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But here's an interesting twist to that: George Starke, one of the original "Hogs" under Gibbs during his first tenure as 'Skins coach, appeared on ESPN 980 and said, via Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog, that Gibbs used to walk through the locker room and hand out $100 b ills to defensive players who knocked down the quarterback.

"Let’s be clear: the reason that the Hogs did that Hogs Night Out poster ... was, in the meeting after the game, Joe Gibbs would come in, he’d have a fistful of $100 bills," Starke said. "And if Dexter knocked the quarterback down three times, he would get three hundred-dollar bills. And Joe would pass the money out in the meeting, and we would have to duck."

(Hogs Night Out was a result of Starke and the linemen being mad they received no money, so they'd apparently sign Jack Kent Cooke's name to the check.)

Starke pointed out that Gibbs wouldn't consider the $100 handouts "bounties," but rather "incentives." And there's a big difference there, even if both are a violation of (current) NFL rules. Bounties contain a malicious intent to cause injury or physical harm to another player. Incentives are simply bonuses for doing your job well.

And while Starke pointed out that he didn't think Gregg Williams (who he doesn't know) would tell a player to hurt someone, he said that "George Allen did in fact put a bounty on Roger Staubach of 200 bucks, and the bounty was to knock him out ... Not to hurt him. Let's be clear about that. Knock him out... We used to call it drag-offs."

Now that is a bounty. And even if Starke doesn't think what Gibbs was doing would be considered a "bounty" and even if Gibbs wouldn't call it a "bounty," combining that description of injury to a person with the visual of Gibbs making it rain in the 'Skins locker room isn't exactly the best public relations for the former Redskins coach.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 11:51 am
 

Tim Tebow shoots down 'Bachelor' rumors

Who ya got: Tebow or Flajnik? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday night, as Mrs. Brinson and I were absolutely, positively not catching up on this season of the "Bachelor" and wondering how Ben could totally not realize that Courtney's absolutely crazy, I spotted something float across the old RSS feed, courtesy of Lindsay Jones of The Denver Post: a rumor that posited the notion of Tim Tebow as the next "Bachelor."

This rumor started because of an interview that "Bachelor" host Chris Harrison did with Access Hollywood, in which Harrison said he'd met Tebow, thought Tebow would be "a great 'Bachelor'" and even asked Tebow to participate.

“He did say yes… but he would never do it,” Harrison continued. “He has a little job called quarterback at least for another year.”

Harrison also added "they always say yes" -- any celebrity who's asked about their vague interest in the show probably jokes that they would do the show. So you'd think there's nothing to see here, but the comments picked up steam and, eventually, Tebow had to address them on Twitter.

"Haha rumors can be crazy! Even though I've watched the show before, I'm definitely not gonna be on the Bachelor. #JessePalmer," Tebow tweeted on Tuesday morning.

So there you go: no "Bachelor" for Tebow.

Which should've been obvious from the start. I've got a buddy who was a finalist for the show (no, really), and he bailed mainly because the post-show commitments and requirements are pretty stringent. (You have to propose to the lady who wins. Ah, true love.)

The best part about Tebow on the show wouldn't even be the ratings or the unintentional comedy, though. It would be that every single member of the football media would be required to DVR the show and watch it by Tuesday morning.

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Posted on: March 6, 2012 10:43 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Report: Colts have until 4pm Friday to cut Peyton

We get a free 24 hours of Peyton drama! (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Thursday, March 8 has been pegged on the calendar as "Peyton Manning Day" for quite some time. That's when the Colts must make a decision on whether or not to pick up Manning's $28 million option bonus and activate the rest of his contract. But not so fast, my friends: the Colts can actually keep Manning on the roster as late as Friday at 4 p.m. ET without paying him any money.

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That's according to a report from Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network, who writes that while Thursday is the deadline for Manning's option bonus, Sunday -- two days before the beginning of the new league year -- is the "non-exercise payment date" on Manning's contract.

However, there's one more wrinkle. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk correctly points out, and has since confirmed via NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, that NFL business must be transacted by 4 p.m. ET on Friday.

Therefore, if the Colts don't pick up Manning's option bonus on Thursday but also don't cut Manning before 4 p.m. ET on Friday, they'll owe him $28 million as a result of the non-exercise fee. However, if the Colts don't exercise his option, as Florio points out, he will still be under contract for the 2012 season until they decide to cut him.

The failure to pay the option bonus, per Florio, will simply wipe out the 2013-2015 portions of Peyton's contract. (Ed. Note: This is an update from what we previously had here.)

So what would be the point of keeping Manning past Thursday? Well, Jim Irsay could ultimately decide that he does want to pay Manning $28 million to play for the Colts -- or, more accurately, not play somewhere else -- in 2012. The Colts could would not be able, however, to cut him past Friday at 4 p.m. ET without paying him the $28 million and sending him on his way.

The Colts could also decide to wait until Friday to engage in talks with Manning on a renegotiated contract. But if no deal is reached and the Colts decide to cut Manning after the 4 p.m. ET deadline on Friday, then Manning would get $28 million for the non-exercise fee and would become a free agent.

Which is why it makes more sense, if the Colts are truly prepared to move on without Manning, to do so at an earlier time than on 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Friday.

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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 6, 2012 12:24 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 2:14 am
 

Report: Randy Moss to work out for Saints

Is Moss headed back to the NFL? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

It was exactly three weeks ago Monday that Randy Moss took to UStream to tell his fans that "I wanna play football." Of course, Moss also spoke authoritatively about professional wrestling and pulled out a brown paper bag filled with his hair. It wasn't clear if he was serious. Then he added, "Your boy is going to come back here and play some football, so I'm really excited. I had some things I had to adjust in my life."

The media ran with it, Moss made several more UStream appearances, and now, according to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Moss has his first scheduled workout with an NFL team on Tuesday.

JayGlazer
Randy Moss working out for Saints tomorrow. Former Packers QB Brian Brohm also coming in to throw to him
3/5/12 10:13 PM

The Saints have had a forgettable few days, starting with stalled contract negotiations with franchise quarterback Drew Brees (that led to the franchise tag and a reportedly "livid" Brees) and ending with charges that former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was behind a bounty scheme that rewarded players for injuring opponents

Now that the Saints have franchised instead of re-signed Brees, that means they can't use the tag on guard Carl Nicks or wide receiver Marques Colston -- two of the offense's best players. And if Colston leaves via free agency New Orleans will be looking for his replacement. We're not sure Moss is that guy (he's not interested in playing in the middle of the field and he's admitted as much) but the Saints still think he's worth taking a look at. 

Moss' career seemed to stall back in 2005 when the Vikings traded him to the Raiders. After a pedestrian 2006 season, the Patriots acquired him for a fourth-rounder in 2007 and he went on to have one of the most productive years in NFL history. Put differently: in the right system, with the right support system, and an elite future Hall of Famer at quarterback, Moss can be special.

At least that was the case with the old Moss. The Pats eventually shipped him back to the Vikings in 2010, and after a four-game stopover he ended the year with the Titans where he caught just six balls in eight games.

But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves; the Saints appear to be kicking the tires on Moss, which may or may not have happened last September after the Week 1 loss to the Packers. Either way, this could be the first of many workouts for Moss. (The Jets and Eagles were reportedly interested last month -- while New England and Dallas probably won't be entering the Straight Cash Homey Sweepstakes.)

And if the NFL doesn't work out, there's always the IFL.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 11:41 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency Preview: AFC East

New England has to be the early favorite, but could Buffalo or Miami supplant New York for No. 2 in the East? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Buffalo Bills

The season got off to such a promising start in Buffalo -- five wins in the first seven games … and then the Bills suffered seven consecutive losses to finish tied for last in the division with the Dolphins. A lot went right over the first six weeks of the season, but a ton went wrong over the final two and a half months. Some of that can be blamed on injuries, but every team can say that. Bigger issues ill-timed mistakes (like, say, Stevie Johnson drops), poor decisions (Ryan Fitzpatrick interceptions come to mind), and a porous defense all conspired to sink the season. But for the first time in a long time, the Bills have hope. And we don't mean the "Hey, maybe we'll win eight games!" type hope, either. We mean a team that could have the offensive firepower to keep up with anybody. More generally, Buffalo's fate will come down to two things: offensive consistency and a much-improved defense.

Free agents of note
Wide receiver Stevie Johnson signed a five-year deal Friday, but the team is expected to let WR Roscoe Parrish and running back Tashard Chocie hit free agency. The same holds for tight end Scott Chandler. Meanwhile, left tackle Demetrius Bell and linebacker Kirk Morrison have been negotiating with the team for a possible return in 2012.

Needs
Buffalo was 5-2 to start the season and then the wheels fell off. The offense dried up about the time that quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick signed that huge extension (we later found out that he was suffering from a rib injury for the second half of the season), and the defense -- the run defense in particular -- was abysmal. Now Fitzpatrick's healthy, the Bills re-signed Johnson, and Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller give the team two explosive backs.

Dave Wannstedt is the new defensive coordinator and he'll reinstitute the 4-3 after the 3-4 experiment didn't work. This will allow defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus to be on the field at the same time, which should immediately upgrade the run D. Buffalo lacks depth at most positions but especially at linebacker. Kelvin Sheppard will likely play in the middle and Nick Barnett will move to the weak side (the team doesn't expect defensive end Shawne Merriman to be anything more than a situational pass rusher), but expect this need to be addressed in free agency and the draft.

Targets
Former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton is headed for the open market and he makes sense. As CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco points out, Lofton is better against the run than the pass, and that was one of the Bills' biggest weaknesses a year ago. There's also a report that Buffalo could be interested in Vincent Jackson -- even after signing Johnson to a long-term contract.

Miami Dolphins

When Tony Sparano arrived in Miami in 2008, the Dolphins surprised everyone by going 11-5 and winning the conference. Unfortunately, once the shine was off the Wildcat offense, Miami faded too. They went 7-9 in back-to-back seasons before an 0-7 start doomed Sparano in 2011. The Dolphins finished strong -- a 6-3 record with backup QB Matt Moore -- but the team will look completely different heading into training camp, starting with new head coach Joe Philbin.

Free agents of note
Chad Henne is gone. He was open to returning but the Dolphins had seen enough. In the right system, Henne could be successful, just not in Miami… Paul Soliai was our top-rated free-agent defensive tackle and the organization is content to let him test the waters… Tackle Vernon Carey struggled as a pass blocker and isn't likely to be re-signed, and the same holds for defensive lineman Kendall Langford… Running back Steve Slaton, the former Texans' third-round pick, also isn't expected back, and neither is right tackle Marc Colombo.

Needs
Quarterback is the glaring need. We've mentioned it before but we might as well reiterate it here for effect -- the starters since Dan Marino retired following the 1999 season: 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.

Which is why owner Stephen Ross was reportedly "infatuated" with Peyton Manning and why Philbin might end up with Matt Flynn, who he coached in Green Bay. Whatever happens, as long as the Dolphins don't have a legit quarterback, they'll always be playing for draft position. Miami also needs to upgrade the offensive line, specifically right tackle. Colombo was among the worst tackles in the league according to ProFootballFocus.com's numbers, and Football Outsiders ranked the entire unit 30th in their sacks-allowed metric.

Targets
Manning seems like a long shot because of lingering health issues, potential cap-busting contract demands and the possibility that Manning will want to run the offense. Flynn makes much more sense because he's familiar with Philbin and Philbin's offense, and in the right system he can be effective. The QB free-agency drop-off after Flynn is precipitous. Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton would be fine as one-year stopgaps until the next franchise quarterback arrives in South Beach, but using that logic it makes just as much sense to keep Henne around.

The free-agent market for tackles is even thinner. Jared Gaither might be the best mix of athleticism, upside and affordability, but the Chargers are reportedly interested in keeping him.

New England Patriots

The Patriots returned to the Super Bowl in February for the first time since 2007 (which is also the last time they won a postseason game). But their loss to the Giants in Indianapolis means that New England's last Lombardi Trophy came following the 2005 season. There are worse fates, of course, and as long as Tom Brady is under center the Pats are a playoff team and likely favorites to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Still, Brady needs help. Given New England's cache of draft picks, we expect they'll address each of them in the coming weeks and months.

Free agents of note
Wide receiver Wes Welker was franchised Monday but the hope is that the two sides can come to an agreement on a long-term deal… Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried much of the workload last season but the Pats used two high draft picks on RBs. If Green-Ellis leaves via free agency second-year player Stevan Ridley could be next in line… Left tackle Matt Light is rumored to be contemplating retirement and even if he comes back for another season New England might move on without him (they drafted tackle Nate Solder in the first round last April). The Patriots may also let free agent center Dan Koppen walk… Veterans WR Deion Branch and DE Andre Carter could be back in New England if they're willing to sign for cheap, while longtime Patriot Kevin Faulk has retired but hinted that he'd love to return to the sidelines as an assistant coach…

Needs
Defense and wide receiver top the offseason to-do list. As for the former, the Patriots desperately need depth in the secondary; the team cut former first-round pick safety Brandon Meriweather in preseason and then played much of 2011 with other teams' castoffs at cornerback. CB Devin McCourty regressed in Year 2 after a fantastic rookie campaign, but he could rebound with the right players around him. Second-rounder Ras-I Dowling missed his rookie season with injuries but will be available to begin 2012.

Concerning the latter: Chad Ochocinco was an unmitigated disaster. He had 15 catches in the regular season and a lone touchdown. He was supposed to provide Brady with a deep threat. Didn't happen. In fact, Ochocinco routinely found himself on the sidelines when the Pats went to the no-huddle offense because he was still learning the playbook. There's a chance he returns in 2012 but it will be at a reduced rate. With Welker back for at least another year and Branch also likely to return, New England has to find a legitimate down-the-field target to stretch defenses and open things up for tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Which brings us to...

Targets
The Patriots have the 31st pick in April's draft. The Steelers chose not to franchise Mike Wallace Monday. New England should be working up a contract offer for Wallace right now because if they're able to prying him away from Pittsburgh it'll be worth much more than a low first-round selection. New England could also look to free agency to fill their needs in the secondary and along the defensive line.

New York Jets

The Jets' offseason began with a Rex Ryan press conference explaining why team captain Santonio Holmes quit on his teammates during an embarrassing Week 17 loss to the Dolphins with the playoffs on the line. Ryan promised to fix his locker room, proclaimed that Mark Sanchez was his quarterback, and indicated that despite the whole quitting thing, Holmes was staying put. On the other side of the ball, New York struggled to generate a pass rush and wasn't nearly as effective against the run. And that, almost as much as Sanchez' inconsistency, was responsible for the 8-8 season.

Free agents of note
We listed Sione Pouha as one of the best free-agent defensive tackles and while the Jets didn't franchise him, they'll reportedly sign him to a long-term deal before he hits the open market… Plaxico Burress' one-year stint with Gang Green is over; he along with Holmes didn't always see eye to eye with Sanchez and he said recently he'd love to play for the Eagles… Safety Jim Leonhard came to the Jets from Baltimore but he along with Brodney Pool could be allowed to test free agency… Another former Raven, linebacker Bart Scott, has been given permission to seek a trade… Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is expected to retire… The Jets saved former Bills first-rounder Aaron Maybin from the scrap heap and the team will reportedly tender him at the highest level.

Needs
Sanchez took a beating -- both mentally and physically -- last year. With Holmes set to return, the former probably won't change no matter what Ryan says. But the team can certainly do a better job of protecting their franchise quarterback, particularly if that quarterback ends up being Peyton Manning. (We think that's a longshot at this point but still not entirely outside the realm of possibility. Either way, the fact remains: if New York doesn't protect any of their quarterbacks, they can expect another long season in 2012.) Unfortunately, the Jets have committed to Wayne Hunter as their right tackle, the very same Wayne Hunter who was summarily beaten time after time in 2011. According to ESPNNewYork.com, Hunter was charged with 8.5 sacks and 11 penalties last season.

New York also needs to bolster the secondary, especially if neither Leonhard or Pool is expected to re-sign. It also didn't help that Eric Smith struggled is passing situations (not to mention losing contain on the Thursday Night get-together against the Broncos that led to Tebow's game-winning touchdown run.)

Targets
Ryan, like most coaches, favors his own guys. It explains why he brought Leonhard and Scott with him from Baltimore where he was previously the defensive coordinator. It also explains why he may pursue Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson, who's headed for free agency. Also expect the Jets to address the position -- or safety -- early in April's draft.

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Posted on: March 5, 2012 9:34 pm
 

Bears, Bills interested in Vincent Jackson?

Despite their history, Vincent Jackson apparently would like to return to the Chargers. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

The Chargers may have stated repeatedly that they want wide receiver Vincent Jackson back in San Diego next season, but he's set to hit the open market. And when he does, there will almost certainly be a team (or three) willing to pay him more than what Chargers GM A.J. Smith deems fair.  Unsurprisingly, Smith understands this: "We would like to have him continue on with us, but other teams now will enter the picture."

The Chicago Tribune's Vaughn McClure writes that the Bears could be one of the teams interested in Jackson's services.

vxmcclure23
At least Bears can pursue Vincent Jackson, who didn't get tagged. Jackson and Cliff Avril appeared to be the top two free agent targets.
3/5/12 4:11 PM

Obviously, McClure sent the tweet before the Lions tagged Cliff Avril. Either way, Jackson's still available and ESPN's John Clayton echoes McClure, tweeting that he thinks "the Bears will make a big run at Vincent Jackson."

It's a perfectly reasonable assumption; running back Matt Forte was the team's leading receiver last season (52 catches, 490 yards, 1 TD), followed by Johnny Knox (37, 727, 2) and Roy Williams (37, 507, 2). But the NFL is a passing league and that means that the supply of franchise quarterbacks and big-play wideouts will always outstrip demand. So Chicago should expect competition for Jackson.

According to the Union-Tribune, the Bills could be one such team even though, you know, they just signed Stevie Johnson to a long-term deal. Details via Kevin Acee:

"It is believed the Buffalo Bills remain interested in Jackson despite signing Stevie Johnson to a five-year, $36.25 million deal on Monday. And, at least theoretically, Jackson was helped when Dwayne Bowe received the franchise tag from the Kansas City Chiefs.

Acee adds that despite Jackson's turbulent relationship with the Chargers' front office, Jackson's heart is in San Diego. "According to those familiar with his thinking, he has compartmentalized his feelings about the team and wants to remain a part of the offense led by Philip Rivers and devised by Norv Turner. He would, according to sources, take less from the Chargers than another team, though not a whole lot less."

Acee suspects that San Diego has a number in mind for Jackson, something less than $11 million a year. But if the two sides can't come to an agreement before March 13 at 4 p.m. ET, there's a good chance Jackson will have played his last game for the Chargers.

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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