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Tag:Josh Katzowitz
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:36 pm
 

Is Peyton Hillis thinking about retiring?

Does Hillis really want to join the CIA? (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

We told you a couple days ago that the Browns were unlikely to franchise tag running back Peyton Hillis but might still attempt to sign him in free agency.

if Hillis doesn’t retire, that is.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that’s exactly what Hillis has thought about, even telling the team at the end  of 2011 that he was considering ending his four-year career. Apparently, he’s even thought about joining the CIA (!).

NFL News, Notes
Hillis is a free agent (No. 8 in our rankings), but he and his agent are no longer working together.

"If we can work something out with Peyton, we will," Browns general manager Tom Heckert told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. "Did he have some rough patches during the season? Yes. Were there stretches where things were blown out of proportion? Yes. Honestly, I feel like a lot of that was blown up in the media. Now, of course things will still come down to the money, but we'll just have to wait and see."

The Browns could use the franchise tag on Hillis, but they probably won’t, because it would cost $7.7 million, and considering Hillis is coming off a disappointing season in which some questioned his desire to fight through injuries and his desire to play, that’s not necessarily a smart investment.

So, we’re unclear at this point if Hillis wants to return to Cleveland, if the Browns want him back or if Hillis wants to forgo football and become a spy.

But here’s what we do know: the curse of the Madden cover most definitely lives on.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:59 am
 

Simpson pleads guilty to felony drug charge

Simpson pleaded guilty to a felony drug charge. (US PRESSWIRE)
By Josh Katzowitz

Jerome Simpson made perhaps the most exciting play of 2011 when he performed a front flip over Cardinals linebacker Daryl Washington and nearly stuck the landing to score a touchdown. Now, Simpson can call himself a convicted felon.

That’s because he pleaded guilty Thursday to a felony charge drug, stemming from an incident in September in which a package containing 2.5 pound bag of high-grade marijuana from California was delivered to his Covington, Ky., home.

Simpson was indicted on a felony charge of marijuana trafficking, but he pleaded guilty to a prohibited act relating to controlled substances. It’s still a Class D felony, and Simpson could face up to 60 days in jail. He also could face a suspension from the league. Simpson will be sentenced April 5.

Simpson and his attorney had no comment as they left the courthouse.

Simpson was an honorable mention in our wide receiver free agent rankings, but with his guilty plea, you’d have to think his stock will drop significantly, despite coming off the best season of his career.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 11:09 am
Edited on: March 2, 2012 12:21 am
 

Report: Steelers will tender Wallace, not tag

Pittsburgh might decide to tender Wallace, a restricted free agent, instead of franchise tagging him. (Getty Images)
By Josh Katzowitz

A day after announcing that they would cut Hines Ward, the Steelers are leaving themselves open for the possibility of another receiver leaving the team.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Steelers will tender -- and not franchise tag -- restricted free agent Mike Wallace.

Wallace is coming off a 72-catch, 1,193-yard, eight-touchdown season in Pittsburgh, where he led the team in all categories. He’s also one of the NFL’s best deep receiver threats, averaging 18.7 yards per catch in his three-year career. At this point, he’s a star in the making.

NFL News, Notes
The Steelers apparently will place a first-round tender on Wallace, but considering Pittsburgh’s salary-cap problems -- how many times is Ben Roethlisberger going to have to restructure his contract, anyway? -- it wouldn’t be a surprise to see another squad swoop in and offer Wallace a deal the Steelers can’t match.

The franchise tag would cost the Steelers about $9.4 million for 2012, and there’s little chance for the math to work. Pittsburgh now has to hope Wallace isn’t seen by the rest of the league as worthy of a first-round pick.

The Steelers claimed during the combine that they want Wallace to finish his career in Pittsburgh, as general manager Kevin Colbert said, “We think he's only scratched the surface in what he can do. There's a lot left there that still can be developed and we're anxious to see it happen as a Steeler."

But if the Steelers do, in fact, decide to tender Wallace instead of tag him, the chances of that actually happening will grow slimmer.

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Posted on: March 1, 2012 10:13 am
Edited on: March 1, 2012 10:48 am
 

Rams have begun contract talks with Lloyd

By Josh Katzowitz

It makes perfect sense that Rams receiver Brandon Lloyd would try to latch onto New England when he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Lloyd, the seventh-ranked free agent in our receiver rankings, wouldn’t mind a reunion with his former coach in Denver, Josh McDaniels, now the Patriots offensive coordinator. But that doesn’t mean St. Louis isn’t trying to re-sign him. And that doesn't mean he'd necessarily mind returning to the Rams.

He’s still their best receiver -- he was traded from Denver (to avoid a locker room issue?) in the middle of the season, and in the final 11 games of the season, he caught 51 passes for 683 yards and five touchdowns, all of which led the team -- and as a result, the organization has begun contract talks with him.

That’s what Rams COO Kevin Demoff told Turf Show Times, saying, “We had initial discussions in Indianapolis. We plan to continue talking."

Lloyd, though, is still leaving open the option of playing for McDaniels in New England, telling CBSSports.com during Super Bowl week, “I’d like to consider myself Josh McDaniels' prized pupil. I would like to continue it.” He also said in that same interview that he was excited about the prospects of playing for new coach Jeff Fisher and new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and playing again with quarterback Sam Bradford.

The Rams could use the franchise tag to keep Lloyd, but they’ve also recently said they won’t do it.



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Posted on: March 1, 2012 9:21 am
 

Kris Dielman set to officially retire Thursday

Dielman's family and quality of life were two reasons he has decided to retire. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

We told you the other day that Chargers guard Kris Dielman was close to announcing his retirement. For Dielman -- one of the NFL’s better guards who had suffered a grand mal seizure on an airplane last season after sustaining a concussion vs. the Jets on Oct. 23 -- that day will come to fruition Thursday.

The Chargers proclaimed it so on Wednesday night, announcing that Dielman would hold a news conference to officially announce his retirement.

“I love this game. I’ve given it everything I have,” Dielman said in a statement released by the team. “It’s time for me to focus on my future and my quality of life. I want to thank the Spanos family and the Chargers for giving me the opportunity in the NFL. Because they believed in me, I was able to realize a dream and for that I will be forever grateful.”

Dielman’s retirement was somewhat of a surprise to the team, which believed he would return in 2012. But following his concussion and seizure, which landed him on the IR list, and after listening to doctors talk about his quality of life in the future, Dielman, who supposedly still wanted to continue his career, decided it would be best to leave the game.

“Kris played the game the way it’s supposed to be played: with heart and passion,” Chargers president Dean Spanos said. “He’s a throwback … an old-school player. All he cares about is his family and playing football and today he’s making family his top priority, as it should be, and I respect him tremendously for that.”

Dielman was an undrafted free agent in 2003, and he originally showed up in San Diego expecting to play defensive tackle (he was a tackle and a tight end at Indiana), but Chargers coaches convinced him to give offensive line a try.

After working as the backup left guard for two seasons, he became a starter in the third game of 2005. He started 97 of the next 100 games (he missed the three because of injury), and he was good enough to earn four-straight Pro Bowl honors and to be named as a member of the 50th anniversary Chargers all-time team.

“It has been an honor to play next to Kris for so many years,” center Nick Hardwick said. “His loyalty and toughness gave me and the guys who played with him a sense of security, knowing that we had the baddest guy on the field. And we knew nobody wanted to find out how bad a dude he was.

“He taught us about loyalty, will power and friendship. I will certainly miss being in the huddle standing next to my best friend and personal protector.”

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Posted on: February 29, 2012 12:33 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 2:28 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Linebacker Rankings

Fletcher, at 37, might not have many options other than returning to Washington. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

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 linebackers.

While there are a ton of free agent linebackers about to come on the market -- I’ve counted approximately 80 -- there doesn’t seem to be many surefire game-changers in the bunch. London Fletcher, vastly underrated in Washington, is one such player, but other than him, you’ve mostly got solid guys who can be contributors to whichever team signs them.

Some of the better free agent linebackers have been taken off the board already, as D’Qwell Jackson has re-signed with Cleveland while Ahmad Brooks agreed to return to San Francisco. Here are the rest of those who probably will try out their fortunes on the market.

1a. Mario Williams


Breakdown: Though we have Williams as the No. 1 defensive end available, we have to give him some love on the linebacker list, as well. Simply because in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme, Williams was an outside linebacker. He only played five games for the Texans last year before tearing his pectoral muscle, but with five sacks, he also proved he can be successful in a 3-4 defense, meaning every team in the league should be thinking about Williams' worth. We thought he might struggle to find his balance in the first year of Phillips' scheme, but, as a linebacker, Williams is pretty damn good also.

Possible Landing Spots: Texans, Jaguars, Seahawks, Titans

1b. London Fletcher


Breakdown: Fletcher is one of those players who, unless you’re paying close attention, somehow seems to rack up the tackle numbers -- and you’re not really sure how. And before you know it, he’s leading the league with 166 takedowns, like last year.  In fact, Fletcher has recorded at least 116 tackles every year since 2001, and he’s started 224-straight games. The problem with Fletcher is that he’s 37, and you have to wonder how long his durability will hold up -- as well as his penchant for making scores of tackles every season. That shouldn’t matter, however, because it sounds like he wants to return to Washington and that the Redskins feel the same way. “We want our captain back,” Redskins general manager Bruce Allen said earlier this month. The feeling apparently is mutual.

Potential Landing Spots: Redskins

Tulloch might be a good fit in Philadelphia because he knows how to play in the wide nine. (US Presswire)

2. Stephen Tulloch


Breakdown: After a solid 2008-10 with the Titans (the dude had 160 tackles in 2010), Tennessee let the Lions take away Stephen Tulloch for 2011. After recording 111 tackles, two interceptions and five passes defended last year, Detroit would like to keep him. It’ll likely cost the Lions much more than the one-year, $3.25 million deal they paid Tulloch last year. More importantly for the Lions, though, is locking up defensive end Cliff Avril, and you have to wonder if the Lions will want to shell out that much money to two defensive players. One good option for Tulloch might be the Eagles. Considering Tulloch played for years with Jim Washburn, who installed the wide nine scheme in Philadelphia last year, Tulloch would be comfortable in that system. Besides, the Eagles linebackers last year were pretty horrible, and Tulloch would be a big upgrade. Wherever he lands, one can only hope that Tulloch gets another chance to Tebow in front of Tebow.

Possible Landing Spots: Lions, Buccaneers, Eagles

3. Anthony Spencer


Breakdown: He’s pretty much the definition of one of those solid linebackers I wrote about before, and the Cowboys don’t fancy losing him to free agency. There has been speculation that the team could place the franchise tag on him, but if not, at least one Dallas reporter has speculated that Spencer could land a Chris Canty-like deal (a six-year, $42 million contract signed in 2009). The Cowboys might be averse to giving him such a long deal, because he hasn’t necessarily lived up to his first-round draft pick expectations. Spencer’s representatives and the Cowboys were scheduled to meet at the scouting combine, and if they can’t come to a long-term agreement, Dallas might just have to grit its teeth and tag him.

Possible Landing Spots:Cowboys, Dolphins

4. Curtis Lofton


Breakdown: For the past three years, Lofton has been a tackling machine, accumulating at least 118 (including 147 in 2011), and it’s clear the Falcons want to re-sign him. But when Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff says that negotiations between the team and Lofton are “amicable,” it strikes kind of a weird tone (or is that just me?). And maybe the Falcons won’t be terrified if Lofton leaves. As the Atlanta Journal Constitution wrote last week, “There’s growing sentiment that he’s a liability against the pass. The question thus becomes: Would you pay $8 million a year for a two-down linebacker?” Lofton might want more than that. Reportedly, Lofton is asking or a four-year deal worth $36 million.

Possible Landing Spots: Falcons, Eagles, Browns

5. David Hawthorne

Breakdown: With Hawthorne, you pretty much know what you’re getting. He’s good for about 110 tackles a season, five passes defended or so, and an interception or three. But it sounds like the Seahawks have a higher priority to sign running back Marshawn Lynch and defensive end Red Bryant than inking Hawthorne to a new deal. Hawthorne is only 26 years old, and he’s solid across the board. But maybe more than most of the other linebackers on the list, there’s not a great chance for him to return to his old team. The one caveat to that: now that Leroy Hill is facing another drug charge, that might open up Seattle’s interest in Hawthorne again.

Possible Landing Spots: Bears, Cowboys, Seahawks

6. Jarret Johnson


Breakdown: The Ravens, at some point soon, might have to make a choice between whether they want Johnson or Jameel McClain (see below) to return to Baltimore for 2012. General manager Ozzie Newsome had said he wants to keep both, but that will be tough for the club to accomplish. So, if you’re Newsome, who is the priority between Johnson and McClain? Well, McClain had more tackles (84-56) last season  but less sacks (Johnson had 2.5 to McClain’s 1), and the Baltimore Sun predicts the Ravens have a better chance of retaining Johnson. He is, though, four years older, which might mean Baltimore will actually go harder after McClain. “I’d like to fit in again here,” Johnson said last month, via the team’s official website. “But unfortunately this is a business and sometimes business decisions [have] got to be made. I hope to be back. I’d love to retire a Raven, but we’ll see.”

Possible Landing Spots: Ravens, Colts

7. Jameel McClain


Breakdown: At 26, McClain is a young talent who likely will command a large salary (moreso than Jarret Johnson (see above)). It doesn’t sound like there’s a great chance for the Ravens to keep him.

Possible Landing Spots: Ravens, Colts, Eagles

8. Honorable Mentions

Unrestricted: Barrett Ruud, Chase Blackburn, Clark Haggans, Joey Porter, Andra Davis, Manny Lawson, Geno Hayes, Wesley Woodyard, Dan Connor

Restricted: Dannell Ellerbe, Aaron Maybin

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:51 pm
 

For the gambler in you (DWTS edition)

By Josh Katzowitz

Occasionally in the offseason, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read on this site. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

With the news emerging today of Packers receiver Donald Driver participating in the latest version of “Dancing with the Stars,” that gives the fellas at Bovada the chance to regale you with the official odds of who will prevail.

Dancing With the Stars Season 14 -- odds to win

William Levy 4/1

Jaleel White 11/2

Gladys Knight 13/2

Donald Driver 13/2

Maria Menounos 7/1

Katherine Jenkins 15/2

Roshon Fegan  8/1

Gavin DeGraw 10/1

Sherri Shepherd 10/1

Jack Wagner 15/1

Melissa Gilbert 18/1

Martina Navratilova 20/1

Is it bad that I had to look up who William Levy is and why he’s the favorite to win DWTS? Well, considering he’s a “hot telenovela star,” points shouldn’t be taken away for not knowing him. I can see why White would be one of the top guys, but I’m not sure I get why Gladys Knight has the same odds as Driver. Unless her Pips are helping her along, I don’t see how a 67-year-old woman has the same chance to win as an NFL receiver.

Also, how is former tennis star Martina Navratilova the biggest underdog? Especially when you consider how many more Wimbledon titles she won than Melissa Gilbert (or the ENTIRE cast of “Little House on the Prairie” for that matter). That said, I’d go with Driver. Hell, he’s a pro athlete. He’s got as good a chance as anybody.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:41 pm
 

Report: Pats looking to restructure Ocho's deal

Ochocinco on the 2011 season: 'I bought into the Patriot Way, and it paid off.' (AP)
By Josh Katzowitz

With the disappointing season Chad Ochocinco had with the Patriots in 2011, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if New England cut ties with Ochocinco, especially considering the organization will have to pay him $3.1 million for each of the next two seasons.

In fact, it probably would have been MORE surprising if Ochocinco actually took the field (or was inactive but on the roster) for the Patriots in 2012.

Now, though, it seems like the Patriots might want Ochocinco back, as Liz Mullen of the Sports Business Journal reports New England has approached Ochocinco about restructuring his contract.

Ochocinco's highs and lows
You have to imagine that Ochocinco probably would jump at the opportunity to play with New England again. After all, when he was traded from the Bengals to the Patriots, he had to restructure his deal in order to make the transaction go through. Considering it seemed he had wanted to play for Bill Belichick for many years, Ochocinco was more than willing to do so.

Ochocinco wasn’t nearly as bombastic this year -- probably because he had the worst year of his career -- but he seemed to enjoy the Patriots system. A pretty good indication of that is when he said recently, "I bought into the Patriot Way, and it paid off."

And who knows? Maybe in his second year in the Patriots system, he could begin to reach the heights he once knew in Cincinnati.

But at a much, much cheaper price.

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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