Tag:Ryan Wilson
Posted on: February 23, 2012 11:45 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 12:32 pm
 

Jags owner: stadium tarps are like underachieving

Shahid Khan 'absolutely' wants to get rid of those tarps that cover seats in EverBank Field. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Just in case the five wins in 2011 or the .500-or-worse records dating back to 2008 didn't make it obvious enough, new Jaguars owner Shahid Khan would like to add another item to the list of "sure signs your franchise is a failure." Those infernal tarps that cover seats in the upper deck of EverBank Field.

Officially, the stadium has 76,867 seats but the tarps cover some 10,000 seats. But the notion that fans don't support the hometown team is inaccurate. It's just that the stadium is too big for the NFL market. (And this isn't a slap at Jacksonville; Pittsburgh's Heinz Field holds fewer than 70,000, as does Indy's Lucas Oil Stadium.)

The Florida Times-Union's Tania Ganguli wrote about this Wednesday.

"The tarps aren't as shameful as they're perceived to be nationally. They bring the size of the stadium down to an appropriate size for the market, and it still seats more than the stadiums of NFL teams in bigger markets, including the Chicago Bears."

As PFT notes, EverBank Stadium has to be expanded to more than 80,000 for the Georgia-Florida game because the NFL isn't as popular as college football in Florida. Khan hopes to change that and it starts with those tarps.

"Absolutely," Khan told Sports Business Journal's Daniel Kaplan when asked if he hoped to do away with the tarps altogether. "To me, every day I look at the tarps it is like underachieving, and I can’t wait to be able to do that."

Khan was also asked about new marketing and sales initiatives.

The new owner with the new head coach. (US PRESSWIRE)
"Some of the upper bowl, we have reduced prices," he said. "One of the strategic issues with the Jaguars is it is a young team. We don’t have the second-, third-, fourth-generation fans. 'I went to a game with my grandfather, and we walked through two feet of snow,' — and things like that. You don’t have any of those connections. This year … if you bring a child to the game, those tickets are half price. In certain sections we are doing that … to really develop the next generation. "

Part of that includes expanding the Jaguars brand beyond the United States.

"London: There is an ex-pat population; they understand the sport and [have] an interest. Canada would be another one. Germany is another one. People don’t realize how many football fans, NFL fans, are in Germany. Spain is another one; Barcelona is a very sports-centric city. … Especially for teams like Jacksonville, it provides a showcase."

Ultimately, popularity comes down to one thing: winning. That's something the Jags haven't done since 2007, which was also the only time the franchise won a playoff game during Jack Del Rio's eight-plus years as head coach. Now that chore falls to new head coach Mike Mularkey and second-year quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 10:15 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:28 am
 

Colts could sign Luck as soon as Friday

Luck appears to be the future in Indy, the only question is when. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The road to the first-overall pick isn't a smooth one. There's all the losing, the waning fan interest, the almost certain turnover on the coaching staff and the roster. But once the offseason arrives and the new faces are in place, hope is renewed.

Now that Colts fans seem to have accepted that Peyton Manning's best days are behind him and Andrew Luck is the future, there are reasons for optimism. Typically, the NFL Draft takes place on the last weekend of April, but the Colts, should they choose, can sign Luck (or any other draft-eligible player) as early as … Friday. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello tells PFT that after a pair of coin flips locks in the draft order, Indianapolis can ink Luck to a contract.

NFL Draft prep
Greasing the skids: the new CBA includes a rookie wage scale which means that holdouts are much less likely since there isn't much to negotiate. One of the benefits to doing this sooner than later: it will officially close the book on the Manning era, something owner Jim Irsay is probably eager to do, and the focus would be on Luck, the Colts' next franchise quarterback.

(Then again, maybe Irsay wasn't joking when he said he "would love to have Manning back.")

Should Indy sign Luck before the draft, however, it doesn't mean that the Rams would immediately be on the clock with the No. 2 pick. Aiello explains that only the team holding the first-overall selection has that option.

This is good news for the Browns, Redskins and any other outfit in the market for Robert Griffin III, who is expected to go as high as second overall. It's also good news for the Rams because they'll be able to trade out of the pick and improve their roster in the process.

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 9:05 am
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:28 am
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Running back rankings

Players are willing to get the franchise tag if it means a long-term deal is in their future. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

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 running backs.

1. Ray Rice

Breakdown: Ray Rice told CBSSports.com back in October that "I think the Ravens are going to do the right thing … with the contract situation, I'll leave it in their hands." As it stands, Rice is a free agent. And it appears that while the Ravens may eventually "do the right thing" and sign him to a long-term contract (though almost certainly nowhere near Adrian Peterson-type money), the short-term plan is to franchise him. At 25, Rice hasn't yet reached his prime, which is all the more reason the Ravens should find a way to keep him in Baltimore for the next five years.

NFL Draft prep
The problem, of course, is that running backs are fungible. We've beaten this dead horse beyond recognition but it's worth repeating: teams can find relatively productive backs for little money. Knowing that, it doesn't make sense to use a non-trivial part of the salary cap to pay running backs, even those well above replacement level. It's why were were adamant last summer that the Titans shouldn't pay Chris Johnson. (They did and he was underwhelming in 2011, rushing for 1,047 yards -- 4.0 YPC -- and four touchdowns.)

That said, Rice isn't your typical back. In addition to his ability to run the ball, he's also a dangerous pass catcher. How dangerous? He led Baltimore in receptions in 2011 (76), was second behind Anquan Boldin in 2010 (63), and first in 2009 (78). For all the talk about Joe Flacco wanting a new deal, the Ravens' offense goes through Rice.

Potential landing spots: Ravens. That's it. If he gets away, Baltimore deserves whatever fate awaits them. Rice fits any system but is especially dangerous when he's utilized. That seems obvious but it's something offensive coordinator Cam Cameron forgot at various points during the 2011 season.

2. Matt Forte

Breakdown: Forte missed the final month of the 2011 season with a knee injury but it won't have any impact on what the Bears think he's worth. They have no plans to let him hit free agency -- earlier this month team president Ted Phillips said, "We'd like to (work out a long-term deal). But as (new GM) Phil (Emery) pointed out we obviously will at least consider placing the franchise tag on him. We don't have any intention of letting Matt hit the open market. We'll sit down with him privately, Phil will, and discuss what the plans are prior to the Feb. 20 franchise tag date."

And while #paydaman was the Twitter meme of the '11 season for Forte, he seems amenable to the franchise tag if it leads somewhere beyond a one-and-done deal.

"It depends on the motive of (the franchise tag)," Forte said a few days after Phillips' comments above. "If they are doing the franchise tag just to get more time in order to negotiate a long-term deal, then I would be OK with it. But if it's just to hold me another year and just, 'Let's throw some money at him right now to keep him quiet,' that's not going to solve anything."

Plus, with offensive coordinator Mike Martz gone and Mike Tice named as his replacement, the offense shouldn't require six weeks to find its rhythm. Ideally, a healthy mix of pass and run will keep Cutler upright and the Bears competitive in the NFC North. Forte, clearly, is a big part of that.

Potential landing spots: The Bears have no intentions of letting Forte get away, but like Rice, he'd fit in pretty much any offense. He's a capable pass-catcher and north-south runner.

3. Arian Foster

 Foster wants to stay in Houston '100 percent' (Getty Images)
Breakdown: Foster told CBSSports.com at the Super Bowl that he "100 percent" wants to be back with the Texans and it sounds like the Texans 100 percent want him back.  As of early January, the two sides hadn't made progress on a new contract, and like Forte, Foster doesn't seem averse to the franchise tag if it means a long-term deal is in his future. Unlike Forte, Foster is a restricted free agent, which means the Texans have the option to sign him to a tender offer, which would be much less than the one-year franchise-tag value of $7.7 million.

Could the Texans' offense survive without Foster, the 2010 NFL rushing leader? Yeah, sure. They still have Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Owen Daniels and Ben Tate. But Foster is only 25, and he's played on an undrafted free agent's salary the last two seasons. He's certainly outperformed his previous deal, now it's up to Foster's agent and the organization to find some middle ground.

Potential landing spots: The Texans. The franchise tag guarantees that other teams won't even get a shot at landing him. That said, he'd fit perfectly in the Redskins' scheme (they run virtually the same offense as the Texans, just with less talented players).

4. Marshawn Lynch

Breakdown: In the wacky world of Pete Carroll, trading a second-rounder for Charlie Whitehurst makes sense. So too does signing Tarvaris Jackson. To Carroll's credit, he said "thanks but no thanks" when his Heisman-winning quarterback during his USC days, Matt Leinart, was dumped by the Cardinals. And he had something to do with bringing Marshawn Lynch to Seattle for a 2011 fourth-rounder and a 2012 fifth-rounder. Lynch carried the Seahawks to a playoff win over the Saints in 2010, and rushed for 12,04 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011.

Lynch was Seattle's most consistent offensive weapon last season (this explains the Peyton Manning scuttlebutt) and earlier this week the word on the street was that the team was in "deep" contract talks with Lynch and would consider using the franchise tag if the two sides couldn't reach an agreement.

We're not sure that's the best use of resources for an offense with plenty of issues. Unlike the Ravens, Bears and Texans -- all teams with top-15 quarterbacks -- the Seahawks might want to take that $7.7 million they'd use on Lynch and address other needs (quarterback, wide receiver, or a couple running backs, for example).

Potential landing spots: Seahawks, Bengals, Jets, Redskins

5. Michael Bush

Breakdown: Darren McFadden played in just seven games last season but the Raiders' rush offense still ranked 11th in the league, according to Football Outsiders. Much of that was due to Michael Bush, who ran for 977 yards (3.8 YPC) and seven touchdowns, and added 418 yards receiving.

Still, despite his '11 success, when training camp begins, McFadden will be atop the depth chart. Running backs-by-committee are en vogue so it's reasonable to think that Bush will get plenty of work but he wants to be a starter (likely because it comes with starter money). And for that reason, the Contra Costa Times' Steve Corkran wrote last week that Bush might prefer the franchise tag to a long-term deal. Corkran pointed out that new general manager Reggie McKenzie has a knack for developing running backs, which could mean that Bush will be elsewhere next season.

Potential landing spots: Bengals (former Raiders coach Hue Jackson is an assistant there), Buccaneers, Redskins

6. BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Breakdown: ESPN.com's Mike Reiss broke down Green-Ellis' situation nicely last week: "The view from here is that the Patriots would like Green-Ellis to return and have a price in mind. The question then becomes if that price is attractive enough that it sparks Green-Ellis to sign before hitting free agency."

Free agency starts March 13. There will be a glut of running backs on the market and there's no promise that Green-Ellis will get more in free agency than he would from the Pats. It's more likely that New England will offer something less than market value because a) they typically handle the salary cap well, and b) they'll sell it as "we're a winner, if you go elsewhere you'll be in rebuilding mode."

And then there's c): the Pats drafted two running backs last April -- Shane Vereen in Round 2, Stevan Ridley in Round 3 -- and should they not be able to re-sign Green-Ellis they'd have plenty of depth at the position (something they seem oddly incapable of at wide receiver). As always, as long as Tom Brady is on the field, the Patriots will have a good chance to win. It would be nice to have Green-Ellis behind him but New England's offense will survive either way.

Potential landing spots: Patriots, Chiefs (Scott Pioli's the GM)

7. Cedric Benson

Breakdown: It's seldom players go to Cincinnati to revitalize careers but Benson isn't your typical NFL running back. The Bears' former No. 4 pick in 2005, he was considered a bust until he joined the Bengals in 2008. He rushed for 1,251 yards in 2009, 1,111 in 2010 and 1,067 last season.

This offseason, the organization has talked about getting backup Bernard Scott more touches next season. Benson, meanwhile, has taken to publicly calling out the Bengals -- not the best negotiating strategy.

“We didn’t stick on what the offense was built on," Benson said during an appearance this week on SiriusXM. "When we had Carson and Chad we kept a strong identity in the run game and we kind of got away from it and didn’t let that part of the offense grow and bit the bullet on it a little bit.”

As for Benson's future in Cincy, we think this comment pretty much says it all: “I’m not sure [where things stand]. We haven’t had any talks about a new deal.”

Last offseason, the organization dumped Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco, drafted A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and made the playoffs. The in-with-the-new personnel philosophy will apparently continue this offseason, too.

Potential landing spots: Benson's skills have diminished to the point that he's probably not worth more than a veteran minimum deal. Given his baggage, it makes more sense for a team looking for running back depth to sign a young player.

8. Peyton Hillis

Cleveland wants to keep Hillis? (Getty Images)
Breakdown: Whether Hillis was a victim of the Madden curse (he thinks he was) or he just got really bad really fast, the fact remains: he cost himself a lot of money in 2011. Hillis was traded from the Broncos to the Browns for Tim Tebow's No. 1 fan, Brady Quinn, and Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010. He played in just 10 games last season, rushing for 587 yards and three scores.

Not good. Not good at all.

There were concerns during the season that Hillis let his impending contract negotiations affect his decision to play. As you might expect, that didn't go over well with teammates or fans. Still, the Browns said last month that they want Hillis back after he "worked his way into the team's good graces" over the final six weeks.

A source tells the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot that the organization might even consider franchising (!) Hillis if they come to terms with linebacker D'Qwell Jackson. That sounds, well, silly but then again, we're talking about the Browns.

Potential landing spots: Browns, Patriots (where derailed careers get back on track), Broncos (two Tebows, one backfield)

9. Ryan Grant

Breakdown: The team appeared to favor James Starks but he's had trouble staying on the field. In 2011, Grant had 14 starts and rushed 134 times for 559 yards and two touchdowns. Not particularly noteworthy, but then again, he played in Aaron Rodgers' offense. He'll be 30 in December and while he rushed for more than 1,200 yards in 2008 and 2009, an ACL injury sidelined him for all but one game in 2010.

Earlier this month, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Rob Reischel wrote that "Packer general manager Ted Thompson won't make a heavy investment in a running back Grant's age… So Grant will test free agency, and he is unlikely to return unless there's little interest on the open market."

Grant seems to understand the situation. "We'll see," he said. "I know I have a lot left. I think I showed that at the end of the year here. Would like to be back . . . but we'll just have to see."

Potential landing spots: Teams looking for running back-by-committee members willing to play for the veteran minimum. Barring injuries, not sure there will be much of a market.

10. Honorable Mention

Unrestricted free agents: Mike Tolbert, LaDainian Tomlinson, Kevin Smith, Thomas Jones

Restricted free agents: LeGarrette Blount, Isaac Redman, LaRod Stephens-Howling

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 11:00 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 10:28 am
 

Could Skins be interested in Weeden in 1st round?

Would Washington trade down for Weeden instead of trade up for RG3? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

NFLDraftScout.com's Rob Rang ranks Oklahoma State Brandon Weeden fifth among draft-eligible quarterbacks behind Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannenhill and Brock Osweiler. NFL Network's Mike Mayock has Weeden fourth.

NFL Draft prep
And friend of the Eye on Football Blog, Shutdown Corner's Doug Farrar, wrote Wednesday in a pre-combine post that "Brandon Weeden has all the on-field savvy in the world — and at age 28, he'll be given credit for the savvy he doesn't have — but he needs to display the consistent arm that will convince scouts that he can hit tight windows at the NFL level."

We mention this because of something Sports Illustrated's Don Banks noted in his latest mock draft regarding the Redskins, their No. 6 pick, and franchise quarterbacks.

"(LSU cornerback Morris) Claiborne is likely the safest pick for the Redskins in this scenario, but so much hinges on what the Redskins do at quarterback in free agency. I gave them Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill in my first mock, but here's an interesting theory I heard recently that makes some sense: Mike Shanahan loves Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden, who he coached in the Senior Bowl, and might try to trade down into the 20s of the first round to take him. Weeden is 28 and that scares a lot of teams, but he's mature and ready to play in the NFL right away, and the Redskins don't have time to wait around for someone to develop."

Worthing pointing out: Shanahan also loved Rex Grossman and John Beck enough to not pursue other options prior to the 2011 season. Predictably, Washington now has the sixth-overall selection in April's draft.

Then there are these tweets (sent Monday) from Farrar, who spends much of his free time watching film and evaluating players:

SC_DougFarrar
After watching a fair amount of tape, I'm convinced that the words "Brandon Weeden" and "NFL-ready" should not be in the same paragraph.
2/20/12 8:25 PM

SC_DougFarrar
Weeden doesn't have the gun to hit tight windows, needs work on touch passes, and doesn't adjust to WR re-direction. Zone passer.
2/20/12 8:28 PM

SC_DougFarrar
@johndsandell Not saying that Weeden is horrible. Saying that there are certain things I look for re: NFL-ready, and I don't see them here.
2/21/12 8:44 AM

Maybe Weeden isn't the next Chris Weinke. And honestly, it's too early to pass judgments on anyone -- it's February, after all -- but if the Redskins are truly serious about finding a quarterback then they should give serious consideration to trading up for Griffin, trading down for Tannenhill or making a play for Matt Flynn (or Peyton Manning -- or whomever they fall in love with in free agency).

The point: don't settle. Look where that's gotten you. 

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 9:47 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:11 pm
 

Packers sign Finley to 2-year deal, Flynn next?

Green Bay keeps Finley for two more years, is Flynn  next? (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

There were concerns heading into the offseason that free agent tight end Jermichael Finley, who hauled in 131 passes for 1,744 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Packers since 2009, would want to be paid like a wide receiver. Turns out, the two sides found common ground nearly two weeks before the start of free agency; Finley has signed a two-year deal with Green Bay worth slightly less than $15 million. ProFootballTalk.com originally reported the news and Finley confirmed it on Twitter.

JermichaelF88
It's TRUE! Thank you so much to the Packers organization, all of my fans, and my beautiful wife. Happy Bday. Let's GO Packers!! Back soon...
2/22/12 8:31 PM

As PFT noted, the average value of Finley's new contract -- roughly $7.5 million -- splits the difference between the franchise tag values for tight ends ($5.4) and wide receivers ($9.4).

Finley made $1.2 million in base salary last season.

Signing Finley means that the Packers now have the franchise tag still available to them to use as they see fit. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein tweets that "I anticipate the Packers using the franchise tag on (Matt) Flynn now. They'll take the $14 million cap hit and then deal him to somebody."

We wrote about this possibility on January 3 when Silverstein first floated the idea of a Packers tag and trade:

Silverstein [writes] that the move isn't without risk for the Packers. Putting aside the illegality of a tag and trade, there's also the issue of having a $14 million backup on your roster if other teams aren't sufficiently interested in trading for him. Which means that team president Ted Thompson would have to work with Flynn's agent "behind the scenes to find a trading partner and then negotiate a deal suitable to Flynn."

Silverstein was told by a "prominent agent who has represented a franchise player" that Green Bay could be in line for a first-round pick at minimum for Flynn, and maybe a first- and third-rounder.

That sounds, well, extreme, especially since Hue Jackson already traded for Carson Palmer.  


Almost two months later and it still sounds extreme.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 7:56 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 7:57 pm
 

Mike Wallace understands that NFL 'is a business'

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

By Ryan Wilson

If, in 12 days, the Steelers haven't extended wide receiver Mike Wallace's contract, there's the real possibility that he may have played his last game for Pittsburgh. The organization will tender Wallace, a restricted free agent, the highest offer but teams looking for proven deep threats might willingly give up a first-round pick for his rights.

Exacerbating matters: the Steelers are some $7 million over the salary cap and likely wouldn't be able to match any contract another team might offer Wallace. Pittsburgh understands this and so does the third-year wide receiver.

"(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 said during an appearance on SiriusXM Wednesday afternoon (via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review). "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," he said, referring to the team's cap situation. "I know that they are working hard trying to take care of it, but I don`t know. We`ll see."

(We talked about Wallace's future -- among other things -- on the most recent Pick-6 Podcast.)


We wrote Monday about the doomsday scenario that has the Steelers losing Wallace and, well, it's not the end of the world some fans and media portray it to be. (We'll include part of it below since we buried it in a post about Big Ben and Haley, western Pennsylvania's newest BFFs.)

Wallace has put up some mind-blowing numbers during his three-year career, and you can even blame his second-half-of-2011 slump on Roethlisberger's health and defenses double- and triple-teaming him. But Pittsburgh also has Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. We think Brown will eventually be better than Wallace, if he's not already. And Sanders has the ability to become a solid No. 2 option.

The Steelers would also have an additional first-rounder, most likely near the bottom of the round. If, in their draft evaluations, they find a handful of players that they think would help them immediately (and when we say "players," we really mean "offensive linemen"), perhaps it's a tradeoff worth considering. Wallace is worth more than a late first-round selection but there are extenuating circumstances, chiefly the salary-cap purgatory the organization currently finds itself.

In addition to Brown and Sanders, Pittsburgh would need to re-sign someone like Jerricho Cotchery, or hope that Hines Ward has anything left for another season. (Worth mentioning: Ward had a severely sprained ankle early in the season and that may have hampered his production down the stretch.)

Then there is tight end Heath Miller, recently underutilized because of Pittsburgh's suspect pass-blocking. Haley announced at his introductory press conference that he was a huge Miller fan, and Miller could become another downfield option in the Steelers' passing game should they lose Wallace.

Finally, Pittsburgh has been to three Super Bowls since 2005, winning two. The group of pass catchers in 2005 included Ward, Cedrick Wilson and Antwaan Randle El. In 2009, it was Ward, Santonio Holmes, and Nate Washington. The takeaway: given the Steelers' financial predicament, keeping Wallace is more a luxury than a necessity.

The organization has less two weeks to sort this out. Whether that's enough time to get under the cap and extend Wallace is an entirely different issue. But Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert has an impressive track record not only when it comes to identifying talent but knowing when to let them walk. We'll know shortly where Colbert stands on Wallace.

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Posted on: February 22, 2012 5:30 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 5:31 pm
 

Group purchases 'Manning to Miami' billboard

Desperate times call for desperate measures. (Local10.com*)

By Ryan Wilson

It's no secret that the Dolphins need a franchise quarterback. We've mentioned it before, but the list of successors to Dan Marino in Miami is one of the saddest things you'll ever see. The team's top passers since 2000: Jay Fiedler, A.J. Feeley, Gus Frerotte, Joey Harrington, Cleo Lemon, Chad Pennington, Chad Henne and Matt Moore (see, we told you).

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is reportedly "infatuated" with Peyton Manning for obvious reasons: assuming he's healthy enough to play in 2012, Manning immediately makes the Dolphins competitive and, perhaps more importantly, he'll sell tickets, something the team struggles to do when it's not Tim Tebow Appreciation Day.

Free agent Matt Flynn might make more sense -- he's younger, healthier, and is familiar with new head coach Joe Philbin's offense (Philbin and Flynn were together in Green Bay). But Flynn ain't Manning when it comes to cachet or resume, which explains the South Florida billboard visible from I-95 relaying a simple message: Manning to Miami.

There's also a website for the like-minded to sign a petition and "Be part of 'The Movement' and make history -- bring Manning to Miami."

The site asks some important questions:

"How many wins is Manning worth? When's the last time we the fans have had an 'impact' quarterback? What about the most cerebral quarterback of all time?"

The only problem is that Manning, in his current state, is worth zero wins. But this is what desperation smells like when you've been subjected to names like Frerotte, Culpepper, Harrington and Henne in recent years.

* The screenshot above is courtesy of Local10.com. You can watch the compelling video here. (Apparently, the camera has zoom capabilities -- both in and out.)

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:17 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 1:09 pm
 

Tom Martinez, Tom Brady's mentor, dies at 66

Tom Brady with Tom Martinez (MatchingDonors.com)
By Ryan Wilson

Tom Martinez, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's longtime mentor, has died after suffering a heart attack during a dialysis session, Boston's WCVB reported Tuesday evening.

Martinez had been in need of a kidney transplant for some time due to complications from diabetes. Last summer. he was given just months to live, but in January 2012, he told ABC News, "I've been told I'm out of here, and I don't accept that. I'm going to fight to the end."

Brady, a first-ballot Hall of Famer when his career is over, has spoken often about Martinez' impact on his game.

"I've been so fortunate to be kind of his student that would take all this information and hopefully pass it on to the next generation of young quarterbacks that want to learn the proper ways to throw the football," Brady told CBS in November.  "Without Tom Martinez, Tom Brady would not have been the quarterback of the New England Patriots," he said. 

Brady worked with Martinez before the start of the 2011 season. The two watched film and Martinez tweaked Brady's mechanics during on-field throwing sessions, something he's been doing since Brady's prep days.

”He asked me to come out, right before the season started. Labor Day weekend,” Martinez told the Boston Herald's Ian Rapoport back in September. ”He said he was off. His throwing was off. So I went out there Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. We went through the film. Then all of a sudden, everything else fell into place. Within about an hour, he was back to the old Tom Brady. Then he had that 517 yard game [against the Dolphins in Week 1]. I guess what we did worked.”

Brady had used his celebrity (through Facebook and by teaming up with Matching Donors) to help raise awareness about Martinez' condition in the hopes that a donor would be found.

“What he is giving me is an opportunity to live longer, so I can’t thank him enough, "Martinez said weeks before Brady played in Super Bowl XLVI. "Yet we have the kind of relationship where we don’t have to thank each other,” Martinez said. “It is understood that there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for him and there is nothing he probably wouldn’t do for me.”

Brady released a statement on his Facebook page Wednesday (via WEEI.com).

”I am deeply saddened by the passing of my coach, mentor and friend. Coach Martinez’s invaluable assistance and support will never be forgotten and will always have a lasting impact on my life. The time we spent together remain some of my fondest memories. His legacy of commitment, toughness and determination will live on forever.”

Martinez was 66.

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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