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Tag:Ryan Wilson
Posted on: February 21, 2012 8:25 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Ranking the free-agent QBs

Will Peyton end up in the Valley of the Sun?(CBSSports.com illustration)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

The old saying goes something like this: yes, it's officially the NFL offseason but there really is no offseason. The Giants won the Super Bowl a few weeks ago but teams can already franchise would-be free agents, the combine begins this week and free agency the week after.

There are plenty of storylines, and Peyton Manning's future is among the biggest. On the latest Pick-6 Podcast, we talk whether the Arizona Cardinals make the most sense for Manning (he does look dashing in red), and where the other free-agent quarterbacks (Matt Flynn, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Chad Henne) might end up this spring.

The conversation then turns to Big Ben and Todd Haley, and a possible theory for why the Steelers could let Mike Wallace leave as a restricted free agent.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:58 pm
 

Report: Roethlisberger, Haley finally meet

Now that Big Ben and Haley are BFFs, the team has to decide Wallace's future in Pittsburgh. (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

Some sad news for those fans and media looking for a story where there wasn't one: after a couple weeks on the job, new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley finally had a face-to-face with franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette tweeted the details late Tuesday afternoon:

EdBouchette
News many have waited for: Ben & Steelers new OC Todd Haley finally met, sat down and talked.
2/21/12 5:46 PM

So what does this mean? Not much, really. Haley's arrival in Pittsburgh furrowed some brows but team president Art Rooney II said last week that the hire was soley that of head coach Mike Tomlin. Put differently: Rooney hadn't suddenly morphed into a meddlesome owner, ordering Haley's hire, even if Rooney wasn't jazzed by the prospects of Bruce Arians, Haley's predecessor, keeping his job.

There's still the issue if Haley and Big Ben can co-exist. Roethlisberger has stated previously that he's not a huge fan of yelling, we still think it won't affect his on-field performance. In fact, CBSSports.com's Will Brinson thinks the Steelers' Pro Bowl quarterback could have his best season yet in 2012. (We talked about it on the most recent Pick-6 Podcast.)


So now, with that all behind us, the second-biggest offseason storyline facing the Steelers is Mike Wallace's immediate future with the team.

CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan wrote about it over the weekend: Pittsburgh is well over the cap and even if they wanted to franchise Wallace (they don't), their precarious salary-cap situation won't allow it. Which means that Wallace, a restricted free agent and one of the league's best young wide receivers, could be had by a wideout-needy team for a first-round pick should the Steelers choose not to match any contract offer Wallace would receive.

Before last summer's new CBA, restricted free agents tendered at the highest level would bring a first- and third-rounder should they sign elsewhere. Now it's only a first-rounder, which means that the Patriots, a club desperate for a deep threat that also has two first-round picks, would be a logical landing spot.

Ideally, the Steelers would find a way to keep Wallace, but that will require some nifty salary-cap maneuvering in the coming weeks; free agency starts March 5. But here's the other side of that argument should they lose him:

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. In our opinion, Brown will 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.

The organization has nearly two weeks to sort this out. Whether that's enough time to get under the salary cap (they're currently about $7-$8 million over) 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 21, 2012 6:01 pm
 

Jaworski thinks Manning fits best with the Jets

Jaws says he loves Mark Sanchez, just not more than Peyton Manning. (Getty Images/US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

There hasn't been much to report on the Peyton Manning front lately. The media furor surrounding the Colts' quarterback left Indianapolis about the same time the Super Bowl did. Which lends credence to the theory that the Manning-Jim Irsay back-and-forth was all about winning the PR battle while the biggest game of the year was played in their backyard.

The most recent speculation has the Seahawks interested in Manning, assuming the 36-year-old quarterback will be healthy enough to resume his career in 2012 and that the Colts cut him loose in the coming weeks. (Peyton's due $28 million on March 13; we can't see a scenario where Irsay forks over that kind of dough.)

But perhaps we're being too presumptuous. Here's what Seahawks general manager John Schnieder said last week.

“I’ve been blessed to be around a lot of really good quarterback people that have taught me a lot about the position,” Schneider said lastThursday. “So I just kind of incorporate that with the quarterbacks I’ve been around. I just try to take all the information possible from everybody I’ve been around. Ijust know if you panic at the position, it can set the organization back. So we're not going to do that,"

“That may disappoint fans, because they want to see an instant guy and have that instant success,” Schneider continued. “But really, you’re better off continuing to build your team. Initially when I got here, I thought we were going to plug the quarterback in and we were going built around him. If we had done that, we would have panicked in a way. And I’m not sure we would have been able to host the Saints (in the 2010 wild-card playoff game) and had that great atmosphere and all that.”

There's something to be said for not panicking. Then again, it's hard to convince the fan base that you're taking the position seriously when you trade for Charlie Whitehurst and a year later sign Tarvaris Jackson. The former isn't a capable backup and the latter was described perfectly by NFL Network's Mike Mayock this week, “He’s developed to a certain point, but I think that position needs to be upgraded. And I don’t mind T-Jack competing for the position, but I think you either have to get a free agent in there or you have to draft somebody.”

But Seattle isn't the only team breathlessly included in the Manning sweepstakes. There are the other usual suspects: the Redskins, Dolphins and Jets. ESPN's Ron Jaworski, most recently identified as the third wheel in Monday Night Football's new two-man booth, was asked about Manning's NFL future.

“I think Peyton Manning ends up playing somewhere else (other than Indianapolis)," he said during an appearance 97.5 in Philadelphia (via SportsRadioInterviews.com). "I think it’s a win-win for everyone. Certainly, when you look at the Colts right now, they’re a team that’s going through their development process with a new coaching staff and new players. It’s going to be just like when Peyton came on board, years to develop that football team. I think it’s best for Peyton to go and play on a team that can compete for a Super Bowl, a team that might be a quarterback away from elevating that team to Super Bowl status and I think that would be a win-win situation.”

When asked about potential destinations, Jaws suggested what a lot of people have been thinking for months.

“The New York Jets. … I love Mark Sanchez and there are 25 other quarterbacks in this league that I would take Peyton Manning over. There’s a turf war in New York. The Giants just won the Super Bowl. The Jets are fighting for every inch of space they can get in the newspaper. How do you get that inch? How do you get the headlines? You sign Peyton Manning.”

Jaworski joins Curtis Martin, us, and we imagine Rex Ryan, who won't admit it now but has almost certainly given some thought to the possibility.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 10:00 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 10:24 pm
 

How will Philbin, Dolphins deal with Marshall?

Some Fins players reportedly thought Sparano and his staff coddled Marshall. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Brandon Marshall's physical skills are undeniable. But the off-field distractions and occasional on-field lapses make him more mercurial diva than dominating downfield threat. His wife was accused of stabbing him last April, and in December, Marshall was temporarily detained for refusing to pay a cab fare. Then there are the issues with teammates and the random observations about his pregame preparations. (Then, when the games don't matter, Marshall goes off. Of course he does.)

So, yes, Marshall is viewed as something of an enigma. But according to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, the previous coaching staff led by Tony Sparano also served as Marshall's enablers.

"There’s curiosity internally in seeing how the new staff deals with Marshall. Some players thought the former staff looked the other way when he did foolish things (like spiking a ball off Vontae Davis’ face)," Jackson wrote Sunday.

Will new head coach Joe Philbin's staff demand more from Marshall? No idea, but here's how these things work on every team: the best players, or those physically gifted with gobs of potential, are given more leeway than the eighth guy on the practice squad. Media and fans are occasionally indignant when some players are given second, third and fourth chances for breaking the law or violating team rules while other players are promptly cut.

Marshall, in the right offense, can be dangerous. From 2007-2009, he caught at least 307 passes for 3,710 yards and 23 touchdowns. And despite "all the other stuff" since he arrived in Miami in 2010, he's averaged 84 receptions, 1,114 yards and 4.5 touchdowns. And that's with Chad Henne and Matt Moore throwing him the ball.

During the Pro Bowl three weeks ago, Marshall noted Moore's accomplishments under tough circumstances last season. But he also understood that Moore ain't a franchise quarterback.

"Obviously, Matt [Moore] had a great year," Marshall said. "You don't want to take anything away from Matt, but I think we really bring in somebody who can compete and make the team better."

Which is why Marshall has reached out to Matt Flynn, the Packers quarterback who will draw plenty of interest should he become a free agent.

"Hey man, listen, I'm out here at the Pro Bowl, and I'm not getting no balls thrown to me!" Marshall joked to NFL.com's Jeff Darlington. "I need a quarterback. You've got Big Ben throwing to [Mike] Wallace, you've got Philip throwing to [Antonio] Gates and Vincent [Jackson], you've got Andy throwing to A.J. [Green]. I'm the only guy out here, man!"

Then there's this: new Dolphins offensive coordinator Mike Sherman doesn't think the team is that far away.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 7:02 pm
 

Report: Pats on Randy Moss: That ship has sailed

New England apparently won't be in Moss' future. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Randy Moss reintroduced himself to the public last week when he took to UStream to talk about everything from his NFL return to pro wrestling to his three piranha (one's named Gargamel because he's mean). Naturally, the media (us included) ran with it, speculating on where he might end up in 2012.

The list includes the obvious choices -- the Patriots, Redskins, 49ers, Jets and Eagles -- as well as the not-so-obvious: the IFL's Chicago Slaughter. (We talked about all this on a recent Pick-6 Podcast, conveniently embedded below.)


But Moss also had his detractors. Cris Carter reminded everyone that his former teammate was a quitter, and the Cowboys preemptively indicated that they'd pass on his services.

In Sunday's Boston Globe, Shalise Manza Young reiterated what some people already suspected: a Pats-Moss reunion isn't in the offing.

"Moss seems realistic about his chances, acknowledging that he may not play anywhere in 2012," Young wrote. "As for a possible Patriots reunion, the feeling here is that that ship has sailed."

If the Patriots were to pursue a veteran it would be someone like Reggie Wayne (we've been beating this drum for months now), especially given how poor a fit Chad Ochocinco turned out to be. If, instead, New England is looking for a young playmaker at the position, they could use their bottomless supply of draft picks to trade up and grab Justin Blackmon, Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd. Or as CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan suggests, they could make a play for Steelers restricted free agent Mike Wallace. It would only cost them the 31st overall pick, and Wallace, unlike the would-be rookies, is already one of the league's best young wideouts.

As for Moss, we still think he's a more viable option than Terrell Owens. This falls firmly under the heading of "the soft bigotry of low expectations," but we're also talking about two guys in their mid-30s who last played in the NFL in 2010. And unlike T.O., who had a nasty habit of burning bridges, Moss was generally well regarded in Tennessee, his last stop before retirement.

He was great," one team official told NFL Network's Albert Breer earlier this week. "He was a great personality, he brought an energy to practice. He was constantly talking, but it was all in a competitive way, not a negative way.

"As a player, he's never been a great practice player, but there were no issues. The problem was in games, he'd lose interest, he'd dog it sometimes. ... He gets frustrated with double teams; when he gets bracketed, he'll shut it down, and that causes a problem for you. But as a guy, he was good here."

And that's the rub. Are there teams willing to gamble on a guy who they know will "shut it down" in exchange for the occasional big-play payoff? Given the glut of wide receivers about to flood free agency, there may not be much of a market for Moss. Then again, there aren't many people capable of doing what Moss did regularly during his career. 

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:20 pm
 

Report: Jets won't pursue Mario Williams

Mario Williams would do a lot for the  Jets' pass rush. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

For all the flak quarterback Mark Sanchez took last season -- deserved and otherwise -- the Jets' defense had something to do with the fall from annual playoff team to unmitigated disaster. Specific instances come to mind -- Eric Smith getting Tebow'd in the Thursday night game, Anotonio Cromartie's phantom coverage skills against the Pats (not to mention what happened to him against the Raiders) -- but the lack of a pass rush and ill-timed coverage breakdowns haunted the unit for most of the season.

That and the Jets' willingness to spend money during the offseason would naturally put them in the conversation for Mario Williams' services. The Texans' 2006 first-overall pick, who missed much of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, will be a free agent in a few weeks and there's speculation that he could become the NFL's highest-paid defensive player when he signs his next contract.

While the Jets might covet Williams, the team probably won't pursue him for one simple reason: money.

"Even though the Jets have a glaring need for a 3-4 OLB, they are expected to sit out the Williams sweepstakes," ESPN.com's Rich Cimini wrote Sunday morning. "The primary reason is cap room. As of last week, they had less than $500,000 in projected cap space. They can create room by restructuring bloated contracts and cutting players -- and they probably will -- but they evidently prefer to use the money to address several needs instead of putting all their eggs in the Williams basket."

Which makes the decision to keep Santonio Holmes around for a cool $15.3 million all the more curious. That's obviously not enough to land Williams, but it's a start. And if nothing else, it would rid the team of Holmes, who quit mid-game in Week 17 and isn't much of a Sanchez fan (despite the Valentine's Day XOXO tweet).

For now, Ryan says Sanchez is his quarterback, Holmes is his wide receiver, and Williams doesn't appear to be in the team's offseason plans. That means that the Jets will target lower-priced free agents and use the draft to fix their defense. CBSSports.com's Rob Rang has New York taking Alabama safety Mark Barron with the 16th pick, and Dane Brugler likes South Carolina outside linebacker Melvin Ingram.

Whatever happens in the coming months, one thing remains a certainty: Ryan is still planning on getting a Super Bowl ring quickly.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 2:29 pm
 

Cliff Avril hints at holdout if Lions tag him

Detroit could franchise Avril and he might choose to hold out. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

On Friday, Lions defensive end Cliff Avril admitted that he had no idea if the team would franchise him after his 11-sack, six-forced-fumbles effort in 2011, but made it clear that "I want a deal, obviously." Not long after, the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett reported that two sources close to the negotiations "stopped short of saying Avril definitely will be tagged, both said that’s the likely outcome if the two sides don’t agree on a long-term deal before March 5, the deadline for applying the tag."

On Saturday, Avril again reiterated that he's not particularly jazzed about the possibility of playing on a one-year contract, even one that would pay him around $10.6 million in 2012. In fact, he might consider holding out.

"There's a lot of different possibilities, and that's one of the possibilities -- not showing up," Avril said of missing off-season workouts and training camp (via the Free Press' Carlos Monarrez. "But we don't know. That's not the plan, obviously. But there's a lot of different possibilities, and that's definitely one of them."

Well, the Lions can officially tag whomever they want starting Monday, February 20 and they'll have two weeks to do so until free agency begins on March 5. Monarro writes that Avril "likely wants a long-term deal that would pay him about $12 million per season," something in line with the contracts signed by the Panthers' Charles Johnson and the Chiefs' Tamba Hali last year.

Avril had a fantastic 2011 that included a dominating performance against the Broncos and Tim Tebow in Week 8 when he recorded two sacks, and turned a forced fumble into a 24-yard touchdown. "I know it's the NFL," he said. "People make promises. It's a business. People tell you one thing one year and it might not be the same thing next year. It's expected. But the whole thing last year is I wanted a deal. They basically told me you need to do this, that and third or whatever as far as playing and being productive. I feel like I did that. Obviously it doesn't stop right here, but I do want to be compensated for the work that I'm putting in. That's all."

Fair points, all of them. But here's what the Lions might be thinking: Yes, Avril went off last season, but he also played next to some combination of Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Nick Fairely and Andre Fluellen. They combined for seven sacks at defensive tackle. And Avril played opposite Kyle Vanden Bosch, and he had eight sacks.

"I don't want to be franchised," Avril said. "That's basically what I got last year. The tender was basically the same thing. I just want security and longevity."

Ultimately, Avril's fate may be out of his hands. He can holdout to express his unhappiness but it's seldom a successful strategy to get a new contract, and usually ends up with the organization threatening to fine the player for missed practices and workouts. The most recent exception: Chris Johnson sat comfortably on his couch until the Titans blinked and overpaid him. Johnson, one of the league's best running backs heading into 2011, responded by rushing for 1,047 yards on 262 carries (4.0 average) and just four touchdowns.

We get Avrils' frustration but should it get to that point, it might be in his best interest to sign the $10.6 million franchise tender and spend the spring and summer trying to hammer out a long-term deal.

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Posted on: February 19, 2012 11:32 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 5:52 am
 

Are Seahawks front-runners for Peyton Manning?

Depending on his health, Peyton Manning should have plenty of suitors should the Colts decide to cut him. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Peyton Manning has been in the news more in the last month than he was at any point during the 2011 season. This is what happens when one of the NFL's best players is sidelined with a serious neck injury, his status remains uncertain, and he's due a $28 million bonus on March 13. There are questions about, well, everything.

Will Peyton be healthy enough to return to the field in 2012? Will the Colts pay him said $28 million? And if not, where might Manning end up?

CBSSports.com's Will Brinson handicapped those teams that might be in the Manning business next season and it included the usual suspects: the Dolphins, Redskins, Cardinals and even the Colts. But Brinson also included the Seahawks, an outfit that let Matt Hasselbeck walk after 2010 and went with Tarvaris Jackson last year.

On Sunday, Dan Pompei of the National Football Post writes that Seattle is more than intrigued by Manning.

"Based on the buzz around the league, the Seahawks could be the early frontrunner for Peyton Manning, assuming he is released," says Pompei. "Pete Carroll needs a quarterback and is believed to have a strong interest in at least exploring Manning.

"The Seahawks could offer Manning an attractive scenario. They have a young team with some fine skill players to put around him. They play in one of the league’s loudest stadiums. Manning wouldn’t be subject to the same kind of scrutiny in Seattle that he would in a lot of other markets. The Seahawks also could have a better feel for Manning’s medical situation than some teams. One of their team physicians, Stan Herring, who also is one of the country’s preeminent specialists for spine injuries. Herring is a member of the NFL’s Head, Neck and Spine Committee."

Jackson played better than we expected last season, but as NFL Network's Mike Mayock said earlier this week, “I like him. He’s developed to a certain point, but I think that position needs to be upgraded. And I don’t mind T-Jack competing for the position, but I think you either have to get a free agent in there or you have to draft somebody.”

Manning would certainly fit the description of competition although, again, no one knows if or when he'll be completely healthy. Then it becomes a question of which teams are willing to take a flier on him in the hopes that if he's not ready in 2012, he'll be available in 2013. That decision, we suspect, will come down to some combination money (for Manning) and desperation (by quarterback-needy teams).

Pompei also suggests that Manning and Reggie Wayne (he'll be a free agent in a few weeks) could be a packaged deal.

"A few pro scouts believe Wayne’s production may dip, given he probably will be in a new offensive system for the first time in his career, and he is 33 years old," Pompei says. "That isn’t to say the free agent to be doesn’t have a couple of good years left in him, however. Wayne could maximize his ability if he were to continue his connection with Manning."

We've been saying this for months, too. If Peyton returns, we'd expect Wayne to join him. If Manning can't play in '12, we wouldn't be surprised if Wayne ended up in New England.

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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