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

Rex regrets guarantee, won't rule out Peyton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"We will look at all possibilities."

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

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

Cardinals won't shut the door on Peyton Manning

Eye on Football Illustration (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Posted on: February 23, 2012 12:36 pm
 

Steelers want Wallace 'to finish his career here'

Pittsburgh would love to keep top wideout Wallace. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

INDIANAPOLIS -- Kevin Colbert, as GM of the Steelers, is in a precarious position. Pittsburgh has little-to-no cap room and one of their top offensive players, wide receiver Mike Wallace, is a restricted free agent who's been viewed as a candidate for offer sheets from various AFC rivals.

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Colbert emphasized on Thursday at the NFL combine that the Steelers, despite rumors to the contrary, are still very much open to using the franchise tag on Wallace, even though it would tack on another $9.4 million to their salary cap.

"We won't know until we know what we're dealing with as far as cap space. So we have to leave that option open, absolutely," Colbert said. "The thing I can say for sure about Mike is that we want Mike to finish his career with the Steelers and we're confident that Mike wants to finish his career here and play with a great quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger and have the receivers we have to compliment him.

"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."

The Steelers are being hurt by changes to restricted free agent (RFA) rules in the new CBA; teams only have to surrender a first-round pick in exchange for Wallace if the Steelers decline to match any offer from someone else.

"The compensation is what it is," Colbert said. "We have to live within the rules and make the best decisions we can."

Cap space is the bigger issue, though. Even if the Steelers can get under the cap through cutting players and restructuring contracts, they'd still need to wiggle out another $10 million in order to easily bring Wallace back in 2012.

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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 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:04 pm
 

Quinn backtracks on Tebow 'humble' comment

Quinn and Tebow: Not BFFs after all? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Broncos quarterback Brady Quinn will be a free agent on March 13. While he didn't make our list of top free-agent quarterbacks (although he was honorable mention!), he'll likely end up landing a backup job somewhere for the 2012 season.

Just don't count on it being Denver, at least based on the quotes he gave Mike Silver for an oral history of Tebowmania in the latest issue of GQ.

"Early in the season, there was a game when Kyle [Orton] got hurt and the coaches were calling for me to go in, but Kyle got up and finished the game out," Quinn said. "So I was the second-string guy. Then, a few weeks later, they decided to put Tim in. I felt like the fans had a lot to do with that. Just 'cause they were chanting his name. There was a big calling for him. No, I didn't have any billboards. That would have been nice."


This is a harmless quote. You don't have to be a backup quarterback to want billboards pulling for you all over the town you live in.

But Quinn's comments took a different tone as his comments continued throughout the article.

"We've had a lot of, I guess, luck, to put it simply," Quinn said, recalling the Broncos memorable overtime win over the Bears.

Again, more or less harmless. Marion Barber running out of bounds and then fumbling is the definition of luck. It's not the greatest thing in the world to say about your (former?) teammates, especially if you want your job again in 2012, but it's not incendiary. But how do you feel about the way Tim acts off the field, Brady?

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"If you look at it as a whole, there's a lot of things that just don't seem very humble to me," Quinn said. "When I get that opportunity, I'll continue to lead not necessarily by trying to get in front of the camera and praying but by praying with my teammates, you know?"

Annnnnnd ... scene. At least on Quinn's career with the Broncos. Remember, they shipped Kyle Orton out of town because he was going to be a pain in the locker room. And they already know what they've got in Quinn (read: a guy who can't beat out Tebow for the backup job).

The Broncos said they want to bring in two more quarterbacks to generate some competition, but they're unlikely to bring in (or back) anyone who might truly try and undermine Tebowmania in Denver. If you're coming out to Mile High, you've got buy into the idea that you're going to get pelted with foam crosses should you win the starting gig.

But maybe Quinn's comments in the magazine aren't as bad as represented. Quinn released a statement on Twitter Tuesday afternoon refuting the nature of his comments in Silver's article.

"The comments attributed to me in a recent magazine article are in NO WAY reflective of my opinion of Tim and the Broncos," Quinn tweeted. "Tim deserves a lot of credit for our success and I'm happy for him and what he accomplished. Most importantly, he is a great teammate. That interview was conducted three months ago, and the resulting story was a completely inaccurate portrayal of my comments.

"I have addressed my disappointment with the writer and have reached out to Tim to clear this up. I apologize to anyone who feels I was trying to take anything away from our Team's or Tim's success this season."

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2012 5:01 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Quarterback rankings

The 2012 free-agent quarterback class is an, um, diverse group. (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 quarterbacks.

Though the list of free-agent quarterbacks for 2012 isn't necessarily the greatest crop of players in NFL history, it does have the potential to be one of the most intriguing in years, because of one man: Peyton Manning. Manning's saga is well-documented at this point; the back-and-forth between Manning's camp and Jim Irsay dominated the freaking Super Bowl.

Releasing him into the wild seems like a mere matter of timing. So we're going to take that assumption and add Manning to our lists of free agents. We're also including the Saints Drew Brees and 49ers Alex Smith on this list, since both are technically unrestricted free agents, until they receive the franchise tag from their respective teams. There's a better likelihood of Jimmy Clausen unseating Cam Newton than there is Brees not returning to New Orleans, but maybe someone in the Saints office will forget to fax in the franchise-tag paperwork.


Brees offseason could be interesting.  (Getty Images)

1. Drew Brees

Breakdown: The biggest problem for the Saints isn't that Brees might leave. He's not going to unless something really ridiculous happens. The biggest problem for the Saints is that if they're forced to use the franchise tag on Brees, they could end up losing Carl Nicks and Marques Colston. That won't make Brees any happier when it gets down to brass-tack negotiating.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints

2. Peyton Manning

Breakdown: Perhaps you've heard of Manning before. He's third all-time in passing yards (54,828). He's third all-time in passing touchdowns (399). He's won more MVPs than anyone in NFL history (four). And he's second in his own family with Super Bowl rings (one). That last item isn't a shot at Manning, though. It's the reason we believe he's not done when it comes to football, and that he'll come back to the game supremely motivated. No one knows whether or not he'll be fully healthy by the time the 2012 season begins. We do know he won't be fully healthy by the time March 13 rolls around, though. Which means that anyone who signs him will be engaging in a serious high-risk, high-reward game of chicken with Manning's neck.
Potential Landing Spots: Cardinals, Dolphins, Seahawks, Jets, Redskins

3. Matt Flynn

Breakdown: Flynn's attempted just 132 passes at the professional level, but 81 of them are pretty impressive. Those came in the only two starts of his career, when Flynn managed to go 55 of 81 for 731 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. There are concerns that Flynn can't make every throw (right now) and that he might be a product of Green Bay's system. But that system's in Miami now, as former Packers quarterbacks coach Joe Philbin is the Dolphins head coach. If Miami doesn't make a run at Flynn when free agency opens up, that should be a big red flag for anyone else interested in Aaron Rodgers backup.
Potential Landing Spots: Dolphins, Seahawks, Redskins

4. Alex Smith

Breakdown: Smith resurrected his career under new 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and, in the span of about two playoff minutes against the Saints, nearly flipped the entire narrative of his career. As it is, Smith's improvement in 2011 is impressive; according to Pro Football Focus, he had the third-highest accuracy percentage in the NFL (factoring in drops, throwaways and spikes) last year, behind only Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Smith's said he isn't interested in leaving San Francisco, and Harbaugh's gotten his back publicly, even though there's zero chance they'll use the franchise tag on him.
Potential Landing Spots: 49ers
Henne could surprise in the right spot. (Getty Images)

5. Chad Henne

Breakdown: Miami drafting a quarterback in the second round: an April tradition unlike any other! But no, seriously, Henne's in a long line of signal-callers that the Dolphins took in the second round who didn't pan out. He's had serious problems with interceptions; Henne's got a 3.5 percent INT rate over his career and only nine of his 36 NFL games have not featured him throwing a pick. And Henne tends to look particularly robotic at times in the pocket (these things go hand in hand). But he's only 26 and it's not fair to blame him for all of Miami's woes the past three years. Henne can make all the throws and flashed some serious potential at times during his tenure in South Beach. He's the highest-upside backup quarterback out there and he's got several former coaches -- Brian Daboll, Tony Sparano -- coaching in spots that could use a backup quarterback.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Jets, Broncos

6. Jason Campbell

Breakdown: It's hard not to feel sympathetic for Campbell. The former Auburn star and first-round pick has had roughly 25 offensive coordinators since he started taking snaps in college and he's about to start out on his third NFL roster once the free-agency shuffling begins anew this year. He's 30 and hasn't played a full season in the past two years, either because of injury or being benched. The latter was for Bruce Gradkowski, so it's hard to tell what's worse for his reputation. He makes a lot of sense for a team that wants someone to push their starter without making a stink in the locker room.
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Eagles, Jets

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7. Kyle Orton

Breakdown: Orton's was a "winner" with the Bears, he was a stat-hog for a season with the Broncos, he flirted with the Dolphins and finally he was a streak-killer with the Chiefs. He's not going to be anyone's starter in 2011, unless Washington seriously misplays everything in free agency and the draft (not out of the question). But he's an above-average backup in the NFL and could certainly compete with the starters that various teams -- KC, Washington, Jacksonville, for example -- will trot out in 2011. Orton doesn't want to deal with being a "stop-gap option" but it's unlikely he'll have a choice next year.
Potential Landing Spots:
Redskins, Chiefs, Jaguars, Bears, Broncos

8. David Garrard

Breakdown: Pete Prisco's second-favorite quarterback missed the entire 2011 season after the Jaguars cut him and he underwent surgery for a herniated disk in his back. There was interest in the 34-year-old last year after teams lost quarterbacks to injury, but he decided to recover from the surgery instead. While that's the smart move, Garrard won't find the market as friendly for his services this time, especially since his agent said on February 15 Garrard would be ready in "four to six weeks." Expect someone with a steady starter and tenuous backup to look to Garrard.
Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Broncos, Buccaneers, Rams, Raiders

9. Shaun Hill

Breakdown: Hill's 32 and not exactly a spring chicken. But he performed admirably in place of Matthew Stafford in 2010 and the fit between he and the Lions is a nice one. The Lions are tight with cap space, but Hill appears to like where he's at, and it's not like he'd break the bank in another location anyway.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions
VY's likely to remain a backup. (Getty Images)

10. Vince Young

Breakdown: Now seems like a good time to remind you that the guy who coined "Dream Team" in Philly was indeed the backup quarterback and someone on a one-year contract. His personality and turnovers will cause a problem for teams looking to sign him. Unless that team happens to run the read-option offense and could really use a mobile quarterback with success in the NFL to step in and freelance if/when Tim Tebow gets hurt/melts down.
Potential Landing Spots: Broncos

11. Rex Grossman

Breakdown: Did you know that Rex Grossman is actually "Rex Grossman III"? Poor Mike Shanahan had RG3 on his roster the whole time and didn't even know it. Sigh. Anyway, Grossman's not going to attract a lot of attention on the market, and nor should he. As the old saying goes, though, "love the one you're with." And Grossman and the Shanahans are with each other, even if Rex isn't starting next year. It would be surprising to see him playing anywhere else in 2012.
Potential Landing Spots: Redskins

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Unrestricted Free Agents: Dennis Dixon, Josh Johnson, Brady Quinn, Charlie Whitehurst, Donovan McNabb, Dan Orlovsky, Drew Stanton, Caleb Hanie, Charlie Batch, Kellen Clemens

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 11:53 am
 

AP heard 'pop-pop-pop' on ACL, knew 'immediately'

Peterson says he knew he tore his ACL 'immediately.' (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Late in the 2011 season, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson suffered a gruesome-looking injury that immediately looked like it would require surgery and shut him down for the year. It was, in fact, a season-ending ACL tear.

And Peterson knew it immediately too. He said on the Dan Patrick Show Tuesday that he both heard and felt the injury when it happened.

"Immediately I knew my ACL was tore and just wanted to see what else I had damaged," Peterson said. "I heard three pops -- it was real quick, 'pop-pop-pop. And I definitely felt it."

Peterson recently said he'd start running on February 28, and told Patrick he was "not yet"able to run yet, but was optimistic about his recovery for the beginning of 2012 and said he was ahead of his rehabilitation schedule.

"Right now my goal is to be back for the first regular season game," Peterson said. "That's my goal. The recovery time for an ACL is eight-to-nine months so right now I'm ahead of schedule. So I'm just trying to be patient and not overdo myself. But it's going good so far."

Recovering in time for the next year from an ACL tear that occurred at the end of one season is an aggressive timeline. It's precisely why Peterson had surgery immediately after the injury occurred.

But Peterson is a special athlete and it's entirely plausible that he'll be recovered in time for the start of 2012 year (this is precisely why we took him in the second round of our first offseason mock draft in a CBS experts league).

The Vikings should learn a good lesson from Peterson's last recovery, though. When you're dealing with a franchise running back, there's really no need to rush him onto the field. The results can be disastrous.

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:59 am
 

RG3 probably won't throw at combine, wants 4.4 40

Griffin's legs will speak for the quarterback at the combine. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Robert Griffin III is one of the more interesting athletes at this year's NFL combine. He's a big-time athlete whose stock can only go up as the draft approaches. If he shines at the combine and at his Pro Day -- now scheduled for March 21 -- teams will scramble for the No. 2 pick the Rams currently hold.

But it won't be because of his throws, as Griffin said on the Dan Patrick Show that he "probably" wouldn't throw at the Combine.

"I don’t think so," Griffin said Tuesday. "It’s still up in the air but I'm probably not going to throw."

RG3, as Rob Rang noted recently, already said he was unlikely to throw at the combine. Griffin might not need to throw, however. He's going to run the 40-yard dash, and if he posts a sub-4.4-second time, it's going to generate some buzz. Griffin thinks he can.

"I think there's a possibility," Griffin said before acknowledging he'd gone under 4.4 in the 40-yard dash before.

Griffin ran track in high school (he owns a pile of Texas state records) and early in his career at Baylor (he set a Midwest Regional record for the 400-meter hurdles) so speed isn't an issue. Size is Griffin's issue; as CBSSports.com's Clark Judge pointed out in his recent combine preview, Griffin's measurements in the coming week are something to watch.

(The size versus speed thing is also why the RG3-Cam Newton comparisons are just silly. Newton's 6'5", 248 pounds. Griffin's 6'2" 220. If Newton could run a 4'4" he'd be Superman. Literally.)

But it's speed that will really cause teams to fall in love with Griffin. If he goes sub 4.4, the biggest winner is St. Louis, because the auction for that top pick is going to get hot and heavy.

Speaking of auctioning for Griffin's services, it's also worth noting that RG3 signed with Adidas. The shoe company announced the news on Tuesday and Griffin confirmed it on Patrick's show. And we dug up this first Adidas commercial with Griffin, who Adidas is wisely marketing as "RG III."

You know, what with their three-stripe logo and all.



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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