Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Green Bay reportedly jumped into the sweepstakes to sign former Washington LB Lavar Arrington in a move that could impact the team’s decision with what to do with the 5th pick overall at the 2006 draft if indeed the Packers ultimately are able to sign Arrington. That’s a big if however. Indeed there were some rumblings that Green Bay really doesn’t have much interest in signing Arrington, who has also talked with Miami, Cincinnati, Jacksonville and the Giants. The Packers are also waiting on a decision from QB Brett Favre as to whether he intends to play another year; however, Favre says he’s holding out on making a decision until he sees if the Packers, who haven’t done much in free agency yet, improve the roster this off-season. At the same time, the Packers have been widely thought to be looking at Ohio State LB A.J. Hawk as a primary option with the 5th pick, however, if Arrington were signed Green Bay could look at other positions. Right now, though, it looks like there is such a wide gap between what Arrington is reportedly asking for in a contract, and what teams are willing to pay, that it appears unlikely he will be signed before the draft.

ESPN is reporting this morning that Southern California QB Matt Leinart, who is expected to be one of the first players off the board at this month’s NFL draft, has fired agent Leigh Steinberg. Leinart has reportedly filed the necessary paperwork with the players' union, but has a five-day waiting period before he can hire another contract representative. Leinart has also been represented on the marketing front by another agency, Creative Artists Agency. Last week, agent Tom Condon, who represents both Peyton and Eli Manning, left IMG for CAA which led to speculation that Leinart migt follow suit. The move isn’t likely to affect Leinart’s draft status in any major way, however, it also isn’t likely to reduce concerns in some circles that Leinart has gone a little ‘Hollywood’ of late and may be as interested in his status as a celebrity as that of a football player. Meanwhile, Leinart is not the only USC client that Steinberg has lost in recent days. He was also was recently fired by USC OT Winston Justice, another projected first-round pick, who hired Gary Uberstine as his new agent.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Houston, which holds the #1 pick at the 2006 draft, will have North Carolina State DE Mario Williams, the top defensive player in this year’s draft, in town today for a private visit with the Texans. The Texans have long been thought to be primed to take Southern California RB Reggie Bush with the top pick, but Houston officials reportedly insisted over the weekend that they still serious looking at other options including Williams and Texas QB Vince Young. In fact, there had been speculation earlier in the draft process that Williams was actually the player Houston, which is switching to a 4-3 defense this coming season, wanted to take, but only if they were able trade down a few slots from the #1 pick. There is also a chance that the Texans are using Williams as leverage in contract talks with Bush. Because they hold the first pick overall, Houston can negotiate with the player or players they are targeting with the #1 pick and the Texans would reportedly like to have their choice signed by the 29th.

Philadelphia Inquirer (registration required): "Southern California offensive tackle Winston Justice is scheduled to visit the Eagles late this afternoon as general manager Tom Heckert and head coach Andy Reid continue to decide which player they will take with the 14th overall pick."

"The Bears are expected to bring University of Miami receiver Sinorice Moss to Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit, continuing a relationship that started at January's Senior Bowl and continued at February's Indianapolis Scouting Combine."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Fab Five Invite

Southern California teammates Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart head a list of 5 players who have reportedly accepted invitations to attend the 2006 draft in New York. Bush and Leinart will be joined at the Radio City Music Hall which will be hosting the draft on the 29th and 30th later this month, by Texas QB Vince Young, North Carolina State DE Mario Williams and Virginia OT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. Reportedly, the NFL hopes to add at least one more defensive prospect to the list – most likely Ohio State LB A.J. Hawk - but nothing has yet been confirmed.

A source close to the situation said that the Eagles would be bringing in Notre Dame wide receiver Maurice Stovall to meet with their personnel staff. The graduate of Archbishop Carroll High School is projected to be drafted in the second or third round.

Latest word is that the Cleveland Browns, who pick No. 12 in the April 29 NFL draft, and the Philadelphia Eagles, who pick No. 14, have Florida State linebacker Ernie Sims in their sights.
If Sims is taken before Minnesota gets a chance, it wouldn't be surprising if the Vikings, who have the No. 17 pick, offer the pick to the Atlanta Falcons for 24-year-old backup quarterback Matt Schaub.

Saturday, April 08, 2006


Just a day or so after trading incumbent starting LT Wayne Gandy to Atlanta, New Orleans filled the gap in their offensive line from within by switching RT Jammal Brown, the team’s #1 pick at last year’s draft, over to the left side. Whether this move is enough to change the Saints plans for the 2006 draft, though, remains to be seen. The Saints have the second overall pick in the draft where one of their options is Virginia OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Indeed, new Saints’ head coach Sean Payton had some nice words for Ferguson saying that the former Cavaliers’ star " has tremendous athleticism and he's a sharp kid. He's got bright future. Certainly he's a good player." Ferguson, though, probably isn’t quite as highly rated as North Carolina State DE Mario Williams, the #2 rated player in the 2006 draft class behind USC RB Reggie Bush.

Former Steelers, Giants lineman Jim Clack dies at 58

GREENSBORO, N.C. (April 7, 2006) -- Jim Clack, a guard on two Super Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers teams in the 1970s, died of heart failure. He was 58.
Clack had fought neck and throat cancer for about four years before his death at Moses Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, wife Susan Clack said.
Clack, who helped the Steelers win Super Bowls following the 1974 and 1975 seasons, played in 146 NFL games between 1971 and 1981. He played for Pittsburgh for seven season before joining the New York Giants in 1978 and playing for four more years.
Born in Rocky Mount, Clack attended Wake Forest and entered the school's hall of fame in 1991. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 2004.
He returned to North Carolina after his football career, developing commercial and residential real estate and owning a restaurant. He started a sales training business and worked as a motivational speaker.
Clack also is survived by his stepchildren, Joseph and Lindsay Curtis, both of Wilmington.
A funeral is scheduled for April 10 at Cornerstone Baptist Church with burial at Westminster Gardens in Greensboro. A memorial service in scheduled for April 11 at Lakeside Baptist Church in Rocky Mount.

2006 NFL calendar

April 21 -- Signing period ends for restricted free agents.
April 28 -- Deadline for old club to exercise right of first refusal to restricted free agents.
April 29-30 -- NFL Draft, New York City.
May 10-12 -- NFL Coaches Career Development Symposium, Orlando.
May 20 -- NFL Europe League regular season ends.
May 21-24 -- NFL Spring Meeting, Denver.
May 27 -- World Bowl XIV, Düsseldorf, Germany.
June 1 -- Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned unrestricted free agents to receive exclusive negotiating rights for rest of season if player is not signed by another club by July 22.
June 1 -- Deadline for old clubs to send tender to unsigned restricted free agents or to extend qualifying offer to retain exclusive negotiating rights.
June 15 -- Deadline for old clubs to withdraw original qualifying offer to unsigned restricted free agents and still retain exclusive negotiating rights by substituting tender of 110 percent of previous year's salary.
June 25-28 -- NFL Rookie Symposium, Carlsbad, Calif.
Late July -- Training camps open.
July 22 -- Signing period ends at 4 p.m. ET for unrestricted free agents who received June 1 tender.
Aug. 6 -- Pro Football Hall of Fame Game, Canton, Ohio.
Aug. 10-14 -- First preseason weekend.
Aug. 29 -- Roster cutdown to maximum of 65 players.
Sept. 2 -- Roster cutdown to maximum of 53 players.
Sept. 7-11 -- Kickoff 2006 Weekend.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Vikes talk QB trade with Falcs... The Minneapolis Tribune is reporting that the Vikings have been involved in trade discussions with Atlanta for backup Flacons’ QB Matt Schaub in recent days. Reportedly, the talks were of an exploratory nature and currently no further talks are planned, but sources indicate that things could heat up as we get closer to the draft. In fact, as many as a half-dozen teams have reportedly inquired about Schaub’s availability, but the Falcons have demurred claiming he is too valuable a reserve behind oft-injured Michael Vick. Schaub, though, will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2006 season so the Flacons may want to get something for him when his value is at its highest. The Falcons likely will also be looking to enhance their draft position after they traded their 2006 first-round draft pick to the New York Jets last month as part of a deal for defensive lineman John Abraham. The Vikings have five picks in the first three rounds, but may very well have to part with their first-round pick, the 17th overall, in order to complete a trade.

Tennessee, which holds the 3rd pick overall at the 2006 with which the Titans are expected to select a QB, pretty much finished up their pre-draft evealution of the top prospects at the position when G.M. Floyd Reese, head coach Jeff Fisher, offensive coordinator Norm Chow and a full contingent of Titans’ receivers put Southern Cal QB Matt Leinart through a private workout yesterday in Los Angeles that included a lengthy classroom session. The Titans will still have Vanderbilt’s Jay Cutler in for a private throwing session later this month, while Texas’ Vince Young will also be by later in the month for a private visit, but according to the Titans the heavy lifting part of the exercise is completed. The Titans though are not tipping their hands as to who they like. Reese was quoted in the local press, for example, as saying: “They’ve all done well; they’re all athletic guys, all knowledgeable guys, they can all spin the ball and they’ve all won. All in all, it’s a pretty good looking group.” Reese added that while Leinart lacks the raw arm strength of Cutler or Young, he has made all the necessary throws and proved himself to be well versed in his offense during the football talk time. Meanwhile, the Titans have taken another step to clearing up their QB situation by telling veteran QB Steve McNair that he was not welcome at the team’s training facility until his contract situation is resolved in a move that could force a showdown to determine whether or not he stays with the team. McNair currently counts $23.5 million against the Titans’ salary cap and has a $9 million base salary for the coming season; he’s also due another $1 million on September 1st. There has been speculation that if McNair does not agree to a radically lowered contract he likely will be released especially if the Titans, as expected, select a QB with the third pick overall.
(12:01 AM): Draft starts to come into focus...Not!!! With the draft now less than a month away one would figure it is about time that the opening round starts to take shape however that just doesn't appear to be the case as there is still much sorting out to be done even with the on-campus workout process now in the books. Indeed, putting together our latest "moving draft projection" with results from the latest pro days figured had the feel of herding cats. The biggest problem right now is figuring out where the QBs are going to go. We also got the feeling that there is plenty of potential for trades, especially in the middle part of the draft. If the QBs indeed start to slip then teams like Baltimore with the 13th pick and Minnesota at 17 might start to think about trying to move up. Meanwhile, would St. Louis, which wants to throw more to the TE this year but doesn't have a legitimate pass-receiver at the position perhaps think about trying to move up from #11 to grab Maryland TE Vernon Davis. Then there's Denver sitting there at #15 armed with a second #1 at 22 that could be packaged in a move to get into the top 10 to take anyone of several top players.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Just about anyone who is anyone among personnel people around the NFL will be in Los Angeles later today for the Southern California on-campus workout which could feature the first two players taken at the 2006 draft later this month in RB Reggie Bush and QB Matt Leinart. While neither player either participated in the Senior Bowl or worked out at the Scouting Combine, Leinart, who is still locked in a battle with Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt and Texas’ Vince Young for the top grade among QBs, will face considerably more scrutiny today than Bush who appears to be a virtual lock to be selected first overall by Houston. Other Trojans to watch today include RB LenDale White, OT Winston Justice, OGs Deuce Lutui and Fred Matua, TE Dominique Byrd, DBs Darnell Bing, Justin Wyatt, and John Walker, and DE Frostee Rucker.

For those who keep track of these things, several sources are reporting that former Texas QB Vince Young actually scored a 7 on that Wonderlic test at the Scouting Combine in late February, and that he got 16 on a re-test. Early published reports had indicated that Young had scored a 6 on the original test. The low score led to a great deal of speculation as to whether Young would be able to pick up a complicated NFL offense. That in turn had Young’s status for the 2006 draft spinning all over the place, although he appears to have been able to right the ship to a large degree with a solid on-campus workout last week. Because of his unique attributes – Young is a terrific athlete with a very strong arm, but has questionable mechanics and limited pocket experience – Young remains perhaps the hardest player to grade for pro teams to come along in awhile.

Louisiana Monroe QB Stephen Jyles decided not to take his chances on the NFL draft and has signed with Edmonton of the CFL.

Minnesota will not match the offer sheet restricted free agent WR Nate Burleson signed with Seattle late last week. As aresult, the Vikings will receive the Seahawks’ 3rd round pick at the 2006 draft – the 95th overall – as compensation. The Vikings’ decision apparently brings to an end a rather nasty cat fight between the two teams that started when the Vikings signed star Seattle OG Steve Hutchinson to an offer sheet that included a so-called ‘poison pill’ clause – that the Seahawks couldn’t match without breaking their salary cap bank. To retaliate, the Seahawks’ offer sheet for Burleson included a ‘poison pill’ clause of its own that would have guaranteed Burleson $49M – the same figure that would have been guaranteed Hutchinson if the Seahawks had matched the Vikings offer - over the life of the contract if he played at least 5 games in 2006 in the state of Minnesota.

Updating an earlier story, the Houston Chronicle is reporting that the Texans are close to finalizing a trade that will land Buffalo WR Eric Moulds. The Texans have reportedly agreed with Moulds on the parameters of a restructured contract that would pay the Moulds $14 million over the next four years in a deal that includes a $5M signing bonus. Houston, though, still has to work out compensation with Bufalo before a trade can be finalized, although the tow sides are believed to be reasonably close. The Texans are reportedly offering a fifth-round draft pick in exchange for Moulds, while the Bills are believed to be asking for a fourth-round pick. Talks between the two teams are expected to heat up early next week when the Texans’ front office returns from Los Angeles where they are in town for Sunday’s Southern California pro day which will include star Trojans’ RB Reggie Bush who is expected to be the Texans’ pick with the #1 selection at the 2006 draft.

Howard "Red" Hickey, the NFL coach who invented the shotgun offensive formation with the 49ers, died March 30, his son said. He was 89.
Jeffrey Hickey didn't disclose the cause of his father's death.
Hickey coached San Francisco from 1959-63, going 27-27-1 before resigning three games into the 1963 season. He also played on the Cleveland Rams' 1945 championship team, was an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Rams' title club in 1951 and spent two decades as an assistant and scout for the Dallas Cowboys.
He made history in 1960 when he combined elements of a punt formation, a spread passing attack and a double-wing formation invented by Stanford's Pop Warner into the shotgun -- so named by Hickey because it sprayed receivers around the field.
Before a game against Baltimore in November 1960, Hickey instructed quarterbacks John Brodie and Bob Waters to stand several yards behind the center to receive snaps, giving them more time to survive the Colts' formidable pass rush.
The formation spurred the 49ers to a late-season winning surge, and Hickey combined the shotgun with a three-quarterback rotation in 1961, sending Brodie, Waters and rookie Bill Kilmer into the game on alternating plays.
San Francisco dropped the formation before the next season, but it was revived by coach Tom Landry and the Cowboys several years later, and the shotgun eventually spread throughout football.
The Arkansas native was a two-sport star at the University of Arkansas, earning all-decade honors with the Razorbacks' football team and reaching the 1941 Final Four with the basketball team.
Cecelia Surina Hickey, his wife of 50 years, died in 1995. Hickey, a World War II veteran, is survived by his brother, Bailey; sons Michael, Patrick and Jeffrey; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
His family and friends will hold a private memorial service.