Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Bloody Thursday" looms over NFL

By Len Pasquarelli
Updated: Feb. 28, 2006, 9:12 PM ET

Most fans couldn't care less about the collective bargaining agreement and, justifiable or not, view any discussions of negotiations aimed at extending labor peace through the 2013 season as just another example of the avaricious nature of already overpaid players.

By Thursday, however, when the real-world ramifications of the failed labor talks become more apparent, fans in a lot of NFL precincts will take notice. With negotiations toward an extension having broken off Tuesday afternoon -- despite earlier optimistic reports that the sides were poised to strike an agreement -- salary cap managers from several franchises are readying themselves for what one general manager suggested late Tuesday will come to be known as "Bloody Thursday."

Translation: Because so many teams are up against the projected cap limit of $95 million to $96 million for 2006, and the lack of a CBA extension means there are few options for relief, some big-name players will be jettisoned by Thursday, when teams must be in compliance with the spending limit.

"In past years, you'd see a lot of guys released who maybe still had some name value, but who were really in decline in terms of production," said one AFC team executive who was working late Tuesday, trying to figure out how to pare down a prohibitively bloated cap figure. "This year? People are going to be stunned -- not just by the quantity of players who are cut by Thursday, but by the quality, too. It's going to be ugly. There's going to be blood in the streets and, compared to past years, it's going to be from some bluebloods, guys who can still play."

For a few hours into Tuesday night, after word broke that NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw had departed league offices in Manhattan and headed back to Washington -- after declaring the negotiations hopelessly deadlocked -- there was a sense that the union chief was undertaking one last bit of posturing. As the evening wore on, though, it became increasingly obvious that Upshaw and the league were not just practicing brinksmanship, and that the NFL could instead be poised on the brink of disaster.

The word most often used by teams' staffers, the people charged with crunching the salary cap numbers, and who clearly had bought into the notion that a CBA extension would be struck: stunned.

Said one cap manager: "For months, my owner told me to develop two strategies, one with [an extension] and one without. But nobody, even with all the gloom-and-doom talk of the last few weeks, ever really believed we'd be breaking out 'Plan B.' And then, these last few days, even my owner was telling me he thought it would get done. Unless there's some kind of miracle on Wednesday, our team is going to have to do some drastic things, and I know we're not the only team in that situation."

How drastic? There continue to be rumors the Washington Redskins, who extended numerous contracts in the past to deal with previous cap crunches, could have to play with 20 rookies on the roster in 2006. On Tuesday night in Atlanta, there were rumblings the Falcons, who aren't in nearly the dire straits some other franchises are, might be forced to release tailback Warrick Dunn, who rushed for a career best 1,416 yards in 2005. The Kansas City Chiefs could part ways with perennial Pro Bowl guard Will Shields if he doesn't agree to adjust his contract and reduce a $6.67 million cap charge. And that is just the start of the many examples of potential attrition cited by team officials Tuesday evening.

Certainly the positive vibes of Monday had spiraled into disbelief -- and in some instances, desperation, it seems -- by Tuesday night.

Less than 24 hours earlier, key owners such as Dallas' Jerry Jones and Pittsburgh's Dan Rooney, and high-ranking club officials like New England vice chairman Jonathan Kraft, had offered public optimism about a CBA extension. But in the five-hour bargaining session in New York, things went bad, and by Wednesday's 4 p.m. deadline for reaching an accord that now seems unreachable, they could be far worse.

The league was represented Tuesday by commissioner Paul Tagliabue, vice president of labor relations Harold Henderson, members of the Management Council, and team presidents John Shaw of St. Louis and Atlanta's Rich McKay. In addition to Upshaw, it's believed the NFLPA representatives included attorneys Richard Berthelsen and Jeffrey Kessler.

"We're deadlocked," Upshaw said after the session. "There's nowhere to go."

The two sides remain about 4 percent apart in negotiations. A league source confirmed that the NFL is offering 56.2 percent of revenues, while the NFLPA is seeking a 60-percent share of the pie. The difference translates into approximately $300 million to $350 million per year. In a statement released Tuesday night, the NFL accused the NFLPA of "overreaching." And, rather predictably, the union, which has remained firm in its conviction that the old revenue-sharing models have become obsolete, charged that the optimism of Monday, that a deal would be completed, had been fabricated by the league in an attempt to pressure the NFLPA into a deal.

After essentially claiming the sides had run out of time, and that the league would play the 2007 season as a so-called "uncapped" year, Upshaw did leave some wiggle room by acknowledging that one phone call could change things. But it's not likely that call will be made. ESPN.com has confirmed that a meeting of the powerful Management Council executive committee, made up of eight owners and high-ranking club officials, is still set for Wednesday. But the session is not scheduled to begin until late afternoon, and, with a 4 p.m. deadline looming, it doesn't appear a last-minute accord is possible.

Tagliabue will convene a Thursday meeting of all owners. By that point, though, the mechanisms for an "uncapped" season in 2007 will already be in place. And Upshaw has reiterated throughout the talks that, if the NFL ever plays without a salary cap for one season, players will never permit one to be reinstituted.

There also exists the possibility that players could be locked out before the 2008 season, by which point the current collective bargaining agreement will have expired.

"We're going to behead the golden goose," one NFC owner said last week. "And I can't see why both sides would ever let it get to that. Then again, a year ago, I would have told you we'd never, ever let it get this close to happening. I figured there were enough 'poison pills' [in the CBA], things that negatively impacted both sides, to force an extension. But, hey, here we are. A lot of things in our league could be changed forever."

The lack of an extension, indeed, means a lot for both sides. And not just the composition of rosters.

For instance, players will now need six accrued seasons, not four, to qualify for unrestricted free agent status. So a standout young player such as Chicago Bears three-year veteran linebacker Lance Briggs, who is coming off a Pro Bowl season and whose contract expires after the 2006 season, would have to wait two additional seasons before being unrestricted. The league would also, in an uncapped year, quit funding 401(k) plans (it currently matches player investments on a 2-1 basis) and most other fringe benefits, meaning players would be responsible for those things.

And there would be difficulties, even for the most innovative teams and creative player agents, in meeting financial expectations on most contracts. Players in free agency and high-round draft picks will have trouble approximating the fat deals of the past, and player agents face problems in trying to explain why expectations might have to be lowered.

As of Tuesday, there were a dozen teams in the league with more than $10 million apiece in 2006 salary cap room. It seems logical that those teams, which include four franchises with more than $20 million each in cap space, would benefit from the problems of cap-strapped clubs, especially if the free agent rolls are swelled Thursday with the anticipated cap casualties. But because of the quirks of the pending "uncapped" year in 2007, even those teams will have to move with great caution in crafting contracts.

One player agent suggested that it will be a "nuclear winter" at the outset of free agency, with few teams jumping out and completing early deals because of the uncharted landscape in which the NFL will be operating.

Some other lesser known implications: Without an extension to the CBA, teams will be able to amortize signing bonuses over just four seasons, instead of the maximum seven years. Because of the 30-percent rule, which essentially stipulates that a player's basic compensation (his base salary plus the prorated share of his signing bonus for 2006) cannot be increased by more than 30 percent, teams can't make up the difference in smaller signing bonus with fatter base salaries.

But perhaps the biggest problem is that so-called "not likely to be earned incentives" (NLTBE) will count immediately against the cap. In normal circumstances, NLTBE incentives count on the following year's spending limit. So NLTBEs earned in 2005, for instance, count against a team's 2006 cap. But with an uncapped year looming in 2007, such incentives and bonuses that are triggered in 2006 would immediately apply.

Indeed, barring a dramatic and unanticipated turn of events Wednesday, it is not going to be business as usual around the league. And if the ramifications are as catastrophic as predictions indicated Tuesday they might be, fans could be forced to pay more than the usual grudging attention to business matters.

Combine: Owens to Dallas Rumors Heating Up

Combine: Owens to Dallas Rumors Heating Up
by TheRanchReport.com

Just a few years ago, it would have seemed impossible. However, today, TheRanchReport.com is hearing that the possibility is growing by the day.

Here are several key points we've learned at the NFL Scouting Combine this week:

* TheRanchReport.com has learned that two teams that have emerged as major players for Owens are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are believed to hold the edge for Owens because the Chiefs have salary cap issues.

* On Sunday TheRanchReport.com learned that Drew Rosenhaus apparently had a conversation with Chiefs President Carl Peterson and the hot topic was, of course, Terrell Owens. The two sides set forth parameters that would be acceptable to both parties so a deal could be struck. That means Owens is willing to sign a one-year deal with the Chiefs in order to get a job in 2006. Those discussions have led to further talks that are geared to promoting the Chiefs interest in acquiring the troubled wide receiver and also to see what the true market value for Owens will be in the next several days so Rosenhaus can shop him to other teams like Denver, Dallas and Miami.

* Denver, the one team that appeared to be the frontrunner for Owens for so long, is falling out of the running because their "football people" are split on what to do, TheRanchReport.com has learned.

* We also know that Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had lunch with Parcells on Friday. However, the extent of their conversation is not known. Rosenhaus represents over 70 players and Owens may or may not have been discussed. At this time, TheRanchReport.com has not confirmed any information out of that conversation.

* Fially, TheRanchReport.com has learned that any trade for Owens appears to be unlikely - which means the Eagles will be forced to release him in just a few days. At that point, anything can happen and Dallas becomes a major player in the Terrell Owens sweepstakes.

* Of course the Cowboys signed Owens, it would be another slap in the face to the Philadelphia Eagles. Having Owens on an NFC East team would be nothing more than a sour reminder just how much Owens meant to the organization when times were good.

Of course, you might remember an article from TheRanchReport.com on Nov. 22 of last year indicating the Cowboys have been interested in Owens all along.

Strangely enough, two national media outlets reported within hours of each other that the Cowboys were indeed a major player for the controversial Owens.

Quoting the article written by Mike Fisher:

How did America's biggest and best football writers, Peter King of Sports Illustrated and Chris Mortensen of ESPN, possibly stumble onto the same "logical guess'' (that the Cowboys are one of the top teams that will target Owens) on the same mid-November day regarding the same top-secret subject?

My contention: Because Bill Parcells told them it was OK to do so.

Yes, I'm saying Bill Parcells "allowed'' them to put Dallas dead in the middle of the chase for Owens' '06 services.

It may sound odd, but these two terrific reporters -- both of whom I've known for years and respect greatly -- are essentially "Parcells Guys.'' And it is easy for me to envision them on the phone with Parcells, asking for hints, looking for signs, begging for even a "All The President's Men'' clearing of the throat as a way of confirmation.

So will it happen?

Perhaps. Just two months ago the Cowboys were one of a very small number of teams leading the way for Owens' services. But after the Broncos and several other organizations emerged with more serious, and immediate interest, it didn't look good.

However now, with some teams backing off due to disagreements on what Owens could bring to the table, and others backing off due to salary cap constraints, the Cowboys are squarely back in the mix.

Should the Cowboys find a way to sign Owens, his addition would be significant in many ways.

For starters, he instantly gives an opposing defense problems in the secondary, both downfield and in the short passing game. Owens is a threat with the deep ball at any point in the game and also dangerous on a simple wide receiver screen. In addition, having Owens opens up the offense for other players- particularly the running game as teams will be unable to load the box in running situations.

Simply put, having the threat of a player like Owens would be beneficial to any team. That is- if he can be controlled off the field.

The 49ers thought they could do it. They were wrong. The Eagles thought they could do it. They were wrong. The next team that signs Owens will likely think they can do. Will they be wrong too?

That's the quandry the Cowboys find themselves in this week. Can Bill Parcells control the uncontrollable? Can Terrell Owens co-exist with current wide receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn? Will Owens complain the first time Drew Bledsoe misses him on a crossing pattern or the first time the offensive line allows a sack?

As we sit here and ponder those questions, certainly owner Jerry Jones, Bill Parcells and VP of College and Pro Scouting Jeff Ireland are doing the very same thing.

And only time will only tell what they ultimately decide.

Pat's LB Willie McGinest could join former coach Bill Parcells in Dallas

McGinest’s return is no sure thing
By John Tomase
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 - Updated: 06:11 AM EST

All things being equal, Willie McGinest hopes to rejoin the Patriots in 2006. He said as much after the season ended in Denver.

But that doesn’t mean he’ll play for nothing. And the next week could prove pivotal in deciding whether McGinest returns for a 13th season in New England.

He’s due to make $8.3 million and will likely be released before a $3.5 million roster bonus comes due in early March, saving the team $6.8 million against the salary cap.

The thought of cutting McGinest is jarring enough. He’s a locker room leader coming off one of the best seasons of his career. But economics dictate that even if the league and players are able to extend the collective bargaining agreement and add as much as $15 million to this year’s salary cap, the Patriots won’t pay McGinest $8.3 million.

What happens from there could be interesting, according to sources close to McGinest. It has been considered a foregone conclusion he would renegotiate with the Patriots and return, a la Troy Brown last spring. McGinest is not Brown, however, and sources say he’ll leave, if he believes he’s being treated unfairly.

Last year, the Patriots failed to exercise Brown’s $2.5 million option with a $2.5 million bonus and cut him. He returned for an $800,000 salary despite a higher offer from the New Orleans Saints.

But Brown was a receiver coming off a season spent largely at defensive back, limiting his value. Even at 35, McGinest remains atop his game. He broke the record for postseason sacks held by Bruce Smith and wreaked havoc in opposing backfields all season, recording 62 tackles and six sacks.

If he’s cut, there’s every indication he’ll test the market. There would be no shortage of teams vying for his services, particularly with former Patriots defensive coordinators Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini, now coaching the Browns and Jets, respectively.

Both consider McGinest a consummate leader. “What we need is some pass rush production,” Crennel said. “Whether that’s a pass rusher or some exotic new schemes, which probably we’re not going to have those. So we’re going to try to get us a pass-rush rusher to help us improve our sack production.”

There’s also the possibility McGinest could join former coach Bill Parcells in Dallas or Bill Belichick disciple Nick Saban in Miami.

McGinest is represented by Gary Uberstine. A spokesman for Uberstine yesterday said he would not discuss McGinest’s contract.

There are no indications the team has reached out to McGinest as of yet. With the CBA in limbo, Belichick last week said the team was instead focused on the draft and football matters.

McGinest made it clear he wants to stay with the Patriots, who will get first crack at keeping him. But if he hits the market, his Pats’ career could be over.

Cowboys not afraid to dance on draft day

Posted on Tue, Feb. 28, 2006

INDIANAPOLIS -- It's a rite of every spring in the NFL, and Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones admits it's valid to think the team might move from where it sits in the first round of the 2006 NFL draft, 18th overall.

In other words, trade down.

"We haven't stayed here when we've been in this spot or lower in the draft; lower being 18, 19, 20," Jones said Monday at the NFL Scouting Combine. "If you look at it, we haven't stayed there much. ... I have no way of knowing what's going to happen there in those two or three hours [in the first round of the draft], but I'm going to go on precedent. We've usually seen something that moved us."

Two years ago, the Cowboys dealt their first selection (22nd overall) to Buffalo for second and fifth round picks in 2004 and the Bills' first-round pick in 2005. The moved resulted in the Cowboys drafting running back Julius Jones and tight end Sean Ryan in 2004 and defensive end Marcus Spears in 2005.

There is a growing thought the 18th overall pick might offer a player not much better than, say, the 25th pick. And, for example, a pair of third-round picks might net an immediate contributor.

OPINION: There is NOT a true #1 wide receiver in this draft

According to sources Santonio Holmes is dropping down teams draft boards. He skipped the combines which was a mistake as Sinorice Moss and Chad Jackson put on a pretty good show. Sinorice Moss is believed by many to be the top wideout in the draft after putting on a good show at the Senior Bowl and then putting up great times at the combine. Chad Jackson ran the fastest 40 coming in at 4.32 and he isn't a small guy so teams are definately looking at that.

I might add a comment by Pat Kirwan that after talking to several wide receiver coaches at the combine that the consences is there is NOT a true #1 wide receiver in this draft. that is a guy who will command rolled coverage or double coverage.

Cowboys T Rob Petitti knows he will have to compete for his starting right tackle job next season

Cowboys T Rob Petitti knows he will have to compete for his starting right tackle job next season.
"I thought I did all right, but they need someone better. It's already in my mind. I'll be fighting for it. It doesn't bother me," Petitti said. He may not even have a chance to fight for it if the Cowboys invest heaviliy in free agency.

Feb. 28 - 12:31 pm et
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Drew Henson looking to get career on track

Lenny P: Henson looking to get career on track

TAMPA, Fla. -- For a guy who played in the Big 10, and who started big games at the University of Michigan in front of crowds of 107,500 fans at the legendary Big House, this small-time venue might seem like a most incongruous place for Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Drew Henson to try to take the next big step in his stalled NFL career.

The well-manicured field at Skyway Park here, after all, is used more often by Pop Warner League teams than professional franchises. The roar of jumbo jets taking off from nearby Tampa International Airport provides a frequently ear-splitting distraction. Big rigs and minivans honk as they speed by on Memorial Highway, which is located just a good punt from one sideline. And the crowd for the Saturday morning scrimmage between the Rhein Fire and Amsterdam Admirals of the NFL Europe League, a group comprised mostly of family members and friends with a few curiosity seekers sprinkled in, numbered exactly 103, as hand-counted by a visiting scribe seeking any sort of preoccupation during warm-ups.

Yet don't try telling Henson, who departs for Europe in two weeks and is the projected starter for the Fire, that this represents the classic one-step-backwards-to-take-two-steps-forward career approach.

"No, I just see it as a step, the next thing I have to do as part of the process of becoming an NFL quarterback," said Henson, following the 90-minute scrimmage, a session in which his participation likely accounted for the presence of most of the non-relatives spread out in the aluminum bleachers. "I don't see this as a comedown. Not at all. It's football. It's getting a chance to play and getting snaps. It's something I feel like I have to do and that I definitely want to do." Indeed, the two-year veteran, who first abandoned his college football career to sign a deal with the New York Yankees, and then forfeited the final $12 million of his six-year, $17 million baseball contract to return to the gridiron in 2004, is here voluntarily.

About halfway through the 2005 season, a campaign in which he was No. 3 on the depth chart and didn't take a single snap, Henson walked into the office of Jerry Jones and apprised the Cowboys owner he was willing to go to Europe if it would accelerate a learning curve that is in arrears principally because of his idleness. The move immediately made Henson, who denied there were suggestions from Dallas officials the previous spring that he play in Europe, easily the highest-profile player among the 366 hopefuls still on NFLEL training camp rosters on Saturday morning.

From just a physical stature standpoint, Henson, who clearly looks the part of a quarterback, seems the most NFL-ready of anyone else in the six NFLEL camps. In terms of recognition factor, and scrutiny as well, no one else is even close.

But in terms of recognizing how far Henson has advanced, even though Rhein offensive coordinator Steve Logan used the term "stunning" to describe his latest protégé's progress over the last two weeks, Saturday morning actually offered only a little insight.

The Fire still have four quarterbacks on the roster, and during the scrimmage, Logan and coach Jim Tomsula used the live workout to get a look at all of them.

As a result, Henson got only about a dozen snaps, and completed 3 of 5 passes for 33 yards. His best throw of the day, a deep out pattern to the right sideline on a third-and-long play, was dropped. His next best attempt, a slant to the left hash on which he drilled the ball into an incredibly tiny window, was batted away on a terrific defensive play by Amsterdam cornerback Art Thomas. Henson was sacked twice, on consecutive plays.

Henson looked mechanical and a bit too programmed on some plays, the telling signs of a quarterback who hasn't been on the field very much.
Which is exactly where Henson, who has one start and 18 attempts on an NFL résumé shy of regular-season entries, is at this point of his football career.

Still, at the end of the scrimmage -- and this is significant to both the gregarious Tomsula and the pragmatic Logan, the men charged with nudging his apprenticeship forward -- Henson was a happy camper.

There were times during the warm-up period and the seven-on-seven passing drills Saturday in which the ball seemed to come off the hand of No. 2 quarterback Timmy Chang, the former University of Hawaii star and the most prolific passer in NCAA history, a lot cleaner than it did for Henson. But if Henson's release is undeniably tardy at times, his smile is a quick one, and the Saturday morning effort, as uneven as it was on occasion, elicited a wide grin.

Which, an obviously passionate Tomsula insisted, is a meaningful part of the building process, too.

"A lot of guys, from the maturity standpoint, you can't ever get them out of the backyard, you know?" Tomsula said. "With Drew, I want to get him into the backyard again. I mean, he had Michigan, then the Yankees. He had all the attention and the fame and the money. I'm not sure he ever had time to squeeze in being a kid. I don't know the last time this was fun for him. We want him to have fun with this and just go out and play. And we're starting to see some of that. The other day, he came out of a Porta-John, and I said to him, 'Hey, Drew, honestly, when's the last time you used a Porta-John, man?' I mean, just think about it, Drew Henson and a Porta-John, huh? We both got a good laugh out of it. It's good to see him laugh."

Some skeptics, who have suggested Henson's athletic career has gone from the penthouse to the outhouse in a relatively short period, might get a pretty good chuckle, too, out of the Porta-John image. Henson isn't among those, though, who see the last few years as a series of wasted opportunities. If some shine has been rubbed off the onetime Wolverines golden boy, it's not as if he's been tarnished, but rather truant from real game action.

And certainly Henson -- who suffered through three subpar seasons in the Yankees' farm system, had problems hitting the curveball, struck out far too often, and fell shy of fulfilling his supposed destiny of becoming New York's next great third baseman and a fixture at Yankee Stadium -- doesn't feel he is going to fail at his latest athletic endeavor. Chosen by the Houston Texans in the sixth round of the 2003 draft, after he essentially bought his way out of his baseball contract, Henson was dealt to the Cowboys in 2004 for a third-round pick in the '05 lottery. He signed an eight-year contract that guaranteed him $3.5 million and can be voided after only four seasons if Henson reaches certain predetermined performance or playing-time levels.

“I don't see this as a comedown. Not at all. It's football. It's getting a chance to play and getting snaps. It's something I feel like I have to do and that I definitely want to do. ”— Drew Henson

But Henson, who turned 26 earlier this month, has played in just two games at quarterback in two seasons. In his only start, the Thanksgiving Day 2004 game against the Chicago Bears, he was replaced at halftime by coach Bill Parcells. There are indications that some in the Dallas organization wanted to release Henson at the final wholesale roster cutdown before the start of the '05 season.

Fortunately for him, Henson has some advocates in the Cowboys' front office and on the coaching staff. Unfortunately, their support didn't translate into playing time, and Henson spent the entire season behind not only starter Drew Bledsoe, but also third-year veteran Tony Romo, a onetime undrafted free agent.

What he will not spend, it seems, is much time reviewing what has transpired in his athletic career. Asked if he ever thinks about the $12 million he left behind when he quit baseball, Henson allowed: "Oh, yeah, every once in a while that figure pops into my head." Beyond the eight-figure ramifications, however, it seems there is nothing Henson regrets about the circuitous path his career has followed.

He remains confident now that things are headed in the right direction. And that the direction of his head is right, too.

"I just think I'm better suited to be a quarterback than I was a third baseman," Henson said. "I mean, I played baseball starting at age 5, and played in every summer for nearly 20 years. And while I loved the game, it tends to be a little too passive for me and my personality, really. I just think, with the way that I'm wired, this is what I'm meant to do."

There are those, including one former Yankees scout ESPN.com spoke to, that feel Henson might be too over-wired for his own good. The scout postulated that, given his own expectations and the expectation level set by others, too, that Henson was wound too tightly to succeed in baseball.

Indeed, part of Logan's job, agreed the Fire offensive coordinator, is to create an environment in which Henson doesn't stress so much over every mistake. "To tell the truth, I want him to be a little more playful, to be more inventive. He still takes mistakes too hard, but he's getting better in that area. He wants to be good, so you root for him, you know? Drew really has a great intellect. He is a very bright individual on many levels," said Logan, who is regarded as a top-flight quarterback tutor and coached the NFLEL's top passers in each of the last two years (Rohan Davey in 2004 and Dave Ragone in 2005).

Apparently, though, geography is not one of those levels.

In the self-deprecating manner his coaches and teammates have come to enjoy, Henson on Saturday related his experience of trying to locate the city of Rhein, Germany, when he found out that he had been allocated to the Fire. After several fruitless Google searches, he phoned Ragone, who broke the news to him: There is no such city. The team is named for the river and for a region. The club plays in Dusseldorf, a city that possesses a strong passion for the game, as evidenced by the fact there were two Fire fans among the small crowd in the bleacher's for the scrimmage.

Henson has been to Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean, but never to Europe, and emphasized how much he is looking forward to the three months abroad. He noted that the NFLEL season concludes just about the same time the Cowboys get into the most serious segment of their offseason program, and that he will not miss any meaningful time. Whether he returns a quarterback ready to challenge for the No. 2 spot on the Dallas depth chart, and subsequently for a starting spot at some point soon in his career, remains to be seen.

There is no denying that Henson possesses prototype size (6-foot-4, 233 pounds) and an arm that is plenty strong enough by anyone's standards. But he is typical of a player who has been idle for a long stretch, and whose physical skills have been retooled too many times by people trying to tinker too much with it. The result of those double whammies: Henson looks at times as if he is playing the game too robotically, that he is attempting to relearn it by rote, which is essentially a football equivalent of painting by numbers.

During the scrimmage, there was some hesitancy, an occasional absence of natural rhythm. And there were times when one could almost envision the wheels turning in Henson's head before he stepped up to throw. There is even some suspicion that Chang, who played in a June Jones-designed run-and-shoot offense at Hawaii, and who has experienced far more exposure to a sophisticated passing game than Henson, could steal away with the starting job.

Given the commitment of the Cowboys in dispatching Henson to Europe, and the fact he is expected to sacrifice his spring for much-needed playing time, that probably won't happen. Logan allowed that while there is "a competition" for the starting spot, the job "is [Henson's] to lose."

"One of the things I admire about Drew," Logan said, "is that he sees this experience as a journey."

And one, Henson insisted, that will have a beneficial end point.

The instantly likable and ever-candid Henson said this not some last-gasp effort to salvage his career or a desperation move undertaken as some last resort. It's a chance for Henson to earn that most elusive commodity, playing time in live situations, and he has embraced the opportunity. "The way I see it," Henson said, "is that this is a beginning."

Monday, February 27, 2006

'Evidence’ of T.O.’s Future in Dallas

By Mike Fisher
The Ranch Report
Date: Nov 22, 2005

Need proof of T.O. coming to Dallas? The Ranch Report takes you behind the scenes with knowledge that keeps the idea of Owens playing for the Cowboys alive and well.

These comments are posted by the forum administrator: Roy Philpot

Note: Before people start jumping off the deep end one way or another ... this is an article that reveals EVERYTHING we know regarding the Terrell Owens situation.

Much of this comes from the NFL Combine, where rumors are really starting to fly across several fronts. Also note, this report does not come from someone who simply "made something up." This is a situation that we have been closely monitoring since we released an article on NOV. 22 OF LAST YEAR regarding an initial interest in Owens by the Cowboys.

That article can be found here.


I wanted to clarify all of that information as you read this article concerning what we know.

Thank you.

Owner's focus is to win immediately (Jerry confirms no T.O, Vinatieri, or Vanderjagt)

Posted on Mon, Feb. 27, 2006
Owner's focus is to win immediately
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Sitting on the Cowboys' bus outside the RCA Dome on Sunday, Jerry Jones paused to reflect on his 17 years as owner of the Cowboys.
He has gone from a maverick outsider to one of the most powerful owners in the NFL.
That Jones has changed the league more than the league has changed him is the ironic part of the current stalemate between the NFL and the NFL Players Association over a new labor agreement.
The infighting over revenue sharing and the NFLPA's quest to gain a share of the locally generated money have Jones' name all over it.
"The dynamics of what we're dealing with in the NFL, we've gotten to be a part of a lot of changes in 17 years," Jones said. "People talk about high revenues, new stadiums, unshared dollars, just from that standpoint, there wasn't anybody really working that problem in those areas. Now it's become an issue in a labor agreement. This was not an issue 17 years ago."
Jones said the league has changed for the better. It is more profitable than it ever was, and he is proud of the role he has played in its growth -- even though the recent losing on the field has brought him down a notch from early championship years. The Cowboys have missed the playoffs in five of the past six years and have not won a playoff game since their last Super Bowl title after the 1995 season.
"I thought I had my hands around it," Jones said. "I thought this is pretty simple. And we started off the way we thought we could do it and had success, but it's been a little harder getting my arms around the last few years."
But what Jones is most passionate about and what hasn't changed is his quest to make the Cowboys winners again ... and as soon as possible.
That was at the root of his decision to give coach Bill Parcells a new contract and a raise in January. Parcells, who led the team to a 25-23 record the past three years, was slated to make $4 million in 2006, the final year of the four-year deal he signed in 2003. He now has a new two-year deal worth $11 million.
While Parcells said he never really considered walking away after last season's disappointing 9-7 campaign, Jones said it was imperative that he do whatever it took to keep Parcells in the fold.
"The alternative to that was not even close," Jones said. "He gives us the chance to win and win big in the immediate future. I have placed a big emphasis on winning big in the immediate future."
Jones said he has no concerns about talk of Parcells' future coming up again next season. He said that is par for the course with a coach Parcells' age.
"Could another year of disappointment make a difference here?" Jones asked. "Yes. It takes so much out of him to not be successful."
But right now Jones believes Parcells is as committed as he was when he signed on three years ago.
Moreover, Jones said Parcells is excited about the Cowboys and their hopes for next year.
Because of that and because the NFL of today allows teams to become big winners overnight, Jones said he can live with Parcells being here on a year-to-year basis.
"I am about winning," Jones said. "Bill Parcells is about winning."
Getting a new labor agreement would go a long way toward helping the Cowboys become big winners in 2006. Jones would have a lot of flexibility under the salary cap to shore up problem areas if they get a new deal.
Topping the list of priorities is addressing the offensive line. He said the return of left tackle Flozell Adams will help.
But Jones also said the Cowboys must address right tackle in the draft or free agency. Rookie Rob Petitti struggled at the position last year and has not proven to be more than a quality backup.
Jones said the Cowboys will not sign a big-money tackle in free agency, paving the way for them to possibly draft an offensive lineman in the first round. The Cowboys haven't taken an offensive player in the first round since drafting tight end David LaFleur in 1997. They haven't taken an offensive lineman in the first round since Howard Richards in 1981.
Jones said the Cowboys are still doing their homework, but he would lean toward taking an offensive player in the first round. And with right tackle as one of "our acute needs" he "wouldn't hesitate to take an offensive tackle" in the first round if one fell to them at No. 18.
Jones said concerns at right tackle are behind his recent about-face on Jacob Rogers, the second pick from 2004 who has yet to play an offensive snap for the Cowboys.
After not getting on the field as a rookie, Rogers was the favorite to win the right tackle job in training camp last year. But that was before he was dogged by shoulder and knee injuries, raising questions about his toughness.
The Cowboys were expected to cut ties with Rogers in August after he went against the club's advice and underwent microfracture surgery to repair a right knee injury. Jones even called him one of the most disappointing draft picks of his tenure. Rogers was put on injured reserve but spent the year in Arizona rehabbing rather than in Dallas. It was supposedly only a matter of time before he was released.
Jones is now looking at Rogers as a possible answer at right tackle, although Jones said doesn't know if Rogers will be ready to practice before training camp in August.
"Need," Jones said when asked why Rogers is back with the Cowboys. "I want to give us every shot. We've got a lot invested in him. I want to give us every shot to get that value, and in that case, it gives him that kind of shot, too."
In addition to needing help at safety, linebacker and kicker, Jones said the Cowboys would like to improve at receiver. He said those plans don't include controversial receiver Terrell Owens, who will be released by the Eagles next week.
"There are so many issues there that I can't put that into the equation," Jones said.
Regarding a kicker, Jones said the Cowboys will depart from their history and pursue a veteran in free agency because playing for Parcells might not be the best place for a rookie kicker.
Jones, however, said pursuing top free agents such as Adam Vinatieri and Mike Vanderjagt is unlikely because of their big-money demands.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on La'Roi Glover's future

NFL Rumors from 2/27/06--Ben Maller

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on La'Roi Glover's future: "The timing hasn't been where we had to address it. With the quality of player La'Roi is and the job he's done for us, the job of sitting down with him or him sitting down with us and seeing how fits, it was going to be so difficult that we put it off till a better day, to be realistic about it."

NFL News: The Pack are rumored to be considering letting Longwell walk and making a run at Vinatieri

NFL Rumors from 2/27/06--Ben Maller

TIDBIT: Adam Vinatieri was a hot topic at the scouting combine yesterday, with buzz centering on an unlikely potential suitor - the Green Bay Packers. Currently in negotiations with their own free agent kicker, Ryan Longwell, the Pack are rumored to be considering letting Longwell walk and making a run at Vinatieri, perhaps the best cold-weather kicker in history. Patriots spokesman Stacey James refused to confirm whether the Patriots are meeting with Vinatieri’s agent, Jonathan Hurst, citing club policy not to discuss ongoing negotiations. Hurst did not return calls. If the Patriots fail to sign him by Friday, he’s expected to have no shortage of suitors. The Dallas Cowboys could be in the mix, particularly since head coach Bill Parcells gave Vinatieri his start in 1996.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the decision to extend Bill Parcells' contract

NFL Rumors from 2/27/06--Ben Maller

TIDBIT: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on the decision to extend Bill Parcells' contract: "The alternative to that wasn't even close as far as us having a chance to win and win big in the immediate future. Not even close. And I have placed a big priority on winning in the immediate, like this year, next year and maybe beyond."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones still learning to get grip on team

Jones still learning to get grip on team
17 years after buying Cowboys, he believes team can win soon

08:51 PM CST on Sunday, February 26, 2006
By TODD ARCHER / The Dallas Morning News

INDIANAPOLIS – Seventeen years ago Saturday, Jerry Jones shook up the NFL world and bought the Dallas Cowboys.

Since Feb. 25, 1989, Jones' place in the NFL has been cemented with three Super Bowl victories and, in some way, a change in how the league does its business.

"I will say this, I thought I knew more about what I was doing then than I do now. I thought I had my hands around it," Jones said. "I thought this is pretty simple, you get somebody that's an outstanding coach and you basically get in and try to outfigure everything you can and try to outhustle and you'll win those football games. I just assumed you'd win those football games, always had, without being trite. And we started off the way we thought we could do it and had success, but it's been a little harder getting my arms around the last few years."

Sitting on his bus outside the Indiana Convention Center on Sunday during a break in the NFL Scouting Combine, Jones talked for nearly an hour on a variety of subjects:

On the decision to extend Bill Parcells' contract:

"The alternative to that wasn't even close as far as us having a chance to win and win big in the immediate future. Not even close. And I have placed a big priority on winning in the immediate, like this year, next year and maybe beyond."

On giving him a raise of $1 million per season:

"I thought when Bill came to the Cowboys he was very reasonable, relative to where coaches were and that was meaningful because it was just an indication that he wanted to come in and coach the team. Certainly it recognizes where he is to other coaches but it's also an, 'attaboy,' about the way we've worked together the last three years."

On how close the Cowboys are from contending for a Super Bowl:

"We've got our needs that we've handicapped. We'll weigh the odds of how much we can take of those needs. I think that if we can reasonably take care of those needs we can be a better team than where we were at our best last year. If we can be better than that, then we've got a chance to really have some fun."

On addressing the offensive line in free agency:

"We've got three big contracts, relatively big, with three players [Flozell Adams, Larry Allen, Marco Rivera]. How many contracts can you afford? You might be able to fit another top pick, the economics of a top pick. You probably wouldn't see me go after the top paid linemen in free agency. Those are older players and that's kind of piling it on in a direction I don't want to go."

On addressing the offensive line in the first round of the draft:

"There's a couple players where if they were there we'd have to look at them if you're keeping in mind we think Flozell will be there long term at left tackle. If you're sitting there looking at a player that is a left tackle and would be a waste to play at right tackle, then we probably wouldn't spend that kind of money."

On addressing offense in general in the draft:

"If I had a chance to improve with an outstanding player on offense or defense, just that factor was there, I would go offense. ... But if an outstanding defensive player is there and a good to real good player offensive player is there we'll take that defensive player even though we did load up on defense last year."

On getting younger at receiver:

"I'm not going to put that onus on the draft that we've got to get younger at receiver and better, too. It might not fall that way for us."

On Terrell Owens:

"I want to say this so we don't get something going here: There's so many issues that I can't today put that into the equation. ... We've not gone down those issues. We haven't sat down and said, 'How do we do something like that?'"

On signing a veteran kicker:

"We'll get a veteran kicker. I think our situation is that I don't know that we're the best place right now for a rookie kicker with Bill staring at him every time he walks off the field."

On signing a big-money kicker:

"Not to that degree. I don't think we'd look to do that. We'll have a kicker with experience."

On La'Roi Glover's future:

"The timing hasn't been where we had to address it. With the quality of player La'Roi is and the job he's done for us, the job of sitting down with him or him sitting down with us and seeing how fits, it was going to be so difficult that we put it off till a better day, to be realistic about it."

The Cowboys figure to go offense with their top draft pick

The Cowboys figure to go offense with their top draft pick.
Dallas has needs on the offensive line and at wide receiver, where they have aging stars. If Holmes - an Ohio State-product - falls to them, they would not hesitate to snatch him up.

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cowboys need to stick with Bledsoe


Star-Telegram Staff Writer

Let's squash this Drew Brees nonsense now. Immediately. Before somebody gets a crazy idea that he is what this Cowboys team needs.

I mean, why stop there?

Why not failed Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey?

I'll tell you why not: Because Brees does not make them better. Not next season. Not long term.

Let's start with the now.

The issue is: Is Brees better than the Drew they already have?

Drew Bledsoe does not think so and not because he is not high on Brees. He likes the kid.

"Well, you know, I was the new young guy once, so I've been on both sides," Bledsoe said Sunday when told crushing on Brees had become chic in our little slice of the wide, wide world of sports.

He is not aware that quarterback hunting is an official sport here. We usually like the ones we don't have.

Unless your name is Aikman.

"To be honest with you, it doesn't bother me," Bledsoe said. "I know I can play and, if you put me on the field, I am going to play real well. If there is a quarterback competition, at any time, I always welcome it, and I haven't lost one yet."

I tend to agree with Bledsoe.

Not because I am a devout Bledsoe backer either.

He remembers it, and I admit it. I went on record as saying the Cowboys should not sign Bledsoe last off-season. Then I had to backtrack and admit I made a mistake.

There were a lot of things wrong with the Cowboys in 2005. Bledsoe was not one of them.

He was actually pretty good.

And now I'm going to do something I rarely do. I'm going to the numbers. Mostly because they back me up.

Brees and Bledsoe had almost identical statistics last season.

Bledsoe had 63 more passing yards. Brees had one more touchdown. Bledsoe had two more interceptions. Don't forget that other little advantage Brees had -- LT in his backfield.

The only number where Brees has a significant advantage over Bledsoe is age. He is 27. Bledsoe is 34.

What is funny is the old guy feels good.

The younger one is coming off major shoulder surgery; a tidbit everybody seems to be forgetting in their rush to insist the Cowboys should be interested in a guy who is probably going to cost a decent chunk of change to sign.

If you are among those who believe this team is not far away from NFC contention, this does not get them closer. What does is a right tackle, a kicker, a safety and a linebacker or two.

Bledsoe believes.

"The two teams that were in the NFC Championship Game, we beat one and lost to the Seahawks on my play at the end," Bledsoe said. "If that is the standard in that conference, we are right there."

Of course, Bledsoe will not be around forever.

The Cowboys have to find their quarterback for whenever Bledsoe is gone, be it after this season or in two seasons.

This brings me to why Brees is not for later, either.

Much like Groucho Marx not wanting to belong to any club that would have him as a member, I do not think the Cowboys should want any quarterback that is available to be had.

They are available for a reason.

Ramsey struggled. Brees has the shoulder.

None has won or won big at their previous stops, which is why they are being jettisoned.

Teams do not let go of franchise quarterbacks. They are too hard to find. The ones on the street are other people's Quincys and Hutches.

Teams develop them. It is the sporting world's version of eating your vegetables.

You draft them. You groom them. Eventually you even play them.

The Cowboys have gotten away from this. They have tried quarterbacking on the cheap ever since Aikman retired.

Former baseball players.

Other teams' rejects.

Players on the sales rack.

What they need to do is go with Bledsoe this season and then get on with the business of figuring out whether Tony Romo and/or Drew Henson is the answer to "Who's next?"

In Indianapolis the past week for the big NFL meet and greet, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had a one-word answer to the question: Is the future quarterback already on the roster?


He quickly added to this "yes."

"Short term, for sure," he said. "I would say it's very possible long term. As I sit here now, he's more likely on the roster than not on the roster."

Who he is not is Drew Brees.

Todd Archer & Mac Engel with GaC on ESPN 103-Dallas

Originally posted by TrickBlue from a sports forum:

Archer & Engel:
1) The Parcells/Rosenhaus lunch was probably not "about" TO, but I'm sure his name came up. Rosenhaus has a ton of clients and probably was more about them.
Parcells and Jones both like Rosenhaus.
2) Jones has stated he won't pay top dollar for Viniateri. He is likely to get 3 mil and Jerry isn't paying that. You don't pay ANY kicker that kinda money, but someone likely will.
3) Vanderjaagt can't be trusted plus he can't kick off.
4) Jerry paid a long-snapper 1.1 million, but won't pay a kicker any $$.
5) Ryan Longwell is a guy to keep an eye on.
6) Parcells told us both that Ellis IS coming back. I think Glover's situation is that they are going to want to restructure his contract to come back, and he likely won't do it. He wants to play alot and it is unlikely he will get that here. If the CBA does get restructured, Dallas may be able to keep him, but it is not likely.
7) Dallas will likely be pretty active in FA, but probably not the big names. You can scratch Bentley's name off of the list more than likely.
8) They are probably going to look at a RT, FS, LB maybe WR, but they won't go after the "celebrity players".

Jerry Jones says the Cowboys are unlikely to go after Adam Vinatieri and Mike Vanderjagt because of their high price tags

Jerry Jones says the Cowboys are unlikely to go after Adam Vinatieri and Mike Vanderjagt because of their high price tags.

In the last two days, both Bill Parcells and Jones have said Vinatieri is unlikely to join the Cowboys. Not that we believe them, but whatever happened to tampering rules?
Feb. 27 - 9:15 am et
Source: Fort-Worth Star-Telegram

NFC East: The Redskins are interested in Antwaan Randle El

The Redskins are interested in Antwaan Randle El.

If there is no new CBA, Washington will have trouble keeping their own players, much less signing others. If a CBA is worked out, they will have a better chance to make a play for Randle El.

Feb. 27 - 10:50 am et
Source: Washington Times

NFL and NFLPA have agreed on a new CBA, but owners have yet to agree on revenue sharing

Profootballtalk.com reports that the NFL and NFLPA have agreed on a new CBA, but owners have yet to agree on revenue sharing.

If the owners can finally agree on their expanded version of revenue sharing, a deal looks likely to be completed by Wednesday. It's uncertain whether free agency will be delayed.

Feb. 27 - 3:09 pm et
Source: Profootballtalk.com

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Eagles probably won't be able to trade Terrell Owens

Sports Print Edition
Bob Glauber
Labor questions hurting players
February 26, 2006

TIDBIT: The Eagles probably won't be able to trade Terrell Owens, who is expected to be released soon. The Broncos will be in the hunt for his services, but don't count out the Cowboys. Bill Parcells had lunch the other day with Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus. It's an open secret that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones covets Owens . . . Vandyt QB Jay Cutler continues to draw raves from scouts and almost certainly will be a top-five pick. The Jets, at No. 4, are interested, but the Texans (first overall), Saints (second) and Titans (third) are also looking at drafting a quarterback . . . The Chiefs will have an interest in Law, but they have cap problems. Chiefs coach Herman Edwards would love to have Law, and some Jets players believe Edwards coddled Law last season so he'd be inclined to play for the coach again in 2006.

T.O.'s time off radar won't last

T.O.'s time off radar won't last
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post NFL, Broncos Beat Reporter

The Terrell Owens front has been quiet lately. Scary, isn't it?

The bombastic and polarizing Owens can't stay quiet for long. Mount T.O. is about to erupt.

Barring an unexpected change or a long delay in negotiations in the league's collective bargaining agreement, movement on the Owens front could come within a week. The Philadelphia Eagles owe the first of two March bonuses to their suspended wide receiver March 8. Owens likely will be released before the new league calendar and free-agent period begin Friday.

Where do the Broncos fit in? The fact that coach Mike Shanahan brought in Owens and agent Drew Rosenhaus for a visit Jan. 30 is significant. Denver is the only team that has met with Owens this offseason. Kansas City coach Herm Edwards said Saturday he would like to meet with Owens.

There are indications, though, that the Broncos' interest isn't as high as some may think, and there are signs they would make a run at Owens only if he could prove he is ready to change his attitude and if his price is reasonable.

Some league insiders believe Tampa Bay and Dallas may emerge as suitors for Owens. Whatever happens, the activity may pick up soon.

Cowboys Interview Miami CB Kelly Jennings

Cowboys | Team talks with K. Jennings
Sun, 26 Feb 2006 14:36:51 -0800

During his NFL Combine interview, Miami CB Kelly Jennings said he met with the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys Interview Georgia Tech LB Gerris Wilkinson

Cowboys | Team meets with Wilkinson
Sun, 26 Feb 2006 18:43:32 -0800

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Georgia Tech LB Gerris Wilkinson said he met with the Dallas Cowboys at the Combine.

The Cowboys went to the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis looking to hit another home run in the draft

USAToday Inside Slant:

The Cowboys went to the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis looking to hit another home run in the draft.

They drew raves for their choices a year ago. Of course it's easy when you have two first-round draft picks.

Linebacker DeMarcus Ware and defensive end Marcus Spears didn't disappoint at the 11th and 20th picks.

They will be quality players for years to come.

Last year the Cowboys went into the draft focusing on taking the best player but knowing they would address defense in the first round. With a switch to the 3-4 from the 4-3, they needed players to fit the new system. They also needed anchors for the defense.

Ware and Spears filled the bill nicely.

In 2006, the Cowboys have needs across the board and could address any of them with the 18th overall pick. Linebacker, safety, receiver and tackle are all potential targets in the first round.

Tackle is probably the biggest need and there are a number of prospects who intrigue the Cowboys. The big question is: Will they finally go in that direction in the first round? The Cowboys have not picked an offensive player in the first round since 1997, when they took tight end David LaFleur.

They have not taken an offensive lineman in the first round since Howard Richards in 1981.

Will they make history in 2006?

Keep an eye on Winston Justice of USC, Marcus McNeil of Auburn and Jonathan Scott of Texas.

A possible receiver target at 18 could be Santonio Holmes of Ohio State. He could a replacement for the aging Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn. He also would provide immediate help as a kick returner.

Defensively, safety/cornerbacks Michael Huff of Texas and Jimmy Williams of Virginia Tech would make nice fits in the secondary at free safety. The Cowboys are looking for a ballhawk to play beside hard-hitting Roy Williams.

The linebacker the Cowboys will watch closely at the combine will be Bobby Carpenter of Ohio State.

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells coached Carpenter's father Rob with the Giants and has followed his career in college.

Cowboys Interview Tamba Hali of Penn State at combine

Ranch Report says this. He would fit as an OLB in a 3-4. he's 6'2" just around 260lbs. How does Tamba Hali stack up with other draftees?

Tambi Hali
2005: 65 tackles, 17 TFLs, 11 sacks

Bobby carpenter
2005: 49 tackles, 10 TFLs, 8 sacks

Manny Lawson
2005: 58 tackles, 19.5 TFL, 10.5 sacks, 14 QB hurries, 1 FF

Chad Greenway
2005:156 tackles. 10 TFLs, 2 sacks

NFLE - Big play Saturday (Henson Blurb)

NFLE - Big play Saturday
February 25, 2006
NFL Europe

Tough defense was punctuated by some big offensive plays as the six NFL Europe League teams participated in game condition scrimmages at Skyway Park in Tampa.

The action marked the second of four days of team scrimmages before the teams cut their rosters to the 48 players who will make the trip to Europe for the 2006 regular season, which kicks off on March 18.

Here are the highlights of the day's contests:

Amsterdam Admirals vs Rhein Fire

Amsterdam quarterback Gibran Hamdan (Seattle Seahawks), who won a World Bowl ring with the team last year after starting the first four games before a season-ending injury, was in good form, connecting on 11 of 14 passes for 96 yards, including a touchdown. Skyler Fulton (Seattle Seahawks) continued his good camp with 3 catches for 47 yards and a score, while Craig Bragg (Chicago Bears) caught 4 passes for 32 yards. On defense, linebacker Phil Archer (San Diego Chargers) and Tony Brown (Carolina Panthers) had sacks, with Kevin Timothee and Marvin Ward (Minnesota Vikings) posting interceptions.

Rhein quarterback Drew Henson (Dallas Cowboys) hit on 3 of 5 passes for 33 yards, with Chris Samp (Carolina Panthers) catching the eye with 3 receptions for 61 yards. Running back DeCori Birmingham (San Francisco 49ers) gained 28 yards on 4 carries. Derrick Strong posted the Fire's one sack of the day.

From the quotebook

"It went well. We still have a lot to work on but we are starting to get the kinks out. A lot of guys haven't played for four or five months and we are progressing well. By the end of camp we will be ready," - Rhein Fire tackle Mike Kracalik.

"This was the first time in live game conditions and I think as an offense we can definitely improve. There is no winning or losing in these scrimmages so it is good when things come up that you have to talk about. The most important thing was the chemistry we showed out there," - Amsterdam quarterback Gibran Hamdan

The Terrell Owens sweepstakes should be heating up soon

Deep free-agent freeze?
By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
February 25, 2006
sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news...&type=lgns ...

TIDBIT: The Terrell Owens sweepstakes should be heating up soon, but if there's no new CBA, Owens will be hung out like every other free agent at the mercy of strained salary caps. Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, is still making the rounds at the combine, though, and as expected – with the Broncos facing some serious cap problems without a new CBA – the Dallas Cowboys are believed to be the front-runner for T.O.'s services. League sources also continue to be skeptical about any trade of Owens, believing that the wide receiver will be cut by the Philadelphia Eagles in the coming days.

Redskins QB Patrick Ramsey to Dallas?

In addition to the Redskins seeking a swap for Ramsey, they are also ALLOWING him and Sexton to forge their own deal. And when Jimmy Sexton tries to cut a deal for his clients, where does he go? Dallas.


I'm not discounting in any way the fact that while in Indy for the NFL Scouting Combine, Bill Parcells shared lunch with Drew Rosenhaus, the excitable agent for Terrell Owens. I'm not ignoring the possibility that while Rosenhaus represents 70-plus clients (meaning that there is a one-in-70 chance that the focus of the meeting was TO), the agent's over-the-top verbal theatrics likely caused other diners to look, to stare. ... And then to exclaim, Rob Reiner's-mom-style, "I'll have what he's having.''

But before anyone gets excited over the possible connection between the Cowboys coach and THAT agent, I remind you to always keep tabs on the connection between the Cowboys coach and HIS OWN agent.

Yeah, Bill met Drew. Once.

He's in BUSINESS with Jimmy Sexton. In business with him every day. In contact with him every day. No lunch meetings are necessary. Heck, Parcells and Sexton probably don't even need to communicate in traditional ways. I bet they can finish each others sentences, like an old married couple. I bet they even have a mental-telepathy thing going. The Memphis-based Sexton is Parcells' long-time friend and long-time agent and oh by the way Sexton, just like Rosenhaus (only more quietly) happens to represent some players, too.

Remember in "All The President's Men,'' when Deep Throat told Watergate investigator Bob Woodward to "Follow the money''? When I track football rumors, I tend to "Follow the connections.''

Who is friendly with whom? Who attended college with whom? Who once hired whom? Who owes a favor to whom? It's how Vincent Brown recently made the jump from high-school assistant coach to assistant coach of the Dallas friggin' Cowboys, how Freddie Kitchens vaulted from being a running backs coach at Mississippi State to being the tight ends coach of the Dallas friggin' Cowboys. ... Talented they may be, but I'll bet they are also CONNECTED.

This spider web of connections isn't as obvious as a "private'' lunch meeting that was so "private'' that it was quickly reported on by every media outlet in D/FW; but its subtlety is belied by the two big ol' spiders in charge of the spinning:

Spider Parcells. And Spider Sexton.

I'll lay this groundwork again: It can be a good thing to have a coach's agent helping to recruit people, feed people to the coach's team. Or it can be one wink shy of nepotism, and lead to the employment of inferior people just because they happen to share an agent with the head coach.

Which is it? Depends on what Bill Parcells' record is.

Anyway, I have long speculated that eventually, the Cowboys will be in conversation with San Diego backup QB Phillip Rivers. There are a number of valid reasons for thinking that, but my biggest one is that Rivers is represented by Sexton. So if Sexton wants to steer his QB client toward his head-coach client, one key step for Sexton is that he discuss it with. ...himself.

But now some twists, as down the pike come all sorts of other QB names: the Chargers' Drew Brees, a Texas native, MVP candidate, possessor of a banged-up shoulder might be available because San Diego failed to sign him to a long-term contract; if so, Rivers stays in SD. Meanwhile, Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper is trying to rehab his knee and his image and according to gossip is available for a second-round pick; the Jets' Chad Pennington is probably facing a long climb back to viability due to injury; the Titans' Steve McNair isn't a Cowboys answer but could help somebody else; the Saints' Aaron Brooks is a physically gifted flake worth somebody's roll of the dice; Tampa Bay's Brian Griese may find himself on waivers but will be a commodity there.

Heck, given that University of Texas QB Vince Young allegedly just scored a 6 on the Wonderlic test at the Combine, the best player in college football might be available on the relative cheap, too.

So the quarterback options -- assuming that Dallas is finally realizing the errors of its ways in going through two full seasons without a viable backup or a viable prospect at the position -- are multiplying.

And so is the spider-webbish connection to one more name.

Last week, I mentioned the Redskins' Patrick Ramsey. He's stuck in D.C. limbo between starter Mark Brunell and future Jason Campbell. What I said of the former No. 1 pick is that he has talent, experience, youth and upside.

Now, with coach Joe Gibbs admitting to the media that Ramsey is the subject of trade talks, it seems Patrick Ramsey has more than just talent, experience, youth and upside.

He also has Jimmy Sexton as his agent.

"We're kind of working with Jimmy Sexton and Patrick," Gibbs said this weekend. "I think we're just kind of moving ahead, trying to see what opportunities are out there for him and also to evaluate what's best for us. I'm not sure anything will get done. But we are looking and we're letting them also look and talk, so we're just going to see."

Got it? In addition to the Redskins seeking a swap for Ramsey, they are also ALLOWING him and Sexton to forge their own deal. And when Jimmy Sexton tries to cut a deal for his clients, where does he go?


If Culpepper is only worth a 2 (an insanely low price, I think, for someone who when healthy is capable of Peyton Manning-like production), Ramsey can be had on the cheap. With the draft looming, teams greatly value (even over-value) picks. So Washington would likely salivate over dumping a QB who is not in their plans in exchange for a mid-round selection.

Book it: The Cowboys and Redskins are talking about trading Patrick Ramsey to Dallas. And I don't need to see Parcells breaking bread with an agent to know it.

After all, why do Parcells and Sexton need to go to lunch when they're in bed together?

Dallas Cowboys met extensively with Charlie Whitehurst Friday

TheRanchReport.com reports on the only quarterback the Dallas Cowboys met extensively with Charlie Whitehurst Friday at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Position: QB Number: 06
School: Clemson Height: 6'4
Status: Senior Weight: 220

This is a quarterback who is gifted with both physical and athletic skill, along with the intangibles you look for in a player behind center
He has the size, mobility, and shows the confidence in the pocket to lead his team down the field on a consistent basis
He is more of a pocket passer than anything else at this point in his career, with a quick release, and has the mobility and arm strength to throw on the run, and has the the ability to scramble once he is outside the pocket area
He is also willing to stand in the pocket to complete the pass, even when he feels the hit coming, which is a important trait to have as a quarterback, he also posses a good array of touches on various passes, and as a passer he is not afraid to make a mistake, which I find important, because to become a successful quarterback you have to be willing to take instinctive chances on the field, and he maintains eye contact with the receivers down field to allow him to make plays
He maintains a good rhythm and pace to the offense during the course of a game, and brings a air of confidence to offense and the players around him, which is important to have the other players around you believe in and have the confidence in your ability to always give them a chance to win
He is a quarterback to watch for

Has excellent size...Great arm strength with an overhead delivery...Good natural athlete who can move around in the pocket a little...Smart and tough with solid intangibles...Efficient in the short passing game...Durable three-year starter with a lot of experience...Still has some upside and potential...Has good bloodlines.

Very erratic and has had an up and down career...Makes way too many bad decisions, especially under pressure...Not a threat to run and is basically a pocket passer...Takes unnecessary risks...Needs to be more accurate, especially on deep passes...Holds onto the ball too long...Needs to be coached up and developed.

Son of former Green Bay Packer quarterback David Whitehurst, who played in the NFL from 1976-83...Looked like a potential top prospect early in his career but bottomed out as a junior before bouncing back to a degree in 2005...Has a lot of physical tools to work with and could develop into a starter at the pro level.

Cowboys Interview NC ST DL Manny Lawson

Cowboys | Team talks with M. Lawson
Sun, 26 Feb 2006 14:27:27 -0800
During his NFL Combine interview, North Carolina State DL Manny Lawson said he interviewed with the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys Interests at Combine

According to various sources they have interviewed and are showing alot of interest in the OL from Pitt, Charles Spencer. They have also talked to John Scott of Texas, Kelly Jennings, CB from Miami, and Daniel Manning, DB from ACU who has reportedly run the 40 in under 4.3 s.

Our Dallas Cowboys must make hard choices

Todd Archer: Cowboys must make hard choices

INDIANAPOLIS – Things are about to get interesting for the Cowboys.

Free agency will begin March 3, and the Cowboys will have about $15 million to spend. Not as much as last year, but still a good amount to find some quality players. Free agency is followed by the draft, and if the Cowboys can repeat the success they had in selecting players in 2005, this team will be good for a lot of years to come.

But here’s the rub: the free-agent market is not as strong as it has been in years past, and the draft is not particularly strong at the Cowboys’ position of need: safety, wide receiver and offensive line.

The Cowboys must make choices: do they fill their holes in free agency or the draft?

Let’s start with the offensive line. Most e-mailers want to see the Cowboys make a run at LeCharles Bentley, the New Orleans center. OK, he will cost you a decent dime, which the Cowboys will have. But than that means they will have signed large deals with their left tackle Flozell Adams, left guard Larry Allen and right guard Marco Rivera.

It’s not a bad way of thinking, but how have those other deals turned out? At some point, don’t the Cowboys have to draft an offensive lineman in the first round? They haven’t done that since 1981. Since Bill Parcells has been coach, Al Johnson has been their best offensive line pick, and the coach doesn’t seem to have much faith in Johnson.

Andre Gurode did not live up to expectations as a second-round pick and will be a free agent. Jacob Rogers, who incredibly might be back, didn’t play an offensive snap and was a second-rounder. Stephen Peterman, a third-round pick, barely played last season after missing his rookie year with a knee injury. Rob Petitti, a sixth-rounder in ’05, is the biggest success story, but is he a building block?

Now on the free agency. Jason Fabini, 31, the former Jet, has become the hot name. He’s old. He’s hurt. But he’s played for Parcells. To me, he’s an older Petitti who will be more costly.

At wide receiver, the Cowboys have thirtysomethings in Keyshawn Johnson and Terry Glenn. At some point, the team must find their successors. For the first time in years, the draft looks weak at the position. Florida’s Chad Jackson would be a terrific pick, but he won’t last until No. 18, and Parcells has mentioned a personal aversion to drafting receivers in the first round.

The free-agent crop doesn’t appear strong either. Antwaan Randle El could be the best talent available, but he has never put up big numbers. New England’s David Givens has ability and toughness, but will he take over for either Johnson or Glenn in ’06? No.

How about kicker? There will be some players available. Adam Vinatieri is at the top of the list, but will the Cowboys fork over $3 mil per year? Maybe they will. Mike Vanderjagt? He didn’t kick off for a dome team, so that won’t work. Green Bay’s Ryan Longwell might be the best fit (price, ability). The draft? Forget it. Do you think Parcells will go with a rookie kicker after what happened last year?

A year ago at this time in free agency, the Cowboys zeroed in on Jason Ferguson, Rivera, Mike Wahle, Anthony Henry and Ken Lucas. They signed Ferguson, Rivera and Henry. For the draft, they knew they liked DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears in the first round. This off-season there's a little more uncertainty.

NFC East: Redskins looking to deal QB Ramsey


Redskins looking to deal QB Ramsey

By Len Pasquarelli

In one of the NFL's worst-kept secrets, Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs has acknowledged that the team is trying to trade former first-round quarterback Patrick Ramsey, and has granted permission to the one-time starter and his agent to seek potential trade suitors as well.

"We're moving ahead, trying to see what opportunities are out there for him and also evaluating what is best for us," Gibbs allowed. "I'm not sure if anything will get done, but we're looking, and we're letting [agent] Jimmy Sexton look around and talk [to other teams]."

There are, however, at least two potential impediments to trading Ramsey, the Redskins' first choice in the 2002 draft, who is still regarded as a quarterback with solid potential.

The first is the anticipated glut in the quarterback market, with the possibility that high-profile veterans such as Chad Pennington (New York Jets), Drew Brees (San Diego), Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota) and Brian Griese (Tampa Bay) will be thrust into the free-agent market. A few months ago, none of those players was projected as a free agent but a number of factors, from injuries to salary cap implications, have impacted their respective circumstances.

Second, until the last few days, the Redskins were still seeking a second- or third-round pick in return for Ramsey, league sources said. And while that may have been a viable price tag three months ago, a buyer's market and Washington's ham-handed handling of Ramsey have probably reduced his value in the eyes of some teams interested in acquiring the four-year veteran.

Indications over the weekend were that the Redskins, who have targeted the New York Jets as a possible trade partner, have dropped the price. But the Jets, who have some interest in a deal, won't move ahead until they resolve the Pennington situation, and determine whether he will accept a proposed salary cut for 2006, or if they will be forced to release him.
For now, there is no deal imminent for Ramsey, demonstrating once again that timing is key.

A year or two ago, when it became obvious that Gibbs' staff wasn't enamored of Ramsey, the Redskins would almost certainly have commanded a higher price for the former Tulane star. But Washington failed to pull the trigger on a deal when Sexton could have brought them several suitors. Gibbs sold Ramsey on the notion that he would compete for the starting job, then went out and invested a 2005 first-round pick on Auburn quarterback Jason Campbell.

Ramsey started the '05 season opener, was pulled in favor of Mark Brunell at halftime, and didn't log another start the rest of the season. The poor handling of the situation probably means that Washington will have to settle for far less now in any Ramsey trade. Even at a reduced rate the Redskins likely have to deal Ramsey or release him, since he has finally become alarmed by his status.

"He's frustrated with the situation over the last couple years," Gibbs said.
Ramsey, 27, has a 10-14 record as a starter. He has completed 480 of 861 passes for 5,649 yards with 34 touchdown passes, 29 interceptions and a 75.0 quarterback rating. His base salary for 2006 is $1.688 million, not unreasonable for a team that views him as a starter, but he is entering the final season of his original contract. Any team interested in acquiring Ramsey would probably want him to sign an extension before completing a trade.

NFL Network's Adam Shefter reports that Jerry Jones is interested in acquiring Terrell Owens

NFL Network's Adam Shefter reports that Jerry Jones is interested in acquiring Terrell Owens.

Bill Parcells met with Owens' agent on Friday, possibly to gauge interest. It looks doubtful that any team will have to trade for Owens. He's likely to be released. Feb. 25 - 8:21 pm et

Bill Parcells said Adam Vinatieri would be smart to stay in New England

Bill Parcells said Adam Vinatieri would be smart to stay in New England.

Talking about him is technically tampering, but Parcells is right on. "If he's smart he'll stay. He'd be Bobby Orr and Carl Yastrzemski and John Havlicek. That guy's done a lot."

Feb. 26 - 1:08 pm et
Source: Fort-Worth Telegram

Parcells says DE Greg Ellis is coming back next season as a Cowboy

Coach Bill Parcells says DE Greg Ellis is coming back next season as a Cowboy.

Many thought the long-time Dallas player was headed elsewhere because he wasn't a fit in the 3-4 defense. That doesn't appear to be the case.

Feb. 26 - 1:10 pm et
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells isn't sure Patrick Crayton can be a starting wide receiver

Cowboys coach Bill Parcells isn't sure Patrick Crayton can be a starting wide receiver.

The team appears to be looking for a starter-quality wideout, which doesn't bode well for Crayton's spot on the depth chart.

Feb. 26 - 1:11 pm et
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Cowboys Showing Strong Interest in Spencer

Originally posted by Big Dakota in a sport forum:

According to the Ranch Report. Looks more and more like we're in the market for an OLman at #49. We have to hit on a young OLman at some point. Just because it looks like Rogers and Peterman may be busts,and Al Johnson and Gurode are probably better backups, we can't give up drafting OLman. We can't go into FA for every OL.

Charles Spencer Teammates
Greg Lee * WR
Josh Lay CB

Guard - Ranked #5

Height: 6-4
Weight: 334 lbs.
Forty Time: 5.28


Charles Spencer came from a large family and has six sisters. He grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York where he attended Trinity-Pawling. He was a two-sport athlete at Trinity, playing both football and basketball. He was a three-year starter for the football team, playing both tight end and defensive end. As a senior, Spencer led the team in tackles with 75 stops on the year. He caught 25 passes for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns. He was named all-county, all-section, and all-region for his performance as a senior. He played in the Exceptional Senior All-Star game and was named defensive MVP for his play. Spencer accepted a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh where he sat out the 2001 season as a redshirt. He began his career at Pittsburgh as a defensive tackle, playing in all 12 games, starting 2 games after Dan Stephens went down with a shoulder injury. He finished the season with 20 tackles despite missing the Insight Bowl with a sprained left knee. Spencer spent his sophomore season as a reserve defensive tackle, recording 19 tackles on the year. For the second straight year he was forced to sit out of the team’s bowl game, this time with a shoulder injury. He missed spring drills in 2004 due to offseason shoulder surgery. As a junior, Spencer was moved to left guard where he started all 12 games of the season. He was named Pittsburgh’s most improved offensive player and received second team all-Big East honors for his performance. In the spring of 2005, Charles Spencer was moved from left guard to left tackle to replace 2005 Dallas Cowboys 5th round draft pick Rob Petitti.


Charles Spencer is a versatile player who has played defensive tackle, offensive tackle, and guard during his four years at Pittsburgh. He has great size for an offensive lineman and is a pretty good athlete for a big man. He has tremendous strength and possesses the “mean streak” you like to see in an offensive lineman. He is a good leader and a hard worker who has been bounced around from position to position and never complained. He is a dominating run blocker and a solid pass protector as well. Charles Spencer has only played on the offensive line for two years, spending his junior season at guard and his senior season at tackle. He is still learning how to play on the offensive line and needs to continue to improve his technique. Although he played left tackle as a senior, Spencer really struggled against speed rushers and would be better suited to play guard at the professional level. Charles Spencer has as much upside as any interior offensive lineman in the draft and has a chance to be a late first day or early second day pick in the 2006 NFL draft.

Coach Bill Parcells has no doubts about Julius Jones' ability

Coach Bill Parcells has no doubts about Julius Jones' ability.

The coach is not wavering on Jones as his starter. "I think he's a kid that has the mental capacity to understand it and is trying to do the right thing ... He's not a big man, but I don't necessarily think that he's injury-prone."

Feb. 26 - 1:13 pm et
Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Is Vinatieri a perfect fit for Dallas?

Is Vinatieri a perfect fit for Dallas?
February 25

Fort Worth Star-Telegram (registration required): "The decision by the New England Patriots not to use a franchise tag on kicker Adam Vinatieri has sparked speculation that the Cowboys will pursue the veteran when free agency begins Friday."

NFC East: Coughlin says Manning already studying game film

Giants | Coughlin says Manning already studying game film
Sat, 25 Feb 2006 05:46:40 -0800

Vinny DiTrani, of the Bergen Record, reports New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin said QB Eli Manning already shows up two or three days a week to go over tapes from last season. He added the coaches have discussed those passing technique problems, such as throwing off his back foot, which Manning demonstrated late in the season. "As you watch the things that happen to him through the course of the year, you find a guy who is forced to throw in an unbelievable number of body positions to get the ball out," Coughlin said. "If he's forced to slide to avoid the rush and then somebody comes open, sometimes it's not possible to get completely organized."

Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Bill Parcells says retirement not a current option

Cowboys | Parcells says retirement not a current option
Sat, 25 Feb 2006 07:39:15 -0800

Todd Archer, of the Dallas Morning News, reports speaking for the first time since the Dallas Cowboys' season ended, head coach Bill Parcells said he never really considered walking away into retirement. Because of his history and his age, retirement is always a topic of conversation with Parcells. "You just have a feeling when you don't want to do it anymore," Parcells said. "That it's not worth it to you."

Free agency may still be delayed

NFL | Free agency may still be delayed
Sat, 25 Feb 2006 12:25:10 -0800

ESPN.com's John Clayton reports NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue told a group of owners and front office executives that the NFL could push back the start of free agency a week if a collective bargaining agreement is reached by Wednesday, March 1, at 4 p.m. ET. NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw said he wouldn't move back the start of free agency, but he wants to get a deal.

Dallas Cowboys Owner/GM Jerry Jones believes a CBA deal can get done

Cowboys | Jones believes a CBA deal can get done
Sat, 25 Feb 2006 13:18:49 -0800

Todd Archer, of the Dallas Morning News, reports Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones believes a deal between the NFL and the Players Association could be completed immediately. Speaking in measured tones Saturday because of a significant fine that could be levied for talking about the negotiations surrounding the collective bargaining agreement, Jones said, "major increases have been put in the deal and it should get done." Jones said the higher-revenue clubs are not holding up a deal. Owners are expected to meet again in Dallas March 7.

NFC East: Thus starts the demise of the salary cap strickin' Redskins

Kicker John Hall is expected to be released in the next week.
Other Redskins likely to take a hit: defensive backs Matt Bowen and Walt Harris, tackle Brandon Noble and center Cory Raymer. LaVar Arrington, DE Renaldo Wynn, WR Taylor Jacobs, and WR James Thrash are also cap casualty candidates.

Feb. 25 - 2:32 pm et

Todd Archer on Dallas' salary cap room

Originally posted by Reced30 from a sports forum:

According to Todd the boyz have 15 mil to spend. That is about what we were hearing earlier in the year compared to some of the reports the boyz would only having about 2 mil. That should give us a real good chance of picking up some very valuable players in FA. He points out the fact about how much money JJ has spent on the o-line and how Bentley would just be another high priced member of that line. He also thinks that the boyz will at some point have to draft an offensive lineman in the first round. I agree with about the draft but I would sure like to see Bentley suring up the center of that line. He would be solid for years to come.

NFC East: Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he thinks Mark Brunell can play another couple seasons

Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said he thinks Mark Brunell can play another couple seasons.
Brunell looks likely to start next season, but Jason Campbell could compete for the starting job.

Feb. 25 - 2:34 pm et
Source: Washington Post
Redskins | Gibbs talks quarterbacks
Sat, 25 Feb 2006 11:41:56 -0800

Washington Redskins head coach Joe Gibbs discussed the team's quarterback situation at the NFL Combine Saturday, Feb. 25. Gibbs confirmed the team is trying to move QB Patrick Ramsey. The team is working closely with agent Jimmy Sexton to see if they can arrange a trade. They also want to do what is best for the team. Gibbs is not sure a trade will happen. Gibbs also said he is confident in his quarterback situation. The team really likes backup QB Jason Campbell and they feel that QB Mark Brunell is coming off his best NFL season ever.

Friday, February 24, 2006

NFL News: The Bucs are said to be shopping veteran DE Simeon Rice

The Bucs are said to be shopping veteran DE Simeon Rice, and there is speculation they may have a willing trade partner within the state. Jacksonville officials have reportedly received a trade offer from the Bucs but the Jaguars have yet to tell the Bucs what, if anything, they'd be willing to give up for Rice. Rice's agent, Tom Condon, said Thursday he had not heard any trade talk involving Rice but wasn't surprised to hear that rumors of a deal were flying.


Catching up with the Dallas Cowboy coaching staff

Matt Mosley: Catching up with the coaching staff
04:55 AM CST on Friday, February 24, 2006

To butcher a phrase from a noted author/humorist, rumors of my demise were only slightly exaggerated.
Many of you (4) have sent e-mails inquiring why I've gone weeks without delivering a Cowboys column. One man sent this encouraging note: "Can't wait for you to return so I can go back to ripping you."

You guys have always been there for me.

And now that my quasi-vacation is complete, it's time to start talking Cowboys.
For at least one week, we're not going to have a CowboysPlus.com T-shirt contest. I realize this will reduce my audience to a handful, but we'll make it through.

I've received quite a few e-mails regarding all the coaching staff changes, so that's where we'll begin.

Assistant head coach and passing game coordinator Sean Payton took the head coaching position in New Orleans, which was perceived by some to be a promotion. He quickly hired Cowboys linebackers coach Gary Gibbs as his defensive coordinator and asked head coach Bill Parcells for permission to interview offensive line coach Tony Sparano for the offensive coordinator position.

As some of you know, Parcells quickly dismissed that request.

He left Sparano, who is universally praised by Cowboys players, dangling in the wind for a couple of weeks before adding the assistant head coach title to Sparano's duties. This is basically a consolation prize for not being able to follow Payton to New Orleans.

In other coaching news, quarterbacks coach David Lee turned down an opportunity to be the University of Arkansas offensive coordinator a few weeks before his job was handed to former Texans offensive coordinator Chris Palmer. Lee was a finalist for the Jets' tight ends opening, but he came up short and will remain in Dallas as an offensive assistant/quality control coach.

Fiery receivers coach Todd Haley added passing game coordinator to his list of responsibilities, which is something that one of his biggest fans, Keyshawn Johnson, predicted before the Super Bowl.
Former tight ends coach Paul Pasqualoni is now coaching outside linebackers, and former Alabama quarterback Freddie Kitchens will coach the tight ends. Former Patriots linebacker Vincent Brown, who served a brief coaching internship with the Cowboys last August, was brought up from the high school ranks to coach inside linebackers.

What does all this mean to you?

It just means that Parcells will probably go back to calling the plays, a duty he finally gave Payton last season. It also means Pro Bowler Jason Witten will have his third tight ends coach in four years. Not that it will stunt his development, but for a position that Parcells places so much importance on, he hasn't seemed interested in keeping much continuity.
Now, let's hear what you have to see in today's edition of Matt's Mail Call Plus Some Other Mildly Interesting Items:

First, let's go to Christopher Bryant in Reading, Pa., who's been one of our most faithful readers over the past three years: "Are we ever going to get anything out of Jacob Rogers or are we going to sign Jets offensive tackle Jason Fabini?"

For those of you who thought Rogers was released last August, you were right. But once he cleared waivers, he reverted to the club's waived/injured list.

So while most of us had put the Rogers era behind us and labeled him a bust, there he sat on the roster. Owner Jerry Jones, who had serious reservations about Rogers leading up to the 2004 draft, was fed up with Rogers when he decided to undergo season-ending knee surgery against the club's advice.

Parcells said he'd learned from former Packers general manager Ron Wolf that sometimes you have to "cut your losses."

But all that happened before left tackle Torrin Tucker and rookie right tackle Rob Petitti gave up a combined 26 sacks. The Cowboys have decided that giving Rogers one last chance might not be such a bad idea. They're going to take the same salary cap hit ($855,000) either way.
And that long-winded response brings us to Fabini, who could play either offensive tackle spot. But does this team need another aging offensive lineman? Fabini, 31, was banged up every week before his season ended with a torn pectoral muscle.
Parcells did draft him in 1998, but I don't think he'll end up here.

Artis Carrol from our Chicago bureau has another free-agent question: "Ty Law just got cut from the J-E-T-S, Jets. Would the Cowboys be interested? Or does he fall into the category of "too old" and "too expensive?" Grace & Peace.

Artis, thanks for stopping by the column. The Cowboys went a long way toward addressing their cornerback needs last off-season. I'm told that Anthony Henry has finally healed from his nagging injuries, and Aaron Glenn performed admirably in his place.

Throw in the progress of Jacques Reeves and I don't think there's a real need for a player who's not ready for a backup role.

Our I-told-you-so moment of the week comes from longtime Cowboys fan Don Phillips, who indeed pointed to the fact that Rogers might be a possibility a couple of months ago: "Check your e-mail files. ... I wrote back a couple of months ago. I thought Parcells was sandbagging and playing mind games with Jacob Rogers, especially when I found out they still had his rights.

"I guarantee you Parcells has had someone monitoring his progress while he has been rehabbing. ... This little process has merely been the Julius Jones 'helmet tapping' episode to the 33rd power! Also, what do you think about Marc Colombo's chances next year? Do you really think, with the exception of Jeff Backus (whom the Lions are not likely to let go) that any of the free agents available are better than what we have?"

Don, I'm not overwhelmed by any of the free agents, but I do like some of the players who will go in the first two rounds of the draft. I keep hearing good things about Winston Justice, who like Rogers is another USC player.
You can't go with status quo at right tackle. And you're talking to a Rob Petitti apologist. He's a terrific kid, but he got thrown into a situation he wasn't ready for. You can't go into this season pinning your hopes on his continued improvement.

Colombo is a long shot at best. He's a former first-round pick who has endured some awful injuries. Anything you get from this guy would be completely unexpected, although he may use his 6-7 frame to block a few extra points.

Allen's stunning achievement: Cowboys left guard Larry Allen's best years are behind him, but he still has to be the strongest player in the NFL.

Did you guys happen to see the ESPN clip of Allen bench pressing 225 pounds 43 times in the days leading up to the completely bogus Pro Bowl? I'm not sure I could lift the bar (45 pounds) 43 times. To put this in perspective, another Cowboys weight-room warrior, center Al Johnson, guessed he could only lift 225 pounds about 26 times. And that's when he's in peak condition. Allen finished up a 16-game season, probably took some time off and then treats 225 pounds like it's nothing.

Can you imagine how intimidating it must be for the folks who lift weights next to Allen at the Coppell (Texas) YMCA?

Who in the world spots this guy?

But in other Allen news, I'm hearing talk that the Cowboys want him to restructure his contract to lessen his impact on the salary cap. Good luck on this deal, Jerry. Allen's represented by Marvin Demoff, who returns my calls once every three years or so.

Demoff's not a man known for compromising, so I would be shocked if something gets done. If the Cowboys give Allen an ultimatum of restructuring or being cut loose, my guess is that he chooses the latter.

John Clayton of ESPN has predicted that Dallas will make a strong run at Vinatieri

John Clayton of ESPN has predicted that Dallas will make a strong run at Vinatieri. I would imagine that considering his track record for predictions that there is no chance Vinatieri would come to Dallas. It would be an interesting and well needed signing (albeit a costly one)...

Kitchens' fast coaching track lands him with Parcells, Dallas

By Ben Thomas
Montgomery Advertiser

Freddie Kitchens can laugh a little when he looks back on his coaching career.

"Glenville State sure seems a long way away right now," he said earlier this week.

Kitchens, the former Alabama quarterback who seemed to always receive more ridicule than praise during his college career, was hired last week as tight ends coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

Monday was his first day on the job.

His coaching career has been on the fast track almost since Day 1. He spent one year at the aforementioned Glenville State College in West Virginia.

From there he spent a year under Nick Saban at LSU, three years as an assistant at North Texas and the last two working with Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State.

His boss now? Bill Parcells.

"I've been very blessed with the opportunities I've had, that's for sure," Kitchens said. "I've tried to make good decisions on career moves along the way. I try not to take any decision lightly. It's been great so far."

It's hard not to be happy for Kitchens.

Though he's never admitted it to me and I haven't heard him say anything publicly, he had a tough couple of years at Alabama. Period.

He'd be the first to say he brought some of it on himself.

But he didn't have much control over a lot of it.

He was booed on countless occasions, challenged consistently by his coaches and, worse than anything else, benched before his final regular-season college game at Auburn.

Yet his name is still etched favorably in the Alabama record book. He is in the top five in most career passing categories including touchdowns (30), yards (4,668), attempts (680) and completions (343).

In 1997, he threw 135 passes without being intercepted.

His 94-yard touchdown pass to Michael Vaughn in the SEC Championship Game against Florida still ranks as the longest scoring play in school history.
Still, seldom, if ever, does his name come up when most people talk about former Alabama quarterbacks.

That doesn't seem to bother Kitchens. It never has.

He accepts what he's dealt, does the best he can and moves forward. He doesn't look back.

"Everything that happened to me at Alabama happened for a reason," he said. "I wouldn't trade it for anything. Clearly, it helped prepare me to be where I am today. It's all relative."