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lumm0x 03-27-2003 08:13 PM

Tebucky might not be over...
Trade talk quiet, the way Belichick likes it

By Ron Borges, Globe Staff, 3/26/2003

HOENIX -- Bill Belichick and Jim Haslett finally came to an agreement about Tebucky Jones yesterday. They agreed not to talk about him any more to anyone but each other.

The Patriots have been more than a little displeased about the New Orleans Saints' willingness to talk about their interest in New England's franchised safety, and during the annual owners' meetings here this week, Patriots coach Belichick made his unhappiness known to Saints coach Haslett, who frankly didn't disagree.

The problem, as the coaches see it, is that New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis has been forthcoming about his team's interest in Jones and its refusal to give up more than a third-round draft choice for him.

The Patriots continue to ask for a second-round pick, a point Loomis made clear last week. Even after the Saints acquired an additional second-round choice -- from the St. Louis Rams in exchange for tackle Kyle Turley -- they remained steadfast in refusing to up the ante.

However, a source in the Saints organization said yesterday that they felt they were getting closer to a deal. They have spoken at least once with Jones's agent about what they are willing to give up in trade for him and what they are willing to pay Jones to sign a new contract.

For now, the situation has left New England with nearly $9 million worth of safeties, although Belichick insisted it was not an unmanageable situation even if he ends up with Jones, Lawyer Milloy, and newly acquired Rodney Harrison all under contract and in uniform this fall.

''Anybody else can say what they want to say,'' Belichick said of the New Orleans situation. ''I don't comment on players and transactions. I'm not denying it, I'm just not commenting.

''We've played with three safeties on the field and also used a three-safety rotation the last two years. Last year, Victor [Green] and Tebucky each played about 60 percent of the plays. Lawyer was in the high 90s.

''With so many different [offensive] formations now, we're seeing more safeties on the field. They're playing like linebackers down closer to the line of scrimmage to get more speed on the field.''

Speed has been an issue with Harrison only because his former team, the Chargers, insisted he no longer was quick enough to make the plays and cover the ground asked of him. Harrison has blamed that on a severe groin injury he suffered early last season, and Belichick said he had no concerns in that regard. ''I think Harrison can do all the things you need to do at safety,'' Belichick said. ''He's a hitter who's had a lot of production close to the line of scrimmage but against Oakland, which spreads you out, he was out there in space covering receivers.''

patman 03-28-2003 05:55 AM

Tebucky might not be over...
It seems more likely know that the Pats will use Jones to move up to 7 in a trade with the vikings if Robertson does not fall to #7.

I could not understand the saints reluctance to part with the 2nd rd pick. With two #1 and two #3 How many rookies do they plan on starting? Even more so how many teams start a rookie at FS, where there are so many reads to make.

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