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Packers in no rush to find Favre's replacement
By Len Pasquarelli
For months during the offseason, the rumors were rife, with strong suggestions that this would be the year the Green Bay Packers used the draft to select an eventual successor to legendary starting quarterback Brett Favre.
Brett Favre threw for 3,658 yards and 27 TDs last season.
Well, the draft came, and 13 quarterbacks went off the board. None of them chosen by the Packers, who earlier this week re-signed veteran Doug Pederson to again serve in the role of No. 1 clipboard jockey, and who claimed Eric Crouch off waivers. The guy who will replace ol' No. 4 somewhere down the road? Well, he's not on-board yet, and may not be until this time next year.
Despite all the talk that the Packers were enamored of Rex Grossman of Florida, or that they loved the potential of California's Kyle Boller, neither of those young quarterbacks are wearing green and gold at mini-camps this weekend. Sure, both were chosen before the Packers picked in the first round, the 29th selection overall. But had coach/general manager Mike Sherman really believed that Favre was fixin' to head for Hattiesburg, Miss., for good, he would have somehow maneuvered his way into position for a young quarterback.
That he didn't means that, during his recent visit with Favre in Mississippi, the Packers coach heard enough to know his star isn't ready yet to pack it in for good. Sherman told Favre, in their seminal session last month, that there is plenty of time to fret about getting the grass cut. And Favre, who does often cut his own grass, apparently concurred.
Which is pretty much what Favre allowed earlier this week, as the Packers commenced a five-day offseason camp, and Brett picked up a football for the first time since the playoff upset loss to the Atlanta Falcons nearly four months ago.
"Six months in the offseason, yeah, it makes me really miss home," Favre acknowledged. "But I think, when July rolls around, I will be eager (for football). I think as you get closer to the end of your career, you never know when it's going to be the last play or the last game, so you want to get the most out of it. And that's how I feel."
Much has been made of the fact that Favre's home in Green Bay is for sale, listed on e-Bay for auction (minimum expected bid: $1 million), but it has been there for about a full year now. Favre, who will turn 34 around the midway point of his 13th NFL season, has made no secret of his desires to move into a smaller place as he works his way slowly toward his football afterlife. But the house hasn't sold and Favre, greatly disappointed by the manner in which the season ended, hasn't much pondered retirement.
At least not too seriously.
His agent and longtime friend, "Bus" Cook, told ESPN.com late last year that he figured Favre would play "at least the (2003) season and then rethink things after that." Recently, Cook reiterated that he feels that is the timetable. But the smart money -- and, far more key, a smart man like Mike Sherman -- probably says differently. The bet is that Favre will play a couple more years before the entreaties of his family become way too loud to ignore any longer.
Sources in the organization insist that Sherman isn't sure, either, when Favre will just walk away from the game. "There are," said one Packers management staffer, "no hard and fast promises. But there is no panic, either, you know?"
Indeed, Sherman is one of the few men capable of handling the coaching and general manager chores in the league, and he hasn't reached for any panic button yet. That is a mark not only of his apparent faith that Favre will be around for a while longer, but also his realization that there will always be someone out there who can be acquired as the starter, especially given the rate of turnover at the position.
That isn't to suggest the Packers will ever be able to replace Favre with a player who will approximate his brilliance. But here's a hypothetical: Let's say that Brian Griese, after he is released by the Denver Broncos in June, signs just a one-year deal in Miami. A deal that would enable him to be a free agent again next spring, when there are some viable starting opportunities around the league. And let's just say, for the heck of it, that Favre informs Sherman next spring that 2004 will be his final season.
Might not Griese, with the specter of replacing Favre, perhaps be tempted to sign with the Packers and spend a season assimilating the offense? It's just a thought, but the point is, the free agent quarterback carousel spins every year, creates more possibilities, allows a team the luxury of not being so angst-ridden.
At some point, certainly, the Packers probably will want a young quarterback to groom for the future. But that point, despite some strong quarterback prospects this year, did not arrive last weekend. Instead, Brett Favre arrived in Green Bay, ready to work again. Ready to build on his remarkable streak of 173 straight starts, and to help atone for the early playoff exit of 2002.
"I play because I love it," Favre said. "I'm older and maybe the skills have diminished a little bit, but I don't know if that's the case. I still feel like I can make every play, and I love to play. At the end of the season, I'll evaluate the way I have played, and hopefully, injuries will not be a factor. I don't foresee, from today to the end of the season, my heart not being in it anymore."
And, apparently, Mike Sherman and the Packers brass don't see that, either.
Around the league
End of the road for Brunell: While not even Brett Favre is certain when he will walk away from football, there now is a fairly obvious timetable for the exit of quarterback Mark Brunell from Jacksonville after a successful stint in a Jaguars uniform. Following a very candid, and at times pretty heated, session with owner Wayne Weaver on Wednesday, it looks like Brunell is one-and-done. One more season, not only spent trying to return the Jaguars to respectability under rookie coach Jack Del Rio, but also grooming first-round pick Byron Leftwich to take over as the starter in 2004.
During the meeting, Weaver apprised Brunell that the team's stance on a potential extension -- two more seasons, through 2006, worth about $6 million each but no signing bonus included -- will not be altered. The result: Brunell will be the Jaguars' starter for this year but in 2004, when his salary cap charge spirals to an unwieldy $10.5 million, he will be gone. Whether is released or dealt away remains to be seen, but there figures to be a pretty good trade market for Brunell, especially from some teams that view him as the final piece of the playoff puzzle. Heck, he could even finish his career where it began, in Green Bay, as the successor to Favre. The Jags conceded that, during the draft, they discussed a potential Brunell trade with three teams. Brunell will celebrate his 33rd birthday in September and, while he isn't the same player he was just a couple seasons ago, he remains a viable starter and should be for four or five more years.
What is disappointing to Brunell, but now certain, is that he will not conclude his career with the franchise that afforded him the chance to be a starter when it acquired him from Green Bay in a 1995 trade. Brunell acknowledged he was not thrilled when the Jaguars used their first-round choice on Leftwich. "I wasn't doing backflips, I'll tell you that," he said. "I didn't throw a party or anything like that. I groaned just from knowing (the questions) I was going to have to face about it." That said, Brunell insisted he harbors no will will toward Leftwich, plans to work closely with him, and will help prepare him for a future as the Jacksonville starter. Brunell said he will not boycott camp and will try to maintain a positive attitude, even though doing so as a lame duck will not be easy for him. There is little chance the Jags can deal him this year, since he has a base salary of $6.5 million and a salary cap figure of $8.5 million. The widening rift between Brunell and Weaver, which was detailed in the "Tip Sheet" three weeks ago, is certainly sobering, given the respect and fondness each man once had for the other. But the Brunell contract situation has been a festering wound for years now and it appears there is no salve capable of healing it.
Front-office shuffle: The quarterback position isn't the only thing in Jacksonville that will undergo change. This is the season for front office movement in the league and the Jaguars are expected to soon hire current St. Louis scouting director Lawrence McCutcheon to a similar post. The McCutcheon rumors have been circulating for a while, but ESPN.com learned that the longtime talent scout met with Jacksonville officials this week, and that a deal is done to make him essentially the top lieutenant to new vice president of football operations James Harris. Rumors also persist that Baltimore Ravens scout Terry McDonough, one of the best young talent evaluators in the league, will become the Jaguars director of college scouting at some point.
The shuffle in other personnel departments around the league has already begun. Earlier this week, in a rather unseemly move, the Pittsburgh Steelers did not renew the contract of college scouting director Bill Baker. Instead, the club brought in former Detroit personnel chief Ron Hughes, a longtime buddy of football operations chief Kevin Colbert, and a guy who had served as a Pittsburgh draft consultant for the past three years. Hughes is a good football man and, let's face it, nepotism is a big part of the game. Hughes, after all, coached Colbert in high school and later gave him his start in the scouting profession. But Baker is a highly-regarded scout and he was totally blindsided by the move. His contract expires at the end of May and now, a guy who is loyal and very thorough, is left scrambling for a job and with no prior notice the ax was going to fall. There are also rumblings that vice president Rod Graves is going to shake up the scouting staff in Arizona and that Steve Keim, 30, could be elevated to college director.
Dangling in Tennessee: Things have loosened up a little bit cap-wise for the Tennessee Titans now that the club has restructured the contract of defensive end Kevin Carter to create some breathing room. But several general managers and head coaches told ESPN.com that, in the days preceding the draft, the Titans were offering several veteran players around the league in an attempt to dump salaries and carve out some cap space. Among the players dangled: tight ends Frank Wycheck and Erron Kinney, middle linebacker Randall Godfrey and center Tom Ackerman. The availability of Ackerman is confusing, since the Titans just re-signed him, and basically promised him the starting job.
Buffalo's crowded backfield: One of the more interesting reversals of the week was the about-face that Buffalo Bills tailback Travis Henry did on his position regarding the team's pick of Willis McGahee with the 23rd overall choice in the draft. Henry's initial reaction, certainly made out of frustration and bewilderment, was that the addition of McGahee was "a slap in the face" to him. After all, Henry rushed for 1,438 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2002, and clearly established himself as one of the league's best young backs.
By the end of the week, Henry had tempered his remarks considerably, and acknowledged the gamble by Bills general manager Tom Donahoe was an excellent one. And there's little doubt, even if McGahee never makes it onto the field this year (a distinct possibility, with Donahoe, given his prudence), the Bills made a wise call. One reason why: While he has matured much in the past year, Buffalo officials still worry some about Henry, and about some of his past poor judgments. The club recently signed him to a one-year extension, through the 2005 season, basically because Henry didn't have enough money to make it through the offseason. So he pocketed a $300,000 signing bonus, which ought to get him through training camp, and added a year to his original deal, at a team-friendly base salary of $1.25 million. Donahoe is nobody's fool. He knows that if McGahee rehabilitates his left knee, and becomes the player everyone felt he could be prior to the catastrophic injury, he will have a sweet situation. Two tremendous young backs. A superb 1-2 punch, each with a different running style, to confound AFC East defensive coordinators. Or, perhaps, one young and productive tailback to dangle in trade talks somewhere down the road.
McGahee was popular: The point became moot when the Bills snatched McGahee in the first round, but one has to wonder, would Cleveland Browns coach Butch Davis have taken the Miami star in the second stanza? ESPN.com has learned that, just days before the draft, Davis spent a pretty considerable amount of time on the phone with Dr. John Uribe. Not only is Uribe the renowned orthopedic surgeon who repaired McGahee's left knee, but he is also the team physician for the Miami Hurricanes, and a close Davis friend and confidant. Word is that Davis asked a lot of questions about the McGahee surgery, quizzed Uribe about how long the recovery might take, certainly performed his pre-draft due diligence on the tailback. Davis could have chosen McGahee in the first round, two slots before he eventually went off the board to Buffalo, but selected center Jeff Faine instead. But had McGahee lasted much longer, word is that Davis would have pursued him, perhaps even by attempting to secure a later first-round pick by dealing up from the second round.
Three elements worth noting: First, Davis has great admiration for Miami players, and he essentially recruited McGahee to the school. Second, tailback William Green, the incumbent starter for the Browns and team's first-round pick in the 2002 draft, has been anything but a regular participant in the Cleveland off-season conditioning program. Finally, the Browns had garnered some trade interest in Jamel White, the backup to Green, and might have been able to deal him for a high-round pick if McGahee had been secured.
Union matter for Davis: It looks like Davis, whose number must be on speed-dial at the offices of the NFL Players Association, is being scrutinized by the union again. Davis recently received a letter from the NFLPA, suggesting he might be keeping his players at the complex for more than the four-hour maximum they are to be there for offseason workouts. It marks the third straight season in which the NFLPA has questioned, in writing, Davis' tactics in the offseason. The first letter charged that Davis' offseason work was too physical. Last year, the union suggested the Browns had exceeded the number of offseason workout days permitted by the collective bargaining agreement. It might be easy to dismiss the NFLPA charges as perhaps a bit of too-close scrutiny of the Cleveland program. Easy except for this: The fact the NFLPA keeps complaining to Davis means that some player or players in Cleveland have taken their grievances to union officials.
Quarterback rumblings: Even though there are strong suspicions that quarterback Brian Griese will wind up in Miami when he is released after June 1, agent Ralph Cindrich insisted to ESPN.com this week that nothing has been decided. Of course, because Griese remains under contract to Denver and Cindrich isn't about to admit to breaking anti-tampering rules, that's exactly what you would expect him to say.
But two teams whose quarterbacks situations remain less than solid told us this week that Griese is still on their radar screen. Said Cindrich: "It's convenient to keep putting Brian in Miami, but that isn't a slam-dunk yet. There are still some teams sniffing around. We'll see what happens." What isn't happening right now for Ray Lucas, the backup quarterback released by the Dolphins earlier this week, is a quick deal with the Dallas Cowboys and former mentor Bill Parcells. The phone isn't ringing for Lucas yet and it could take a while to get him placed. Parcells seems to want to bring in a veteran but also wants to see Chad Hutchinson and Quincy Carter a little more before he makes a determination.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã…Â“ He was a bowling ball. I mean, everything was flying, you know? He was a bowling ball with a butcher knife. Everything was cut up and killed. That's what he looked like. Helmets were flying. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬?
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢Â‚Â¬Ã¢Â€Â Warren Sapp, Bucs DT on watching No. 4 overall pick Dewayne Robertson on tape
Robertson impresses Sapp: Most scouts compare defensive tackle Dewayne Robertson, the first-round selection of the New York Jets, to Warren Sapp. And that's fine with the Tampa Bay star, who has seen videotape of Robertson, and gives him the Big Daddy seal of approval. Sapp said that, last month, Bucs defensive line coach Rod Marinelli summoned him to his office to watch video of Robertson in action. The Sapp assessment: "He was a bowling ball. I mean, everything was flying, you know? He was a bowling ball with a butcher knife. Everything was cut up and killed. That's what he looked like. Helmets were flying." Sapp allowed that, before viewing the tape, he had never even heard of Robertson, who starred at Kentucky before bypassing his final season of eligibility. "SEC football, especially watching Kentucky, wasn't on the menu," Sapp said. "Kentucky only comes up on the blue-plate special."
More moves for Redskins: Now that the draft is over, teams are beginning to re-evaluate the remnant free agents to perhaps handle final roster vacancies, and the Washington Redskins are seeking help to fill the holes they couldn't address with the league's smallest rookie class. Washington is attempting to sign unrestricted defensive end Peppi Zellner, who played all four seasons of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, and actually had hoped to have him at a weekend mini-camp. Zellner, however is also being courted by Cincinnati and has yet to decide where he will play in 2003. The Redskins are making a pitch through defensive line coach Robert Nunn and coordinator George Edwards. The latter was on the Dallas staff for part of Zellner's tenure there, and the former was his coach in prep school.
Washington also has swapped proposals with the agent for free agent cornerback Alex Molden, released by the San Diego Chargers earlier in the spring. The seven-year veteran would be a solid No. 3 corner for the Redskins and it's possible that a deal could be consummated by as early as Friday afternoon. Molden is seeking a three-year contract that, counting a $250,000 signing bonus, would pay him about $1 million in 2003. Washington was thinking more along the lines of a one-year, minimum deal. Word is the two sides will come together on a two-year contract.
Steinbach right in the mix: The Cincinnati Bengals copped one of the real steals of the draft when Iowa offensive guard Eric Steinbach, a top 10-12 athlete, tumbled to the top of the second round. Cincy coach Marvin Lewis wasted no time in grabbing Steinbach and certainly will not delay getting him into the lineup. Despite re-signing starting center Rich Braham to a one-year deal earlier this week, the Bengals will shuffle their line, and part of the refurbishing is intended to get Steinbach onto the field. The way it appears things will shape up, the incumbent tackles, Levi Jones (left) and Willie Anderson (right) remain in place. But left guard Matt O'Dwyer will move to the right side. Right guard Mike Goff goes to center. And Steinbach will be the starter at left guard. He might also serve as the No. 3 tackle.
The signing of Braham, who has started at center the past four seasons and before that started at guard for three years, provides the Bengals a proven commodity at all three of the interior line positions. Plus, while they may not even realize it yet, the Bengals got a very nice center, indeed, after the draft, signing Dustin McQuivey of Utah as a priority college free agent. Throw on some tape of Utah star tackle Jordan Gross, the first-round choice of the Carolina Panthers, and you can't help noting McQuivey as well.
Panthers were on the prowl: Carolina, meanwhile, was well-rehearsed for the frenetic sequence in the first round, when the bumbling Minnesota Vikings "passed" on their selection, and the Jaguars (Byron Leftwich) and Panthers (Jordan Gross) both quickly exercised their choices. The day before the draft, Carolina personnel director Jack Bushofsky reminded the team's representatives in New York of the 2002 first-round fiasco, also involving the Vikings. "I told our guy, 'Look, I don't know how far our table is from the NFL podium, but when it gets to within a pick of us, you start moving forward,' " Bushofsky recalled. "I've never been to New York for the draft, so I don't know the logistics, but I knew I wanted our card to get in fast. Every year, before the draft starts, I put a message across the grease board: 'Expect the unexpected.' When the Vikings passed, we knew exactly what we wanted to do, and we didn't waste any time discussing it."
Eagles getting defensive: ESPN.com has confirmed that Philadelphia team president Joe Banner already has had a few discussions with agent Drew Rosenhaus about a contract for defensive end and first-round draft choice Jerome McDougle. The Eagles made a big leap up the draft board, from the 30th selection to the No. 15 slot, to grab McDougle, who will be expected now to replace the departed Hugh Douglas at right end. But the Eagles attempted an even bolder move in the first round, trying to get into the top 10, to take Terrell Suggs, the former Arizona State sack machine. His slow 40-yard times notwithstanding, the Eagles wanted Suggs badly. Not badly enough, though, to flip first-rounders and also include both of their second-round choices as compensation. Ironically, Rosenhaus also represents Douglas, whose exit to Jacksonville in free agency earlier this spring created the void at right end that Philadelphia was so desperate to fill.
St. Louis for Sehorn? Although three other franchises remain in the chase, the St. Louis Rams have emerged as the frontrunner to land free agent cornerback Jason Sehorn, with an agreement possible in the next week. ESPN.com has confirmed that the Rams have made a proposal and the two sides will speak again soon. Carolina, Jacksonville and Cleveland, to varying degrees, have stayed in touch with agents Jimmy Sexton and Kyle Rote Jr., but the Rams appear to be a bit more ardent in their pursuit of the 10-year veteran. If he does sign with the Rams, Sehorn will play free safety, not cornerback. That could mean incumbent free safety Kim Herring, whose salary cap number is too high for him to remain as a backup, might well be released over the spring.
Archuletta remains safe: On the subject of the St. Louis secondary, strong safety Adam Archuleta was breathing easier after the second round of the draft last week, when the Rams chose linebacker Piso Tinoisamoa of Hawaii. The very active Tinoisamoa could vie for a starting job in his debut season. More important for Archuleta, his presence will probably quash any plans that coordinator Lovie Smith was still harboring about moving Archuleta to linebacker. The possibility had been mentioned a few times to the two-year veteran safety, who began his college career at Arizona State as a linebacker. At 215 pounds, Archuleta would need some more bulk to make the move. He finished last season at only about 202 pounds.
Sound draft for new Dallas duo: The observers who expected the new Dallas tandem of owner Jerry Jones and coach Bill Parcells to be moving all over the draft board, especially given the respective histories of wheeling and dealing that each man has authored, were probably disappointed last week. For the most part, the Cowboys played things pretty straight, eschewing trade offers, not being nearly as proactive as in the past, maintaining the status quo and just playing off their board. And that formula paid off nicely, with the Cowboys, upon further review, enjoying a draft that was even more solid than it originally appeared.
Jones and Parcells set the tone by staying put in the first round and snatching cornerback Terence Newman, perhaps the rookie who will make the most immediate impact, when he dropped into their laps at the No. 5 overall spot. Newman, along with holdover veterans Derek Ross and Mario Edwards, should give the Cowboys one of the best young corner trios in the NFL. The Cowboys made terrific value picks in the next three rounds as well, with center Al Johnson (No. 2), tight end Jason Witten (No. 3) and linebacker Bradie James (No. 4). According to one Dallas scout, all three players ranked among the top 50 prospects on the team's draft board. But the Cowboys scored Johnson at No. 38 overall, Witten was 69th and James 103rd. Those are all high-value picks and Jones and Parcells should be pleased with their first effort together.
By the way, the Cowboys have been famous through the years for negotiating first-round deals "on the clock," getting agents to agree on basic parameters of a contract before they choose their client. That wasn't the case, however, last weekend with first-rounder Terence Newman. "It never came up," said agent David Ware. "They never mentioned it. They just picked him."
Parcells, undrafted rookie go way back: Among the rookies who reported for the Dallas mini-camp this weekend was undrafted free agent Keith O'Neil, a linebacker from Northern Arizona, a school that isn't exactly noted as a football factory. We don't know if O'Neil is a good player or not. We do know that Parcells owes the kid more than just a cursory look. How come? Well, Keith O'Neil is the son of former NFL linebacker Ed O'Neil, a pretty good player whose seven-year NFL stint was nearly ended when he was released by the New England Patriots on Aug. 26, 1980. The assistant coach who delivered the news to Ed O'Neil that he was being cut that day was the linebackers aide on Ron Erhardt's staff, an up-and-coming young mentor by the name of, you guessed it, Bill Parcells. The good news for Ed O'Neil was that he caught on with the Green Bay Packers and played 12 games for them in 1980, his final year in the league. But he never forgot being released by Parcells and he certainly could not forget that Aug. 26, 1980 date he was handed his pink-slip. You see, being released wasn't the most memorable event that occurred for Ed O'Neil that day. Shortly after he phoned his wife to apprise her he was suddenly unemployed, she went into labor and gave birth to their son, Keith, who now gets a chance to prove himself to Parcells.
What's up in the desert? You think the Arizona Cardinals would have learned their lesson last year, when their intransigent stance on an injury protection clause kept first-round pick Wendell Bryant away from rookie orientation and mini-camps, and soured the negotiations with the highly regarded defensive tackle. But the Cardinals are digging in their heels again this year on the injury protection issue -- which essentially means a team will pay a draft pick market value if he is injured in a football-related activity before signing his contract -- and it means trouble again. Neither of the team's two first-round choices, wide receiver Bryant Johnson of Penn State or Wake Forest defensive end Calvin Pace, will participate in on-field drills during this weekend's mini-camp.
Anderson's future: Panthers officials have not yet decided the fate of former first-round cornerback Rashard Anderson, suspended the entire 2002 season for a repeat violation of the NFL substance abuse policy, but the league soon will. Anderson is scheduled to meet with NFL officials this month to discuss his application for reinstatement. General manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox have consistently noted they will await a league resolution before commenting on Anderson's possible status with the franchise. Anderson, 25, was the first-round choice in the 2000 draft.
No grade changes: Oblige us, please, this mini-editorial: We can't help getting a chuckle every time an NFL personnel director, or in some cases an owner, takes a shot at the media for the "grades" that are annually posted after the draft. If the media knows as little about the game as the personnel guys always seem to suggest, and have so little alleged sway over the opinion of the public, then why so much concern? There aren't many reporters who savor having to do the grades, especially less than a few hours after the draft concludes, but they have become a staple. They're for the fans, or for editors, and that's it. So, hey, a little less angst over all the "C's" doled out, OK, personnel guys?
Agent wars: Since the NFLPA has yet to disseminate a list of who represents the 262 prospects chosen in the draft, we can't yet declare a winner in the annual agent war, but there certainly is strong suspicion it is IMG Football. Agents Tom Condon and Ken Kremer had four first-round choices last weekend. That gives them 24 first-round picks over the last six years. The next closest in the same period, Leigh Steinberg, had just 10. In that same period, IMG had 45 players selected in the first three rounds and the runner-up had 18 first-day choices.
Punts: If the San Francisco 49ers had been able to reach a contract agreement with unrestricted free agent Marcus Robinson during the draft, there's a pretty good chance they would have traded Tai Streets, who came close to signing a restricted free agent offer sheet with a couple teams this spring. But the 49ers couldn't get Robinson to agree, and the deep threat wideout agreed Thursday to a one-year contract in Baltimore. . . . Maybe the Atlanta Falcons will never hire a general manager and, given the nice job done by personnel director Ron Hill, perhaps they don't need one. But the name of Tampa Bay personnel director Tim Ruskell, who interviewed for the job in 2002, keeps popping up around the league in conjunction with Falcons rumors. . . . A front office shakeup is brewing in Washington and it figures to come sooner rather than later. Like in the next week or two. . . . If the Dallas Cowboys really are interested in acquiring Giants backup tailback Ron Dayne, as has been suggested, it is a bit of an upset. Sean Payton, the former Giants offensive coordinator now working in Dallas as assistant head coach, was never a big fan of Dayne when he was on the New York staff. . . . Miami is still attempting to trade linebacker Derrick Rodgers, and told him not to come to mini-camp this weekend, because the Dolphins don't want him to get hurt. An injury would kill any deal. . . . The Rams are trying to hammer out a new deal with wide receiver Torry Holt. . . . Pittsburgh may bring back free agent wide receiver Terrance Mathis one another one-year deal.
The last word: "It doesn't matter if it's North-, South-, East- or West-coast. That's never been a big concern of mine. It never worried me. I figure, if you can play football, you can play football. Good players know how to adjust. And I'm a good player." -- Jacksonville quarterback and first-round pick Byron Leftwich, on the adjustments he might have to make to the West Coast offense being installed by coordinator Bill Musgrave.
Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.
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