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ESPN.com John Clayton's Quick Hits

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Feb. 28, 2003 Anderson, Ritchie to become heavily recruited Now that Rob Konrad (re-sign Miami) and Lorenzo Neal (signed with San Diego) are off the hot fullback market, Jets halfback Richie Anderson and Jon Ritchie of the Raiders have become ...

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Old 03-01-2003, 01:15 AM   #1
The Dark Overlord
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ESPN.com John Clayton's Quick Hits

Feb. 28, 2003
Anderson, Ritchie to become heavily recruited
Now that Rob Konrad (re-sign Miami) and Lorenzo Neal (signed with San Diego) are off the hot fullback market, Jets halfback Richie Anderson and Jon Ritchie of the Raiders have become the hot recruits. Anderson visited the Patriots and may go to Dallas over the weekend. Ritchie almost visited the Dolphins before Konrad re-signed. The Raiders also want to keep him. Fearing that they could lose Anderson, the Jets started calling Ritchie and Eagles fullback Cecil Martin to set up quick visits.

Feb. 28, 2003
Packers finally find taker for Glenn
The Cowboys only had to give up a 2004 sixth-round pick to acquire Packers wide receiver Terry Glenn. The Packers had been shopping him around for the past two weeks.

Feb. 28, 2003
Rams preparing for CB losses
The Rams, potentially down their three most experienced cornerbacks, started calling for help. They set up visits from former Broncos cornerback Denard Walker and former Falcon Ashley Ambrose. They figure to lose Dre Bly and Dexter McCleon, but they hope that Aeneas Williams re-signs after being released Thursday.

Lions contract Bly: The Lions called Rams' cornerback Dre' Bly at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning and arranged for a quick visit Friday and possibly a quick signing. Bly was scheduled to arrive in Detroit Friday afternoon accompanied by his wife. His agent, Brantley Evans, arrived earlier and starting working on a deal that could get done before the end of the day. Bly failed to reach an agreement with the Rams Thursday night. He's considered the best cornerback available in free agency. Among the unrestricted free agents, he was the only one who had 16 starts at cornerback. The Lions also reached a one-year, $780,000 agreement with safety Bracy Walker. That contract will count only $475,000 against the salary cap.

Feb. 28, 2003
Rams ship Canidate to Redskins
The Rams, who finished the season with only one offensive lineman under contract, traded former first-round choice Trung Canidate to the Washington Redskins for guard David Loverne and a fourth-round choice. Canidate is a former first-round choice who will compete with Kenny Watson for the Redskins' starting job, replacing Stephen Davis, who was released earlier this week. The Rams have been scrambling for offensive line help in the past 24 hours. On Thursday night, they signed former Browns center Dave Wohlabaugh to a four-year, $6 million contract. Earlier in the week, they re-signed tackle Grant Williams to a three-year deal for a little less than $2.6 million a year. Guard Adam Timmerman had been the only other player who finished the season with time remaining on his contract.

Feb. 28, 2003
Cardinals keep Tanner on board
The Cardinals are expected to announce the re-signing of defensive tackle Barron Tanner to a three-year, $2.775 million contract. He was an unrestricted free agent who wanted to re-sign in January but because he played last year under the veteran minimum's contract that gave the Cardinals cap relief, he had to wait until the first day of free agency to accept a long-term deal.

Feb. 28, 2003
Steelers re-sign tight end Tuman
The Steelers reached agreement Friday to re-sign free agent tight end Jermane Tuman to a three-year, $3.3 million contract that included a $600,000 signing bonus. Tuman replaced an injured Mark Bruener in the second half of the season and played well.

Feb. 27, 2003
Niners' story: We're not cutting Deese
Even though 49ers guard Derrick Deese said Wednesday night that he was told he was going to be cut June 1, the 49ers say that there are no plans in the works to release him for cap purposes. They will pay him a $300,000 bonus Friday and keep his $2.3 million salary. Deese was hoping that the team would restructure his contract by replacing salary with signing bonus, but the team felt that it served their salary cap the best by only doing that with seven contracts at a savings of $8 million.

Feb. 27, 2003
Tender story: Expect activity
Because the tender for a first-round restricted free agent increased to $1.318 million, very few teams are using the high tender. That could mean an active restricted market. There could be as few as 10 first-round tenders -- Seahawks wide receiver Darrell Jackson, Falcons quarterback Doug Johnson, Ravens quarterback Chris Redman, Panthers cornerback Reggie Howard, Chargers tackle Damion McIntosh, Jets wide receiver Laveranues Coles, Browns halfback Jamel White, Packers defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila, Cardinals cornerback David Barrett and 49ers wide receiver Tai Streets.

Feb. 27, 2003
Seahawks lock up two key defenders
The Seahawks, who earlier prevented defensive end Antonio Cochran from hitting the free-agent market, reached an agreement with linebacker Anthony Simmons, their headliner free-agent. Simmons, Mike Peterson of the Colts and Rosevelt Colvin of the Bears were considered three of the best players potentially available in free agency. Simmons received a five-year contract worth in excess of $24 million, with a signing bonus topping $8 million. He was expected to be a target of the Chiefs and Bills, who were in the market for an outside linebacker. A week ago, defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes and linebacker coach John Marshall met Simmons in person in South Carolina to convince him that he was a vital part of the rebuilding of the defense. That talk went well, but the contract talk had been stalled for the longest time. A partial breakthrough came when the Seahawks increased their offer to $4.6 million a year, and then upped their price to more than $4.8 million Thursday evening.

Feb. 27, 2003
Raiders cut six to address huge cap concern
The Raiders entered Thursday $26 million over the salary cap, but they shaved $25.8 million by releasing six players -- defensive tackle Sam Adams, cornerback Tory James, defensive end Regan Upshaw, halfback Terry Kirby, safety Anthony Dorsett and wide receiver James Jett. The Raiders then got under the cap by restructuring more contracts.

Feb. 27, 2003
Rams' defenders Bly, Zgonina don't get deals
Two starters on the Rams defense -- cornerback Dré Bly and defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina -- didn't reach agreements on new contracts and will hit the free-agent market Friday. Entering Thursday, it was 50-50 whether a deal would be worked out on Bly, but talks broke off late Thursday night. Zgonina, a defensive captain, had hoped to reach agreement with the Rams but now he will make visits to other teams.

Feb. 27, 2003
Johnson staying with Patriots
The Patriots restructured the contract of middle linebacker Ted Johnson to keep him on the team. At the threat of being released if a deal wasn't reached by 4 p.m. eastern Thursday, Johnson reached a revised three-year, $4.8 million deal that included a $1.4 million signing bonus. Johnson was scheduled to make $4.45 million this year and his cap number was $6.827 million. The new deal lowers his cap number to $3.679 million, a savings of $3.189 million. The Patriots entered the day $9.7 million over the cap.

Feb. 27, 2003
McGinest money shuffle helps Pats' cap
The Patriots restructured the contract of linebacker Willie McGinest by giving him a four-year deal at $16 million that will pay him around $9 million over the next three years. Included in the contract is a $3 million signing bonus. McGinest was scheduled to make $10 million this year. By restructuring the contract, the Patriots got under the $75 million salary cap.

Feb. 27, 2003
Busy Browns
Over the course of the past two days, Browns coach Butch Davis has revamped his entire linebacking unit. On Thursday, the Browns released outside linebacker Jamir Miller and middle linebacker Earl Holmes. On Wednesday, the Browns released outside linebacker Dwayne Rudd.

Miller's release was no surprise. He was due an $18 million roster bonus Friday. Being $18 million over the cap, the Browns couldn't keep Miller without restructuring his contract.

Holmes' release was a surprise. He received a $2 million signing bonus last year to come over to the Browns from the Pittsburgh Steelers. His release saved the Browns $1 million of cap room.

Davis said he doesn't dismiss the possibility of re-signing any of the three linebackers if they don't find new homes.

Feb. 27, 2003
Titans take it to wire
The Titans had to do some last minute work to get under the cap. First, they had to reduce the contract of middle linebacker Randall Godfrey by around $2.5 million. Had Godfrey not restructured, he would have been cut. They then cut center Gennaro DiNapoli and didn't pick up the $1.2 million option bonus for defensive tackle Henry Ford, who is now a free agent. That still left the Titans a little short so they pulled the transition tag from punter Craig Hentrich. That move freed up $1.342 million.

Feb. 27, 2003
Dolphins' money moves tricky
There was interesting last-minute shuffling to get the Dolphins under the cap. Center Tim Ruddy took a pay cut down to around $1.3 million for this season, while they didn't touch the contracts of guard Todd Perry and wide receiver James McKnight for now. They may have to redo those deals at a later time. Linebacker Derrick Rodgers cut his $2.1 million salary to around $1 million.

Feb. 27, 2003
Ravens, Blake still can't agree
The Ravens continued negotiations with quarterback Jeff Blake Thursday, but failed to come to an agreement. The Ravens are offering money more in the range of a backup while Blake is trying to get closer to starter money. Top backup money is considered around $1.5 million a year.

Feb. 27, 2003
Bears still cutting Robinson
Marcus Robinson's name didn't appear on Thursday's waiver wire, but he was notified that he will be cut. Robinson was entering the final year of his contract and was scheduled to make $2.6 million. He was due a $500,000 roster bonus. The veteran wide receiver restructured his contract last season and put in a clause that would have voided the final year had he caught 35 passes. He didn't reach that plateau.

Feb. 27, 2003
Vikings make move
The Vikings made a minor move Thursday by releasing linebacker Patrick Chukwurah.

Feb. 27, 2003
Cowart's new deal
The revised contract of Jets' middle linebacker Sam Cowart is for around $15 million over five years. That is a $2 million-a-year reduction from the six-year, $30 million contract he signed last year. He will make $3.4 million in base salary with no signing bonus, but the deal will include $2.6 million in guarantees. He was scheduled to receive a $3.5 million option bonus Friday. "We feel very good about that,'' Jets general manager Terry Bradway said of the Cowart restructuring. A week ago, the Jets exercised a $3 million option to keep defensive tackle Josh Evans. "Sam obviously didn't have the breakout year he had last year, but he wanted to come back,'' said his agent, Paul Healy. Cowart will be used more on third downs this year along with running downs. Meanwhile, the Jets placed the first-round tender on restricted free agent wide receiver Laveranues Coles. The first-year tender is $1.318 million. The Jets placed the low $605,000 tender on restricted free agent returner Chad Morton. They did not tender safety Nick Ferguson.

Feb. 26, 2003
Big surprises in Chicago
The Bears made some stunning news Wednesday by deciding to release their starting quarterback, Jim Miller, and their starting right tackle James "Big Cat" Williams. For weeks, the Bears have been saying they were going to aggressively look at all quarterback options to upgrade a position that had Miller, Chris Chandler and Henry Burris. It was initially thought that Chandler might go instead of Miller, but apparently the Bears felt Miller's battles with injuries became a liability that led to his release. Miller is coming off rotator-cuff surgery, and last week he had a minor procedure on a foot. The news caught Miller by surprise. "I'm wondering why (he) was given a chance to rehab,'' said his agent, Joe Linta. Releasing Miller, who received a $2 million signing bonus last year, saved the Bears $300,000 under the cap. Williams' release saves the Bears $2.5 million.

Feb. 26, 2003
Falcons cut ties with fullback Christian
The Falcons continued to alter their roster by releasing fullback Bob Christian, who failed his physical because of concussions. Christian has been giving thoughts to retirement because of the concussions.

Feb. 26, 2003
Browns clean house on defense
The Browns began their first wave of defensive cuts Wednesday by blowing out cornerback Corey Fuller and linebacker Dwayne Rudd. And that's just a start. The Browns are expected to release outside linebacker Jamir Miller, who is due a $14 million roster bonus Friday. The Browns could revamp their entire linebacking corps. They have to make a decision by Thursday whether to keep middle linebacker Earl Holmes, who is due a $1 million roster bonus. The Browns entered Wednesday $22.56 million over the cap, second only to the Raiders. Cutting Rudd, center Dave Wohlabaugh and Fuller freed up $6.862 million of cap room. Miller's release will put the Browns under the cap because it saves $18 million.

Feb. 26, 2003
Panthers hoping to re-sign Walls
The Panthers hope to re-sign tight end Wesley Walls if he doesn't find a new team. Walls was released Wednesday by the Panthers. Injuries have plagued the veteran tight end.

Feb. 26, 2003
Rocket, Missile cut loose
The Rocket and the Missile were released on the same day. The Cowboys cut wide receiver Rocket Ismail and the Colts cut wide receiver Qadry Ismail. Both had neck problems that placed them on the injured reserve list. The Colts also released defensive tackle James Cannida.

Feb. 26, 2003
Chiefs cut defensive end Clemons
The Chiefs released defensive end Duane Clemons Wednesday after failing to restructure his contract. Clemons was due a $3.5 million roster bonus Friday. He had a $3.5 million base salary. After failing to reach an agreement, the Chiefs cut him and saved $5.5 million. They are expected to release linebacker Lewis Bush and cornerback Ray Crockett Thursday.

Feb. 26, 2003
Chargers continue roster shakeup
The Chargers continued their roster purge Wednesday by letting tackle Ed Ellis go. They also cut strong safety Rodney Harrison, fullback Fred McCrary, and halfback Terrell Fletcher. On Thursday, wide receiver Curtis Conway is expected to be released. He refused to restructure his contract, which pays him $2.2 million in base salary and a $1 million roster bonus.

Feb. 26, 2003
Porcher helps Lions' cap
Lions defensive end Robert Porcher restructured his contract to stay and possibly retire with the team. He was scheduled to make $7 million this year. The restructured deal will give him a $1 million signing and a $2.5 million salary. He'll make $3.5 million next year. The cap savings for the Lions is close to $4 million.

Feb. 26, 2003
Redskins part ways with Davis
The Redskins saved almost $10 million of cap room Wednesday with the release of halfback Stephen Davis, tight end Walter Rasby, punter Craig Jarrett and safety Sam Shade. Davis' release was expected. He had a base salary of $7.5 million and a $3 million roster bonus. His savings alone were $7.714 million against the cap. Kenny Watson will be given a chance to start with Davis gone. Davis is expected to hire a new agent. His previous agent, Steve Weinberg, was decertified by the NFLPA.

The Redskins continue to negotiate with free agent defensive end Carl Powell. Even though they were getting closer to a deal Wednesday, they didn't reach an agreement. He could hit the open market Friday. Powell ended up being the Redskins starting defensive end last season.

Feb. 26, 2003
Davis saves Broncos cap money
The Broncos reached an agreement in principal Wednesday to restructure the contract of halfback Terrell Davis to keep him on the roster until at least June. Davis, who was scheduled to make $5.7 million, took his base salary to the minimum of $655,000 plus incentives. Davis talked about retirement last season, but he has been rehabbing his knee and plans to work toward playing next year. By taking down his salary, Davis buys more time for a possible comeback. For the Broncos, it was a cap savings of $5.045 million. Including the seven players who were cut Tuesday, the Broncos saved in excess of $17 million of cap room over the past two days.

Feb. 26, 2003
Interested in O'Donnell?
Former Titans quarterback Neil O'Donnell was given the hard sell by Vikings coach Mike Tice. Although O'Donnell left Minneapolis without a deal Wednesday, he plans to return next week for a second visit and bring his wife. The Vikings want O'Donnell's experience behind starting quarterback Daunte Culpepper. They put an O'Donnell jersey and a name plate above a locker to show him that they already consider the quarterback a part of their team. The Titans also want him back, and O'Donnell and his family like living in Nashville.

Feb. 25, 2003
Rams to exercise option, keep Warner in the fold
The Rams removed the mystery surrounding their quarterback position by informing Kurt Warner that they will exercise a four-year option on his contract that will give him a $6 million signing bonus Thursday. The Rams and Warner's agent, Mark Bartelstein, had been negotiating for more than a month about restructuring Warner's contract, and there was a possibility that the Rams wouldn't exercise the deal, which would make Warner a free agent. Bartelstein said he and the Rams talked Tuesday, and when they couldn't come to an agreement the Rams told Bartelstein that they planned to keep Warner by executing the contract. Warner will make $11.4 million this year, $6 million from the signing bonus and $5.3 million in base salary. He also has a $100,000 workout bonus. Warner's cap number is $8.768 million this year.

Rams defensive tackle Jeff Zgonia was named team captain because of his leadership, and he definitely wants to remain with the team. Unfortunately for him, free agency is approaching and he has no contract. Zgonia would love to sign a two- or three-year deal, but the Rams would prefer to keep his salary near the minimum. The Rams have other important issues to deal with, too, such as renegotiating the contract of cornerback Aeneas Williams and possibly releasing cornerback Dexter McCleon if he doesn't take a pay cut.

Feb. 25, 2003
Salary cap bumps to $75.007 million for 2003
The final numbers are in and salary cap made another increase. The 2003 salary cap will be $75.007 million. Tender offers for restricted free agents increased 7.4 percent from last year. The lowest tender is $605,000, which provides for the right to match an offer and, if the team doesn't, it receives a draft choice for the round that the player is drafted. The first-round tender is $1.318 million. The tender for a first- and third-rounder is $1.758. The top tender is $2.258 million.

Feb. 25, 2003
Colts cut Jackson to clear up cap room
The Colts continued to free up cap room by releasing offensive lineman Waverly Jackson, who was due a $100,000 roster bonus Friday. Jackson was scheduled to make $1.6 million this season, and that is the team's cap savings. The Colts also released safety Joe Walker, safety Jermaine Hampton and offensive lineman Curt McGill.

Feb. 25, 2003
Claiborne might need to take pay cut to stay in Detroit
Free agent middle linebacker Chris Claiborne met with new Lions coach Steve Mariucci Tuesday to discuss whether he has a future with the team. Claiborne wasn't given the franchise tag and is free to talk to other teams starting Friday when the free-agency period begins. The Lions have indicated that they would like to keep Claiborne, a former first-round choice, if the price is right.

Feb. 25, 2003
Cowboys LB Hardy shopping his services
Figuring there is no way to renegotiate a four-year option clause to his contract, Cowboys linebacker Kevin Hardy has started to set up free-agent visits with other teams, with the assumption he will be released by Thursday. Hardy is scheduled to receive a $5.025 million option bonus if the Cowboys retain him. Because they don't want to pay that amount of money, the Cowboys have been trying to convince Hardy to stay for less money, and the sides have been unable to settle on an agreeable number. Hardy, who made $2.5 million last year, would have made $18.5 million over the next four years if the Cowboys had exercised the contract.

Meanwhile, new Dallas head coach Bill Parcells was tio meet with his team at 1 p.m. Wednesday in a full-squad session. Halfback Emmitt Smith will miss the meeting because he will be in Austin to receive an award. Owner Jerry Jones will be at the ceremony with Smith, and the two are expected to discuss whether or not Smith will be released by Thursday.

Feb. 25, 2003
Saints want Hand to get help shedding pounds
The Saints want defensive tackle Norman Hand to trim to around 315 pounds by June in order to stay with the team. If he doesn't lose about 30 pounds by then, the Saints are expected to release him, but Hand won't be cut before June. He is scheduled to make $4.1 million this season.

Feb. 25, 2003
Pats inch closer to new deals for Johnson, McGinest
The Patriots are drawing closer to reaching agreements with linebacker Ted Johnson and defensive end Willie McGinest and hope to have something wrapped up by Wednesday. With combined salaries of $17.4 million, Johnson and McGinest would save the Patriots significant cap room with new, streamlined contracts.

Feb. 25, 2003
Hicks had reason to sit out combine workouts
Middle Tennessee State halfback Dwone Hicks was among the 12 running backs who took heat for not working out at the Indianapolis scouting combine, but he had good reason. Hicks is only three weeks removed from knee surgery. He had a 40 percent tear of a medial collateral ligament, but he finished the season and ran well. Hicks did some lifting at the combine and pumped 225 pounds 29 times.

Feb. 22, 2003
Snyder not progressing with Gardener
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder met with the agent for free agent defensive tackle Daryl Gardener on Saturday, but didn't make much progress in getting closer to a deal. It looks as though Gardener will hit the free agent market. He wants close to $5 million a year. The Redskins are willing to pay around $4 million. He is considered a priority to re-sign.
Feb. 22, 2003
Cardinals don't want to gamble too much on Boston
The reason the Cardinals didn't put the franchise tag on wide receiver David Boston is that they didn't want to guarantee him a $5 million paycheck this year. Because of injuries to his knee and foot the past season and some questions about him off the field, Boston was offered a contract that is structured more for base salary and less for signing bonus. That would give the Cardinals the freedom to cut him if he has a problem and not suffer a salary cap consequence. Though the Cardinals acknowledge Boston is one of the top players in the league, they hope they can convince him to stay even though other teams might be willing to give him a huge signing bonus.

Feb. 22, 2003
Vikings talking to O'Donnell
It's not surprising that the Vikings would have former Titans quarterback Neil O'Donnell in for a visit Tuesday with the idea of signing him. The Vikings are trying to trade backup quarterback Todd Bouman and they would like the steadying influence of O'Donnell behind Daunte Culpepper. The Titans released O'Donnell to save $766,000 of cap room, but they want to re-sign him. O'Donnell and Vikings coach Mike Tice have a good relationship and Tice might be able to sell O'Donnell on coming to Minnesota even though his family likes it in Nashville.

Feb. 21, 2003
Texan-sized trade
Texans general manager Charley Casserley said that he talked to several teams before the scouting combine about trades involving the third choice in the NFL. He's willing to give away the third choice for a first-rounder and another draft choice or two. Once the combine ends, he's willing to continue trade discussions and will be willing to make a trade in early March when trades are allowed. Casserly believes the pick will have extra value if a quarterback (Carson Palmer or Byron Leftwich) goes at the top of the draft and wide receiver Charles Rogers goes second to Detroit. There are so many good defensive players that teams might be willing to move up to get the one that they favor.

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