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NFL Speculations and 2008 Draft Rumors

Daunte Culpepper benched.
Daunte Culpepper may have to wait a few weeks to start. Josh McCown is the man. For now.

The following are some of my 2008 draft rumors and my take on news in the NFL.

Ivan Drago to Start for Raiders? (Sept. 6)
In a surprise move, the Raiders have made Josh "Ivan Drago" McCown (thanks, Egg) their starter over Daunte "23 fumbles in one season" Culpepper.

I expect McCown's stint to be very temporary, unless he plays well. If McCown struggles, Lane Kiffin will yank him at the first opportunity.

Leigh Bodden Arrested (Sept. 6)
Starting Browns cornerback Leigh Bodden was arrested Wednesday after failing to cooperate with police after an officer confronted him about being parked illegally. Among other things, Bodden should be charged with stupidity. Way to get arrested a few days before your first game, Leigh. It remains to be seen if this is a distraction for Cleveland. Not that it matters against the Steelers anyway.


Leftwich Among Those Cut (Sept. 2)
The Jaguars have done what John Clayton and I predicted them to do on Friday - they released Byron Leftwich. They dumped fifth-round pick Josh Gattis, a safety from Wake Forest. Linebacker Nick Greisen and defensive tackle Seth Payne were also let go.

Other notable cuts: The Broncos disposed of defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, a former No. 1 pick out of Penn State. They also got rid of receiver Quincy Morgan.

The Cowboys axed veteran cornerback Aaron Glenn.

Carolina released running back Eric Shelton, a second-round selection in 2005, and receiver Taye Biddle, who had a great preseason and developed some rapport with David Carr.

The Chiefs dumped cornerback Will Poole, who played for USC a few years ago. They also released Casey Printers, who might have been the top quarterback on their roster.

New England cut linebacker Chad Brown, tight end Garrett Mills, a fourth-round choice in 2006, cornerback Dante Wesley and quarterback Vinny Testaverde.

The Raiders released strong safety Donovin Darius, fullback Zack Crockett and defensive end Quentin Moses, a third-round pick this year, who instantly signed with Arizona.

Tampa Bay let go of promising cornerback Alan Zemaitis and defensive lineman Ellis Wyms.

The Colts bid farewell to running back DeDe Dorsey and wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe.

David Ball, who broke Jerry Rice's record for touchdown receptions in 1-AA, was released by the Bears. Quarterback Chris Leak was also sent packing.

The brothers of Carson Palmer and Brian Westbrook, Jordan and Byron, got the ax in Washington.

Tennessee canned safety Lamont Thompson, receiver Courtney Roby and quarterback Tim Rattay.

The Bills got rid of quarterback Craig Nall and offensive tackle Terrance Pennington.

Safety Bhawoh Jue got his walking papers in San Diego.

Two former Big Ten stars - Penn State cornerback Anwar Phillips and Ohio State running back Antonio Pittman - were released by the Saints.

Pittsburgh cut three draft choices - defensive end Ryan McBean, guard Cameron Stephenson and receiver Dallas Baker - as well as running back Verron Haynes.

The Jets bid farewell to defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen, who signed with the Eagles.

Speaking of the Eagles, they axed kick returner Jeremy Bloom and promising end Marques Murrell (proving nothing you do in preseason really matters because he was incredible).

The 49ers waived former USC safety Darnell Bing.

Cincinnati rid themselves of linebacker Edgerton Hartwell and receiver Reggie McNeal.

Miami sent fullback Cory Schlesinger and receiver Az Hakim packing.

The Giants kicked safety Will Demps and quarterback Tim Hasselbeck out of New York.

St. Louis traded quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Bengals; Houston dealt safety Michael Boulware to Seattle for defensive end Jason Babin.

Speaking of the Texans, they got rid of former Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky, receiver Keenan McCardell, and cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Dexter McCleon.


Leftwich to be Cut? (Aug. 31)
ESPN is reporting that the Jaguars have made David Garrard their starting quarterback.

A great move, in my opinion. I've been saying it all preseason - Leftwich is too slow, immobile, inaccurate and injury-prone to start for Jacksonville. Garrard gives the team a better chance of winning. I may have to revise my projected win total for the Jaguars.

So, what's going to happen to Leftwich? ESPN's John Clayton suggests that he could be traded or released. At this point, I don't know who would actually give up anything for him.

When Leftwich gets cut, look for Atlanta to pounce on him. The Falcons have absolutely nothing behind Joey Harrington. Leftwich is a million times better than Chris Redman, who is nothing more than a bum.

Michael Strahan is Back! (Aug. 31)
If Michael Strahan returns to a team and no one really cares, is he really back? I'm not really sure - but the fact remains that Strahan has eschewed retirement for the time being.

In my opinion, this is insignificant. Strahan is old and ineffective - he recorded three sacks in nine games last year and will celebrate his 36th birthday in November. Strahan actually provides a distraction that the Giants don't need right now.

Brown to the Bench? (Aug. 25)
One of the gripes people seem to have with my 2008 NFL Mock Draft is my very first selection. I have Miami taking Darren McFadden, a running back from Arkansas.

Dolphins fans are furious I have their squad picking first. Other readers are baffled by the choice, given that Miami spent a No. 2 overall pick on running back Ronnie Brown in 2005.

Previously, I defended the selection by stating the Dolphins had to take the best player available - mirroring what the Saints (Reggie Bush) and Vikings (Adrian Peterson) did recently. I also noted that Brown had never been the feature back in any offense - including high school and college - prior to his injury-ridden 2006 campaign.

Now, it seems as though I have more ammunition on my side. Per MiamiDolphins.com, "Ronnie Brown, being the second-overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, is the incumbent trying to beat out journeyman Jesse Chatman."

Chatman's not some guy the Dolphins picked up off the street. He served as a backup in San Diego under Cam Cameron, Miami's current head coach who was the Chargers' offensive coordinator at the time. That gives Chatman a strong edge.

"Obviously, for Jesse being in the system before, he knew some things that Cam expects that some of us may not have known and he kind of just tells us," Brown said. "We're just in this thing together to try to make sure that we're all on the same page and trying to help each other out."

Despite rushing seven less times this preseason, Chatman has 42 more yards and one more touchdown than Brown. Brown's yards-per-carry average is disturbing (3.1); Chatman's is incredible (7.6).

While Brown is likely to garner most of the load this season, thanks to his mammoth contract, don't be surprised if Chatman receives 30 to 40 percent of the carries. Chatman knows the system and Brown doesn't seem to have the stamina to do the job himself.

And if the Dolphins have the top pick in the 2008 Draft? I'm sticking with McFadden.

Larry Johnson Ends Holdout (Aug. 21)
Larry Johnson concluded his 3-week hold out and signed a 5-year extension with the Chiefs.

The agreement doesn't really change my expectations regarding Kansas City's upcoming season. Johnson's bound to get hurt - he missed training camp and the sick amount of carries he had last year (416) will both play a factor - the offensive line is in shambles, the defense can't tackle and the quarterback competition between Damon Huard and Brodie Croyle isn't exactly overwhelming.

Now that Johnson's back, would I take him if I had the No. 3 or 4 pick in my fantasy league? No. As I've mentioned countless times, the last running back to garner 385 or more carries, and finish in the top 10 in rushing yards the following year is Eric Dickerson in 1989. Jammal Anderson, Terrell Davis, Eddie George, Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams, Jamal Lewis and Bananas Foster all failed.

Trotter Not Welcomed Back (Aug. 21)
The Eagles made a huge mistake in letting Jeremiah Trotter go five years ago, an error which allowed Jon Gruden to exploit their weakness at middle linebacker. Philly fans better hope history doesn't repeat itself.

Trotter, a 30-year-old four-time Pro Bowler, was released by the Eagles on Tuesday morning.

"Jeremiah is one of my favorite guys," Reid said. "He and I met about this last night and it was very emotional for the both of us. Jeremiah and I have been together for many years and he's played a vital role in helping this team win a lot of football games."

Translation: You've criticized this organization long enough on the radio and on TV. We've found someone who can take your spot (Takeo Spikes and Omar Gaither), so we're going to tell everyone you plan to retire, even though that's not true. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Michael Vick Going to Jail (Aug. 20)
Michael Vick killed and tortured dogs. He lied to Roger Goodell and Arthur Blank. He's going to jail.

Vick agreed to plead guilty to dogfighting charges Friday, which was released to the public and media on Monday.

I can't see Vick playing in the NFL again. What owner would be bold enough to sign him? What general manager would put his entire reputation on the line just to offer him a contract? Any team brave enough to pursue Vick in a few years would have to answer to thousands of protestors and disgruntled season ticket holders.

And that's way down the road. In the mean time, Vick will be spending his next 12-18 months in prison. How is he going to stay in shape, by "showering" with other inmates?

After Vick gets released, Goodell will undoubtedly slap at least a year-long suspension on the dog marauder, marking 2010 as a possible return date for Vick. He'll be 30 by then. He won't be able to scramble as effectively, and we already know how questionable his accuracy is.

John Clayton said it best. Vick will play football again - he'll have dozens of Arena League trophies on his bookcase. I'm not sure if Clayton said that in jest or not, but he's definitely on point. No organization would dare sign a scrutinized a 30-year-old felon with diminishing skills. Not even Al Davis.

Tim Donaghy to Implicate 20 Refs (Aug. 20)
In an obvious attempt to reduce his sentencing, Tim Donaghy has stated that he will name about 20 other NBA officials who are linked to gambling.

On Monday's edition of PTI, Tony Kornheiser asked Michael Wilbon whether Donaghy was helping or hurting the NBA. I said aloud, "He's killing the NBA." Kornheiser echoed my exact words 30 seconds later, but for a much different reason.

Sure, if David Stern fires 20 referees, he'll have reduced personnel to officiate games. But even worse is the fact that these refs could implicate other colleagues, and even coaches and players who have thrown games. And what if this meltdown oozes into other sports, like the NFL and college football? The effect could be disastrous.

I've said for years that a few games per season in college football and basketball, and the NFL are rigged. But listening to a crazed blogger like myself, and others, such as a former mobster on Jim Rome is Burning and professional poker play Mike Matusow is one thing. Hearing actual testimony from crooked referees is factual evidence that could really damage the leagues we love to watch on a nightly and weekly basis.

Darren Daulton Goes Insane (Aug. 15)
I know this has nothing to do with football, but this is too funny not to mention. Former Philadelphia Phillies catcher Darren Daulton, who was part of the team's World Series run in 1993, has lost his mind.

Daulton was already known for stating that every single person is going to vanish on Dec. 21, 2012 (the last day of the Mayan calendar). On Monday, things got much weirder.

In an interview with a Philadelphian radio station, Daulton said he "talks to lizards" and "sometimes visits other dimensions."

Whoa. Let me repeat that. Daulton talks to lizards and sometimes visits other dimensions.

Actually, now that I think about it, I could probably talk to lizards too if I smoked herb while watching Geico commercials.

As for Daulton's other hobby, I wonder if Daulton ever brings someone with him to these other dimensions. I think Daulton should be asked if one needs a ticket to visit these dimensions. If so, can we buy them online at Stub Hub or Ticket City? Hope they aren't expensive.

It's unclear if Daulton was eating peanut butter out of his rear end during this interview.

Vick is Screwed (Aug. 14)
PETA people, rejoice. Dog haters, go cry in your closet and try not to beat up defenseless animals or anything. Michael Vick, in my mind, is definitely going to jail.

Until yesterday, Vick had the problem of one of his cohorts testifying against him. He still had two co-defendants by his side.

That's not the case anymore. Vick's two remaining "friends" have both taken pleas, meaning they will both testify against Vick in turn for less jail time.

Vick is screwed. Per FOX News, Vick was offered a plea Monday night. He should take it, as he faces about 20 years in jail.

But is Vick smart enough to sign the plea deal? I doubt that - if a multi-millionaire is dumb enough to engage in something like dogfighting, he's probably not intelligent enough to realize when he should admit defeat.

Wow, Trent Green Really Sucks (Aug. 14)
I caught some grief when I ranked Trent Green 27th on my 2007 Quarterback Rankings. Dozens of Dolphins and Chiefs fans e-mailed me, defending the 37-year-old signal caller.

After Green was booed in his preseason debut in front of a South Beach crowd, I doubt I'll be receiving any pro-Green e-mails any time soon.

Here's a rundown of how much Green really sucked against the Jaguars:

  • Green's initial pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage.
  • His second attempt skipped short of Ronnie Brown, as Green waited too long in the pocket.
  • His third throw was nearly picked off.
  • His fourth pass was a completion short of the first-down marker on third down.
  • His fifth was the same as his fourth.
  • His sixth was intercepted out of bounds.
  • The seventh attempt didn't count because Green ran past the line of scrimmage.
  • The eighth resulted in a sack.
  • The ninth was a screen pass thrown way behind Ronnie Brown.
  • The tenth was a short dump-off that was thrown into the ground instead of the receiver's hands.
  • Green's 11th was a sack and a fumble. I'm getting Carpal Tunnel's here.
  • Green's 13th pass was batted down.
  • His 14th was picked off because the throw was too low.

    Look, I never root against any players (who don't engage in dogfighting, that is). In fact, I hope Green rebounds and proves me wrong because he's a class act and a respectable veteran. I'm just simply pointing out that the Dolphins need to do something about the quarterback position. Do they start Cleo Lemon? John Beck?

    I'm fine with going with either of those two guys. Anyone is better than Green at this point.

    Redskins Sign Stinkston (Aug. 14)
    The Redskins just signed the worst receiver to ever play in the NFL, Todd "Stinkston" Pinkston. Just had to mention that.

    Redskins Under 7.5 wins, anyone?

    Michael Strahan Lying to Fans? (Aug. 6)
    When the NFL Network announced that Michael Strahan released a statement last night, I thought we would know what his plans were for the future. Would he retire or come back for another season? At this point, I didn't really care anymore.

    Instead of a decision, Strahan offered a letter to the fans, apologizing for his delay, and stating that his holdout had nothing to do with money.

    Yeah, right.

    You're telling me that if the Giants offered Strahan $12 million this year, as opposed to the $4 million he's getting paid right now, he wouldn't be on the first train back to the Meadowlands? It's pretty naive to believe that this isn't a financial matter, especially considering that Strahan just lost more than $15 million to his wife in a divorce case.

    Michael, in case you somehow stumbled upon this page while surfing the net, you're not going to get paid. You're 35. No one gives 35-year-old football players tons of cash. Either take the $4 million and play, or stop insulting everyone intelligence.

    Booger McFarland out for Season (Aug. 6)
    Defensive tackle Booger McFarland, whom the Colts acquired via trade with the Buccaneers last year, has been placed on the IR.

    This is the second huge blow Indianapolis has suffered this offseason, the first being left tackle Tarik Glenn's retirement. With McFarland, Glenn and numerous defensive players gone, it looks like repeating will be a very tall task for the Colts.

    E-mail from Vick Supporter (Aug. 5)
    My friend Rob over at NFL Draft Dog recently asked me if I had received any hate mail from Michael Vick supporters in the wake of my Anti-Vick article and the numerous negative things I've written about Atlanta's former quarterback over the past few months. I told him that I didn't get anything of the sort.

    That changed yesterday. Here's the unedited version of the e-mail I received, in italics, and my response below it.

    how can u bash michael vick for something he hasnt even been found guilty of, i'm tired of u using him in all ur jokes like he is the worst person on the earth, everyone makes mistakes and so do u so next time u talk about vick look in the mirror because im sure ur not perfect so cut it out. -- Terry Dent.

    Thanks for visiting my site and sending me an e-mail.

    Everyone makes mistakes? You're definitely right. Just 30 minutes ago, I lost a poker tournament with a full house to quad 9s. I knew the guy had something, but I still called. That was a mistake.

    Hanging, electrocuting, drowning and crushing dogs is more than a mistake, and I really hope for the sake of humanity that I misinterpreted what you wrote to me.

    Has he been proven guilty yet? No - but that didn't stop Nike from dropping him. That didn't stop the NFL from discontinuing the sale of his jersey. That didn't stop Roger Goodell from kicking him out of training camp. And that certainly won't stop me from bashing him - which is much less severe than Vick losing his job and endorsements.

    Vick's not the worst person on Earth, you're right. That's reserved for terrorists and serial killers. But Vick's pretty high on the overall list.

    Hope you and others who share your beliefs truly realize the horrors Vick has done (or at least has been associated with) soon. You're in the minority.

    Adrian Peterson to Start in Chicago? (Aug. 5)
    No, there was no trade. I'm talking about the "other" Adrian Peterson, the guy who backs up Cedric Benson on Chicago's roster.

    Despite the fact that Benson was fully donned in pads on Saturday, Peterson took most of the reps with the first team.

    I've repeatedly questioned Benson's work ethic on this site, and I've called Chicago's decision to draft Benson when they had Thomas Jones completely idiotic. If the team's treatment of Benson during Saturday's practice is any indication, turns out I'm right about something for a change.

    Eric Parker out for 10 Weeks (Aug. 5)
    To anyone who was thinking of drafting Eric Parker with a 54th-round pick in your fantasy draft, the Chargers' starting receiver is out for about 10 weeks. This opens the door for rookie Craig Davis. Also, in the wake of the injury, San Diego may decide to bring Keenan McCardell back for another year.

    My Take on the Tim Donaghy Situation (Aug. 3)
    I've been asked repeatedly about my take on the Tim Donaghy situation by my family and friends, so I decided to post what I think on this page.

    While most people were shocked and disgusted by Donaghy's alleged point-shaving tactics, potentially robbing the Phoenix Suns of a Game 3 victory in what was considered to be the "real NBA Finals," I couldn't share that sentiment. While fans of the sport said, "I can't believe he rigged games," I said, " Someone finally got caught."

    I've been saying it for years. Now that a potentially crooked individual was exposed, maybe a few more people will listen. Games from every sport and league are fixed. The NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, WNBA, college sports, the Philadelphia Bustleton Bengals Youth League - all of them.

    I'm not making this up to create controversy. Jim Rome once interviewed a former mobster and asked him if games were fixed. The mobster - I can't remember his name, but he had greasy, slicked-back gray hair (which should have been a given) - repeated what I said above, noting that more college football games are rigged than NFL contests, simply because it's easier to coerce poor college athletes than rich professional stars.

    Think about it this way - a financially troubled quarterback who isn't getting financial aid from boosters (see Maurice Clarett and about 300 other college athletes) bets on a few games. He follows some of my baseball picks and loses. Now, he owes his bookie money. As an alternative to breaking his legs, the book-maker tells him to throw a couple of picks in his next game, ensuring a loss so he can bet on the game and profit. It's almost naive to think this doesn't happen on a weekly basis.

    But what about the NFL? Well, some guys aren't paid millions of dollars. Others, who are, having a larger bank roll and bet more on games. I love the NFL, but it would be foolish not to think at least a few contests are rigged every season. In fact, I told Pennington2Coles05, a poster in my Forum, that I believed a Week 8 battle between the Jets and Cleveland would be fixed last year, given the overwhelming amount of money on the former. The vastly inferior Browns somehow managed a 20-13 victory.

    It's unfortunate, but Donaghy's futile attempt to cover his tracks festered an ugly behemoth in sports that the majority of the public thought was nothing more than a myth created by sore losers and unsuccessful gamblers. Now that we know it exists, the NBA seems more like the WWF than a legitimate league. But on the bright side, I no longer sound like some crazed conspiracy theorist.

    Harris to the Panthers for a Pick (Aug. 3)
    The Bears traded backup safety Chris Harris, who saw a lot of playing time when Mike Brown was hurt the past two years, to the Carolina Panthers for an undisclosed draft pick. Chicago has a lot of depth at safety, including the newly signed Adam Archuleta and promising fifth-round rookie Kevin Payne, so they could afford to make the move. Carolina needed help at safety, which they now have. Solid trade for both squads.

    Culpepper to Set Fumbling Record in Oakland? (Aug. 1)
    ESPN.com reports that Daunte Culpepper has signed a one-year deal with the Raiders on Tuesday.

    As Fred Cimino from Endless Banter would say, "Al Davis is a man who has lost his marbles." I know Al's just trying to improve the team, but why pair a quarterback who has fumbling issues and takes too many sacks, with the worst offensive line in the league? Seems like a recipe for disaster - or history.

    If JaMarcus Russell stays in contract limbo, Culpepper will have a chance to set the all-time single-season fumbling record.

    Who holds the fumbling record, you ask? Two players tied with 23. One was Kerry Collins with the New York Giants in 2001. The other? You guessed it: Daunte Culpepper - the following season.

    Chad Scott Placed on IR (Aug. 1)
    Patriots cornerback Chad Scott is out for the year with a leg injury. In other news, who cares?

    Rest in Peace, Bill Walsh (July 31)
    The NFL lost one of the most important men in its history yesterday. More importantly, many players and coaches lost a friend and a father figure. Bill Walsh passed away of leukemia. He was 75.

    Walsh is renowned for the creation of the West Coast offense, which is now utilized by more than a dozen teams in the NFL. Walsh also coached Joe Montana and Jerry Rice to three Super Bowl victories.

    Umenyiora Mouthing Off - Wants to Switch to Left End? (July 31)
    After listening to Michael Strahan's whining about making "only" $4 million a year, and hearing general manager Jerry Reese proclaim that the left tackle position is overrated, I didn't expect to hear any other incoherent comments from anyone else in the Giants organization. Guess I was way off.

    Defensive end Osi Umenyiora mouthed off Monday, discussing the potential Simeon Rice signing. Umenyiora pointed out Rice's weakness against the run, among other things. Most amusing was the following quote:

    "I know [Simeon Rice] can't play left defensive end because they run the ball there," Umenyiora bellowed, insulting Rice even further. "He can't play right defensive end. Well, he's been a right end because they run the ball there. Absolutely not. Not even a question. I'm a right end. I've been successful at right end. I don't feel the need to move to a different position. That's kind of crazy. I'm not going to move to left defensive end if they sign Simeon Rice, is what I'm trying to tell you. ... I'm not going to move to that position because Simeon Rice is coming in. I won't do it."

    So, I'm a bit confused here. Does Umenyiora want to move to left end or not? I suggest the Giants accommodate his wishes and move him over to the left side.

    Gore Breaks Hand (July 31)
    Fantasy owners, take note: Frank Gore broked his hand on Monday. While he shouldn't miss any playing time - his recovery will take about a month - it's something you should be concerned about if you plan on drafting him with a top-five selection in your fantasy draft.

    200 People Hate Dogs (July 30)
    Two hundred pro-Vick protestors rallied outside of the Georgia Dome on Sunday, as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution puts it, "to condemn the country, the media, Nike and, most of all, the Atlanta Falcons for treating Michael Vick like a dog."

    One message read, "We Support Vick a Human Being Over Dogs." The writings of a genius. So, if Michael Vick went around the city of Atlanta, slaughtering every single dog he laid eyes upon, you'd continue to support him? He "allegedly" electrocuted, drowned and hanged dogs for not being strong fighters, the feds found 17 dog carcasses on his property, and one of his co-defendants just cut a deal to testify against him. How this person can support Vick is really disgusting and despicable.

    Hiram Melvin, a 50-year-old moron, had the following to say: "This dogfighting has been going on for years. It's not something that just started. It's not a big deal." Murder has been going on for years. Is that OK too? These are the kind of people who are supporting Vick. Thankfully, I'm in no way associated with this Hiram character.

    The caption on the link above reads the following, "Anisa Wright, 13, holding dog DJ, joins mother Charita Wright and Imani Wright at Sunday's rally in support of Michael Vick." No word yet on whether or not Vick tried to drown Anisa's dog.

    Couch the Next Maddox? (July 30)
    In a move that made me laugh so hard I nearly collpased on the floor, the Jaguars signed Tim Couch, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1999 Draft who went bust, thanks to five mediocre seasons in Cleveland.

    Then I got to thinking. Didn't we just experience a resurgence from a quarterback who struggled with the Browns? Jeff Garcia, nearly left for dead on the free-agent market, revitalized his career after two horrific seasons in Cleveland and Detroit. Perhaps Couch's struggles had more to do with the ineptness of the Browns' franchise.

    Couch is the only signal caller in Cleveland's new franchise history to lead the team into the playoffs - Kelly Holcomb actually played in the postseason because Couch suffered a broken leg in Week 17. The 30-year-old threw for 2,842 yards, 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in that 2002 campaign, completing nearly 62 percent of his passes in the process. Couch, who looked like he never recovered from his leg injury, was jettisoned out of Cleveland because fans were clamoring for Kelly Holcomb, who compiled 429 passing yards against the Steelers in the playoffs.

    The Kentucky alumnus went on to try out with the Packers in 2004. However, prior to training camp, he suffered an injury to his rotator cuff, which prompted his release. He attempted to sign with the Bears and Bengals a year later, but his arm strength was clearly not 100 percent.

    The Jaguars didn't sign Couch without looking at him first. He worked out for them, and they must have liked what they had seen. If Couch's shoulder is back to full strength, which is a huge possibility because Jacksonville actually offered him a contract, he could be the NFL's next Tommy Maddox. Think about it - Couch never had a fair shot in Cleveland because an expansion organization asked him to carry them, much like the Texans and David Carr. Couch had no talent around him; Kevin Johnson was his only reliable receiver, the defense was mediocre and there was no running game. Just check out the Browns' leading rushers from 1999 to 2003: Terry Kirby (who?), Travis Prentice (who?), James Jackson (Jesse's son?) and William Green (bust) twice.

    Granted, Jacksonville doesn't have the greatest receivers in the world, but the team does have an outstanding ground attack and stop unit. You heard it here first - I won't be surprised if Couch takes over for an injured Byron Leftwich midway through the season and actually plays pretty well. If it can happen to Tommy Maddox and Jeff Garcia, why not a former No. 1 overall pick?

    Bears Looking to Evolve with Darwin (July 30)
    The Bears acquired defensive tackle Darwin Walker from the Buffalo Bills for a fifth-round pick.

    Walker's nothing special, but he fits Lovie Smith's system and can be another body in a rotation that desperately needs depth. Besides, what were the Bears going to get in the fifth round, anyway? Good trade for both squads, as Walker clearly didn't want to be in Buffalo.

    Strahan to Retire, Rice to Giants? (July 28)
    Maybe Michael Strahan's bizarre holdout isn't about money after all. After hearing an interview between Strahan and FOX Sports' Jay Glazer, it's apparent that the future Hall of Famer will retire unless the Giants pay him.

    "Yeah, I'm done. I just don't have it anymore," Strahan told Glazer. "I don't know if the fire's there. If it's not there, it's not fair for me to go out there."

    Wow. While it's not 100-percent clear if Strahan will retire or not, I would bet on it. There's no way he's getting a raise, especially from a lunatic (not that there's anything wrong with that) general manager who thinks the left tackle position is "overrated" (check out the July 27 entry for more).

    Luckily for the Giants, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers foolishly released Simeon Rice two days ago. If GM Jerry Reese thinks Strahan is going to call it quits, he can make a move on Rice. For the sake of Giants fans everywhere, let's hope that Reese doesn't think the defensive end position is overrated as well.

    Quinn Holdout Simply Childish (July 28)
    On the other side of the holdout spectrum, Brady Quinn apparently refuses to come to camp until he's offered top-ten caliber money. Problem is, Quinn was drafted No. 22.

    I'm not going to criticize Quinn too harshly just yet. Maybe he hit his head and he thinks he was taken in the top ten of April's draft. That could be it - a plausible reason for his actions.

    If not, Quinn is acting really selfish and childish. Ignoring the fact that he's hurting his teammates and coaching staff, the Browns organization invested next year's No. 1 pick - which could be in the top five - when they traded back into the first round for him. I know they didn't draft him third overall, but the guy they took at that slot will protect him from the likes of Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs and Lawrence Timmons for at least the next few seasons. You would think Quinn would be grateful and take the cash that comes with being the 22nd selection.

    Why does Quinn think he deserves top-10 dollars anyway? Because he was the starting quarterback at Notre Dame under Charlie Weis? Because he was "supposed" to be picked by Cleveland, Minnesota or Miami? Give me a break. He slipped on draft day, and now that we're getting a first glance at his personality, it's becoming quite clear as to why he went 22nd, and not third, seventh or ninth.

    Meanwhile, Quinn's not doing himself any favors off the practice field. Per a Cleveland radio station, Quinn charged fans at least $75 during an autograph session at a mall last week. The fans were also forced to purchase items to be signed; they weren't allowed to bring their own.

    Apparently Quinn knows he won't get the Browns to give him top-10 money, so he's earning the cash he wants through his fans. What a great start to his career.

    Bucs Cut Simeon Rice. (July 27)
    When the Buccaneers decided to keep Gaines Adams instead of trading him and other draft picks to Detroit for Calvin Johnson, I thought it would be a while until he started in the NFL. In the wake of Tampa Bay releasing its perennial Pro Bowl defensive end, it looks like that day may come a lot sooner than initially expected.

    Simeon Rice, 33, struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness last year, recording only two sacks in eight contests. Prior to the 2006 campaign, however, he notched 14, 12, 15, 15.5 and 11 sacks, dating back to 2001, his first season with the Buccaneers.

    The move is a shocking one, though his lone pair of sacks and $7.25 million salary may have been the catalysts for his release. It's not a huge loss for Tampa Bay, assuming Adams turns out to be a solid player capable of garnering double-digit sack totals.

    But what will happen to Rice? Where will he go? Detroit's definitely a possibility. The Lions, who managed just 30 sacks in 2006, were interested in Rice this offseason and have the cap room to make the signing. Other probable destinations for Rice include: Baltimore (replacement for Adalius Thomas, though insufficient cap room may make things difficult), Cincinnati (needs stronger pass rush), Carolina (interested divisional rival), Minnesota (no pass rush) and Washington (19 sacks in 2006).

    Vote on Rice's projected destination in the polls today!

    Reese's Puzzling Words. (July 27)
    A day after he mouthed off about Michael Strahan's holdout, Giants general manager Jerry Reese had the following to say about his former left tackle Luke Petitgout and the position he vacated when he was released:

    "People are so worried about left tackle ... I think that's so overrated ... People act like Petitgout was the second coming. He never made the Pro Bowl ... Now all of a sudden he's the savior? That's ridiculous. ... He was not a star left tackle. He was a solid left tackle on some occasions and other times he wasn't. Luke has been a marginal player for a long time."

    Left tackle? Overrated? Ummm... how did this Jerry Reese guy get a job? Never mind the fact that he just bashed a player on another team - calling the left tackle position "overrated" is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard in my entire life. I think it's fairly obvious that Reese has been learning from the Charley Casserly School of Not Protecting Your Quarterback.

    Lance the Liar. (July 26)
    Prior to the 2007 NFL Draft, Lance Briggs told the media that he "was never going to play in Chicago ever again."

    Briggs' nose grew a couple of inches Wednesday, as he signed his 1-year tender worth $7.2 million. The NFL Network's Adam Schefter reports that the Bears will not utilize the franchise tag next year if Briggs plays on 75 percent or more of the defensive snaps.

    Does this help the Bears in their pursuit of another NFC North crown? Absolutely. Does it guarantee them a trip back to the Super Bowl? Not even close.

    I've received tons of e-mails about my projected 9-7 record for the Chicago Bears, so I might as well use this space as a rebuttal.

    Rex Grossman played more inconsistently last year than any quarterback I've ever seen. He was responsible for four turnovers in the Super Bowl. In fact, if the Bears had a mediocre signal caller under center, they would have beaten the Colts. Grossman is atrocious, and is undoubtedly one of the five worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL.

    Meanwhile, Thomas Jones is gone, Muhsin Muhammad has hit the age of regression and right tackle Fred Miller is getting old. Making matters worse, Chicago lost three of its top four defensive tackles. What happens if Tommie Harris gets hurt again? The team will have to rely on the young Dusty Dvoracek, and the unproven Anthony Garay and Anthony Adams.

    With so many better teams - Philadelphia, Dallas, New Orleans, Carolina and Seattle - in the NFC, and the Super Bowl Loser Curse hanging over their heads, I feel as though the Bears may be in for a mundane 9- or 10-win season. As I said, the Briggs signing all but guarantees them a trip to the playoffs, but definitely not the Big Game.

    Michael Strahan is Delusional. (July 26)
    Of all the players planning to hold out the next few weeks, Michael Strahan is least deserving of a new contract. When I heard Strahan was planning on holding out, I was so completely shocked that I nearly spilled Cherry Coke all over my keyboard.

    Tell me what's wrong with this picture. Strahan turns 36 in November. He recorded a whopping three sacks in 2006. He was out with a foot - thanks Al Michaels - for half of last season. He also missed eight games with another injury in 2004. The Giants drafted Mathias Kiwanuka last year to eventually replace him at defensive end.

    And Strahan wants more money? I'd be willing to bet half of Lance the Liar's contract that the entire Giants front office is laughing hysterically at Strahan's feeble attempt to hold out.

    No Love Boat Captain in Jacksonville. (July 25)
    I'm quite aware that billions of people tuned into the premiere of the Jack Del Rio Show recently, but for the very few who didn't, Del Rio declared that Daunte Culpepper would not be playing in Jacksonville this season.

    "[W]e feel good about our quarterback situation with Byron Leftwich as our starter and David Garrard as our backup."

    So, Del Rio's comfortable with the fact that his backup quarterback, who struggled late last year, is better than his starter, who suffers devastating injuries when the pollen levels are too high outside?

    Jacksonville's mediocre quarterbacking issues aside, the bigger story is where Culpepper may end up. Let's look at some possibilities:

    Atlanta: Makes sense. Michael Vick likely won't play a single game in a Falcon uniform ever again, and as Bobby Petrino said, "We'd like to bring in another arm." Too bad Culpepper's arm doesn't come with two healthy knees. If he doesn't sign anywhere, look for the Falcons to pick him up after they realize how much Joey Harrington sucks. That said, I don't know why Atlanta would like to reunite a pair of quarterbacks who combined for a 6-10 record despite playing with a great defense.

    Minnesota: Too many bridges burnt here, but you can't tell me that Culpepper is a million times better than Tarvaris Jackson. And I'm not referring to the Culpepper of 2004; I'm talking about the one who either fumbles or gets sacked every other play. The latter Culpepper is still superior to Jackson. And, if Zygmund Wilf brings Culpepper back, he'll help the local economy; the market of illegal sex boats will skyrocket.

    Tampa Bay: Jon Gruden already has 3,407,439,234 quarterbacks on his roster. What's one more?

    Miami: Could the Dolphins really bring Culpepper back? Perhaps they will after all of Trent Green's limbs fall off, causing him to run around yelling, "Tis merely a flesh wound."

    Jacksonville: Was Del Rio lying about his quarterback situation? Is he really interested in a guy with bad knees and a worse work ethic? If so, Del Rio's ruse may cause viewership to plummet from a billion to a cool hundred million.

    Vote on Culpepper's projected destination in the polls today!

    Atlanta Suspension Clarification. (July 25)
    Yesterday, I criticized the Falcons for not suspending Michael Vick prior to his banishment from training camp by way of the commissioner's office. Following Roger Goodell's decree, Arthur Blank made it public that he was planning on suspending Vick for four games.

    So, let me get this straight, Arthur - you took your time drawing up this four-game suspension, and you were planning on issuing it the same exact moment that Goodell ordered Vick out of training camp? And what if Goodell didn't do anything? Would you have really suspended him for a quarter of the season? Something's fishy here.

    Sorry Arthur, not buying it.

    No Michael Vick at Training Camp Obviously a Good Thing. (July 24)
    I had a great idea for the opening paragraph of this short article last night. Instead of writing it down, I decided to go to bed instead. Now, I can't remember it. In the immortal words of Jack Bauer, " Damn it!"

    I've said this a million times already, so once more couldn't hurt. Michael Vick cannot be allowed to play a single down in the NFL unless he's acquitted of all serious charges. Three days ago, I wrote that Roger Goodell and Arthur Blank would understand the ramifications of not suspending Vick - a decrease in ticket and merchandise sales, and a surge in the number of protestors at games and practices. PETA did not disappoint me; 50 members picketed at Falcons headquarters.

    As for the sales factor, ESPN pointed out that typing in "Vick" on a search at Nike.com yields no results. Dick's Sporting Goods has declared that they will no longer sell any Vick merchandise. Meanwhile, Vick's name has finally shown up on AtlantaFalcons.com, but only in regard to his banishment from training camp.

    While I think Goodell made the right move by preventing Vick from showing up at camp - the order keeps protestors away and allows the rest of the team to practice without as many distractions - I have to say that I'm disappointed with Blank's inactions. Why hasn't Blank ordered Vick to take a leave of absence? Why hasn't he suspended his quarterback? Why hasn't he done anything besides write a letter of apology to the fans?

    It appears as though Goodell is buying time for Blank to make the right decision. Let's hope Blank finally sees the light sometime soon.

    Michael Vick Likely Won't Play a Single Down in 2007. (July 21)
    As Philadelphia radio sports-talk host Paul Jolovitz would say, "You have to be completely insane if you think Michael Vick is going to take a single snap this year."

    The NFL has said that, for now, it will not suspend Vick. The "for now" portion of that sentence is much more revealing than it sounds. Goodell, attempting to avoid making the NFL look like an entity that convicts a first-time offender prior to proof of guilt, has put the onus on Falcons owner Arthur Blank. If Blank doesn't give Vick a leave of absence - paid or not - the NFL will likely step in prior to the commencement of the season and suspend the alleged dog killer.

    PETA has already begun launching protests, picketing outside of the NFL offices in New York. The Humane Society will soon follow. Members of these two groups, as well as dog owners across the country, own NFL season tickets. They watch football on TV. They buy jerseys, hats, shirts and other items that make the NFL a cash cow. Goodell doesn't want to lose these people and the revenue that comes with them, especially during his first few years as commissioner. At the present moment, Goodell stands to lose a lot of money if Vick plays in 2007.

    If anyone understands business and a liability in the grand scheme of revenue generation, it's Blank. The billionaire co-founded Home Depot and owns a professional football team. Having protestors attend every single game, practice and training-camp sessions will make things unbearable for the average fan, assuming there are any left if Vick isn't suspended. The rest of the team will also suffer, facing more distractions than any squad has ever faced in the NFL's existence.

    Vick is the most unmarketable player in the league right now. Who's going to buy his jersey? What kind of lunatic would purchase a pair of his shoes? How many empty seats will there be in the Georgia Dome if Vick is taking snaps? In fact, Eastbay has already significantly decreased the price of Vick's jerseys, lowering the authentic version from $259.99 to $119.99. And on AtlantaFalcons.com, Vick is nowhere to be seen.

    Goodell and Blank aren't dumb. They both realize that by associating himself with people who host canine fights, regardless of whether he was guilty of electrocuting, drowning and hanging dogs or not, Vick hurt and embarrassed his employers. If Vick worked for any other corporation in America, he would be fired by now.

    The NFL won't be any different. Vick will either be suspended or granted a leave of absence. It's just a matter of when.

    Tarik Glenn Retirement Huge Blow to Colts. (July 21)
    If you're Peyton Manning, and one of Bill Belichick's new weapons, Adalius Thomas, is charging at you, his eyes looking like they're thirsty for blood, whom do you want protecting your blind side - perennial Pro Bowler Tarik Glenn or second-round rookie Tony Ugoh?

    Glenn's retirement, which is an extremely selfish move on his part, regardless of whether he was frustrated with his contract or not, couldn't come at a worse time. The Colts start training camp soon and the quality veteran linemen who once inhabited the free-agency pool have all been scooped up by other teams. Indianapolis could move Ryan Diem from right tackle to left, allowing Ugoh to play the right side. Or, they can essentially put Manning's entire career at risk with a rookie at left tackle.

    Regardless, we've all seen what happens when an extremely valuable member of an offensive line departs. Willie Roaf retired last summer, and Trent Green suffered a severe concussion in the first game of the 2006 season. Seattle's Steve Hutchinson defected for Minnesota, which greatly attributed to Matt Hasselbeck's injury and Shaun Alexander's struggles.

    Granted, Manning is much better than either Green or Hasselbeck, but we can't simply ignore the impact Glenn's departure will have on the Colts. The near future simply doesn't look too bright for the Super Bowl MVP.

    Atlanta's Quarterback Conundrum. (July 21)
    Lost in the entire Michael Vick dog-marauding saga is what will become of Atlanta's signal-caller position. Rich McKay foolishly traded Matt Schaub away in the spring, leaving his quarterbacking corps comprised of an alleged dog-electrocutioner, Joey Harrington and D.J. Shockley. I'm going to go out on a limb and say they won't be as strong as Joe Montana and Steve Young.

    Despite what ESPN pragmatic Vick "fanboy" Len Pasquarelli will lead you to believe, Harrington sucks. No, I'm wrong - he really sucks. And while Shockley was extremely effective at the University of Georgia, I'm not sure if he's NFL material.

    Thanks to McKay's ineptness and Arthur Blank's blind faith in Vick, the Falcons are stuck. Do they go with the mundane Harrington? Can Shockley be a solid professional signal caller? Or will Atlanta have to look elsewhere?

    The Falcons have some other options. Daunte Culpepper is available, though obtaining him would essentially reunite a pair of quarterbacks who went 6-10 last year in Miami despite playing with hard-running Ronnie Brown and a solid defense. Trading for Kelly Holcomb is a possibility, though he's just slightly better than Harrington.

    It does sound fun to just sit back and see if Shockley can be the quarterback of the future - if he plays well, the Falcons can go with him; if not, they can simply draft Brian Brohm in April - but the fact remains Atlanta has the running game and defense to compete in a very weak NFC. The team cannot afford to waste a year during its window of opportunity. The Falcons need a veteran quarterback capable of taking a team to the playoffs, which automatically disqualifies Harrington and the crippled Culpepper.

    Here's an idea: Why don't the Falcons trade for David Garrard? Now, before you laugh and scoff that Harrington and Garrard are pretty much equals, read what I have to say. Garrard completed 60 percent of his passes last year, which is something Harrington has never accomplished (career high: 57.5 percent). He's 10-8 as a starter - much better than Harrington's 23-43 mark. He led the Jaguars to the playoffs in 2005; Harrington has only made the postseason playing Madden. Harrington plays the piano and likes caviar. Garrard would never associate himself with such rubbish.

    I'll give you that Garrard struggled toward the end of last season, but I attribute that to Jacksonville's horrid receiving corps. Alge Crumpler and Joe Horn are much better than the slop the Jags have at wide out. I think Garrard, the type of locker-room leader the Falcons desperately need right now, could really thrive in Atlanta. If not, what do the Falcons have to lose? More assets spent on the quarterback position? I think they're pretty used to that already.


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