New York Giants: Jim Irsay
The news of the day: The Giants return to practice Thursday after a couple of days off and begin preparations for their "Monday Night Football" game against the Minnesota Vikings. All eyes will once again be on the running backs, with Peyton Hillis newly signed for depth and Brandon Jacobs having missed Monday's practice with a hamstring injury. All of the focus on the run game distracts from the major issues that are killing the Giants right now, which are the erratic play of quarterback Eli Manning and the complete lack of a pass rush, but maybe the Giants don't mind if we're all distracted from those things. We will of course have updates for you throughout the day.
Behind enemy lines: The Vikings announced Wednesday that they will use their third different starting quarterback of the season, as newly signed former Buccaneer Josh Freeman gets the nod Monday night. If there's a surprise in all of this, it's that the team decided Freeman was ready to run its offense already after being run out of Tampa Bay by his coach just a couple of weeks ago. But based on what they got from Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel this season, why not? Ben Goessling things the Vikings' receivers could benefit from the switch.
Around the division: The Cowboys have released Jay Ratliff in a move that was long overdue. Tim MacMahon writes that Ratliff's deal, and sticking with him as long as they did in spite of his injuries and other issues, ranks among Jerry Jones' worst mistakes as Cowboys owner and GM. I have to agree. Ratliff was a special player for a time, but it's been a while since he was reliable and he's created more headaches the past couple of years than he was worth.
Around the league: Nobody should know better than Jim Irsay not to give Peyton Manning bulletin-board material before he comes to town to play his team. Which makes it really weird that that's exactly what Irsay did! Manning's going to throw for 800 yards and nine touchdowns, and the Colts players aren't going to be able to complain because the guy who fired him up is the one signing their checks.
Colts owner Jim Irsay, who made cryptic tweets this weekend saying they were "very, very close" to making a deal for a wide receiver, told reporters Sunday night at the NFL meetings that Cruz isn't the target.
"It's not Cruz, no," Irsay said.
A little earlier, Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said it was "probable" that another team would make a run at Cruz. He didn't say which team, but he said he's "anxious."
Irsay's tweets from late Saturday night put Giants fans on edge, fearing the Colts might be plotting a deal for Cruz. Giants officials have said they want the popular Cruz, a restricted free agent, to spend his entire career in New York. They gave him the first-round tender ($2.86 million), admittedly taking a "risk," as Giants co-owner John Mara recently termed it.
Mara said they made a "significant" offer to Cruz for a long-term deal. Slot receivers such as Wes Welker and Danny Amendola landed $6 million-a-year contracts in free agency, but Tisch told reporters he expects the potential Cruz offer to be north of $6 million per year.
Here were those earlier tweets from Irsay:
ColtFans,we already past the cap cash wise/ we're workin on a deal,1 we've been workin on for 5 days/ we're very,very close 2 making it work— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) March 17, 2013
Colt Fans,hint------ it's a Wide Receiver!!— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) March 17, 2013
And from later on Sunday:
We r still in fight for WR n others...we've landed everyone we've targeted...my gut feeling--- we're not through..it's hour to hour-EXCITING— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) March 17, 2013