When we last left our heroes, things were looking a little better on the NFL labor front, with the sides negotiating until all hours late last week and promising to resume talking after the holiday weekend. Those who were hoping to spend their Fourth of July celebrating the end of the lockout, however, were disappointed. There's still about a week or so left until they have to start thinking about canceling preseason games, and the recent round of serious talks leads one to believe there's reason to hope it can get done by then, but until it is, it's important to remember that these things are difficult and fragile and you never know who's going to jump in at the last minute and try to muck it all up.
In the meantime, a new week dawns, and with it the links.
In what some will surely interpret as a decent sign, the Cowboys have tentatively set their training camp schedule for the Alamodome in San Antonio. They'd begin July 29. Of course, this story makes it clear that the date and location are "tentative," and that the fallback plan of moving training camp to the Valley Ranch practice facility remains in place. But hey, hope away.
Apparently, if you were at this beach near Sean Payton's house in Florida over the weekend, you could have watched Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Troy Aikman and others play beach football with the Saints' head coach. Payton said he had to sub in for Romo because Romo was struggling a bit at quarterback. Go ahead and run with that, Cowboys fans.
New York Giants
Paul Schwartz of the New York Post gives a little rundown of the Giants' free agency situation as it pertains to their own players. Paul thinks they'll keep Mathias Kiwanuka, Steve Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw (and Brandon Jacobs, by the way, though he says Jacobs' salary "might have to be downsized," and I wonder how simple that will be) and Kevin Boss, but that they "won't put up a big fight to keep" Barry Cofield. Sounds like a lot, especially if they intend to hit the linebacker market too. But Paul raises good points about the ways in which Kiwanuka's neck and Smith's knee have affected their situations and could lead to their signing shorter-term, sensible deals to stay in New York.
Chargers GM A.J. Smith still seems bitter about the 2004 draft and the circumstances that led to his drafting Eli Manning first overall and immediately trading him for Philip Rivers. Smith told The Sporting News that he'd rather have Rivers than Manning and called Manning "a bar of gold" and that the "45 minutes" he spent as a Charger were "too long."
Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer offers a step-by-step guide to the Eagles' post-lockout priorities. After the obvious (trading Kevin Kolb), Jeff thinks they need to address the cornerback position first (though he thinks the price for Nnamdi Asomugha will be "too steep") and get some defensive line help.
A Pro Football Focus study ranks Trent Cole as the top 4-3 defensive end in the entire league. Yeah, one spot ahead of Dwight Freeney, four spots ahead of Julius Peppers and five ahead of Justin Tuck. "He gets credit for his pass rushing, but, interestingly, he may be stronger in run defense -- where he has finished with our highest grade in each of the past two years," the site writes. "That's certainly not a slight to his pass rushing ability in that time, where only three defenders have accumulated more total quarterback disruptions."
Washington Post columnist Jason Reid has some pretty harsh criticism for Mike Shanahan and the job he did in his first year in Washington. Jason's conclusion in this column is that Shanahan needs to do pretty much everything differently in Year 2 than he did in Year 1 in order for his time as Redskins coach to have a chance to succeed. Jason also warns against wasting any more time with Donovan McNabb and Albert Haynesworth on the roster, and he believes Shanahan deserves a fair amount of blame for the collapse of those two situations. I'm with him on McNabb, but while I don't think Shanahan necessarily made every right move when it came to Haynesworth, I blame the player pretty close to 100 percent for that situation.
Santana Moss said on the radio that, once the lockout ends, he'd like the Redskins to sign him "real quick." Yes, Santana, we're all very impatient.
Anyway, welcome to your Tuesday-that-feels-like-a-Monday. Don't forget (as I did the last time we had one of these Tuesdays) that we will chat today at noon. And while our series on free agency came to a conclusion Friday, I still plan to have plenty of goodies for you today and throughout the short week.