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Thursday, February 16, 2012
Breakfast links: Franchise Spencer?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Less than a week until the combine. Less than a month until free agency. Still a ways to go before the draft. This is humbly, simply, Thursday, which doesn't have much going on but is nonetheless proud of its links.

New York Giants

Less than two weeks since their Super Bowl title, the Giants aren't even the biggest sports story in New York right now. Antonio Pierce asked his Twitter followers which out-of-nowhere star was the bigger surprise — the Giants' Victor Cruz or the Knicks' Jeremy Lin — and ESPNNewYork.com is asking for your vote on that question. Lin's winning the poll big, and I think he's the right answer. But Cruz isn't a bad comparison.

Chad Jones, the former LSU safety who nearly died in a car accident shortly after being drafted in the third round by the Giants in 2010, is apparently cleared to play and plans to be at minicamps and OTAs this year. Interesting to see whether he can author this comeback story. If he can, the Giants' secondary will be able to find a place for him.

Philadelphia Eagles

Howard Bryant says one of DeSean Jackson's big problems is the NFL's franchise player rule, which he thinks is unfair and should have been a target of the players' union in last year's collective bargaining negotiations. I talked with Howard about this column, and he asked if I thought Jackson would play well if he got the franchise tag and no new contract this year. I think he would, since he'd be happy with the nearly $9 million raise that would represent. But I still think it's likely the Eagles will look to trade him after franchising him, and that his best bet for a big new contract is with some other team.

The Eagles have announced that they will not raise ticket prices for 2012. I consider this a wise decision.

Dallas Cowboys

Troy Aikman isn't sure he and the Cowboys could have won those three Super Bowls without the help of Charles Haley, and he'd like to see Haley get into the Hall of Fame.

I don't know if the Cowboys will franchise Anthony Spencer, and I haven't decided whether I think they should. Spencer's heard the talk, and he says he's surprised by it and would prefer to hit the market and get a long-term deal from Dallas or some other team. But he doesn't sound as though he'd be crushed if he were franchised. I promise to keep thinking about this and eventually post a reasoned opinion. Just don't have one figured all the way out yet.

Washington Redskins

John Keim breaks down the pros and cons of a Redskins pursuit of Robert Griffin III. Look, in a vacuum, with everything being equal, I believe Griffin is the best option for the Redskins this offseason at quarterback. But all things are not equal, and the price for trading up to the No. 2 pick and getting Griffin could be too high. If it is, the Redskins need to find out soon so they know how to proceed in free agency with guys like Peyton Manning, Kyle Orton and Matt Flynn.

Mark Rypien says a Manning pursuit would not constitute a reversion by the Redskins to their old methods of signing old, big-name stars without thinking about how they fit, because (if healthy) Manning's a different case. What I have learned today is that Mark Rypien is a smart man, a rare voice of reason amid the cap-city cacophony spouting too-simple comparisons to years past without appreciating what's different about the team's current management structure. Thank you, Mark Rypien. Those of us trying to inject sense and nuance into this discussion need all of the help we can get.