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Monday, April 16, 2012
Breakfast links: Warm Monday wishes

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

And I do mean warm. It's going to feel like training camp weather out there today as players can report to their facilities for the start of offseason conditioning programs. The people for whom I feel the worst, though, are those who've been training for the Boston Marathon in cold or mild temperatures and have to run it on a freakish 86-degree April day. Be safe, folks.

As for us, yeah, some stuff happened on the long weekend I took. We'll get caught up on all of it, I promise. We just have to start slowly. Ease into it, ya know. Like, with some links.

Dallas Cowboys

Anthony Spencer still has not signed his franchise tender, and Calvin Watkins ponders whether that means he won't show up for the start of these voluntary workouts. Spencer said all the right things earlier in the offseason about the franchise player designation, but if he doesn't show up Monday, that will be interpreted as a clear statement he wants a long-term deal instead. I don't know that we can assume the Cowboys will give him one until we see what they come up with in the draft. If I were Spencer, and I thought there was a chance the Cowboys could snag a pass-rusher in the first round, I believe I'd sign the tender. It's not as though the guy had 15 sacks last year and has a whole bunch of leverage.

Oh, and Terence Newman, now a Bengal, says the reason he had such a bad year with the Cowboys in 2011 was that he was playing through a hamstring injury. I did some research, and this appears to be the first time a player has ever tried to explain away a bad season by disclosing an injury that was (a) not important enough to mention at the time and (b) not bad enough to keep him on the bench. Odd, that Newman is the first one to come up with this. ...

New York Giants

On May 5, Giants quarterback Eli Manning will host "Saturday Night Live." It's a gig his formerly more famous brother had in 2007, and I for one am interested to see how the straight-faced Eli pulls this one off. I have a hunch the reviews will express pleasant surprise.

And in the wake of the Keith Rivers trade, the Giants appear to be filling out their linebacker corps. They are bringing back Chase Blackburn, whose fourth-quarter interception of Tom Brady helped key the comeback victory in the Super Bowl. Blackburn exceeded all expectations at middle linebacker after the Giants signed him away from a substitute teaching job on Thanksgiving weekend. And while they probably still view him as a special teamer who played over his head, his contribution to the Super Bowl run will certainly earn him a shot at more playing time in 2012.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles were in the news over the weekend due to a Cleveland Plain Dealer report that identified them as one of four teams interested in trading up to get the Browns' pick (No. 4 overall) in the draft (which is in 10 days, by the way). Let me make this extremely clear: I am not buying this. I do not believe it makes sense for the Eagles to make such a move, and for that reason I don't believe they will. Remember that this is draft season -- the season of spin and posturing. There are people in the Browns' front office who are good friends with people in the Eagles' front office, and friends do each other favors. If the Browns want to trade the No. 4 pick to, say, the Miami Dolphins, who may want it so they can draft quarterback Ryan Tannehill, they need to cultivate a sense that there's a market for the pick -- that other teams are interested. That is the only way to get, say, Miami to pay more. I have no doubt that the Eagles and Browns have engaged in many discussions over the past few weeks and months, and I am certain that the idea of a trade of draft picks has come up from one side or the other. But that doesn't mean it will or should happen. The Eagles may like Tannehill as the ultimate successor to Michael Vick, but there's a difference between liking a guy and trading away multiple picks to move up 11 spots and draft him. It wouldn't be a prudent way for the Eagles to spend their resources, and my belief is that they know this.

Jonathan Tamari visited with Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who is recovering from brain surgery but determined to be on the field when training camp opens in July.

Washington Redskins

On Friday, the Redskins reached a deal to re-sign inside linebacker London Fletcher, which comes as a huge relief to the team and its fans, who recognize the importance of Fletcher to the defense. I'll have a separate post on Fletcher at some point Monday, because I was off Friday and Fletcher is worth his own post.

The Redskins also agreed to terms with safety Tanard Jackson, who was released last week by the Buccaneers and is a favorite of new Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris. The safety mix is a crowded one now, and it'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out. Surely, the signing of Jackson indicates a belief by Morris that he can coach the best out of him, as he did in Tampa Bay. Jackson is a talented guy with a checkered past, and there's upside with this signing. If it doesn't work, they did sign safeties Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams earlier in the offseason, so there'll be some veteran depth there in training camp along with younger guys like DeJon Gomes and Reed Doughty.