NFC East: Peter King
"This is what we do every year," Jones said. "You got to do all your work because you never know what's going to happen in a draft. It's part of doing your diligence as a personnel department. You can never assume anything and you can't leave any stone unturned. Give [director of college and pro scouting] Tom [Ciskowski] and our guys a lot of credit; they work hard at it and we get prepared."
Jones says the Cowboys do this every year, but I don't recall them visiting with Dallas' own Matthew Stafford or Oklahoma's Sam Bradford. Of course, the Cowboys didn't have a top-10 draft pick in those years. It would be fascinating to see what the Cowboys do if Newton somehow "falls" to No. 9. My gut tells me that Jerry Jones would field several phone calls and end up trading down.
I've heard it said by my radio colleague Randy Galloway, and others, that Tony Romo could benefit from some competition at quarterback. But I don't think Newton would offer any serious competition for at least a couple years. But since Newton has gone on record (with Peter King) saying he wants to be an "entertainer and an icon," it seems like the Cowboys might be a good destination.
We'll try to find out how the interview with Newton goes and pass along that information.
Speaking to SI.com's Peter King on Sunday, Garrard made an interesting observation about the Cowboys' effort in Sunday's loss. Here's a portion of King's column, which has likely been delivered to owner Jerry Jones since he's not much for surfing the Internet:
"But everyone can see your Cowboys are not playing hard," writes King. "We saw it in the NBC viewing room Sunday, and Garrard saw it, too. He told me: "It just looked like they weren't into the game like an NFL team should be.'' Said he noticed a "woe-is-me'' attitude among some of [the Cowboys] players. You don't see that with a Baltimore or Pittsburgh. Andy Reid's teams don't do that. Your team's embarrassing. You said it yourself after the game. And at 1-6, there's no hope for the season. You've got to put Wade Phillips out of his misery, and you've got to do it now."
How can anyone disagree with Garrard's assessment? I think he's on the money, much like he was throwing the ball Sunday.
Since the Eagles are making Jackson available to the media Wednesday morning at 11 a.m. ET, something tells me there's a good chance they aim to sign him. Jackson is coming off a serious knee injury, so I'm sure the Eagles will put him through a rigorous physical. But if the 26-year-old is cleared by team doctors, the signing makes total sense.
Jackson would be expected to start opposite Quintin Mikell at free safety. He's missed a lot of time the past two seasons with the Colts, but he was an ascending player before the injuries. Many have speculated the Eagles would select a safety in April's draft, but I think it's their preference to find a veteran starter such as Jackson. Last year's combination of Quintin Demps/Macho Harris/Sean Jones didn't exactly work out, which is to say it was a complete failure.
The Eagles need a safety who can potentially cover talented tight ends such as Jason Witten and Chris Cooley. As Les Bowen of the Daily News reminded me, SI.com's Peter King made the following statement about Jackson in his Monday Morning Quarterback column:
"I'm doing a thorough physical on free agent cornerback Marlin Jackson, dumped by the Colts," said King. "And unless I think his knee won't allow him to start the season, I'm moving aggressively to sign him. He's now missed much of the past two years with injuries, but he's a smart 26-year-old corner the Colts thought so highly of that they picked him in the first round five years ago. Worth the risk. He'll visit the Eagles and Ravens this week, and I'd be surprised if he were unemployed Friday."
Unless something shows up on the physical, I'd expect for Jackson to sign with the Eagles on Wednesday. And make sure you read to the bottom of Bowen's blog entry for a great line about Drew Rosenhaus.
But we quickly learned the Chicago Bears were the ones willing to go the distance for Peppers -- and other aging stars. It almost felt like the Bears had turned to Dan Snyder as a consultant. Meanwhile in Washington, general manager Bruce Allen and coach Mike Shanahan are trying to sell versatile offensive lineman Artis Hicks to season-ticket holders. And against all odds, it seems to be working.
The Redskins' methodical approach to free agency is a refreshing change to many fans after years of wild spending in during the free-agency period. When SI.com's Peter King tracked down Allen on Sunday, he asked him whether Snyder was getting impatient.
"No,'' said Allen. "He didn't throw anything at me. And he didn't throw a tantrum. He's fine with it."
I know it's early, but it truly seems like Snyder has placed his trust in Allen and Shanahan. Every report you read indicates that Snyder's spending more time on his non-football enterprises. He's certainly still passionate about the organization, but he's actually giving this hands-off approach a chance. So what happens if the Redskins go 4-12 again? It's a fair question, but let's wait until we're there.
Here's what Allen told King about the Redskins' strategy this past Thursday at midnight:
"What we did is when we got the list of free agents with their phone numbers and agent phone numbers from the league, and I highlighted the 40 or 50 we were interested in, and we started calling them. We left messages for some of them, talked to some of them, and told them we were interested. And we'll see where it takes us."
With the Albert Haynesworth signing last March, the Redskins struck quickly and blew everyone away with their offer. But last week, the Redskins didn't show anywhere near the same sense of urgency in pursuing players. It remains to be seen whether this new approach works.
But I think we'd all agree that the former approach had run its course.
If there's anything on your mind about free agency or the upcoming draft, leave a question in the mailbag. On Sunday, I'll try to wrap things up with a lengthy yet poignant edition of "What's in Mosley's Mailbag?" I'll have NFC East-related columns running Friday and Tuesday from the combine.
Let me know if there's anything you're particularly interested in reading. I'm anxious to see what Redskins coach Mike Shanahan says about the quarterback position. And you can bet that Eagles coach Andy Reid and new general manager Howie Roseman will be asked about quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick. Will they say anything particularly revealing? Probably not, but we still have to ask the questions.
As longtime Beast enthusiast Peter King wrote earlier this week, the combine's not what it used to be. A lot of teams are pretty far down the road in evaluating these players, so there's not a ton of new information that is unearthed. But the medical exams and interviews are still of vital importance to the teams. The medical staffs set up shop in the same building in Indy and start examining hundreds of candidates. If the doctors and athletic trainers have some concerns, they can send players over to a nearby hospital for additional testing.
I'm fortunate enough to know some of the team doctors, so I'll try to keep you posted on how the exams are going. And remember, use the mailbag for all your questions. I'll make sure to answer as many of them as possible. I'll check in with you guys bright and early Thursday morning.
US PRESSWIREWill Jason Campbell (middle) be the Redskins starting quarterback in 2010? Or might the Redskins look to draft Oklahoma's Sam Bradford (left) or Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen?
Never mind the fact that Campbell somehow put up respectable numbers during a season in which he lined up behind arguably the worst offensive line in the league. Campbell was set up to fail by an administration that neglected the offensive line for the better part of a decade.
No quarterback in the league took more of a beating than Campbell, but even when given the opportunity to tap out, he kept showing up in the huddle. And given the way owner Dan Snyder and his former henchman Vinny Cerrato treated him, I'm sure Campbell thought taking a play or two off might lead to a full-time demotion. For the record, Campbell actually enjoyed his time with interim play-caller Sherman Lewis, who was plucked from a bingo-calling assignment by Cerrato.
The Redskins played themselves into the No. 4 overall pick in this April's draft, so all the speculation is that new head coach Mike Shanahan will select either Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford or Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen. But until further notice, Campbell remains the starting quarterback of this team. He'll be an unrestricted free agent, which means he'll likely receive the highest contract tender of roughly $3.1 million. And if the Redskins are shopping Campbell, they're doing a pretty nice job of keeping it a secret this offseason.
I caught up with Campbell via phone Thursday and asked him about his initial impressions of Shanahan. The two sat down in Shanahan's office and talked about the organization's future. But what about Campbell's future?
"The plan is that I'm going to be here," said Campbell. "[Shanahan] told me that he liked how I'd handled everything over the past couple of years and the whole conversation was real positive. But we really didn't talk much about the past. When a team goes 4-12, most of the bad publicity goes to the quarterback. But I was still able to put up one of my best seasons despite all the turmoil."
Campbell showed a lot of loyalty to former coach Jim Zorn, but he knew early on that the organization was asking Zorn to wear too many hats. Campbell, who has lost count of how many offensive coordinators he's played for dating back to his Auburn days, said that Shanahan has brought instant credibility to the Redskins.
"With Coach Shanahan and Bruce Allen, there's already a new feeling to the team," said Campbell. "Guys are going to follow [Shanahan] because he has a proven résumé. The main thing we need is discipline, and you can already see that guys are carrying themselves in a different manner."
Campbell spent part of Super Bowl week in South Florida doing some research on the Redskins' new regime. Skins wide receiver Santana Moss is close friends with Texans receiver Andre Johnson, who had great things to say about new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. And Campbell had a long conversation with Texans running back Ryan Moats about what it was like playing for Shanahan in Houston.
"The main thing Ryan told me is that I'll have a lot of fun playing for Kyle," said Campbell. "And he told me that Kyle was incredibly knowledgeable for such a young guy."
Campbell has handled the situation in Washington with a lot of grace, but he bristles when he hears critics talk about how he didn't throw the ball downfield enough in '09. In fact, I happened to catch him on the phone last month after he'd heard SI.com's Peter King criticizing him on a local radio station in Washington.
"I don't know how anyone can say something like that," said Campbell on Thursday. "Don't you think I wanted to throw the ball downfield? By the time I looked up, I was getting hit. I'm certainly hoping we have an opportunity to make some big plays next season."
For now, Campbell is attempting to avoid the mock draft industry. I helpfully informed him that ESPN's Mel Kiper now has the Skins selecting Clausen at No. 4 overall. In fact, here's how Kiper explained that pick on a conference call Wednesday:
"In the case of a player like Clausen or Bradford, I would take the quarterback first. I have Clausen and Bradford rated higher than [Anthony] Davis and [Russell] Okung. So I would go the quarterback first, then try to get the offensive tackle in the second round and hope that a Bruce Campbell or a [Bryan] Bulaga or somebody like that fell down to me."
Campbell didn't feel like it was his place to inquire about Shanahan's approach to the draft. He said he trusts the coach's experience in that department and will be prepared for whatever happens.
"I have to do whatever it takes to help us win," said Campbell. "All that other stuff will take care of itself. I'm certainly not going to be out campaigning for them to take other positions. They know how to do this stuff."
Jones identified some excellent head-coaching candidates in 2007. But are most of you guys convinced that he chose the right man in Wade Phillips? It's pretty remarkable to see how successful the members of Parcells' staff have been.
And if you read the column, you'll also find out the back story on how Payton nearly became head coach of the Raiders in 2004. Not taking that job was probably one of the best decisions of Payton's career. By the way, I had a chance to visit with SI.com's Peter King on 103.3 FM ESPN earlier this afternoon. He had some great insight on what led Payton to pull the trigger on the onside kick to begin the second half.
I'll try to track down the podcast and get it to you tomorrow.
But now there's a report on ESPNChicago.com indicating that Shanahan might also have an interest in the Bears' head-coaching position -- if Lovie Smith is fired. Here's what a "close friend" of Shanahan's told Melissa Isaacson:
"The job is really attractive to Mike," the friend said. "It's home [with relatives of his, including his dad, in the Chicago area, and wife Peggy's family still in the Bloomington area]. It's a great challenge because that roster needs to be made over, and the one guy there to build the team around is the one guy he has already built a team around and with whom he has a tremendous comfort level, Jay Cutler."It's not like Cutler has given coaches much reason to covet his services with his awful performance this season, but obviously he and Shanahan had a solid rapport in Denver. Most head coaches will tell you that inheriting a good quarterback makes all the difference. Just ask Norv Turner about that in San Diego. Cutler put up impressive numbers while working with Shanahan in Denver.
And I hadn't really given the whole Shanahan family angle a lot of thought before reading Isaacson's story. SI.com's Peter King also mentioned that Shanahan might have an interest in the Bears job in his most recent "Monday Morning Quarterback."
I think Shanahan is probably using the Bears' situation as a way to drive up his price tag in Washington. A little leverage never hurt anyone. But in the end, I think Redskins owner Dan Snyder will still get his man. Sorry, Cowboys and Bears fans.
On Thursday I'm planning to write a column about the impact Michael Vick will have on the offense the rest of the season. I've already talked to a couple of NFL scouts who have made some prediction about how this whole thing will go down Sunday against the Chiefs.
But for now, check out Les Bowen's story in the Daily News regarding the Wildcat package. Sounds like Andy Reid's already getting a little defensive about his use of the Wildcat formation. He snapped at reporters when they guessed (apparently) wrong at how many times the Eagles used the Wildcat. It was 12, by the way.
Peter King of SI.com has already reported that the Eagles have a 10-play package for Vick. But here's what my gut's telling me about Sunday. I think you'll see Vick on the field for eight plays -- three of them near the goal line. Will it disrupt the Eagles' offense? Well, we're about to find out.
Kevin Kolb is wisely saying that he's excited about seeing Vick on the field. It's not like he has much of a choice. Interesting that Jeff Garcia has already criticized the formation a bit. I'm sure Reid appreciated that feedback.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
On Monday, we discussed the rather stunning note about Cowboys wide receiver Roy Williams in SI.com NFL columnist Peter King's Monday Morning Quarterback column. In case you need a refresher, here's what someone close to Williams told King:
"I'm serious,'' the person close to Williams told King. "Roy never lifted before. Now that he has, and now that he's serious about making himself a great football player, especially with T.O. gone, I think he's really going to have a good year.''
Knowing that Williams played in one of the most storied high school football programs in the nation (Odessa (Texas) Permian) and that he then attended a university rumored to have rather posh workout facilities (Texas), I found it very hard to believe that the wide receiver hadn't "lifted before."
King has since written a clarification of the note -- in his Tuesday mailbag column: "I should clarify to say that, obviously, he has lifted weights before. What he hadn't done before this year with the Dallas Cowboys is stay in a program consistently for an entire off-season or be devoted to lifting during a season."
The folks down in Austin were not pleased to read the quote in King's original note, and the sports information director at Texas, John Bianco, sent out his own clarification to several reporters on behalf of the school's well-known strength and conditioning coach Jeff "Mad Dog" Madden. To this point, we haven't heard from our friends at Odessa Permian, the subject of one of the greatest sports books of all-time (in my opinion), "Friday Night Lights."
Here's what Williams told Tim MacMahon's Cowboys Blog: "That's trying to find something to make something negative out of me once again. I started lifting weights in the seventh grade."
Per Bianco, Williams increased his weight from 190 pounds to 215 pounds during his time in Austin and his bench press from 205 to 345. OK, go back to whatever it was you were doing. I'll have more as the day unfolds -- maybe.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
If you're someone who thinks the blog should only deal with position battles leading up to training camp, now's the time to stop reading. But if you're a Giants fan who appreciates the history of the franchise, you'll enjoy this blog entry from Newsday's longtime NFL writer Bob Glauber.
It's fun to imagine Bill Parcells stopping by the media room with a cigarette in his mouth in the mid-80s. Glauber said Parcells would sit down and talk with young beat writers such as Vinny DiTrani and Peter King in "The Dungeon" before heading home. Because of the growth of the sport, those types of encounters are pretty rare these days.
In my four years covering the Cowboys beat, Parcells never stumbled into the media room. If Todd Archer and I wanted to talk to Parcells outside of arranged news conferences, we waited next to his car. OK, we'll return to offseason talk now. Thanks for indulging me.
I try to throw Beastlines on your "doorstep" every morning, but the Giants and Redskins' editions are running late today. Fortunately, that's given us a chance to scour the Internet for the latest updates on these particular teams. Oh, and let me know whether you guys are planning to take Memorial Day off. I'm here if you need me.
- Sam Garnes and Jim Fassel have been reunited. Don't sleep on Tom Rock of Newsday.
- If you're in the Manhattan area this evening at about 10 p.m., check out David Diehl's comedy act. Paul Schwartz of the New York Post has the full story on why Diehl's agreed to take part in a series of comedy sketches in a show called "12 Angry Mascots."
- As the Bleacher Report demonstrates, it's never too early to talk about training camp battles.
- If the Jets came to you guys for advice on whether to sign Plaxico Burress, what would you tell them?
- I'm not quite sure this link belongs, so I'll put it here for now: KC Joyner provides an excellent report from the benefit for Paul (Dr. Z) Zimmerman. How is this applicable to the Giants -- or the NFC East as a whole? Well, Dr. Z has spent a great deal of time covering each of the teams in the division. And he's going through a really tough time right now. Kudos to Peter King for doing so much to help Dr. Z. I've had the pleasure of becoming friends with Peter over the last few years and his devotion to his craft (as well as young writers) is pretty remarkable.
- You know your career is hanging in the balance when Jerry Angelo's afraid to sign you. The Bears' GM stayed with troubled players such as Tank Johnson and Cedric Benson long after he should've replace them -- in my opinion of course. Now he's saying the Bears aren't one of the two teams reportedly hot and heavy for Plaxico Burress.
- In case you missed it Saturday, Ralph Vacchiano had an informative piece on rookie tight end Travis Beckum. (And it's all I can do not to call him "David").
- Ralph has joined the Twitter revolution. He's also considering Facebook.
- Since when did Mike Garafolo start taking vacations? If anyone sees him, please send him back to the Star-Ledger offices.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
The Internet was abuzz early this morning with word that SI.com's esteemed NFL columnist and java critic Peter King was about to release his post-free agency and draft power rankings. King follows the Beast religiously, although he prefers to keep that quiet -- in case his competitors ever discover our blog. Anyway, three NFC East teams appeared in King's top 10.
3. New York
23. Washington -- Ouch!! Here's what PK had to say about the Skins: "Prediction: I'll look foolish when Washington starts 4-2 or 5-1. These things happen with St. Louis, Detroit, Tampa Bay and Kansas City on the schedule before Halloween, three of them at home. But then, when it finishes against the Giants, Cowboys and Chargers, I might be closer to right -- and Jason Campbell might be closer to being somewhere else in 2010."
Anxious to hear what you guys think now.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
"I think everyone out there -- and I have read four beat reporters or club officials speculating about Plaxico Burress joining their team, as well as Jay Cutler reaching out to him -- needs to understand one thing about Burress in 2009: The man is not going to play football.
"Plaxico Burress is going to jail (I think for one year) and he is not going to be around to play football this fall. Even if Burress goes to jail for less than a year, commissioner Roger Goodell almost certainly is going to add to the sanction with an NFL suspension because of the discharging of an unlicensed weapon. So do you want to hitch your wagon to a player who will next play, probably, at age 33 in October 2010? You've got to develop your own big receiver, not pray that one is going to fall out of the sky or the New York court system."
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
"You play with fire sometimes," Blank said Sunday night, "and sometimes you get burned. I needed the Redskins. They pay people, and they pay people quick. It didn't work out with them, and I know I'll be second-guessed, but I did what I thought I had to do to get the biggest contract I could. You can't ignore the team you think is going to pay you the most money. But isn't it amazing? The last team on my list the other night is the team he ends up with. That's what happens in this business."
Vinny Cerrato was on the phone with Blank six seconds after midnight Friday morning. What do you think Canty would've earned from the Redskins? Something tells me he would've ended up in the $20 million guaranteed range, which is about $3 million more than the Giants gave him. In the end, though, Canty has a better chance at winning a Super Bowl with the Giants.
When things looked bleak for Canty on Friday, I'm a little surprised the Cowboys didn't try to pounce. Blank admitted that he thought about having to go back to Dallas on a two-year contract. Maybe the Cowboys really are scared about this DeMarcus Ware contract. Jerry Jones is trying to pay for a new stadium -- and he may have to cough up a $40 million guarantee.