NFC North: David Cornwell
As we noted last month, Culpepper hired attorney David Cornwell as an advisor but remains his own agent when it comes to soliciting and negotiating contracts. He is an unrestricted free agent who now knows he won't be returning to the Lions, who replaced him earlier this month by acquiring Shaun Hill from San Francisco.
Culpepper said he has touched base with a handful of teams so far this offseason but hasn't had any serious contract discussions.
"That's why I'm here," Culpepper said.
Agents often drop in on the owners meeting to jump-start negotiations. In the past day, I've seen Drew Rosenhaus, David Dunn and Frank Bauer, among others, making the rounds.
This is an important step in the right direction for Culpepper, who could return to Detroit but would like to explore other possibilities first. The eventual terms of his next contract won’t be as challenging as the task of getting his name into circulation with the front offices of other teams. Cornwell has long served as a legal resource for NFL players and agents and has the credibility to steer teams in Culpepper’s direction.
Wednesday's statement from attorney David Cornwell, who revealed the NFL has long been aware that the StarCaps weight-loss supplement contains a banned diuretic, could have repercussions in the NFC North.
Cornwell is handling the appeals of New Orleans Saints players Deuce McAllister, Charles Grant and Will Smith -- all of whom have been suspended for testing positive for the diuretic bumetanide. Minnesota defensive tackles Kevin Williams and Pat Williams are facing a similar fate and are scheduled to have their appeals heard Thursday.
In its official steroid policy, the NFL offers to answer any questions players might have about a supplement. There is a telephone hotline as well as contact information for Dr. John Lombardo, the league's independent. administrator for the plan.
According to Cornwell's statement, Lombardo knew that StarCaps contained bumetanide but did not reveal it. Cornwell's implication is that Lombardo did not administrate the policy properly and thus eliminated the culpability of his clients.
If McAllister, Grant and Smith are exonerated as a result, it's possible that Kevin Williams and Pat Williams will be as well. Still, there are some unanswered questions that could mitigate Cornwell's argument. Namely:
1. Did any of those players specifically ask about StarCaps? The policy provides information to those who ask, but my understanding is that the NFL is not obligated to publicize a list of tainted supplements. The NFL does provide a list of supplements it has tested and approved. There is an important distinction here.
2. Would Lombardo's decision to withhold the information supersede the NFL's mandate that players are ultimately responsible for what they take? Remember, here is the wording from the NFL policy: "Players are responsible for what is in their bodies, and a positive test result will not be excused because a player was unaware that he was taking a Prohibited Substance."
If someone called Lombardo or the NFL hotline and got clearance to take StarCaps, then there is a legitimate problem here. But if the players are trying to smoke out Lombardo and the league for not independently informing them that StarCaps was tainted, they might not have a winning argument. Stay tuned.