NFC North: Drew Rosenhaus

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sam Shields was all set to board a plane for Cleveland, Ohio, the minute NFL free agency was scheduled to open on March 11.

His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, had been talking to the Browns -- among other teams -- early in the three-day negotiating period before teams could visit or sign with new teams.

[+] EnlargeSam Shields
AP Photo/Joe RobbinsSam Shields signed a four-year, $39 million deal to remain in Green Bay this offseason.
That's how close the Green Bay Packers came to losing perhaps their best cornerback.

Shields said Tuesday, in his first interview since signing a four-year, $39 million deal to return to the Packers, that things would have happened quickly with the Browns -- and perhaps other teams -- had he not come to terms with the Packers.

But it never came to that.

"Most of the time I was scared because, like I said, I wanted to be a Packer," Shields said. "You know how that business goes. It's kind of scary at first, but they came with it. I'm happy to be back."

Although the final week of negotiations was frantic, it a yearlong process that last offseason saw Shields skip all the voluntary workouts while Rosenhaus tried to get a long-term deal done with the Packers. The agent even flew to Green Bay last June before the team's mandatory minicamp, but he left a meeting with the Packers only to see Shields sign his $2.023 million restricted free-agent tender.

And then Shields turned in the best season of his four-year career, which began unceremoniously as an undrafted free agent, setting him up for a deal that made him the fifth-highest paid cornerback in the NFL based on his $9.75 million average per year. His signing bonus was $12.5 million.

Not bad for someone who did not play cornerback until his senior year at the University of Miami, where he played his first three years as a receiver.

"I'm really happy because Sam's best football is still in front of him," Packers cornerbacks coach Joe Whitt said. "I honestly believe he has two more years of ascending and then he's going to play at that level for another four years. That's six years of just really good football ahead of him and by then he's 32. He might have more, I don't know what he's going to have after that, but I see two more years of getting better and four more of holding that type of high-quality play."

If there's any fear that the first big long-term contract -- Shields' original rookie deal contained just a $7,500 signing bonus -- will impede the progress that Whitt sees for him, Shields insisted it would not. That he has been in Green Bay for all of the voluntary organized team activities (OTAs) is one tangible sign that it won't.

Another might be the fact that he said his only major purchase since his new deal was a house in Florida -- not for him, but for his mother.

"It's like I tell everybody, it's just the beginning," Shields said. "Like I said, I'm going to keep continuing to work my butt off, make plays and hopefully down the line get another one. It's just the beginning."
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Nothing has changed between the Green Bay Packers and cornerback Sam Shields in the last week, meaning there's almost no chance for a last-minute deal that would keep him off the free-agent market.

Shields
There has been little or no progress in the negotiations since last weekend, when ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that the two sides will not complete a deal before free agency opens on Tuesday.

It's unclear whether communication between Shields' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and the Packers has been cut off all together.

Friday is the last day for teams to retain exclusive negotiating rights for their own players with expiring contracts. Beginning at noon ET on Saturday, unrestricted free agents can begin negotiating with other teams. However, no contracts can be signed with a new team until 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, which is the first day of the new league year.

Many of the Packers' 17 unrestricted free agents are in the same position as Shields. On Thursday, it became apparent that veteran fullback John Kuhn would hit the open market.

The same is expected for outside linebacker Mike Neal, who according the Green Bay Press-Gazette received an offer but not one good enough to keep him from testing the market.

The Packers appeared close to a deal with defensive tackle B.J. Raji on Thursday, but it has not been completed.

Wrap-up thoughts from the combine

February, 23, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS – The media access portion of the NFL scouting combine ended on Sunday afternoon, but events for the invitees and league personnel continues through Tuesday.

Looking back over the four days spent in and around Lucas Oil Stadium, there was plenty to be learned.

Here are some final thoughts from the Green Bay Packers’ perspective.

Lineup changes: This is the time of year where the coaches ponder new roles for new players. We already told you about a possible new role in the defense that might better suit Nick Perry, and coach Mike McCarthy’s desire to turn Eddie Lacy -- and the other running backs -- into three-down players in order to limit substitutions and therefore speed up the offense. Also, cornerback Micah Hyde could add safety to his list of duties, while David Bakhtiari appears likely to remain at left tackle, but there’s been no decision made on where Bryan Bulaga will play.

Salary-cap space: With the 2014 salary cap expected to exceed $130 million and possibly be as high as $132 million, the Packers will have even more room than they expected. Including unused cap space, they could carry over from last season, the Packers will have more than $30 million of salary-cap space available for this offseason.

Tag or no tag: General manager Ted Thompson would not reveal whether he would use the franchise tag as a way to retain cornerback Sam Shields. Although they have the space to absorb the more than $11 million that the tag would cost, Thompson would prefer to sign Shields to a more cap-friendly, long-term deal. Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was expected to continue discussions with the Packers in Indianapolis.

Talking to prospects: On the final day of media access, among the players who confirmed they have met or will meet with the Packers included Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, Notre Dame defensive lineman Louis Nix III and safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama and Calvin Pryor of Louisville. There are two kinds of interviews -- formal ones that last 15 minutes (teams are limited to 60 of those) and informal interviews (of which there is no limit).

Up next: Free agency officially begins on March 11 but teams can start negotiating with free agents on March 8. The next official league gathering is the NFL annual meeting, known as the owners meeting, March 23-26 in Orlando, Fla.

Franchise/transition tags: Packers

February, 17, 2014
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- There’s probably only one player among the Green Bay Packers' free agents-to-be who would warrant any consideration for being tagged, and that’s cornerback Sam Shields.

Like most teams, the Packers would prefer to do a long-term deal rather than implementing the franchise tag, which for cornerbacks this year is likely to be more than $11 million.

Shields
Although they have the salary-cap room to absorb it, they would rather not use nearly half of their existing salary-cap space for 2014 on one player. The structure of a long-term deal with Shields would be such that it would allow them to assign him a much lower salary-cap figure for this season.

However, this has been and could continue to be a prolonged negotiation with Shields’ agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Last June, Rosenhaus flew to Green Bay for a face-to-face meeting with the Packers in an effort to get Shields -- then a restricted free agent who had been tendered at $2.023 million -- a long-term deal.

That didn’t happen, and Shields played in 2013 for the tender. He had his best season, further strengthening his negotiating power.

The fact that Shields entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent who received a signing bonus of just $7,500 makes this contract even more important for him because it’s his first -- and probably best -- shot at a blockbuster payday.

The Packers would like to retain Shields, and negotiations have been ongoing, but they might not be willing to use the tag to do it. Rosenhaus is expected to meet with the Packers face to face later this week at the NFL combine in Indianapolis.

If tight end Jermichael Finley weren't coming off a neck injury that required fusion surgery, then he could be a candidate for the tag like he was two years ago before he signed a $14 million contract. Now, with his playing career up in the air, there’s no chance the Packers will tag him.
If you were Sam Shields, would you want your second (and most lucrative) career contract to be based off a strong 10-game performance in 2012? Or would you bank on yourself, play for $2.02 million in 2013 and seek a better deal as a pending free agent after a presumably longer and more successful season?

That's the dilemma facing Shields, the Green Bay Packers cornerback who has yet to sign his restricted free-agent offer sheet in lieu of a longer-team deal. He has not participated in organized team activities (OTAs) and wouldn't seem likely to report for mandatory minicamp, which starts this Thursday, both of which are signs that Shields would prefer a long-term deal now.

In fact, according to Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, the Packers and Shields' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, have a face-to-face meeting scheduled for Monday. The timing suggests interest by at least one of the parties in getting Shields to minicamp.

Last season, Shields intercepted three passes during the regular season and two more in the playoffs, including one he returned 52 yards for a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers. A shin injury forced him from six games, however, and he played on only 53.9 percent of the Packers' defensive snaps.

Shields figures to see substantially more playing time than that in 2013 following the release of veteran Charles Woodson. It's reasonable to assume that Tramon Williams, Casey Hayward and Shields would be the Packers' top three cornerbacks when healthy. We'll see if anything shakes loose in the next few days.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

The aggressive offseason of first-year general manager Phil Emery has caught the attention of Chicago Bears players. Speaking Wednesday to announce his contract extension, linebacker Lance Briggs said: "It feels like a miracle, what they've done this offseason."

Briggs continued: "They've gone out and gotten a bunch of guys that are going to help us win a championship. I know that … we are a contender. Even guys that have signed, they know they signed here instead of possibly other places because we're a contender."

Briggs said that "on paper," the Bears have their most talented roster in his tenure with the team.

"Would I call us the dream team?" Briggs said. "No, I would not. But I would say we're a championship-caliber team, potentially. … We have to go out and transition it to the field. We have to go out and turn the paper into reality."

With a pair of 2011 playoff teams in their division, the Bears needed to get better. They knew it and their players knew it, and Emery has made a good first impression on them.

Continuing around the NFC North:
We're expecting a pretty fluid weekend here in the NFC North, so let's dispense with a soon-to-be-irrelevant BBAO post and move straight to the news. First up: Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs' formal request to be traded, as first reported by Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.

[+] EnlargeLance Briggs
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesChicago's Lance Briggs has three years left on his deal and is due to make $3.65 million this season.
As you know, Briggs approached the Bears this summer about renegotiating his contract, which has three years remaining on it. The Bears apparently (and unsurprisingly) have rejected his request, prompting Briggs to escalate the situation. According to NFL rules, players can be traded at any point between now and Week 6 of the regular season, but it's hard to imagine the Bears complying, given their lack of depth at his position.

To put it bluntly, Briggs has no leverage other than the absence of an in-house replacement. Based on typical NFL protocol, the Bears are justified in asking Briggs to honor the fourth year of a six-year deal. Let's be clear. Briggs is halfway through the contract but has already earned about two-thirds of its total value. All along, Briggs knew that the tradeoff for a $23 million payday in the first three years would be stepping back to $13 million over the final three years.

ESPN business analyst Andrew Brandt put Briggs' strategy in plain language Friday morning via Twitter:
Lance Briggs/Drew Rosenhaus gameplan: Ask for new contract; when denied ask for trade; when denied cause distraction. Rinse and repeat.

Yes, this is not the first mid-deal distraction Rosenhaus has presided over. (The guy literally wrote a book called "Next Question" after his infamous Terrell Owens news conference.) The truth is Briggs and Rosenhaus made a calculated and risky decision when they agreed to their original deal in 2008. They were betting Briggs' play would justify a new deal at this juncture. Otherwise, why would they agree to relatively modest salaries of $3.65 million this season and $3.75 million in 2012?

That expectation, however, was almost impossible to achieve. Briggs was already an All-Pro linebacker in 2008. He signed the deal at the height of his market value. Was it realistic for him to be a better player in 2011 than he was in 2008? The only way to justify a new contract is to argue you have outperformed your current one.

It's not the same thing to say Briggs is undervalued with a $3.65 million salary, because that figure was part of the total package he originally agreed to. Say you let your kids watch five hours of television a week. By Tuesday, they've used up four of the five-hour allowance. Do you add more to that total to stop the inevitable whining about one more hour over the next five days?

I think that's a fair analogy, and it's clear the Bears plan to hold their parenting ground. Briggs' market value was $6 million per year in 2008. He wants $6 million this season, according to McClure, but has conveniently forgotten he earned about $7.5 million per year in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

The question now is how difficult Briggs wants to make it on the Bears. He told McClure the situation is "not going to take away from what I do on the field," and normally I would say that a contract dispute wouldn't distract a veteran team such as the Bears. But Briggs isn't just a player. He is one of their captains and a foundation of their veteran structure. The Bears will have to gauge if they can squeeze a productive year out of him before taking a harder look at this in the offseason. I'm sure that's their preference.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

I turned away from the computer for a few hours, coinciding with the night time ritual known as catching a few winks, and it looks like I've missed some important NFC North news. Here's the biggest:

The Detroit Lions have agreed to terms with free-agent linebacker Justin Durant, once thought to be a target of the Chicago Bears, according to ESPN's John Clayton. Durant has also posted some Lions-centric tweets overnight, including: "So the DLine is called the Silver Crush huh? Ok I can get with that"

Yes, any linebacker signing with the Lions will have the benefit of a strong defensive line to keep blockers away from him. Durant had a tough time staying on the field with the Jacksonville Jaguars and missed six games last season, but he is a strong player who will fill an obvious need on the outside if he can stay healthy.

The Lions have also pursued free-agent linebacker Stephen Tulloch. No word yet on Tulloch's decision. But for now, at least, Durant's arrival will keep DeAndre Levy in the middle of the Lions' 4-3 scheme.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News on the Lions: "Oh, there will be ample time for skepticism. For now, go ahead and buy in with the Lions. You certainly wouldn't be the only one."
  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "People are actually excited about the Lions this year, and not just in the usual, delusional, 'Hey, maybe if those 17 guys who have always stunk suddenly get good, we can go .500!' sort of way. The Lions have a plan. They have talent. They have ... hope."
  • Are the Chicago Bears trying to trade tight end Greg Olsen? Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that agent Drew Rosenhaus sent a mass email to NFL executives indicating just that but later asked the email to be ignored.
  • A market is developing for Bears receiver/special-teams ace Rashied Davis, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
  • The Green Bay Packers have told guard Daryn Colledge "they have no interest in my services at a high price," Colledge told Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com. This is no surprise. For whatever reason, the Packers have never appeared interested in locking up Colledge for the long term.
  • Packers receiver Donald Driver is going to have to prove himself all over again this summer, writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  • Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette examines the Packers' looming competition at outside linebacker.
  • Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com digs into the hip surgery that seemed to end receiver Sidney Rice's career with the Minnesota Vikings.
  • Bob Sansevere of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Donovan McNabb is washed up, and it's a waste of money and a roster spot to trade for him. That is one way to look at the acquisition of the 34-year-old quarterback the Washington Redskins no longer wanted. Apparently, Vikings coach Leslie Frazier sees it differently."
  • Former Vikings coach Brad Childress, who coached McNabb in Philadelphia, believes McNabb will give teams "hell to pay" because he will have a chip on his shoulder with the Vikings. Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune has more.
We're Black and Blue All Over:

We've spent a good portion of the offseason discussing the Chicago Bears' personnel options along the offensive line, most recently suggesting that rookie Gabe Carimi as the best option at left tackle. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune makes an important point along those lines: The NFL's lost offseason, and what could be a shortened training camp, could ultimately make the decision simpler for the Bears.

Carimi played left tackle at Wisconsin. Another candidate for the position, J'Marcus Webb, played right tackle last season. It would be easier for both players to make the transition after a full offseason of work. With less training time, it might make more sense to keep major changes to a minimum.
Biggs: "A case could be made for leaving Carimi at left tackle because there have been no offseason workouts and minicamps. He played there four years at Wisconsin. Let him go with what he's most accustomed to doing and see if he can excel. Meanwhile, Webb could remain where he made 12 starts last season. 'You're going to feel more confident in the stance that you have been playing your career at,' Carimi said last week from Madison, Wis., where he is wrapping up an eight-week training program he began after the draft. 'It doesn't matter to me as long as I can make an impact on the team that it needs.'"

Makes perfect sense to me.

Continuing around the NFC North as we begin another quiet week in June:
We're Black and Blue All Over:

As we set to embark on an unprecedented week in NFL history, we already have a bit of lockout-related news: The agent for Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice said his client won't re-sign with the team before having an opportunity to test his market value in free agency, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Rice has four accrued seasons, which technically makes him a restricted free agent under the rules of an uncapped year in place as of today. But agent Drew Rosenhaus is no doubt expecting the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) to revert back to the previous system that would make Rice unrestricted, free to sign with any team and thus in position to negotiate a more lucrative contract.

The Vikings have already used their franchise tag on linebacker Chad Greenway and might not have a method for blocking Rice's movement under the new CBA. We're a long way from that moment, but that's my educated guess for why Rosenhaus has taken this stance.

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier has informed Rice he wants him back, but business is business. Obviously the team hasn't hit a contract number that Rice and Rosenhaus would agree to. Rice has had only one healthy season in his four years with the team, and the microfracture surgery he had on his hip last summer was significant. As a result, the Vikings are approaching his situation more cautiously than you might expect.

Continuing around the NFC North:
  • Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune wonders if the camaraderie between Frazier and vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman will last.
  • Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com on that dynamic: "In the long run, the Vikings hope for synergy. For now, they'll settle for civility."
  • Chicago Bears safety Danieal Manning rejected a three-year contract extension worth $6 million, including $2 million guaranteed, last December. According to ESPNChicago.com, Manning has now been tendered as a restricted free agent at $1.29 million.
  • Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz said he was "100 percent" in agreement with coach Lovie Smith to change schematic courses midway through last season, writes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Martz on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, via Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times: "He has got to keep getting better at what he's doing, and we have to continue to get better around him. We need to protect him better, the receivers need to get better. All those things are tied together. That's when he gets better, and he will. He was getting better throughout the season. I was very pleased with his progress. He's not where he needs to be, but he's making good progress."
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press looks at a couple of cornerbacks who could fall to the Detroit Lions at No. 13 overall.
  • Chris McCosky of the Detroit News wonders if Colorado cornerback Jimmy Smith can be trusted.
  • Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com on the Lions' tampering case with the Kansas City Chiefs: "The Lions have until Monday to appeal the ruling and it's becoming something of a headache for general manager Martin Mayhew. While Mayhew simply wants to the turn the page on the unpleasant episode -- and that was reflected in his recent comments -- the Lions' coaching staff, most notably head coach Jim Schwartz and defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, are both livid because they don't believe they've done anything wrong."
  • Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, via Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "I plan on winning another Super Bowl. Yes, I do."
  • The draft could finally help determine Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang's long-term position, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

A twist in the Sidney Rice caper

November, 17, 2010
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings are down to their final seven days of evaluating the progress of receiver Sidney Rice's surgically-repaired hip. The assumption has long been that Rice would be ready for Sunday's division matchup against the Green Bay Packers, but let's just say the situation grew darker Wednesday.

(We're not in "Theatre of the Absurd" territory, but we're getting there. For now, let's call it "Theatre of the Getting Stranger By the Minute.")

[+] EnlargeSidney Rice
AP Photo/Andy KingThe Vikings have until Nov. 24 to either add him to their 53-man roster or put him on IR.
Coach Brad Childress admitted that he didn't know if Rice would return at all this season, while Rice posted an angry message on his personal blog to defend his longer-than-expected absence. Even agent Drew Rosenhaus got into the fray, telling ESPN's Adam Schefter that "we've never given any consideration to him not playing this season."

First, the facts: Rice's 21-day practice window closes Nov. 24. At that point, the Vikings must either add him to their 53-man roster or shelve him for the rest of the season.

The team's medical staff cleared Rice for full practice two weeks ago, and it was believed he would be activated as soon as he got his conditioning up to speed. Childress has said the timing of his return is up to Rice, and on consecutive weekends Rice has told the Vikings he does not feel ready to play.

Asked Wednesday if he is confident that Rice would play at some point this season, Childress said: "I don't know. I don't know. I know what I see with my eyes in terms of him practicing, how many snaps he could give you, how many realistic snaps. Would he break down again? Those are all things you'd have to guess on."

What's going on here? Didn't the Vikings suggest in August that Rice would be ready to play by midseason? Why is everyone getting so touchy?

In essence, we have a player in the final year of his contract. The team hasn't offered a new deal, knowing that under the current collective bargaining agreement, he isn't eligible for unrestricted free agency until 2012. The Vikings have sorely missed Rice this season, raising his value to an all-time high, and the dirty fact is Rice would only hurt his value if he plays -- and produces -- at less than 100 percent during the remaining games of this season.

No one has suggested Rice is intentionally dragging his feet, either to jump-start negotiations or portray himself as more injured than he really is. But that aura has hung over the situation ever since Childress publicly put the ball in Rice's court.

It makes sense to listen to how a player says he is feeling. At the same time, however, Rice has been painted into a corner. If he doesn't return this week or next, he'll be portrayed as a player who tapped out. Few NFL players want that moniker.

In a Wednesday blog post titled "A Bunch of Bull," Rice said he was still feeling "significant discomfort" in his hip at the end of last week. He added: "My objective is to get out on the field and play when I'm healthy and it has nothing to do with my contract."

Ominously, Rice also wrote that the still-unspecified surgery he had was "very serious" and that there is "way more" to returning from it than people might realize. He wrote that he hoped to play Sunday against the Packers, but that he will make a decision Saturday based on how he feels after a week of practice.

If you're a conspiracy theorist, you're thinking that at the very least, Rice is feeling cornered and passively pressured to return. Even if you believe everything at face value, you can see Rice is conflicted about how to handle a delicate situation and concerned about the perception the team has created.

I have no idea what to believe at this point. I'm sure this happens often in the NFL, but rarely do you see it being played out in public. I will say this: Any time a player feel compelled to title his latest blog post "A Bunch of Bull," you've got trouble.
Thanks to everyone for taking part in Tuesday's intense but abbreviated SportsNation chat. You provided your usual thought-provoking questions, and let's take this opportunity to amplify a couple of our answers.

Original exchange:
Minn Sports Fan (MN)

Of all the NFC north rookies, which has impressed you most in camp?

Kevin Seifert (2:04 PM)

Interesting. So far, I would say I liked what I saw (briefly) of Ndamukong Suh. Just his personality. He's a serious, serious man. I also think Chris Cook looked pretty smooth at cornerback for the Vikings.
[+] EnlargeWootton
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireCorey Wootton has made a positive impression during training camp.

Amplifying:


Let's name a rookie that stood out in each NFC North training camp.

Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton: I hope this doesn't sound too simple, but Wootton definitely looks the part. When you see a legitimate 6-foot-6 defensive end with long arms walk past, you think, "This guy has a chance to have a chance." I didn't notice him overpowering any offensive linemen, but it was early in camp. From a physical standpoint, Wootton has all of the tools.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh: In addition to his serious demeanor, Suh wasted no time making his presence known on the field after a brief holdout. His first-practice battles with right guard Stephen Peterman and left guard Rob Sims were intense.

Green Bay Packers defensive end Mike Neal: This guy is a rock-solid 294 pounds and was getting extensive playing time with the second-team defense. Once he learns the Packers' scheme, you can envision Neal splitting time with left end Ryan Pickett.

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook: It's not often that you see a 6-2 cornerback, let alone one that runs the way Cook does. Whether he can cover won't be determined until the preseason, but like the rest of these rookies, he has the physical attributes to have a chance.

Rice
Original exchange:
Dan (Wisconsin)

Do you buy that Sidney Rice is exaggerating his hip injury because he's mad about his contract?

Kevin Seifert (2:06 PM)

I think it's a really interesting issue. Something strange has happened. He participated in minicamp in mid-June without a hitch. Then, after that, he started saying that his hip was still bothering him. The Vikings don't seem to think it's a big deal, and there have been mixed messages throughout. I think he's probably mad about his contract, but it's an awfully serious allegation to suggest that he's dogging it. At this point, there isn't enough evidence to say that he is.

Amplifying:


I still feel the same way, but I remain curious about what happened between minicamp and training camp. I also think it's notable that agent Drew Rosenhaus announced Rice's injury information via his Twitter account. It's not often that Rosenhaus, or any other agent for that matter, publicly proclaims that his player his injured. I'll say this: Rice should be well-rested and in excellent condition when he eventually does return.

Daunte Culpepper in agent mode

March, 22, 2010
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Former Detroit and Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper was wearing his agent's hat Monday, working the lobby of the NFL owners meeting in hopes of getting a job for a client: Himself.

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.

Bears want Rolle

March, 4, 2010
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We are entering a highly fluid time period, even by NFL standards, and so it's possible this post could be moot in a matter of minutes. But as of this moment, it appears Chicago is making a legitimate attempt to sign free agent safety Antrel Rolle.

Rolle
Rolle
Arizona released Rolle earlier Thursday, making him immediately eligible to begin negotiating with other teams. The Cardinals could re-sign him, but the Bears are one team that would like to pry him away. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports the Bears are "actively involved" in negotiations with agent Drew Rosenhaus.

Rosenhaus is typically a quick deal maker when a team reaches the number he is looking for. None of us can honestly handicap how likely Rolle is to end up in Chicago, but the Bears are making a big effort to make it happen.

McKinnie: 'More than it really was'

February, 4, 2010
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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Man, I love Twitter.

I was sitting vacantly in the Super Bowl media center when Minnesota left tackle Bryant McKinnie tweeted that he was walking in the door. I hopped up and ran into him signing posters over on radio row.

McKinnie

McKinnie

We talked for about five minutes about his dismissal from the Pro Bowl, his combination of regret and defiance and his relative lack of sympathy for the players left to cover for him in the game.

Below is most of our Q&A. I’ll follow up with a few comments at the bottom.

Tell us what happened.

Bryant McKinnie: I understand I missed it. But they tried to make it seem like it was because you were at the club and you couldn’t get up. No. I had called [agent Drew Rosenhaus] and told Drew I wanted to withdraw.

I had taken a cortisone shot in my foot the week before the game. When you take that shot, it numbs whatever. You don’t feel like you’re hurt anymore. It was the New Orleans game. You feel like you’re good on Wednesday.

Yes, I did go out. I can go out and still get up the next morning. But my body started feeling a certain way. So I called Drew and I said, ‘I don’t think I’m going to be able to play anymore because my body was hurting.’

I was trying to push myself to play. It was my first Pro Bowl, it was in Miami, so I got to come back and play at home. He got in touch with the trainer. The trainer ended up calling me at 6:30 on Friday.

I told him over the phone my problems. He said, ‘Could you come see me in person?’ I said I was 30 minutes away because I was down at the beach. He said he going to dinner at 7 and could I meet him at 9:30. I said yeah. We were going to meet at 9:30. Then he called me and said, ‘I’m running late. I’m going to give you another time to meet.’

So me, in my mind, I already had talked to him, there’s no need to go to practice. There’s no reason to go to anything else.

What about the other days? Why didn’t you go to practice or meetings on those days?

BM: I had gotten sick. I was in the hotel. So he gave me medicine for that.

The league knew that’s why you didn’t show up?

BM: The trainer came to my room. That was Wednesday.

Given that, do you wish you had done anything differently during the week?

BM: Probably better communication to follow up with trainers and everything, or just withdrew earlier. But I don’t feel like it needed that much attention on it.

Do you think people will be quicker to assume the worst because of your history?

BM: But there wasn’t anything bad behind it. I just feel that they made it more than it really was. It wasn’t like I got locked up somewhere and couldn’t play in the game because I was in jail. That’s how they made it seem. I just didn’t know that it was going to be that serious.

Do you see where people might note that there were only two tackles left after you and that they had to play the entire game?

BM: Anyone who watched the game would know it wasn’t like they were going that hard. If you watched the game, they were stopping in front of the quarterback. I’m like, OK….

Have you heard from Brad Childress yet?

BM: No, not yet. Kevin Warren [a Vikings vice president], I talked to him. He was like, ‘Get off Twitter for a minute.' Because I was going in there and kind of responding to people. He was like, ‘Just don’t.’

People saw you tweeting about going to clubs and probably made a judgment.

BM: I’m off at the end of the day. I had a long season. It was a pretty decent season. You know what I mean? It’s all alright.

A few thoughts from me:
  • I appreciated McKinnie standing there and speaking to me, especially after what I wrote Saturday. (I’m guessing he hasn’t read it.) Nothing he said Thursday will change my original reaction. He would have had to be awfully sick during the week to make only one day of meetings and practices. Neither are taxing. And he absolutely erred by not addressing his foot injury earlier.
  • By “they,” I believe McKinnie was referring to the media and not the NFL.
  • This question will have to remain unanswered: Why was McKinnie too sick and injured to practice and play, but healthy enough to go out each night in Miami? At the end of the day, those two facts can’t be reconciled. I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
  • I don’t think many of his fellow Pro Bowlers are going to appreciate McKinnie’s indifference to the players he left to cover for him. I agree the game wasn’t taxing on a relative level, but that’s not the point. The less taxing the game, the more egregious it was that he considered himself too injured to play.

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