Monday, February 15, 2010
Around the NFC West: Whisenhunt's future
By Mike Sando
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals have never re-signed a head coach since the franchise relocated to Arizona more than two decades ago. They are now talking with Ken Whisenhunt about an extension. Somers: "Negotiations to re-sign coaches often involve more issues than money, however. For instance, Whisenhunt has long desired an indoor practice facility at the team's headquarters in Tempe. Whisenhunt also might want a more significant voice in staffing decisions, including those employees directly supporting the coaching staff. Other potential parts of a contract include appearances before sponsors, radio and television obligations, and authority over personnel. Whisenhunt already has considerable influence in player-personnel issues, from free agency to the draft."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com doesn't expect NFL teams to throw around lots of bonus money when the new league year begins March 5, although rules governing the final eight teams in the playoffs aren't as restrictive as they might initially seem.
Also from Urban: Five plays that defined the Cardinals' 2009 season, including Anquan Boldin's 39-yard touchdown catch against the Vikings.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the NFL will approve Shahid Kahn as majority owner of the Rams. Miklasz: "I believe NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is a man of integrity. I would be absolutely shocked if Khan is treated less than fairly by the NFL or the owners. And if Khan's finances check out, he should be fine. (More on that later.) I would think the NFL would be proud to open the doors to its inner sanctum to Khan -- an ambitious, self-made man who represents the American dream."
Kevin McDermott of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Illinois football coach Ron Zook as calling Khan self-confident. McDermott: "How will that confidence translate at the Edward Jones Dome? People here who know Khan say to expect a hands-on approach, stopping somewhere short of meddlesome. He won't spend lavishly, except in instances where he sees it as necessary to achieve quality, a topic he is obsessive about. Fans who want flashy behavior and controversy will be disappointed. Players and staff will be able to talk to him."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Khan could enlist a limited partner or two. Thomas: "Not because he needs to, but because he wants to. Those who know Khan are confident he will have no problems in this setting and under this scrutiny. He was described to the Post-Dispatch by one league source as the type of person who 'won't run at the first sign of problems.' Barring any unforeseen obstacles, it's conceivable Khan could be approved as early as the May 24-26 owners meetings in Dallas. But if there is a hiccup or two, the approval process could spill over into the summer."
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the speed of the Rams' sale could hinge on the plans of minority owner Stan Kroenke. Balzer: "Kroenke owns 40 percent of the team and has 60 days from the time the sale agreement is signed and submitted to the league to make his intentions known. Kroenke could retain his 40-percent share, provided he feels good about his potential relationship with Khan. He could sell his 40 percent to Khan, who is prepared for that possibility. He could also elect to exercise his right of first refusal on the other 60 percent, but that appears unlikely because to do that he would have to either sell his NBA and NHL teams in Denver or convince the NFL to change its cross-ownership rules."
Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says the Rams hired Panthers assistant trainer Reggie Scott to replace Jim Anderson as head trainer in St. Louis.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee looks at Maryland's Bruce Campbell, among others, as potential offensive tackles the 49ers could consider in the draft. Maryland's strength coach compared Campbell to the 49ers' Vernon Davis in terms of raw athleticism. Barrows: "When I visited the Maryland campus last year for a story on Vernon Davis, I, of course, had to check in with Terps strength coach Dwight Galt. As predicted, Galt gushed about Davis' weight-room prowess. But he also mentioned he had another pupil in Davis' mold. That's Campbell, who like Davis is a muscular, freakish athlete who will put up eye-popping numbers in the weight room."
Also from Barrows: He expects the 49ers to use the franchise tag on nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. That seems like a good way to hedge bets while teams face an uncertain labor future, particularly given the fact Franklin has not yet strung together multiple productive seasons.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the 49ers' specialists, noting Josh Morgan was highly productive in limited opportunities as a kick returner. Maiocco: "His 28.2-yard average on kickoffs would've ranked him third in the NFL if he'd had enough returns to qualify. (He had 13 returns.) But the 49ers do not want to have a starting receiver handling kickoffs. He'll be only an emergency option in 2010. Signed through 2011."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Patrick Kerney, John Carlson, Will Herring, Olindo Mare, Deion Branch, Steve Vallos and Mansfield Wrotto will participate in the NFL Business Management Entrepreneurial Program via Harvard and Wharton business schools. More than 500 NFL players have participated over the years.
Also from Farnsworth: Snappers Pat MacDonald and Matt Overton could compete for the job Jeff Robinson filled in recent seasons. Farnsworth: "In 2007, the Seahawks used Derek Rackley and Boone Stutz with less-than-stellar results, before coaxing Robinson out of retirement for the final three games. In 2008, they spent a sixth-round draft choice on Tyler Schmitt, only to discover he had a degenerative back problem. Enter Robinson, again."
Brian McIntyre of scout.com takes a look at the Seahawks' specialists, calling punter Jon Ryan "arguably" the Seahawks' MVP last season. McIntyre: "The overall need for more team speed is evident in Seattle’s kick and punt coverage units, which ranked 19th (kick) and 30th (punt) in the NFL last season. Less than half of Ryan’s 88 punts were returnable, but those that were, went for an average of 11.1 yards per return."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks added punter Tom Malone to compete with Ryan this offseason.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says CFL pass-rusher Ricky Foley signed with the Seahawks after drawing interest from the Rams, Jets and Patriots. Johns: "It's reasonable to wonder where Foley might fit in, given the Seahawks already have smaller speed-rush type ends in Reed and Darryl Tapp, while also getting ready to try linebacker Aaron Curry in a similar role." This looks like a case of Seattle filling out its numbers toward an 80-man roster, hoping to find a developmental player.