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Thursday, February 18, 2010
Around the NFC West: Rolle's strategy

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals are speaking with Antrel Rolle about a new contract. Rolle's salary jumps past $8 million in 2010 and the Cardinals have to pay him a $4 million bonus by March 5 to prevent him from becoming a free agent. Urban: "If the Cards believe there is a good chance of getting something done, there really isn’t any urgency to reach a new agreement before needing to pay out the bonus because Rolle will get that money (and then some) anyway. But there’s an element of high-stakes poker to this too. Rolle doesn’t have to do anything and force the Cards' hand, although in this market, all players need to be wary of what they can get." If the Cardinals pay the $4 million, Rolle should just play out his contract and see what happens, in my view.

Also from Urban: The Cardinals plan to conduct business as usual this offseason. The Cardinals face quite a few challenges. They have a long list of free agents and their quarterback retired. It's a tribute to the coaching staff and organization if this team can get to .500 next season under the circumstances.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams succeeded in claiming tight end Derek Fine off waivers from Buffalo. Thomas: "With veteran Randy McMichael scheduled for unrestricted free agency and unlikely to return to St. Louis, the Rams are looking for options at tight end. Blocking specialist Billy Bajema returns in 2010 and Daniel Fells is scheduled for restricted free agency. Fine is viewed more as an H-back/receiving tight end." Injuries have limited Fine, a fourth-round choice in 2008. Four months ago, the Bills considered Fine a promising prospect. More on him in a bit.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says holding the No. 1 overall draft choice puts pressure on the Rams' leadership, particularly with a new owner waiting to take over the team. Miklasz: "The pressure on general manager Billy Devaney and coach Steve Spagnuolo is enormous. You see, this isn't just a question of hitting the lotto on that No. 1 pick. There's much more at stake than that. This draft could alter the future of the franchise, on and off the field. This draft could impact the job security of Devaney and Spagnuolo, who are working hard to overcome the football crimes and misdemeanors committed by the previous Rams' regime."

Also from Miklasz: Marshall Faulk has more harsh words for the Rams, this time via The Sporting News.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says ESPN's Mel Kiper thinks the 49ers could use running back C.J. Spiller. Kiper: "I think they need him. I think they need a return man of his skills, they need a back of his ability to complement Frank Gore, which I don't think Glen Coffee is. And most of these teams now, the majority of these teams have a stable of three backs that complement each other, so it doesn't matter who you have as your lead guy. You need that 2 and that 3. Certainly Spiller is something they don't have."

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat checks in with former Ravens scout Daniel Jeremiah, who points to Penn State's Jared Odrick as a defensive end the 49ers could consider in the first round. Jeremiah: "He's climbing really quick. He's a really good player. He's a perfect 5-technique guy. He's a perfect 3-4 end because he has the size with his height and length and he's really strong at the point, so he can hang in there and two-gap if he has to. He's really good against the run and he has some quickness he can use in the pass game. A lot of people are comparing him to Aaron Smith of the Bengals." This is a good read because Jeremiah is very specific.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald says Seahawks receiver Deion Branch would love to rejoin the Patriots this offseason if Seattle doesn't bring him back. Branch: "I never wanted to leave, nor did Coach [Bill] Belichick and his staff and the organization want me to leave, either. We just couldn’t get the contractual part down. We just couldn’t come to an agreement. And that stuff happens. ... For us to reunite, I don’t know. I would probably be crying at the press conference, if it happens. Look, I’ve enjoyed my time with the Seahawks. I would love to stay in Seattle. But if it happens, if it presents itself, that would be great."