Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Around the NFC West: Valuing Sidney Rice
By Mike Sando
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle outlines five suggested moves for the Seahawks in free agency. Huard: "Out-flank the defense with a 'Z' wide receiver (flanker) that can threaten and scare a defensive coordinator. I believe when healthy Sidney Rice is that guy, and he knows this system well. His hip is paramount to the negotiation, but if he can get back to the 2009 form he immediately makes Marshawn Lynch and Mike Williams better. ... Think Atlanta's Roddy White for Michael Turner and Matt Ryan, or Dwayne Bowe in Kansas City for Jamaal Charles and Matt Cassel. An elite wide receiver tilts the field his way, and can take some pressure off not just his wide receiver counterparts, but an offensive line and run game that should see less bodies hovering around the line of scrimmage." Rice's hip injury is a key variable, but his connections to the Seahawks' new offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell, give Seattle insight most teams would not have.
Also from Huard, with Mike Salk: Should the Seahawks replace veteran middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu? They need to line up options, for sure. Tatupu has worn down physically in recent seasons and is coming off surgeries on both knees.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says former linebacker Michael Jackson withdrew from the game completely upon leaving the NFL more than two decades ago. Jackson spent one seasons as a broadcaster, but his heart wasn't in it. Jackson: "I thought I still wanted to be in the game, but I found that I couldn’t really broadcast very well because I wouldn’t study, because I didn’t want to watch football. And if I didn’t want to watch football, what the hell am I doing broadcasting football? It didn’t make any sense. That’s where I find myself now. I’m just totally removed. I don’t know anything that’s going on. I don’t know any of the players."
Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune expects the Seahawks to be active when the lockout concludes. Boling: "It seems that this is a time when returning players have greater value because there is so little time to acclimate newcomers. The top two draft picks, for instance, are expected to come in and be starters on the offensive line when the exhibition season starts Aug. 11 -– little more than three weeks from now. One thing working in the Seahawks’ favor is that the constant turnover of the past year has them accustomed to making changes on the fly and pulling a quick trigger on personnel deals."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch checks in with Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn, who is eager to collect his first NFL sack. Coats: "Because of the lockout, there were no organized team activities or minicamps -- valuable introductory sessions for first-year players -- in the spring. Quinn, who hasn't been at Rams Park since meeting with the media on April 29, has been working out at the North Carolina facilities with former Tar Heels teammate Ryan Taylor, a tight end who was a seventh-round selection by Green Bay."
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the post-lockout frenzy will challenge the Rams. Miklasz: "It will be interesting to see how well the Rams deal with this, and how much success they'll have in taking care of business. This is a test for the organization."
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asks colleagues, including Rams beat reporter Jim Thomas, what position the team will address first once the lockout ends. Thomas: "Even in the normal feeding frenzy at the start of a normal free agency period, teams multi-task and work on securing two or three positions at once. That will be especially true this year once the lockout ends. Free agency will be like an ultra-fast version of speed dating. Even so, the first calls made by the Rams could involve running back and defensive tackle."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com takes a big-picture look at the 49ers this offseason. Maiocco on rookie Aldon Smith: "History suggests that good pass-rushers can make quick transitions to the NFL. The 49ers expect Smith to become a dominant pass-rusher early in his career, as he is set to replace pending free agent Manny Lawson. The 49ers have not had a year-in, year-out pass-rush presence since Charles Haley."
Also from Maiocco: Takeo Spikes thinks limitations on training camps will extend NFL careers considerably.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee passes along thoughts from Alex Smith and Joe Staley regarding those proposed training camp limitations. Staley: "As a player, two-a-days are really hard. Part of you wants to not have those full-padded, full-contact two-a-days. Some part of you also wants to have them because you get a lot of work in. They are beneficial."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News updates the 49ers' stadium situation, specifically efforts to secure a loan. Kawakami: "A league source confirmed to the Bay Area News Group on Tuesday that the 49ers’ stadium situation is one of three accounted for in the new CBA, which could become official by the end of this week."
Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Forrest Blue, the 49ers' former Pro Bowl center, has died at the age 65. Brown: "Blue helped Dick Nolan’s teams win three consecutive NFC West titles starting in 1970. His lone touchdown came when he scooped up a fumble and ran it 25 yards against the New England Patriots in 1971. Blue spent his final four NFL seasons with the Baltimore Colts. He retired after the 1978 season because of a degenerative disc."
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says Blue suffered from dementia for years. Branch: "Brittney Blue said her father's brain will be sent to Boston University where researchers are studying chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease linked to those who have sustained repeated head trauma. CTE is tied to memory loss, depression and dementia, and has been found in the brains of more than 20 former NFL players, including Bears safety Dave Duerson, 50, who committed suicide in February."
Vittorio Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers and Raiders are considering working on a shared stadium. Team president Jed York: "We've put our teams together," 49ers chief executive Jed York said late Monday at an event for NFL fans in Los Angeles. "It doesn't mean we're going to find the right deal that fits for both teams, but we're certainly going to get a look at those options."
Also from Branch: York is the latest 49ers executive to say the team will not be particularly active in free agency.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers pros and cons associated with a possible trade sending Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Philadelphia for Kevin Kolb. Somers: "Kolb has limited starting experience and was inconsistent last season. And he lost his job after suffering a concussion. For some reason, Eagles fans seem to think Kolb will bring a ransom on the trade market. Giving up DRC would be hard enough for the Cardinals, but the Eagles asking for additional compensation (a draft pick) coiuld be a deal breaker."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers thoughts on acquiring Kolb. Urban: "Both sides probably won’t end up with 'best-case scenario' in a deal for one to happen. The Eagles won’t get a ransom, the Cards won’t get off cheap."
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic says Cardinals strong safety Adrian Wilson is eager to get back on the field with a purpose. Wilson: "I had a down season last year. I know that. But there has been so much written and so much said about how I should retire, how I'm not the player I was. The respect level just isn't there. The work I've put in has been written off as if I haven't done anything." Retire? I'm not aware of anyone calling for Wilson's retirement. That would be way, way overboard.
Mike Jurecki of XTRA910 radio in Phoenix offers Cardinals-related thoughts during a chat. Jurecki on possible interest in Ike Taylor, who could have additional value if the team parted with Rodgers-Cromartie: "I think they will have interest. He's 31 -- looks like he's looking to cash in. Having Greg Toler gives them another option. Taylor is familiar with new Cards DC Ray Horton. He was Taylor's position coach in Pittsburgh."