NFC West: Dennis Dixon

The NFL took a break from dominating the sports news cycle over the weekend.

The silence will not last long.

Bounty-related punishments for current and former New Orleans Saints players await. The NFL will address recent bounty-related appeals from Saints coach Sean Payton and general manager Mickey Loomis. Teams will continue filling out their rosters with second-tier free agents. The league will also release its 2012 regular-season schedule in the next week or so.

In the meantime, we take a quick look around the division on a Monday morning.

Peter Delevett of the San Jose Mercury News says San Francisco 49ers players spent part of their weekend participating in the search for missing Bay Area teenager Sierra LaMar. Delevett: "The search effort is being aided by thousands of volunteers; by the families of other Bay Area youngsters who have been kidnapped and killed, including those of Polly Klaas and Xiana Fairchild; and by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. On Saturday, Smith and teammates Joe Staley, Delanie Walker and Scott Tolzien were among about 500 people combing southern Santa Clara County for signs of Sierra. The NFL stars made it clear they did not welcome the media attention, but Sierra's sister, Danielle, was grateful for the celebrity support. 'When those kinds of people get involved, it gives us a whole new audience,' she said."

Steve Kelley of the Seattle Times checks in with former Seattle Seahawks players Joe Tafoya and Kerry Carter, who have joined forces with other former teammates to operate a mobile apps company. Kelley: "Two years ago, Tafoya, now 33 and a computer-science major from Arizona, bought an 11-year-old Redmond mobile apps distributor. Now he's joined forces with like-minded former Seahawks Carter, Chike Okeafor and Omare Lowe to form Jump It Media. ... They're building profile applications for athletes to help them increase their brands through online channels. Among their subjects are Chicago Bears defensive end Lance Briggs and Dallas Mavericks guard Jason Terry."

Brock Huard and Mike Salk of 710ESPN Seattle discuss whether the Seahawks would be wise to move back from the 12th overall spot in the 2012 draft.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports on the wine company Cardinals guard Daryn Colledge founded with two former teammates. The label -- "Three Fat Guys" -- reflects their good humor and significant girth as offensive linemen. Somers: "It started small in 2008 and has stayed that way. The initial objective was to produce enough wine to stock the three fat guys' homes and for them to give away as presents. Only 126 or so cases are produced each year, so it's more than a novelty but less than a full-time business. ... Their greatest fear now is not that the operation will go under, but that it will grow too fast and consume too much time. The players see the humor in that, because they weren't long out of college when the idea of becoming winemakers was hatched."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers thoughts on Deuce Lutui's departure from the Cardinals to the Seahawks as an unrestricted free agent. Urban: "The door hadn’t been closed on Lutui in Arizona, but I didn’t see him starting again here. He may not in Seattle, but he reunites with his college coach, Pete Carroll, and the Cards will get a chance to see him again."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Trevor Laws, a free agent from the Philadelphia Eagles, visited the St. Louis Rams recently. Thomas: "A second-round pick out of Notre Dame in 2008, Laws has been a rotation player for the Eagles, used specifically as an interior pass rusher in the nickel package. He has started only twice in 56 regular-season games, but registered a career-high 40 tackles last season, including a sack and 16 quarterback pressures. He had four sacks in 2010. Laws, 6-1, 304, is at least the fifth free agent to visit Rams Park this week, joining quarterback Dennis Dixon (Pittsburgh), defensive end William Hayes (Tennessee), and wide receivers Jerricho Cotchery (Pittsburgh) and Jerome Simpson (Cincinnati). All told, the Rams have had nearly two dozen free agents in for visits, signing eight to contracts."

Mailbag: Troubling reality on QB front

January, 21, 2011
1/21/11
7:11
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Chris from Houston writes: What free-agent quarterbacks do you expect Arizona to be looking at this offseason? I know of Marc Bulger, but who else is there for them to even consider that wouldn't require a trade? Thanks! Love the blog! Thanks for helping keep us all sane until next season.

Mike Sando: Thanks, Chris. This could be a rough offseason for signing or even acquiring quarterbacks from other teams.

One, the list of quarterbacks likely to hit the market is once against weak. Two, a lockout would prevent teams from trading for players -- even via draft-day trades involving picks. A lockout lasting past the draft would limit options further, in other words.

Peyton Manning and Michael Vick are scheduled to become free agents, but Manning is going nowhere, obviously, and the Eagles will presumably keep Vick, too. Brett Favre is retiring, it appears, so forget about him.

The next tier of quarterbacks with expiring contracts goes like this: Matt Hasselbeck, Kerry Collins, Chad Pennington and Bulger. These are older, likely declining players -- not necessarily guys to build around. Pennington's health is a major issue. Vince Young is available.

Several highly drafted, not-yet-old quarterbacks could hit the market, but none has met expectations. That list will feature Kyle Boller, Patrick Ramsey, Rex Grossman, J.P. Losman, Alex Smith and Matt Leinart. The Cardinals aren't bringing back Leinart, obviously, and the other guys on this list will not project as starters.

Tarvaris Jackson, Brodie Croyle and Matt Moore could be available, too.

Several career backups could become available: Todd Collins, Todd Bouman, Billy Volek, Bruce Gradkowski, Seneca Wallace, J.T. O'Sullivan, Chris Simms, Luke McCown, etc.

Still not sold?

The names get smaller from there. Brian St. Pierre, Jim Sorgi, Charlie Frye, Kellen Clemens, Drew Stanton, Troy Smith, Brian Brohm, Caleb Hanie, Jordan Palmer, Dennis Dixon ... we're not finding the Cardinals' next starter from that list, either.

Arizona should probably make a play for Bulger, consider drafting a quarterback and see how the trade market shakes out. The Cardinals have too many needs, in my view, to part with multiple picks of value for an unproven quarterback such as Kevin Kolb -- unless they're convinced that quarterback will become a very good player.

Marshawn Lynch could help passing game

October, 6, 2010
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Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck provided insight Wednesday into how newly acquired running back Marshawn Lynch might help the Seattle Seahawks' entire offense, not just its running game.

"I don’t know if we’ve ever had a guy like him," Hasselbeck told reporters, noting that T.J. Duckett was more of a short-yardage specialist than an every-down power back. "This makes it a lot tougher for people to defend us. It gives us a huge opportunity in play-action, it gives us huge opportunities with the naked bootleg and just all kinds of things."

The play-action reference was appropriate. Hasselbeck owns the NFL's lowest passer rating in play-action situations among quarterbacks with at least nine such attempts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The chart breaks down the 32 qualifying quarterbacks.

"You really get a boost from getting a guy like (Lynch)," Hasselbeck said. "He brings something to our team that we didn’t have: a big, powerful, strong back who loves football, has a good football IQ, and complements Justin (Forsett) and what he does well, and so it’s exciting to have him."

Even when the Seahawks were an elite rushing team, Shaun Alexander wasn't known for breaking tackles or punishing defenses.

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