NFC West: Greg Camarillo
The St. Louis Rams aren't going to find the playmaking help they covet on a list featuring Plaxico Burress, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Patrick Crayton, Rashied Davis, Deion Branch, Jerheme Urban, Bryant Johnson, Roy Williams, Greg Camarillo, Jerricho Cotchery, Mark Clayton, Roscoe Parrish, Michael Clayton, Courtney Roby, Michael Spurlock, David Anderson, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aromashodu, Donnie Avery, Maurice Stovall, Andre Caldwell, Ted Ginn Jr., Steve Smith (Philly version), Jerome Simpson and Devin Thomas.
Roger Hensley of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked colleagues how the Rams will address the issue. Jim Thomas: "There’s not much left at the position in free agency. The wide receiver shelves were cleaned out quickly, so barring a trade of some kind -- which seems unlikely -- the Rams are almost limited to getting help via the draft. And at No. 6 overall, there’s no guarantee that Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State will be available. So yes, the team is in a bit of a predicament at wide receiver."
Also from Thomas, regarding Mike Wallace: "He has a first-round tender. And you can only use your original first-round pick as compensation. The Rams no longer have their original first-round pick after trading down with Washington. So they can't acquire Wallace through the regular process of restricted free agency. Now, the Rams could always offer less in a sign-and-trade situation. But why would the Steelers want less than a first-rounder? They put the tender on him in an attempt to keep him." Noted: The Rams could, in theory, offer the sixth overall pick, but that would be a steep price to pay.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch thinks the Rams should steer clear of Tim Tebow.
Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams' search for a backup quarterback continues in the absence of attractive options.
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com quotes 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh regarding Harbaugh's relationship with Alex Smith: "It's been good -- strong relationship, as always. It's a very strong relationship."
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has this to say about the situation with Smith: "It's unclear if Smith agrees with Harbaugh that they are as tight as they've ever been. The team's offer did not exactly mesh with Harbaugh's statements of devotion during and after the season. While it's all but certain Smith will be the 49ers' quarterback this season, it also leaves an opening for backup Colin Kaepernick to take over before the three years are complete. Kaepernick has been a regular at the 49ers' training facility this offseason."
Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers have ruled out Tebow, according to CEO Jed York.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Early Doucet's re-signing means the Cardinals will return their top receivers from last season. Urban: "Doucet set career-highs in 2011 with 54 receptions, 689 yards and five touchdowns in his fourth NFL season, playing in 16 games for the first time. He came up with a pair of long touchdown catches against Carolina (70 yards) and San Francisco (60 yards) and scored on a game-winning screen pass in Philadelphia."
Also from Urban: The Cardinals have little salary-cap room, and there are tradeoffs associated with gaining flexibility.
Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle quotes Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as saying Peyton Manning reached out to the Seahawks while figuring out which team to join. Carroll: "He had contacted me about wanting to talk about coming here. By the time we got down to where we had our chance he had already set his sights on going in the direction wound up going, with Denver."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times looks at the market for free-agent linebacker David Hawthorne. O'Neil: "Hawthorne has led Seattle in tackles each of the past three years, but right now, the market for free-agent linebackers looks to be a little softer than some expected." Noted: Looks like we're approaching that period where players reset their expectations before taking deals for less than they had hoped.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com puts together an overview of free agency from the Seahawks' perspective.
Franchise tags essentially removed from consideration Dwayne Bowe, Wes Welker and DeSean Jackson.
Others, such as Marques Colston, re-signed before free agency.
Teams still searching for help at the position -- that would be pretty much everyone but Seattle in the NFC West -- are left with a picked-over group of free agents.
Jerome Simpson, Plaxico Burress, Brandon Lloyd, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aromashodu, Roy Williams, Mario Manningham and Early Doucet are the only ones remaining to have played at least half of their team's offensive snaps during the 2011 season.
As the chart shows, Burress was particularly effective in the red zone for the New York Jets. He converted first downs 38 times in 45 receptions for the third-highest percentage among wide receivers with at least 40 receptions, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Burress is also up there in age. He's among 12 available wideouts already in their 30s: Hines Ward (36), Burress (34), T.J. Houshmandzadeh (34), Kevin Curtis (33), Patrick Crayton (32), Deion Branch (32), Rashied Davis (32), Donte Stallworth (31), Jerheme Urban (31), Bryant Johnson (31), Lloyd (30) and Williams (30).
Of them, Lloyd has visited the San Francisco 49ers.
Nine more are 29 years old: Greg Camarillo, Keary Colbert, Mark Clayton, Jerricho Cotchery, Roscoe Parrish, Michael Clayton, Courtney Roby, Michael Spurlock and Braylon Edwards.
OK, let's check out 18 others, all younger than 29: David Anderson, Legedu Naanee, Devin Aroshamodu, Donnie Avery, Anthony Gonzalez, Maurice Stovall, Derek Hagan, Mike Sims-Walker, Ted Ginn Jr., Andre Caldwell, Steve Smith, Doucet, Brett Swain, Chaz Schilens, Simpson, Manningham, Devin Thomas and Kevin Ogletree.
Schilens visited Arizona and San Francisco. Manningham visited the 49ers and the St. Louis Rams.
I've also broken down the available wideouts by drafted round:
- First: Williams, Burress, Ginn, Stallworth, both Claytons, Johnson, Gonzalez and Edwards
- Second: Avery, Thomas, Simpson, Smith, Parrish, Branch, Colbert
- Third: Roby, Doucet, Hagan, Stovall, Manningham, Caldwell, Curtis, Sims-Walker, Ward
- Fourth: Cotchery, Lloyd
- Fifth: Legedu Naanee
- Sixth: none
- Seventh: Houshmandzadeh, Crayton, Schilens, Aromashodu, Anderson, Swain
- Undrafted: Davis, Urban, Camarillo, Spurlock, Ogletree
Only a handful of the available receivers project as starters. None would qualify as an outright game-breaker.
The Rams in particular need playmakers, but in looking at what is available, how many would qualify as dramatically better than what they already have? Austin Pettis, Brandon Gibson, Danario Alexander, Dominique Curry, Greg Salas and restricted free agent Danny Amendola are their current wideouts.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
One player from each NFL team qualified for consideration. A panel will name its winner from the 12 finalists during the NFLPA's annual gala April 16.
Teammates nominate candidates each year. CBS host James Brown chooses finalists and names them "JB Award" winners for the contributions they have made within their NFL communities. Draft, Warner and Seattle's Mack Strong were JB Award winners and White Award finalists last year. Warrick Dunn won the award.
Other finalists this year, with cities where they made their contributions listed parenthetically: Daniel Wilcox (Baltimore), Mike Furrey (Detroit), Tony Pashos (Jacksonville), Drew Brees (New Orleans), Brian Dawkins (Philadelphia), Greg Camarillo (Miami), Gary Brackett (Indianapolis), David Thornton (Nashville) and Rock Cartwright (Washington).
Update, April 16: Dawkins has won the award.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Arizona: The Cardinals have a league-low two players on injured reserve, and neither was a key contributor. Clark Haggans' season is in jeopardy thanks to a foot injury, but Arizona's depth remains sufficient barring another injury in the front seven. Pass rusher Bertrand Berry has been able to play through a shoulder injury, but he has only one sack in his last seven games. Receiver Steve Breaston has played through injured ribs.
St. Louis: Aging defensive linemen La'Roi Glover (knee) and Leonard Little (hamstring) are wearing down. Kicker Josh Brown says his groin injury isn't the reason for recent missed field-goal tries, but the slightest degree of doubt can affect a kicker's mindset. Special-teams standout Gary Stills (knee) is also hurting.
San Francisco: Frank Gore's ankle injury figures to sideline him or limit his effectiveness. Without Gore or with a diminished Gore, the 49ers will probably pass more frequently. They also lose most of the big-play threat from their running game. The 49ers were already accustomed to functioning without receiver Arnaz Battle, so his likely absence with a foot injury isn't as significant. Getting cornerback Nate Clements back from a thumb injury should help the secondary against a Dolphins team without receiver Greg Camarillo. Clements' ability to make plays on the ball aggressively could suffer, however. Allen Rossum's return comes at the right time because the 49ers had been using Battle and Clements on punt returns.
Seattle: The Seahawks two best players on offense -- quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and left tackle Walter Jones -- probably will not play. Backup quarterback Seneca Wallace is finally healthy, however, and that gives life to the Seahawks' offense. Linebacker Leroy Hill (neck), one of the Seahawks' better players on defense this season, will probably miss the game.