Good morning. I'm back from the NFL scouting combine and ready for free agency, which unfortunately does not begin until March 13.
The gap between the combine and free agency was once shorter. Years ago, the combine became that time when teams lined up their options, with news breaking about which free agents planned to visit certain teams when the market opened for business.
The most recent combine lacked that feel of impending activity.
But as Howard Balzer of 101ESPN St. Louis points out, the St. Louis Rams might want to act sooner when it comes to trading the second overall choice. That is because the quarterback landscape will change once free agency opens. Some teams will fill their quarterback needs, and when they do, they might have less interest in acquiring the second overall choice for a chance to draft Baylor's Robert Griffin III. Balzer: "While trades involving draft picks normally don’t occur until draft day or at best a few days before, (chief operating officer) Kevin Demoff thinks there’s a possibility something could happen before the start of the league year or at the league meeting at the end of March. Of course, trades can’t become official until the league year begins, but the deal can be in place in advance."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have "laid the groundwork" for trading the pick.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says a quick resolution to Peyton Manning's situation would help the Rams get value for the second overall choice.
Joshua Mayers of the Seattle Times suggests Leroy Hill's latest arrest could derail his career with the Seahawks. Noted: I don't think this arrest, for possessing less than one ounce of marijuana, will kill the Seahawks' interest in Hill. The arrest will hurt Hill's market value and give the Seahawks a better shot at re-signing him for less money. The situation would be different, in my view, if Hill had been caught in a more compromising position. In this case, he was hanging out at home when authorities showed up unexpectedly, acting on a search warrant after a neighbor apparently complained about smelling marijuana. The incident reflects poorly on Hill, but this allegation reflects behavior less reckless than, say, driving under the influence.
Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle thinks the Seahawks should consider Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson in the draft.
More from Huard: thoughts on combine quarterbacks.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team could bring back Deuce Lutui if he meets standards for physical conditioning. General manager Rod Graves: "It’s up to Deuce. We'd like to have him back, but one of the things we have to get worked out with Deuce is with his weight. We had to struggle with him the last couple of years. The bottom line is that Deuce hasn't played as well when he has been heavy. We would love to see Deuce come back, get in shape and play well for us and we’d love to have him under those conditions. But we can’t afford to not give someone else a chance if Deuce is going to come in overweight."
Also from Urban: to what degree the Cardinals could need to add receiver help.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers probably had Baylor receiver Kendall Wright in mind when they interviewed Griffin at the combine. Barrows: "The 49ers have traded up in each of the last two drafts, in 2010 to snag offensive tackle Anthony Davis in the first round, then last year to get quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the second. Wright ran his 40-yard dash Sunday in 4.61 seconds, which is slower than expected. He'll likely run again at Baylor's pro day March 21 when he also will catch passes from Griffin."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with former 49ers executive Carmen Policy. Kawakami: "As someone who gains nothing from praising the 49ers at this point, it’s very credible when Policy calls the stadium in Santa Clara a fait accompli, talks about Santa Clara receiving possibly the best deal any community has received from an NFL team and points out the twists and turns that solidified the Santa Clara effort. ... Policy confirmed he had dinner with Gideon Yu recently and was very impressed. ... Read over his comments about the Raiders’ situation, and everything points to Mark Davis looking for the best deal in hand, and that continues to feel like Los Angeles, at some point. ... The Jim Harbaugh/Bill Walsh resiliency/emotional comparison is fascinating, and I think probably quite accurate."
Also from Kawakami: Jed York as Mark Zuckerberg? Noted: Talk about comparisons that would not have been made before hiring Harbaugh, going 13-3 and getting a stadium deal done. Yes, times have changed, and quickly.