NFC West: Mike Leach

The rookie wage scale and overall salary structure should increasingly make the NFL a young man's game, all else equal.

Youth will be served during rookie minicamps beginning Friday, for sure.

With that in mind, I've gone through NFC West rosters singling out for special recognition players age 30 and older (or turning 30 before regular-season openers). There are 29 such players in the division by my count, including longtime NFC West stars Frank Gore (turns 30 next week) and Larry Fitzgerald (turns 30 in August). Twenty of them play for the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers.

A team-by-team look at NFC West elders, with ages rounded to the tenth of a year:
The chart provides a team and positional look at these players. I'm expecting the Rams to have the youngest roster in the NFL this season.

Update: Add Karlos Dansby to the list for the Cardinals. The 31-year-old linebacker has agreed to terms with Arizona, the team announced.

PHOENIX -- The Seattle Seahawks and especially the San Francisco 49ers added to their 2013 NFL draft hauls Monday when the NFL awarded compensatory selections to offset net losses in free agency last year.

The 49ers received the 131st overall pick, a fourth-rounder, plus the 246th and 252nd choices, both in the seventh round. The Seahawks received the 241st and 242nd overall choices, also in the seventh round.

Teams cannot trade compensatory picks.

"Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks," the NFL announced. "Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors. The formula was developed by the NFL Management Council. Not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by this formula."

The 49ers received compensatory choices because free-agent losses Blake Costanzo, Josh Morgan and Madieu Williams outweighed free-agent addition Mario Manningham according to the formula. The Seahawks received picks because free-agent losses Atari Bigby, John Carlson, David Hawthorne and Charlie Whitehurst outweighed free-agent additions Matt Flynn and Jason Jones. Update: The NFL clarified that Adam Snyder, who signed with Arizona from San Francisco, factored into the equation awarding the 49ers three comp picks.

I've put together lists below showing all unrestricted free agents added, lost and re-signed by NFC West teams last offseason.

Update: I've also made available for download an Excel file with tentative 2013 draft order, reflecting comp picks and known trades. This is unofficial. The league has not yet released the official order; additional trades could affect it.

The 49ers have a league-high 14 picks, including two picks in each of the second through fifth rounds. They're in prime position to stock their roster for the future.

By my accounting, the Cardinals hold the 7th, 38th, 69th, 103rd, 140th, 174th and 176th picks. The 49ers hold the 31st, 34th, 61st, 74th, 93rd, 128th, 131st, 157th, 164th, 180th, 227th, 237th, 246th and 252nd choices. The Seahawks hold the 56th, 87th, 123rd, 138th, 158th, 194th, 220th, 231st, 241st and 242nd choices. The Rams hold the 16th, 22nd, 46th, 78th, 113th, 149th, 184th and 222nd picks.

Update: The Seahawks sent the 214th choice, acquired from Buffalo in the Tarvaris Jackson trade, to Minnesota as part of the Percy Harvin trade.

Arizona Cardinals

Re-signed: D'Anthony Batiste, Mike Leach, Early Doucet, Jay Feely, Dave Zastudil
Added: Adam Snyder, William Gay, James Sanders, Quentin Groves
Lost: Richard Marshall, Sean Considine, Deuce Lutui

San Francisco 49ers

Re-signed: Tavares Gooden, Carlos Rogers, Alex Smith, Ted Ginn Jr.
Added: Mario Manningham, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson
Lost: Josh Morgan, Adam Snyder, Blake Costanzo, Reggie Smith, Madieu Williams, Chilo Rachal

Seattle Seahawks

Re-signed: Heath Farwell, Red Bryant, Paul McQuistan, Michael Robinson, Leroy Hill, Matt McCoy
Added: Matt Flynn, Jason Jones, Deuce Lutui, Barrett Ruud
Lost: John Carlson, Atari Bigby, Charlie Whitehurst, Tony Hargrove, David Hawthorne

St. Louis Rams

Re-signed: Kellen Clemens
Added: Cortland Finnegan, Kendall Langford, Scott Wells, Quinn Ojinnaka, Steve Smith, Robert Turner, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, William Hayes, Trevor Laws, Mario Haggan, Barry Richardson
Lost: Brandon Lloyd, Chris Chamberlain, Donnie Jones, Jacob Bell, Bryan Kehl, Gary Gibson

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

November, 28, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Kevin Kolb is expected to miss another week, at least, with the rib injuries he suffered against Buffalo in Week 6. Receiver Andre Roberts (ankle) missed practice Wednesday. Safety Justin Bethel (shoulder), receiver LaRon Byrd (head), defensive end Calais Campbell (calf), receiver Early Doucet (ribs), running back William Powell (shoulder), running back Beanie Wells (knee) and Kolb were limited. Long snapper Mike Leach (back) and safety Kerry Rhodes (back) were listed as full participants. Tight end Todd Heap, who has not played since suffering a knee injury in Week 2, was not listed on the report. He was a healthy scratch last week. Campbell's status is of great interest for Arizona. He has a chance to return this week.

St. Louis Rams: The team held out receiver Danny Amendola (foot), linebacker Mario Haggan (elbow), running back Steven Jackson (foot), defensive end Robert Quinn (concussion) and center Scott Wells (knee) from practice Wednesday. All but Haggan are key players for the Rams. Haggan is closer to a key player this week because the Rams' opponent, San Francisco, uses heavier personnel groupings. A healthy Haggan would have factored into the game plan more heavily. Quinn's concussion stands out as the most intriguing injury. He played 81 percent of the defensive snaps against Arizona in Week 12.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers enter Week 13 with a different look at the skill positions. Running back Kendall Hunter and receiver Kyle Williams are done for the season. Rookie LaMichael James or veteran Brandon Jacobs could get playing time in Hunter's place. Rookie receiver A.J. Jenkins is one step closer to the field now that Williams is out, but the 49ers have other options. Randy Moss could get more playing time, with Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham getting additional slot work in Williams' absence. Tight end Delanie Walker is hurting with hip and rib injuries. He missed practice Wednesday. The 49ers listed kicker David Akers with a pelvis injury. He missed one field-goal try and had another blocked against New Orleans. The team brought in kickers for tryouts just in case. The NFL's leading sacker, Aldon Smith, has been dealing with shoulder trouble recently. He came out of the New Orleans game briefly as a result. The team listed him as limited in practice Wednesday. Cornerback Tarell Brown (knee), tackle Anthony Davis (finger), safety Dashon Goldson (ribs, calf), linebacker Tavares Gooden (elbow), running back Frank Gore (wrist, ribs), Manningham (shoulder), safety Donte Whitner (knee) and linebacker Patrick Willis (shoulder) are listed as full participants.

Seattle Seahawks: Defensive end Red Bryant (foot) and linebacker Leroy Hill (ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Bryant's injury situation was newly revealed. It could explain some of the Seahawks' troubles in run defense recently. He hasn't been as active or effective as in the past. The Seahawks otherwise appear quite healthy. Running back Marshawn Lynch (back) and defensive end Greg Scruggs (oblique) were limited. Lynch appears on the injury report regularly and plays in the games anyway. Seattle welcomed back guard James Carpenter from a concussion last week. He has played in 15 of 27 games since Seattle made him a first-round draft choice in 2011.

NFC West: Injury situations that matter

October, 31, 2012
Arizona Cardinals: Quarterback Kevin Kolb (ribs) and guard Adam Snyder (quadriceps) aren't expected back this week. Cornerback Greg Toler (hamstring), safety Kerry Rhodes (back), tight end Todd Heap (knee) and snapper Mike Leach (back) were limited in practice Wednesday. The team continues to play without running back Beanie Wells. He is progressing well in rehabilitation from a toe injury, coach Ken Whisenhunt said this week. Wells can return Nov. 25. "I anticipate him starting to practice next week," Whisenhunt said. Left tackle D'Anthony Batiste practiced fully despite a toe injury.

St. Louis Rams: The Rams could welcome back receiver Danny Amendola and left tackle Rodger Saffold to the lineup following their bye. Both are practicing on a limited basis. Center Scott Wells, sidelined by a foot injury, also could return. The Rams are off until visiting San Francisco in Week 10. They've been playing with waiver-wire acquisitions at left tackle and left guard. The line has outperformed expectations under those circumstances.

San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers will not practice until Tuesday. Coach Jim Harbaugh gave them the extra time off during the 49ers' bye week. The team has been relatively healthy again this season. The time should help running back Frank Gore, who suffered a rib injury against Seattle in Week 7.

Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks are light on receivers after losing Doug Baldwin to a high-ankle sprain and Ben Obomanu to a season-ending wrist injury. Braylon Edwards missed practice with knee trouble Wednesday. Baldwin was limited. The team still has good enough quality at the position with Sidney Rice playing well (except for a drop in Week 8 ) and Golden Tate bouncing back from a tough game against San Francisco. Depth is a concern, however, particularly without a strong No. 2 receiving tight end to pair with Zach Miller. Defensive tackle Jason Jones (ankle) missed practice. Seattle's nickel defense missed him against Detroit. He could test the ankle later in the week. The nickel defense figures to play less this week based on Minnesota's personnel tendencies. Seattle did not list fullback Michael Robinson on its injury report. He hurt a wrist against the Lions.
A periodic look at which players are playing and when, continuing with the Arizona Cardinals' offense:

Our two-day look at NFC West rosters concludes with projections for the Arizona Cardinals' defense and special teams.

Defensive linemen (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.2

Safest bets: Calais Campbell, Darnell Dockett, Dan Williams, David Carter, Nick Eason, Vonnie Holliday

Leading contenders: Ronald Talley

Longer odds: Ricky Lumpkin, Landon Cohen

Comment: The position should be a strength for the Cardinals. Campbell and Dockett have earned most of the attention. Carter stood out immediately as a rookie in training camp last year. He came out swinging and quickly moved up the depth chart at nose tackle. Carter impressed enough as a rookie for Pro Football Focus to feature him in its "Secret Superstar" series. Williams has gotten his weight down. This is a big year for him coming off a season-ending arm injury.

Linebackers (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.2

Safest bets: Daryl Washington, Sam Acho, O'Brien Schofield, Paris Lenon, Clark Haggans, Stewart Bradley

Leading contenders: Reggie Walker, Quentin Groves

Longer odds: Quan Sturdivant, Marcus McGraw, Paul Vassallo, Colin Parker, Brandon Williams, Antonio Coleman, Zack Nash

Comment: Washington is an emerging star and should command more widespread respect if the Cardinals' defense continues to improve. Lenon remains an integral part of the defense. He's the link between coordinator Ray Horton and the rest of the defense. Bradley hasn't come close to unseating him. A full offseason should give Bradley a better chance to earn playing time, at least. The Cardinals are counting on Acho and Schofield to provide their outside rush. The coaching staff also wants to get pressure with its inside linebackers. Washington has shown he can make that happen.

Defensive backs (17)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.2

Safest bets: Patrick Peterson, Adrian Wilson, Kerry Rhodes, Jamell Fleming, Greg Toler, William Gay, Rashad Johnson

Leading contenders: A.J. Jefferson, Michael Adams, James Sanders

Longer odds: Justin Bethel, Marshay Green, Blake Gideon, Eddie Elder, Crezdon Butler, Larry Parker, James Nixon

Comment: Fleming, the Cardinals' third-round choice, stood out among rookies at organized team activities and minicamps. Coach Ken Whisenhunt commended his quickness and ability to change direction fluidly. The team plans to try him in the nickel role during training camp. The other nine defensive backs listed among "safest bets" and "leading contenders" have started regular-season games in the NFL. Barring injuries, one or two players released from this group figures to play elsewhere this season.

Special teams (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Safest bets: Jay Feely, Mike Leach, Dave Zastudil

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Ricky Schmitt

Comment: Feely's field-goal percentage last season (79.2) was his lowest since 2004. Four of his five misses were outdoors. Arizona plays six games outdoors in 2012 (Arizona counts as indoors even though the roof can open).
NFC West teams added or re-signed 38 unrestricted free agents during the recently completed UFA signing period. They lost or did not re-sign 47 such players.

One key difference between those groups: age.

The St. Louis Rams in particular used the UFA signing period to get younger. The 12 UFAs they added (11) or re-signed (one) averaged 2.49 years younger than the 20 UFAs they lost (six) or have not re-signed (14). The gap was 1.39 years younger on average throughout the division. The Rams have the youngest roster in the NFL, based on averages I maintain for every team in the league.

Some older UFAs never sign another NFL contract. They disappear from rosters and realize, perhaps a year or two later, that they've been retired.

The chart shows age differences for the 38 UFA players added or re-signed versus the 47 lost to other teams or still unsigned. According to the NFL, 143 UFAs changed teams across the league this offseason. Another 112 re-signed with their 2011 teams.

Unsigned players remain free to sign with another team, but the NFL will not count them as UFA signings. The distinction matters in part because only UFA additions and losses count toward the formula for determining compensatory draft choices. That formula relies heavily on player salaries. UFAs available this late in the process generally wouldn't command enough money to affect compensatory picks, anyway.

A quick look at which UFA players from NFC West teams did not sign or re-sign as UFAs:
The 27 unsigned UFAs from the NFC West average 31.38 years old, about 3.3 years older than the 22 UFAs signed from other teams.

Nine of the 27 are at least 33 years old. Another 12 are between 29 and 32. Justin King, former cornerback for the Rams, is the youngest at 25 years old.

2012 NFC West UFA scorecard: update

March, 16, 2012
Michael Robinson's expected re-signing with the Seattle Seahawks would give the team a league-high four re-signings in the unrestricted free-agent market.

Red Bryant, Paul McQuistan and Heath Farwell previously re-signed.

Seattle and the other NFC West teams have added only two UFAs from other teams, however. I've put together UFA scorecards for each team in the division. Ages are in parenthesis. Here goes ...

Seattle Seahawks

UFA unsigned (age): defensive end Raheem Brock (33), defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson (31), safety Atari Bigby (30), quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (29), linebacker Leroy Hill (29), linebacker Matt McCoy (29), defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (28), linebacker David Hawthorne (26), running back Justin Forsett (26), linebacker David Vobora (25)

UFA re-signed: Farwell (30), Robinson (29), McQuistan (28), Bryant (27)

UFA added: none

UFA lost: tight end John Carlson (27)

Franchise player: none

Comment: Forsett has provided value, but the Seahawks will want to add a power back as depth behind Marshawn Lynch, who re-signed before free agency. Mike Tolbert, a free agent from the San Diego Chargers, could be worth a look if the running back market remains soft. Tolbert weighs 243 pounds, has 21 total touchdowns over the past two seasons, and caught 54 passes in 2012. The price would have to be right after Seattle committed to Lynch.

San Francisco 49ers

UFA unsigned: fullback Moran Norris (33), tight end Justin Peelle (33), safety Madieu Williams (30), quarterback Alex Smith (27), receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (26), guard Chilo Rachal (26), safety Reggie Smith (25)

UFA re-signed: cornerback Carlos Rogers (30), linebacker Tavares Gooden (27)

UFA added: none

UFA lost: guard Adam Snyder (30), linebacker Blake Costanzo (27), receiver Josh Morgan (26)

Franchise player: safety Dashon Goldson (27)

Comment: Randy Moss and potential addition Rock Cartwright do not appear in the listings because they were not unrestricted free agents. Re-signing Alex Smith and finding additional receiver help appear to be the top priorities. The 49ers are showing little outward urgency on either front, however.

Arizona Cardinals

UFA unsigned: defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday (36), kicker Jay Feely (35), long-snapper Mike Leach (35), outside linebacker Clark Haggans (35), outside linebacker Joey Porter (34), offensive lineman Floyd Womack (33), punter Dave Zastudil (33), tackle D'Anthony Batiste (29), safety Sean Considine (29), guard Deuce Lutui (28), safety Hamza Abdullah (28), tackle Brandon Keith (27), receiver Early Doucet (26)

UFA re-signed: none.

UFA added: Snyder (30)

UFA lost: cornerback Richard Marshall (27)

Franchise player: defensive end Calais Campbell (25)

Comment: The Cardinals have been in a tough spot. They would have faced criticism had they declined to pursue Peyton Manning. They could now face criticism for sacrificing the first week of free agency while waiting for Manning. The reality is that Arizona probably wasn't going to be all that aggressive in the market this offseason, anyway. It did hurt losing Marshall to the Miami Dolphins after coordinator Ray Horton called him the Cardinals' defensive MVP.

St. Louis Rams

UFA unsigned: cornerback Al Harris (37), quarterback A.J. Feeley (34), offensive lineman Tony Wragge (32), linebacker Brady Poppinga (32), punter Donnie Jones (31), offensive lineman Adam Goldberg (31), guard Jacob Bell (31), receiver Brandon Lloyd (30), cornerback Rod Hood (30), running back Cadillac Williams (29), defensive tackle Gary Gibson (29), receiver Mark Clayton (29), tackle Mark LeVoir (29), tight end Stephen Spach (29), safety James Butler (29), tight end Billy Bajema (29), quarterback Kellen Clemens (28), running back Jerious Norwood (28), linebacker Bryan Kehl (27), linebacker Chris Chamberlain (26), cornerback Justin King (24)

UFA re-signed: none

UFA added: cornerback Cortland Finnegan (28)

UFA lost: none

Franchise player: none

Comment: The Rams are not looking to re-sign many of their own free agents. They want to turn over the roster, and that is happening in a big way. The team's failure to secure playmaking help for quarterback Sam Bradford stands out as the biggest theme to this point. Finnegan was a welcome addition, but he isn't going to score many touchdowns.

The chart below shows a general overview.
We're still a month away from NFL free agency, but with the Super Bowl behind us, we'll start sizing up players without contracts for 2012.

Expanding upon Brian McIntyre's lists, I've plugged in offensive and defensive snap-count numbers for NFC West free agents, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information.

The charts below cover the Arizona Cardinals' free agents. The final column shows what each player's previous contract averaged annually.

Re-signing defensive end Calais Campbell will be a top priority. I don't see the Cardinals letting him get away. They moved on from Antonio Smith a few years ago, but they did so with Campbell ready to take over. They would have a hard time replacing Campbell.

Cornerback Richard Marshall proved valuable on a one-year deal. Early Doucet was a primary threat on third down.

Overall, though, the Cardinals have a relatively modest group of unrestricted free agents.

Safety Sean Considine played extensively on special teams. I've listed him with the offensive and defensive UFAs, however.

The Cardinals' key specialists are without contracts. The team has turned over those positions in recent seasons.

The Cardinals can keep their restricted free agents, listed below, by making one-year qualifying offers to them, then matching any outside offers.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are most likely to select a defensive player at No. 14. Thomas: "The Steve Spagnuolo template for defense seems pretty well established. He likes defensive linemen -- lots of 'em. To wit, the Rams had 10 defensive linemen on their season-opening roster last season. In other words nearly one-fifth of the roster. And he especially likes defensive linemen that can rush the passer. That in part explains why C.J. Ah You is a Ram, and Victor Adeyanju is not. Spagnuolo likes strong middle linebacker play. (See: James Laurinaitis.) And big corners with long arms, who can play press coverage." Those types of generalizations are helpful when sketching in the sorts of players a team will favor on draft day.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams Park remained relatively quiet following the lockout. Coats: "Linebacker James Laurinaitis was spotted at Rams Park shortly after noon, but it could not be determined whether he actually entered the building. Apparently no other players arrived at the facility in Earth City."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have options at No. 14. Burwell: "The only reason you don't draft Julio Jones if he's still on the board is if A.J. Green is there, too. But I wonder if the Rams feel this way. Seriously. This is where the intrigue is starting to build. There are enough smoke screens, misdirections and outright lies floating around the closer we get to Thursday night that it is often impossible to find someone telling the truth. But the one thing that I've learned in observing the way things work with Devaney and his crew is that if you listen closely, at some point in the long build-up to the draft, someone will randomly drop in the truth amidst the ocean of misdirection and prevarications."

Matt Maiocco of throws Ricky Stanzi's name into consideration for the 49ers after speaking with NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell. Cosell: "Ricky Stanzi played in a pro offense in college. I think he's very efficient off play-action, off the boot-action pass game. He's pretty calm and poised and understands checkdowns. He also showed he can handle a lot of responsibility at the line of scrimmage. I watched five games, and I think he's very similar to Matt Schuab when he came out of Virginia."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee wonders whether Missouri's Blaine Gabbert fits the Alex Smith profile coming out of college. Barrows: "Like Smith, Gabbert is entering the draft as a junior. Gabbert, too, played in a college spread offense, and he also aced his Wonderlic intelligence test. They're represented by the same agent, Tom Condon, and they both wear No. 11 jerseys."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says Gideon Yu's hiring by the 49ers looks like the start of something. Kawakami: "The 49ers got the Santa Clara vote last year. But they have to fund the dang thing and that certainly isn’t getting any easier with the lockout shenanigans, the economy, and the non-playoff run. Yu could help all of that, or he could be the guy who looks at everything and tells Jed York once and for all that they’ve tried everything (and York will believe they did try everything) and it isn’t going to work."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic thinks the Cardinals are unlikely to select a quarterback with the fifth overall choice. Somers: "The Cardinals are in the market for a quarterback, but it seems doubtful they will take one with the fifth overall pick. Coach Ken Whisenhunt has said he doesn't see a franchise quarterback on the level of the Rams' Sam Bradford or the Falcons' Matt Ryan in this draft. Bradford, Whisenhunt pointed out, started all four years at Oklahoma."

Also from Somers: Kerry Rhodes and four other Cardinals players showed up at team headquarters Tuesday, but they didn't have much to do once they arrived. Somers: "Cardinals player representative Jay Feely has kept in touch with his teammates and texted Rhodes Monday night, telling him he could show up if he was in town. Offensive linemen Levi Brown, Rex Hadnot and Jeremy Bridges were at the team's Tempe facility earlier in the day, as was long snapper Mike Leach. All have significant workout bonuses in their contracts. Brown's is for $250,000. Hadnot and Bridges can earn $150,000 and Leach can make $25,000." Rhodes' workout bonus is for $500,000.

Darren Urban of says the Cardinals and other teams can benefit when others overvalue quarterbacks in the draft. General manager Rod Graves: "I do recognize the fact it tends to happen in the results of the draft. Sometimes quarterbacks go a little bit higher … but it has the effect of pushing other very good football players down and sometimes that can be beneficial to you."

Clare Farnsworth of says coach Pete Carroll reiterated his point that the Seattle offense will not change much from a philosophical standpoint under new coordinator Darrell Bevell and assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable. Carroll: "Philosophy doesn’t change, it really doesn’t. What we’ve been able to do by getting Tom and Darrell to come in here is really, I think, point toward the philosophy that we’ve been trying to create. We didn’t get there fully last year. We wanted to run the ball better than we did and we wanted to be more effective up front." Carroll wants to run the ball. He wants to run a zone scheme. He wants bigger linemen than former line coach Alex Gibbs wanted. How much does the terminology and playbook change?

Also from Farnsworth: General manager John Schneider suspects the team will wind up selecting at No. 25 even though trading back has great appeal. Schneider: "It’s a goal. But it’s much harder to move back than it is to go up. You have to find a partner. There’s a certain trust level involved. And it has to happen quick. And somebody has to really want somebody."

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says during a chat he thinks the Seahawks would have a hard time passing up cornerback Jimmy Smith if available at No. 25.

Also from O'Neil: Seahawks players indicate they can't get into team headquarters even though a judge struck down the lockout. O'Neil: "Wide receiver Deon Butler arrived at the team's facility Tuesday along with a teammate. Butler said he was allowed inside the security gate for the players' parking lot, but not into the building. Butler spoke with a member of Seahawks security, and was told there was no access to the weight room or to the trainers for any treatment or rehabilitation. He left without entering the building. Same for cornerback Roy Lewis, who also went to the facility but didn't get inside."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune passes along a quote from Schneider regarding the possibility of the team trading out of the first round entirely. Schneider: "Somebody said to me the other day in the marketing department, ‘Hey we’ve got 5.000 people showing up for the draft party.’ And I said, 'That’s on Friday, right?' "

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle says the Seahawks want more from receiver Golden Tate, a player they said they said carried a first-round grade in the 2010 draft.
A quick look around NFC West team headquarters from reporters monitoring potential fallout from the court ruling striking down the NFL lockout:
The courts might have struck down the lockout, but nothing much has changed. We're still waiting to see whether the courts allow the lockout to stand pending an appeal. In the meantime, teams appear ready to greet players and tell them, in effect, that there's nothing to see here.

Around the NFC West: Singletary's job

October, 13, 2010
Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports says Mike Singletary might need to finish 11-5 and win playoff games to keep his job next season. Cole: "When Singletary took over as head coach of San Francisco in the midst of the 2008 season, much was made of his disciplined, take-no-prisoners attitude. People loved it, but there was one problem behind it all: Singletary doesn’t understand the X’s and O’s that go with the game of football. As several coaches have said over the weeks, when a coach doesn’t know the functional part of the game, he walks a dangerous line with players." And the 49ers did not know this? What did they expect? Everyone knew Singletary's limitations. Jed York, the 49ers' president, explicitly said he hired Singletary to ramp up the 49ers' intensity. Of course, head coaches lose credibility if players know they do not know how to fix problems that arise over the course of a season. And there are too many times when Singletary reverts into linebacker mode, becoming too emotional. Singletary's struggles were predictable if Singletary did not hire the right offensive coordinator in particular. He wasn't going to be in position to help on the offensive side of the ball.

Matt Maiocco of says 49ers quarterback Alex Smith is on a short leash. Maiocco, in reviewing all 53 players' performances against Philadelphia: "When he had a clean pocket, he made some good throws. But when he was under pressure, unable to adjust in the pocket or slow to pull the trigger, disaster happened." Also, Maiocco thought guard Chilo Rachal played his best game of the season.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee provides a chat transcript with thoughts on the 49ers' prospects following an 0-5 start. Barrows: "I think the 49ers can turn it around. I think it's possible. Patrick Willis yesterday was citing the Titans team from a year ago that started the season 0-6 and which nearly made the playoffs. I think there are eight decidedly winnable games still on the schedule, beginning with Sunday's against Oakland. However, that scenario means that the other NFC West teams have to cooperate and lose a lot of their games. on Sunday, the Cardinals did not cooperate."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers have run Frank Gore (usually up the middle) on the first offensive play of every game this season. Gore also carried the ball on the 49ers' first eight first-down plays against the Eagles. Branch: "OK, this is not to suggest the Niners are 0-5 because they begin every game with a run to Gore. But it does hint at a larger problem. That is, the offense, even under the stewardship of Mike Johnson, still has Mike Singletary's circa-1985 fingerprints on it. On the day Jimmy Raye was fired, Singletary said he anticipated working "hand-in-hand" with Johnson on the offense. And based on what he said Monday, it's clear that it's still a collaborative effort. When asked about the eight straight first-down runs, Singletary said Johnson was carrying out their -- yes, 'their' sounds appropriate -- game plan." The 49ers also operated from fewer personnel groupings than most teams. They are more predictable than most teams.

Monte Poole of Bay Area News Group says David Carr is not the answer for the 49ers.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says Smith's nine interceptions are an NFL high.

Clare Farnsworth of says the team will leave for Chicago on Friday, a day earlier than the team has traveled to previous road games this season. Pete Carroll's appreciation for the challenges of 10 a.m. PT kickoffs will only grow. Fortunately for Seattle, the team will not have another early game until Week 16. Previous Seattle coaches have tried leaving Friday to better acclimate to the time difference. They've tried leaving Saturday as if reluctant to acknowledge any additional challenges. There's just no way around the fact that a 10 a.m. PT kickoff means waking up for a game at 5 in the morning.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says during a chat that he expects the Seahawks' offense to become productive in December. O'Neil: "It's going to start to improve. I just don't know if it's going to start to improve this month. Things have stabilized up front, but you're subtracting a productive receiver from the mix and adding a better running back. I think it's going to be a productive offense in December. Just not sure how much of a struggle this next stretch will be as Seattle plays four of its next six games on the road."

Also from O'Neil: "For a team with Seattle's baggage of road losses, this amounts to a two-month gauntlet as Seattle plays only two homes in the 61 days following their Week 3 victory over San Diego. Seattle is 2-2 because of a potent combination of defense and decibels. The Seahawks have forced seven turnovers in two home victories."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seattle receiver Mike Williams, who would like to ramp up his production.

John Morgan of Field Gulls tries to define new Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. Morgan: "I don't know that Seattle needed a three-down back, but they have one now. I don't know that Lynch is necessarily built for a zone blocking scheme, whatever he executed in college. I don't know that a player like Lynch has much value above and beyond a committee of complementary backs, but there is no limit to his potential like there is for Justin Forsett. Marshawn Lynch can be great, and finding out if he is will be a hell of a ride."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals' bye week comes as the team prepares to welcome back players from injury-induced layoffs. Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and Gerald Hayes could return against Seattle in Week 7. Somers: "A four-year starter, Hayes plays the strong inside linebacker position and is a key figure in stopping the run, something the Cardinals have had trouble doing. Hayes was ready to start practicing a few weeks ago, but rules made him wait six weeks. He appears to be in good condition, although it's going to take him some time to reacquaint himself to the speed and violence of the game. The club is likely to work him in slow, perhaps as a rotational player. Eventually, he could assume his old role, with Paris Lenon moving to the weak inside spot, replacing rookie Daryl Washington."

Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic checks in with Cardinals snapper Mike Leach, who relays a story about the nickname a former teammate bestowed upon him. Leach: "Well, during my years in Denver, I was known as 'Snaps'. Shannon Sharpe started calling me that. Either he didn't know my name or maybe didn't care to learn it or maybe he knew it and just didn't want to call me by it so he just called me 'Snapper'. After a few weeks, 'Snapper' became 'Snaps' and probably a third of the people on the team didn't even know my name. They just called me 'Snaps'."

Darren Urban of says during a chat that he's not sure what to expect from Arizona the rest of the season. Urban: "No idea how this season will turn out. Hall could still run off the rails and this team could sputter to a losing record. But if Hall progresses as expected and the defense plays the way it is capable, I expect the Cards to be in the middle of the division title chase. As for the offensive line, it's difficult to get praise when there have been a handful of sacks and some issues running the ball of late. That unit doesn't get a lot of praise when things are good though, and they know that. It kind of comes with the territory."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams are trying to convert high television ratings into better attendance at games. The TV viewing experience has improved exponentially over the years. NFL ticket prices have become prohibitive for some. Hard economic times force people to tighten budgets. In the Rams' case, the team hasn't won much, either. Thomas: "Group sales have picked up following the home victories against Washington and Seattle. But the needle isn't moving on single-game sales. During the preseason, when both Rams home games were blacked out, the team experienced a decent walkup crowd on game day. But that hasn't been the case during the regular season, probably because the three home games so far have been on local television."

Also from Thomas: The Rams signed Danario Alexander and Brit Miller from their practice squad after putting Mark Clayton and Darcy Johnson on injured reserve.

More from Thomas: a chat transcript in which he says a more prominent role for Steven Jackson in the red zone could help the Rams' offense.

Post-camp roster analysis: Cardinals

August, 30, 2010

Matt Leinart apparently has no idea where he stands with the Arizona Cardinals. That makes it tough for the rest of us to predict exactly what might happen.

Will Leinart start at quarterback for the Cardinals in Week 1? Will he serve as the backup? Will the Cardinals release him? Might they trade him?

The next week to 10 days should provide answers. NFL teams have until Saturday to reduce their rosters to 53-man limits, with the 75-man deadline passing Tuesday.

After looking at the Seahawks' roster earlier Monday, here's a quick run through the Cardinals:

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.0

Keepers: Derek Anderson

Looking safe: Max Hall

On the bubble: Leinart, John Skelton

Comment: Coach Ken Whisenhunt's handling of Leinart suggests there's more than tough love at work here. It's fair to question whether Leinart fits into the team's plans at all this season. The smart move, it seems, would be to keep Anderson, Leinart and the winner of the Hall-Skelton competition. But it's clear Whisenhunt isn't convinced Leinart has what it takes to be a starting quarterback.

Running backs (8)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.3

Keepers: Tim Hightower, Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Jason Wright

On the bubble: Reagan Maui'a, Charles Scott

Also: Alfonso Smith, Nehemiah Broughton

Comment: Scott arrived via trade this week after Broughton suffered a season-ending knee injury. Maui'a could be the choice heading into the regular season. Scott provides depth for the final exhibition game, but it's unlikely he would be refined enough as a blocker to factor into the offense in a meaningful way. Smith's speed caught my attention early in camp.

Wide receivers (11)

Average number kept since 2003: 6.1

Keepers: Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet

Looking safe: Andre Roberts, Stephen Williams

On the bubble: Onrea Jones, Max Komar

Also: Isaiah Williams, Darren Mougey, Mike Jones, Ed Gant

Comment: Gant serves a suspension to open the season. Roberts will make the team as a third-round pick. Williams pretty much wrapped up a spot with his latest strong performance (at Chicago). Jones and Komar could be competing for a sixth and final spot at the position.

Tight ends (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Keepers: Ben Patrick, Anthony Becht, Stephen Spach

Also: Jim Dray

Comment: The team released Dominique Byrd on Monday. The top three appear set. Not much drama here. Dray looks like practice-squad material.

Offensive linemen (12)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.9

Keepers: Lyle Sendlein, Alan Faneca, Brandon Keith, Reggie Wells, Levi Brown, Deuce Lutui, Rex Hadnot, Jeremy Bridges

Looking safe: Herman Johnson

Also: Ben Claxton, Tom Pestock, Jonathan Palmer

Comment: Lutui could be trending toward a spot back in the starting lineup despite reporting to camp overweight. Johnson also reported overweight. He isn't a starter, and that's why I listed him separately from the keepers (even though it's an upset, most likely, if Johnson does not stick).

Defensive line (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.4

Keepers: Darnell Dockett, Calais Campbell, Dan Williams, Bryan Robinson

Looking safe: Alan Branch, Gabe Watson, Kenny Iwebema

Also: John Fletcher, Jeremy Clark

Comment: This position appears pretty much set. I would expect seven to earn roster spots.

Linebackers (14)

Average number kept since 2003: 7.1

Keepers: Gerald Hayes, Paris Lenon, Clark Haggans, Joey Porter, Daryl Washington

Looking safe: Will Davis, Cody Brown

Bubble: Monty Beisel, Reggie Walker

Also: O'Brien Schofield, Steve Baggs, Mark Washington, Chris Johnson, Pago Togafau

Comment: Hayes and Schofield could open the season on reserve/physically unable to perform, opening two roster spots. Beisel and Walker could be competing for the final spot at this position.

Defensive backs (13)

Average number kept since 2003: 8.9

Keepers: Adrian Wilson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Kerry Rhodes, Greg Toler, Trumaine McBride, Matt Ware

Looking safe: Michael Adams, Hamza Abdullah, Rashad Johnson

On the bubble: Marshay Green

Also: A.J. Jefferson, Trevor Ford, Justin Miller

Comment: Toler could be passing McBride on the depth chart as the starting right cornerback, fulfilling expectations. Johnson appeared more physical early in camp. Haven't heard much about him lately, though.

Specialists (3)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Keepers: Jay Feely, Ben Graham, Mike Leach

Comment: Arizona has three on the roster and that's how many the team will keep. Simple enough.

Valuing that veteran seasoning

August, 11, 2010
Age can be a sensitive subject, even in the NFL. Especially in the NFL, where a couple down seasons past age 30 can leave even accomplished players on the outside.

Teams try to find the right mix of youth, players in their primes and older veterans.

The St. Louis Rams, one of the NFL's youngest teams last season, signed a few players well in their 30s this offseason as they tried to add seasoning. Arizona Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt pointed to veteran leadership as one of the things he likes about his roster.

I've gone through NFC West rosters to see how many players in their 30s each team employs. The numbers were about what I would have expected.
Arizona (13): punter Ben Graham 36, defensive tackle Bryan Robinson 36, kicker Jay Feely 34, snapper Mike Leach 33, guard Alan Faneca 33, linebacker Clark Haggans 33, linebacker Joey Porter 33, tight end Anthony Becht 33, linebacker Paris Lenon 32, linebacker Monty Beisel 31, safety Adrian Wilson 30, tackle Jeremy Bridges 30, center Ben Claxton 30.

San Francisco (13): kicker Joe Nedney 37, tackle Barry Sims 35, snapper Brian Jennings 33, linebacker Takeo Spikes 33, fullback Moran Norris 32, cornerback William James 31, quarterback David Carr 31, guard Tony Wragge 30, defensive end Demetric Evans 30, defensive end Justin Smith 30, cornerback Nate Clements 30, center Eric Heitmann 30, safety Michael Lewis 30.

Seattle (10): kicker Olindo Mare 37, safety Lawyer Milloy 36, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck 34, guard Ben Hamilton 32, receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh 32, guard Chester Pitts 31, receiver Deion Branch 31, tight end Chris Baker 30, defensive tackle Craig Terrill 30, defensive tackle Colin Cole 30.

St. Louis (8): defensive end James Hall 33, defensive tackle Fred Robbins 33, quarterback A.J. Feeley 33, center Hank Fraley 32, linebacker Na'il Diggs 32, kicker Josh Brown 31, snapper Chris Massey 30 and punter Donnie Jones 30.

Several other players turn 30 this season: nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin (49ers), guard Adam Goldberg (Rams), linebacker Gerald Hayes (Cardinals), kicker Shane Andrus (49ers), guard Reggie Wells (Cardinals) and cornerback Marcus Trufant (Seahawks).

Boldin's status next issue in focus

January, 10, 2010
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Six Cardinals players are warming up on the field at University of Phoenix Stadium about 2 hours before kickoff.

Anquan Boldin is not one of them.

The injured receiver's status for the Packers-Cardinals wild-card game remains unknown amid reports that Arizona does not expect him to play.

Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Anthony Becht, Neil Rackers, Mike Leach and Ben Graham are the only Arizona players on the field at this time. I'll pass along updates as kickoff approaches.

Teams must declare their inactive players 90 minutes before kickoff.