NFC West: Ronde Barber

710ESPN Seattle audio: Woodson's future

February, 18, 2013
2/18/13
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Dashon Goldson, Delanie Walker, Danny Amendola, Kevin Kolb, Charles Woodson, Dwight Freeney and Chris Clemons were among the subjects for conversation during a Monday chat with Dave Grosby and Bob Stelton on 710ESPN Seattle.

Woodson
I've been away for a week and haven't spoken to anyone regarding suggestions Woodson could fit in Seattle based on ties to Seahawks general manager John Schneider. On the surface, however, I'm not seeing a great fit. Woodson is 36 years old. He turns 37 in October and missed nine games to injury last season.

Brian Dawkins, Ronde Barber and Lawyer Milloy are the only defensive backs over the past 10 seasons to play more than 10 games at age 36 or older. Woodson transitioned to safety from cornerback last season. The Seahawks don't need safeties. They could use a nickel cornerback. Woodson could probably help in that regard, at least to some degree. But would he have the quickness at this stage to cover shifty slot receivers? To what degree would he upgrade Seattle in that area?

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers lobbied Green Bay to keep Woodson, pointing out that Woodson was still playing at a high level. Woodson was scheduled to count $10 million against the Packers' salary cap. Keeping him at that price didn't make sense to Green Bay. But if Woodson can still cover to some degree, he could help a team such as Seattle at a lower price.

ESPN's Brock Huard recently made a case for Woodson in Seattle. I've got an open mind and would like to hear more.

Tony Gonzalez and what might have been

January, 22, 2013
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With Tony Gonzalez leaning toward retirement after 16 NFL seasons and 1,242 receptions, I turned back the clock in my mind to 1997, the year San Francisco tried to draft the tight end from California.

The 49ers were in a wheeling and dealing mode in that 1997 draft. They came away with three players -- Jim Druckenmiller, Marc Edwards and Greg Clark -- after trading away all picks in the fourth through seventh rounds.

"While they rated [Jim] Druckenmiller as the best player available at the 26th pick, the 49ers tried to trade up for Miami's No. 15 in order to take Cal tight end Tony Gonzalez," John Crumpacker wrote at the time in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Alas, Kansas City moved up to 13 in a trade with Houston and tabbed the Golden Bear."

Alas, indeed.

Druckenmiller would play in six NFL games, starting one. Edwards, a fullback the team envisioned in the Tom Rathman mold, started 82 of the 134 regular-season games he played. Clark, a tight end, started 39 of the 55 games he played.

As for Gonzalez? He has 237 starts in 254 games and ranks second to Jerry Rice on the NFL's list for all-time receptions. His total for receptions is 50 percent greater than the career total for any tight end. Shannon Sharpe is second with 815 receptions.

The chart ranks 1997 draft choices by most Pro Bowl appearances. Two NFC West players, Walter Jones and Orlando Pace, made the list. Also in 1997, the Arizona Cardinals drafted cornerback Tommy Knight with the ninth overall choice.

Referee Ron Winter waved off one of the interference penalties against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson in Week 9.

"There is no foul for defensive pass interference," Winter announced. "The contact and the ball arrived at the same time."

Peterson has incurred nine assessed or declined penalties this season, one behind NFL leaders Brandon Browner, Rodger Saffold and Ryan Clady. Six of the nine were for coverage-related violations on defense.

But as Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton told reporters Friday, Peterson isn't the only one making an adjustment. The rookie's aggressive playing style might require officials to adjust as well. Winter's decision to pick up the flag for pass interference might indicate that is happening already. What looks like interference isn't always interference.

The chart shows NFL players with the most penalties for defensive pass interference, defensive holding and illegal contact this season. Peterson ranks tied for second on the list. He has additional penalties for roughing the kicker, jumping offside and illegal use of hands.

Peterson has impressive company on the list, notably Ike Taylor and Charles Woodson. A few other big names, including Nnamdi Asomugha, have three such penalties.

Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information provided the penalty info.

.
With Peyton Manning's regular-season starting streak in question, I revisited the list of active leaders to see which NFC West players might be gaining.

There is one.

The San Francisco 49ers' Justin Smith, the NFL's active ironman among defensive linemen with 155 starts in a row, would have to remain in the lineup continuously through the sixth game of the 2014 season to surpass Manning's 208-game streak.

Smith, 31, would be turning 35 at about the time he reached 209 starts.

The chart shows current starting streaks of at least 100 games, according to the NFL. Alan Faneca is retiring, so he'll come off the list. Atlanta Falcons center Todd McClure, tied with Faneca on the list, will miss the regular-season opener after having knee surgery.

Players need toughness, luck, consistency and talent to maintain such streaks in such a physically demanding sport. The position they play also matters.

The longest active starting streak for running backs stands at only 48 games, with the Chicago Bears' Matt Forte atop the list. The Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson is next at 32 games, with the St. Louis Rams' Steven Jackson third at only 17 regular-season starts in a row. Only three other running backs have started more than 12 games in a row.

Update: The NFL's internal statistics engine listed Ronde Barber with 179 consecutive regular-season starts. The Bucs' figure is 183. Game logs available on NFL.com confirm 183. I updated the chart to 183.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers thoughts on Peter King's recent tweets suggesting Matt Hasselbeck will not return to the Seahawks in 2011. King spent the weekend in Seattle and even tweeted a photo of Seahawks general manager John Schneider from the U2 concert at Qwest Field. His tweets about Hasselbeck followed not long after. Were these events completely unrelated? Hard to say. King tweets about all sorts of NFL subjects without running into general managers at concerts. We can safely assume Schneider did not leave King with the impression Hasselbeck would be returning. My read earlier this offseason said the Seahawks might have an easier time making a break with their past if the lockout dragged on for an extended period, because big-picture planning could have additional time to harden in decision makers' minds. Of course, the longer the lockout lasts, the less time Seattle would have to coach up another quarterback. Hasselbeck knows the team's new offense.

Brock Huard of 710ESPN Seattle offers thoughts on King's tweets, plus a link to an interview with King. I agree with Huard's take that Seattle wants Hasselbeck, but not at any cost. Re-signing Hasselbeck to a shorter-term deal becomes easier, in theory, if there's a perception the team is ready to move forward without Hasselbeck.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com checks in with the Blades brothers, Brian and Bennie, who became teammates in Seattle for the 1997 season. Brian: "Bennie was trying to get me to come to Detroit after my first contract was up. But I told him, ‘No, I’m going to stay put, because I like it out here.’ Once it got to the point where he was unwelcome in Detroit, it was a blessing that we had the opportunity to play at least one year together."

Also from Farnsworth: Brian Blades, now 45, earns a spot on the Seahawks' 35th anniversary team. Farnsworth: "In five of the six seasons when Blades started at least 14 games, he caught at least 70 passes and led the team in receptions. But he also had seasons when he started five, six, seven and nine games because of injuries. That’s because Blades made many of his catches the hard way -- by going over the middle, and taking the hits that followed."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic passes along stats from Pro Football Focus affirming perceptions that Cardinals left tackle Levi Brown struggles in pass protection.

Also from Somers: another look at Football Outsiders stats, these for broken tackles. They have the Cardinals' Adrian Wilson with 16 of them, second-most in the league, after having only two in 2009. Somers: "Some perspective is needed, however, when evaluating the Cardinals defense. Its performance was terrible, no question. But it should be noted, too, that the Cardinals were better on offense in 2009 and possessed the ball an average of about four minutes longer per game than they did in 2010. This defense spent too much time on the field and was often in poor situations because of the anemic offense. Second, Wilson has some pretty good company on the list, including Bucs corner Ronde Barber, Titans linebacker Stephen Tulloch and Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs. Corners, safeties and linebackers often play in 'space', so it's understandable they will have move missed tackles than defensive linemen."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com offers thoughts on Larry Fitzgerald's latest comments about wanting to stay in Arizona. Urban: "In this scenario, it’s the quarterback/offense that needs to be upgraded. I think that will happen, and I still think Fitz will remain a Cardinal. But until things are tweaked (and that can’t happen until the labor situation sorts itself out) Fitz’s future remains relatively vague regardless of his interviews."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers' Alex Smith and Michael Crabtree need one another. I would say Smith needs Crabtree more at this point, given that Smith does not project as a long-term starter for the 49ers.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Adam Snyder continues to practice at center for the 49ers this offseason. Barrows: "Snyder said he's been the de facto center all offseason and has spent a lot of time snapping the ball to Alex Smith. The 49ers, of course, are light on centers at the moment. 2011 starter Davis Baas and Tony Wragge are unrestricted free agents. Eric Heitmann is rehabilitating a neck injury at Stanford, his alma mater. Two other possibilities, Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person, are rookies who didn't play the position in college."

Also from Barrows: more on the 49ers' offensive line.

Taylor Price of 49ers.com profiles new 49ers assistant coach Bobby Engram. Price: "Jim Harbaugh’s West Coast offensive system aligns nicely with the concepts Engram learned as a player in Seattle. His experience and knowledge of the scheme allow him to be a great resource for the offensive staff."

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says 49ers rookie receiver Ronald Johnson eats, drinks and sleeps football figuratively, while sleeping with a football literally. Teammate Josh Morgan: "Ronald just wants it so bad. That’s probably the best thing I could say about him. He’s so eager to get everything right now. When you’re that eager to learn, and that eager to get it in you so you can get out there and play, you’re always going to have some positive results."

Also from Branch: Anthony Dixon wants to be a better all-around back.

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News offers thoughts on Crabtree and Smith. Kawakami: "It’s early June, there’s a lockout, there are no coaches in sight, and things are decidedly informal this week at San Jose State during the Smith-directed player workouts and offensive classroom sessions. But whether it’s intentional or merely grindingly passive-aggressive, while everything else is going smoothly, every day there’s a new twist to the Smith-Crabtree saga. No, they’re not Joe and Jerry. Or even Jeff and T.O."

Mike Rosenberg of the San Jose Mercury News suggests the 49ers are no closer to getting a stadium built in Santa Clara. Rosenberg cites the lockout, rising construction costs and questions about funding in this piece, while the 49ers say their plans remain on track.

Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with Dixon, who faces additional competition at the position.

Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle passes along thoughts from the 49ers' offensive linemen. Veterans are helping younger players with the 49ers' new playbook.

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com profiles Rams draft choice Lance Kendricks, who projects as a key weapon within Josh McDaniels' new offense. Wagoner: "At 6-2, 241 pounds, Kendricks has the size of a tight end, but his athleticism is comparable to some of the best receivers in this year’s draft. Kendricks was clocked at 4.47 seconds in the 40-yard dash coming out of high school and has recorded a 36-inch vertical jump." Most NFL tight ends are bigger than 6-2 and 241, but very few possess Kendricks' athleticism. The NFC West now has quite a few athletic tight ends (Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Rob Housler, John Carlson, Kendricks and Mike Hoomanawanui). Kendricks: "I take a lot of pride in being able to do things such as blocking and doing some iso-blocks and splitting, lining up in the slot in single side, and lining up as a true tight end, and I definitely do take a lot of pride in that."
Lawyer Milloy returned to the Seattle Seahawks because the coaching staff promised a more prominent role for the veteran safety.

This had the potential to be one of those offseason storylines that never materializes when it matters.

Six games into the 2010 season, it's clear the Seahawks were serious about featuring Milloy. They've made him a starter and used him effectively on blitzes, most recently against the Chicago Bears in Week 6. Milloy got credit for one sack and he's almost certainly going to get credit for another once the Elias Sports Bureau reviews a sack credited to teammate Raheem Brock. Replays showed Milloy making the play.

That second as-yet-unofficial stat would allow Milloy to join Week 7 Seahawks opponent Adrian Wilson of the Arizona Cardinals among 11 known players with at least 20 interceptions and 20 sacks. Milloy has always been a big hitter, but he hasn't been used consistently as a blitzer. His experience, sense of timing and ferocity make him well-suited to the role.

The chart shows players with at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. I sorted the chart by most total sacks and interceptions.

Age caught up to some of the best players in NFC West history this offseason.

Walter Jones, Isaac Bruce and Kurt Warner retired. Jones' knee was the problem. Bruce was no longer an impact player. Warner decided to move on with his life. All were at least 36 years old.

Some of the NFL's oldest players still have ties to current NFC West teams. The chart ranks each division by average age for offensive and defensive players (no specialists). It also shows how many 30-plus players each division employs (again, no specialists). The final column shows the oldest player in each division, including NFC West alumni Bobby Engram and Joey Galloway.

The four oldest players in the NFC East have roots with current NFC West teams: Galloway, Jon Kitna, Phillip Daniels and London Fletcher.

Paul Kuharsky's recent item focusing on the AFC South's youth holds up here. Only 19 non-specialists in the division are 30 or older. The AFC North has 50 such players. The Indianapolis Colts annually maintain one of the youngest rosters in the league.

I've found that teams running 3-4 defenses often prefer older players. Defensive players on teams with 3-4 schemes average 26.3 years old, compared to 25.7 for defensive players on 4-3 teams. This makes sense because 3-4 schemes can feature more moving parts, putting greater value on experience. These defenses can also value size over speed, putting less value on youth.

The information is based on the rosters I maintain for every team in the league. I had been missing roughly a dozen ages for rookie free agents until the NFL made available its 2011 Record & Fact Book featuring dates of birth. I'm now missing a birthday for only one NFL player: Damola Adeniji of the Oakland Raiders.

How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch

December, 29, 2009
12/29/09
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

1. Matt Hasselbeck, Seahawks QB. Eight interceptions in two games will drag down the stock for any quarterback. Hasselbeck appears to be forcing throws as if desperate to make something happen. Brett Favre seemed to go through something similar after Mike Holmgren departed Green Bay and the Packers went through some ups and downs. Hasselbeck held it together most of the season, fighting through various injuries and never complaining about them. Hasselbeck looks like a quarterback determined to go down swinging.

2. Jim Mora, Seahawks coach. Football isn't always fair and Mora certainly isn't solely to blame for what ails Seattle. He's playing with the players former general manager Tim Ruskell assembled and it's clear quite a few of them aren't as good as expected. Still, quite a few other bad teams have occasionally risen up to surprise superior opponents. The Raiders, Browns and Bucs have pulled upsets from time to time. Watching the Seahawks against Green Bay, I had the feeling they wouldn't win one of a 100 games between the teams. If the Seahawks are responding to coaching, they are hiding it well.

3. Keith Null, Rams QB. Three interceptions against the Cardinals gave Null nine picks in three starts. Those struggles are understandable for a third-string rookie quarterback facing a playoff-tested defense on the road (or anywhere). And yet the performance qualified as a step backward after Null performed reasonably well during a 16-13 defeat to Houston a week earlier. Null had one touchdown, one interception and an 81.2 rating in that game against the Texans. He had one touchdown, three picks and a 50.0 rating during the 31-10 defeat at Arizona, dropping his rating for the season to 49.8.

Rising

[+] EnlargeKen Whisenhunt
AP Photo/Matt YorkUnder Ken Whisenhunt, Arizona has improved its record every season.
1. Ken Whisenhunt, Cardinals coach. The Cardinals have improved their record every season under Whisenhunt. They made a three-game improvement to 8-8 in 2007, Whisenhunt's first season. The team went 9-7 in 2008 and Arizona will finish no worse than 10-6 this season after beating the Rams in Week 16. Arizona and Minnesota are the only NFL teams to improve their records in each of the last three seasons. This will be the Cardinals' first season since 1975 without back-to-back defeats.

2. Adrian Wilson, Cardinals SS. The veteran defender had a sack and interception in the fourth quarter against St. Louis. The sack made him the 10th player with at least 20 sacks and 20 interceptions in a career since sacks became an official stat. Wilson joins a list featuring Ronde Barber, LeRoy Butler, Brian Dawkins, Donnie Edwards, Rodney Harrison, Seth Joyner, Ray Lewis, Wilber Marshall and William Thomas. Wilson has a career-high five interceptions this season. He needs one interception to tie Kwamie Lassiter (24 interceptions) for sixth on the Cardinals' career list.

3. Frank Gore, 49ers RB. The switch from 14- to 16-game schedule in 1978 diminished the value of the 1,000-yard rushing season in quite a few cases. Gore stands as an exception. He has needed no more than 14 games to reach 1,000 yards in each of the last four seasons, becoming the only 49ers running back to accomplish the feat in four consecutive seasons. Gore worked hard for 71 yards on 28 carries against the Lions while setting a season high with 81 yards receiving. His 48-yard gain on a pass from quarterback Alex Smith showcased Gore's versatility. He is also an excellent pass protector.
 
  ESPN.com Illustration
  Best of the best: Michael Strahan, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Randy Moss.

 Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Ranking the 25 best NFL players of the decade seemed easy.

AFC West blogger Bill Williamson sent an initial list to me for review. The list appeared strong. I suggested a couple minor tweaks.

All-Decade Honors
Monday: Defense
Tuesday: Offense
Wednesday: Moments
Thursday: Team, coach, MVP | Rankings
Friday: Top players | Special teams

Related Content

• Karabell: Decade's top fantasy players
• Rank 'Em: Players of the decade
• Football Outsiders: Most overrated
• Football Outsiders: Most underrated

The hard part came when we considered those who fell just short of the list.

Guard Alan Faneca has gone to eight Pro Bowls this decade. John Lynch and Will Shields went to seven. Brian Dawkins, La'Roi Glover, Kevin Mawae, Olin Kreutz, Matt Birk, Larry Allen, Chris Samuels and Zach Thomas went to six. Ronde Barber, Keith Brooking, Al Wilson, Julian Peterson, Donovan McNabb, Antonio Gates, Jason Witten and Chad Ochocinco were among those with five.

None of them made the top 25 list. Had all of them made it, only six spots would have remained for the 25 players you see in the chart.

We settled on five quarterbacks, four receivers, four offensive linemen, three linebackers, three defensive ends, two running backs, two safeties, one cornerback, one tight end and zero defensive tackles (few dominated consistently for extended periods).

Seven of 10 league MVPs this decade made the top 25. Marshall Faulk, Rich Gannon and 2003 co-MVP Steve McNair were the exceptions.

Ben Roethlisberger made the list despite only one career Pro Bowl appearance. It's not his fault Manning and Brady play in the same conference.

2
ESPN.com's Top 25 Players of the Decade
Rk Player Pos. Team Pro Bowls This Decade Analysis
1
Tom Brady
QB NE 4 The NFL's Horatio Alger hero in cleats was drafted in the sixth round and became one of the greatest quarterbacks of a generation. The four-time Pro Bowler played in four Super Bowls this decade, winning three and being named MVP of two. (TG)

Peyton Manning
QB IND 8 The three-time MVP made eight Pro Bowls, was first-team All-Pro four times and won a Super Bowl this decade. Widely regarded as the league's most irreplaceable player. (PK)
3
LaDainian Tomlinson
RB SD 5 Without a doubt, Tomlinson is the best non-quarterback to play in this decade. He has gained at least 1,000 yards in each of his eight NFL seasons. One of the most consistent running backs ever to play. (BW)
4
Walter Jones
T SEA 8 Mike Holmgren called Jones the best offensive player he ever coached. That's saying something. (MS)
5
Jason Taylor
DE MIA 6 Few defenders can match Taylor's résumé. The NFL's active career sacks leader was chosen for six Pro Bowls this decade. Taylor was named the league's defensive player of the year in 2006 and the Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2007 for his community service. (TG)
6
Champ Bailey
CB DEN 8 The gold standard of cornerbacks this decade. Bailey is a complete player who shut down the left side of the field nearly all decade. (BW)
7
Marvin Harrison
WR IND 7 Seven straight Pro Bowls, two first-team All-Pro selections and a Super Bowl win this decade. His 143 receptions in 2002 stand as the single-season record and he's got a 20-catch cushion on the next closest player. (PK)
8
Michael Strahan
DE NYG 4 One of the most prolific pass-rushers in history of the league. He was relentless and he helped lead the way to a world title in 2007. (MM)
9
Ray Lewis
LB BAL 7 Lewis is the top-rated linebacker of this decade with a Super Bowl victory and seven Pro Bowls since 2000. But No. 9 still seems a little low for the future Hall of Famer and one of the most dominant defenders ever to play the game. (JW)
10
Tony Gonzalez
TE ATL 9 The best receiving tight end ever to play in the NFL. If you don't think so, look at the top of every important receiving record for NFL tight ends. You'll see Gonzalez's name on every list. (BW)
11
Jonathan Ogden
T BAL 8 As the most consistent player on Baltimore's usually inconsistent offense, Ogden will probably never get as much credit as he deserved. But his football journey will land him in Canton soon. (JW)
12
Ed Reed
S BAL 5 In a decade when mostly hard-hitting safeties ruled the NFL, Reed brought "ball-hawking" back to the position. His hands, anticipation and knack for the spectacular play are as good as any safety in NFL history. (JW)
13
Torry Holt
WR JAC 7 Seven Pro Bowls, one first-team All-Pro selection, two Super Bowl appearances and a Super Bowl win this decade with the St. Louis Rams. A major component of an out-of-nowhere team that became "The Greatest Show on Turf." (PK)
14
Randy Moss
WR NE 4 He was edged out by Torry Holt for the all-decade team, but Moss is one of the league's all-time greats. He has gone to four Pro Bowls this decade, averaging 77 catches for 1,164 yards and 12 touchdowns. (TG)
15
Derrick Brooks
LB TB 8 Best player in Tampa Bay's history. Most important building block in Bucs going from laughingstock to Super Bowl champions. Brooks was a leader on the field and in the community. (PY)
16
Orlando Pace
T CHI 6 At the height of his career, Pace was the most dominant left tackle in the game. No one could get around him as the St. Louis Rams set a series of offensive records. Injuries have slowed him down recently, but he hopes to finish his career strongly in Chicago. (KS)
17
Kurt Warner
QB ARI 3 Took two franchises to the Super Bowl this decade and had three total appearances (one following the 1999 season). Still going strong. (MS)
18
Shaun Alexander
RB SEA 3 The only player in NFL history to score 15 touchdowns in five consecutive seasons. Averaged 1,501 yards rushing and 17.4 rushing touchdowns per season over a five-year period. (MS)
19
Troy Polamalu
S PIT 5 Polamalu is just approaching his prime, but already has two Super Bowl wins and five Pro Bowls in six seasons. He has the potential to make the next decade's list as well. (JW)
20
Richard Seymour
DE NE 5 The Patriots defensive end has been All-Pro three times and a Pro Bowler five times. He's strong against the run and can create havoc in the pocket, collecting 39 sacks in eight seasons. (TG)
21
Ben Roethlisberger
QB PIT 1 "Big Ben" joins Tom Brady as the only quarterbacks to win multiple Super Bowls in this decade. Despite joining the NFL in 2004, that was enough for Roethlisberger to make the cut. (JW)
22
Steve Hutchinson
G MIN 6 Considered the best guard in the game since shortly after Seattle drafted him in 2001. Has helped Minnesota rank in the NFL's top five in rushing twice in three seasons with the Vikings. (KS)
23
Brett Favre
QB -- 5 Finished last season atop the NFL's list for all-time passing yardage and touchdowns. (Interceptions, too.) Named to his 10th Pro Bowl at age 39. (KS)
24
Terrell Owens
WR BUF 6 He has put up Hall of Fame-worthy numbers and he continues to be a dangerous receiver into his mid-30s. (MM)
25
Brian Urlacher
LB CHI 6 The NFL's best defensive rookie in 2000, the best defensive player in 2005 and the captain of a team that went to the Super Bowl in 2006. A quasi-defensive back in college, Urlacher is a perfect fit for the Tampa 2 scheme that requires the middle linebacker to cover the deep third of the field. (KS)

Glossary
TG -- Tim Graham (AFC East); JW -- James Walker (AFC North); PK -- Paul Kuharsky (AFC South); BW -- Bill Williamson (AFC West); MM -- Matt Mosley (NFC East); KS -- Kevin Seifert (NFC North); PY -- Pat Yasinskas (NFC South); MS -- Mike Sando (NFC West)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rd.
Pick '97 Draftee Currently on an NFL Roster
Drafted By (Currently With)
1
1
Orlando Pace
Rams (Bears)
1
3 Shawn Springs
Seahawks (Pats)
1
6 Walter Jones
Seahawks
1
8 James Farrior
Jets (Steelers)
1
13
Tony Gonzalez
Chiefs (Falcons)
1
21
Renaldo Wynn
Jaguars (Redskins)
1
28 Trevor Pryce
Broncos (Ravens)
1
60 Darren Sharper
Packers (Saints)
3
66
Ronde Barber
Bucs
3
86 Bertrand Berry
Colts (Cardinals)
3
91 Mike Vrabel
Steelers (Chiefs)
3
95 Brad Maynard
Giants (Bears)
4
98 Derrick Mason
Titans (Ravens)
4
112 Ryan Tucker
Rams (Browns)
6
169
Al Harris
Bucs (Packers)
6
193 Grady Jackson
Raiders (Lions)
7
229 Jason Ferguson
Jets (Dolphins)

The Tony Gonzalez trade from Kansas City to Atlanta leaves Walter Jones and Ronde Barber as the only 1997 NFL draftees still with their original teams.

Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell was the Bucs' college scouting director when Tampa Bay drafted Barber. This week, Ruskell listed Barber among the choices with which he was proud to be associated. Among the others: Brandon Mebane, Leroy Hill and John Lynch.

"They didn't care about where they went in the draft, and they became good football players," Ruskell said. "You got to give credit to the player. It makes you feel good, too, that you did something a little extra."

The Bucs also drafted Al Harris in 1997. Harris and Barber are among 17 players from the 1997 class still active. The Seahawks, Rams and Bucs each drafted two of those players. Note that eight of the 17 were first-round choices.

Draft Class
Players Listed on NFL Active Rosters
2008
246
2007
233
2006
204
2005
143
2004
122
2003
111
2002
81
2001
65
2000
52
1999
35
1998
24
1997
16
1996 8
1995
3
1994 2
1993
3
1992
1
1991
1
1990
0

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Josh from Victor, N.Y., writes: Your chart showing who's left from the '97 draft is really interesting.

Would you have access to other years? I'd be curious to know how many players are still around from other years in the 90s, or even 1st and 2nd rounders from the first few years of this decade.

Mike Sando: I do maintain those breakdowns based on the rosters I maintain for every NFL team. The chart show how many players from each NFL draft class since 1990 are counting on 53-man rosters. The figures do not count eight unsigned franchise players.

The decline is steady. Fewer players remain with the teams that drafted them.

The 49ers are one of only three teams with more than one member of their 2000 draft classes on the roster, for example (linebacker Jeff Ulbrich and snapper Brian Jennings in San Francisco).

The Cardinals still employ three members of their 2003 draft class, tied for the league high. Gerald Hayes, Reggie Wells and Anquan Boldin remain for Arizona.

The Seahawks' Walter Jones stands as one of three players from the 1997 draft class to remain with their original teams. Ronde Barber (Bucs) and Tony Gonzalez (Chiefs) are the others.

Going way back, the Lions' Jason Hanson remains from Detroit's 1992 class.

If Junior Seau comes back, he'll be the only player from the 1990 draft class.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rd.
Pick 1997 Draftee Currently on an NFL Roster
Drafted By (Currently With)
1
3 Shawn Springs
Seahawks (Pats)
1
6 Walter Jones
Seahawks
1
8 James Farrior
Jets (Steelers)
1
13
Tony Gonzalez
Chiefs
1
28 Trevor Pryce
Broncos (Ravens)
3
66
Ronde Barber
Bucs
3
91 Mike Vrabel
Steelers (Chiefs)
3
95 Brad Maynard
Giants (Bears)
4
98 Derrick Mason
Titans (Ravens)
6
169
Al Harris
Bucs (Packers)
6
193 Grady Jackson
Raiders (Lions)
7
229 Jason Ferguson
Jets (Dolphins)

Orlando Pace's release leaves the 1997 NFL draft class with a dozen players on active rosters, including three still
with their original teams.

The Seahawks, Bucs and Jets drafted six of the 12.

Three of the 12 remain with their current teams: Walter Jones, Tony Gonzalez and Ronde Barber.

Eight of the 12 played defense and five were first-round draft choices.

Pace will presumably resurface on another team. Chris Naeole and Warrick Dunn are  unrestricted free agents from the 1997 first-round class.

NFL fines 49ers' Davis, Gore and more

October, 31, 2008
10/31/08
7:34
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The league has handed down numerous fines for players' actions in Week 8 games. Here are a few pertaining to games involving NFC West teams:

The fines against Smith and Green-Ellis did not draw penalties during the games. In other fine-related news, the league docked Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber for a horse-collar tackle. That one cost $7,500. I confirmed these fines with NFL officials.

Target practice on NFC West defenders

September, 11, 2008
9/11/08
10:34
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Defensive Back
TeamTargetedBurnedYardsTD
Tye HillSTL981541
Corey ChavousSTL531311
Kelly JenningsSEA641271
Ronde BarberTB541231
Fakhir BrownSTL731161

Re-watching the Rams-Eagles game last night brought into focus the Rams' problems in the secondary. The chart, which shows the most yards given up by NFL defenders in Week 1, lists three Rams and one Seahawk among the top five.

Tye Hill seemed to be in position on one of the Eagles' big completions early, but DeSean Jackson made the play. Hill's job is on the line. Seattle's Kelly Jennings had a hard time with the Bills' Lee Evans.

These breakdowns, tracked by Stats LLC., can be subjective. Only the Rams know for sure which of their players were responsible for certain aspects of specific coverages. Sometimes a cornerback gives up a big play after a safety fails to help in coverage. That could have been the case with some of these plays. But a careful review can generally tell us which players failed in coverage most of the time.

How to read the chart: "Targeted" shows how many times each player had passes thrown to the players he was covering. "Burned" shows how many of these passes were completed. "Yards" shows how many yards these passes gained. "TD" shows how many produced touchdowns.

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