NFL Nation: Steve McKinney
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Floyd Womack's departure to the Browns following eight seasons with the Seahawks marks the fourth time an unrestricted free agent has left Seattle this offseason.
The Seahawks did not push to retain them. The team made retaining linebacker Leroy Hill its top priority, using the franchise tag to keep him off the market. Re-signing tackle Ray Willis was a secondary priority.
Receiver Bobby Engram and fullback Leonard Weaver stand as the highest-profile Seattle players yet to re-sign, but the Seahawks appear unlikely to invest much in retaining any of their remaining unrestricted free agents.
Seahawks UFA re-signed: Willis.
Seahawks UFA lost: Womack, Green, Bernard and Morris.
Restricted free agents: None.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks' ability to bring back Ray Willis on a two-year deal significantly upgrades their depth at two and possibly three positions on the offensive line.
Willis appeared likely to find a starting job elsewhere when free agency opened. The Redskins liked him. They considered adding him as their starting right tackle. The money apparently didn't line up with Willis' expectations, which was a break for Seattle.
Willis has starting experience at right guard and right tackle. His presence buys security for the Seahawks on multiple fronts.
If left tackle Walter Jones experiences additional knee trouble,
Seattle could move right tackle Sean Locklear to the left side, with Willis stepping in at right tackle. If Rob Sims or the currently unsigned Floyd Womack isn't the answer at right guard, Willis can help at that position as well.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
The Seahawks could conceivably part with six or more unrestricted free agents in their 30s this offseason. Their two youngest UFA candidates -- Ray Willis and Leonard Weaver -- might also land elsewhere in 2009.
The chart ranks the Seahawks' scheduled unrestricted free agents from oldest to youngest, with ages rounded down to the tenth. Eight are in their 30s. A ninth, Rocky Bernard, will join them when he turns 30 in April.
The Seahawks have not placed Chris Gray on the retired list. That's why he appears among their UFA candidates.
Seattle will look for a younger snapper. The team may or may not bring back Bobby Engram. Charlie Frye almost certainly will not be back. Steve McKinney was a stopgap addition amid injuries, as was Koren Robinson.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike SandoDan Bickley of the Arizona Republic provides a checklist for the Cardinals as the team tries to sustain its current momentum.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic describes Ken Whisenhunt's conflicting emotions following a fantastic season punctuated by a painful defeat.
Also from Somers: The Cardinals felt Super Bowl XLIII was over-officiated, but Whisenhunt told players not to blame officiating for the defeat.
Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune wonders if the Cardinals' Super Bowl appearance marks a beginning or an end.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer runs a list of the Seahawks' players scheduled to become free agents. The unrestricted list features Rocky Bernard, Bobby Engram, Charlie Frye, Chris Gray (retired), Howard Green, Will Heller, Leroy Hill, D.D. Lewis, Wes Mallard, Steve McKinney, Maurice Morris, Jeff Robinson, Koren Robinson, Leonard Weaver, Ray Willis and Floyd Womack. Lance Laury is the only restricted free agent.
John Morgan of Field Gulls expects the Seahawks to have about $9 million in salary-cap room, a relatively low figure. The team had more than $20 million last week, according to an NFL source with access to salary data, but cap numbers are fluid, particularly at this time of year. I expect to provide some more definitive numbers this week.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams have retained Art Valero in a new capacity while hiring Tom McMahon to coach special teams. Valero will assist offensive line coach Steve Loney, who was also retained by new head coach Steve Spagnuolo. The Rams now have 15 assistants under contract. They are nearly finished filling Spagnuolo's staff.
Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com wonders if Spagnuolo can deliver success to the Rams in keeping with what other first-time head coaches have delivered in Pittsburgh, Arizona and elsewhere.
Also from Gordon: A chat transcript in which he says receiver Michael Crabtree has "a lot of support" in the Rams' organization.
VanRam of Turf Show Times examines the decision to retain Loney and Valero despite the Rams' problems last season.
Gary Plummer of 49ers.com explains what makes play-action fakes effective, using a specific 49ers play against the Cowboys as an example. Even an average fake can be effective if the opposing front seven is selling out to stop the run.
Christopher Reina of realgmfootball.com recaps the 49ers' season while noting that Shaun Hill, though hardly an elite quarterback, might fit what Mike Singletary wants to do on offense. Hill had a higher passer rating than Donovan McNabb, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler.
Craig Massei of scout.com says the Cardinals' success this season should give the 49ers some hope for 2009 even though Singletary refused to call the 49ers a playoff-caliber team.
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says Tim Hightower is trying to remain patient and disciplined instead of becoming frustrated when big plays fail to develop.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the playing surface at University of Phoenix Stadium graded out highest in a survey of NFL players.
Also from Urban: Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt blames overall special-teams problems, not Steve Breaston, for the receiver's diminished numbers as a punt returner.
Mike Tulumello of the East Valley Tribune says the Cardinals hope an extended layoff makes them fresher against the Rams.
Chrissy Mauch of 49ers.com quotes Mike Martz as saying former Cardinals linebacker Calvin Pace fits the Jets' defense exceptionally well.
Also from Mauck: Niners cornerback Donald Strickland welcomes a chance to block Jets kicker Jay Feely in the open field.
Dr. Kristine Setting Clark of 49ers.com revisits the career of Freddie Solomon as the team prepares to honor the former 49ers receiver.
John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers could be without cornerback Nate Clements against the Jets. Clements underwent thumb surgery during the week.
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the criteria by which the 49ers might decide to retain Mike Singletary as head coach. I touched on this in a mailbag item scheduled for later in the day.
Also from Maiocco: The 49ers have until 90 minutes before kickoff Sunday to announce whether Clements will be available against the Jets.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Strickland would likely start at cornerback, with Tarell Brown in the nickel role, if Clements does not play.
Clare Farnsworth of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer wonders what Mike Holmgren could have done to deserve this type of sendoff. Matt Hasselbeck is doubtful and Walter Jones is questionable for Sunday.
Also from Farnsworth: Newly signed backup center Steve McKinney got a crash course at Seahawks practice.
Frank Hughes of the Tacoma News Tribune says Mansfield Wrotto is fired up about making his first NFL start Sunday, even though the Seahawks would prefer to have their regular starters available.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at Donnie Jones' credentials for the Pro Bowl. Jones leads the NFL in gross average. He leads the NFC in net average.
Also from Coats: Jim Haslett wasn't happy about having to leave for Arizona a day early, but changing Scott Linehan's itinerary would have been cost-prohibitive.
Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat looks at the relationship between Haslett and running back Steven Jackson.
Also from Korte: Jones punts with his left foot despite being right-handed. Haslett vouched for Jones' Pro Bowl credentials.
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
New York Jets
- Dave Hutchinson of the Newark Star-Ledger reports WR David Clowney could miss several weeks with a collarbone injury.
- Pro Football Weekly columnist Matt Sohn wonders if Brett Favre will have a negative impact in the Jets locker room.
- New York Post reporter Mark Cannizzaro writes coach Eric Mangini didn't like what he saw from K Mike Nugent on Saturday night.
- Buffalo News columnist Bob DiCesare takes a look at the Bills' enviable problem with their kick returners.
- Allen Wilson of the Buffalo News writes CB Jabari Greer got the message when the Bills drafted a cornerback 11th overall and two more the next day.
- Bryan Sullivan of the Canandaigua Messenger Post catches up with LB John DiGiorgio, an undrafted free agent who started 14 games last year.
- TE Derek Schouman is out indefinitely and likely for the rest of the preseason with a left knee injury.
- Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post reports RB Ronnie Brown is day-to-day with a thumb injury and will not practice Monday afternoon.
- Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero says veterans such as offensive lineman Steve McKinney should be thankful they're getting cut early.
- Miami Herald beat writer Jeff Darlington gives a report on the offensive line's progress.
New England Patriots
- Boston Herald scribe John Tomase takes a look at the Patriots without Tom Brady and sees an ordinary team.
- Mike Reiss of the Boston Globe writes they "better hope they don't need the backup," whoever that will be.
- The Boston Globe's Christopher L. Gasper shares notes from Sunday night's game, including an injury to S Brandon Meriweather.