NFL Nation: Stock Watch 31810 NFC

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Falling

Sabby Piscitelli, safety, Buccaneers. Last season, the Bucs went out of their way to clear the way for Piscitelli to move into a starting role. After a year-long view of that, they’ve got Piscitelli on the move again. This time, he’s headed for a backup role and a job as a regular on special teams. The recent signing of veteran Sean Jones pretty much guaranteed that. Jones has been a dependable and productive starter elsewhere and the Bucs didn’t bring him in to be a backup. Piscitelli will be fine, running down kicks and punts. The guy has great raw athletic skills and that’s why the Bucs got the idea last year he could play. Problem is, the athletic skills were overshadowed by the fact Piscitelli has virtually no football instincts and that’s why he was beaten repeatedly as a safety.

Rising

Tyler Brayton, defensive end, Panthers. Carolina let Brayton hang out there in free agency for nearly two weeks. He got a few nibbles, but Wednesday he re-signed with the Panthers in a move that made a lot of sense for the player and the team. With Julius Peppers gone, the Panthers are counting on young defensive ends Everette Brown and Charles Johnson to step. Each has the potential to do that, but there are likely to be some bumps along the road. That’s where Brayton comes in. He’s never been a dominant player, but he’s solid and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He can help mentor Brown and Johnson. In a best-case scenario, they both play well and Brayton is used as the third end in the rotation. In a worst-case scenario, one of them stumbles and Brayton has to start. Brayton’s as good as a lot of starters out there.

How I See It: NFC West Stock Watch

March, 18, 2010
3/18/10
1:00
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NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

Starting quarterbacks. Expect the Seahawks, Cardinals and 49ers to say good things about their starting quarterbacks this offseason. But also understand that Matt Hasselbeck, Matt Leinart and Alex Smith face increased competition after their teams acquired Charlie Whitehurst, Derek Anderson and David Carr. Hasselbeck and Smith are entering the final year of their contracts. Leinart's contract balloons in value after the upcoming season, so his future will need to be addressed as well. In each case, these teams have taken steps to protect themselves at the most important position. It doesn't mean their current starters are on their way out. It does mean the current starters need to be looking over their shoulders.

Rising

Backup quarterbacks. Whitehurst, Anderson and Carr all have contracts for the 2011 season. That is more than their teams' starters can say (Leinart's deal does extend to 2011, but the Cardinals will likely have to rework it or release him after the 2010 season). What the Seahawks paid for Whitehurst says they want him to become their starter for the 2011 season, or possibly sooner. Hasselbeck's recent injury problems -- nine games missed in 2008, followed by an injury-altered season in 2009 -- put Whitehurst in good position to claim playing time this season. Anderson and Carr have played more extensively than the starters ahead of them. Anderson could need some decompression time after a rough run in Cleveland. Carr has already had time to regroup. He played relatively well in spot duty for the Giants.
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

Favre conspiracy theories: Can we all agree it's pointless to suggest that quarterback Brett Favre somehow dropped the ball on recruiting free-agent running back LaDainian Tomlinson? And that the uncertainty of Favre's future actually played a role in Tomlinson's decision to sign with the New York Jets? In my mind, it's simple: Tomlinson went to New York because he's going to play more there. If anything, I'm betting Tomlinson is guessing Favre will play in 2010. Because if he doesn't, the Vikings are likely to revert to their run-heavy scheme -- one that almost certainly would have a significant role for a backup tailback. "Favre's indecision hurts Vikings" makes for a good headline, but there's no meat on those bones.

Rising

Matthew Stafford, Detroit quarterback: Stafford is close to being fully healed from the knee and shoulder injuries that limited him to 10 games in his rookie season. He reported to the Lions' offseason conditioning program as the team's unquestioned starter and has also taken up residence as a locker room leader and representative. Team officials have looped him into their offseason plans, asking him for opinions and even inviting him to make recruiting calls to free agents. "I think they know that I know a lot of guys in the league and personnel pretty well," Stafford said. "It's fun to be able to help out a little bit."

How I See It: NFC East Stock Watch

March, 18, 2010
3/18/10
1:00
PM ET
NFC Stock Watch: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Falling

Marcus Spears, Cowboys defensive end: If he signs his tender, he'll make less money in 2010 than two backups at defensive end, Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher. The Cowboys only gave Spears a first-round tender and it doesn't look like they're interested in giving him a contract extension. If Spears had been an unrestricted free agent, I think he would've generated some interest on the open market. He actually played well for the Cowboys in 2010. But he's obviously discouraged at this point and I think the Cowboys would be willing to trade him for a third-round pick. Spears has been a solid presence in the locker room, but apparently Wade Phillips thinks that Bowen and Hatcher are about to surpass him. We'll continue to monitor Spears' situation throughout the offseason.

Rising

Howie Roseman, new Eagles' general manager: I think it was smart to lock up fullback Leonard Weaver and wide receiver Jason Avant early in free agency. Why take a chance on someone trying to sign them to an offer sheet. I also think that Saints restricted free agent Mike Bell could be an excellent change-of-pace back to LeSean McCoy. The Eagles need someone who can convert in goal-line situations. The Super Bowl aside, Bell has been a solid runner at the goal-line and he could help the Eagles in other short-yardage situations. I also think Marlin Jackson was a good risk at free safety. He's a 26-year-old player coming off an ACL injury. There's certainly a risk involved, but he'll end up being a steal if he can restore order to the position opposite Quintin Mikell. And no matter who made the decision, it was time to move on without former Pro Bowler Shawn Andrews. Now we'll continue the quarterback watch. If the right deal comes along, I think Roseman will want to take a long look. With Andy Reid having final say, it's hard to know who's pulling the trigger on these deals. But from what I'm hearing, Roseman's been very assertive in his new role.

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