Posted in Lombardi's Way
Print this article
According to ESPN’s John Clayton, the Titans have no plans to release quarterback Steve McNair and will let him go only in a trade. Nothing will happen on McNair until a grievance hearing May 16. McNair is protesting not being allowed to practice with the Titans in Nashville because the team doesn’t want to risk injury to a player with a $23 million cap number. Furthermore according to Clayton, the Ravens would prefer to wait for McNair and get him if he’s cut, but the Titans will hold on to him indefinitely.
Certainly there is no love lost between these two franchises and quite frankly it was surprising that the Titans even engaged the Ravens in trade discussions at all.  The real issue isn’t the $23 million cap number but rather the $9 million salary of McNair’s that would automatically kick in if he blew out a muscle while lifting.  The Titans are on the hook for $14 million of cap money assigned to McNair regardless of his status with the team.
May 16 should trigger activity with McNair.  If the arbiter hearing McNair’s grievance rules that the Titans have to allow McNair access to Baptist Sports Park, the Titans still run the same risk with McNair’s $9 million salary and the additional burden on the team’s cap.  A trade could occur and the Titans more than likely would accept the Ravens fifth round offer, provided the Ravens are still a willing trade partner and provided there are no other trade partners that McNair could agree to terms with.  Without such a partner, the Titans will be forced to release McNair unless the two sides can miraculously work out some mutually beneficial financial arrangement (see today’s Smack).  While such an arrangement isn’t likely, it is conceivable and it could force the Ravens to turn to Kerry Collins or even worse, Tommy Maddox.
But what if the arbiter rules in favor of the Titans?  Would they let McNair idle into July as he sits in some remote gym with a personal trainer?  Would they do that to such a huge contributor to the Titans’ history just to spite a rival?  How might such an action be viewed by other players on the Titans team and around the league?  How will future free agents and even the player’s union view such a tactic?  One thing it could do for the Titans is allow time for other teams to develop a need for a veteran QB.  And therein lies the danger for the Ravens.
Let’s hope Ravens President and legal wizard Dick Cass has a good read on the probable ruling by the arbiter.
The Seahawks have certainly had a busy offseason and they appear to be doing everything in their power to once again represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.  So far they have re-signed RB Shaun Alexander; CB Jordan Babineaux; LB Kevin Bentley; DT Rocky Bernard; PK Josh Brown; OT Wayne Hunter; RB Maurice Morris; P Tom Rouen; FB Mack Strong; DE Joe Tafoya; QB Seneca Wallace; WR Peter Warrick; CB Jimmy Williams.
The Hawks have also acquired OT Tom Ashworth; WR Nate Burleson; DT Russell Davis; S Mike Green; S Shaunard Harts; TE Will Heller; DE Kemp Rasmussen and LB Julian Peterson.  Peterson, whose deal includes $18.5 million in guaranteed money, wants his new employer to go one step further by adding free agent CB Ty Law.  Word is the Chiefs and Titans also have interest in Law. 
How great is the Titans interest?
Why not test it Ozzie?  Why not leak out that the Ravens are interested in adding another corner and perhaps force the Titans to move sooner than later?
With only a reported $112,000 in cap space available, the Titans would have to release McNair or quickly restructure other players’ contracts.
But back to the Seahawks, how are they getting it done cap wise?  Might they be getting a slight case of Daniel Snyderitis?
Len Pasquarelli of ESPN reports that one college scouting director rates the junior prospects for the 2007 lottery as follows: quarterback Brady Quinn (Notre Dame), offensive tackle Joe Thomas (Wisconsin), linebacker Paul Posluszny (Penn State), defensive end Gaines Adams (Clemson), safety LaRon Landry (LSU), defensive end Quentin Moses (Georgia), tailback Michael Bush (Louisville), defensive end Baraka Atkins (Miami), cornerback Leon Hall (Michigan), cornerback Michael Griffin (Texas), wide receiver Jeff Samardzija (Notre Dame), and linebacker Patrick Willis (Mississippi). 
Granted it is very early but put this one in the clip and save file.  It will be interesting to compare this list next April to the names that actually comprise the draft’s top 12 selections.
One player who I plan to watch with great interest this weekend during the Ravens rookie camp is QB Drew Olson.  Olson somehow slipped out of the draft altogether and the Ravens were able to convince him to come on board for the relatively paltry sum of $1,000.
Olson’s backup at UCLA David Koral, signed on with the Colts.  For his troubles, Koral received $5,000.  The newest Colt Koral threw only 17 passes at UCLA completing 10 for 124 yards.
If I’m forced to read between the lines here, the way I see it is like this: Olson understands Boller’s struggles in the NFL; he watched him go 13 of 30 for 133 yards and a score against his Bruins team in 2002 and he sees a not very established Brian St. Pierre.  Where else might Olson’s odds of sticking on a NFL roster be greater?  If Olson performs decently, do you think the Ravens will try to sneak him onto the practice squad?
Can you say Josh Harris and Derek Anderson?
Good move in my opinion by Olson and his agent.  His look towards the future and acceptance of the $1,000 signing bonus could produce a relative financial windfall.
Olson’s UCLA stats:
?  Year
May 8, 2006
Last week In The Hood…, our own Rick Johnson discussed how Phil Savage may have hoodwinked the Ravens into giving up a sixth round pick to the Browns to move up one slot to take a player that the Browns would likely have passed on – Haloti Ngata.  This week in The Sporting News, Savage in so many words admits that he would have passed on Ngata in favor of need – a pass rusher named Kamerion Wimbley.
"The consensus across the league is Ngata was rated higher than Kamerion, so I wanted to have something to show for it," said Savage.  So in essence, Savage filled a need with a lower rated player at that point in the draft and he offset the loss in value with the Ravens’ sixth rounder.  That pick eventually became Babatunde Oshinowo, DT out of Stanford.  Oshinowo was rated higher than a six rounder on most boards.  Remember that name (if you can) – Oshinowo will be a player to keep an eye on.
Also as reported in The Sporting News with the help of local columnist Mike Preston, Brian Billick might have more of a say in personnel matters than in previous years. Preston claims the Ravens wanted Alabama QB Brodie Croyle in the second round of the draft, but Billick balked to owner Steve Bisciotti because he knew Croyle wouldn’t be able to help him this year. Billick won out, and the team drafted Oklahoma C/G Chris Chester with the pick.
Sorry but I’m not buying that.  Eric DeCosta and the scouts spend 9 months preparing a draft board and Ozzie digests it all and ranks his players along with DeCosta only to allow a desperate coach to make a self serving call?  C’mon.  This organization is very confident that Steve McNair will be a Raven.  Why would they burn a second round pick on Croyle, a pick that would have been considered a bit of a reach?  And then why turn to Chris Chester?  He’s a solid developmental pick but one that more than likely won’t make a big impact in 2006.  Ozzie Newsome has always maintained that he’s more interested in what picks will do two, three and four years down the road.  Why would he change that just because Billick isn’t standing on solid ground?
And furthermore according to Mike Preston, the Ravens have a deal in place with free agent QB Kerry Collins. Preston in the same report to TSN states that the team has told Collins if he gets another offer close to the one the Ravens have offered, the Ravens are open to negotiations. If it’s worth a million or so more, they have encouraged Collins to sign with that team.  Right about now, Collins feels like the ok girl to take to the prom only if all other more attractive prospects are exhausted.
And one day at band camp…
"I say, ‘I support it,’ and that’s the way we go", so says Cowboys’ HC Bill Parcells.  The “it” in this equation is Terrell Owens.  Parcells added, "I don’t view it as a gamble. It’s in my best interest that he’s successful. And it’s in his best interest that he’s successful.  I’m not approaching this with the idea it’s going to be adversarial or I’m going to be mandating every little thing this player does.”  Wonder if Parcells will ever mention “this player” by name?
Might the Steelers be worried about their short yardage running attack now that The Bus has pulled out?  The Steelers apparently said “Ah, Duckett!”  As in T.J. Duckett.  Word is the Steelers have approached the Falcons about a possible trade for the bruising RB who is in the mold of Jerome Bettis.  The Falcons want to see what they have first in their recently drafted third round pick Jerious Norwood before continuing discussions.
And if such discussions never materialize between the Steelers and Falcons they might consider going from The Bus to The Bam.  Apparently Bam Morris has emerged from incarceration and has made his way back to the football field.  Morris currently plays for the National Indoor Football League’s Katy Copperheads and leads the club in rushing and is tied in scoring.
"If the Steelers would want to sign me, they wouldn’t have to even buy me a plane ticket to get there. I’d drive," said Morris, 34. "I don’t want any favors, no special treatment. I’m not asking for no hand-me-downs because I know I won’t get it.  If people say, ‘You don’t have it,’ I can live with it."  The last time we heard about a drive Morris took, he had some junk in his trunk.
No frozen tundra for me…Former University of Maryland star tight end Vernon Davis is very pleased to be a 49er.  "It’s a pleasure to be here," Davis said recently at 49ers’ headquarters. "I’ve always wanted to come here. I was sitting at the table yesterday and Green Bay was up and I was telling my agent, ‘I hope Green Bay doesn’t take me. I definitely don’t want to go there.’  But the 49ers came around and it was just amazing knowing I was going to be a 49er."
While nothing could be finer than to be a 49er for Davis, he will surely see this quote surface again later in 2006 when San Francisco hosts the Packers on December 10. 
By the way, all the best to Vernon but I do wonder, if he is so great and Ralph Friedgen is such a great offensive mind, why wasn’t Davis featured more at Maryland?
One player who can’t be happy about Brett Favre’s return is Aaron Rodgers.  Rob Demovsky of the reports that Rodgers’ contract with the Green Bay Packers is structured with escalator clauses that would increase his base salaries beginning in 2007 if he reaches certain playing-time incentives in the first two years of the deal. Rodgers didn’t come close to the 50 percent minimum playing-time escalator as a rookie last year, and probably won’t again this season unless Favre gets hurt.
Rodgers’ base salary for this season ($310,000) can’t change, but his base in 2007 ($505,000) could increase by as much as $1 million. If he plays 60 percent of the snaps this season, his base salaries from 2007 through 2009 would increase by $625,000 per season. If he plays 80 percent of the snaps, those salaries go up $1 million in 2007 and 2008 and $1.05 million in 2009.
Had Rodgers met the playing-time marks last season and did so again in 2006, he could have increased his 2007 base salary by as much as $2 million. “It’s all relative to me,” Rodgers said Sunday after the Packers wrapped up their first offseason minicamp. “I’m happy with what I’m making. I love my job. It’s not a big deal to me.”
I suppose there’s not much else Rodgers could say when asked loaded questions about Favre.  Some  in attendance did notice however, that Rodgers’ nose appeared measurably bigger after his measured response.
Texas DT Rodrique Wright took a nasty spill down draft boards, eventually falling into the waiting hands of Nick Saban and the Miami Dolphins.  The bungee-like plummet had to do with Wright’s slightly torn rotator cuff which he claims he wasn’t even aware of.  Ok, now help me here…32 teams knew about it but Wright didn’t?
Surgery awaits Wright.
"We’re going to go the route of what’s best for me and the longevity of my career,” Wright said.  "I trust in [the Dolphins] and I’ve already seen the first MRI, so it could possibly be something that can mess me up throughout my career … so it’s probably the best if it’s needed."
Ya think?
More from the Savage beast…According to Pro Football Weekly, the Browns’ selection of WR Travis Wilson in the third round shouldn’t be a surprise, with general manager Phil Savage hinting WR Braylon Edwards, who’s recovering from knee surgery, could face an uphill battle to be medically cleared for the start of the season.
That has to hurt!
The Ravens still need a starting safety.  The Saints roster seems a bit cluttered at the position and some close to the team believe that two could be set free now that the team drafted Roman Harper and traded Wayne Gandy away to the Falcons for safety Bryan Scott.  That could force Dwight Smith onto the market.
Smith signed last year with the Saints as a free agent.  Smith formerly played with the Buccaneers and is said to have the confidence and swagger that the Ravens’ defense is known for. 
In 2004, Smith had 83 tackles, three interceptions and 10 passes defended.  In 2005 Smith had 72 tackles, 1 sack, two interceptions and 5 passes defended.  He has experience at both corner and safety.

Share This  
Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is the founder and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he hosts The Russell Street Report and Armchair Quarterback both seen and heard on Fanimal Radio. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!