Newsbreakers Recap

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May 9, 2005 12:39 PM ET
Chargers: Gates seeking long-term deal
The News
All-Pro tight end Antonio Gates is the only Chargers' veteran not under contract, but that didn't prevent him from showing up at the team's full-squad workout during rookie orientation. "I'm more of a team guy," Gates told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "I feel like I play an imperative role in this offense and I want to make sure my team knows that I'm going to be here for them. As far as my deal getting done, that's part of the business and that'll sort itself out."
Our View
Are you listening, Shawne Merriman? Gates remains hopeful he and the Chargers can agree on a long-term deal, and the two sides have been negotiating to that end already. San Diego could renew Gates, an exclusive-rights free agent, at as little as $380,000 for this season, but unless they want Gates to exit the instant his contract expires you can bet they'll find a way to pay him a bit more.

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May 9, 2005 12:30 PM ET
Saints: Howard likely staying put
The News
Saints' officials spent more than a month before the draft discussing potential trades involving defensive end Darren Howard. Now that the draft has past, it appears the six-year veteran will continue to call New Orleans home. "It's a lot easier to focus now," Howard told The Advocate on Sunday. "And if I had been traded it would be easier to focus now, knowing where I was going to be. The only thing that bothered me was just not knowing where I was going to be because I was trying to take advantage of this offseason because I didn't have surgery or anything and that was rare." Howard logged 11 sacks last season.
Our View
Howard was assured by Saints' head coach Jim Haslett that he wouldn't be traded if the team didn't deal him on draft weekend, so Howard is basically a lock to play in New Orleans this season. That means he'll be involved in a rotation with fellow defensive ends Charles Grant and Will Smith. Despite losing playing time because of the rotation, the threesome that combined for 29 sacks last season.

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May 9, 2005 12:30 PM ET
Broncos: Fred Ex wants delivery to Denver
The News
Wide receiver Freddie Mitchell, released last week by the Eagles, indicated interest in the Bucs, Redskins, Titans, and Broncos, and specifically cited Denver quarterback Jake Plummer as a potential teammate. "I have always been a big fan of Jake's," Mitchell told the Denver Post. "It's literally never over with him. I know he will give receivers second and third opportunities to make a great play."
Our View
Mitchell has never lived up to the potential promised by his status as a first-round draft pick, and his inability to keep his mouth shut helped punch his ticket out of Philly. It's unlikely he'll surface as anything more than a third or fourth receiver.

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May 9, 2005 12:24 PM ET
Steelers: Staley back to full speed
The News
Running back Duce Staley took just 41 snaps over the final nine games of the 2004 regular season, but he says the lingering hamstring injury that slowed him is a thing of the past. "I think I came back too early and that hurt," Staley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "When I came back it was never the same. A hamstring takes a long time."
Our View
With 707 yards through the first seven games, Staley was off to the best start of his career. He'll be the featured back again in Pittsburgh, though Jerome Bettis is still around to take away goal-line opportunities.

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May 9, 2005 12:09 PM ET
Panthers: He Hate Me loves Mitchell, but Smith does not
The News
Scratch the Panthers off the list of teams that might have an interest in signing free agent wide receiver Freddie Mitchell. Although Mitchell's cousin Rod Smart plays running back for the Panthers, the Rock Hill Herald reports that starting wideout Steve Smith has no love for the former Eagle.
Our View
We're not sure what the beef is between Smith and Mitchell, but we can understand why Panthers' officials don't want to rattle Steve's cage by signing Freddie. Smith has a short temper, which has led to previous altercations with teammates. Meanwhile, Mitchell was famous for shooting his mouth off in Philly and upset a number of his teammates in the process.

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May 9, 2005 11:52 AM ET
*****: Woods falling
The News
*****' head coach Mike Nolan said Sunday that if the season began today, the third receiver behind starters Brandon Lloyd and Arnaz Battle would be Derrick Hamilton or P.J. Fleck, according to the Mercury News. The biggest name missing from that list of players is Rashaun Woods, whom the Niners selected with the No. 31 overall pick in last year's draft. Woods finished his rookie season with seven receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Our View
Nolan might have made that comment in hopes of lighting a fire under Woods, who was slowed by hamstring problems last year. Rashaun was expected to contend for the starting job opposite Lloyd, but now it appears he'll have to work hard just to win the No. 3 job during training camp. In other words, fantasy owners should not count on him making a big impact during his sophomore season.

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May 9, 2005 11:22 AM ET
Cowboys: Parcells wants Spears to lose weight
The News
It didn't take long for Cowboys' head coach Bill Parcells to criticize defensive end Marcus Spears. During the team's recent minicamp, Parcells mocked the No. 20 overall pick in the draft by referring to him as "Fats Domino" and "Chubby Checker" in hopes of inspiring him to lose weight. "I think it's funny," Spears told the team's official website. "I think I know what (Parcells) is trying to do. He has a plan. An honestly, you respect that as a player. If he didn't care about you, he probably wouldn't say much at all." Parcells wants Spears to drop roughly 12 pounds off his listed weight of 307 pounds.
Our View
Spears packed on a few pounds after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last year. He played at 290 pounds at times in college, so he shouldn't have trouble getting his weight back down to 295. Marcus is expected to earn a starting job during training camp, so he could have some impact in fantasy leagues that award points for individual defensive players.

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May 9, 2005 11:20 AM ET
Eagles: Mitchell claims he requested his release
The News
Free agent wide receiver Freddie Mitchell claimed on Sunday that he asked Eagles' head coach Andy Reid to release him from his contract over a month ago. "It was just a weird situation," Mitchell told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I'm very happy to be out of there." Mitchell finished his four-year run with the Eagles with 90 receptions for 1,263 yards and five touchdowns.
Our View
Mitchell is blaming his exit from Philly on the sour relationship he had with quarterback Donovan McNabb. Apparently, he refuses to acknowledge that his mouth played a major role in the matter. If nothing else, it appears that Freddie has learned that his mouth can also work to his advantage, as he has been singing the praises of quarterback Jake Plummer in hopes that it will land him a deal with the Broncos.

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May 9, 2005 10:37 AM ET
Bears: Grossman on the mend
The News
Bears' quarterback Rex Grossman is nearly fully recovered from the torn ACL and partially torn MCL in his right knee that sidelined him for 13 games last season. "I'm doing about 90 percent of what my teammates are doing now," Grossman says in Monday's Chicago Sun-Times. "I feel like within another (two) weeks or so, they're going to clear me to play, and I'll be doing everything everyone else does and I won't have to do any more specific rehab exercises."
Our View
Grossman should be cleared long before training camp opens, so he will have the entire preseason to develop chemistry with new wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad. The addition of Moose to the Bears lineup gives us some optimism regarding Grossman's fantasy potential. However, Rex needs a strong preseason to warrant serious consideration as something more than a No. 3 fantasy signal caller.

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May 9, 2005 10:30 AM ET
Dolphins: Poole done for the year
The News
Will Poole will miss the 2005 season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, according to the Miami Herald. The second-year cornerback injured the knee during practice last week.
Our View
Poole was the frontrunner to replace departed Pro Bowler Patrick Surtain, but as of now that role will have to be filled by either Reggie Howard or Mario Edwards. Both Howard and Edwards are serviceable veterans, but neither has the skill of Surtain or the promise of the young Poole. Rookie Travis Daniels could also be in the mix with a good training camp, and the team may consider bringing in another veteran free agent such as Ty Law or Terrell Buckley.


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