Newsbreakers Recap

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May 19, 2005 4:52 PM ET
Broncos: Sauerbrun acquired
The News
The Broncos acquired punter Todd Sauerbrun from the Panthers Thursday, sending punter Jason Baker and a seventh-round pick in 2006 to Carolina in return.
Our View
Sauerbrun comes with his share of baggage, most notably steroid allegations, a DUI, and his running feud with the Gramatica brothers, but he's also one of the top punters in the game. The Broncos had been renegotiating Sauerbrun's contract prior to making the trade, and while no details were released it is believed the punter was asking for some of the $3.9 due to him over the next three years to be moved up front in return for lowering his annual salary (and thus his cap number).

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May 19, 2005 4:00 PM ET
Vikings: Smith suspended
The News
Vikings' running back Onterrio Smith has been suspended for the entire 2005 season. Or at least that's what his teammates have been telling the WCCO-TV website. Vikings' head coach Mike Tice told the media on Thursday that Smith would not take part in the remainder of the team's offseason workouts, but he did not confirm whether the two-year veteran had been suspended by the league.
Our View
No word yet as to whether Smith was suspended because airport police found a kit designed to circumvent drug tests in his luggage recently or if he simply failed another drug test. We'll continue to follow this story and will bring you the latest as more information is released.

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May 19, 2005 2:22 PM ET
Vikings: Smith sent home
The News
Vikings' running back Onterrio Smith has been excused from the remainder of the Vikings' offseason workout program. "He's been excused from the rest of the offseason program and he'll be gone indefinitely," Vikings' head coach Mike Tice told the Star Tribune. "I really can't speak about any reasons why or when he'll be back. It's in the league's hands. We'll leave it at that." The league is investigating Smith after he was detained at an airport last month when a kit used to circumvent drug tests was found in his luggage.
Our View
Smith's future with the team is definitely in question given this turn of events. It's all just speculation at this point, but given Tice's comments it seems at least possible that the league has elected to suspend him over the infamous Whizzinator incident. We'll continue to keep you posted on this story as more information is released.

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May 19, 2005 1:12 PM ET
Cardinals: Diamond sent packing
The News
The Cardinals released tight end Lorenzo Diamond on Wednesday, according to the Arizona Republic. The two-year veteran appeared in five games last season and finished with three receptions for 19 yards.
Our View
This was a surprising move only because the Cards are so thin at the tight end position. The only remaining tight ends on the roster are Eric Edwards, John Branson, Aaron Golliday, and Adam Bergen. Of that group, only Edwards has appeared in an actual NFL game. In other words, fantasy owners should ignore the Cardinals when searching for their tight end this season.

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May 19, 2005 12:39 PM ET
Saints: Poole signs two-year deal
The News
The Saints signed free agent wide receiver Nate Poole to a two-year contract on Wednesday, according to The Advocate. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Poole logged 31 receptions for 355 yards and two touchdowns during his stay three-year run with the Cardinals.
Our View
Vikings' fans probably remember Poole better than most Cardinals fans do. Although Nate never played in Minnesota, he was on the receiving end of the Josh McCown touchdown pass that eliminated the Vikings from playoff contention on the final play of the 2003 regular season.

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May 19, 2005 12:31 PM ET
Titans: Brown's injury may reopen Henry talks
The News
With Titans running back Chris Brown injured yet again, the team may pick up trade discussions with Buffalo for Travis Henry. The Titans offered the Bills a fifth-round draft pick for the former University of Tennessee star prior to the draft in April, but the Bills were holding out for a better offer.
Our View
Brown fractured a bone in his right hand during Wednesday's practice, and while the team expects him to be available for the start of training camp it's not the first time he has missed time with an injury. The Titans have little behind Brown on the depth chart, especially when it comes to NFL experience. If a trade for Henry can't be consummated, the Titans have also discussed bringing back veteran Eddie George, who was a salary-cap casualty last offseason.

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May 19, 2005 12:29 PM ET
Panthers: Mitchell unlikely to face suspension
The News
Panthers' center Jeff Mitchell is not expected to be suspended by the league for allegedly obtaining illegal muscle enhancing drugs from a South Carolina physician, according to the Charlotte Observer. The eight-year veteran has been cooperating with league officials who are investigating the matter.
Our View
Despite their ties to the physician who is under federal investigation, Mitchell and former teammates Todd Steussie and Todd Sauerbrun are not expected to miss games as part of any punishment the league might serve them. We will continue to keep you posted on the league's investigation into the alleged steroid use as more information is released.

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May 19, 2005 12:25 PM ET
Jaguars: Wilford returns to practice
The News
Jaguars wide receiver Ernest Wilford, who has been held out of workouts with a strained neck, returned to action Wednesday.
Our View
Wilford, who was second on the Jaguars with two receiving touchdowns last season, will be battling Cortez Hankton and Troy Edwards for playing time behind Jimmy Smith and the team's last two first-round picks, Reggie Williams and Matt Jones.

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May 19, 2005 12:24 PM ET
Rams: Jackson feels comfortable with starting role
The News
Rams' running back Steven Jackson said Wednesday that he does not feel any added pressure after being moved ahead of Marshall Faulk on the depth chart. "That's what I came here wanting to do, carry the ball," Jackson told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "There's no pressure that's going to be put on me that I haven't put on myself. The outside pressure is not the big thing to me, it's me not letting my teammates down." Jackson finished his rookie season with 134 carries for 673 yards and four touchdowns.
Our View
The Rams made Jackson's life easier by beefing up the offensive line during the offseason. Furthermore, the team is replacing Edward Jones Dome turf, which team officials blame for the knee injury that bothered Jackson last season. Faulk will still play a role in the offense, which is one of the biggest reasons that Steven does not currently appear in our top-20 running back rankings.

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May 19, 2005 12:21 PM ET
Texans: Moses departs
The News
The Texans released wide receiver/kick returner J.J. Moses to make room for tight end Marcellus Rivers.
Our View
Moses wasn't getting any repetitions at wide receiver, and the Texans have Reggie Swinton, Phillip Buchanon, and Jerome Mathis to take over kick-return duties.

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May 19, 2005 12:06 PM ET
Cardinals: Shelton released
The News
The Cardinals released offensive tackle L.J. Shelton on Wednesday. The Arizona Republic reports that timing of the move was surprising because roughly $3.3 million will be counted against the Cards' salary cap this year. Had the team waited to release Shelton in June, the cap hit would have been roughly $833,000 this year and roughly $2.5 million next season.
Our View
The Cardinals attempted to trade Shelton to the Bills for running back Travis Henry prior to last month's draft. When the Bills passed on the trade, the Cards selected running back J.J. Arrington in the second-round of the draft. Shelton was widely regarded as the team's top offensive lineman before Dennis Green took over the coaching duties. Shelton reported to training camp overweight last year and found a permanent home in Green's doghouse.

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May 19, 2005 11:59 AM ET
*****: Newberry suffers a setback
The News
*****' center Jeremy Newberry bid to return from knee surgery took an unexpected turn for the worse when his knee swelled following the team's first minicamp, according to Thursday's San Francisco Chronicle. Team officials are not discussing the injury until they gather more medical information.
Our View
This is bad news for the Niners, as the combination of Newberry returning and the free agent signing of tackle Jonas Jennings was supposed to revitalize the offensive line. Nothing is official on Newberry's status yet, but it's obvious that Niners' officials are concerned that they might lose one of their premier offensive linemen for a second consecutive season. Losing Newberry could have a negative effect on the fantasy value of running back Kevan Barlow.

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May 19, 2005 11:46 AM ET
Chargers: Team rejects Merriman's compromise
The News
The Chargers rejected a compromise offer from holdout linebacker Shawne Merriman's agent that would have allowed him to participate in team meetings but not in on-field workouts. "There is no such thing as a half-Charger here," GM A.J. Smith told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "Either you're a Charger or you're not."
Our View
Merriman's agent, Kevin Poston, won't allow his client to participate in team workouts because he disagrees with the language in the injury protection agreement, and several impartial sources have confirmed the language in the Chargers' agreement is unique. That said, the agreement has held up for other players and the Chargers continue to assure Merriman that should anything happen they would bargain in good faith. Odds are this won't be resolved until July at the earliest, and Merriman will open training camp behind the learning curve.

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May 19, 2005 11:45 AM ET
Vikings: Robinson on the mend
The News
Vikings' wide receiver Marcus Robinson did not participate in the team's minicamp workouts this week because he is still recovery from surgery performed in April to remove a cyst from his left knee. "They are just taking their time with it," Robinson told the Star Tribune on Wednesday. "You don't want to start working that muscle again to create another cyst. So you kind of just gradually go into it and see how it works. I've been doing individual things, been going really good, had no days of setback yet. Everything is pushing forward week by week." Robinson finished last season with 47 receptions for 657 yards and eight touchdowns.
Our View
Although Robinson's numbers look good on paper, fantasy owners should remember that only two of his touchdown receptions came in the second half of the season. The eight-year veteran has been bothered by injuries throughout his career. His role in the Vikings' offense has yet to be determined, as Robinson will battle rookie Troy Williamson and free agent signee Travis Taylor for a spot in the starting lineup alongside Nate Burleson.

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May 19, 2005 11:34 AM ET
Chiefs: Gonzo discusses his surgery
The News
All Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez arrived in Kansas City Wednesday, but he won't be participating in the Chiefs' offseason workouts because the team wants him to heal completely from the foot surgery he had in January. "When I broke it, it healed back kind of crooked, and it was digging into all my tissues and ligaments around there," Gonzalez told the Kansas City Star. "So [the doctor] went in there and sort of chopped the top of [the bone] off and said, 'Now you should be able to move around.'"
Our View
Gonzo has taken advantage of his down time this offseason—doing charity work in Portugal, taking part in an upcoming reality show called "Super Agent," and showing off his home in an episode of MTV's "Cribs." Oh yeah, and he's been rehabbing and lifting weights to get ready for his return to the gridiron when training camp rolls around.

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May 19, 2005 11:33 AM ET
Eagles: Westbrook dumps agent
The News
Eagles' running back Brian Westbrook is expected to report to the team's next minicamp on June 1 after changing agents. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Westbrook has fired agent Anthony Agnone and plans to replace him with Fletcher Smith, who represents teammates Donovan McNabb and Correll Buckhalter. Once he officially hires Smith, Westbrook is expected to sign a one-year, $1.43 million restricted free agent contract tender.
Our View
Westbrook's previous agent was reluctant to sign the one-year contract tender because he was holding out for a long-term contract offer. His new agent has a good relationship with the team and is expected to advise Brian to sign the deal in a show of good faith with the goal of working out a long-term deal in the future.

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May 19, 2005 11:20 AM ET
Cowboys: Henson learning new throwing style
The News
Cowboys' quarterback Drew Henson has been throwing the football even more than usual during the offseason, as the coaching staff is attempting to change his delivery. The Dallas Morning News reports that the Cowboys want Henson to throw the ball over the top rather than use the three-quarters delivery he has been using. The coaches are hopeful that the switch will improve Henson's accuracy and reduce the number of passes he has knocked down at the line of scrimmage.
Our View
This could be a long process for Henson, who has used the same throwing motion since childhood. It could be a good long-term move for Drew, but it remains to be seen whether it will have an effect on his game this season. Henson is expected to serve as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Drew Bledsoe.

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May 19, 2005 11:19 AM ET
Broncos: Rice visits
The News
Wide receiver Jerry Rice met with Broncos coach Mike Shanahan Wednesday to discuss the possibility of the greatest wide receiver in NFL history joining the team in 2005. "I think there is some interest on both sides," Rice's agent told the Denver Post. "I think Jerry would love to play for Mike again." Shanahan was the ***** offensive coordinator from 1992-1994.
Our View
Rice should have started his countdown to Canton a couple years ago, but he seems to be having some separation issues. From a fantasy perspective, he would bring nothing to the table in Denver except potentially taking touches away from Rod Smith and Ashley Lelie.

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May 19, 2005 11:15 AM ET
Cowboys: Canty undergoes surgery
The News
Cowboys' defensive end Chris Canty had successful surgery recently to remove scar tissue from his eye, according to Thursday's Dallas Morning News. The scar tissue formed after Canty suffered a detached retina a few months ago. The Cowboys' fourth-round draft pick is expected to take part in training camp.
Our View
Canty will be in camp, but it's too soon to say exactly when he'll be able to practice without restrictions. He was not expected to compete for a starting job, so his injury should have no effect on fantasy owners who play in leagues that award points for individual defensive players.

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May 19, 2005 11:10 AM ET
Steelers: Kemoeatu signs
The News
The Steelers signed guard Chris Kemoeatu, their sixth-round pick, to a three-year contract worth $981,750. The Utah lineman is the third selection from last April's draft to reach terms with his team.
Our View
Kemoeatu was officially listed at 344 pounds during the draft, but the Steelers want him to play at 330. He is already with the team, participating in voluntary workouts at both left and right guard.

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May 19, 2005 10:51 AM ET
Browns: Winslow has torn ACL
The News
Browns tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. has a torn right ACL and will miss the 2005 season, a source with knowledge of the situation told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Neither the Browns nor the Winslow family have released an official statement following the MRI exam Winslow had earlier in the week, and Winslow will likely get a second opinion before undergoing reconstructive surgery. Winslow was injured when he crashed his motorcycle May 1.
Our View
Speculation following Winslow's crash had centered around a possible torn ACL, but swelling in the knee prevented an immediate examination. No other ligaments in Winslow's knee were damaged. Since motorcycle riding was prohibited in Winslow's contract, the Browns may seek to recoup between $5.7 and $10.7 million for breach of contract. Assuming Winslow doesn't find another way to cost himself money between now and next year, we'll await the Chosen One's fantasy impact in 2006.

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May 19, 2005 10:36 AM ET
Vikings: Smith returns
The News
Vikings' running back Onterrio Smith returned to practice on Wednesday after missing the previous day for personal reasons. Smith continued his silence with the media, but offensive coordinator Steve Loney was complimentary of the third-year back. "I know it's a tough time for him, but he's remained focused in our meetings and in practice," Loney told the Star Tribune. "He had a nice run. He has to fight through whatever personal challenges he has." Smith has not spoken since he was detained by airport police, who found a kit designed to circumvent drug tests in his luggage.
Our View
So much for conspiracy theories that suggested Onterrio's absence was caused by the league suspending him over the Whizzinator incident. The NFL is still investigating the matter, but it remains doubtful that Smith will be suspended since he was not caught in act of using the kit during an actual drug test.

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May 19, 2005 10:25 AM ET
Texans: Rivers joins mix
The News
The Texans signed former Giants tight end Marcellus Rivers Wednesday. Rivers will replace the injured Bennie Joppru in Houston's tight end mix.
Our View
Rivers caught 27 passes for 227 yards and four touchdowns in four seasons with the Giants. He'll battle Mark Bruener, Billy Miller, and Matt Murphy for a roster spot in Houston.