Around The NFL: June 1 is no longer special date to note
Compiled By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The NFL's new collective bargaining agreement has turned one of the offeason's most intriguing dates - June 1 - into "just another day," as one Rams staffer put it.
On that date, teams can release players with multiyear contracts and have the salary-cap hit spread over two years instead of one. The transactions wire used to be littered with "salary-cap casualties" toting big names and reputations. Two years ago, remember, the Rams released quarterback Kurt Warner on June 1.
But with the salary cap increased substantionally in the new CBA, and roster bonuses, which often had to be paid off at this time, becoming less prevalent, June 1 no longer carries the fascination it once did.
This past Thursday, in fact, only a couple of moves were made around the league, and none involved a "name" player.
"In any year, a team that is banking on getting some help from the June 1 cuts is deluded," one NFC pro personnel director told ESPN.com. "Teams that think they're going to get any kind of help this year are even crazier ... because there's no help coming."
Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who is scheduled to retire in mid-August, insists that he won't try to influence the search for his successor.
"It's really up to the owners to come up with the candidates and ... weed them out and make a decision," Tagliabue said this past week at a reception in New York. "I'm sort of an adjunct to the committee and just trying to help them manage the process."
Asked what attributes the candidates should possess, Tagliabue said: "Smart, a leader, persuasive, embrace challenges. They need to be a good listener and understand it's not about you, but about the game, the coaches and the fans."
Roger Goodell, NFL executive vice president and chief operating officer, is believed to be the front-runner, although such luminaries as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush also have been mentioned.
Mike Martz, rarely one to mince words during his days with the Rams, came out firing Thursday in his first meeting with reporters in Detroit since the NFL scouting combine in February. Martz, the Lions' new offensive coordinator, said:
-- His players on offense were "grossly out of shape."
-- Former quarterback Joey Harrington felt that adjusting to Martz's complex system would be "just too hard," which led to his trade to Miami.
-- The offense was progressing, but only by "baby steps."
But Martz had praise, too, particularly for receivers Charles Rogers, Mike Williams and Roy Williams; quarterback Jon Kitna; and fullback Cory Schlesinger.
Martz said the adjustment to his style of offense never is easy. "We teach all the details, then we start putting it together," he said. "Once they learn the details, then you start mixing and matching, and then it becomes a lot of fun. But we're a long ways away from that."
Price is right?
Veteran wide receiver Peerless Price took a stroll through Ralph Wilson Stadium recently, and fond memories began to flood back.
Price, Buffalo's second-round draft pick in 1999, caught 234 passes for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns in three-plus seasons as a starter for the Bills. After collecting career highs in receptions (94) and yards (1,252) in 2002, Price was traded for Atlanta's first-round slot in the '03 draft.
In two seasons with the Falcons and five games last year with Dallas, Price's numbers dwindled. The Bills brought him back as a free agent.
"I'm just excited to be back here and be a Buffalo Bill and have the opportunity to make plays," Price said. "I had some good moments (here). ... But there's so much on me to learn the offense. Right now that's what I'm concentrating on."
Writers in other cities provided information for this report.