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  • Notes: Texans won't get all they want in their stocking

    Dec. 20, 2001
    By Pete Prisco
    SportsLine.com Senior Writer

    At last week's meeting of NFL executives and salary-cap managers, the expansion plan for the Houston Texans was discussed at length.

    The Texans were hoping for a more liberal plan than the one given to the Cleveland Browns in 1999. They won't get it.

    The stocking plan will basically be the same one used by the Browns, which wasn't nearly as generous as the one Carolina and Jacksonville used in 1995. It was much more friendly in terms of draft picks, with each team getting two per round.

    Most team executives thought that far too generous, especially after the Jaguars and Panthers went to their conference championship games in their second season, 1996.

    Like the Browns, the Texans will get the first and 15th picks in Rounds 2-6 and the first, 15th and 32nd picks in Round 7. They will have just one first-round pick, No. 1 overall; the Jaguars and Panthers had two.

    It's not necessarily the actual number of players selected that counts, however. Of the 21 taken by the expansion franchises in 1995, only Jaguars tackle Tony Boselli remains with his team. But armed with the extra picks, the Jaguars were able to trade for quarterback Mark Brunell before the draft. That's what those choices can do: give a team draft-day flexibility.

    Houston was hoping to get a better stocking plan because it is felt free-agency is so much different than when Jacksonville and Carolina came into the league. Teams are locking up their own players, limiting the market.

    The concept was new in 1995, allowing the expansion teams to spend freely and land several key players. The Jaguars signed 12 and the Panthers 17, although Panthers kicker John Kasay is the only one of the 29 still on either roster.

    The Browns were able to sign 14 unrestricted free agents in 1999, which doesn't give Houston's argument about the change in free agency a whole lot of support.

    For the Feb. 18 expansion draft, the Texans will be able to choose from a pool of players made up from five from each team. They can take 37 each and must have 30 of them, or 38 percent of their salary cap from those players, on the roster until June 1. That date is moved up from July 15, which is how long Cleveland, Jacksonville and Carolina had to keep those players on the books.

    One of the key discussions about the expansion draft last week regarded players with "spiked" contracts. Their salaries will balloon next season, and teams might want to dump them into the pool hoping the Texans will take them and get their salary-cap money, including amortized bonuses, off the books.

    The Texans are lobbying to make it so each team can include in the pool just two players who earn at least $1.2 million and are scheduled for a 75 percent salary increase the next year.

    The proposal, which would prevent teams from loading the pool with players with huge contracts, is still being discussed. In 1999, there were 150 players exposed; 15 had "spiked" contracts, and only one was selected.

    If the Texans are smart, they'll make sure the draft is what builds the franchise. Carolina and Jacksonville are in down cycles because poor drafting in 1995 came back to haunt them.


    Around the league
    • The NFL sent each of its teams a memo Thursday notifying them that Roger Goodell has been promoted to the league's Chief Operating Officer. Goodell, who had been the vice president of business, properties and club services, is the clear No. 2 in rank to commissioner Paul Tagliabue . Since the departure of president Neil Austrian last year, Goodell has been acting as the No. 2, but this promotion makes it official. The league also notified its clubs that Tom Spock , the executive vice president of new media/Internet and enterprises, was resigning.
    • San Francisco coach Steve Mariucci might be denying those Notre Dame rumors, but there is certainly friction between Mariucci and Terry Donahue and Bill Walsh . Several sources who know Mariucci have talked in recent weeks about how unhappy he is in his current situation. It's tough being a coach of a team and having two former coaches, one who led the ***** to three Super Bowls, looking over your every move. If Notre Dame does opt to wait until after the season, Mariucci would certainly give it strong consideration, according to the sources. If he were to leave, Donahue, who is said to be yearning to get back into coaching, would take over. Incidentally, Walsh might just be a consultant, but word from the ***** camp is that he is around the facility daily, which can't be something that makes Mariucci happy.
    • Packers safety LeRoy Butler , out for the season with a shoulder injury, plans to have it heal without surgery. Butler, a four-time Pro Bowl selection, plans to play next season despite some talk that he was considering retiring. "I'm playing," he said. "I don't know who's saying that stuff. That needs to be cleared up." Without Butler, the Packers have been forced to start rookie Bhawoh Jue in his spot. Jue, who came into the league as a corner, has done a solid job, but the Packers badly miss Butler's smarts. That could be a big void if they are forced to face that St. Louis passing attack in the playoffs.
    • Even if Bucs coach Tony Dungy somehow gets a reprieve after the season, which isn't likely with Bill Parcells ready to take over, he would almost certainly be forced to fire offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen . Tampa Bay has been awful on offense in Christensen's first season. He is Dungy's third offensive coordinator, and with each one, the offense appears to become even more disoriented. The Bucs can't run, a Dungy staple. Players are starting to question the way things are being done, and Christensen is facing the firing squad. Some have taken to calling him "Clod" Christensen, and there have even been some fans that have longed for the days of Les Steckel -- if you can believe that. Line coach Chris Foerster is also rumored to be in trouble. Watch out if the Bucs lose to New Orleans on Sunday. It could start getting ugly.
    • After last Sunday's victory over the Ravens, Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress talked about a "bounty" he said he heard the Ravens had put on the Steelers receivers. Burress wasn't sure exactly who did it, or what the details were, but he said he heard it through the "grapevine." What grapevine? "In this league, you hear things," said Burress. Since none of the Steelers receivers were knocked out, nothing will be made of it. Then again, the Ravens defensive backs would have had to get close to those receivers to hit them, which they didn't that night.
    • It doesn't look like Jim Mora is going to be back next season as coach of the Colts, but if he does get a reprieve defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and special-teams coach Kevin Spencer won't be back. This was the year the defense was going to make improvement, but that hasn't occurred, and that's a big reason the Colts aren't going to be in the playoffs. Management could tell Mora that for him to keep his job, he has to let those two loose.
    • Redskins owner Dan Snyder is still nosing around about the possibility of hiring a general manager to take over running football operations. That would not jibe well with coach Marty Schottenheimer , who now handles that for the Redskins. Two names being mentioned are James Harris and Phil Savage of the Ravens. Harris is the director of pro personnel, and Savage is the director of college scouting. There is also some talk around the league that Ozzie Newsome , the Ravens vice president of player personnel, might be looking to get out.
    • One personnel guy to keep an eye on after the season is Oakland Raiders personnel executive Mike Lombardi. He helped stockpile the Raiders with veteran players from other teams who made it possible for Oakland to win the AFC West. Lombardi does a solid job, but he doesn't get a lot of credit. The right job could lure him away from Oakland.
    • The ***** coaches were raving about rookie tight end Eric Johnson in the preseason, and now we know why. The former Yale receiver, who bulked up to play tight end, is perfect for the San Francisco system. He has caught 33 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns, displaying a style similar to former ***** tight end Brent Jones. Johnson gives the ***** a viable option in the middle of the field, which makes it tougher to double Terrell Owens outside.

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  • Nick
    Nolan: 3-4 defense fits *****
    by Nick
    Nolan: 3-4 defense fits *****

    Ira Miller

    Sunday, February 6, 2005

    Jacksonville, Fla. -- Mike Nolan, the *****' new coach, is leaning toward using the 3-4 as the team's primary defense this season. Nolan, who has coached both the 3-4 and the 4-3 during his career, said the *****' defensive personnel -- the team's strongest area is linebacker -- is better suited for the 3-4, but that's not the only reason for switching.

    Nolan said he wanted to use Julian Peterson, who is rehabbing from a torn Achilles tendon, but is the *****' best player, in a more aggressive role, and the 3-4 would accommodate that. In the past, Peterson often had pass coverage responsibilities in the 4-3 defense. Nolan believes Peterson could be an effective blitzer, particularly on early downs.

    "My biggest curiosity is how good of an attacking-type player Julian Peterson would be," Nolan said over breakfast while making a brief pre-Super Bowl visit to Jacksonville.

    Peterson is unsigned, but almost surely will be designated as the team's "franchise player" for the second consecutive year, assuring him a salary in the $7.3 million range. In the 3-4, Jamie Winborn, Jeff Ulbrich and Derek Smith all would be full-time starters, too.

    While a switch in formation hardly would be a cure-all for the team's ills after nearly setting a franchise record for points allowed in 2004, it would create some preparation problems for most ***** opponents because no team in the NFC uses the 3-4 as its primary defense (six AFC teams, including the Raiders, used the 3-4 in 2004).

    Teams that rarely see the 3-4 say it requires extra work in practice to get blocking assignments correct.

    Third-year tackle Anthony Adams and Isaac Sopoaga, a 2004 draft choice who missed his entire rookie season due to injury, would be tried at nose tackle in the 3-4. Bryant Young, a tackle through his 11-season career, would be the strong-side end, a spot he played well in an emergency switch for a 2001 playoff game against Green Bay.

    Besides making what he considers the best use of personnel, Nolan pointed to other reasons that make the 3-4 appealing for the *****:

    -- It's cap-friendly because linebackers are paid less than defensive tackles, and there would be more linebackers and fewer tackles on the roster.

    -- It's adaptable, allowing more variations in coverage and assignments, something AFC champion New England uses very well.

    -- It's "injury-friendly" because it relies more on the scheme than on a particular player.

    Philosophically, Nolan prefers the 3-4 to the 4-3, but he said he wouldn't make the move just to make it if the ***** did not have the linebackers they have. As a matter of fact, there is no other area of the roster nearly as solid; the ***** need significant...
    -02-06-2005, 01:33 PM
  • Nick
    Coach-needy teams are waiting to learn status of Bill O'Brien
    by Nick
    Coach-needy teams are waiting to learn status of Bill O'Brien
    By Ian Rapoport
    NFL Media Insider
    Published: Jan. 7, 2017 at 05:54 a.m. Updated: Jan. 7, 2017 at 07:19 a.m. 0 Likes | 0 Comments

    The most enigmatic potential head-coaching candidate is one that is currently still employed.

    While the Texans face the Raiders today in a playoff game at 4:35 p.m. ET, six teams are engaged in a competition to find a new head coach.

    And many of them appear to be waiting on the future of Houston coach Bill O'Brien, according to several sources.

    The third-year Texans coach has won the AFC South two years in a row -- with a revolving door at quarterback -- and is searching for his first playoff win today. But there is a real chance, based on several factors, that he will be coaching another team next year.

    If that happens, O'Brien may soar to the top of the list.

    A coach trade is possible. As is a mutual parting of the ways. As is the Texans simply deciding three years is enough; time to go in a different direction.

    A win would at least prolong the wait or push the topic of his future to 2017, depending on who you ask.

    Perhaps just as important is that teams with vacancies believe O'Brien could be available. With a talent pool full of intriguing candidates but without a lot of star power, O'Brien would immediately become among the most coveted.

    As for the reasons why the Texans might be looking for a new coach, the fit between O'Brien, GM Rick Smith, and owner Bob McNair has always been an odd one. Personalities have clashes, as have approaches to building a football team.

    The signing of $72-million quarterback Brock Osweiler, who struggled mightily and was eventually benched by O'Brien, has served as a lightning rod for argument and frustration. Whether he was forced on O'Brien by McNair and the team's brass, as most sources believe, or whether Osweiler is merely a symbol of a brutal free-agent miss, his struggles loom large.

    It has been a frustrating season, even with the playoff berth. And several teams hope to be the beneficiaries of it if O'Brien becomes available. If that happens, keep an eye on Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who coached on the Texans' staff from 2006-09, as O'Brien's successor.
    -01-07-2017, 07:03 AM
  • RamWraith
    Teams consider risks as draft picture comes into focus
    by RamWraith
    Peter King--Monday Morning QB


    Posted: Monday April 23, 2007 3:05AM; Updated: Monday April 23, 2007 9:23AM
    Five days from now, you'll all get to open your holiday gifts. I agree with what ex-Giants GM Ernie Accorsi says in TimLayden's upcoming Sports Illustrated piece about draftmania. According to Accorsi, the draft is now the second-biggest day on the NFL calendar, next to Super Sunday. And from what I'm hearing on talk shows, what I read on draft sites, what I'm running into everywhere I go, Accorsi's right.

    In many cities, the draft is bigger than the Super Bowl. Think about it: What engenders more hype, say, in Cleveland: a game your team's rarely in, or the prospect of taking a matinee-idol Notre Dame quarterback tutored by the same guy who made Tom Brady ... Tom Brady? Well, duhhhh.

    With approximately 120 hours to go until Roger Goodell kicks off his first draft weekend, here are the seven things I know about the draft:

    1. I know that every bit of intelligence I've gathered points toward Tampa Bay not trading up from No. 4 in the first round. There are so many logical reasons the Bucs are not going to make a move in the first round, that I would be shocked if they did. Not surprised. Shocked.

    There have been approximately 6,023 rumors in the past month about Tampa Bay trading up to get the No. 2 pick from Detroit, because legend has it the Bucs are dying to pick Georgia Tech wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Inside the Tampa Bay draft meetings last week, I bet Bucs officials were having a good chuckle over some of those rumors. The funniest: Tampa would deal defensive end Simeon Rice to Detroit. Never mind that Rice is 33, definitely on the downside entering his 12th NFL season, and coming off a year in which he had shoulder surgery and missed half the season. Great rumor. That's the kind of guy you want to build your franchise around for the future.

    The biggest reason I don't think Tampa Bay will trade up is there's a 50 percent chance he'll still be there at No. 4. Everyone knows the Raiders will likely take a quarterback at No. 1, Detroit knows it has far bigger needs than Johnson at two and Cleveland is more likely to take a quarterback or running back at three. Could someone trade in front of Tampa Bay to take Johnson? Possibly, but highly unlikely; the price is just too high, not only in picks, but also in money, for which I'm about to explain.

    Look at the top picks' salaries in last year's draft. I'm going to assume each player plays for his original team for four years, minimum, because very rarely does a player picked so high get cut before then. So I'm going to judge each player by the guaranteed money and salary he's due in the first four years of his contract.

    • Mario Williams, first overall, Houston: Due $31.6 million, minimum, in the first four years.

    • Reggie Bush, second overall, New...
    -04-23-2007, 01:40 PM
  • Nick
    Kirwan: Twelve items of interest from a busy day at NFL Annual Meeting
    by Nick
    Twelve items of interest from a busy day at NFL Annual Meeting
    By Pat Kirwan | NFL.com
    Senior Analyst
    Posted 1 day ago

    DANA POINT, Calif. -- Monday was a great day at the NFL Annual Meeting.

    We had our Sirius NFL Radio show set up right outside the meeting rooms where the owners, general managers and coaches worked all day. On every break, we had guests on the show or the chance to talk over a cup of coffee. In the evening, there was a reception and another opportunity to discuss free agency, the draft and other hot topics.

    Here are some things that seemed most interesting to me:

    1. Lions locking up the top pick

    After I sat down with new Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz, it became clear to me that the team intends to have the No. 1 overall pick signed before the draft. Schwartz made a reference to the JaMarcus Russell holdout, and there is hope that will not be the case in the Motor City this year.

    2. Two-tackle race

    After talking to many people in the NFL, I found that there's a split decision on who is the best offensive tackle in the draft, Baylor's Jason Smith or Virginia's Eugene Monroe. The one thing that rang loud and clear all day was both players deserve to go in the top four picks and the team that lands the second tackle will not mind a bit.

    3. Sanchez making his move

    Mark Sanchez lives close to the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, where the meeting is being held, and spent some time with teams Monday night. All indications are that the USC quarterback is headed up teams' draft boards. I also spoke with a reputable former NFL quarterback who went to see Sanchez work out last week, and he couldn't stop talking about how impressed he was. Teams will call this quarterback for his opinion before the draft.

    4. Time to compete, Tyler

    When I talked with new Kansas City Chiefs coach Todd Haley, he was quick to point out that he called Tyler Thigpen and told him not to surrender the starting quarterback job to recently acquired Matt Cassel. Haley said: "Check my history. The best guy will play."

    5. First-round grades will be few

    The more I talked with personnel directors, the more I realized that most teams will not have 32 players with a first-round grade when the evaluation process is over. It appears closer to 20 to 25 guys will receive a first-round grade. That makes the top 10 picks of the second round very interesting, and a number of teams really want to get there.

    6. First-round running back in Houston?

    The speculation that the Houston Texans will take a running back in the first round is strong, but as one general manager said, "Since when does Alex Gibbs ask for a first-round running back?" He wasn't buying it.

    7. Patriots are heavy on picks

    ...
    -03-26-2009, 12:58 PM
  • Goldenfleece
    Due diligence blurs line of ethical behavior
    by Goldenfleece
    Due diligence blurs line of ethical behavior
    By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
    Apr 23, 12:28 pm EDT

    One year later, Tavares Gooden remembers the empty rooms, the trips where he went to meet with NFL executives, but at some point in the process, ended up sitting alone with a team’s psychologist.


    They were the kinds of meetings where everything was on the table: his life, his relationships, how he felt about his parents, and telling questions about authority, money and women.


    “I guess it was just to make sure you’re all there,” the former Miami Hurricanes linebacker said, recalling sessions with psychologists for the San Francisco ***** and the team that eventually drafted him, the Baltimore Ravens. “I don’t blame anybody for doing it.”


    In the wider scope of the NFL draft process, the league’s nitpicking into a prospect’s subconscious is hardly the most Orwellian tactic employed. Indeed, as guaranteed money continues to rocket upward and personal conduct remains a primary focus by commissioner Roger Goodell, the probing nature of the NFL has seemed to intensify – if not push the boundaries of ethical behavior.


    Earlier this year, executives of three NFL teams admitted to Yahoo! Sports that they had used fake information to gain access to the personal pages of draft prospects on social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. Meanwhile, the use of psychologists gained more attention after former Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford met with the ***** and took exception to some prying questions about his parents’ divorce.


    All of this comes only two years after one of the most eye-opening allegations in draft history. JaMarcus Russell, the 2007 No. 1 overall pick of the Oakland Raiders, claimed he was tailed for at least two weeks by a man he believed was doing work for an NFL team. Russell said his uncle had gotten a tip that the former LSU quarterback had been followed for a sustained period of time, including from a trip from Baton Rouge, La., to his hometown of Mobile, Ala., and back again. At first, Russell said he had a hard time believing it, but then the source described places Russell had been and the frequency.


    “What the guy said sure did happen that way,” Russell said. “… I have to admit, it was a little strange, but it’s OK.”


    But if that story is indeed true – and it has never been revealed which team might have employed that tactic – is it acceptable? Some, like former Green Bay Packers general manager Ron Wolf and Super Bowl winning coach Dick Vermeil, have a hard time believing it could get to the level of deception that is alleged to be taking place.


    “I can’t imagine they’re [tailing draft picks],” Wolf said. “I think that’s too far. I can’t imagine a team tailing a guy.”


    Added Vermeil, “No question...
    -04-24-2009, 10:14 AM
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