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Giants sign Grant, withdraw tender from Brown

The New York Giants have made a couple of moves regarding a couple of free agent safeties.

Unrestricted free agent safety Deon Grant, who played the last three years in Seattle, signed with the Giants today. In related news, the Giants withdrew their tender from restricted free agent safety C.C. Brown.

In the last nine years (three with the Seahawks, three with the Jaguars and three with the Panthers), Grant has never missed a game and has made 144 consecutive starts. The Seahawks cut Grant last month, and in New York he’ll join a secondary that has already added Antrel Rolle this offseason and provide some insurance in case Kenny Phillips’ knee is slow to heal.

Brown played in all 16 games last season for the Giants, starting seven. He became a starter after Phillips got hurt but was demoted after a bad game against the Eagles.

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Banner gets contract extension from Eagles

In a recent article, Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports wrote about the rising influence of Eagles president Joe Banner (and subsequently G.M. Howie Roseman) in relation to Andy Reid.

On Thursday, the Eagles spoke loud and clear about Banner’s status.

The team has given Banner a three-year contract extension, according to the team. The team also promoted Senior VP and CFO Don Smolenski to COO.

A few points from the release stand out.  Banner is noted for his mind “on and off the field” and his “compatibility with head coach Andy Reid and the player personnel
department in managing the roster on a long-term basis.”

This is a major moment for the Eagles.  ESPN Radio’s Brian Seltzer calls it: “The biggest development of Birds’ off-season.”

We’re not sure we’d go that far, but the move shows who’s wearing the pants in Philly.

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2010 draft offensive line rankings

1. Russell Okung, Oklahoma State.
The Cowboys led the Big 12 in rushing in each of Okung’s four seasons as a starter, and he possesses ideal athleticism, arm length, and strength to be a mainstay on the blind side.
Draft Prediction: Redskins, No. 4 overall.
2. Bryan Bulaga, Iowa.
The Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year has quick feet, resembles Joe Thomas in terms of build (6’6/315) and athleticism, and is NFL-ready coming from Kirk Ferentz’s pro-style offense.
Draft Prediction: Chiefs, No. 5 overall.
3. Anthony Davis, Rutgers.
Davis has battled weight problems throughout his career and hasn’t had a stellar offseason, but the 20-year-old offers as much upside as any offensive tackle in the draft.
Draft Prediction: Seahawks, No. 6 overall.
4. Trent Williams, Oklahoma.
Williams started 40 games as a Sooner and projects as a Pro Bowl-caliber right tackle if he doesn’t pan out as a long-term solution on the left side. 
Draft Prediction: Raiders, No. 8 overall.
5. Mike Iupati, Idaho.
Iupati struggled when asked to play tackle at the Senior Bowl, but plays with the necessary mean streak and size (6’5/325) to be a difference-making left guard.
Draft Prediction: Giants, No. 15 overall.
6. Charles Brown, USC.
A converted tight end, Brown started only two years for Pete Carroll but would be the perfect fit at left tackle in a zone-blocking scheme thanks to elite athleticism.
Draft Prediction: Packers, No. 23 overall.
7. Vladimir Ducasse, UMass.
The Haiti native didn’t learn football until he moved to the U.S. in 2002, but Ducasse has drawn comparisons to Jeff Otah at 6-foot-5, 326 pounds with long arms and a powerful base.
Draft Prediction: Rams, No. 33 overall.
8. Maurkice Pouncey, Florida.
The 2009 Rimington Award winner made starts at both guard and center during his UF career, and projects as a long-term starter at either position regardless of scheme.
Draft Prediction: Eagles, No. 55 overall.
9. Bruce Campbell, Maryland.
Campbell started only 17 games in college and never made All-ACC, but may be the most physically impressive offensive lineman in this year’s draft. 
Draft Prediction: 49ers, No. 49 overall. 
10. Rodger Saffold, Indiana.
Opinions differ on whether Saffold will land at guard or tackle, but he manned the blind side for 41 career starts as a Hoosier and has enjoyed a big offseason.
Draft Prediction: Cardinals, No. 58 overall.
11. Tony Washington, Abilene Christian.
Washington is the prototype left tackle at 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds with 35.5-inch arms, but being a registered sex offender will hurt him on draft weekend.
Draft Prediction: Steelers, No. 116 overall.
12. Jon Asamoah, Illinois.
A nasty interior run blocker, Asamoah made 37 straight starts to close out his Fighting Illini career before unfortunately fracturing his shoulder blade in pre-draft workouts.
Draft Prediction: Broncos, No. 80 overall.
13. Jason Fox, Miami.
A 48-game starter for the Hurricanes, mostly at left tackle, Fox allowed just one sack as a senior and has impressive measurables, but has been injury prone of late.
Draft Prediction: Bills, No. 72 overall.
14. Zane Beadles, Utah.
Beadles’ short arms will likely force a position switch, but the longtime Utes left tackle is heady (3.54 GPA), athletic, and made 50 career starts.
Draft Prediction: Colts, No. 94 overall.
15. J.D. Walton, Baylor.
In a draft class that’s fairly thin on true interior offensive linemen, Walton stands out as a powerful technician who started every game of his college career.
Draft Prediction: Vikings, No. 93 overall.
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Merriman doesn't rule out wrestling, but he's still committed to football

Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman has confirmed that he’s committed to pro football for the 2010 season.  But he hasn’t closed the door on eventually becoming a pro wrestler.

“It’s been talked about,” Merriman told XX 1090 in San Diego, via SportsRadioInterviews.com.  “I guess it’s the offseason and with things a little slow there’s probably some other things to be talked about.  I just want to set the record straight.  I’m preparing myself for a 110 percent hell of a season, football season that is.  All that stuff is talk.  I’m a huge, huge wrestling fan, I’ve always been, and I’ve had a few talks with Vince McMahon before and it’s a possibility.”

Still, it sounds like it’s not something he’ll be doing soon. 

“Not saying it’s a possibility of me doing it, it’s just been talked about as a possibility,” Merriman said.  “Especially a lot of things happening with the CBA and stuff like that going on.  All that stuff will take care of itself.  I’ve just been training to get back to where I want to be playing football.  Because that’s the most important thing to me in my life right now.”

The talk of Merriman wrestling has arisen because former pro wrestler, Bill Goldberg, has mused about a return to the squared circle — and Goldberg has said that he’d come back as a member of a tag team with Merriman.  The fact that Merriman is a restricted free agent in 2010 and could be, depending on the rules that will apply, an unrestricted free agent in 2011, it’s not ridiculous to consider the possibility that the free-spirited Merriman would opt to turn the “Lights Out” with a folding chair for a year, before resuming his NFL career.

He’s now made it clear — if he’s going to swing any chairs at all, it’ll happen on a football field.

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Leroy Hill gets 12 months probation for marijuana charge

Seahawks linebacker Leroy Hill pleaded guilty to a charge of marijuana possession Thursday and will serve 12 months of probation.

The incident happened so long ago — January 2009 — that we had forgotten about it. (Or maybe all those wake n bakes have caught up to us.)

The Seahawks have since signed Hill to a long-term contract, so they aren’t too concerned.  The guilty plea, however, should get the NFL’s attention.

Hill is now a part of the league’s substance abuse program.  It’s unclear if he’ll face any discipline from the NFL.

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Jamal Lewis visits Saints

It looks like Jamal Lewis may continue playing football.

After talking about retirement all last season, Lewis visited with the New Orleans Saints on this week, according to James Varney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Florio pointed out that Lewis may have financial reasons for wanting to keep playing.

Lewis is known as a great locker room guy, but we don’t quite see why the Saints would need him.  They have Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, and Lynell Hamilton at running back.

In theory, Lewis could help in short-yardage situations.  But he’s struggled in those opportunities in recent years.  The Saints need a young player to groom in case Bush leaves after 2010, but Lewis clearly doesn’t fit that mold.

It doesn’t appear the Saints made a formal offer to Lewis.  They also met with Justin Fargas in March.  Perhaps they will sign one of the two if they don’t pick up a running back in the draft.

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Report: Shaun Rogers arrested for gun possession

The folks at WOIO in Cleveland report that Browns defensive tackle Shaun Rogers has been arrested for possession of a gun.

Per the report, the incident occurred at Hopkins International Airport, as Rogers was preparing to board a plane.  The weapon was discovered in a bag; Rogers claimed that he forgot it was there.

We realize there’s a chance that this is an April Fool’s Day gag.  But we assume that the folks at WOIO understand that the laws of libel and slander don’t disappear on the first day of the fourth month.

That’s why the safest April Fool’s gags focus on concept like trades or retirements, not arrests or “outings.”

UPDATE:  Donna J. Miller of the Cleveland Plain Dealer confirms the report.  The Plain Dealer adds that the gun was loaded.  Thus, if it’s an April Fool’s Day gag, it’s gone multimedia.

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Bears announce release of defensive end Alex Brown

As expected, the Chicago Bears have released defensive end Alex Brown.

The eight-year veteran, who joined the team via the fourth-round of the 2002 draft, appeared in 127 games, starting 107 of them.

In 2006, he was a first alternative for the Pro Bowl.  The following year, he was a second alternate.

He’s now an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any team — including the “Final Eight” teams, given that he achieved his status via the termination of his contract.

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Reggie Hayward re-joins Jaguars

Defensive end Reggie Hayward will spend his sixth straight season in Jacksonville.

The unrestricted free agent re-signed with the club Thursday, the team announced. He missed all of 2009 with a broken shin.

Jacksonville’s defensive end group has re-stocked with Aaron Kampman this offseason, although it still wouldn’t surprise us to see them invest at the position again early in the draft.

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League decides not to give sneak peek of regular-season schedule

Well, it’s official.  There will be no partial lifting of the sheet on the 2010 regular-season schedule.

According to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News (via SportsBusiness Daily), the league has decided to announce all of the games at once.

Per Myers, the announcement is expected to come the week of April 12.  (Ryan Cardinal of Vikings.com recently noticed that ESPN2 is scheduled to televised an NFL schedule-release special on April 13 at 7:00 p.m. ET.)  But if the schedule isn’t finalized, Myers says it will be released in the days preceding the April 22 draft.

It’s still unclear why the league wasn’t able to announce the schedule in conjunction with last week’s league meetings.  Some have speculated that the uncertain status of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb prompted the league to fiddle with the final slate of games.

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Bears could move up for safety help

N. Allen.jpgThe Bears don’t have a pick in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, but Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune passes along buzz that the team could trade up for safety help.

Lovie Smith recently visit South Florida safety Nate Allen’s Pro Day, and Biggs writes Smith doesn’t hit the road looking at prospects just for the sake of a smokescreen.

Many draft analysts think Allen could go in the first round. There’s almost no chance he will be available when the Bears pick in the third roun.

Trading up for a safety would qualify as the ultimate need-based desperation move.  The Bears would likely have to mortgage away a pick next year to acquire what should be a cheap position to fill.

Then again, Smith and G.M. Jerry Angelo’s moves this offseason don’t exactly indicate they are looking far past 2010.

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PFTV takes a broader look at the Eagles and McNabb

There has been much talk about the Eagles possibly trading Donovan McNabb. 

So let’s take a broader look at the question of whether he’s indeed available, what the Eagles want for him, and where he could land.

We’ll do it PFTV style, with the swanky new studio, which despite the new translucent desk continues to conceal whether Brocato or yours truly are wearing pants.

 
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Giants take a look at Deon Grant

The Giants aren’t done trying to improve their safety position.

After making a big splash by adding Antrel Rolle in free agency, Mike Garafolo of the Newark Star-Ledger reports that former Seahawks safety Deon Grant will pay the team a visit Thursday.

The “signs are positive” that Grant could quickly sign a deal during his visit.

The Giants want more depth in case Kenny Phillips’ recovery from his knee condition doesn’t go smoothly.  We’re not surprised Grant, 31, is getting interest.

He was a decent player for the Seahawks, just not decent enough to be worth $11 million over the next two years.

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Santonio Holmes' lawyer denies allegations in civil suit

The lawyer for Steelers receiver Santonio Holmes, preserving the uncannily perfect “my client didn’t do it” streak, says that Holmes is innocent of the claims made in the civil lawsuit filed last week by a woman who contends that Holmes threw a drink in her face.

“We adamantly deny her allegations in that complaint,” Adam B. Swickle told Jonathan D. Silver of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  “I’ve been through all the allegations and we plan on disproving them.”

Though Holmes won’t face criminal charges, the civil lawsuit will proceed until it is dismissed, resolved, or a judgment is entered.

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No extension talks for Darren Sproles yet

D. Sproles.jpgThe Chargers backfield remains in flux.

The team decided at the last minute to retain Darren Sproles, and A.J. Smith has said the free agent crop of runners doesn’t interest him. That means San Diego needs a running back or two in the draft.

Sproles’ future with the team remains uncertain.  Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the Chargers would like to keep Sproles, but the team hasn’t talked to him about a long-term deal lately.  A trade remains possible.

We have yet to hear much chatter about teams possibly interested in dealing for Sproles since the Chargers kept him.  The same goes for Shawne Merriman, who Acee believes is available “at the right price.”

Perhaps trade talks will pick up closer to the draft, but there’s little to think Sproles and Merriman will be playing anywhere but San Diego in 2010.

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