Saturday, February 9, 2008

Peyton: Eli will be back strong in '08

Peyton: Eli will be back strong in '08
Eli Manning isn't at the Pro Bowl. But he is the Super Bowl MVP. Peyton Manning talks with Alex Marvez about his brother's rise.

Redskins hire Zorn as new head coach
The Washington Redskins hired Jim Zorn as their coach Saturday night, a surprise ending to a monthlong search for a replacement for Joe Gibbs, The Associated Press has learned. Zorn will be introduced at a news conference at 3 p.m. Sunday, according to a person who was informed of the Redskins' decision. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because a formal announcement had not been made.

Bears have not placed franchise tag on Berrian yet

Agent Drew Rosenhaus said no decision has been made between the Bears and Bernard Berrian in terms of the franchise tag according to the Chicago Tribune.

Berrian, expected to be one of the top receivers on the market once he becomes an unrestricted free agent on Feb. 29, said he wants to remain with the Bears. General manager Jerry Angelo said using the franchise tag is usually a last resort but didn't rule out placing it on Berrian. The team used it on Lance Briggs last season, keeping the linebacker around for $7.2 million. Placing the franchise tag on Berrian would cost the Bears $7.8 next season.

A number of teams have expressed an interest in Berrian, including the Oakland Raiders. Berrian grew up about two hours southeast of Oakland.

Panthers, DT Lewis come to terms on 3-year deal
The Carolina Panthers came to terms with defensive tackle Damione Lewis on a three-year contract Saturday, beginning what is expected to be a busy offseason. Lewis, a key reserve who led the Panthers' disappointing defensive line with 3 1/2 sacks last season, was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the month. Lewis' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said he expects to complete the deal on Monday.

Fassel remains front-runner in Washington

The Washington Redskins' search for a head coach continued into the weekend with former New York Giants coach Jim Fassel considered to be the front-runner among the known candidates for the job, league sources said, but the other candidates — Steve Mariucci and Ron Meeks — still are believed to be under consideration to replace Joe Gibbs according to the Washington Post.

Owner Daniel Snyder last week said he expected the process, now in its 32nd day, to be completed "very soon," but as of last night the Redskins did not have a deal in place with anyone, NFL sources said. There were indications, however, that Snyder was moving toward offering the position to Fassel, 58, who was nearly hired earlier in the search precipitated by Gibbs's retirement as team president and coach on Jan. 8.

McCarthy says Favre's decision "a couple of weeks away''
Brett Favre's decision on whether to retire or return to the Green Bay Packers for an 18th season is still "probably a couple of weeks away,"�coach Mike McCarthy told

McCarthy, who signed a new five-year contract with the Packers on Tuesday, says he talks with his quarterback weekly and intends to talk with him in the next few days, but that he doesn't anticipate an answer, and isn't worried about it dragging out.

"It would be a different team because you're talking about a guy that's led the football team for 17 years," said McCarthy, who's in Hawaii coaching the NFC team in the Pro Bowl. "But it's a change that's inevitable. His career will go down as one of the greatest in the history of the National Football League. It's going to change and we're prepared for that with the progress of Aaron Rodgers."

Giants' owners expected to open wallet for Coughlin
The New York Giants' owners are�expected to open negotiations early this week on a long-term deal for the coach they nearly fired 13 months ago. They've already had a preliminary conversation with Gary O'Hagan, the agent for coach Tom Coughlin the New York Daily News reported.

"It's coming, but it's not like root canal is coming," said co-owner Steve Tisch. "This is going to be a very pleasant experience.''

When Coughlin was hired in 2004, he got a four-year, $12 million contract. Last January, when the owners extended his deal through 2008, it's believed the extra year was for about $3.5 million. Now, Coughlin would seem to be in line for a four-year deal worth at least $20 million-$24 million. It's doubtful the Giants will make him the highest-paid coach in the NFL — an honor that belongs to Seattle's soon-to-be-retired coach Mike Holmgren ($8 million per year). But it's probable they'll raise his salary into the range of Tennessee's Jeff Fisher and Tampa's Jon Gruden, who are both in the $5.5-6 million-per-year range.

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