Belichick makes stop at South Florida
The Tampa Tribune reports that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick stopped at the University of South Florida on Wednesday as part of his annual Florida trip.
Belichick met with South Florida draft-eligible prospects Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams, both of whom are cornerbacks. Jenkins is considered one of the top cornerbacks in the draft, a possible first-round selection. Williams is projected as a mid-round selection.
Belichick annually makes a pre-draft trip to Florida to get a first-hand look at prospects. He was at the University of Florida earlier this week.
Oakland caps spending spree by inking Hall
The Oakland Raiders capped an extraordinary free agent signing (and spending) period Thursday afternoon, finalizing a seven-year contract for cornerback DeAngelo Hall that will pay the former Falcons Pro Bowler just over $66 million total and $24.55 million guaranteed.
Hall signed the contract after the teams consummated a much-anticipated trade that sent Hall, 24, to Oakland in exchange for the Raiders' second-round pick (34th overall) in April's draft and their fifth-round pick in 2009.
The deal, NFL sources confirmed, was brokered almost exclusively by Raiders owner Al Davis, who dealt directly with Hall and his agent, Alvin Keels, on the new contract - essential if the trade was to be completed. Keels also spoke with Rick Snead, who is in the Raiders' pro personnel department, but Davis was the primary negotiator.
Vikings add Michael Boulware, Kendrick Allen
The Minnesota Vikings signed free agent Michael Boulware Thursday, giving them depth at safety. Boulware came in for a visit Thursday; he visited with the Carolina Panthers on Monday.
"I had a great meeting with the coaches and liked the direction that the organization is going," Boulware told my colleague Kevin Seifert as he rode to the airport. "I think this gives me a great opportunity to come here and get better as a player."
Boulware spent last season with the Houston Texans and the organization wanted to use him at linebacker. Boulware will serve as a backup safety and also play on special teams. The Vikings now have Darren Sharper and Madieu Williams as their starting safeties; Boulware and Eric Frampton are the backups.
Also signing was DT Kendrick Allen, who was last with Green Bay in 2006. He played in two games and spent the rest of the season on injured reserve.
Hardwick claims misdiagnosis, has foot surgery
The San Diego Chargers could be without another offensive starter early next season, as center Nick Hardwick underwent surgery last week to repair a severe sprain in his right foot according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
Hardwick's recovery could last into September, or he could be healthy when training camp begins at the end of July.
"I think I'll be ready to go by the season," Hardwick said yesterday. "If not, I'll definitely be there when it starts getting interesting."
A Pro Bowler in 2006, Hardwick initially injured the foot on Oct. 14 of last year against the Oakland Raiders and missed the next four games. In early November, a foot specialist told Hardwick he was OK to play and could not do any further damage.
"It was misdiagnosed during the season," Hardwick said. "I was told it was a minor tweak."
Cowboys working a deal for Pacman Jones?
The Dallas Cowboys have held preliminary discussions with the Tennessee Titans about trading for suspended cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones, according to a source the Dallas Morning News reported. The Cowboys could give up a late-round draft pick to acquire Jones.
According to a source, Titans officials are not in a hurry to make a deal but realize the best way to move on without Jones is to trade him. Jones told his Atlanta-based agent, Manny Arora, if traded he would put the Cowboys near the top of the list of teams he would play for. Arora, however, said he's talked to numerous teams about Jones and would like a trade to occur before the NFL draft on April 26-27.
"If Tennessee chooses not to have him on their roster next year, it's in their best interest to trade him," Arora said, "because if not, they would get no compensation."
Sooner or later DeMarcus Ware will cash in
Either this year or next, linebacker DeMarcus Ware figures to cash in on what should be the most lucrative contract Jerry Jones has ever given out in terms of guaranteed money as the Dallas Cowboys' owner and general manager according to the Dallas Morning News.
After three years, Ware has been named to the Pro Bowl twice and was an alternate as a rookie. His sack totals have increased each year from eight in 2005 to 11� in 2006 and 14 last season, which brought him consideration for the Defensive Player of the Year award. Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones acknowledged recently part of the team's lack of work in the current free-agent market was due to the fact they have to re-sign cornerback Terence Newman, who is in the final year of his contract, and Ware, whose deal runs out in 2009.
Considering Indianapolis gave its pass-rushing fiend, Dwight Freeney, a six-year, $72 million deal with a $30 million signing bonus last summer, the Cowboys are probably looking at similar numbers for Ware. Probably more. Freeney, 28, has done it longer, but Ware only turns 26 in July.
Carolina signs Gross, two other linemen
The Carolina Panthers re-signed starting tackle Jordan Gross and two other offensive linemen, general manager Marty Hurney confirmed Thursday night.
Gross, designated as the team's franchise player, will earn a fully-guaranteed one-year contract worth $7.455 million. Under the terms of the franchise tag, the only way Gross could have gone elsewhere would have been if another team been willing to surrender two first-round draft picks to sign him. That rarely happens in the NFL.
Interior linemen Geoff Hangartner and Evan Mathis would have come cheaper, but no teams showed interest in signing them to offer sheets, so they too have re-signed.Teams interested in Hangartner or Mathis would have had to come off the hip with a second- and third-round pick, respectively. Hangartner will make $1.47 million this season, while Mathis will collect $927,000 provided they make the team.
Miami narrows focus of No.1 selection
Miami Dolphins officials got a look Tuesday at two candidates for the No. 1 draft pick — Virginia's Chris Long and Boston College's Matt Ryan, at their schools' Pro Days. But more contact with Miami awaits according to the Miami Herald.
The Dolphins have scheduled private meetings with Long, Ryan and Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long in their college cities, according to officials who work with each player. (They have not requested similar sessions with Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston and LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, agents said.)
The Dolphins sent quarterbacks coach David Lee and director of college scouting Chris Grier to BC's Pro Day on Tuesday, while scout Bill Baker and outside linebacker coach Jim Reid were dispatched to Virginia. At Michigan's Pro Day last Friday, the Dolphins had national scout Ron Labadie, whose son Brad is Michigan's director of football operations.