News & Info/Headlines
When Chargers general manager A.J. Smith was asked to speak about Tomlinson -- and free agency's opening day -- he declined.
"A.J. said he's not going to comment every time someone has some work done on him," team spokesman Bill Johnston told Paris.
But as Paris correctly noted: "Tomlinson is hardly a small spoke in the Chargers' wheel." He led the NFL with 2,370 yards from scrimmage, while rushing for 1,645 yards and catching 100 passes.
While becoming the first 1,000-yard/100-catch player in NFL history, Tomlinson was the lone offensive bright spot during a dreadful 4-12 season. He recorded those impressive numbers despite playing with his ailing right shoulder in season's second half. He recently started lifting weights again to strengthen it, then abruptly stopped when something didn't feel right.
"I aggravated it, and it wasn't getting better," Tomlinson said. "So I wanted to get it checked out because I didn't want it to do anything to mess it up."
Tomlinson saw a specialist in Orange County and said he met with Chargers team doctor David Chao on Tuesday. Medical exams showed fluid on the shoulder but no structural damage.
"That was good news," said Tomlinson, the only Charger to rush for 1,000 yards in each of his first three seasons. "Now I've got to let it calm down. ..."
I'll continue to monitor this story and bring you more as developments warrant.
Elsewhere in the sore shoulder department. ...
As reported by Baltimore Sun staffer Jamison Hensley, the Ravens announced that quarterback Kyle Boller will have arthroscopic surgery today to clean up damaged tissue in his left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Boller, who was named the Ravens' starter last month, is not expected to miss any mini-camps. ...
Also in Baltimore. ... According to reports published by a handful of Philadelphia-area newspapers, the Eagles agreed to a deal in principle to acquire Terrell Owens Thursday, only to have the 49ers turn the tables by sealing a deal with the Ravens instead.
The reports, which appeared on the phillyburbs.com web site, claim Owens and agent David Joseph were furious. Joseph told league officials Thursday night he plans to file a grievance against the 49ers, and union chief Gene Upshaw is reportedly already involved in the process.
Two unnamed league insiders familiar with the negotiations -- speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters Thursday night that the Eagles actually finalized a trade with the 49ers and hammered out a long-term, multi-million dollar contract with Owens.
The deal would have sent Owens to Philadelphia for a fifth-round pick and a player, possibly receiver James Thrash, according to the report.
"Terrell was ecstatic," an NFL agent familiar with the details of the negotiations, is quoted as saying. "Philly is where he wanted to go all along. He was under the impression he was an Eagle. It was a done deal."
But before the paperwork was signed, 49ers general manager Terry Donahue quietly accepted the Ravens' offer of a second-round pick in this year's draft and filed trade papers without informing Joseph or Eagles negotiator Joe Banner, or giving them a chance to match the offer.
The Eagles apparently didn't learn the 49ers had shipped Owens to the Ravens until a team employee saw an ESPN report on Thursday afternoon. And Joseph didn't know about the trade until he got a phone call from the Eagles moments later. ...
Elsewhere in the anger department. ...
In an article published Thursday, Trenton Times beat man Mark Eckel advised readers that Correll Buckhalter is not happy. He's not the least bit surprised, but he's not happy.
Buckhalter, the Eagles' restricted free-agent running back, received the minimum one-year tender of $628,000 from the team Tuesday night, instead of the middle tender of $1.368 million.
"You always expect the least from them," Buckhalter told Eckel Wednesday. "Why should I be any different than all of our other guys? They didn't even make [linebacker] Carlos [Emmons] an offer."
The Eagles have been trying to work out a long-term deal with Buckhalter, but the two sides are not even close. The tender allows the Eagles to match any offer he might receive from another team, or receive a fourth-round draft pick as compensation.
"My agent thinks I'm going to hear from some teams," Buckhalter said, hinting that Detroit could be one of those teams. "I hope I do. We'll see what happens. I think I'm worth at least a fourth-round pick to some team."
The Eagles offered Buckhalter, who rushed for 542 yards, averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored eight rushing touchdowns, a deal which included a $1.5 million signing bonus and a base salary of $500,000 next year. There were option bonuses based on his yardage totals that were included past the first year.
In an offense in which two or three backs carry the ball, Buckhalter wasn't about to accept that type of incentive.
"What they offered isn't close at all," he said. "There's no way I'm taking a deal like that."
Buckhalter is looking for a deal closer to the one San Francisco gave restricted free agent running back Kevan Barlow last month. Barlow signed a reported five-year deal worth $20 million with a $1.5 million signing bonus and another $6.5 million bonus to be delivered next season.
"I thought I was in their plans," Buckhalter said. "When I met with coach [Andy] Reid at the end of the season, we talked about the Carolina game mostly, then he asked me if I wanted to be here. I said, 'Yes.' Then he said he would sit down with [Banner] and we would get something done."
The Eagles and Buckhalter's agent, Fletcher Smith, are expected to meet again, possibly today and at least get closer on a deal. Until then, Buckhalter will keep his phone on and wait to hear from other teams as well.
"I'm just going to chill out," he said. "And see what happens. ..."
Other Fantasy-specific news and notes of interest from around the league today. ...
In New England. ... The Patriots brought the running back Kevin Faulk back into the fold yesterday, and according to Providence Journal beat man Tom E. Curran, the former LSU standout will open camp with an inside track on the starting job.
The signing of Faulk brings the Patriots' stable of running backs to one. They may dip into the free-agent pool still, but as Curran suggested: "It would seem that retaining Faulk would likely mean they've scratched Oakland running back Charlie Garner off their list."
The Patriots haven't yet contacted the agent for the Raiders running back who is looking for a contract that's a little too rich for New England's blood.
Faulk, who started 8 of 15 games at running back last season, will likely be joined in the backfield by a draftee next season. Names like Steven Jackson, Julius Jones and Tatum Bell will be floating around in the next month as the draft draws closer.
Faulk ran for 638 yards last season and caught 48 passes for 440 more yards. He didn't score a regular-season touchdown rushing or receiving. Faulk, who'll be 28 when the season starts, was originally a second-round pick of the Patriots.
He has battled a penchant for fumbling at inopportune moments throughout his career, but he is a favorite of head coach Bill Belichick because he works extremely hard and is a tremendously smart player. ...
In Minnesota. ... In an article published early Friday, St. Paul Pioneer Press columnist Charley Walters, Raiders owner Al Davis is among those who have called the Vikings this week to ask about the availability of wide receiver Randy Moss.
According to Walters, insiders say Davis telephoned head coach Mike Tice on Wednesday to inquire about Moss. After exchanging messages, Tice reached Davis on Thursday.
Davis told Tice he originally had called about Moss, but since then had done some background work and learned that Moss and Tice have a tight relationship, and he realized there was little chance for a deal.
Walters also confirmed that, besides the Miami Dolphins, teams that called the Vikings about Moss include the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens. ...
In Tampa. ... The Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday re-signed free agent tight end Rickey Dudley, who has played in 21 games and started five games with the club over the last two seasons.
Terms were not disclosed.
Dudley was released by the Bucs on August 31 as part of an injury settlement and later re-signed on November 11. He played in seven games and had seven receptions for 42 yards and one touchdown in 2003.
Dudley played for the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns before joining the Bucs in 2002. He has 218 career receptions for 2,976 yards and 33 touchdowns. ...
In Carolina. ... The Panthers re-signed Kris Mangum on Thursday. The veteran tight end will return for an eighth season in Carolina after signing a four-year, $3.24 million contract.
In Detroit. ... Seattle wideout Darrel Jackson, who moved to the head of the free agent class with Owens and Steve Smith no longer in the picture, began his free agent tour with a visit to Lions headquarters Thursday.
Jackson had 68 catches for 1,137 yards and nine touchdowns for the Seahawks last season.
In New Orleans. ... The Saints signed former Tampa Bay halfback Aaron Stecker to a four-year contract on Wednesday and will use him as the primary backup to Deuce McAllister.
Stecker reportedly agreed to an incentive-laden deal worth $4.4 million, with a $650,000 signing bonus.
We went into the free agency period aiming to improve our depth at running back, and we have accomplished that goal with the signing of Aaron," general manager Mickey Loomis explained. "He is a proven player who we can depend upon to take over at running back if needed or just to give Deuce a rest during a game. This is an important acquisition to us. ..."
In Pittsburgh. ... Tight end Matt Cushing, who didn't catch a pass last season, signed a $535,000, one-year contract Thursday with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers also re-signed wide receiver Chris Doering to a $480,000, one-year contract.
Cushing has been with the Steelers since signing as a rookie free agent in 1999, though he was released several times before rejoining the team. He has 12 career receptions.
Doering gets a base salary of $455,000, plus a $25,000 signing bonus. He made $450,000 last season after leaving Washington to sign with Pittsburgh.
Doering, a seven-year veteran who originally signed with the Steelers in May, tied his career high with 18 receptions for a career-best 240 receiving yards and one touchdown last season. ...
In Jacksonville. ... According to Florida Times-Union staff writer Vito Stellino, the Jaguars, who have been plagued with kicking problems since Mike Hollis departed as a free agent after the 2001 season, made a major attempt to solve it Thursday when they signed Cincinnati kicker Shayne Graham, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet.
The Bengals, who have a week to match the deal, gave Graham a low tender of $628,000 so they're not entitled to compensation if they don't match the offer.
Although terms were not announced, the Jaguars likely front-loaded the deal so it would be expensive for the Bengals, who are more than $7 million under the cap, to match it.
Head coach Jack Del Rio stuck with rookie Seth Marler the entire season last year. But his patience didn't payoff because Marler made only 20-of-33 field goal attempts, which was the lowest percentage in the league last year.
By contrast, Graham made 22-of-25 field goal attempts for the best season for a kicker in Bengals' history. ...
In a related note. ... Veteran tight end Todd Yoder signed a three-year deal with the Jags on Friday. Yoder, an unrestricted free agent, played in all 16 games and started one game for Tampa Bay last season. He had seven receptions for 68 yards and two touchdowns.
The fifth-year pro, who has played in 57 regular season games and five postseason games including the Super Bowl win over Oakland in 2003, was originally signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Vanderbilt in 2000.
Yoder will compete for a backup role behind Kyle Brady.