News & Info/Headlines
First and foremost on the list is disgruntled Oakland wideout Randy Moss. Other interesting names being bandied about in trade talk this week include Willis McGahee, Tatum Bell, Trent Green and Thomas Jones. ...
But we'll start with Moss. ... In an article published this morning, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel staffer Bob McGinn reports the Raiders are trying to trying to dump the mercurial wideout and that the Packers definitely are interested -- if Moss would agree to a restructured contact in order to play with a better team and Brett Favre.
Sources close to the situation told McGinn the Packers had explored trading for Moss, the former Viking who once pretended to moon the crowd at Lambeau Field.
McGinn went on to advise readers the two teams have had preliminary dialogue but at this point the Packers consider Moss to be an economically unfeasible solution to their need for another receiver alongside Donald Driver and Greg Jennings.
Moss is scheduled to count for $11.7 million on the 2007 cap. His salary is going to be $9.75 million and if he were traded, the Raiders would get back the $9.75 million of space minus any outstanding potential accelerations.
Moss' accelerations are only $2 million, so the net of trading Moss for the Raiders would be a salary-cap gain of $7.7 million.
So the sticking point would appear to be Green Bay's reluctance to pay that $9.75 million salary.
That might be fixable, however. McGinn notes that Moss' business agent is Tim DiPiero, but some of his affairs are handled by James "Bus" Cook, the only agent Favre has ever had.
Mindful of tampering rules, general manager Ted Thompson and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy have carefully avoided talking about Moss. Yet, neither has denied interest in him, either.
"You have the opportunity to obtain players for your program through the draft and free agency, and he's another part of free agency," McCarthy said last week. "That's where I stand on that."
New England and (as first reported in last Sunday's Fantasy Notebook) Jacksonville reportedly also are interested in Moss.
The Moss-to-Jacksonville rumor, first posted on Profootballtalk.com last Friday, suggested the Jaguars might be willing to ship Byron Leftwich and a draft pick or two to Oakland in exchange for Moss.
The day before, new Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin said he expected both Jerry Porter and Moss to be with the team this season.
But some of that may have been a smokescreen.
After all, the Raiders also are working on a new contract for talented wideout Ronald Curry, and there won't be enough room for everyone in the slot and the flat. And according to McGinn, several Raiders sources at the NFL combine indicated that Moss wasn't expected back in '07.
So, even though San Francisco Chronicle beat writer Nancy Gay dismissed most of the combine discussion regarding Moss as idle chatter, McGinn rounded up some pretty specific quotes.
"Moss quit on us last year," one Raiders employee told McGinn. "My feeling is he wants to go someplace where they can win. He knows he only has X number of years left and he's never, ever won at any level."
The Raiders were last in just about everything in 2006 and are starting over with a novice head coach, and what might be a rookie quarterback, JaMarcus Russell.
Wherever he goes, it's safe to assume that Raiders owner Al Davis will start out seeking a first-round draft choice for Moss, who cost the Raiders the seventh overall pick in the 2005 draft and linebacker Napoleon Harris to obtain him from the Vikings just more than two years ago.
But, in reality, the Raiders have almost no hope of getting one.
Over the years, Davis has relished putting one over on teams in trades, but with Moss he might well end up just taking what he can get.
"I think he's got second-round value but I don't know if anybody would give a two," an unnamed AFC personnel director told McGinn. "I think clubs will know he's not happy there and he wants to move on. They'll wait it out and say, 'We'll get him at our number.' A three, a four, maybe with conditions."
Moss is viewed by many in the league as a declining player, having turned 30 earlier in the month and coming off his poorest season. Some teams say they wouldn't touch Moss.
"I don't think that works," another personnel director for an AFC team told McGinn. "I'd develop other guys. You don't want him. It will be a big story. The story will be him, not your team."
Last season, a Raiders source told McGinn Moss didn't like quarterback Aaron Brooks from Day 1 and at one point asked to be traded. When the trade didn't happen, Moss basically went through the motions.
"When we didn't trade him he was like a little kid who threw a tantrum when his parents wouldn't give him something," the source said. "So his tantrum was dropping passes."
According to STATS, Inc., Moss dropped eight of 97 targeted throws, or 8.5 percent. In his three previous seasons he dropped just 14 of 381, or 3.7 percent.
He sat out the final three games with an ankle injury of disputed severity.
"Unfortunately for Randy, it's everybody else's fault except his," Carl Peterson, president and GM of the Chiefs told McGinn. "I thought Art [Shell] really tried to work hard this year to make him a leader, but that's not his personality.
"He's never done anything to hurt the Chiefs."
Carefully emphasizing his choice of tense, Peterson added, "He was a great talent. You can't play at that (current) level for a while and come back."
Some -- but not all -- Raiders employees say Moss has lost a step since his days in Minnesota, when almost no cornerback in the league could run with him. He didn't participate in the Raiders' off-season program and hasn't always taken good care of his body.
His longest reception in 2006 was 51 yards, when he tied for 78th in the NFL with 42 receptions and ranked 73rd in receiving yards with 553. He scored three touchdowns, giving him 101 in eight seasons, and averaged 13.2 per catch.
"He's a one-dimensional guy who has kind of gone downhill," said a secondary coach for an Oakland foe in '06. "He's going to try to take you deep but he doesn't finish plays. You know when he's going to get the ball just by the way he comes off the line of scrimmage."
According to McGinn, his lackadaisical effort as a secondary receiver and blocker was brought up by four defensive coaches for teams that faced Moss last year.
While there are clearly general managers who wouldn't even consider adding Moss -- or any player -- regardless of ability if his character is questionable, McGinn points out that Thompson, who last September signed wide receiver Koren Robinson when he had one foot out of the league for off-field issues, isn't one of them.
In fact, McGinn suggests Thompson and McCarthy might secretly be excited about what a motivated Moss might mean for an offense that has a receiving void at tight end and little depth at wide receiver.
And of course, there are those who still believe Moss can get it done.
"You watch the tapes, he can still make you pay if you screw up," Frank Bush, senior defensive assistant for the Texans told McGinn. "If he can just have an open area to run, if you don't press him and do some things to screw the route up, when he starts going he can still run and make a big play."
"He still has the ability," Cincinnati defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said. "It's just a question whether he will lay it on the line for you and buy into it."
That question seems to sum up the consensus among those concerned. And at least one executive for an AFC West team has major reservations if Moss' heart still is in football.
"Does he have the desire to do the types of things he did with [Daunte] Culpepper and Denny Green?" the personnel man told McGinn. "Does he really still want to play, or is he in it for the money?"
One factor the naysayers might be overlooking? Favre.
"He's been allowed to get away with things in life so he will push you as far as he can possibly push you," one of the Raiders said. "On our team there was nobody to play the role of a player Randy respected.
"If he had respect for Brett, then he could bust his tail for him. ..."
Other trade-related news of interest heading into the weekend. ...
In Buffalo. ... The Bills are now openly acknowledging their desire to move McGahee. Calling no player "untouchable," head coach Dick Jauron said the team would consider trade offers for the former first-round draft pick.
"It's in our best interest to listen to everybody, and no people are untouchable," Jauron told Associated Press sports writer John Wawrow at the combine on Monday. "He's a good back. He's our starting running back right now. It's no surprise to me at all that people are interested."
Asked specifically if McGahee is on the trading block, Jauron said: "Well, people talk. People talk in the league all the time."
As Wawrow noted, it's unusual for trade discussions to be made public, or for a coach to acknowledge any talk that involves players -- particularly a player of McGahee's caliber. The three-year starter has one year left on his contract and had expressed interest in seeking an extension with Buffalo.
As first reported in last Sunday's Fantasy Notebook, Giants general manager Jerry Reese let the McGahee cat out of the bag last weekend, when he expressed interest in the player as a potential replacement for Tiki Barber, who retired after last season.
"There is some Willis McGahee talk," Reese had said. "We'll investigate Willis; we'll investigate everybody with trade talk. We'll leave no stone unturned."
Reese's comments created a stir in Buffalo, where the Bills had previously sidestepped questions about McGahee's long-term status with the team.
Buffalo's first-round pick out of Miami in 2003, McGahee is coming off a down season in which he finished with a career-low 990 yards rushing, but led the team with six touchdowns rushing in 14 starts.
In 2005, he had 1,247 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 15 starts. He established himself as the Bills starter in 2004 with 1,128 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns in 11 starts. That performance led the team to trade former starter Travis Henry to Tennessee the following summer.
McGahee sat out his rookie season recovering from major knee surgery.
The Bills have been disappointed in McGahee for conducting most of his offseason workouts in his native Miami, rather than traveling to the team's headquarters. Furthermore, as Yahoo! Sports correspondent Jason Cole first reported last weekend, the Bills aren't happy with McGahee's work ethic -- especially his failure to study the playbook last offseason.
They expect more of the same this year.
McGahee also created a stir last month, when he was quoted in a magazine article suggesting the NFL consider moving the Bills to Toronto.
McGahee later released a statement saying his comments were taken out of context and that he would never suggest such a move.
Pro Football Weekly believes Buffalo would ask for a first-round pick plus one of the following: A player, a late-round draft pick this year or a future draft pick.
It's safe to assume they realize nobody will pay that much for McGahee at this point. ...
For what it's worth. ... Buffalo News staffer Allen Wilson suggests that whether McGahee remains in Buffalo or not, the Bills intend to draft a running back, preferably one with speed. ...
In Kansas City. ... The Chiefs decision to re-sign Damon Huard on Tuesday was followed up by reports the team is now shopping Green. South Florida Sun-Sentinel beat man Alex Marvez reported this morning that the Dolphins might be among those interested.
As the Kansas City Star noted this morning, Green is scheduled to earn $7.2 million in base salary this season, nearly the full value of the three-year deal signed by Huard.
Peterson has said since the end of last season he would ask Green to reduce his scheduled base salary of $7.2 million, but Green's agent says that the request has not yet been made.
"I don't know what this means for Trent at this point because I haven't had any conversations with the Chiefs, and neither has Trent," agent Jim Steiner told Star staffer Adam Teicher. "I can't speculate and won't speculate."
"There's nothing happening on this end. We haven't had any discussions with the Chiefs about contractual issues. I've received no indication whatsoever they want him to take a pay cut."
Huard, meanwhile, said the Chiefs made him no promises about being the starting quarterback.
"All of that is up in the air, I guess," he said. "I'm not real sure what's going to happen there. We didn't talk a whole lot about that. Nothing was guaranteed to me. I'd love to have the chance to be the guy."
Green has been highly effective as a starter, but a severe concussion limited him in 2006.
If he is traded -- or released, the Redskins, where former Chiefs offensive coordinator Al Saunders is now employed, might also be interested.
But the quarterback situation in Miami is obviously more inviting.
Daunte Culpepper was a bust as the team rushed him back from torn knee ligaments and Joey Harrington will reportedly be released by the end of the week. The only other quarterback on the roster is Cleo Lemon.
Some mock drafts have Miami taking Brady Quinn with the No. 9 pick. And as PFT editor Mike Florio noted this morning, if they were to trade for Green and draft Quinn, it most likely would mean the end of the road for Culpepper in Miami. ...
In Denver. ... The rumors surrounding possible deals for Bell continue to swirl. As reported in last week's Fantasy Notebook, Denver Post beat man Bill Williamson suggests that Bell and Jake Plummer could both be joining Gary Kubiak in Houston.
According to Williamson, the Broncos and Texans will discuss a trade that would send Plummer, Bell and an early-round draft pick to Houston for the No. 8 overall pick and perhaps a player.
The Texans brass likes Bell, and he could help Houston. The Broncos are expected to look for a bigger back, and because they like the potential of Mike Bell, Tatum Bell could be expendable.
PFW subsequently chimed in on this one, advising readers on Monday that Kubiak is fonder of Bell's talents than is Denver head coach Mike Shanahan, who has been left frustrated by Bell's nagging injuries and inconsistent play.
That sounds plausible.
Another scenario being discussed in Detroit has the Lions landing Bell in a deal that would send veteran cornerback Dre' Bly to the Broncos, who clearly need help in the secondary.
Whatever the case, Williamson elaborated on possible replacements for Bell in an article published this morning. In the trade market, Chicago's Jones and McGahee are on the list
It is worth noting that Jones' name came up last summer in the Ashley Lelie trade discussion.
The top free agents include Indianapolis' Dominic Rhodes and Tennessee's Chris Brown. Denver likely will wait to see if some players are cut in salary cap moves.
Among the most intriguing possibilities are Tennessee's Henry and Baltimore's Jamal Lewis. Both are due huge bonuses and could get cut unless they get new deals done before the bonuses are due.
As for restricted free agents, San Diego running back Michael Turner is the biggest prize. But he likely will receive a high tender. ...
And finally, in Chicago. ... Although head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jerry Angelo seem to be at odds when it comes to the notion of trading Jones, there are reliable reports indicating the veteran halfback is indeed available -- if the price is right.
ESPN.com insider John Clayton noted this week that even though Jones wants out of Chicago to get an improved contract and a clear starting job, the Bears won't accept an undervalued deal.
Clayton added: "The Bears might not accept anything less than a first-round pick and another pick. ..."
There's a quick roundup of the top names in discussion heading into the weekend. Needless to say, I'll be following all these situations closely and will report further if/when actual deals materialize.
Until then, you'll want to keep an eye on the News & Views section of the site for all the latest breaking stories and the watch the Headline News section for more in-depth reporting on Fantasy-specific news of interest -- including the Fantasy Notebook, posted each Sunday morning throughout the offseason.