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NFC Whispers

Westbrook unlikely to retire now

Posted Jan. 23, 2010 @ 5:01 p.m. ET
By PFW staff

• We hear that the talk of RB Brian Westbrook's career being over might be highly premature. Westbrook's balky left knee — and not the multiple concussions he suffered this season — reportedly is the issue that might cause him to retire, but he is not believed to have suffered any further injury to the knee this past season. Westbrook might not remain with the Eagles given their preference not to pay $7.5 million to a part-time player, which is what he would be in Philly next season if he stayed. But he is not likely to retire at this point, we hear.

• DE Osi Umenyiora has won his power struggle with the Giants with the firing of defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan and the hiring of Perry Fewell. Umenyiora, who hinted at season's end that he might be playing his final game with the team, now likely will return. He makes in the neighborhood of $3 million, and though last season was not his best, the Giants know they need to add to their front seven and not get rid of the important pieces they have.

• The Cowboys will be using a new placekicker next season after Shaun Suisham's late-season failings, but it could come from one of two interesting sources. One would be kickoff specialist David Buehler, who worked late in the season on his placekicking and will spend the offseason continuing to hone his craft. The other, believe it or not, could be Nick Folk. Although the team let him go in midseason, we hear they have not completely ruled out bringing him back, believing his problems to be more mental than physical.

• The Bears continue spinning their wheels in their search for new coordinators, but word is they are probably a lot closer to landing a new offensive coordinator to replace the fired Ron Turner than finding a new defensive coordinator. The front-runners to coordinate the offense at this writing are Bengals QB coach Ken Zampese and Chargers assistant head coach/TE coach Rob Chudzinski, whom we hear San Diego might try hard to keep.

• While our sources in Green Bay believe that John Schneider did a solid job working under GM Ted Thompson as the director of football operations, they did not consider Schneider's exit to Seattle to become the Seahawks' new GM a major loss. We hear it's possible the team might decide to not even replace Schneider, given the growing prospect of a lockout in 2011.

• We hear that Lions head coach Jim Schwartz jumped at the chance to coach the Senior Bowl, having twice been there previously with the Ravens (1998) and Titans (2006) as an assistant on those staffs. Interestingly, though, in '06 the Titans did not draft a single player from the North team they coached, selecting only DT Jesse Mahelona from the South team in the fifth round. So, for Schwartz with the Lions, the experience might be as much about finding which players not to draft as much as finding ones to select. Among the players the Titans passed on that year: Jay Cutler, who went to school at nearby Vanderbilt, instead taking Vince Young.

• Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez recently confirmed he will return to play in the 2010 season and said he was excited about the team's prospects. Sources said don't be surprised, however, if Atlanta uses a middle- to late-round draft pick on a tight end to groom as an eventual replacement for Gonzalez, who will turn 34 in February.

• Panthers RB Jonathan Stewart underwent successful surgery on his left foot Jan. 20 after playing through pain throughout the 2009 season. He had been nagged by an Achilles problem, which forced him to miss practices, but he didn't miss any games and is expected to participate in a May minicamp. The second-year veteran led Carolina in rushing with 1,133 yards this season.

• Saints ORG Jahri Evans will be a restricted free agent for the second year in a row and could be playing on another one-year tender in 2010. When asked about his future on Jan. 21, Evans said, "Everybody's focusing on this season and will approach those bridges when they come." Evans, who has started every game since he entered the league in '06, said he "most definitely" wants to return to the Saints next season.

• The Panthers drafted a would-be replacement for FB Brad Hoover in 2009 when they selected FB Tony Fiammetta in the draft's fourth round. Hoover, however, still has one year left on his deal, and the team wasn't overwhelmed with what it saw from Fiammetta during his rookie season. Observers expect Hoover to remain the starter at least for the early part of next season.

• We hear Pete Carroll was instantly impressed with Gus Bradley, who has been retained as the Seahawks' defensive coordinator. "It's the Monte Kiffin thing again," one team source said of the glowing recommendation the former Buccaneers defensive coordinator gave to Carroll on Bradley's behalf — similar to the endorsement for Bradley that Kiffin gave to Jim Mora last year. "Pete just couldn't ignore that."

• Don't expect to see WR Jerheme Urban back with the Cardinals next season. "He's done, history, out of there," said one team insider of Urban, whose costly fumble in the playoff loss in New Orleans, we hear, really stuck in head coach Ken Whisenhunt's craw.

• A real battle could be shaping up for the Rams' starting job at right guard previously held by Richie Incognito, who was released late in the season. It's a given that Mark Setterstrom and John Greco will battle for the job. "But Adam Goldberg's best position is guard," said one team insider. "It's not inconceivable that he ends up at right guard."

• Niners head coach Mike Singletary said he wasn't concerned that new special-teams coordinator Kurt Schottenheimer hasn't coached special teams since 1994. "No, not at all," he said. "Now, if he was out of football for a period of time, that would concern me, but I think a good football coach is a good football coach." We hear Singletary put major stock in endorsements from coordinators Jimmy Raye and Greg Manusky, both of whom served with Schottenheimer on the same Redskins staff in 2001.

 

PFW has launched its brand-new NFL Draft Newsletter series, with the second issue now ready for mailing and a third issue focusing on underclassmen to be published in the next few weeks. Produced by PFW's player personnel department under the direction of Nolan Nawrocki, the series consists of four information-packed issues. For more info or to subscribe — click here for PDF e-pub or here for print format. You can also find details about other draft-related publications in the PFW store.

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