Raiders determined to keep RB Bush

Posted March 20, 2011 @ 10:36 a.m.
Posted By PFW staff

Following are some whispers we've been hearing from around the AFC:

• Indications are the Raiders will do what it takes to keep RB Michael Bush from departing in free agency. It's not yet clear what his status will be under a new Collective Bargaining Agreement — he'll be either a restricted or unrestricted free agent — but the Raiders gave him the highest possible tender before the previous CBA expired, and Al Davis wants to keep the backfield tandem of Darren McFadden and Bush in place.

• Although free-agent S Eric Weddle told PFW that he would like to sign a long-term contract with the Chargers but would be interested in playing elsewhere if a deal couldn't be worked out, it now appears that he won't have that option. With reports that the league would revert to 2010 free-agency rules if the players' bid for an injunction to lift the lockout is granted in court, the four-year veteran would only be eligible to be a restricted free agent and almost certainly would remain in San Diego, whether it be for one season or multiple years. The Bolts have placed a first-round tender on Weddle.

• While private workouts with prospects are commonplace in the weeks leading up to the draft, the Chiefs' scheduled workout with TCU QB Andy Dalton is particularly intriguing. Following a successful pro day that likely vaulted his draft stock quite a bit, Dalton is slated to perform privately for at least a half-dozen teams. Kansas City's interest, however, could indicate that the club is ready to move on from backup QB Brodie Croyle, who struggled in 2010 and is scheduled to hit the free-agent market. While signalcaller is not atop the Chiefs' offseason priority list, they learned the importance of having a competent No. 2 QB when Matt Cassel missed time last season.

• A recent tweet from executive vice president of football operations John Elway shows that the Broncos are making a conscious effort to reconnect with fans: "Many talented prospects in this year's draft — Which players do you like? Who do you want to see in a Broncos uniform?" Elway wrote. The organization has publicly stated its desire to please the fan base, and a move like this, regardless of whether or not it has any effect on whom the organization drafts, is a step in the right direction.

• Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert are considered the top two quarterbacks in the draft, and the Bills are making sure they get to know both prospects very well. Team executives, including GM Buddy Nix, had dinner with Newton the night before his pro day on March 8 and did the same on the eve of Gabbert's pro day on March 17. Buffalo holds the third pick in the draft and may be in the market for a QB.

• The Dolphins are expected to draft a quarterback, and we hear they like Florida State's Christian Ponder and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick. Both signalcallers are projected to be second-round picks, a round in which the Dolphins are without a pick. GM Jeff Ireland said at the Senior Bowl that there are ways to get that pick back, although it is possible one of the QBs will slip into the third round.

• Jets head coach Rex Ryan has been present at multiple pro days and seems to have his eye on some top defensive linemen. Ryan got a firsthand look at Illinois DT Corey Liuget on March 16 and Missouri DE-OLB Aldon Smith the next day. New York has indicated that it wants to upgrade the defensive front seven early in the draft, and both Liuget and Smith would fit in well with their scheme.

• The sense in Baltimore is CB Domonique Foxworth will step back into the starting lineup in 2011 for the Ravens. Foxworth missed the 2010 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in July. "He probably could play right now," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said of Foxworth. "... I know he's also working out, he's training, he's doing great. I don't know if he's ahead of schedule, but the good thing is — if there is a light at the end of the tunnel or a silver lining to that cloud — at least he got hurt as early as possible. I mean, it was before he even really started practice, so it gives him the maximum possible time to get that knee right. So, I don't think we're going to see too many side effects of him coming back early on. He should be full speed right out of the gates." Foxworth intercepted a career-high four passes in 2009, his first season in Baltimore.

• The way we hear it, a longer lockout would increase the odds of unrestricted free-agent QB Kerry Collins re-signing with Tennessee. The Titans are committed to trading or releasing Vince Young, and second-year QB Rusty Smith isn't likely to draw serious starter consideration. The Titans are expected to add at least one quarterback via the draft or free agency.

• With one of the best special-teams units in the league, we're told the Jaguars would not be pleased if the NFL decided to move the kickoff up to the 35-yard line and move touchbacks up to the 25-yard line, as is being discussed. Montell Owens and Kassim Osgood are two of the better special-teams players in the league, but we hear their impact could be diminished if the new rules are put into effect next season.

• In his first two years on the job, Jaguars GM Gene Smith has been very careful not to reveal any of the players whom he has an eye on in the draft. Smith used his first two picks in 2009 on offensive tackles, including selecting Eugene Monroe in the first round after Monroe fell further than expected. Very few NFL insiders saw the Tyson Alualu pick coming last year. It will be interesting to see if Purdue DE Ryan Kerrigan, whom we're hearing the Jaguars are very interested in, is the pick, or if Smith is sending out smoke screens and has more tricks up his sleeve for next month.