Following are whispers we've been hearing from around the league:
• We hear another potential free-agent quarterback who might appeal to the 49ers is the Steelers' Dennis Dixon, who could be a restricted free agent if league rules revert back to the last Collective Bargaining Agreement.
• The Lions want to have the best defensive line in football, believing that adding another rusher to the mix in this draft might be the best way to make up for any deficiencies at linebacker or in the secondary. Don't be shocked if they target a defensive lineman early in the draft, perhaps at No. 13.
• The Giants are warming to the idea of drafting a running back high if the right one is available. Ahmad Bradshaw, despite his merits, is a free agent and might not return. Plus, head coach Tom Coughlin isn't sure he can help curb Bradshaw's fumbling with the same measure of success that he did with Tiki Barber.
• The arrest of Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel on April 4 came as a surprise to everyone, including the Chiefs. The team was caught off guard by the news, but the legal issue isn't likely to result in a suspension. Vrabel was charged with a felony theft, though according to sources, the crime was a result of a miscommunication between the linebacker and a casino in Indiana. Commissioner Roger Goodell has taken a tough approach in the past with players who break the law but isn't expected to ban Vrabel from playing in any games in 2011.
• There is still plenty of discussion about who the Bills will take with the third overall pick in the draft, but judging on the players visiting Buffalo, the team is putting an emphasis on the front seven on defense in their pre-draft workouts for their picks after Round One. Three players who could be there for the Bills' second- or third-round picks visited last week — Iowa DE Christian Ballard, North Carolina LB Bruce Carter and North Carolina ILB Quan Sturdivant. Head coach Chan Gailey got an early glimpse of Ballard, who played in the Senior Bowl opposite Gailey's squad. Ballard, Carter and Sturdivant not only should be available to the Bills after the first round, but each could help improve the league's 32nd rushing defense.
• While few teams have a more pressing need at the QB position than the Titans, we're hearing it is unlikely the club will land Bengals QB Carson Palmer or Eagles QB Kevin Kolb via trade. A more probable scenario is the club re-signing 38-year-old QB Kerry Collins and selecting a signalcaller in the second or third round of the draft.
• We hear the Redskins fear that the best player on their board when they pick 10th in the draft might not be one who fits a specific and glaring need, of which there are several. But we also hear that Mike Shanahan is open to taking the best player if a trade is not an option when they choose. The team lacks third- and fourth-round picks, however, and would love to get one or both of them back.
• We hear Buccaneers WLB Geno Hayes, who is heading into his contract year, has yet to solidify himself as a long-term building block for the team. He fits the mold Tampa Bay wants in a weak-side 'backer, but he has been inconsistent and will need a good season — more in line with his performance in 2009 — for the Bucs to consider presenting him with a long-term deal. Hayes, who was arrested in December on charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing, recently had the case closed. The disorderly conduct charge was dropped and he entered a no-contest plea to the trespassing charge.
• It seems likely the Bengals will draft a quarterback early in the 2011 draft with QB Carson Palmer holding firm that he will never play for Cincinnati again, a daily team observer suggests. The question now seems to be when, not if, the Bengals will strike for a quarterback, with the Bengals' first two picks (No. 4 and No. 35 overall) the two most logical spots for a passer. The Bengals have looked at prospects that could go in either spot. The team had a contingent at Auburn's pro day to watch QB Cam Newton, and head coach Marvin Lewis later attended a private workout for Newton in Alabama, according to Bengals.com. Newton is likely to come off the board in the top 10 picks. Bengals QB coach Ken Zampese attended Arkansas' pro day to observe QB Ryan Mallett, and reportedly had him in for a visit on March 31 and April 1. Mallett is a consideration in Round Two.
• Our sources in St. Louis will be surprised if 2010 third-round draft pick Jerome Murphy — who was limited almost solely to special teams the last five games last season after rough back-to-back outings against the Falcons and Broncos — is not the third corner behind Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher entering the 2011 campaign. There has been some speculation that the physical Murphy could switch to safety to help fill the hole created by O.J. Atogwe's departure, but we hear head coach Steve Spagnuolo has no plans to make such a move.
• After having his share of struggles before landing on injured reserve in mid-November with a severely torn right hamstring, our sources in the desert tell us Cardinals third-year pro Brandon Keith is going to have to prove he deserves to regain the starting job at right tackle from veteran Jeremy Bridges.
• Our Packers sources are betting that Brett Swain's willingness to make a tackle — a skill not often found in fifth receivers — ultimately will earn him a spot on the 2011 roster.