TE Thomas a big part of Saints' 2011 plans

Posted June 26, 2011 @ 12:58 p.m.
Posted By PFW staff

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

• While it appears TE David Thomas will get an opportunity to gauge his value on the open market as an unrestricted free agent, we hear he's very much a part of the Saints' plan and they intend to re-sign him. Word is Thomas would prefer to stay with the team. The Saints tendered Thomas, who is entering his sixth season, before the lockout when it was unclear who would qualify for unrestricted free agency, but that tender will be rescinded if the league allows players with four accrued seasons to become UFAs. He would be the No. 2 tight end behind Jimmy Graham and is a solid utility player that can also function as a fullback.

• The new free-agency rules could benefit the Dolphins, who have not been shy about their quest to add a veteran running back to complement rookie Daniel Thomas. DeAngelo Williams and Ahmad Bradshaw would be the top free-agent running backs. Williams isn't the receiving option that Bradshaw is, but is more likely to be available and already has shown interest in coming to Miami. Darren Sproles also would be an option as a scatback.

• There's a chance that the Buccaneers will consider re-signing DE Stylez G. White, but a source said it's something they only would do if they were unable to re-sign the defensive end they would rather keep, Tim Crowder. It's expected that both players will be unrestricted when free agency begins. The Bucs added two rookie defensive ends with their first two picks in the draft, but they would like to have some veteran leadership at the position, and White, who has been criticized by head coach Raheem Morris for his practice habits, might not set the example the Bucs want for rookie DEs Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.

• Because of their limited depth on the defensive line and head coach John Fox's preference for a fast, athletic defense, we hear the Broncos could move LB Mario Haggan to the defensive line. Doing so would give the team more options to be creative with its defensive packages and also allow rookie LBs Mike Mohamed and Nate Irving to see more playing time.

• With free agency expected to include players who have four accrued years, the Bills' top priority is re-signing ILB Paul Posluszny. We hear that the Bills want to keep Posluszny, who in addition to being the team's top tackler is a leader in the locker room. He might not be a big-play maker, but he fits well inside in the team's 3-4 scheme. One daily observer believes a blue-collar city like Buffalo fits Posluszny well and doesn't think he will leave.

• In addition to organizing and hosting 'Jets West' camp, QB Mark Sanchez helped orchestrate player-organized workouts in New Jersey. "It was a chance for him to take total control," WR-KR Brad Smith told PFW. "In my opinion (Sanchez) did an incredible job. He gained a lot of respect for getting everybody together, having the playbook ready and breaking down film."

• All 15 players selected in Jaguars GM Gene Smith's first two drafts as the lead decision maker are still with the club. An impressive feat, but we hear that could change this summer if WR Tiquan Underwood does not take the next step and prove that his impressive showings in practice and training camp can translate on Sundays. Although the Jaguars' receiving corps is relatively unproven beyond Mike Thomas, a number of wideouts, including Jason Hill, Jarett Dillard, Kassim Osgood and rookie Cecil Shorts III, all could enter training camp with a leg up on Underwood.

• The Kenny Britt saga took another bizarre turn, when status updates on Britt's Facebook page included threats to retire from the NFL, an obscenity directed at commissioner Roger Goodell and a recanting of the previous remarks. Britt claims he did not write the comments, instead saying his Facebook account was hacked into. Just another in the long line of poor decisions by Britt, the way we hear it. One source in Nashville said that Britt has a long way to go toward repairing his image and the broken trust with his teammates after a tumultuous offseason and first two-plus years in the league. The same source said there is no guarantee that rookie head coach Mike Munchak will discipline his young wideout, however, as Britt has yet to be convicted of anything and has the built-in excuse of not having contact with team or league officials when several of his run-ins with the law have occurred this offseason.

• Steelers C-OG Doug Legursky told PFW he's working out five days a week in the offseason as he tries to stay in shape. Legursky believes he recognizes opponent tendencies well and has good strength but wants to improve his pass-blocking technique.

Andy Buh has a unique perspective on 49ers rookie QB Colin Kaepernick and Stanford passer Andrew Luck, the top QB prospect in college football and a potential No. 1 overall pick. Buh was Stanford's co-defensive coordinator in 2009, Luck's first season as a starter, before becoming Nevada's defensive coordinator and LBs coach. Buh marveled at Kaepernick's mobility, noting that "he can do all of (the) same things (as Luck) but gain you more than 90 yards per game" on the ground. Intangibles set Luck and Kaepernick apart, Buh said. "Andrew and Colin are both better people than they are quarterbacks, which makes them who they are and why they're having so much success," he said. "They're leaders first and then good quarterbacks second."

• News that the franchise tag likely will be part of the new CBA is good news for the Chargers, but bad for WR Vincent Jackson. The big-play machine has been frustrated with not getting a long-term deal and was unhappy he was given the tag before the lockout began. Unless a team is willing to deal two first-round picks to the Chargers for Jackson, the former Pro Bowler will be hauling in passes from Philip Rivers for one more year.

Jacoby Ford made an impact for the Raiders last season as a rookie mainly as a kickoff returner, but he will be a a huge part of the team's passing game in his second year. Head coach Hue Jackson recently said that Ford "is going to become a household name, because he has some very special ability." Going into the campaign without a true No. 1 wideout, it wouldn't be a shock for Ford to grab that position.

• Our Cardinals insiders believe the intriguing rumor that the team might trade CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie straight-up to the Eagles in exchange for Kevin Kolb — instead of relinquishing draft picks in a potential deal for the Eagles' QB — is probably more a case of good old-fashioned dot-connecting than anything else. While the Cardinals are no doubt in dire need of a new quarterback, and the Eagles really could use a quality cornerback, we hear the Cardinals really feel positive about a starting CB tandem of "DRC" and first-round draft pick Patrick Peterson, with 2010 starting RCB Greg Toler also looking like a good fit as the team's third corner. There are sources in the desert who believe the aversion to contact that Rodgers-Cromartie so frequently displayed last season might not sit well with new defensive coordinator Ray Horton, but the 10 pounds that "DRC" has added to his slender frame is viewed mostly as a positive sign.

• On the Arizona free-agent front, we hear it's a lot more likely the Cardinals will re-sign NT Gabe Watson than Alan Branch to back up 2010 first-rounder Dan Williams. Then again, since the nose tackle plays only 40 percent of the time in the Cardinals' defensive scheme, it's quite possible both Watson and Branch could be moving on.

• The word out of San Francisco is that veteran David Carr, who played under new Niners offensive coordinator Greg Roman in Houston, is a better bet to be the primary backup to QB Alex Smith this season than second-rounder Colin Kaepernick. While new head coach Jim Harbaugh reportedly couldn't be more excited about Kaepernick's potential, word is the abbreviated offseason training situation gives Carr a distinct edge, at least initially, in handling an offense that we hear is more than a little complex.

• After ballooning up into the low 230s not long after the Packers' Super Bowl victory, we hear QB Aaron Rodgers has lost about 10-12 pounds after making a conscious effort to eat better. Rodgers will be joining teammates A.J. Hawk and Mason Crosby in the American Century Championship celebrity golf invitational July 12-17 in Stateline, Nev., which will be televised on NBC and Versus.