Vikings growing concerned Rice will leave

Posted July 24, 2011 @ 11:01 a.m.
Posted By PFW staff

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

• The Vikings quietly are growing concerned about their ability to retain WR Sidney Rice, who almost certainly will be a free agent when the lockout is lifted. Fourth-year free agents such as Rice now appear to be unrestricted free agents, and Rice is going to want to cash in. Several receiver-needy teams appear to be licking their chops at the idea of adding a 24-year-old playmaker who could help remake an offense.

• Chargers third-round WR Vincent Brown hasn't met his coaches, but he already is climbing up the team's depth chart. He worked out this summer with QB Philip Rivers and many of his teammates in San Diego, and Rivers said on NFL Network he's excited about the potential of the former San Diego State star. "I told him, 'You've already caught passes in Qualcomm Stadium, you're just going to be doing it in a different jersey,'" the quarterback said. If Brown can contribute from Week One, which Rivers expects him to do, the loss of free-agent slot WR Legedu Naanee won't be a tough one for the league's top-ranked offense.

• The agent for free-agent C Casey Wiegmann told ESPN that his client would like to return to Kansas City next season. The Chiefs drafted Rodney Hudson in the second round of the draft with the thought he'd step right in and start at center, but having Wiegmann return to provide some veteran competition is not out of the question. Addressing the offensive line will be one of the team's top priorities in free agency, and it might start by bringing back the center who has started 127 games in a Chiefs uniform over eight seasons.

• If the Broncos do add a running back in free agency, it likely will mean the departure of one of the team's current backs. Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter, LenDale White and Lance Ball are all expected to compete for carries once training camp begins, but the team is not expected to retain five players at the position.

• Giants FS Antrel Rolle says he has yet to meet first-round CB Prince Amukamara or see him play but thinks the rookie will have a chance to play right away, despite the time missed because of the lockout. "He's going to have a chance to come in and compete for a job, so he has to be ready," Rolle told PFW.
• Bills seventh-round pick, NT Michael Jasper, who was in the 370-pound range in May, showed off his unique athleticism for a guy his size during a recent workout in Nashville. We hear Jasper played some receiver and ran a full route tree for his former high school teammate, and soon-to-be Bills teammate, QB Levi Brown.

• Patriots FS Jarrad Page, whom the team traded for last season, could get some interest in the free-agent market. We hear the team likes Page a lot — he is physical and smart. If the Patriots gets outbid for Page's services, they can survive with three starter-caliber safeties already on the roster in Brandon Meriweather, Patrick Chung and James Sanders, but ideally they would like to hold on to Page.

• Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt's recent admission that there were "no untouchables" on the roster appears to have given new life to the rumor that CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie could be the primary bait in a deal with the Eagles for QB Kevin Kolb. With the prospect of a deal involving "DRC" picking up steam, we hear high-profile free-agent CBs Antonio Cromartie of the Jets and Ike Taylor of the Steelers both could be on the Cardinals' radar as possible replacements.

• Our Cardinals sources aren't sure about the future status of 37-year-old free-agent NT Bryan Robinson. "I don't know how anxious they are to bring him back, but the only nose tackle that's not a free agent at the moment is (2010 No. 1 pick) Dan Williams, so we'll just have to see," one team insider said. "I was surprised when he didn't retire last year." Robinson had added value in 2010 as a mentor to Williams. "But I think Williams developed enough last year to the point where they don't have to keep (Robinson) around to serve as a mentor," the insider said. "Darnell Dockett is entering his eighth year, and Calais Campbell is entering his fourth year, and they are both pretty good leader types who could fill that role."

• We hear you can add Atlanta's Jason Snelling to the growing list of possible free-agent additions to the Rams as a possible change-of-pace, third-down back behind starter Steven Jackson.

• The word out of San Francisco is that seventh-round rookie Bruce Miller, who is making the conversion from defensive end to fullback, really opened a lot of eyes with his receiving ability out of the backfield in workouts at San Jose State.

• After recently undergoing surgery on his left ankle for the second time this year, we hear Seahawks starting DT Colin Cole could be a strong candidate for the Physically Unable to Perform list to begin the season. 

• The word out of Green Bay is that massive DT Howard Green, who became a key cog on the defensive line last season after being picked off the waiver wire in late October, is currently tipping the scales between 350-355 pounds.

• Saints rookie DE Cameron Jordan isn't going to be handed a starting job this season, but he's expected to challenge veteran and incumbent starter Alex Brown at left end. New Orleans was drawn to Jordan, the 24th overall pick in this year's draft, because of his versatility and if Brown is the primary left end in the base defense, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will find a way to use Jordan in sub packages.

• Although the Titans are going to be approximately $10 million below the cap — even before cutting QB Vince Young — once the new league year opens, we hear WR Justin Gage and SS Chris Hope, a pair of veterans whose salaries are not in line with their performances on the field, could be released. Just don't expect the club to make these moves immediately. Tennessee typically gives its veterans the opportunity to compete in training camp, which also gives the club a chance to assess if its backups are ready to take on bigger roles before making these types of decisions.
• QB Kerry Collins' retirement announcement won't have a huge impact on the Titans — unless they can't lock up their No. 1 target, veteran free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck. Word is the club was likely to pursue Hasselbeck all along, with Collins as more of an insurance policy. Now that Collins is out of the equation, however, we hear Redskins QB Donovan McNabb, who is expected to be cut once the league year begins, could be the Titans' fall-back plan.

• With NFL owners ratifying a tentative CBA that would allow for players with four accrued seasons and expired contracts to become unrestricted free agents, Browns CB Eric Wright looks he will be able to sign elsewhere without Cleveland receiving compensation. The Browns tendered Wright as a restricted free agent and wouldn't mind having him back, the way we hear it. If he signs elsewhere, however, the Browns might have to consider adding a veteran replacement in free agency. The cornerback free-agent pool is deep, though it could be winnowed by re-signings before the free-agent market opens.

• A Lions daily team observer suggests that in an ideal scenario, one of the club's starting linebackers will be added once the new league year begins, likely in free agency. DeAndre Levy is the only sure-fire starter of the group.