The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
• "The Panthers came out of the gate firing (in free agency). The one thing about Jerry Richardson — he was the right man to head up the labor committee. He treats his people right. When a lot of teams were making cuts in salary, laying off employees and cutting pension plans, he stood by his people. He's a very loyal owner. ... I don't understand why they paid DeAngelo Williams the way they did. They didn't have to, in my opinion. No running backs are getting paid. It's why Chris Johnson and Frank Gore are so upset. But the Panthers like to reward their own, and they are giving Cam Newton every chance to be successful. Williams will make his job a lot easier. So will (former Bears TE Greg) Olsen. Kudos to (GM) Marty (Hurney) for that (trade). They are stocked and reloaded. I'm glad we're not facing the NFC South this year."
• "Mike Shanahan's Achilles' heel is two-pronged. One, he's a very ordinary evaluator, especially when it comes to defensive personnel. Two, his ego gets in the way too much. That's why you see him trying to get by with ragtag quarterbacks. At their best, John Beck and Kellen Clemens will get by — that's it. You would think Shanahan would realize the only time he won championships was with (John) Elway. We'll see if (Beck) becomes the next (Rich) Gannon. ... You have to go get playmakers — role players don't cut it (at that position) and cost too much against the cap in the long run."
• "What scares me about the 49ers — I don't think Alex Smith can play. He won't win games and will make the same mistakes. To me, it just sets the wrong tone to bring him back. I think they needed to find a more capable veteran and bring the rookie (Colin Kaepernick) along as quickly as possible. Their best chance is getting him ready to play now."
•"I've never been more impressed with Bill Belichick the evaluator and Bill Belichick the coach. No other coach in the league can separate emotion from (personnel) decisions the way he does. Who else in the league would bring in Chad Ochocinco and Albert Haynesworth and then turn around and cut Ty Warren. You get two Pro Bowl talents hungry for championships on the cheap. They still have a perception of being a 3-4 defense, but look how much they ran it last year. The NFL has become a passing league. The majority of the time, the Patriots were using nickel personnel last year and were lined up in four-man fronts. You put Haynesworth in there on third down and turn him loose, and you'll see him turn into the Haynesworth of old. He'll be a wrecking ball. It's what he does best. It's Randy Moss all over again. Add (unhappy Giants DE) Osi Umenyiora, and the defense could be more dangerous than ever."
• "Greg Olsen is Jay Cutler's best friend. He was a respected, locker-room leader and model citizen — he did everything right. His absence is going to hurt the Bears in two places — one, the red zone. Olsen played like a receiver down the field. Two, morale will suffer. Guys like him glue the locker room. You know what this reminded me of — it's déjà vu with Chris Harris a few years ago. The Bears underestimated what he meant to the defense emotionally. ... If Rod Marinelli can't get Vernon Gholston and Amobi Okoye to play, I don't know who will. I'm not sure what to make of Lovie (Smith) bringing in all these failed top-10 picks, but as long as the cost is low, there's little downside."
• "Tarvaris Jackson has a cannon on his shoulder, and he can move and create with his feet — no one ever questioned his physical skill set. What I don't understand: (Seattle offensive coordinator) Darrell Bevell couldn't get the job done with him in Minnesota. What makes him think he'll be able to settle Jackson down in Seattle? When the bullets start flying, his mechanics go out the window — that's always been his problem. Having Sidney Rice in tow should ease his transition. (OG Robert) Gallery helps upgrade the line. But his receivers are going to need to bail him out a lot."
• "I like what the Bills are doing with Brad Smith (allowing him to play quarterback). It shows Chan Gailey can think outside the box. (GM) Buddy Nix doesn't get enough credit for shaping the roster in San Diego."
• "The difference between Darrelle Revis and Nnamdi Asomugha is that Nnamdi is not as versatile. He does not play as well off the line of scrimmage. ... What the Eagles sorely needed on defense was size at cornerback. Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will restrict passing windows. That element has been missing since Troy Vincent and Bobby Taylor were there."