The following quotes are from NFL scouts, coaches and front-office personnel, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
• "Jacksonville spent a lot of money to fix the middle of the defense. I like the players they signed. But they put a lot of eggs in a small basket. A couple of injuries, and it could blow up in their face. And what's scary — neither (Paul) Posluszny (nor) Clint Session have been models of durability. … I like what (Jaguars GM) Gene Smith has done. If he were not so hamstrung by his coach, they might have a fighting chance. The roster has really shaped up the last few years."
• "The new kickoff rule is a joke. Forget about the kickoff return. Devin Hester has been neutralized by the rule changes. Even when returns were allowed, the ball only got out to the 25. This takes the game back 15 years. It will preserve bodies, but it really hurts the game of football — the entertainment aspect. That was the most obvious change."
• "The NFL does not need cap guys anymore. Rookie contracts no longer require any negotiation. The deals are already done. It is wasted money by owners. … And I will tell you this: There is so much propaganda being circulated by the lawyers and presidents who are running teams and manipulating the media and fans. I negotiated a first-round pick in a day. There is nothing to it. … Everyone wants to talk about how great Philadelphia is. When have we ever seen two years' worth of free agents available on the market? What were there — 10 big signings by 32 teams? It was a buyer's market. The cap is not an issue anymore. The key is cash flow. The small-market teams that do not have strong cash flow — if they were smart, they would clear out some cap guys and expand their evaluation department. That is how you close the gap competitively with high-revenue teams."
• "I really like what the Saints have done with their defensive line. I do not think they have a dominant edge rusher, but they added a lot of size, and if you create that push in the middle, it really helps on the edges. … To me, they won't miss a beat without (C Jonathan) Goodwin. You can plug anyone between those two guards and be OK. I think (Olin) Kreutz will benefit from playing with Drew Brees. All (Kreutz) needs to worry about is snapping, and Brees will take care of the rest. He'll set the protections and check into the right play."
• "Why would Baltimore cut players they wanted to re-sign? Where is the long-term planning? There's no reason they should have lost the players they did. That falls on (team president) Dick Cass. (GM) Ozzie (Newsome) is one of the best in the league. He holds it all together, but he needs better support. Losing those veterans was a kick in the teeth to the coaching staff. It's setting John Harbaugh up for failure."
• "I am not a big San Diego fan. I'm just not. What bothers me is everyone talks so highly of A.J. Smith's drafts and how good they are, but look at all the first-round picks in recent years. (Shawne) Merriman is gone. (Larry) English has not done (expletive). Who else have they hit in the first round that really jumps out at you? (Ryan) Mathews has not done anything yet — and they traded way up to get him. (Antoine) Cason was way overdrafted. Craig Davis — bust. Antonio Cromartie — gone. Good-drafting teams hit on their first- and second-round picks. In my opinion, they should stick around for 8-9 years. You extend them if they are good. … (The Chargers') window is closing. It's a weak division. San Diego usually wins it by default, and then they are terrible in the playoffs."
• "Safeties are not easy to find — I get it. But I will never understand the initial market. Did you see what Dawan Landry and Quintin Mikell and Danieal Manning got paid? You can add Michael Huff to that group. All those safeties that were signed early were way overpaid."