Here are the latest Whispers we're hearing from our sources throughout the NFC:
• Even with Giants head coach Tom Coughlin going out of his way to point out Hakeem Nicks’ importance to the club following the season, that shouldn’t deter Victor Cruz from pushing to get an extension this offseason. The two sides tried to work out a deal during the season to no avail, and Cruz, who is set to be a restricted free agent this offseason, reportedly wants something in the average-per-year neighborhood of $8 million to $10 million. But it should be on the team’s front burner this offseason, and we expect it to happen eventually.
• We hear the Cowboys like what they saw from Jermey Parnell in his late-season rotation at right tackle with Doug Free. That could spell doom for Free and his massive contract returning to Dallas next season.
• A year ago our Buccaneers sources were wondering if DT Roy Miller had much of a future with the team having started only three games a season after starting all 16. However, Miller became one of the key cogs in the league’s No. 1 ranked run defense in 2012 and started 14 games. With his rookie contract due to expire this offseason, Miller has earned himself a new deal, and it’s likely that the Bucs will try to reward him.
• While the Cardinals’ search for a new head coach appears to have only just begun, we hear the team is a lot closer to finding a replacement for fired GM Rod Graves, with vice president of personnel Steve Keim, who has drawn some interest for vacant GM posts in San Diego and Jacksonville, considered to be a strong bet to eventually be promoted to the post. “It’s not a given, but I’d be surprised if Keim didn’t get the job at this point,” one team insider said.
• We hear two offensive coordinator candidates that Ray Horton could have in mind should he become the Cardinals’ head coach are fired Chargers head coach Norv Turner and Steelers RB coach Kirby Wilson, whom Horton worked with in Pittsburgh.
• Without nearly as much cap money at their disposal as last year, look for the Rams to concentrate a lot more on re-signing their own players who are about to become free agents (13 in total) than being aggressive on the open market. We hear three UFAs very likely not to be re-signed are FS Craig Dahl and SLBs Rocky McIntosh and Mario Haggan.
• During Seahawks CB Brandon Browner’s suspension, sixth-round rookie Jeremy Lane received a lot of well-deserved praise for more than holding his own and never backing down in a starting role. What’s been overlooked is the timely boost second-year CB Byron Maxwell also has been providing lately. “He’s a big guy with speed who is finally staying healthy and showing what he can do,” one daily team observer said of Maxwell, who has been previously limited by a nagging hamstring injury.
• Lions head coach Jim Schwartz believes QB Matthew Stafford’s much-scrutinized mechanics aren’t a problem. In fact, he called them “very good” in his season-ending press conference, according to the team. Said Schwartz: “(We) took a lot (fewer) sacks this year. Part of that is him being able to get rid of the ball quickly. Some of those required that he couldn’t set up and deliver a ball in classic form. We’ll look at everything very hard but he doesn’t have mechanical problems. He’s very creative as a quarterback, throws the ball from a lot of different angles and in most ways that is very, very helpful to us.” Stafford was sacked seven fewer times in 2012 compared to ’11 despite throwing 64 more passes than a season ago.