Here are the latest Whispers we're hearing from our sources throughout the AFC:
• One nugget regarding Andy Reid and the Chiefs: The Eagles were said to be infatuated with WR-RB Dexter McCluster coming out of Ole Miss in 2010 before the Chiefs drafted him near the top of Round Two. It’s very likely Reid would have ideas of how to use McCluster, who has been versatile but hardly dynamic in his three pro seasons to date.
• The Raiders believe that SLB Miles Burris established himself as one of their core defenders in his rookie season. There has been talk that they might even take a look at him at middle linebacker this offseason with Rolando McClain wearing out his welcome. The coaching staff really liked the energy Burris provided and views the 2012 fourth-round pick as a budding leader on a “D” the Raiders saw move in the right direction late in the season.
• Jaguars former GM Gene Smith had a number of personnel missteps during his four-year tenure, but it ultimately came down to failing to find a franchise quarterback, once again illustrating the importance of having a sure answer at that position.
• The biggest surprise of "Black Monday" wasn't the firing of a coach or general manager; it was Titans owner Bud Adams' decision to oust chief opperating officer Mike Reinfeldt, who we hear became the latest fall guy for Adams' meddling and mistakes.
• The Colts showed great adjustments against Texans DLE J.J. Watt in Week 17, merely two weeks after his most dominant showing of the season, a three-sack outing against the Colts in Houston. By moving the tight end to the left side of the formation, Indianapolis created more favorable matchups against Watt. They also double-teamed Watt more frequently in Indy's 28-16 victory in Week 17.
• With Cordy Glenn entrenched as the Bills’ left tackle going forward after a solid rookie season, word is the ORT spot could be open for competition. Erik Pears struggled this season and landed on injured reserve. Though second-year OT Chris Hairston fared well replacing Pears, we hear that Zebrie Sanders, who spent his rookie year on I.R., is a player the Bills really like.
• On the Dolphins’ long list of key free agents, TE Anthony Fasano is not expected to be a priority to re-sign. Though he’s a good blocker and effective in the red zone, leading the team with five TD catches, he is not a seam threat. The hope is that Michael Egnew, a 2012 third-round pick who appeared in two games without making a catch and appears to need more time to develop, can make the leap in Year Two and be the starter, especially if Fasano is not re-signed. Egnew does have the ability to make catches down the seam.
• When the Broncos built leads in the final month, the running game was very effective in taking time off the clock by churning out yards, keeping a Peyton Manning-led attack two-pronged. “We’re able to eat up some clock and keep the defense honest,” TE Joel Dreessen told PFW about running the ball successfully. “It helps a lot with the play-action stuff when linebackers and safeties bite. It’s very important for us to be balanced.” Denver led the league in fourth-quarter carries in the month of December with 171.
• An NFL personnel man said the following about the Steelers’ decision on whether to re-sign WR Mike Wallace, an unrestricted free agent after this season: “They can’t let Wallace out the door. He makes everything open up.” Said the evaluator: “You lose him, you’re losing a big part of your offense.”
• According to the Ravens, NFL teams contacted the club for permission to interview assistant GM Eric DeCosta, but he’s staying put in Baltimore. He said in a team-issued statement. “I love being a part of the Ravens and plan to stay here and help them win championships. I have no intentions of leaving this team.”