Around The NFL: News, Notes & Rumors

Osi Umenyiora is the latest player to join the legal battle against the NFL, Lance Briggs could use his $250,000 workout bonus, Plaxico Burress has been taken under Tony Dungy's wing, Rey Maualuga could become the league's next great middle linebacker and much more inside.


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Umenyiora,Osi (New York Giants)

DE Osi Umenyiora will file a sworn affidavit next month claiming the Giants broke a promise to him to renegotiate his contract in a specific time frame (2008-09). The affidavit will be part of the players' antitrust lawsuit filed in federal court in Minnesota.

In the affidavit, Umenyiora claims he had a meeting with Giants general manager Jerry Reese about two weeks before the start of the 2008 season and was told that his contract would be renegotiated two years after the start of that season "to be equal to "that of the top five defensive ends playing or I would be traded to a team that would do that" if Umenyiora continued to perform at a high level.

"Before leaving the meeting, I asked Mr. Reese twice if he was absolutely sure that would be the case," Umenyiora states in the affidavit. "He then told me that he was an honest and church-going man and that he would not lie, which I believed to be the case. Under the penalty of perjury these statements are true and accurate."

The NFL Players Association sought Umenyiora out as part of its argument that players have suffered irreparable harm in the Brady vs. NFL antitrust lawsuit.

Whether Umenyiora continued to play at a high level for the two seasons after his meeting with Reese is up for debate. He missed the 2008 season following a left knee injury during the preseason. He returned to start 16 games in 2009, registering 7.0 sacks along with four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. He did record 11.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles last season.

ESPN first reported on the affidavit.

Analysis: Umenyiora's sworn affidavit appears to be a product of the lockout but he could severely damage his relationship with the Giants. Umenyiora probably doesn't deserve to be paid amongst the NFL's top five defensive ends at this point, causing Reese to go back on his word.

Follow AZRedReport on Twitter   Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com

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Bulger,Marc (Baltimore Ravens)

QB Marc Bulger will be a free agent when the lockout ends, but former teammate Kurt Warner wondered whether Bulger still wants to be a starter. Warner and Bulger were teammates with the St. Louis Rams.

Warner said on KTAR radio in Phoneix it isn't "a huge knock" not to want to start, and added about Bulger, "Football isn't everything" to him.

He said, "For too many guys, it's all about winning and losing, it's all about starting, it's all about how much money you can make. And that's not Marc Bulger."

Warner continued with his opinion, noting that Bulger "got beat up pretty good" while with the Rams and that it wouldn't be a surprise if he was perfectly "happy" as a No. 2 quarterback.

"He can just enjoy life and not have to worry about the pressure of being an NFL starter and everything that goes with it," Warner concluded.

However, he did say Bulger would indeed strive to start if it was the right situation.

Analysis: There are just a handful of scenarios where Bulger could start this year and it's looking more and more like he'll continue to be a backup.



Briggs,Lance (Chicago Bears)

LB Lance Briggs says he won't believe there is progress being made in talks between players and owners until there is a deal.

Said Briggs, "To me, it is what it is. The thing that's bothersome is not knowing what our schedule is going to be. Whether this thing is done in two weeks or done in a month, then where do we go from there? We obviously must start the next day.

"I don't like the gray area. Not a fan of the gray area. I guess we just have to stay strong."

Briggs also wonders about a $250,000 workout bonus he was scheduled to receive had this been a normal offseason.

"I don't know what is going to happen with that bonus," he said. "I could use that money just as much as anybody else. That was definitely factored into my budget this year. But if I don't get it, I don't get it.

"More than anything else -- more than any bonus -- I just want to play football."

Analysis: With the entire lockout based on money – and many consider greed – it's unlikely that anyone feels sorry that Brigg's $250,000 bonus is in limbo.



Benson,Cedric (Cincinnati Bengals)

RB Cedric Benson continues to attend the team's player-organized workouts even though he will be a free agent when the lockout ends.

This week's practices have been at the University of Cincinnati.

Said Benson, "Considering it's the lockout, it's tough to get football work in. High schools and colleges are getting their kids ready to go. I saw this as an opportunity to get some real good football work in."

Benson has maintained throughout the lockout that he hopes to re-sign with the Bengals. He also said the workouts have enabled the offensive players to get somewhat comfortable with new coordinator Jay Gruden's system.

He said, "The quarterbacks have the playbook down comfortable and are calling plays fast. It's good to see them competing and working hard."

With quarterback Carson Palmer not expected back, along with the new scheme, Benson said, "There's no question having a new coordinator is going to be a fresh start. This offense is eager for a fresh start. Change can be good. Considering the way things went a year ago, it's time for change. I think it's going to be a good look."

Benson said he wants to become more of a leader, assuming he is back with the team.

"I've been very passive the last three years, almost because I've had to," he said. "I'm not saying I'm a totally different person or I'd be crazy vocal or anything like that. I would be a little bit more expressive. I work hard and am passionate about it. I want the guys I'm playing with to be the same way."

Analysis: With a new offensive coordinator and more than likely a new quarterback, Cincinnati will be in a state of flux once the lockout ends. The success of the Bengals' offense might depend on the return of Benson, who's proved to be a workhorse in recent years.



Hasselbeck,Matt (Seattle Seahawks)

QB Matt Hasselbeck is expected to re-sign with the Seahawks by many of the team's veteran players. And that includes the man who is the heir apparent to the starting job if Hasselbeck departs, Charlie Whitehurst, according to The Sports Xchange's Len Pasquarelli.

"I definitely am hopeful to be back here, but at the same time, I understand that with a new GM, with a new regime, they sometimes want to go in a different direction," Hasselbeck told espn.com. "That could happen, too. I am prepared for whatever. Right now, I am just trying to get strong, really improve in some areas on the field and make a big leap this year physically and be ready to play at a high level - play hopefully the best football of my career."

Darrell Bevell, the Seahawks' new offensive coordinator, was an assistant with Green Bay in 2000 when Hasselbeck was with the Packers.

"I have been with Darrell in Green Bay," Hasselbeck said. "I really like him as a coach. I love the offense he is installing here. If I was in charge of the offense, it is the offense that I would install. That learning curve would be good."

"Either way, it's going to be a pretty new coaching staff. There is a lot of change here in Seattle in terms of the roster. They like to change the roster as much as they can, probably in an effort to get younger."

Analysis: The lockout will almost certainly lead to Hasselbeck being back with the Seahawks. If he were to leave, Hasselbeck would be forced to learn a new offense and Seattle would have to break in a new quarterback in limited practice time.



Young,Vince (Tennessee Titans)

QB Vince Young, the former No. 3 pick overall, hasn't been released yet, but new Titans coach Mike Munchak confirmed he won't be back, yet there just don't seem to be many potential landing spots. Teams are troubled by Young's perceived lack of maturity, and a few are investigating rumors he may have mishandled his money.

Analysis: No surprise here. Young's time in Tennessee will officially come to an end once the lockout is over. It's still uncertain where Young will end up, but someone might be willing to take a flier on him as a starter.



Burress,Plaxico (Free Agent)

WR Plaxico Burress, who was released from prison June 6 after serving nearly two years on gun charges, announced he will work with the National Urban League and the Brady Center to prevent gun violence.

"It was a tragic accident," Burress said of the incident that led to his incarceration. "I have paid a tremendous price for a bad decision. I say to myself all those 20 months and all those days (in jail), how can I take the next step and how can people learn from what happened to me?

"If I can just help a child to think about the decision of carrying a firearm or not to carry one out of the home, he or she may save lives in itself. You can make a mistake and you can be a better person from it and along the way bring people with you."

During the announcement Monday, former NFL coach Tony Dungy was with Burress, who spoke of the impact Dungy had on him during a visit while he was in prison.

"It was one of the most single-handedly most important visits that I did have," Burress said. "Talking about life and taking next steps in life. Just for him to reach out to me in a time and situation where a lot of people shied away, it just meant a lot to me."

Dungy, who was also instrumental in quarterback Michael Vick's re-entry into society and the NFL after his time in jail, said, "You have to come to the conclusion that you can't do things the same way you did. You got to change. For Mike, I think he realized that in prison, when he went to a birthday party and had a near miss, he realized everything he worked for with a decision can come to an end. I know he has communicated that to Plax, when you come out, you have to think about everything you do."

Analysis: Dungy continues to be a tremendous mentor, particularly for players in need of guidance. Expect Dungy to help Burress return as a productive member of the NFL – and society – as he did with Vick.



Peterson,Adrian (Minnesota Vikings)

RB Adrian Peterson said he hopes to have the opportunity to have wide receiver Plaxico Burress on his team.

"I would love him to be a part of my team," Peterson told scout.com. "He's a guy -- before he left the game for two years - he was one of the top receivers in the league."

Comparing Burress to quarterback Michael Vick, Peterson said, "You look at Vick, when he came out, how explosive he was. I'm sure (Burress) is going to be on fire and he'll be ready to contribute to whatever team picks him up."

Analysis: If Sidney Rice ends up leaving in free agency, Minnesota would be a potential landing spot for Burress. At this point, however, odds are that Burress will wind up elsewhere.



Harvin,Percy (Minnesota Vikings)

WR Percy Harvin says he is ready to play football and is healthy after missing two games last season because of problems with migraines.

Saying he feels "pretty good," Harvin added, "I'm just waiting to get back out there on the field, just getting real anxious right now. We are just playing this waiting game. As far as my health, I'm fine, 100 percent, in the best shape of my life. I'll be ready to go."

Analysis: It will be interesting to see how Harvin and the rest of the Vikings' wide receivers fare following the departure of Brett Favre. Harvin could end up being an excellent security blanket in the slot for rookie Christian Ponder while also stretching the field with his tremendous speed.



Manning,Eli (New York Giants)

QB Eli Manning said the players did the best they could in the recently-concluded workouts.

"I was happy. It's kind of the best we could do under the circumstances," Manning said. "It's not great work, but it's better than doing nothing."

Manning said most important was getting work for draft picks like wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan and cornerback Prince Amukamara.

He said, "It's really to get some of the younger guys out there and get Jerrel and some of the draft picks, Prince and those guys, get them to meet some of the guys, learn a little bit of the terminology.

"You get worried you don't know how long this lockout is going to be. If it goes too long, they'll never be able to catch up and it will be a wash of a year for them, so you're trying to prevent that."

Noting how strange this offseason has been, Manning said, "I think everybody's ready to get back to work and see the teammates and the coaches and get back to our normal life. For seven years, we've been kind of doing the same schedule and the same offseason, and all of a sudden to throw a little wrinkle in there this offseason has been a little different. But guys have made adjustments and you try to stay with the same routine and the same schedule that you normally have and make sure you're prepared whenever they call us back."

As for developing timing with receivers, Manning said, "You can get your timing in training camp. We're throwing routes and we've got decent work in a number of days we've thrown. We've got guys who have been there before. Trying to get with Jerrel and some of the new guys and get them caught up, if they're doing the right thing.

"That's kind of what it is. It's also the trust issue, you got to trust the guy to run the right route and get the right depth, read the coverage the correct way and that's where the timing comes, guys doing what they're supposed to be doing."

Analysis: Even though Manning already has a Super Bowl win under his belt, the Giants signal caller still has plenty to prove. Manning has a career QB rating of just 80.2 and another lackluster season could leave fans in New York calling for a change under center.



White,Roddy (Atlanta Falcons)

WR Roddy White participated in player-organized practice Tuesday for the first time. White has worked out with teammates, but skipped the practices because they were on FieldTurf.

When approached by reporters, White said, "No interviews, baby. I came out here to work. The first day of training camp, y'all got me."

Said quarterback Matt Ryan, "He's been having a really good offseason. I thought he was really productive today. He was himself. He was out here running around, joking and doing his thing. I think it was good for Julio (Jones) to see how Roddy does his thing and get a couple of tidbits here and there. All in all, it was very productive."

Ryan said he can't wait to be able to work consistently with White and Jones, the team's first-round draft pick.

"I'm excited about having both of those guys playing for us," Ryan said. "Julio is doing a great job. He's a complement not only to Roddy, but to Harry Douglas, Mike Jenkins and Tony Gonzalez in the passing game and Michael Turner in the running game. He's going to fit in well with our group of guys. Everybody is excited about that."

Analysis: White and Jones will be counted on to propel the Falcons' offense into one of the best in the league. Jones will have a great deal of pressure on him to perform after Atlanta gave away the majority of its 2011 draft to acquire him.



Maualuga,Rey (Cincinnati Bengals)

LB Rey Maualuga has been emerging as a leader in player-organized practices as he works at middle linebacker for the first time since his college days at Southern Cal. Maualuga has played mostly on the outside in his first two seasons.

During the practices, he has been calling plays and making calls when everyone is lined up.

He said, "It felt good to be in the front of the huddle and having all eyes on you and making sure to break that huddle with confidence. This is a little bit of the playbook that we have installed, but at the same time I feel good about where we are and the progress that we've made."

Defensive tackle Domata Peko said he likes what he's seen from Maualuga.

"It's good to see him out here taking control of situations and being more of a vocal leader. He was one of the best middle linebackers in the nation when he was at USC. I am excited too because I know he is right behind me. If they want to go quick, then I'll make a play and if they want to key on me, then he is going to be free."

Maualuga understands the responsibility he will now have.

"When its third and short, I want everyone to look in my eyes and be confident that I can call a play, line everyone up and make that play," he said. "I'm just trying to give it all I got. The best players play and if I don't play, unfortunately that means I'm not the best player and there's something wrong with my game."

Analysis: Maualuga was pegged as a middle linebacker all along by the Bengals and will make the move to the interior this season. Maualuga has a chance to develop into one of the league's elite at the position.



McCoy,Colt (Cleveland Browns)

QB Colt McCoy has organized three different practice sessions for the team. The most recent were June 9-11 in Austin at the University of Texas. If the lockout is still in place, another will also also be held in Austin July 7-9.

Said rookie TE Jordan Cameron, "You're going over the playbook and building camaraderie with teammates. You're meeting guys and you're kind of getting the verbiage and the communication down. This is a new offense for (most) of us, and it helps that Colt's running over it with us and he can fine-tune the details and the concepts of these plays."

McCoy made copies of parts of the playbook for teammates. Added Cameron,

"Everyone has a little portion they can look at from what (he) photocopied. It helps because we have access to that, especially the young guys. Obviously, you're gonna learn a lot more with the coaches. But when you get home or in your free time, it helps to go over the playbook and kind of get a feel for the concepts."

A fourth-round pick, Cameron credited McCoy's leadership in all aspects of the sessions.

"He set this all up. He got the hotel rooms, took us to restaurants and kind of wined and dined us for the three days we were out there. In the meeting rooms, he's got the projector and he's helping guys out and setting up all the meetings and the workouts with the facilities.

"He's definitely shown great leadership qualities. I think guys feed off that and kind of understand that he's trying to (make) us better. It helps the team, definitely."

Analysis: McCoy seems to have a grasp of the leadership duties required by a starting quarterback but his physical attributes are still being questioned. A successful 2011 campaign will help quiet his doubters.

Information from the Sports Xchange was used in this report


Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at brad.wilbricht@gmail.com


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