Posted: Wednesday May 4, 2005 4:15PM; Updated: Wednesday May 4, 2005 5:54PM
1. Where will Ty Law land?
Will Ex-Pat Ty Law end up on another AFC East team for the 2005 season?
While no position has seen more high-profile, offseason activity than cornerback, Law, perhaps the game's premier cover man prior to his injury-marred 2004 season, is still without a team. The former Patriots star's marketability has been affected by the ongoing rehabilitation of his surgically repaired left foot. But there are signs that he could still be an in-demand free agent after June 1.
Law recently had a screw removed from the foot he broke on Oct. 31, and he reportedly has started to run and do limited workouts near his Miami home. Law and his agent, Carl Poston, expect offers will start bubbling to the surface once teams see he's healthy again.
From whom? Law has visited Pittsburgh and Kansas City, and both teams remain interested, even with the Chiefs last month trading for Miami veteran cornerback Patrick Surtain. Law has spoken with Jets head coach Herman Edwards about joining the Patriots' AFC East rival, and also is on record saying he would very much like to play for Colts head coach Tony Dungy. There may be the slimmest of shots New England could re-sign Law, who was released in late February before he was scheduled to count $12.5 million against the Patriots' 2005 salary cap.
"There are plenty of teams in need of a player of Ty's caliber,'' Poston told TheBoston Globe last week. "There'll be a post-June market. All along we understood we had to be patient and let things play out, and more importantly, allow Ty time to heal the foot. When the foot is healed, Ty becomes an attractive player in the market again.''
With potential suitors having little cap space to handle a major free-agent signing at this point in the offseason, Law is wise not to actively pursue a deal until at least after June 1, when some teams realize a cap savings by cutting high-priced veterans. Even if he can prove he's relatively healthy, Law might have to settle for signing a one-year, incentive-laden deal before he gets back on the field and shows the form that made him a Pro Bowl regular in New England. Another option would be for him to wait until the preseason when a team loses a starting cornerback to injury, giving Law more leverage in any potential contract negotiation.
If we were laying odds, we'd rate the cornerback-needy Jets as the favorites to sign Law, followed by Pittsburgh and Kansas City.
2. Will Travis Henry ever be traded by Buffalo?
Here's what we know: The much-discussed Henry-for-Arizona-offensive-tackle-L.J. Shelton swap is deader than dead. Truth be known, Bills decision-makers were never that high on Shelton to begin with, and once the deal didn't happen on draft day, it wasn't going to happen.
Bills general manager Tom Donahoe is sticking to his guns. He wants at least a third-round pick in exchange for Henry, who lost his starting running back job to second-year man Willis McGahee last season. But serious offers have been virtually non-existent, given the glut of talent available via trade at running back this offseason (Edgerrin James, Shaun Alexander, William Green, et al).
While some observers wouldn't be shocked if Henry returned to Buffalo for a full season of backup duty, the more likely scenario would be the Bills holding onto him until a top running back gets injured in the preseason and that team can rationalize giving up a 2006 third-round pick to fill that need.
Henry clearly has no leverage and few options. He hasn't attended the Bills' offseason workouts or their first minicamp, and he has incurred disciplinary action (probably fines) for those absences, since Buffalo has made it clear that he's still welcome and considered a part of the team. But Henry can't hold out, because that would only make it harder for the Bills to trade him, not easier.
For the most part, Henry has been a team player in Buffalo -- at least until McGahee started making inroads on the No. 1 job last season. But while Henry's trade demands have been a disruption this offseason, the situation has not yet reached the point of no return. Bills head coach Mike Mularkey no doubt would like to avoid having to deal with the disgruntled Henry being back in his locker room, but given the choice between getting nothing in return, or having an insurance policy behind McGahee, the Bills will opt for an uneasy peace.
3. At age 41, will Vinny Testaverde finally call it a career?
Testaverde started 15 games and played in 16 last year in Dallas, throwing for more than 3,500 yards. But after 18 NFL seasons, it's hard to find him another team to call home. Once the Cowboys opted for another veteran quarterback with ties to head coach Bill Parcells -- signing former Bills starter Drew Bledsoe -- Testaverde thought he might stay on in Dallas as a backup. But that didn't work out because the Cowboys have both Drew Henson and Tony Romo.
Then it looked like the No. 1 pick of the 1987 draft might return to the Jets as Chad Pennington's backup, after Pennington required shoulder surgery that might not have him ready to open training camp. But New York, too, went younger, signing another veteran with New York-area roots -- deposed Dolphins starter Jay Fiedler.
This week, the Giants became the latest team to tell Testaverde "no thanks,'' shooting down reports they were interested. New York instead either will keep shopping for a veteran backup to second-year man Eli Manning, or hope Jim Miller can recover from hip surgery in time for the regular season.
Unless preseason developments generate an unexpected market for his services, Testaverde might have played his last game in early January, where he lost to Manning and the Giants at the Meadowlands. Testaverde threw for 17 touchdowns and 20 interceptions last year for the Cowboys, his fifth NFL team (along with Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Baltimore and the Jets).
If he's done, Testaverde will finish with 268 career touchdown passes and 255 interceptions. But he's one of the losingest quarterbacks of all time, compiling an 87-116-1 record as a starter in the regular season and a 2-3 record in the playoffs. He has had losing records in 14 of his 18 seasons.