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Monday Morning QB (cont.)

Posted: Monday March 19, 2007 8:55AM; Updated: Monday March 19, 2007 5:48PM
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Ten Things I Think I Think

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell is the early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick, but he might have some competition.
Quarterback JaMarcus Russell is the early favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick, but he might have some competition.
Bob Rosato/SI
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1. I think a week from today there's a very good chance that one of the big stories in the NFL will be rampant speculation (now there's a change from everything in the world of pro football) that Cleveland wants to trade up from No. 3 to No. 1 to draft Russell. G.M. Phil Savage has known Russell since his freshman year in high school in Mobile, Ala., and loves the kid. I'm told that Savage has not been ordered by owner Randy Lerner to take a quarterback.

2. I think Brady Quinn can't catch Russell in the race for No. 1, but Calvin Johnson, the Georgia Tech receiver, just might. Listen to a 20-year-veteran AFC scout talking about the top of the draft: "It's a tough, tough call for the Raiders. You don't want to pass on a franchise quarterback. I was at Russell's workout the other day, and he has a better arm than anyone in the NFL right now, hands down. Standing there watching him throw, I felt like I was watching Bob Gibson in his prime. What a fastball.

"But Calvin Johnson's the safest pick I've seen since I came into the NFL. He will be a big star. I have no doubt about that. And if Calvin Johnson is Michael Jordan, you don't want to take Sam Bowie. Brady Quinn is not rare. Calvin Johnson is rare, and Russell might be. My feeling is someone will come up to No. 2 to get Detroit's pick if the Raiders take Russell. And Detroit might be able to get a ransom for that pick.''

3. I think these are the interesting tidbits from my conversation with Drew Rosenhaus on Sunday night:

a. He said he's taken on an unlikely new client: NFLPA president Troy Vincent, who thinks he has some more football in him. Vincent turns 36 in June.

b. He said, "Directly and indirectly, Tom Brady had an awful lot to do with Donte' Stallworth signing with the Patriots. They were text-messaging each other constantly. They're going to have a tremendous relationship. They're both really excited about working together.''

c. He said he's waiting for the Dolphins to either release or trade kicker Olindo Mare, with Jay Feely in the fold there now. The Giants, Falcons and Saints are all waiting for Mare to hit the street; none of the three wants to pay a draft choice for him. And I hear that Atlanta is thinking seriously of bringing Morten Andersen back for a 73rd NFL season this year at age 97. Andersen actually will be 47 in August and has every intention of playing another year. Or three.

d. Rosenhaus said he has signed 17 clients to contracts worth a total of $260 million this month.

e. He said the Bears had a seven-year, $33-million contract offer on the table for Lance Briggs last year, but haven't offered him a multi-year deal this offseason. It's either play the year at $7.2 million (poor guy), sit out (he'll never do that) or hope some team comes to the Bears (the Patriots?) and says, "We'll give you a low first-round pick for Briggs,'' and then signs him to a $7 million-a-year deal with $20 million guaranteed.

"The Bears haven't given us many options,'' Rosenhaus said. "Come in and play this year at $7.2 million. That's it. They've said to us they have no intention of signing him to a long-term deal. If we'd have signed the deal they offered last year, Lance wouldn't have been among the top-15-paid linebackers in the league.'' I said, "The Patriots ought to send the 28th pick to Chicago for him. The Bears would have to take that, wouldn't they, rather than have a pissed-off player?'' Rosenhaus said: "From your lips to God's ears.''

4. I think the Bucs had no intention of entering free agency by going after Cato June, the best linebacker on the Colts. But with the market almost three weeks old, and the Colts showing no aggressiveness with June, they stole him for two years and $6 million on Saturday. The deal could grow to a third year with $3 million more. For a three-down player in a system that features the linebacker so prominently, I love this signing.


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