Garrett to become top dog, deep RB draft class, more
Posted: Thursday February 14, 2008 12:16PM; Updated: Friday February 15, 2008 7:18PM
Here are some news and notes from around the league ...
There is a strong sentiment in league circles that the Cowboys will make Jason Garrett the head coach in 2009. Not only does the $3 million contract given to Garrett lead to such speculation, but the selection of the defensive staff points to Garrett assuming the top job in the near future.
By hiring Dave Campo and Todd Grantham, the Cowboys have added two coaches with NFL experience as coordinators. And Jones' attempt to lure Dom Capers to Dallas as a consultant was viewed by many as an effort to assemble an all-star defensive coaching staff. The belief among league observers is that Jones wanted to surround Garrett with top defensive coaches capable of running Wade Phillips' system, so Garrett could continue to concentrate on the offense while transitioning into the head coaching position in 2009.
The depth of the running back position in the 2008 NFL Draft may encourage teams to part ways with some high-priced veterans during the offseason. Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James and DeShaun Foster are a few of the veterans who may be jettisoned during the offseason due to a high cap number and declining performance. And with as many as five prospects carrying first-round grades (12 with third-round-or-higher grades), teams are willing to find their replacements through the draft.
Darren McFadden, Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Stewart headline a stellar class, but Felix Jones, Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles are also garnering attention as potential top choices. Therefore, don't be surprised to see several teams pull the plug on their underperforming star runners.
The Seahawks' acquisition of Mike Wahle is part of a two-year attempt to fill a hole created by the departure of Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson. The Seahawks underestimated the impact of Hutchinson on their running game, and his absence has been one of the reasons for Shaun Alexander's dramatic decline in production over the past two seasons.
Alexander, who rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns in Hutchinson's final season (2005), has averaged only 70 yards per game the past two years and has seen his yards-per-carry dip to a career low (3.5) in 2007 after averaging over five yards per carry two seasons ago. Although Wahle ranks a notch or two below Hutchinson as a player, he will solidify the Seahawks' left side of the line.
The lack of franchise-caliber offensive tackles on the free agency market will lead to hefty paydays for Travelle Wharton, Sean Locklear and Stacey Andrews. Although none of the three have ever earned a Pro Bowl nomination, Wharton, Locklear and Andrews possess the athleticism and potential to command big bucks on the open market.
Wharton, who has 44 career starts at left and right tackle, is ranked as the top available tackle prospect and will sign a contract that will average $6 to $7 million a year. Meanwhile, Locklear and Andrews are likely looking at contracts that will surpass the five-year, $25 million deal that Langston Walker inked with the Bills last season.