The Scouts' Buzz: Writing was on wall for Henry's future in Denver
If he followed the offseason moves made by the Broncos, Travis Henry should not have been surprised when the team released him this week.
First, Denver forced Henry to take a significant pay cut after the season and eliminated a $6 million option bonus that was part of the veteran's original five-year, $22.5 million contract signed only a season ago. Then, the team drafted a promising running back (Ryan Torian) and signed 11-year veteran Michael Pittman to compete for playing time in the backfield. With Selvin Young returning after a solid rookie season, Henry was entering training camp faced with the prospect of having to earn his carries as part of running-back-by-committee attack.
"The decision to release him is not surprising considering the limited production he provided the team last season," said an AFC scout. "This league is all about performance, and they got better production from other guys on their roster. ... If he had played better for them, they would be willing to overlook his questionable character and work habits."
Although Henry briefly led the league in rushing during the first month of the 2007 season, he didn't appear to significantly upgrade the Broncos' running game and his tumultuous first season included several questionable off-field incidents. While coach Mike Shanahan had staunchly defended Henry, he eventually used the off-field problems as justification for severing ties with the disappointing veteran.
Shawn Springs' absence from the Redskins offseason program is surprising given the presence of a new head coach (Jim Zorn) and defensive coordinator (Greg Blache). Though the practices fall under the "voluntary" category, nearly all of the Redskins have participated in the drills and the 12-year veteran's absence is notable considering his stature as one of the leaders in the secondary.
With Carlos Rogers recovering from a torn ACL, the Redskins are counting on Springs to play a significant role next season, but his time away from the team prevents Blache from crafting a scheme that suits the veteran's skills. Springs is still regarded as the team's top corner, and his ability to play the nickel position in their sub-package makes him critical member of their defense. However, opponents have noticed that the former Pro Bowler's skills have started to slip and few regard him as a top corner in the league.
"He is not an elite corner, and hasn't been viewed as one for several years," said a NFC scout. "When we played them, a large part of our game plan was designed to attack him specifically."
An AFC scout added, "He's clearly lost a step and is no longer capable of holding up in man coverage against top receivers. ...They do a great job of hiding him in cover-2 and incorporating him into their blitz package as a nickel rusher, but he doesn't strike any fear in offenses."
In fact, that opinion may be shared by the Redskins, who asked Springs to accept a pay cut prior to last season. Though he declined, the move was likely viewed as an insult and could be partially to blame for Springs' decision to stay away from Redskins Park this offseason.
There are two ways to look at the Cowboys decision to reward Terrell Owens with a three-year, $27 million contract extension this week. Some league observers were skeptical of paying that much for a 34-year-old receiver. "Typically, you shy away from paying a premium for older players because their performance has a tendency to fall off dramatically," says an AFC personnel executive. But at least one AFC scout applauded Dallas for paying the guy who makes their offense go, saying, "Conventional wisdom says that you avoid paying an older receiver, but his value to their team is significant and justifies the size of the deal."
Owens, who has an NFL-high 28 touchdown receptions during his two-year tenure with the Cowboys, continues to be one of the top playmakers in the league. He's one reason the Cowboys have ranked near the top of every offensive category the past two seasons. With defenses primarily focused on slowing down Owens with some form of double coverage, the Cowboys' other weapons (Jason Witten, Patrick Crayton and Marion Barber III) have benefited from operating against single coverage or seven-man fronts.
Though his detractors often cite his age (34) and penchant for drops (an NFL-high 24 in past two seasons) as reasons for not making a deal, Owens' superb physical conditioning and dynamic playmaking ability make this a good deal for the Cowboys.
The Cowboys' insistence on having Terry Glenn sign an injury settlement worth $500,000 makes sense given the veteran receiver's recent injury history.
Glenn, who is due to earn nearly $2 million this season, missed the majority of 2007 because of two knee surgeries. He hadn't practiced with the team during the offseason due to a series of failed physicals. By offering Glenn a "split-contract" (player agrees to take a reduced salary if he finishes the season on injured reserve), the Cowboys are attempting to protect themselves against another injury-riddled season.
"This is a smart business move by the team," said an AFC personnel executive. "When dealing with a veteran player with a significant injury history, you need to take measures to protect the team financially."
Glenn has balked at signing the settlement, but has little leverage. "If he hits the streets, he is likely looking at a 'split-contract' on a veteran minimum contract [$830,000],"said the AFC personnel executive. "This is his best chance to make significant money as a veteran."
Although Glenn has played hardball with the team to date, expect the veteran to agree to some form of an injury settlement prior to training camp.