Catching up on the other developments of the weekend:
You think the McNabb market is soft? Look at what Brady Quinn yielded. Denver gave Cleveland versatile backup runner Peyton Hillis (who might be the best player in this trade), a sixth-round pick this year and a conditional pick in the 2012 draft that I'm told won't be better than a fourth-round pick. This for the 22nd pick in 2007, who had 12 starts to prove he belonged.
Unfortunately for Quinn the Cleveland regime changed, and Eric Mangini wasn't a big fan -- not that Quinn gave him much reason to be. In Denver, Quinn enters camp as the clear backup to restricted free-agent Kyle Orton (Josh McDaniels called Orton to tell him he was the starter on Sunday). But being under the tutelage of McDaniels should help Quinn, who needs to become less frenetic in his drops and picking out the open receiver.
Hillis prove more than capable under Mike Shanahan in 2008, playing running back and fullback for the Broncos and going on a strong five-game run in the backfield before tearing his hamstring late in the season; I guarantee he'll be a favorite of Mangini's for his versatility, the way Mangini loves players like Josh Cribbs and Blake Costanzo.
Last point: It's likely that Chris Simms will be the odd man out in Denver, with Orton, Quinn and 2009 rookie Tom Brandstater likely to be 1-2-3 on the depth chart at quarterback.
Denver had a more important signing during the week. Nose tackle Jamal Williams, the long-time Charger, signed as part of a defensive line makeover (Denver added Justin Bannan and Jarvis Green,too), and this will be one of the most interesting signings in free agency this year. Williams played at an all-decade level for the Chargers (on my all-decade team, at least) before missing 15 games last year with a torn triceps. Had the Chargers not had so many free agents to sign, they probably would have made Williams more of a focus instead of allowing him to walk when his contract expired.
When he arrived in Denver for a visit last week, he weighed 334 (down about a dozen pounds from his playing weight, impressive for an offseason visit), and the Denver coaches who watched video of him in his last two years saw no sign of decline; neither did independent observers like Aaron Schatz of Footballoutsiders.com. If Williams is right, he'll be the perfect nose to draw double-teams, something Denver didn't have in 2009.
Rex Ryan really wanted LaDainian Tomlinson. Ryan was in on meetings with Tomlinson on Friday in New Jersey to try to persuade him to sign as a free-agent with the Jets. Then the Jets coach, who has always struggled with his weight, went to Manhattan on Saturday to have lap-band surgery on his stomach, and the first thing he did when he woke up from the surgery was ask: "Did we get LT signed yet?'' the answer was no, so when Ryan had rested and returned home late in the day Saturday, he called Tomlinson to put on one last sales pitch. And Sunday morning, Tomlinson settled on the Jets.
SI's Jim Trotter had good detail on what made up Tomlinson's mind for New York over Minnesota (the Jet scheme was the same, he knew offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer well from his days on the San Diego coaching staff, and Brett Favre's playing uncertainty made the Vikings a bit of an unknown). I believe there were one or two other factors as well.
Though nothing was promised to Tomlinson regarding playing time, he has to know he's more likely to push Shonn Greene aside for playing time than Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. And the Jets have the best run-schemer in football right now, assistant head coach Bill Callahan, with perhaps the best offensive line in the game. The Vikings line showed some big holes at times last year, and is aging.
I think this is the right choice for Tomlinson, and though his career's in free-fall, this is the best situation for him to have a chance for one or two good sunset seasons.
The Raiders get a rusher. Maybe. Kamerion Wimbley, the Browns' first-round pick in 2006, got off to a great start rushing the passer for Cleveland, with 11 sacks in 16 games as a rookie. In the 47 games since, Wimbley's had 15.5 sacks and too often gets caught in traffic, unable to consistently turn the corner and get to the passer. The Raiders paid a third-round pick for Wimbley on Sunday, a price I think is a little generous -- except when you consider they dealt another pass-rusher, Derrick Burgess to New England for third- and fifth-round picks last year, and Wimbley is much younger than Burgess.
My thoughts on Merlin Olsen, who died Thursday of complications from mesothelioma: I know most of you know what a good person he was. I hope you also realize what a great football player he was. "We use the term 'great' way too much in this society,'' his teammate, defensive end Jack Youngblood, told me Saturday. "But you can put it in capital letters in front of his name. You could not confuse him, you could not overpower him, and you could not block him consistently.'' Olsen's the only player in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl in his first 14 years in the league, and the two men to his left in a 15-year career, Youngblood preceded by Deacon Jones, both made the Hall of Fame -- as did Olsen. He'll be missed.
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