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Peter King
April 06, 1998
Pressure Picks
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April 06, 1998

The Nfl

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It had better not. Grier holds the future of a playoff team in his hands.

Carolina Free Agents
Who's Minding The Store?

The Panthers have turned into the Raiders of the NFC West, desperadoes stopping at nothing to right their ship. Carolina has agreed to terms with two free agents not among the top five at their position—comerback Doug Evans and defensive tackle Sean Gilbert—on contracts totaling $70 million, assuming the Panthers reach a deal with the Redskins for Gilbert's rights.

Evans had three interceptions with the Packers last season and has never been to the Pro Bowl, yet he was given a five-year, $22.5 million contract. Gilbert got the most lucrative deal ever for a defensive player—seven years, $47.5 million—even though he has appeared in only one Pro Bowl (1993) and sat out the '97 season because Washington designated him as its franchise player when he became a free agent after the '96 season. Last month Gilbert was unsuccessful in his bid to have the franchise tag removed, so any team that signs him must give the Redskins two first-round picks or agree on some other form of compensation. At week's end Carolina and Washington were at an impasse.

Miami Offense
Dolphins Will Keep It Simple

On the charter home from the Dolphins' feeble 17-3 wild-card playoff loss at New England in December, Jimmy Johnson sidled up to Dan Marino and said, "Looking back, I wish we'd changed the offense when I first got here." After watching his offense sputter for two years, Johnson finally decided that changes were in order. About six weeks later he fired longtime Miami offensive coordinator Gary Stevens and replaced him with running backs coach Kippy Brown, then instructed Brown to put in the same ground-oriented offense that Norv Turner installed in Dallas in '91.

"What we're doing now is better suited for today's football," Johnson said last week. "You can learn it much faster. The terminology's simpler. Today you pick up a free agent, and he has to play right away. Same with rookies."

Out of the Darkness

At their annual meeting last week in Orlando, owners voted to ban tinted eye shields on helmets. The league cited safety concerns, saying players who sustained head and neck injuries risked further damage because medical personnel couldn't look at their eyes without removing their helmets....

Foreign country of the week: The Steelers and the Falcons will play an August preseason game in Morgantown, W.Va., Pittsburgh's first exhibition in the Mountain State in 30 years. "We're holding an American Bowl game in West Virginia," said Steelers president Dan Rooney....

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