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Food for thought: When dining is now Newton's time to shine

Todd J. Van Emst / Associated Press
Can Newton's efforts to be the No. 1 overall draft pick now transfer off the field.


As we all wait for good news coming from the labor talks, there isn't much major news in the league that isn't draft related. Here are a few stories that have caught my attention in a wide spin around the NFL.

Blog: Analyzing Newton
Following Cam Newton's highly anticipated pro day workout, NFL Network analysts weighed in on what it meant for the Heisman Trophy winner's draft status. More ...

» Brandt: Newton should go No. 1
» Video: Newton 1-on-1
» Video: Mayock impressed
» Video: Should Newton start?

Teams dine with Newton

Cam Newton worked out at Auburn's pro day on Tuesday, but for me the workout was not as important as who actually took Newton to dinner. Both the Bills and Panthers had a private dinner with Newton, which will go a long way to determining their level of further interest. Newton the player is worth a top-five pick, but what clubs must determine is if Newton the person is worth that commitment. And this dinner setting is the first step in making a character evaluation.

How can a dinner determine a top pick? One dinner alone won't make the decision. However, to make Newton the pick teams must first feel comfortable being in the same setting. This is just the first step, but an important one. Both the Bills and Panthers will be back to spend more time with Newton before they finalize their decisions, assuming the dinner went well.

Can the Jets keep both Holmes and Edwards?

The Jets want Santonio Holmes back and Holmes wants to remain with the Jets, so there should not be a problem getting a deal done. However, the more pressing question must be: How does this potential deal impact one for Braylon Edwards? Edwards also wants to stay with the Jets, but I am sure he does not want to take less money than Holmes.

Once there is a new CBA, there will be a salary cap and how the Jets fit both players into a salary cap will be interesting to learn. Edwards played well last year as he, along with Holmes, gave the Jets two outstanding playmakers to help quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Jets' offense. Edwards runs the routes that highlight the strengths in Sanchez's game, so he is a valuable asset for the Jets to sign. With the Jets resigning linemen Nick Mangold and D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and once they are able to get both Edwards and Holmes under contract, they will have all the vital offensive pieces in place. The next step will be to allow the draft to fill in the missing spots.

So, why if the Jets want Holmes back and Holmes wants back is the deal not done? The Jets cannot commit to a deal for Holmes until they know the salary cap numbers, which will tell the team how to structure the deal that allows the Jets to then resign or sign other players. If the Jets make a deal without knowing the rules of engagement, then they risk making a cap mistake. The good news for the Jets is they know Holmes is not going anywhere as long as we have a new CBA.

Barber banks on comeback

Perhaps the only thing worth remembering about The Godfather: Part III was the line delivered by Michael Corleone when he says, "Just when I thought I was out ... they pull me back in."

Wyche: Barber's return won't be easy
After being away from the game for four seasons,
Tiki Barber plans to return. What type of contribution could he make at this point? Steve Wyche examines
the possibilities. More ...

» Blog: Ex-players we'd like to return
» Blog: Any interest in Barber?

On Tuesday, we learned the love of football is pulling Tiki Barber back in. But does football want Tiki? And what can he do at his age (36 when the 2011 season begins) that can make him a viable option for any team? And everyone laughed when Herschel Walker said he wanted to come back?

Barber was smart to make the announcement while free agency has not begun (let's hope it begins soon), putting his name on the same list as other running backs in the market. However, much like Larry Johnson, Willie Parker and Shaun Alexander, time is never kind to older running backs, thus making the Barber return seem more like a publicity stunt than actually having merit. If this was five years ago, Barber being in the open market would peak every teams' interest, but now I doubt there are any teams interested, at least in the NFL.

Young must look foward, not back

Is Vince Young seriously thinking that he can kiss and make up with the Titans? Does Young not realize that the Titans have moved on? The simple fact that he thinks there is a possibility might explain that he never understood his prior actions were so disruptive.

I can understand that Young wants to go to another team as the starter -- which I doubt will happen, but I understand his intent. However, before he can become a quality starter in the league, Young must accept the fact that he has not worked hard enough to be a great professional player. He is letting this opportunity of being a successful quarterback slip through the cracks -- all because he has never been realistic. Young must be realistic about his level of work, his commitment to his teammates and to the team.

Young can make this work if he decides he wants to make it work. He has to be the one committed to work hard on and off the field. He has to learn from his mistakes in Tennessee and move forward, not looking to go back. The ball is in Young's court.

Follow Michael Lombardi on Twitter @michaelombardi.

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