INDIANAPOLIS -- Ian Rapoport is on the ground at the NFL Scouting Combine, canvassing the hallways of Lucas Oil Stadium, hotel lobbies and everywhere else seeking the latest rumors and intel around the NFL. Here are five things folks are buzzing about right now:
1) The New York Jets have been trying to trade Tim Tebow this week, and it's difficult to say, at this point, if any teams are interested. What I do know is that Tebow doesn't plan on changing positions from quarterback anytime soon. That, no doubt, limits his options. Looking back at the 2012 season and why the Jets got so little production from Tebow, the thought is that former offensive coordinator Tony Sparano simply didn't trust him. He saw Tebow in practice, realized how little he showed and couldn't use him in a game. The mindboggling thing is, when you speak with Denver Broncos people who saw Tebow in 2011, it's apparent that it was that way with him then, too. They knew how bad Tebow was in practice, but as one person told me, "He's a gamer. That's it." Seems even the people who traded Tebow away from Denver believe he could've won some games for the Jets, if he'd only been given the chance. The Jets should've known to ignore what they were seeing in practice. Oh, and by the way -- yes, we're still talking about Tebow. He came up as a topic all week.
2) The New England Patriots have one of the more intriguing free-agent decisions to make regarding receiver Wes Welker. Easily the most productive NFL receiver over the past several years, he's a first-down machine. He's also, however, a slot receiver, and he's a little older, making it tougher for him to be paid like an elite pass-catcher. The Patriots won't apply the franchise tag to him, we know that. And yet ... Albert Breer and I have both heard that we can't rule out a long-term extension being reached before Welker hits free agency. The door is still open for him to get his money and retire a Patriot. What would a deal look like? In my mind -- just trying to gain an understanding of the market -- if Welker can get a five-year deal worth more than $8 million per year, that'd be impressive. It just makes too much sense for both sides to get something done. If you have the best slot receiver in the game, and he's also one of Tom Brady's best weapons, how can you let him leave?
3) The free-agent market for cornerbacks is looking really solid, offering maybe the most depth at any position. There's Aqib Talib from the Patriots, Atlanta Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the Philadelphia Eagles. Maybe the most coveted, at this point, is Sean Smith of the Miami Dolphins. The 6-foot-3 former second-round pick is valued by cornerback-needy teams, a list that includes the Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Detroit Lions. Word is, Philly likes him a ton, though the price he commands could be out of their ballpark. The Eagles' best bet is to let Rodgers-Cromartie walk, get Nnamdi Asomugha to take a pay cut and then try to sign Smith. That would improve their team immediately.
4) On Sunday afternoon, I reported that the Green Bay Packers are still considering hitting receiver Greg Jennings with the franchise tag. I was so surprised to hear it, I made the person who told me say it twice. Like most observers, I had assumed Jennings was as good as gone, which is likely also what he assumed when he put his house up for sale. Jennings figured to be among the top three free-agent wideouts available (though Dwayne Bowe might not make it to the market) . But here's the thing with the Packers: They're still trying to decide whether to release tight end Jermichael Finley, who is owed a $3 million roster bonus in late March. If they do, and if Jennings walks, they'll be losing two players who, when healthy and productive, were capable of accounting for about 40 percent of their offense. That would be a major blow. Maybe too big of a blow. That's one reason why the Packers might want to keep Jennings around. There's no doubt, though, that Jennings would not be thrilled to receive the tag, as close as he is to cashing in on the market.
5) So much of the NFL community is buzzing about Chip Kelly's offense, with most simply wanting to see what it's like. I've been talking with offensive coordinators of other teams, and they have two main questions. First, how fast are the Eagles going to go in practice? The worry is that the offensive linemen won't be able to keep up with the pace at which Kelly ran things at Oregon. It's no secret that the Eagles are going to target O-linemen who will run and be in good shape. Second, how simple will the offense be? When Kelly was at Oregon, all of his players were faster than all of the other players. That fact allowed the Ducks to essentially employ two basic run plays and still dominate. That won't be the case in the NFL; if Philly's players are faster, it won't be by much. And teams will figure it all out. This is one reason why Kelly has cautioned that his NFL offense won't mimic his college offense. He'll ramp it up, intellectually.
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