Richard Sherman trade talk, Tony Romo update, more NFC notes

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Gregg Rosenthal recaps NFC news from the NFL's Annual League Meeting, including nuggets dropped at Wednesday's NFC Coaches Breakfast.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll confirmed Wednesday that teams have inquired about trading for cornerback Richard Sherman. Based on Carroll's comments, this is a story that is unlikely to go away.

"So we have always had to be open to every suggestion that comes along," Carroll said at the NFL Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, per The Seattle Times. "There have been some teams that have called, and so we have talked about it. But he is extremely important to our football team. I don't see anything happening at all. I don't see anything happening with any of our players, just the banter that's out there right now. But it has been talked about."

"He is a great player and he can impact a team. I can see why people would be interested in him."

Translation: We're open for business.

Carroll is trying to have it both ways. If someone brought up potentially trading for Russell Wilson or even Richard Sherman circa 2015, Carroll would slam the door shut. But these comments and similar noncommittal remarks by general manager John Schneider indicate that the Seahawks could view Sherman differently than they did a few years ago. Or the team wants to send a message.

"I know there have been some issues and stuff," Carroll said, via The Times. "I'm anxious to see him handle everything and do really well and represent himself and his teammates in great fashion. ... Richard went through a lot last year, and most of it self-inflicted."

Carroll spoke at length about Sherman's struggles a season ago, implying that the pressure of being a top-shelf superstar wore on him. Comments like those don't materialize out of thin air, and neither does the interest in Sherman from other teams. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the Patriots were one of the teams to inquire about Sherman, a conversation that took place before New England signed Stephon Gilmore.

The Seahawks must have let Sherman's availability be known behind the scenes to inspire that interest, and on Wednesday, Carroll didn't shy away from it. The relationship between Carroll and Sherman had some public difficulties last season that may not be settled yet.

"I just laugh it off, man," Sherman told ESPN's "First Take" when asked about the trade talk. "It's funny to me. But sometimes people need to see you gone to realize what you had."

While Sherman is likely to remain with the Seahawks in 2017, it wouldn't be a surprise to hear a few more trade whispers in the buildup to the draft. The Seahawks appear to welcome the interest, if the price is right.

Here's what else we learned from the NFC as the Annual League Meeting wrapped up ...

The big names

1) The potential trade of cornerback Malcolm Butler from New England to New Orleans is on hold, possibly for good. Sean Payton said Wednesday that the Saints aren't going to sign Butler, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet. New Orleans isn't willing to give up the No. 11 pick in the draft for Butler.

A trade could still be worked out, but Patriots owner Robert Kraft's hopeful statements this week about retaining Butler could be a sign of where this is headed. The deadline for signing an offer sheet is April 21. When that day passes, Butler may wind up signing his one-year tender with the Patriots for $3.91 million before gearing up for free agency in 2018.

Payton also did his best to shoot down any interest in former Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, indicating the team wasn't anywhere close to wanting to sign him.

2) The most telling part of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' comments on Tony Romo in Phoenix was that the two men met recently and would be meeting again soon. If Romo is concerned about which teammates were on "Team Dak," his worries don't appear to extend to ownership.

The close relationship with Jones indicates that Romo is comfortable with his current stay in career purgatory. Perhaps Romo has yet to truly commit to playing football at all, especially with broadcast offers available.

3) Speaking of seemingly awkward meetings with bosses, Pete Carroll said he met with former Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch recently. Carroll revealed that Lynch, who retired after the 2015 season but has recently been linked to the Raiders, is "somewhat entertaining" a return to football but hasn't committed to anything yet. Lynch has not asked to be reinstated from the reserve/retired list, so any chatter about a return to football remains premature.

4) Panthers coach Ron Rivera said the team hasn't considered bringing aboard former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but Rivera knew enough to say that Kaepernick "has a big price tag." As is the case with a lot of current free agents, Kaepernick's price likely will need to come down before he finds a job.

Depth-chart nuggets

1) Dallas expects second-year linebacker Jaylon Smith to be back fully for all offseason activities after he missed his rookie season while rehabbing from a devastating knee injury suffered in college.

The Cowboys also made it clear they hope for third-year pro Chaz Green to take over the starting right tackle job if Doug Free goes through with his plan to retire. And don't expect Dallas to add another veteran quarterback with Kellen Moore in tow.

"All those older veteran guys, all they have ever done is prove they can't be the guy," executive vice president Stephen Jones said via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "Kellen has never had the chance to prove he shouldn't be the guy."

Shots fired, Matt Cassel and Brandon Weeden!

2) Expect the Cardinals to add a rookie quarterback somewhere in the draft.

"I saw what happened to Kenny (Whisenhunt) in that situation," Arians said of the former Cardinals coach's ultimately futile search for a new quarterback after Kurt Warner retired in 2010. "And I don't want that to happen to the organization again."

Arians said that only one quarterback in this draft is ready to start, but he wouldn't say whom. Arians stressed this is a great draft if you are looking for talented quarterbacks to develop behind an established starter like Carson Palmer, who is 37 and about to begin his 15th season.

3) The Cardinals' once-loaded receiver group has more questions than usual this season, and they are hoping to find an answer with a former running back. The team re-signed Andre Ellington with the intention of making him a wide receiver. Ellington started 12 games at running back in 2014 but has since been supplanted by David Johnson. In four pro seasons, Ellington has 112 career catches for 999 yards and three scores.

4) Pete Carroll revealed he planned to use Jaguars import Luke Joeckel at left tackle, which shouldn't be a huge surprise, considering how much the disappointing No. 2 overall pick cost to sign -- reportedly $7 million guaranteed for one year.

And finally ... two Ben McAdoo quotes

Welcome to Geno Smith Nation, Ben McAdoo. It's not always a popular place to be, but the truth will set you free.

"To me, Geno -- you look at it, you study the guys coming out, you study Geno -- I think he's right in the mix as one of the better players available this year," the New York Giants coach told local reporters this week.

Geno Smith finding success with the Giants would be the ultimate poke in the eye for Jets fans. I know McAdoo meant what he said, because McAdoo is the most dead-serious head coach in football every time he meets with the media.

Consider his comments on players needing to keep their focus in the wake of last season's boating adventure.

"If you chase two rabbits, both will escape," McAdoo said, via the New York Daily News. "When players are in the building, they say yes to football. When they are not in the building, we need to do a better job of saying no to some other things, making sure everything we are doing is aligned with our goal. Now, I'm not saying we can't be human beings. That's a part of things, I guess. We need to be focused on our football. When we leave the building, we need to say no to some things."

My favorite part of that quote: Now I'm not saying we can't be human beings. That's a part of things, I guess.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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