Around the League: Wide receivers on the market

To wide-receiver needy teams that could hang Help Wanted signs, there is Help Available.

As teams tweak rosters and debate deals, three wide receivers' names are popping up in potential trades that are more intriguing than they are likely.

Included in the list are primarily former first-round picks, primarily from the Sunshine State: Jacksonville's Reggie Williams, Tampa Bay's Michael Clayton and Miami's Chris Chambers.

Each carries potential as well as questions, too.

Williams is in danger of not making the Jaguars' 53-man roster after falling behind other more inexperienced receivers this summer.

Clayton has struggled to recapture the form that enabled him to catch 80 passes for 1,193 yards during his rookie season in 2004.

Chambers is scheduled to make $5.4 million in base salary this season to go along with his $7.3 million salary-cap number. As productive as Chambers has been -– catching at least 59 passes in each of the past four seasons and 82 two seasons ago –- his financial numbers are not easy for the cap-strapped Dolphins to swallow.

Thus, each of the receivers' names have come up in trade talks, however unlikely it is that any will actually be dealt.

So far, no teams have expressed enough of a desire to trade for any of these receivers and it's possible and even likely that Clayton and Chambers will wind up starting opening day for their respective teams.

Yet for some reason, it seems as if there is an abundance of instability at the wide receiver position, a possible sign of more activity in the days to come.

On Tuesday, the Patriots placed wide receivers Troy Brown and Chad Jackson on the Physically Unable to Perform List, meaning each player will miss at least the first six weeks this season, and possibly more. Any player placed on the PUP list cannot play until the seventh week of the season, at the earliest.

Other high-profile players also are bound to wind up on PUP, including Denver's Rod Smith.

So even minus the unusually quiet Terrell Owens, wide receivers already have made some headlines this preseason. More are ahead.

NEW DEAL IN NEW ENGLAND

Players do not typically end holdouts on a whim, without getting something in return.

New England's franchise cornerback Asante Samuel -- who ended his holdout Monday and signed his one-year, $7.79 million franchise tender Tuesday – got something he wanted.

He got assurances that, if certain conditions are met, he will not be franchised again.

The conditions are if Samuel plays a certain amount this upcoming season or if New England wins a certain amount of games, the Patriots will be prohibited from using their franchise tag on him again.

The exact amount of playing time or games won is being kept under wraps, for now. But the Bears promised franchise linebacker Lance Briggs that, if he played in 75 percent of Chicago's plays, they would not franchise him after this season.

Briggs' percentage is thought to be similar, and higher, than Samuels'. The Patriots also vowed that if they win a certain number of regular-season games –- logically thought to be in the double digits –- then Samuel also will not be a free agent.

Now, if the season goes the way Samuel and New England would like, the Patriots' franchise cornerback will become an unrestricted free agent after this season, becoming one of the marquee players available.

It is a win-win for both sides, with each getting something it wanted. New England gets the cornerback it needs to help beat teams such as the wide-receiver-loaded Indianapolis Colts, and Samuel gets the potential chance to test the open market.

"Both sides had to agree to it," Samuel said Tuesday. "There's no winner and no loser. We got it done and I'm here."

Once Samuel signed, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell granted the Patriots a roster exemption that will expire on Monday, Sept. 10. If the Patriots wish to activate Samuel before the deadline, the exemption will be lifted.

THIS YEAR'S DEVIN HESTER?

Last year Bears rookie Devin Hester rocked the football world, returning punts for touchdowns and the Bears to NFC prominence.

This year, Texans rookie Jacoby Jones could do the same.

Three weeks into the preseason, no rookie has shined anymore than Jones, who has been a threat as a punt returner and a wide receiver.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Jones has caught eight passes, including one that went for a 19-yard touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

As a punt returner, Jones has brought back two for touchdowns in each of the Texans past two preseason games –- one for 81 yards against Arizona, the other for 90 yards against Dallas -- and there could have been a third if Jones weren't narrowly tripped up in Houston's preseason opener against Hester's Bears.

The Texans recognize Jones' talents already, and have for quite some time. While many teams forecasted Jones as a fifth- or sixth-round pick, the Texans picked him in the third round. They liked him then; they like him even more now.

Live preseason games on NFL Network

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  • Buffalo at Detroit, Thur. Aug. 30 (7 p.m.)
  • San Fran. at San Diego, Thur. Aug. 30 (10 p.m.)
  • Indianapolis at Cincinnati, Fri. Aug. 31 (7:30 p.m.)

Jones was something of an unknown coming from tiny Lane College. There were questions about Jones' small hands and dropped passes. But Jones hasn't dropped anything this summer. It's starting to look as if other teams dropped the ball on not picking Jones sooner.

SIMON SAYS

Last week, Tennessee told free-agent defensive tackle Corey Simon that, if he wanted to sign with the Titans, he needed to be on the practice field no later than Tuesday, Aug. 28.

For one week, the Titans never heard back from Simon. Then, early Monday night, Simon weighed in and told Tennessee he was willing to take its offer and he was back on the field Tuesday.

Simon, 30, a Pro-Bowl selection in 2003, has plenty at stake. The Titans were the only team actively interested in signing him, though three other teams called to gauge the defensive tackle's desire. They gave Simon a one-year, minimum-type deal with some incentives.

Now, if Simon wants one more NFL pay day, he will have to earn it with his play this season, on a line that needs help.

Former third-round pick Rien Long did not work out for the Titans the way they would have hoped. Tennessee needs help at tackle. Simon needed a team to prove he still wants to play this game, as he insists. Now they have each other, and Simon hopes this union works out better than his previous two in Indianapolis and Philadelphia.

RAVENS RAVE

Good news for Baltimore. Injured offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden passed his physical Tuesday and can resume practicing with the Ravens. It is now looking more like Ogden will be ready for the Monday night, Sept. 10 regular-season opener at Cincinnati.

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