Watching the preseason unfold, there have been more than a few occasions which have inspired me to shake my head and think back to that tired Arsenio Hall segment from years ago: Things that make you go hmmm. A few things I can't quite figure out:
What is the point of that? Why Seattle only? If you want to trade Jackson, allow his agents to talk to every team potentially interested, create a market, and may the best team win. It gives San Diego the best chance of getting more than a second-round pick. It expedites the haste with which teams would want to do a contract. It puts pressure on other GMs in need of a receiver to act.
Restricting it to one team sends a mixed message. Seattle can take its time, but in the meantime, each day closer to Sept 4, and the deadline for signing Jackson without him having to serve a six-game suspension lowers the odds of getting a deal done. All along, the Chargers should have been shopping him around, looking to move on, since they aren't inclined to give the player with off-field troubles a long-term deal themselves. And I still can't see Jackson playing for a prorated $600,000.
I don't get it. Try to get Washington and other teams in on this, take the pick and move on.
I can't quite fathom the faith and support Indy has in Curtis Painter, not with a Super Bowl roster and such high expectations. Certainly, losing Peyton Manning would be devastating regardless, and no one could fill those shoes if he ever did get hurt. And Manning has certainly been Favre-like in his ability to avoid injury for his entire career.
But can that always continue, especially now with that offensive line getting shuffled around with some key guys beat up? I'd have gone ahead and given Marc Bulger that $3.5 million to wear the cap and hold the clipboard. Late last season, the Colts came close to signing J.P. Losman, then opted to go with Painter, and we all remember how that went in the Jets game.
I'm skeptical about how much Painter's game has improved, and for a team that doesn't run the ball that well and tends to wax and wane on defense, going with such an inexperienced backup in the post-Sorgi era seems like a big gamble. It's awfully late to add a quarterback now, unless he already knows the system.
After another week of practice issues and back and forth about the degree of Albert Haynesworth's maladies, it seems more clear than ever this isn't just going away and the players and assistant coaches are sick of it. They're over it. Moving on without Haynesworth isn't going to cause anyone to cry himself to sleep.
He's never going to be a part of the long-range plans there. Does anyone really think they're going to keep him around next year and throw millions more his way? And in the meantime, he isn't the difference between making or missing the playoffs and this isn't a Super Bowl team with him or without him. What little you might gain by keeping him there -- where he doesn't know the system and has barely even practiced with the reserves two and a half weeks before the season opener -- is far outweighed by the daily circus atmosphere.
It's a distraction that's bordering on silly at this point. Mike Shanahan has proven his point that he's the boss and he is still an old-school disciplinarian in his return to the NFL. It's been established. Haynesworth didn't produce much for the Redskins last season even in the 4-3 defense, and he isn't going to suddenly become a dominant 3-4 nose tackle, especially when he and everyone else there figures this is his last season in Washington, no matter what.
So go ahead and suck up the massive financial waste, take whatever pick or player you can get for him that makes sense, and let someone else worry about him. This horrible contract is not going to somehow get better by Haynesworth having another middling season in Washington. Take the hit and roll with the guys who want to be there.
With the first series of roster cuts looming (cut to 75 is Tuesday), some better-known players find themselves under pressure to make teams, and it's inevitable that some bigger names will end up on the street -- or traded -- before 53-man rosters are set Sept. 4. The third preseason game will be make-or-break for many players around the league, including these veterans worth mentioning:
Willie Parker, RB, Redskins: He was a star with the Steelers just a few years ago, but his speed and explosiveness have waned. Several team sources say he did not perform well through the offseason program and he has not shined in the preseason, either. While the Redskins have an abundance of running backs, they have no clear-cut third-down back. But Parker's declining speed and issues in pass protection don't suit that role, and he doesn't give you enough on special teams to carry him as a third option to Clinton Portis and Larry Johnson. Despite some reports about Johnson being on the bubble -- his preseason has been poor as well -- I can't see him not making the team. Parker, on the other hand, would be a surprise to make it at this point.
A good fit elsewhere: Seattle. The Seahawks have been in the market for running back help, and while they're looking for quality perhaps Parker would be worth a look-see.
Pat White, QB, Dolphins: It was only a little more than a year ago the Dolphins took White in the second round, with promise to eventually guide their Wildcat attack. But he has struggled mightily on and off the field, and when he failed to show up for the initial training camp meetings, it might have doomed him in Bill Parcells' organization. White has barely even played in the preseason and has Chad Henne, Chad Pennington and Tyler Thigpen ahead of him on the depth chart. Perhaps he carries some trade value, but some execs I talk to regularly wonder how dedicated to football he is -- he dabbled with the idea of playing pro baseball -- and you have to wonder already about his future there. Rival execs say they can't see Thigpen being dealt -- and it would take a lot to pry him away -- because of Pennington's health issues. Keeping four quarterbacks is a luxury the Dolphins won't likely afford themselves.
A good fit elsewhere: Buffalo. The Bills' QB situation is the least inspiring and most unsettled in the NFL. Chan Gailey had some success running spread formations at Kansas City a few years back and, with limited talent and bleak offensive look, running the Wildcat with White and C.J. Spiller would at least give defenses something to be concerned about.
Tony Richardson, FB, Jets: There is no better respected veteran in the league, and he's been a vital lead blocker for several teams over the years. He's excellent with young players, exudes leadership, and makes any locker room better with his presence. He's a dedicated and diligent worker. But the Jets have fallen in love with rookie fifth-round pick John Conner -- as anyone who watches Hard Knocks could attest to. Conner, who was Rex Ryan's personal draft pick and is nicknamed "The Terminator," is a devastating blocker who plays with the explosion and aggression Ryan prizes. Like with the four quarterbacks, carrying two fullbacks is a luxury rarely enjoyed, especially with the Jets likely to carry three running backs. Richardson might be the odd man out.
Deion Branch, WR, Seattle: Seems like he's been on this sort of list before. T.J. Houshmandzadeh has a contract the Seahawks might want to get out from under, but with him guaranteed $7 million this season, it's not likely to happen. However, with rookie Golden Tate there now and Mike Williams back from the dead and shining in the preseason, Branch appears expendable. The Seahawks could face a roster crunch on the offensive line as well, where several players will be week-to-week as the season opens, and it could cut into the numbers of receivers they keep, conceivably. Branch is set to make $5.47 million in base salary. That's pretty hefty for a guy who has had modest production and with other cheaper receivers emerging.
A good fit elsewhere: Washington. Branch has worked in the West Coast system and the Redskins are very thin at wide receiver. Malcolm Kelly is always hurt, Devin Thomas is erratic at best, Santana Moss is slowing down, and the Redskins can't count on Joey Galloway.
Shayne Graham, K, Baltimore: Graham is battling incumbent Billy Cundiff, and despite his pedigree, is in a fight. Graham is only a few years removed from being a standout with the Bengals, but he lost his form and was let go. Cundiff showed well for the Ravens late last season and seemed to stabilize a position in flux after Matt Stover's departure from the organization. Cundiff is 2-for-2 thus far in the preseason, and Graham is 2-for-3, with his only miss being from 50-plus yards. This decision will likely come right down to the wire as the Ravens sort out their roster next month.
A good fit elsewhere:New York Jets. If Nick Folk (6-of-7 in preseason so far) doesn't resurrect his career in New York, perhaps Graham could be an option for a team with high expectations.
Two for the road
» With each passing week I feel better about my long-established belief that the 49ers will end Arizona's two-year reign atop the NFC West. Not to read too much into the preseason, but overall things seem headed in that direction. I like San Francisco more at many key positions and they still will get Aubrayo Franklin, an impact defender, back before the real games start. Arizona's QB situation is a big concern and the decision to take a pass on Donovan McNabb, Bulger and others in the offseason could come back to bite them.
» I continue to hear positive things about Ravens safety Ed Reed's recovery from hip surgery. He went to see another specialist this week -- this time in Atlanta -- and signs are pointing in a good direction. There's still no distinct timetable, but it's looking like some of the doomsday forecasts of him not returning until the second half of the season might not hold up. Reed is working hard, and coupled with the recent return of Lardarius Webb off the PUP list and Fabian Washington back in the starting lineup, the secondary could be getting a major boost. The Ravens will suddenly be deep at safety when Reed does return, so perhaps they look to move someone there, depending on how it goes.