Disgruntled Samuel expected to report to Patriots next week

Chicago Bears linebacker Lance Briggs was the first disgruntled franchise player to report to training camp, settling his dispute on the eve of camp and arriving a few days later.

Now, the last of the franchise holdouts is preparing to sign his tender and get back to football and the field. Cornerback Asante Samuel is expected to report to the Patriots sometime next week, in enough time to be ready for the regular-season opener against the New York Jets.

Samuel has been working out in Florida and is said to be in top-notch shape, which Patriots coach Bill Belichick will get to judge on his own soon enough.

Samuel apparently recognizes the importance of getting back on the field and not missing any regular-season game checks. By reporting at some point next week, he will have sent a message, eliminated the training-camp risk of injury and still gotten to camp in enough time to get in football shape.

Samuel is not expected to get the long-term deal he wanted now, but is hoping one comes along sooner rather than later.

BILLS COME DUE

Defensive ends continue reeling in sacks of money for the sacks they record.

The latest is Pro Bowl defensive end Aaron Schobel, who signed a massive contract extention with the Buffalo Bills Friday. Buffalo signed Schobel to a new seven-year, $50.5 million contract that includes $21 million worth of guaranteed money. Schobel's full base salaries from 2007'-'09 are now guaranteed, as is $6 million in base salary in 2010. Schobel had three years and $9 million remaining on his old contract, which was torn up.

The two sides had been negotiating quietly since February, for more reasons than the 26 sacks that Schobel recorded the past two seasons.

Buffalo liked the way Schobel handled the sensitive contract situation and, even more important, it liked his commitment to the organization and city.

Schobel had three years and $9 million remaining on a contract that is now torn up, not unlike Buffalo's roster between last season and this one.

Buffalo bid goodbye to linebackers Takeo Spikes and London Fletcher, cornerback Nate Clements, defensive tackle Darwin Walker and running back Willis McGahee, and welcomed new additions such as offensive linemen Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker, and draft picks Marshawn Lynch and Paul Posluszny.

Money dictated many of the moves. The Bills let go of disgruntled players the organization believed were not committed to Buffalo, and re-signed players such as Schobel, defensive end Chris Kelsay and punter Brian Moorman that were.

It is yet another example of the huge money being paid to Pro-Bowl caliber defensive ends and pass rushers. Just last week, New England extended the contract of defensive end Ty Warren, awarding him a five-year, $36 million extension that included $17.5 million worth of guaranteed money.

Just before training camp, Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney signed a six-year, $72 million deal that included $30 million worth of guaranteed money.

Other pass rushers also are seeking new deals. Carolina has been in talks with defensvie end Julius Peppers about a new extension that will rival or possibly exceed Freeney's. Baltimore's Terrell Suggs has one year remaining on his contract, and is bound for a big payday.

And in Oakland, the defensive end that has had more sacks the past two seasons than any player in the league, Derrick Burgess, has demanded a new deal. However, the Raiders have been unwilling to accommodate him. Yet as the numbers grow, Burgess' disenchantment is sure to as well.

But in Buffalo, Schobel has –- to steal an expression –- millions of reasons to be happy. As he gets ready to turn 30 on Sept. 1, Schobel has a new deal that gives him financial security and a long-term marriage to Buffalo.

POSSIBLE HELP FOR FAVRE

A name from the past will resurface in NFL headquarters by Tuesday.

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Koren Robinson, serving a year-long suspension, spent this week filling out the reinstatement papers that will be turned into the NFL early next week.

Robinson is eligible to be reinstated Oct. 17, which is one year to the date that his year-long suspension commenced.

Notably, Green Bay's bye week is that Sunday, Oct. 21, meaning the Packers could opt to activate Robinson and try to have him ready for the Monday night, Oct. 29 game at Denver against the Broncos. There also is another factor that makes Robinson attractive to the Packers -- he is scheduled to make about $550,000. The Packers are thought to be interested in bringing back Robinson, but before they can, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell first must reinstate Robinson.

SAN FRANCISCO GOLD RUSH

It's a veritable gold rush of young talent in San Francisco.

San Francisco's first first-round pick, Patrick Willis, already has claimed the 49ers starting middle linebacker job.

Next up is San Francisco's second first-round pick, Joe Staley, who is expected to be named the starting right offensive tackle any day now.

Staley has wowed the 49ers with his toughness, his intelligence, his stablity and his balance. San Francisco is leaving Staley at right tackle for now but always could opt to move him in the years to come to left tackle, where he would be in charge of quarterback Alex Smith's blindside.

But the 49ers recognize that they have to have Staley on the field now, even if it means supplanting former first-round pick Kwame Harris, who is having the best training camp of his career. Staley is just too good.

There even are those around the league who believe that, over time, Staley will turn out to be the top offensive tackle from the Class of 2007, even better than Joe Thomas or Levi Brown. Whether or not he is is secondary. For now, the 49ers know they've hit on the pick.

And interestingly, Staley was the draft's 28th overall selection, on a pick that San Francisco acquired in a draft-day trade from New England.

Last time San Francisco acquired a first-round pick from New England was in April 1985. The 49ers used that pick, the 16th overall selection, to draft Mississippi Valley State wide receiver Jerry Rice.

'BUBBLE' BOYS

This week alone, the Philadelphia Eagles cut linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and the Detroit Lions cut return man Eddie Drummond.

But these are just the warmup acts for what awaits. NFL rosters must be trimmed to 75 players by Aug. 28, and 53 players by Sept. 1.

Here is a look at some veterans who could be released, or placed on the Physically Unable to Perform List, meaning they could not be activated until the sixth week of the season:

On the bubble

» Reggie Williams, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars: Emergence of 2006 undrafted free agent Charles Sharon and this year's third-round pick Mike Walker have made Williams expendable.

» Eric Shelton, RB, Carolina Panthers: Former second-round pick never played as big as his size.

» Hollis Thomas, DT, New Orleans Saints: A battle with the bulge could cost Thomas a roster spot.

» Marquand Manuel, S, Green Bay Packers: Safety Atari Bigby has bumped out Manuel.

» Kevan Barlow, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: In Barlow's case, you can't go home again.

» Verron Haynes, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers: Battling FB Dan Kreider for one of the last remaining RB spots.

» Andre Wadsworth, DE, New York Jets: Wadsworth might not even make it to the last cutdown day.

Possibly PUP-bound

» Rod Smith, WR, Denver Broncos: A hip injury has put Smith's season -- and career -- in jeopardy.

» Priest Holmes, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: After sitting out 22 months, Holmes still isn't ready to practice.

» Kevin Jones, RB, Detroit Lions:Lions haven't made any decisions about when or if Jones will be available from his foot injury.

» Chad Jackson, WR, New England Patriots: He could wind up being cut as easily as landing on the PUP.

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