Chicago Bears find a replacement for Urlacher
The Bears have their potential successor to Brian Urlacher.
A league source said the Bears have signed former Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams to a one-year deal two days after cutting off talks with Urlacher. Williams, 30, was cut by the Broncos after a season in which he faced two suspensions, a six game suspension for violating the league’s performance enhancing policy, and a three game suspension for his second arrest for driving under the influence.
He is a productive player with speed who had the second most tackles in the NFL in 2007. Scouts considered him one of the best linebacker talents on the market. He was a first round pick in 2004. The contract Williams signed gives the Bears protection should Williams not stay on track. His base salary is $900,000, and none of his contract is guaranteed. He can earn a maximum of $1.75 million if he hits a workout bonus and a series of roster bonuses spread out over time.
Following a legend is difficult, even when that legend has struggled for several years with injuries.
Here's the question, though: is Urlacher a Bears legend in the eyes of fans? Before you answer this, remember what Urlacher had to say to the Bears fan base last year after a tough loss and chorus of boo birds:
"Two of the people I don't care about are fans and media...I don't care what they say. They don't know that they're talking about."
Something tells me Williams is going to be more welcome than we probably think--especially if he lays off the sauce.
Elvis Dumervil mulls Ravens' offer; Freeney, Abraham visit Broncos
The Ravens have delivered a contract offer to Dumervil, according to two NFL sources. However, the sources say the Broncos have offered slightly more money in the early portion of the deal.
The Broncos’ money has tightened because of a $4.89 million dead-money, salary-cap hit they absorbed while releasing Dumervil last week, so re-signing Dumervil likely would mean releasing a player or two off their roster.
This has to be a tough call for Elvis, whose recent Denver experience has been just brutal. First came the stunning home playoff loss to the very team that's now pursuing him, followed by a public demand from the Broncos and John Elway that he accept a pay reduction. Next, his now former agent bungles his reworked contract, and the Broncos have now reportedly offered him less than the two sides had agreed to last Friday.
Will he take what Mike Klis reports is a somewhat better offer to stick around, or has the taste grown so bitter that he just wants a fresh start? Impossible to know what Elvis is thinking, but our hope is he remains in orange and blue.
Maurice Clarett Joins Tiger Rugby
Maurice Clarett has joined the Tiger Rugby Olympic Development Program in Columbus, Ohio. “He’s committed to try to make Rio 2016,” said Tiger Rugby director Paul Holmes. “That’s Maurice’s plan.”...
“I think the big thing with Maurice is the maturity that’s beyond a lot of other guys, just because of the life experience he’s gone through, and I think he’s learned to look at the bigger picture in life,” added Holmes…
“He’s a very interesting story of redemption. He’s a guy who had the world at his feet and he chose the wrong path as a young man, and he’s now basically finding himself, and over the course of the past few years, trying to correct as many mistakes as possible, and that kind of led him to rugby. He says that money is the last thing on his mind. I truly believe him.”
Obviously, he's got a long way to go, but this would be an incredible story. We're pulling for you, Mo. (via LBS)
Bill in Congress challenges Redskins trademark
Faleomavaega is joined in his effort by nine lawmakers as original co-sponsors of the bill. They include Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., and Betty McCollum, D-Minn., the co-chairpersons of the Congressional Native American Caucus, and Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights icon.
Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, is one of two Native Americans in the U.S. House. In January, he told Roll Call that redskin is “not a term of respect” and “needlessly offensive to a large part of our population.”
I'm usually not a fan of Congress getting involved in sports (especially with PEDs), but when it comes to removing a blatant racial slur from everyday life? That's worthwhile.
Five Great Free Agent Moves
I always assumed that Wes Welker would return to New England, figuring his value there was always likely to be higher than it would be outside of Foxboro, but a little part of me always wondered what Welker could do in Denver given the success of Brandon Stokley last season.
...Wes Welker for all his faults might be completely uncoverable running a certain route tree of underneath routes, and my mouth is watering at the prospect of the potential upgrade for Denver. Given the cost of the deal, this has the potential to take that offense to a different level, giving Manning a target he can guarantee will be open when he needs to pick up a short pass. Great move for both sides.
It's been suggested in some circles that Welker isn't that big an upgrade over Stokley, but that's likely only true relative to per-target efficiency. But Welker is five years younger, does not have the extensive concussion history Stokley does, and has been the league's most prolific slot receiver of all time. As Monson suggests, bringing in Welker is a perfect fit for Denver, and a no-brainer - especially given the price.
NFL owners eliminate ‘Tuck Rule’, approve all proposed rules changes
NFL owners approved all six of the rule changes proposed by the Competition Committee, votes that eliminated the “Tuck Rule” and the implementation of a rule making it illegal for ball-carriers and tacklers to lead with the crown of their helmets when both players are outside of the tackle box.
Other changes include a ban on peel-back blocks within the tackle box, an elimination of the replay rule that cost the Lions on Thanksgiving last year, and a way to make FG and XP tries safer.
Also, tight ends and H-backs may now wear uniforms numbered 40-49, although it's unclear whether there's an exception for the number 15.
The read option is spreading. Even quarterbacks that aren’t exactly speed merchants will work on it in 2013.
Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman revealed Wednesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix that the read option would be part of the Bears’ playbook. We wouldn’t expect Jay Cutler to use the attack much, but it will give defenses more to prepare for. Cutler is athletic enough to at least make defenses pause on option-type plays.
Trestman couldn’t hide his excitement about working with Cutler on Wednesday—and it’s not because of Cutler’s running ability. The new coach called Cutler “exceptionally tough” and said Cutler’s arm was better than any quarterback Trestman has ever worked with.
Here we go again--another (new) coach telling us that Jay Cutler's arm is amazing.
Tell us something we don't know. Cutler's problem has never been his million-dollar arm. It's been his ten-cent mechanics.
Running a few option plays here and there won't change that.
No word yet if Cutler plans to get read-option lessons from the Ultimate Teammate™ in exchange for lessons, on--well, throwing.
Agent Marty Magid is defending his conduct last week in representing former client Elvis Dumervil, saying that his email agreement to accept a contract offer from the Denver Broncos was sufficient under the rules of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement. Attorney David Cornwell said Tuesday that he has contacted the NFL Players Association to discuss the matter, hoping that the union will examine the case on behalf of both Magid and possibly Dumervil, who’s now a free agent…
...The issue is important on multiple levels. First, Magid is hoping to maintain his standing as a certified agent with the NFLPA. Second, any legal claims by Dumervil if he is unable to get $8 million this season would possibly be directed at the Broncos or the NFL rather than Magid, who has been fired by Dumervil. There is also some concern that the estate of the late agent Gary Wichard could pursue legal action in the Dumervil case. Because Wichard, who died in 2011, negotiated Dumervil’s original deal, his estate (and not Magid) may be entitled to the standard 3 percent commission from the contract. In this case, that would have been $240,000. A person close to Wichard’s family said Monday that Wichard’s estate would likely look into the matter.
Hard to pick sides on this one, but one thing's for sure: the lawyer always win.
Cliff Avril’s two-year deal with the Seahawks is worth $13 million
According to a source with knowledge of the contract details, Avril’s deal in Seattle is actually worth $13 million, with $11 million in guaranteed money and a little over $2 million available in incentives and escalators.
As part of his deal with the Seahawks, Avril received a $4.5 million signing bonus and has a $1.5 million base salary in 2013 that is fully guaranteed for a first-year cap hit of $3.75 million…
Avril is due a $7 million base salary in 2014, $5 million of which is currently guaranteed for injury only. On the fifth day of the 2014 waiver period, which begins the day after Super Bowl XLVIII, the $5 million in base salary will become fully guaranteed.
On Friday, Elvis Dumervil thought he was agreeing to a deal worth $30M over three years. At this point, he may be lucky to get a $20M contract over that same span...
Ravens, Steelers interested in Elvis Dumervil, source says
The Ravens’ biggest rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, are also interested in Dumervil after cutting outside linebacker James Harrison as a salary-cap casualty prior to the free agent signing period, according to a league source with knowledge of the situation.
Structuring a contract high enough for Dumervil could be tough for either team because of tight salary-cap situations, but teams can always make adjustments to their roster by cutting players if they need to make room for an elite player.
Yesterday, Wilson reported that Baltimore, New England, and Tennessee were interested in Elvis Dumervil. Mike Garafolo adds Houston and Detroit to that list, and continues to report that Elvis would strongly prefer to return to the Broncos.