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• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud

Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Will Play For Food (...or several million dollars)
March 28, 2009


Five veteran free agents who may yet shape the Draft

With April almost here, most NFL teams are switching their attention from free agents to the NFL Draft, but there are a small number of players out there who, while not all answering a team's long–term needs, will reprioritize teams' draft day focus.

Not counted amongst these: quarterback Jeff Garcia, a worthy veteran addition somewhere eventually, but with remaining ambitions to start at age 39 he doesn't tick the box as 'old guy happy to hold the clip board unless there's some dire emergency'. Perhaps as the months go by and the phone continues not to ring, Garcia's agent will rebrand his client as a willing mentor. Expect Garcia to pop up somewhere soon — but at age 39, he's not going to subdue any draft–day QB need, even were Jay Cutler to make a roster spot available in Denver.

1. Torry Holt (Wide Receiver)
The Jacksonville Jaguars look like having a do–over in the receiving corps for this season, and have already met with Holt , but wherever the ex–Rams receiver ends up, that team gains a legitimate starter. For the Jags he'd be their no.1 receiver. After posting no lower than 1185 yards and 81 catches the previous eight seasons, Holt managed only 64 catches for a little under 800 yards last year, with a career–low 3 TDs. That is probably the big slow–down taking effect on the 32–year o ld player, but whether Holt is still a top flight target isn't the point here: all that matters is that signing Holt would bring experience and stability to their receiving corps where they previously had Matt Jones. That could open the door for Jacksonville to switch their attention to quarterback at pick 8, sending a ripple through the teams watching Mark Sanchez in the first round.

2. Lance Moore (Wide Receivers)
Not an unrestricted free agent, but quietly relevant nonetheless. The Saints aren't short of receivers, with Marques Colston, Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem on the books, and so marked Moore with a second–round tender. It may happen as late as during the first hours of the draft itself, but the 5–9 190lb Moore is the kind of small canny inside–out receiver that can put a team into the playoffs (just not, most recently, the Saints). Moore caught 10 scores last season, proving that he is more than some backup. The receiving depth in the early stages of the draft looks good, but if there were to be a run of the desirables, a Moore deal could shake things up.

3. Marvin Harrison (Wide Receivers)
Harrison is no longer an elite player, but alongside Holt is one of only two receivers with multiple, 1600–yard seasons, has a wealth of experience, and is a Pro Bowler with a Super Bowl–winning resume. If no longer a great receiver, he still demands respect from defenses, and most of all can demonstrate to younger receivers the kind of dedication it takes to be an NFL receiver. It isn't that Harrison will stop a team looking at rookies, it's that they may view Harrison as the best thing to sign alongside the rookies.

4. Julius Peppers (Defensive End)
Getting away from receivers, now, the New England Patriots are presently connected with to two defensive ends, Julius Peppers and Jason Taylor. Of course, they could sign both (the Panthers have tagged Peppers, but the cost is prohibitive), so for the sake of this list, we'll assume Peppers. Peppers is the one most likely to be playing for a stretch of years, so he's the one singled out here as a 'draft factor'. Taylor may be retired in a year, may be merely situational, and should be considered a stop–gap option. Peppers fills a DE need for somebody, while Taylor may only downgrade such a need.

5. Ken Lucas (Cornerback)
This would be an 'equal fifth' ranking between Lucas and ex–Cowboys safety Roy Williams, and neither is necessary regarded as a long–term solution by teams. Both would downgrade teams' needs during the draft, but Williams' drop–off in picks, variable coverage skills, horse–collar violations, and broken arm through nearly all of last year means Williams is no sure solution. Whoever signs him will still be looking for insurance at safety. On the other hand, Lucas has featured in all but 5 games of his eight seasons. He'd still be a useful signing for a team with multiple needs who don't want to commit to a first rounder at cornerback.

Madness Moment: Villanova's still going strong, which makes ours a happy household, and with Pittsburgh as their next opponent, we are guaranteed one Pennsylvania school in the final four. In a sweet sixteen of predominantly lopsided victories, Levance Fields advanced Pitt with a gaudy three–pointer and a steal for two more in the closing stages to prove the difference between Pitt and Xavier. In a year when the NCAA Tournament has spurned the cinderellas, at least Pitt is providing us with some close finishes. Whether Duke–destroying Villanova is willing to indulge Pitt's last–minute heroism remains to be seen.


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