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post #11 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-23-2009, 05:06 PM
The Future
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons obtained tight end Tony Gonzalez from the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday for a draft pick next year.

The Falcons will send a second-round pick in 2010 to Kansas City in exchange for Gonzalez, the only tight end in NFL history selected to 10 Pro Bowls, the Chiefs announced.

Gonzalez caught 96 passes for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008. He owns NFL career records for tight ends with 916 receptions, 10,940 yards receiving, 76 TDs receiving and 26 100-yard receiving games.
Kansas City Chiefs trade Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta Falcons - ESPN

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post #12 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 11:47 AM
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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons boosted their hopes for another trip to the playoffs by acquiring tight end Tony Gonzalez from the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday for a draft pick next year.

The Chiefs insisted they also improved their chances for success in 2009 by making the trade.

The Falcons will send a second-round pick in 2010 to Kansas City in exchange for Gonzalez, the only tight end in NFL history selected to 10 Pro Bowls.

Gonzalez caught 96 passes for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2008. He owns NFL career records for tight ends with 916 receptions, 10,940 yards receiving, 76 TDs receiving and 26 100-yard receiving games.

"It's somewhat bittersweet," Gonzalez told FoxSports.com. "I love Kansas City. I grew up in Kansas City. The city means a lot to me. I got there when I turned 21. It will be sad to leave a city I love. But I'm looking forward to making a Super Bowl run in Atlanta every year for the next three or four years."

Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said it wasn't easy to trade the star, who played in 188 regular-season games for Kansas City.

"From an organizational as well as personal standpoint there are mixed emotions," Pioli said. "I have the highest personal and professional respect for Tony and consider him to be a future Pro Football Hall of Famer."

Among good-hands people
Tight end Tony Gonzalez has remained among the NFL's primary passing targets, who are all receivers. Most receptions since 2005:

T.J. Houshmandzadeh 372
Larry Fitzgerald 368
Reggie Wayne 355
Torry Holt 352
Steve Smith 351
Tony Gonzalez 346

Pioli said the Chiefs, 2-14 in 2008, did not pursue a trade for Gonzalez, but agreed when the Falcons offered a second-round pick.

"This is something we really feel was a decision in the best short-term and long-term interest of the Chiefs," Pioli said, adding the 2010 draft pick could be used in another deal to acquire more picks in this weekend's draft.

"It may be that pick next year or it may be a pick this year or several picks," Pioli said.

Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt called Gonzalez "one of the finest players in Chiefs history."

Gonzalez will provide a dramatic new look for the Falcons, who were 11-5 last year with rookie quarterback Matt Ryan starting every game.

"Tony's arrival will make an instant impact not only on the offensive side of the ball, but on the overall team in general," said Ryan, the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. "I feel privileged to be throwing the ball to a future Hall of Famer and I'm anxious to get on the field to start working with him."

Ryan has a new target and the Falcons have a new leader, but what about newly acquired Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel? Pioli said there's still plenty of time to bolster the Chiefs' offense before the season.

"There's a lot of time between now and then for us to continue to shape our roster," Pioli said.

When asked how he would replace Gonzalez, new Chiefs coach Todd Haley said, "I don't know I have a direct answer for that right now.

"This is what we felt was best for us right now all things considered," Haley added. "We're doing everything we can to give ourselves the best chance to win games in 2009 and that's what we as a group felt was the best way to go."

The 33-year-old Gonzalez, who has three years remaining on his contract, asked to be traded last October. But then-general manager Carl Peterson said no team Gonzalez was willing to go to made a good enough offer.

The trade addresses one of the Falcons' top needs, freeing the organization to make defense the top priority in this weekend's draft.

The Falcons expect to receive compensatory picks next year for losing several free agents, including cornerback Domonique Foxworth and linebackers Michael Boley and Keith Brooking, making it easier for the team to trade the second-round pick to the Chiefs.

Gonzalez will join Pro Bowl receiver Roddy White to give the Falcons more passing balance.

"With Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Roddy White and now myself, we have the chance to be in the top five in the league in offense every year," Gonzalez said. "How could I not be excited to join that team?"

Before making the trade, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said, "Every team in this league dreams of having Tony Gonzalez run out of the tunnel for them."

After realizing that dream, Dimitroff said Gonzalez will add "a new dynamic to the Falcons' offense."

"His career numbers and records are top-notch and he will no doubt be an integral part of our offense," Dimitroff said.

The Falcons said Gonzalez will be in Atlanta for a news conference on Friday.

Kansas City Chiefs trade Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta Falcons - ESPN

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post #13 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 01:46 PM
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post #14 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:22 PM
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The Arizona Cardinals have reduced their trade demands for disgruntled receiver Anquan Boldin to a second-round pick in Saturday's draft and other considerations and are talking to at least three teams who seem to be newly interested, two sources told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio on Friday.

The New York Jets, New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles have expressed interest given the downgraded demands from a first- and third-round pick, the sources said.

Cardinals general manager Rod Graves and coach Ken Whisenhunt had repeatedly emphasized at the team's pre-draft news conference Tuesday that they would be happy to keep Boldin and eventually try to sign him to a new contract.

"Quite a few teams have called but we have no offers from those teams," Graves said Tuesday. "Anything can evolve from this point through draft day so that's where it is right now."

Boldin expressed extreme displeasure with his contract in last season's training camp, accusing Cardinals management of failing to follow through on a promise of a new deal and vowing never to re-sign with Arizona.

Still, he went on to have his third Pro Bowl season in six years in the NFL as the Cardinals advanced to the Super Bowl.

"I didn't say a trade was necessary," Boldin said last week. "I just want something to get resolved. It's something that's gone on long enough."

Arizona Cardinals reduce trade demands for receiver Anquan Boldin - ESPN
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post #15 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:24 PM
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WASHINGTON -- For the first time in its storied -- some say cursed -- history, the cover of EA Sports' "Madden NFL" video game will feature two cover athletes: Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

"Being on the cover of 'Madden' is a real honor," Fitzgerald said Friday after Electronic Arts made the announcement. "And sharing it with a talent like Troy is really special."

The shared cover of "Madden NFL 10," which arrives in stores Aug. 14, has something for everyone: Polamalu is a defensive AFC player and Fitzgerald an offensive NFC player.

EA Sports senior product manager Anthony Stevenson called the two Pro Bowlers "exemplary examples of the epic battle between offense and defense in the NFL."

Both played in last season's Super Bowl, which the Steelers won in a 27-23 nail-biter. Both athletes are known for their long, helmet-defying hair. Steel City football fans should be particularly happy, because Fitzgerald played college ball at the University of Pittsburgh. And he was also on the cover of EA's "NCAA Football 2005."

EA's football franchise is feared for its mysterious "Madden curse": Previous cover models like Donovan McNabb, Shaun Alexander and Vince Young have suffered injuries during their "Madden" season.

Fitzgerald, however, was defiant. "I didn't think about the curse," he said. "If both of us have MVP years, everybody will be chomping at the bit to get on the cover."

Madden Curse? Troy Polamalu of Pittsburgh Steelers and Larry Fitzgerald of Arizona Cardinals on Madden NFL cover - ESPN
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post #16 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:24 PM
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Wide receivers Percy Harvin and Brandon Tate tested positive for marijuana during February's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, two sources told FoxSports.com.

The news could be potentially damaging to the receivers' stock during this weekend's NFL draft.

Harvin was considered a first-round pick after leaving the University of Florida following his junior season. Tate was considered a possible second- to fourth-round pick after a solid college career at North Carolina.

Joel Segal, the agent who represents both players, didn't return messages from FoxSports.com seeking comment.

NFL teams received the drug-test results earlier this week, according to FoxSports.com.

Sources told FoxSports.com Harvin and Tate were the only two high-profile players to flunk their combine drug tests, and one of the sources said that fewer than a dozen players tested positive for recreational drugs.

Players who failed the tests are subject to entry into the NFL's substance-abuse program.

Harvin finished his college career with 133 receptions for 1,929 yards and 13 touchdowns and 194 carries for 1,852 yards and 19 scores. He averaged 9.5 yards per carry and 11.6 yards every time he touched the ball. He also posted a strong 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the combine.

He was at his best in big games, earning MVP honors in the 2006 Southeastern Conference championship game and totaling 171 yards and a touchdown in a victory over Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series national title game in January.

He lined up at receiver, running back and quarterback for the Gators but expects to do even more at the next level because several teams have already talked to him about returning kickoffs and punts.

Tate finished his career with an NCAA-record 3,523 career combined kick-return yards. Before tearing two knee ligaments midway through his senior year, he averaged 23.5 yards on his 16 receptions.

Tate, still recovering from his injury, didn't work out at the combine.

Report: NFL prospects Percy Harvin, Brandon Tate test positive - ESPN
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post #17 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:26 PM
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The Pittsburgh Steelers cleared out enough cap room to reach an agreement with Colts cornerback Keiwan Ratliff on a one-year contract Friday, according to a source.

The 27-year-old Ratliff visited the Steelers in the past week and was interested in signing, but James Harrison's deal ate up most of Pittsburgh's remaining cap room. With the departure of Bryant McFadden in free agency, the Steelers had an opening for a veteran cornerback.

The agreement with Ratliff takes some pressure off the Steelers to select a cornerback in the first couple of rounds of the draft Saturday and Sunday.

Ratliff was a second-round choice of the Bengals in 2004. He started eight games in his first two seasons in Cincinnati, but he played primarily as a backup his final two years.

He went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2007 and landed with the Colts that year. Because of injuries in the secondary in 2008, Ratliff started four of the 13 games he played in Indianapolis.

Source: Pittsburgh Steelers clear room to add CB Keiwan Ratliff - ESPN
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post #18 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:27 PM
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NEW YORK -- New NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith will travel to Houston, Dallas and New Orleans next week to meet with players.

He said he plans to meet with about four teams a week for the next seven weeks and also would be willing to meet with owners.

Speaking at a news conference Friday, Smith emphasized collective bargaining agreement negotiations won't get anywhere unless there's full disclosure of financial statements.

"I'm confident we will reach a deal," Smith said. "Our guys want to play football, the fans want to see football, people who work in the stadiums want to keep their jobs."

Smith, who's been working without a contract for six weeks, wouldn't discuss talks for his deal.

"I'm not going anywhere," he said. "I've got a job to do."

DeMaurice Smith, new head of NFLPA, to meet with players on three teams next week - ESPN
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post #19 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:28 PM
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After the worst game of Jake Delhomme's career came in an ugly playoff loss, the Carolina Panthers never wavered that he was still their quarterback for the long-term.

On Thursday, they proved it, giving Delhomme a five-year, $42.5 million extension that keeps the 34-year-old under contract through the 2014 season.

"It's all about being able to know that I can finish my career here in Carolina," Delhomme said. "That's what I've wanted, all I've ever wanted."

The deal includes $20 million in guaranteed money and clears much needed salary-cap space for Carolina. Delhomme was to count for more than $10 million under the cap next season in the final year of his deal.

The Panthers' cap is weighed down by Julius Peppers' one-year tender under the franchise tag that is worth $16.7 million and has prevented any offseason signings.

Delhomme's extension comes just over three months following his nightmare performance. After a strong season following reconstructive elbow surgery the year before, Delhomme threw five interceptions and lost a fumble in Carolina's 33-13 loss to Arizona in the NFC divisional playoffs.

"We all know last year was a good year that ended terribly," Delhomme said. "Nobody was more disappointed than I was for not putting my team in a position to win. That's something I've always tried to pride myself on. ... Why it happened I don't know. But it did and certainly things weren't good for a while."

Delhomme has been taking part in Carolina's offseason conditioning program this month, while getting strong support from coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney, who have rebuffed suggestions they looked for another QB.

The Panthers are 54-33 in the regular season and playoffs in the past six seasons when Delhomme starts, 6-10 when he doesn't.

"He has been a leader on the field, is a talented quarterback, is a perfect fit for our team and was a big reason we were able to win the NFC South last year," Hurney said. "He has also always represented the team in the highest manner and earned the respect of everyone throughout the organization."

Delhomme was signed as a relatively unknown free agent from New Orleans after the 2002 season. After Rodney Peete struggled in the 2003 season opener, Delhomme replaced him at halftime, led Carolina to a comeback win and remained the starter as the Panthers reached the Super Bowl.

Delhomme also led the Panthers to the playoffs in 2005 and last season. And while he receives criticism for his unorthodox style and fiery temper, the Panthers struggled mightily without him in 2007, when Delhomme needed ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow.

"If anybody wants to go back to '07, have fun," his agent, Rick Smith said.

After the reconstructive surgery, Delhomme came back strong in 2008. He threw 15 touchdown passes and had 12 interceptions as the Panthers won the division title before everything went wrong against the Cardinals.

"It was just one of those days where I didn't see the field well," Delhomme said. "It did hurt. That's part of it. You learn from it. I don't know any other way to put it. It's not something that you sweep under the rug."

But with this rich deal, Delhomme will clearly remain Carolina's starter ahead of Josh McCown and Matt Moore.

Source: Carolina Panthers give Jake Delhomme 5-year extension - ESPN
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post #20 of 82 (permalink) Old 04-24-2009, 04:28 PM
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Apparently intent on improving the NFL's worst punting game of a year ago, the Washington Redskins have signed unrestricted free agent Hunter Smith, who had spent his entire career with the Indianapolis Colts.

Smith, 31, a 10-year veteran, signed a one-year contract, the financial details of which were not yet available. Despite his long tenure with the team, Indianapolis did not seek to re-sign Smith when he became a free agent.

The former Notre Dame standout is the third punter, and the second veteran at the position, signed by the Redskins this offseason.

Washington ranked dead last in the league in 2008 in net punting average (33.4 yards) and had one punt blocked. The Redskins allowed two punt returns for touchdowns, the second-most in the league.

The Redskins began the 2008 season with rookie Durant Brooks as the punter. He was replaced late in the season by two-year veteran Ryan Plackemeier, who was released earlier this spring.

The Redskins signed free agent Dirk Johnson, who most recently punted four years for the Philadelphia Eagles, this spring. The team also added Zac Atterberry, a one-year veteran with no regular-season experience.

In his 10 seasons in Indianapolis, Smith averaged 43.4 yards gross and 35.5 yards net. Never noted as a directional punter and a player who often outkicked his coverage, Smith nonetheless had 193 punts inside the 20-yard line and just 61 touchbacks.

Last season, he averaged 44.2 yards gross and had a net average of 38.8 yards.

Smith was originally chosen by the Colts as seventh-round pick in the 1998 draft.

Hunter Smith signed by Washington Redskins to improve punting game - ESPN
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