Odds not great for Moss return to Niners in 2013

PFW staff
January 12, 2013
Odds not great for Moss return to Niners in 2013

Here are the latest Whispers we're hearing from our sources throughout the NFL:

• Our sources in San Francisco are putting the odds at “about 30 percent” that veteran WR Randy Moss will be back with the team next season. “A lot of it will be up to him,” one team insider said of Moss. “Does he even want to play another year? I don’t know. He hasn’t had that ‘big game’ this year, and I don’t know how happy he is with his role, which the team would like to limit to 20 snaps. Plus, the Niners are just not a veteran-oriented team. I could see (Niners GM Trent) Baalke drafting a couple of receivers pretty high.”

• While we hear the Packers believe they really don’t know yet what they’ve got in fifth-round draft pick Terrell Manning as an inside linebacker, they are definitely pleased with his development as a disruptive wedge breaker in recent weeks on special teams. Manning made a big hit on a muffed Vikings punt return in Green Bay’s opening-round playoff game. 

• Students at Boston College may find themselves seated next to a budding NFL star at class starting next week. Panthers MLB Luke Kuechly told PFW he is returning to the campus where he became the nation’s top collegiate linebacker before being drafted by Carolina last spring. Kuechly said he is eight classes short of the requirement for a degree in marketing, but intends to complete the required courses.

• “It’s kind of neat because (Jaguars GM) Dave (Caldwell) is from two totally different regimes: the (Bill) Polian regime and the (Thomas) Dimitroff regime, which are two completely different styles,” one AFC executive said. “I think it’s unique that he has been groomed in two different ways, which I believe will be helpful to him as a GM. He has a scouting background …  so he understands how important talent is. He’s a sharp guy — another one from John Carroll (University). This league is littered with John Carroll people.”

• Much like the rest of his team, Colts DLE Cory Redding’s 2012 stats don’t tell the whole story — he was an instrumental part of the club’s surprising success, according to a team source. Redding was a coach on the field. He did so much to teach the young guys about how to play the game the right way, not to mention all the valuable knowledge he provided regarding the transition to a 3-4 scheme. Redding taught the guys who only knew how to get upfield to change their mindset. He was a crucial signing.

• Texans OLG Wade Smith, a Pro Bowler in 2012, has been a key contributor on the left side of Houston’s line — particularly considering the club has leaned so much on him and Pro Bowl OLT Duane Brown while the rebuilt right side found its footing this season. However, we hear it wouldn’t be shocking to see Smith, who is under contract through 2013, perhaps move on after the season. Smith turns 32 in April, and it's likely rookies Ben Jones and Brandon Brooks will be ready to become full-time starters next season.

• The new Jets GM will have a busy few months, inheriting a poor salary-cap situation from Mike Tannenbaum. A key area will be linebacker, a position we hear could be a top draft need in April. LB Bryan Thomas is set to be a free agent, and Bart Scott and Calvin Pace could be cap casualties. Last year's third-round LB Demario Davis saw plenty of snaps, but didn't make a huge impact, and depth is suddenly an issue at what used to be a strong position for Gang Green.

• The Patriots unleashed a weapon on defense in Week 17, reserve CB Derrick Martin, who notched a sack in their win over the Dolphins. With Alfonzo Dennard and Aqib Talib expected to healthy for Sunday's game against Houston, Martin may not see much action, but it was noteworthy seeing him used as a blitzer, something Kyle Arrington has done in the past. "Derrick Martin is an extremely high energy, true professional that comes to work every day and just brings a tremendous attitude of going to work and having fun and just really studying and being disciplined," defensive coordinator Matt Patricia told reporters last week.

• Panthers players PFW spoke with this week said they were thrilled to hear the news that owner Jerry Richardson had decided to retain head coach Ron Rivera. “I love coach Rivera,” Panthers CB Captain Munnerlyn told PFW. “When I heard that, I was excited. I felt like he deserved it. We worked our tail for him at the end of the year trying to keep him in his spot.” Rookie MLB Luke Kuechly said he has no doubt that Rivera has the ability to lead the Panthers to a Super Bowl. “We finished on a high note,” Kuechly said, noting Carolina’s four consecutive wins to close the regular season. “I like coach Rivera a lot and I think most of the guys on the team feel the same way, so we’re excited to have him back.”

• The Lions gave themselves some insurance at linebacker by signing Ashlee Palmer to a two-year extension right after the season. The Lions’ starting outside linebackers, Justin Durant and DeAndre Levy, are slated to be unrestricted free agents.

• Could the Ravens add a tackle in the draft? OT Michael Oher has one year left on his contract; he has been serviceable, not yet a star. Rookie Kelechi Osemele, who has played right tackle all season, has the ability to slide inside; he’s filled at left guard with Jah Reid (toe) out. Veteran Bryant McKinnie, who was benched all season before entering the lineup with Reid out, Osemele moving inside and Oher moving from left to right tackle, is slated to be an unrestricted free agent.

• Expect the Cowboys to target at least one new starting safety, with Gerald Sensabaugh — steady as he is — to be the one who is replaced. In the new Tampa-2 scheme the Cowboys will employ under Monte Kiffin, it's likely that Sensabaugh has neither the range nor the playmaking ability to thrive. The team still likes Barry Church and Matt Johnson, but both are coming off season-ending injuries and will need some competition.

• We hear there have been no major personnel decisions made by the Eagles' brain trust yet. They are waiting to see what system the next head coach will run and how the current players fit into it. That includes much-maligned players such as OG Danny Watkins and CBs Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Nnamdi Asomugha, as well as DTs Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson, who could be cut.

• The early rumblings out of Kansas City are that Andy Reid will make the offensive line a priority this offseason, which likely means that OLT Branden Albert could be receiving a strong offer or that he could be franchised to protect the Chiefs from losing him. It's unlikely that WR Dwayne Bowe would be tagged a second straight year, but he could return if the price is right. Reid likes offense and knows he needs receivers to thrive.