Plenty of snap decisions
Where will QBs end up?
Eli Manning is already an impact player. The combined resumes of Kurt Warner, Kerry Collins, Rich Gannon and Brad Johnson: five Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl victories, one Super Bowl MVP, three NFL MVPs. And now their careers may all be altered by Manning ending up with the Giants.
Collins already lost his job. Warner, demoted in St. Louis, is headed to the Giants to replace him. Meanwhile, sources said yesterday that Collins has made a decision to accept an offer from the Raiders (a three-year deal), where he would push out Gannon, who could then reunite with Jon Gruden in Tampa, costing Johnson his job.
It won't begin to completely play out until 4:01 p.m. on June 1, the earliest time to cut players and defer part of their salary cap acceleration until 2005.
Here's how this QB web got tangled and how it could unravel:
The Giants completed the trade for Manning right after they selected Philip Rivers for the Chargers on April 24. Two days later, Collins met with Giants GM Ernie Accorsi and refused to restructure his contract, even though the Giants insist he would have made the same $7 million he was scheduled to earn this season. Instead of it all in base salary, it would have been a $5 million signing bonus and $2 million base with two years tacked on for cap purposes that would have voided out next March. Collins would have started over Manning this season. Instead, he was cut.
Warner was told April 19 by Rams coach Mike Martz that Marc Bulger is the man in St. Louis. Warner's agent, Mark Bartelstein, told the Daily News that Warner was also informed that day he will be cut in June. After Collins was cut, the Giants wanted ex-Jet Neil O'Donnell to babysit Manning, but he turned them down. The Giants then targeted Warner, who had 98 TD passes in his first three seasons, but hasn't won a game the last two years. They brought him to New York on May 10, took him to a steakhouse for dinner in the city, then the next day had his right hand and right thumb extensively checked out by doctors. He passed the physical. Warner was excused from the Rams' minicamp this weekend and will be cut June 1. He is expected to sign with the Giants and take the first-team snaps at their June 7 minicamp. Does Warner have anything left? Accorsi and Tom Coughlin studied fourth-quarter tapes of last year's season opener against the Giants, when Warner was 13-for-16 for 144 yards, including 12 straight completions after suffering a first-quarter concussion. They believe he has plenty left.
Collins' availability gave the Raiders an unexpected quality alternative to Gannon. The word is Gannon won't take a cut from his $7 million base. He's 38 and coming off shoulder surgery. The Raiders are only $75,000 under the cap, so they need his money just to sign their rookies. Collins is Al Davis' kind of QB: He can throw the deep ball. Collins is only 31 and would stabilize the Raiders for the next five years. It's a match. The Raiders might initially say Collins is coming in to compete with Gannon and not assure him the starting job, but Gannon will likely be gone way before training camp. Collins had considered a one-year contract from the Ravens, where former Giants coach Jim Fassel is now a consultant. Collins would have signed as a backup to Kyle Boller and then gone into free agency next year as the No. 1 QB on the market. But the Raiders situation was more attractive with more money and the opportuntity to start.
So, what happens to Gannon if the Raiders cut him? Gannon was Gruden's guy in Oakland, but Johnson won Gruden a Super Bowl against the Raiders just 16 months ago. Gruden's knowledge of Gannon helped the Bucs intercept him five times, with three returned for TDs, in the Super Bowl. Gruden and new Bucs GM Bruce Allen, who came over from Oakland this year, are turning the Bucs into Raiders East. Gannon would be the next logical piece. One major complication: Johnson already was paid a $750,000 roster bonus and $1.5 million of his base salary is guaranteed. The Bucs are becoming an old team, so Gannon fits right in.
If Gannon goes to Tampa, what happens to Johnson? Oakland's Norv Turner coached him in Washington and holds him in high regard. Turner was fired by Daniel Snyder a day after waiting too long to replace Johnson with Jeff George in a crucial loss to the Giants in 2000. But the Raiders wanted Collins now and would have taken a chance of losing him to Baltimore if they waited to see what happens with Johnson in Tampa. If Johnson is the odd man out of a starting job, he could get a backup job in Baltimore with Billick, his offensive coordinator in Minnesota, or Arizona with Dennis Green, his head coach with the Vikings. Billick is commited to Boller and, hard to believe, Green is commited to Josh McCown.
Vinny Testaverde is in his final 10 days with the Jets. He's headed to Dallas for a reunion with Bill Parcells. He will be a mentor for Drew Henson and could see significant playing time if Quincy Carter falters. Too bad Parcells and Testaverde can't pick up where they left off when Testaverde tore his Achilles in the '99 season opener after Parcells, in his final season coaching the Jets, had geared everything toward making a Super Bowl run. Kordell Stewart, cut by the Bears, could wind up in Baltimore behind Boller. How soon does Brenda Warner get her own radio show in New York? Her first guest? Martz.
Now that Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe are teammates on CBS' pregame show, does that mean they have to talk to each other? Sharpe's sharp tongue instigated verbal assaults between him and Marino nearly six years ago. It culminated after the Broncos beat the Dolphins 38-3 in the playoffs in January of '99, when Sharpe said, "Don't ask me about Marino because I don't talk about losers." Sharpe later said, "Of all the things I've ever said, that's the only thing I've ever regretted."
After the Giants cut LB Mike Barrow because he was due $4.45 million ($3.45 million base salary, $1 million roster bonus), they tried to re-sign him at less than half the price, but were outbid by the Redskins. This came before the Giants freed up $7 million in cap room when they cut Kerry Collins. The Giants were only able to offer Barrow $2 million. He will make $3.26 million ($2.5 million signing bonus, $760,000 base) with Washington this season. If they had Collins' cap room back before Barrow signed, they would have matched the Redskins' offer.
Dolphins RB Ricky Williams, according to reports, tested positive a second time for marijuana and is appealing. If he loses, it will cost him four game checks, biting $878,823 out of his $3.735 million base salary and he could be one positive test from a four-game suspension. "I can't comment," Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt said. "But I can tell you Ricky is one of the best guys we have on our team, on and off the field. He's worked harder and done more this offseason than he's done since he's been here."
Dolphins backup QB Sage Rosenfels wore a "Free Ricky" T-shirt last week.