How five marquee players are assimilating with new teams

For SportingNews.com, Mike Fiorio examines how five big-name players are faring with their new teams.

Jay Cutler

The Chicago Bears made a bold move earlier this year when they uncharacteristically uncorked multiple draft picks and a player for a guy not already on the team.

In so doing, they landed the best quarterback they’ve had in decades.

So far, Cutler has been a mixed bag. Rumblings of problems with linebacker Brian Urlacher didn’t help to create the right warm and/or fuzzy atmosphere. Then Cutler registered an abysmal 30.8 passer rating in the team’s first preseason game at Buffalo, completing five of ten passes with an interception.

Last week was far more encouraging, with Cutler connecting on eight of 13 attempts for 121 yards, a touchdown, and a passer rating of 117.8 against the Giants.

But the real question of whether Cutler is properly getting himself ready to be the Bears’ franchise quarterback will best be answered when he returns to Denver on Sunday night for a game against the team for which he was supposed to be the franchise quarterback deep into the next decade.

In addition to Cutler, Florio discusses Matt Cassel, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Terrell Owens and Albert Haynesworth.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Keyshawn Johnson rips Brandon Marshall, Anquan Boldin

Never one to pass on the opportunity to speak his mind, Keyshawn Johnson ripped Brandon Marshall and Anquan Boldin in a recent article by SI.com’s Don Banks.

“Brandon Marshall, what have you ever done?” Johnson said. “You went to one Pro Bowl, maybe two. You caught a bunch of balls because they threw them to you. Have you even won a playoff game yet? Guys like me and Michael Irvin, we all won rings. Win a ring first and then talk that way.

“He says he doesn’t want to play in Denver because he doesn’t have a quarterback now that Jay Cutler is in Chicago. Please. When I was with the Jets, our starting quarterbacks were Ray Lucas, Frank Reich, Neil O’Donnell, Glenn Foley, Rick Mirer and Vinny Testaverde. And he’s complaining about having to play with Kyle Orton? You should worry about making your quarterback better.”

Johnson serves as an ESPN analyst during the NFL season, and this offseason has been devoting his energies to his new show about decorating on the A&E network: Tackling Design. His opinions apparently never get rusty, no matter what time of year it is.

“I keep seeing where Anquan Boldin wants to be traded from Arizona, or he wants to be paid like Larry Fitzgerald,” Johnson said. “Anquan, you’re a glorified T.J. Houshmandzadeh, so cut it out. They’re the same player. You want $11 million? Why don’t you take the $8 million they’re offering and be happy? You’re not Larry Fitzgerald.”

Not that I disagree with him, but I love how Key essentially takes a dump on his former Jet quarterbacks while hammering Marshall. If I’m Ray Lucas, I’m thinking to myself, “Hey, thanks Keyshawn – and sorry I was such an inconvenience for you during your playing days.”

I see what Johnson’s getting at, but I don’t think it’s fair to call Boldin and Houshmandzadeh the same player. They’re both incredibly productive, but Boldin is a few years younger and therefore might command more money. Now, is he worth $3 million more than Housh? Probably not, but $9.5 mil a year would be incredibly fair for Boldin’s services in my opinion.

Seahawks to take Crabtree at No. 4?

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News seems to believe that the Seahawks will take either USC quarterback Mark Sanchez or Texas Tech wideout Michael Crabtree with the No. 4 pick in this weekend’s draft.

Vacchiano also had some other interesting tidbits in his “draft hints” article.

• LSU DE Tyson Jackson will go in the Top 5. Not might. Will. This qualified as the biggest shocker, to me, since almost every mock draft I looked at pegged Jackson to be a mid- to late first-rounder at best. I thought the Top 5 was pretty locked in, too. But, of course, I shouldn’t have doubted Mr. Brandt. I asked around after the show to see if I could confirm it, and sure enough one NFL source I know did tell me he’s heard the Kansas City Chiefs might take Jackson at No. 3, or trade down and take him a few picks later.

• The Seattle Seahawks, at No. 4, will likely select either Texas Tech WR Michael Crabtree or USC QB Mark Sanchez.

• The Saints, at No. 14, are looking for a big cornerback, and Ohio State’s Malcolm Jenkins is a good bet to be their guy.

• The New England Patriots, at No. 23 will take a linebacker.

• Oklahoma T Phil Loadholt (6-7, 332) will go in the first round of the draft. His teammate, G Duke Robinson (6-5, 330, and the top-rated guard on most boards), will not.

These are some interesting thoughts and while I don’t disagree with any of Vacchiano’s tidbits, a lot of these seem to be a stretch. Tyson Jackson will definitely go in the top 5? Phil Loadholt will be a first rounder?

The most noteworthy item in Vacchiano’s article is that the Seahawks will take either Sanchez or Crabtree at No. 4. Taking Sanchez makes sense for Seattle because Matt Hasselbeck is aging and is coming off an injury-plagued season. Crabtree makes sense because even though the Hawks signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh to a huge contract this offseason, Housh is 31 and would benefit from having another playmaker on the opposite side of him. (Crabtree would also arguably be the best player available at that spot.)

But does Seattle really want to sink that much money into one position? Generally speaking, NFL teams don’t like to do that – especially at the wide receiver position. I’m sticking to my guns in saying that Seattle takes offensive lineman Eugene Monroe at that pick, but I’m not shooting down anything Vacchiano wrote.

Anquan Boldin to be an Eagle?

SI.com’s Peter King believes that Anquan Boldin won’t be a Cardinal next season and that the Giants and Eagles are possible trade partners with Arizona.

The Eagles and Giants, two receiver-needy teams, are in position to deal for Anquan Boldin, who I continue to say will not be a Cardinal by July. Philly has 21, 28 and 53, the Giants 29, 45 and 60. I find it hard to believe the Eagles won’t trade for Boldin. Very hard. He’s a perfect fit, and they’ve got the cap room to sign him.

Less than a month ago, Philly GM Tom Heckert said that the Eagles were set at receiver with DeSean Jackson and that’s why the team didn’t pursue free agent T.J. Houshmandzadeh. But Housh is also three years older than Boldin and if the Eagles have had their sights on Anquan this entire time, then Heckert’s comments could have been a smokescreen. As King notes, Philadelphia is certainly in position to offer Arizona decent compensation for Boldin, who could team with Jackson to give Donovan McNabb a quality receiving corps.

Favorite team not making many moves? Don’t sweat.

With the first wave of free agency complete in the NFL, this is roughly the point in time where fans start having mental breakdowns regarding why their favorite team hasn’t made many moves.

It’s because they’re smart, Junior.

The draft is just over a month away and it appears that more and more teams have realized that you don’t build a core in free agency – you build it in April.

Two offseasons ago, the 49ers signed Nate Clements, Michael Lewis and Tully Banta-Cain in free agency and all the experts bought into the idea that San Fran had dramatically upgraded its defense in one offseason. But then the games started and it was same old, same old for the Niners as they finished 5-11 and third in the NFC West. As it turns out, the players that San Fran had drafted high in previous years (Rashaun Woods, Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, etc.) didn’t produce.

Last year, the Raiders made the biggest splash in free agency, signing Javon Walker and Gibril Wilson, while trading for young cornerback DeAngelo Hall, leading many to believe that they were heading in the right direction. After going 5-11 and finishing third in the AFC West, only Walker remains on the roster as both Hall and Wilson were released either during (Hall) or after (Wilson) the season. Not unlike the Niners, previous drafts had been the true demise of the Raiders.


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