Torry Holt asks Rams to release him

League sources (whatever that means these days – could be a well respected NFL front office figure or could be Roger Goodell’s janitor) have told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that wide receiver Torry Holt has asked the Rams to release him.

The Rams have been trying to trade Holt for the past couple weeks but so far they haven’t found any takers. As the Post-Dispatch notes, Holt is due a $1.25 million roster bonus on March 17 and therefore it’s unlikely that he’ll be a Ram past that point.

If he remains patient for the next week and a half, Holt is likely to get his wish. But I don’t blame him for wanting to end the charade and have the team just release now so both parties can move on. It’s clear that Rams are moving in another direction at receiver and I think the team owes Holt a debt of gratitude for all he’s done over the years. If they’re going to wind up releasing him anyway (and they will – no team is going to trade for him knowing that he’ll be cut if they wait long enough), they should do him a favor and cut him now.


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Ravens re-sign Ray Lewis, add Matt Birk

The Ravens made two significant moves on Wednesday, agreeing to a deal with linebacker Ray Lewis and signing free agent center Matt Birk.

“We have agreed in principle on a multi-year contract that will allow Ray to finish his career as a Baltimore Raven,” general manager/executive vice president Ozzie Newsome announced.

(Note: Lewis’ contract will not be official until he signs, which will take place sometime in the next two weeks. At that time, the Ravens will hold a press conference with Lewis. Please understand that travel schedules for owner Steve Bisciotti, Newsome, head coach John Harbaugh and Lewis are causing this delay.)

Also agreeing to a contract this afternoon is six-time Pro Bowl C Matt Birk. Birk, who has played all 11 of his NFL seasons with Minnesota, will meet with the media Thursday morning (3/5) at the Ravens’ Owings Mills training facility at 11 a.m.

Re-signing Lewis was pivotal after the Ravens lost Bart Scott to free agency. Lewis wore down towards the end of last season but proved he can still play at a high level. Now Baltimore can turn its attention to addressing the hole left by Scott.


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Houshmandzadeh signs with Seahawks

According to the National Football Post, free agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh signed a five-year, $40 million contract with the Seahawks. The deal also includes $15 million in guarantees.

Barring any last-second problems, free agent wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh will sign a multi-year contract with the Seattle Seahawks, according to sources close to the situation.

According to the source, the Seahawks have offered close to $2 million more than the closest competitor in the race for Houshmandzadeh’s services.

An eight-year veteran out of Oregon State, Houshmandzadeh caught 92 passes for 904 yards and 4 touchdowns in 15 starts for the Bengals last season.

In addition to the Seahawks, the Vikings and Bengals were pursing Houshmandzadeh.

Well…slap…me…hard. I thought Housh would wind up in Minnesota after the Vikes made a decent push this weekend and if not there, surely back in Cincinnati where the Bengals seemed to be offering the most money. Out of the top three choices, I would have ranked Seattle third as Housh’s likely destination. Yikes.


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Three free agent moves that made sense, three that didn’t and three that have yet to happen

Even though we’re not even a week into the NFL free agency period, there is still plenty to talk about. Below are three free agency moves that made sense, three that didn’t and three that have yet to happen.

Three moves that made sense:

1. The Giants beefing up their defense with the signings of Canty, Boley and Bernard.
Two years ago, New York befuddled a previously unbeaten Patriots team in Super Bowl XLIII with a constant barrage of pressure from its defensive front four. With that in mind, GM Jerry Reese decided to add more talent to his front seven this offseason with the signings of Chris Canty, Rocky Bernard and Michael Boley. Canty and Bernard will beef up the interior of the Giants’ defensive line by adding both size and strength, as well as hopefully boost the production of Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora on the outside. Not too many people have heard of Boley, but before he got lost in the shuffle last year in Atlanta, he was on his way to a promising career. Surrounded by the right talent and given the opportunity to play to his strengths in the right system, Boley could become a Pro Bowler someday and eventually excel in New York. They still have to figure out what to do with Plaxico Burress, but thanks to the signings of these three defensive players (coupled with the sensible deal the team signed running back Brandon Jacobs to), the Giants have had one of the best offseasons of any team in the league.


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Report: Patriots turned down 12th overall pick for Cassel

The Matt Cassel-to-Chiefs trade just got a little juicer.

According to ESPN.com, the Broncos offered the 12th overall pick to the Patriots in exchange for Matt Cassel. Denver would have then traded Jay Cutler to the Bucs in exchange for a first and third round pick.

So then why did the Pats turn down that offer and trade Cassel (along with linebacker Mike Vrabel) to the Chiefs in exchange for Kansas City’s second round pick?

ESPN.com’s Tim Graham tries to answer that question:

But Belichick never embraced a trade with the Broncos, even though it was a head-scratcher on the value part (second-rounder versus a first-rounder). It suggests two or three speculative thoughts:

1. Belichick has always valued second-round picks (he now has three) and didn’t want to be stuck at No. 12 financially for whatever reason;
2. Belichick had an agreement with Pioli all along and wouldn’t break his word;
3. Belichick isn’t about to help another former assistant.

The Broncos sensed resistance all along, which is why they held the Bucs, Lions, Vikings, etc., at arm’s length and allows McDaniels his plausible deniability on trading Cutler (and logic supports his denial).
However, despite intense efforts to keep this run at Cassel under wraps, enough damage has been done that Cutler may now be on the block.

The Broncos/Cutler aspect of the trade was reported by the Boston Globe. A Patriots’ leak? Why? To mess with McDaniels?

Several citizens of Patriot Nation have written into my AFC East mailbag and left notes in the comments section that Belichick didn’t want a first-round pick for Cassel, that a second-rounder is more financially palatable.

Ridiculous, I say. The Patriots had the No. 10 pick last year and were highly successful with it, selecting defensive rookie of the year Jerod Mayo, a franchise player who could anchor their defense for the next decade.

The No. 12 pick is a commodity. The Patriots might’ve traded it for additional picks, dangling it on draft day to a team that has the hots for, say, quarterback Mark Sanchez, and doesn’t want him to get away.

Now this is what NFL free agency is all about! Failed trade talks, espionage and lies!


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