NFL rumors roundup

AP Photo/Frank Victores

Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Tuesday, Sept. 8:

  • Reports of Eli Manning's desire to be the league's highest-paid player -- and the QB's denial of those reports -- surfaced three weeks ago, suggesting the New York Giants were not close to signing their quarterback to a long term deal. Now, it seems like the Giants could get a deal done with Manning before Sunday's season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Manning told Jordan Raanan of NJ.com on Monday that the two sides have made progress. Raanan adds, "One person with knowledge of the negotiations said recently they expected a deal to be done by the start of the season." Reaching an agreement before the season would remove any distraction that negotiations might create midseason, especially if Manning performs poorly, but there has never been any real likelihood that Manning would leave New York. Barring unusual circumstances, top quarterbacks get paid to remain where they are and this should be no different. Considering Manning's leverage -- which we outlined previously -- the Giants will have a hard time paying Manning less than what would be the league's highest salary.

  • Though Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy mulled the possibility of going to court over his four-game suspension following Tom Brady's successful appeal last week, it appears he'll be content to sit out the first four games of the season. Cowboys EVP Stephen Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan that the team expects Hardy to forgo an appeal and accept his four-game suspension. That could make for a quiet Dallas pass rush early on, but with second-year end DeMarcus Lawrence healthy and rookie Randy Gregory in the fold, the team is still far ahead of where it was last season. Just four games missed for Hardy is a far better outcome for the Cowboys than the initial 10-game suspension, and if Hardy plays like his 2013 self (15 sacks, 17 tackles for loss), Dallas could actually have a terrifying pass rush. Also worth keeping an eye on: ESPN's Todd Archer suggests the Cowboys could look to sign Hardy to a long-term deal in the near future, while his stock is relatively low.

  • Also of note from Jones' radio appearance was his claim that the Cowboys have not yet chosen a starting running back for Week 1. The coaching staff likely has a plan laid out, but this further hints at the likelihood of a committee arrangement. It's one of the more frustrating situations in football for fantasy owners, because a bell-cow back would benefit tremendously from running behind the league's best offensive line. However, there's a very real possibility that Dallas goes with legitimate platoon in which week-by-week production is impossible to predict. Joseph Randle still seems like the most valuable option over Darren McFadden, Lance Dunbar and new acquisition Christine Michael, but we wouldn't be over the moon about starting him. Keep a close eye on this situation each week.

  • According to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel, the availability of Miami Dolphins left tackle Branden Albert for Week 1 will depend on his conditioning and football shape rather than his health. Kelly notes that Albert has been medically cleared by Miami's training staff in his recovery from a torn ACL, so Albert's ability to play at his previous level is the only limiting factor. The big man's return to the Dolphins' offensive line would be a huge boost, as it gives Miami solid or better starters at both tackle positions (Albert and 2014 first-rounder Ju'Wuan James) and center (Mike Pouncey). If left guard Dallas Thomas improves and fourth-round rookie Jamil Douglas can survive at right guard, the Fins could suddenly have an above-average line. While Albert didn't make any promises about Sunday, it would be a big surprise if he wasn't on the field considering he's fully healthy.

  • With their offensive line still in limbo less than a week before their Monday night opener against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Atlanta Falcons are bringing tackle Jake Long in for a visit, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The Falcons had been in communication with Long previously, so this isn't much of a surprise, but Atlanta's most pressing need doesn't seem to be at tackle. It would be surprising to see 2014 first-round pick Jake Matthews move to the right to make room for Long at his traditional left tackle spot, while Ryan Schraeder isn't as big of a problem at right tackle as the Falcons currently have on the interior. After cutting presumed starter Joe Hawley, the Falcons claimed Gino Gradkowski off waivers to compete at center with Mike Person and James Stone. The acquisition of Andy Levitre from the Tennessee Titans would seemingly solve things at one guard spot -- and that's assuming Levitre improves after two lousy seasons in Tennesee -- but the other still appears up in the air. If Atlanta adds Long, could he be in the mix at guard? Would Schraeder move to guard instead? And what of recently acquired tackle Bryce Harris? These are not the questions you want to be answering six days from your first regular-season game, especially considering that offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's zone running scheme depends heavily on chemistry and communication between the front five. The Falcons' offense could be one of the league's best if the line can be stabilized, but that seems like a pipe dream at this point.

  • One more note from yesterday afternoon: ESPN's Field Yates reported that former Denver Broncos running back Montee Ball went unclaimed after being waived, meaning he is now an unrestricted free agent. It's been a surprisingly swift fall for Ball, who had an historic career at Wisconsin and was a second-round pick in 2013. We'd be surprised if he didn't wind up on a roster at some point, especially once injuries begin to weaken depth charts around the league, but he's clearly not in high demand. Ball is unlikely to make a major impact in any fantasy leagues this year, unless he somehow signs with Dallas and earns significant touches. The Cowboys' dominant front five would be an ideal fit for a player that routinely ran behind the country's best linemen while with the Badgers.