July 28, 2005
How much for Gates?

The Antonio Gates holdout is clearly going against the wishes of the Chargers. It's not that the Chargers begrudge him a pay raise. They are offering him one of the better tight end contracts in the NFL. What they don't want to do is have him play the next two years without a big raise.

Gates is scheduled to play this season with a $380,000 salary, the tender for a third-year player. Gates is demanding a Tony Gonzalez-type contract, which is a little more than the Chargers want to pay. Gonzalez, who has been the NFL's best tight end for the past several years, received a seven-year, $33 million contract.

The Chargers offer isn't equal to the Gonzalez deal because Gates hasn't been playing at Gonzalez's level for as long as the Chiefs' perennial Pro Bowl tight end. Gates is coming off his first Pro Bowl season and is clearly one of the best young tight ends in the game.

July 28, 2005
Colts sweating Williams' injury

The Colts should know as early as Saturday the immediate health future of defensive tackle Josh Williams. He will undergo a checkup to see the extent of a groin injury that forced the team to put him on the physically unable to perform list. The fear is Williams has a sports hernia, which could require surgery and might sideline him most of training camp.

July 28, 2005
Barrow on the bubble

Efforts to trade Redskins linebacker Michael Barrow have been unsuccessful and that could lead to his release in the next day or two. Barrow missed his first season with the team with a knee injury and has been slow to come off the injury during the offseason. Barrow asked to be traded when he refused to take a pay cut. The deadline for him to take the pay cut has passed, and the Redskins need to release two players once they sign their two first-round draft choices.

July 28, 2005
Up, down, all-around

The Raiders keep moving former first-round pick Tyler Brayton, who enters his third season a little confused. Brayton was a 4-3 defensive end as a rookie. Last year, they tried to make him an outside linebacker in the 3-4. This year, the Raiders are shifting back to a 4-3, but they want Brayton to play at linebacker.

July 28, 2005
Father knows best

Shaun Alexander signed his one-year franchise tender, but he's not going to report to Seahawks camp on time. In this case, he has a good reason. His wife is having a baby.

July 27, 2005
Escalating activity

Browns quarterback Charlie Frye ended a four-day holdout Wednesday night once the Browns kicked in significant escalators that would begin to take care of him in case he becomes the starting quarterback.

On the surface, the four-year, $2.185 million deal that included an $800,000 signing bonus seems simple. It wasn't. Frye has a chance to earn a $2.25 million escalator in the fourth year of the contract. With other incentives built into the pact, he could end up with a four-year, $5 million contract.

The holdout was more about the future than it was the present. Frye has confidence he can become the Browns' starting quarterback early in his career. What he feared is entering the fourth year of a contract with the possibility of making only $460,000 even if he started.

Talks stalled for a couple of days because the Browns felt strong about their position.

A more chartable mood developed in the final hours. Frye felt so good about the deal that he and his agent, Eric Metz, brought pizza to the front office.

"It was tough sitting out," Frye said. "But I love this game. Now, I'm glad I have a deal so I can get ready for practice Friday morning."

July 27, 2005
Safety clause
The Saints took care of second-round choice Josh Bullocks by giving him a strong $1.98 million in guarantees in a contract that voids after four seasons.

Bullocks, who will fight for playing time at the safety position, was a success story coming from Nebraska. His twin brother also played at Nebraska but decided to stay in school another year while Josh entered the NFL.

Several of the picks around Bullocks signed five-year deals. Bullocks was able to get the strong guarantees along with the ability to hit free agency after four years.

July 27, 2005
Dolphins to land Schulters
The Dolphins are pushing for a deal for former Titans safety Lance Schulters and have a decent chance and have a decent chance of landing him at a salary close to the NFL minimum. Schulters had been hoping for a bigger deal and was willing to wait until the start of training camps to get the right deal. The Dolphins have been the most active team in trying to recruit him. The Dolphins hope to get a deal done in the next couple of days.

July 27, 2005
Escalating activity
The Panthers have been one of the most interested teams in acquiring a big receiver. They hoped to get wide receiver Fred Gibson in the fourth round but ended up letting him slip to Pittsburgh toward the bottom of the round. That's why they were the most interested team in Rod Gardner, who was traded to the Panthers by the Redskins for a conditional sixth-round pick. Only when the Saints stepped into the negotiations with the Redskins did the Panthers offer a pick. If Gardner doesn't make the team, the Redskins don't get the pick, but Gardner, a former first-round choice, will make the team.

July 25, 2005
The unkindest cut?
Friday's surprise release of punter Donnie Jones by the Seattle Seahawks was the move of new special teams coach Bob Casullo, who is a big fan of veteran Leo Araguz. Jones was angry Friday that he was cut on the eve of Seahawks training camp. Monday turned out to be a better day for Jones, who was a seventh-round choice of the Seahawks in 2004. He was claimed by the Miami Dolphins, giving him the chance to reunite with his former head coach at LSU, Nick Saban. Jones will challenge veteran Matt Turk for a job.

July 25, 2005
Frye holdout
The big argument causing Charlie Frye's holdout from the Cleveland Browns is over the fourth year of the contract. The Browns are demanding a large amount of playing time -- 75 percent or more -- for Frye to trigger an escalator clause that would raise his salary to about $2 million, the equivalent of a high-level restricted free agent. Frye is trying to talk the Browns into a three-year deal. If Frye ends up being the starter in the first two years, he doesn't want to have too restrictive of a salary in the fourth year. Frye and first-round choice Braylon Edwards are the Browns two remaining holdouts.

July 25, 2005
Simmons' wrist woes
Former Seattle Seahawkslinebacker Anthony Simmons is expected to sit out most of the 2005 season because of his lingering wrist problems. Last week, Simmons, a former Seahawks first-round choice and one of the team's best athletes for the past several years, underwent a second operation to repair problems with his left wrist. The surgery has a long recovery period and he might not be available until late in the season at best. Figuring he may need the season to get back his strength, Simmons is likely to sit out the year unless he has a quick recovery.

July 22, 2005
As the T.O. turns
Eagles management will welcome Terrell Owens back to camp if he shows up on time, and they don't fear he will be too much of a distraction. When the Eagles wrote Owens' seven-year, $49 million deal last year, they put in some extra contract language just in case he causes problems. He would have to pay back $1.75 million of his signing bonus if he is suspended by the team for conduct considered detrimental to the Eagles. The contract gives the Eagles the chance to get back the $1.75 million along with relinquishing any future payments he is owed. Owens said Friday he would report to training camp Aug. 1. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, talked to Owens later and said there is still a chance he could hold out.

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