A great percentage of this week's overstuffed mailbag had to do with potential wide receiver trades. As the draft approaches, things are taking shape, and the news isn't good for teams in desperate need of wide receiver help.
The Bengals have been pondering the idea of trading Chad Ocho Cinco, but it appears they won't pull the trigger. Obviously, something could change, but I believe Bengals management understands it won't get first- and third-round picks for him. Barring a change of heart, Johnson will stay with the Bengals.
I'm skeptical about an Anquan Boldin trade. The Cardinals like to do things on their terms, so they don't move quickly. They will try to give Boldin a new contract, but I don't think he will be satisfied making less than Larry Fitzgerald. Look for Boldin, who has two years remaning on his current contract, to remain in Arizona.
That leaves Braylon Edwards of the Browns. It's not as if the Browns are actively shopping him, but it's widely believed that he's available. Prices for No. 1 receivers are first- and third-round picks. We'll see this week if the Giants are willing to step up and make up that kind of offer to get the process moving.
Torry Holt remains in play, with Tennessee and Jacksonville being the most likely destinations. Marvin Harrison has received little interest from teams, so nothing should happen with him before the draft.
Drew Rosenhaus reports serious interest in Plaxico Burress, but nothing looks imminent. An active e-mailer, Steve, wonders why Burress doesn't do some speaking engagements to high school kids about not carrying guns. My guess is that his attorneys don't want Burress making public statements until he reaches some kind of plea bargain with the district attorney's office.
Let's dive into the mailbag:
From the inbox
Q: I have been a lifelong PSU fan and can't understand how the 49ers let a great talent like Michael Robinson waste away on the sidelines. If he was on a team like Pittsburgh, he would be all over the place -- WR, RB, KR and probably a few QB plays. What is San Fran thinking?
Stumblore in Philadelphia
A: Great observation, and your thoughts will be even more profound once the draft comes around. The 49ers do love Robinson as a player, but they also plan to draft a running back in the first three rounds, which will push Robinson further down the rotation for opportunities on the field. Robinson will just have to wait out his chances. If it doesn't work out in San Francisco, he can find another home and do more. The great part about Robinson is that he is good enough to have a seven- or eight-year career. This situation reminds me a lot of Adrian Peterson in Chicago. The Bears love Peterson as a player, but they have always put other backs ahead of him.
Q: It seems wrong to me that a team has to eat the prorated portion of a signing bonus if they trade a player. If a player tries to force a trade because of a contract dispute, the trading club takes the cap hit and the receiving club gets a player at only his salary. It seems to me, for fairness' sake, that the prorated portion [of] the signing bonus should travel with the player. This would discourage players from lobbying for a trade because they know that the new club will take the cap hit from the original contract and any renegotiated contract.
Dave in Brookfield, Conn.
A: What you have to remember is some players might request trades, but most players don't like to be traded. In some ways, the proration was put on the trading team to discourage trades, something the players favor. Over the past several years, there has been so much available cap room that the proration issue has been meaningless. If a team wants to trade a player, the team can trade him. Adjusting the proration rule, though, won't stop players from requesting trades. There are only 22 starters on a 53-man roster. The player who isn't starting is going to want out. The starter who wants to be paid like a Pro Bowl star is always going to use trade requests when he has years left on his contract. That's just sports nowadays.
Q: I just want to know why everyone is projecting that the Lions will take Matthew Stafford, Aaron Curry or Jason Smith when, in my opinion, B.J. Raji would fill a more pressing need?
Fish in Annapolis, Md.
A: It's rare to have a defensive tackle taken first. We've seen a lot of teams -- including the Lions -- grow tired of big defensive tackles when those players get into their late 20s. The Lions traded Shaun Rogers in his prime. It's not certain Raji is going to be as good as Rogers, but he is the best defensive tackle in the draft. This is one on which I differ with teams. So often they will look at a defensive tackle and think he's taking plays off, even though they ask that defensive tackle to be on the field for 60 defensive snaps. That's wrong. Try going up against two interior offensive linemen 60 times a game. It's a marathon, not a sprint. No defensive tackle can give 120 percent every play, which is why defensive tackles should be involved with more rotations. I still say the Lions take a quarterback.
Q: John, can you explain to me why we continually have to listen to players complain and act as if they are "surprised" by the fiscal side of the NFL? Releases, franchise tags -- it's a never-ending sea of whining. I understand a large portion of this is posturing, but seriously, how much is it really helping?
Tyke in Brighton, Mich.
A: Welcome to the reality of sports. Back in the 1940s and '50s, sportswriters didn't quote players much, listening more to the management side of things. Now players have the forum, and there are so many ways they can get their points to the public. They can go on TV, radio and in print. They can post complaints on their blogs. They can Twitter. It can be frustrating, but you can always tune them out. The tough part about football is the fact that there are only 16 regular-season games and plenty of time between those games for players to vent.
Q: I'm a big Packer fan. Do you think the switch to 3-4 defense is the right move for the Packers, or should they have stayed with 4-3?
Paula in Fort Dodge, Iowa
A: I don't think any team should switch to a 3-4 unless it has a nose tackle. The Chargers were successful with their switch to the 3-4 because they had Jamal Williams. The Jets, Browns and 49ers struggled for years with the 3-4 because they didn't have a nose tackle who could occupy two blockers. Ryan Pickett has the body to handle the nose, but I don't know if he has the desire to make that switch. If he and Johnny Jolly can't handle the nose, the Packers will not be able to stop the run in a 3-4. I'm not overly concerned about the linebackers. The Packers are fine there. If were running the Packers, I would take B.J. Raji with my first pick. Remember, Pickett is in the last year of his contract.
Q: If the league wants to look at the safety of its players, why not look at the equipment they wear? The shoulder pads are like weapons with the amount of protection and armor on them. Guys who big and fast don't need something extra like that. You don't see too many separated shoulders anymore, but you see a lot of guys with broken ribs and concussion because of the hits they take.
Joe from Baltimore
A: Give the NFL and the players credit for something. They are always looking at the equipment. Players need shoulder pads. They are protective devices, not weapons. Despite the pads, there are plenty of shoulder separations. They might be labeled as AC joint injuries, but those are separations. Bodies are getting bigger. Players are getting faster. It's a contact sport, and it's very dangerous. But believe me, everyone from ownership to players looks for ways to better protect the players.
Q: I would love to see the Dolphins land a big-play receiver, something they haven't had for a long time. I like Ted Ginn, but he doesn't seem like he'll ever be a No. 1 WR. Do you think they might go after Boldin or Edwards, or draft a WR high? I really like Hakeem Nicks. Any possibility they take him in the first round?
Rob in Boca Raton, Fla.
A: I don't think the odds favor the Dolphins taking a receiver in the first round. It's a good draft at that position. If they don't get one in the first round, they will get one in the second or third. I'd scratch the Dolphins on making a trade. Boldin would love to be a Dolphin, but the Cards might not trade him. Edwards would cost a first- and third-rounder. I don't see that happening.
Q: As a Lions fan, I have been watching them make a lot of mistakes in the draft. Now, the speculation is they are going to draft Matt Stafford, who didn't really do anything on the field at Georgia except underachieve. I see a lot of Alex Smith in Stafford. What is your opinion?
Nick in Roseville, Mich.
A: Nick, believe me, I feel your pain, but I do think the Lions should take a chance on Stafford. They don't have to rush him onto the field because they have Culpepper. You win in this league with quarterbacks. Somehow, some way, the Lions have to come out of this draft with a young quarterback. They couldn't get Jay Cutler. Now they will have to rely on the draft. Take Stafford.
Q: David Garrard has already dropped 20 pounds this offseason, prior to the team conditioning. Do you think a lighter, more motivated Garrard is indicative of the changes that we can expect for the entire Jaguars team? Will we expect to see more running from Garrard this year, or just more mobility when necessary?
Nick in Jacksonville, Fla.
A: I believe Garrard's weight loss was a smart correction from previous seasons. He thought being bigger and stronger would help him, because he needs to gain yards with his feet as well as his arm. Players in their 30s don't usually get quicker, so Garrard, 31, was smart to get down to 232 pounds. Garrard is going to have to do more with his feet this season, because his offense is down three receivers from last year.
Q: Don't you think it would be hilarious for Chad Johnson to go to a team where he could not get the number 85?
Paul in Norman, Okla.
A: I officially nominate you for e-mailer of the year. I did check and saw that 14 teams don't currently have the No. 85 on their roster. The Eagles do have an opening for a No. 85. If the Eagles could work out a trade, at least he wouldn't have to change his number.
John Clayton, a recipient of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's McCann Award for distinguished reporting, is a senior writer for ESPN.com.