Page 4 of 4 -- Last year Pass rushed 39 times for 141 yards, caught 28 passes for 215 more yards, and returned six kickoffs for 115 yards, in addition to being a solid contributor on special teams. Norris, in contrast, carried one time for zero yards, caught four passes for 13 yards, but blocked like a mule and will be doing the same this season.
Kuliga also represents Doug Flutie and is hoping to land him a job in New England.
The almighty dollar
Less than a day before free agent cornerback Gary Baxter signed with the Browns, he agreed in principle to a deal with the Baltimore Ravens. After a lengthy discussion on a Thursday night, Baxter told Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome he would sign with the Ravens, but the next morning he called to tell Newsome he had "prayed" on his decisions all night and felt he had to at least go visit Cleveland. By evening, he had signed with the Browns for more money. That led Newsome's old friend and associate in Cleveland, Jacksonville Jaguars vice president of player personnel James Harris, to call Newsome the next day, but not to commiserate. Harris told Newsome, "Baxter prayed to the same God Reggie White did when he decided to go to Green Bay. `In God We Trust.' "
The NFL Players Association took its first big step toward preparing for a potential work stoppage when its player representatives authorized not rebating the players' annual individual dues of $10,000, as it has done for years. That roughly $18 million will instead be put aside as part of a growing war chest in case an extension of the collective bargaining agreement cannot be agreed to in time to avoid making 2007 an uncapped year with a strike and legal battle to follow. If that ever happens, chaos will reign, and most of the owners know it. But not all of them.
Just open the vault
If the Patriots can't work out the details of an acceptable bonus structure with quarterback Tom Brady, he'd become a free agent in 2007. How'd you like to be Brady on the open market in an upcapped year? As Dick Enberg would say, "Oh, my!"
The rest of the story
Bill Belichick was correct when he told a Bryant College audience last week that Tedy Bruschi has been at Gillette Stadium almost daily. What he didn't tell them, according to sources familiar with the linebacker's situation and the goings-on in Foxborough, is that Bruschi has been there for physical therapy to rehab from the stroke damage he sustained three days after returning from the Pro Bowl.
Building for future?
Jets coach Herman Edwards will be among the New Yorkers rejoicing if the team ever gets a stadium built on the West Side highway, but if not, he insists his team will take lemons and make lemonade. "Obviously we need a stadium," Edwards said. "We're the only team in the league that doesn't have a stadium. I think that's important, and I think it's important for the league, too. I just think when you think of 32 teams and only one shares a stadium, that's odd. And it's the New York team. We laugh [that] all our games are road games. That's OK. But I felt for the most part we started to play better at home, and we had a pretty good record at home. Our fans are very, very passionate. It's a little different than any other home venue. And our players, they understand that. We don't make excuses. It's kind of the way it's always been for the Jets. It's one of those franchises, you kind of look at, it's a nomad franchise. They kind of played over here for a while, they played over here for a while, now they're playing over here, trying to get a new stadium. But our players take it in stride and that doesn't really determine how we play."
Ty Law continues to struggle trying to find a buyer because he is not yet able to run, which may be the case until late spring. With the Kansas City Chiefs looking at Miami's unhappy corner Patrick Surtain, the market is drying up for Law and former Tennessee starter Andre Dyson. The Chiefs could still be in the market after the draft, however, if Dolphins coach Nick Saban continues to insist on a second-round pick he'll never get to free Surtain.
Drew Bledsoe stands to earn $4 million this fall in Dallas ($2 million signing bonus, $2 million in salary) but he has another $500,000 escalator with incentives. His three-year deal is essentially a one-year contract, though, unless he plays for Bill Parcells the way he did when they were together in New England. His cap number jumps from $2,666,666 this year to $5,666,666 in 2006 and $7,166,668 in 2007 as his salary escalates to $3.5 million and then $4.5 million, according to NFLPA numbers.
Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.
April 23-24: NFL draft, New York
May 24-25: Spring meetings, Washington.
Aug. 7: Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions, Canton, Ohio.
Aug. 8: Pro Football Hall of Fame game, Canton, Ohio.
Sept. 8: First regular-season game.