Sunday, February 29, 2004

Bears may put Clarett on wish list

NFL insider

Mark Curnutte
The Chicago Bears are believed to be the team most interested in Maurice Clarett.

Because of the Bears' hiring of running backs coach Tim Spencer, Clarett's former position coach at Ohio State, speculation is that a reunion is on the horizon - even though there is film from the Northwestern game of Clarett yelling at Spencer.

"I'm not going to sit here and be turned off by anybody until we get all the facts done, and right now, there's a lot of hearsay," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said.

Angelo is from the Youngstown area, same as Clarett.

"Everything about this guy is unique," Angelo said.

Clarett's workout in April is the key.

"If he runs a 4.4 (40-yard dash), some of those clouds will go away. If he runs 4.7, it could turn into a thunderstorm," Angelo said.

20 SOMETHINGS: Clarett isn't the first 20-year-old running back to be drafted into the NFL. Walter Payton and Barry Sanders both turned 21 in July, after they were drafted.

FISH STORY: The Dolphins flirted with Drew Henson and Mark Brunell before settling on Philadelphia's A.J. Feeley to replace Jay Fiedler.

Miami is planning to yield a conditional 2005 second-round draft choice and give Feeley a five-year, $18 million contract with a $3 million signing bonus. The Dolphins think Feeley is ready to become a starter when the trade becomes finalized Wednesday.

The team is optimistic that Feeley can join the ranks of quarterbacks such as Carolina's Jake Delhomme and Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, both of whom flourished after serving as untested reserves elsewhere.

ROUNDUP: Keeping offensive coordinator Sean Payton, as well as defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer, cost Cowboys owner Jerry Jones $1 million.

Payton and Zimmer were given $500,000 raises to turn down head coaching jobs at Oakland and Nebraska, respectively.

Jones also has announced that Quincy Carter would be Dallas' starting quarterback again in 2004.

AFC NORTH: As expected, the Ravens put the franchise tag on cornerback Chris McAlister and have until March 17 to reach a deal with him. Because Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome doesn't bid against himself, he will wait for the market to be established before making an attempt to get McAlister signed. This year, cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson - both franchised - need new deals, too, and will finally set a price that the Ravens and McAlister can agree on. Since Bailey rejected the Redskins' offer of $14.75 million in bonuses, the signing bonus for McAlister is expected to exceed $15 million. Woodson is believed to be asking in the range of $15 million to $18 million. The Ravens can choke down a huge bonus, though. They are a league-high $23 million under the salary cap. ...

Browns running back William Green served three days in a Westlake jail as part of a plea in a DUI arrest in October 2003. Prosecutors dropped two other charges, including a misdemeanor marijuana possession. Green recently had his NFL substance abuse suspension lifted and, say Browns officials, Green has been positive while working out under the supervision of the team and a support system set up through the Cleveland Clinic. ...

It's just a matter of days before Pittsburgh and running back Jerome Bettis reach an agreement to cut his salary from $3.8 million to a much smaller figure. Bettis, 32, will enter his 12th NFL season ranked No. 6 all-time in rushing, with a chance to move up two more spots. He has 12,353 yards and is within 907 of climbing to No. 4. Last year, Bettis was surprised when he lost his job in training camp to Amos Zereoue. Six games into the season, he got it back and he led the team with 811 yards rushing. The Steelers will bring in other running backs and could even draft one in the first round. Bettis has been told of the competition and said he just wants a fair shot to win the job. The Steelers will try to trade Zereoue, but likely will end up releasing him and his $2.2 million salary.


Written from notes submitted by NFL beat writers.

Lewis is flexible in free-agent approach
Bengals' free agents
Daugherty: Benching Kitna's a bad move for Bengals
Bears may put Clarett on wish list
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