NFL News & Notes from Day 2 of the Combine:
– The Cleveland Browns are rumored to be after free agent FS Jairus Byrd. New Browns HC Mike Pettine coached him last year in Buffalo. If Bryd goes to Cleveland, then the Browns would almost certainly let free agent SS TJ Ward walk. If they kept Byrd and Ward, they would have more money allocated to the safety position than any other team in the NFL. With all the holes the Browns have, it’s very doubtful they put that much money into one position. Ward becoming a free agent would be great news for the Bears. He is a 27-year old tackling machine, a fierce hitter over the middle and is good in coverage. Pairing Ward with a free safety from the draft like Calvin Pryor (LOU), Ed Reynolds (STAN) or Jonathon Dowling (WKU) would be a long-term fix at the position and potentially turn a glaring weakness into a strength overnight.
– Jim Harbaugh was almost traded to the Browns. Wait, what? Rumor has it that a deal was in place to send multiple draft picks to the 49ers and Jim Harbaugh to the Browns. I wish there was video of Harbaugh reacting to the news. It might of been the best meme of all time; Harbaugh’s ultimate tantrum. Anyway, Harbuagh declined the trade which apparently he had the right to do. I bet that has created some tension between Harbaugh and the 49ers front office though. It probably sucks knowing your bosses don’t value you all that much. Harbaugh comes off as a whiny jerk, but he deserves some credit for taking his team to the NFL championship game three years in a row and the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.
– Bears GM Phil Emery continues to hint at the possibility of the Bears trading down from the 14th overall pick. This is one of the deepest draft in years and the Bears have a lot of holes, it makes sense.
– The Bears reportedly met with DT Jay Ratliff’s agent today and are interested in bringing him back. It’s hard to accurately evaluate Ratliff’s 5 games with the Bears considering that he had missed the last 18 games, but he certainly showed flashes of his old Pro Bowl form. Ratliff played very well in his 3rd game as a Bear against Cleveland, but was awful in the last game of the year vs the Packers. If the price is right then it’s worth bringing Ratliff back for a year or two to see what he has left. It makes sense for the Bears to build some depth at DT before the draft so they aren’t forced to draft for need. If they can bring back Melton & Ratliff at DT to go with Stephen Paea who is still under contract, that gives the Bears 3 solid DTs to build on in the draft with 1 or two DT picks.
– The Bears also talked with CB Kelvin Hayden’s agent today. I’ve been recommending bringing Hayden back as a depth corner all off-season, so I am clearly on board with this news. Teams need 4 or 5 competent corners and Hayden (30) has proven to be a solid corner when healthy. Like at DT, signing Hayden would give the Bears three decent players at the CB position and allow them to draft on talent instead of need. Tim Jennings, Isaiah Frey, and Hayden is a good group, but they could still use some more size either through the draft or a very strong free agent CB class.
– The Bears met with NIU QB Jordan Lynch at the combine today. I don’t think Lynch is going to be a QB in the NFL, so I’m guessing the Bears were talking to him about a move to safety. Lynch is a great athlete and could be a good special teams player while he develops his skills as a safety.
Some NFC North news:
– Packers GM Ted Thompson said they are confident about TE Jermichael Finley being able to come back 100% next year and with the Packers. I had considered Finley pretty much gone, but honestly he’s so inconsistent and injury prone I kind of hope he comes back. I don’t think he makes the Packers any better.
– Thompson also said that Eddie Lacy is going to be on the field for all 3 downs next year. I don’t like that news as much. Lacy is a beast.
– One last Packers note, GM Thompson said the Packers are going to do whatever they can to bring back CB Sam Shields. Let’s hope they don’t Bears fans!
– The Lions met with WR Shaq Evans (UCLA). After releasing WR Nate Burleson, they need at least one if not two receivers. I didn’t have Evans being drafted in my mock and CBS has him as a 7th round pick, so I don’t know why I’m even writing about this.
– On a more interesting Lions note, GM Mayhew stated that the Lions have already decided not to bring back a number of their free agents. I’m spitballing here but I predict they are: TE Brandon Pettigrew, DE Willie Young (they already have too much money tied up in their DL and Suh extension coming up soon), RB Mikel Leshoure, and DT Isreal Idonije (I always liked Idonije and hate seeing him on the evil Lions).