The NFL will hold its first-ever combine for veteran players March 22 in Tempe, Ariz. Like the scouting combine, which takes place every February and is designed for teams to observe draft prospects, the veteran edition will include position drills and physical tests. At least two household names will be among the 100 invitees participating at the combine. Quarterback Vince Young and defensive end Michael Sam will be in attendance, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and ESPN’s Adam Schefter, respectively.
Young, whom the Titans chose third overall in the 2006 draft, last appeared in an NFL game in 2011 as a member of the Eagles. The one-time Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Texas announced his retirement last June after a disappointing career that included stints with five different organizations. The 31-year-old Young has had a change of heart, though, and will try to return to the league. His attempt at blazing a comeback trail will begin at the combine.
One of the players joining Young will be Sam, 25, the ex-University of Missouri star who has made headlines since last year as the first openly gay player drafted into the NFL. The seventh-round pick of the Rams last April hasn’t yet appeared in an NFL game and hasn’t been a member of a team since the Cowboys released him from their practice squad in October. Although Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported earlier this month that Sam has a one-year contract offer on the table from the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, Sam wrote last week on MMQB.com that, despite ups and downs, he has “remained focused on getting back on an NFL roster.”
Elsewhere around the league…
- The Bills were one of two serious contenders for the services of quarterback Josh McCown, who signed with the Browns on Friday. Having lost out on McCown, Buffalo will continue its search for a veteran QB and, per Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo, could turn to the Vikings’ Matt Cassel. Minnesota would save $4.75MM on its 2015 cap by cutting or trading Cassel prior to June 1. The 32-year-old has garnered extensive playing experience (91 games, 71 starts) as a member of three franchises in 10 seasons and, if he ends up with the Bills, could serve as competition for EJ Manuel.
- Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reported earlier this month that Patriots running back Shane Vereen was hoping to cash in on the free agent market to the tune of $5MM annually. Vereen laughed off the report via Twitter on Thursday and called it “not true.” Vereen, who will turn 26 next week, has been a useful cog in the Pats’ offense the last couple years, especially as a pass catcher. The former second-round pick has hauled in a combined 99 passes and six touchdowns in 24 games over the previous two seasons. As a runner, he has averaged a solid 4.2 yards per carry, albeit on just 217 attempts, during his four-year career.
- Vereen isn’t the only Pats RB looking toward free agency. Stevan Ridley is also on track to hit the market next month. “I’m excited about it,” the 26-year-old told Sirius NFL XM hosts Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Friday, according to Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com. Ridley went on to say that he’d “love” to stay in New England, but acknowledged that signing someplace else could present “more opportunities.” Ridley has averaged 4.3 yards per carry and scored 22 touchdowns in four seasons with the Patriots. His best output was in 2012, when he rushed for the seventh-most yards in the league (1,263) and eight scores.