Will Witherspoon

NFC West Notes: Witherspoon, Starks, Abraham

Though he has yet to officially retire, linebacker Will Witherspoon is taking steps in that direction, as Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports (on Twitter) that Witherspoon has taken a job as the Rams‘ radio sideline reporter. Witherspoon, 33, is a veteran of 12 NFL seasons, having spent time with the Panthers, Rams, Eagles, and Titans. He reportedly engaged in contract talks with both the Rams and the Falcons earlier in the offseason, but it looks as if he’ll get started on his media career rather than continue as a player.

More from the NFC West:

  • After the 49ers drafted Marcus Martin in the third round, some figured he might get a chance to challenge Daniel Kilgore for the right to replace Jonathan Goodwin as San Francisco’s center. But, as Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com writes, Martin’s sprained ankle has disallowed him from even practicing, let alone acting as a serious threat to Kilgore.
  • Newly-signed Cardinals tackle Max Starks is excited to be reunited with head Bruce Arians’ familiar playbook, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. “All the terminology seems to be the old terminology, so it’s starting to click again,” said Stark, who played under Arians’ coordination with the Steelers. “Obviously it’s been two years since I was with [Arians] so just getting used to that lingo and getting that going.”
  • Per Weinfuss on Twitter, Starks has already begun working with the second-team offense at Cardinals camp, supplanting Bradley Sowell.
  • The Cardinals expect veteran linebacker John Abraham, who is sorting through legal issues, to report to camp “within five or six days,” Arians told reporters, including Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic.
  • Undrafted linebacker Shayne Skov, who played under Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, is impressing at 49ers camp, writes Bill Williamson of ESPN.com.

NFC Links: Saints, Cowboys, Cardinals, Rams

Saints tight end Ben Watson was keeping tabs on the franchise tag situation regarding his team and the player he backs up, Jimmy Graham. However, the 33-year-old is confident that both sides will be able to move on and told ESPN.com’s Mike Triplett that heated moments accompany any contract negotiation…

“I’m very confident that it’ll be resolved the right way and guys can move forward. Obviously it’s always tough when you go through litigation with somebody, and it can probably get heated. And I’m sure there are emotions on both sides. But that is the business side of the game.

“And it’s unfortunate that it came to that and that it was so public. But I really think – I know, I don’t think – I know that Jimmy loves New Orleans and I know that he loves our team and the organization and he loves playing here. And we love him, everybody wants him here, coaches included. So when it comes down to contract situations, that’s just a necessary evil…not even evil, but just a necessary progression of getting a player here.”

Let’s check some more NFC notes…

Extra Points: Cutler, Greer, Bills, Witherspoon

Donovan McNabb, who took plenty of criticism in his heyday, let his thoughts be known on Jay Cutler‘s contract earlier today on 87.7 The Game. “I think Jay might be the luckiest dude in Chicago, to be honest with you, with the contract that he received for what we haven’t seen thus far,” McNabb said, according to CSNChicago.com. “Don’t get me wrong, I think Jay’s got a strong arm, I think the sky’s the limit for him. But for what we’ve seen in Chicago, when you didn’t finish the NFC Championship — which it was due to injury. But even with that, you haven’t been able to get past that hump you needed. One game to get into the playoffs, you couldn’t get it done. Caleb Hanie comes in to play, Josh McCown comes in to play, and then contract comes up and you get paid like a top-three, top-four quarterback? I mean, are you serious? For what we’ve seen? If he doesn’t do it this year, it’s going to end up being a mistake.” More from around the NFL..

  • Jabari Greer said his rehab from last year’s major knee injury is “going really well,” but the former Saints cornerback said he’s not actively pursuing any opportunities to return to the NFL right now and says it’s probably unlikely that he’ll be able to work out for any teams in time for training camp, writes Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. “I think my pride and my body have two different things to say about that,” said Greer, who was released by New Orleans in February. “But we’ll see. I mean, God can do anything, man.”
  • The Bills‘ financial advisers, Morgan Stanley, began granting online access to the team’s detailed financial information, a major step in the sales process, writes Tim Graham of The Buffalo News. Terry Pegula and the man he bought the Buffalo Sabres from, Tom Golisano, each were believed to be among the possible buyers granted permission to review the numbers. Same goes for Jon Bon Jovi’s Toronto-based group and Donald Trump.
  • Veteran linebacker Will Witherspoon has had contract talks with both the Rams and the Falcons, reports Greg Brzozowski of WJHG-TV (hat tip: Pro Football Talk).
  • Patriots seventh-round wide receiver Jeremy Gallon is hoping to be the club’s latest late-round steal, writes Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com.
  • Dion Lewis once thought he might have an opportunity to be the Browns’ feature back in 2014, but following Cleveland’s additions of Ben Tate and Terrance West, the 23-year-old Lewis’ role looks much more uncertain, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Finley, Rams

The 49ers have had some wildly successful draft classes in recent years, and Sports On Earth’s Dan Pompei has a fascinating, behind-the-scenes look at the team’s 2014 draft. The author explains the strategy and thinking that went into each selection.

The team’s first-round pick, safety Jimmie Ward, wasn’t necessarily expected to be an early pick. While some teams focused on his injury and size, the 49ers focused on a strategy used by former Jets’ duo Bill Parcels and Dick Haley. General manager Trent Baalke said he learned that there are “few players who can perform at a high level regardless of system.” As a result, a coach should draft a player who fits nicely into their scheme.

I learned that a long time ago,” said Baalke. “Coach Parcells was the guy I looked at and learned the most from, he and Dick Haley. That was always the question with them, how do they fit what we are going to ask him to do? For us, it’s critical.

The author has other interesting insight, including the team’s selection of basketball player Bruce Ellington and trade for Steve Johnson.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from the NFC West…