Who knows what the final dollars or his landing place will be, but after having a screw removed from his surgically repaired left foot recently, Ty Law expects to be a sought-after player in free agency after June 1. At least that's what his agent, Carl Poston, believes.
"There are plenty of teams in need of a player of Ty's caliber," Poston said. "There'll be a post-June market. All along we understood we had to be patient and let things play out and, more important, allow Ty time to heal the foot. When the foot is healed, Ty becomes an attractive player in the market again."
Poston said Law is working out near his home in Miami, running and getting into shape.
"Ty's doing everything except for cutting at this point," said Poston, who called Law's progress "ahead of schedule."
There's been plenty of activity on the cornerback market since Law was released by the Patriots Feb. 25 as he was about to enter the final year of a seven-year, $51 million deal that would have paid him $10 million and counted $12.5 million on the salary cap this season.
The Patriots recently signed former Steeler Chad Scott after trading a third-round pick to Arizona for Duane Starks. The team also drafted Ellis Hobbs in the third round to go along with Asante Samuel, Randall Gay, Tyrone Poole, and Hank Poteat.
While the Patriots appear filled up at corner, Poston was asked whether there was any possibility of Law returning. "I would never say never, but I don't think that's likely at this point," said the agent.
The Chiefs and Steelers have shown the most interest. Law has visited both teams and has visits scheduled with a couple of undisclosed teams next month.
Kansas City recently traded for Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain but hasn't ruled out a spot for Law. In fact, Poston said, the Chiefs were somewhat concerned about Law leaving the screw in the foot and having it break, which is one reason Law had it removed.
Law has also expressed a desire to play for Herm Edwards with the Jets or Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. Some think Law might have to accept a one-year deal, show he's healthy, and then try to work out a longer contract.
The cornerback position has been a revolving door around the league, with teams desperately trying to find the right fit. The Oakland Raiders dealt veteran Phillip Buchanon to Houston for second- and third-round draft picks, but with their first-round pick, they took Nebraska corner Fabian Washington to play opposite veteran Charles Woodson. Earlier, the Raiders signed free agent Renaldo Hill from Arizona.
Just last week, the Texans released veteran Aaron Glenn as a salary cap casualty and he signed with Dallas the same day. The Ravens lost out on free agent Gary Baxter, who signed with the Browns, but then struck a deal with Samari Rolle. The Dolphins traded Surtain but signed free agent Mario Edwards from Tampa Bay.
"Ty's never been worried about all of the movement," Poston said. "It's just musical chairs. There were teams that felt they had to act quickly and they did. There are teams who have preferred to stay back and assess their situations in the secondary. Ty will be playing football at a high level someplace in 2005."
While Law continues to work with physical therapists, he also plans to maintain his annual ritual of training with track coach Bob Kersee. If all goes well, he will begin those workouts in June.
Jaguars hope Jones can pull the switch
Jacksonville Jaguars offensive coordinator Carl Smith is as eager as anyone to see what top pick Matt Jones can do on the field this weekend at minicamp. Jones played quarterback at Arkansas but will be converted to wide receiver by the Jaguars. Smith applauded the choice of coach Jack Del Rio and general manager James Harris, who stuck out their necks a tad, taking Jones with the 21st pick ahead of established receiver Mark Clayton.
At 6 feet 6 1/4 inches, 242 pounds, and with a 40 time of 4.39 seconds, Jones is called a freak of nature by some.
Will he be like Randy Moss?
"No," said Smith. "You can't compare him to anyone in the NFL. There aren't any 6-6 1/2-inch, 240-pound wide receivers with 4.4 speed in the NFL. Jack and James, two people who have played the game, decided that this is a kid they wanted in their offensive huddle. I'm just as anxious as anyone to see what he can do."
Smith said Jones has let go of the idea of playing quarterback in the NFL.
"He told me himself that if he went into the draft as a quarterback, he would have been a second-day guy," said Smith. "As a receiver, with his size and ability and athleticism, it's a whole new world for him."
The Jaguars, who may not be far from being a playoff team, decided Jones is an athlete who could set them apart, and the relationship he forms on the field with quarterback Byron Leftwich could be special. Nobody could cover him at the Senior Bowl, but Jones's biggest challenge may be getting into NFL receiver shape.
It was a long time ago, but maybe hard feelings never die. Some of Doug Flutie's old Patriots teammates still remember that he crossed the picket line to play in 1987. "Cost me about 90 grand," said one old Patriot of that time. "I don't have anything to say." Steve Grogan took a more diplomatic approach. "I always got along fine with him," said Grogan. "He was a nice kid. I think it's amazing he's still playing. He's had a nice career. I guess it's great for him that he can finally come home."
Carl Smith, who coached quarterbacks at Southern Cal last season and is now Jacksonville's offensive coordinator, wasn't surprised by the Patriots' selection of Matt Cassel in the seventh round. "I haven't talked to Patriots people since the pick, but they probably saw the same thing I saw at his workout at USC," said Smith. "He must have thrown 50-60 balls and he hit all of his throws except for probably one, which was dropped. Matt has a terrific arm. I'd say that workout was even better than Carson Palmer's workout a couple of years back, so while there's not much to go on with him, you can see his ability. He can throw a baseball about 90 miles per hour, and that translates into his throws as a football player because he has a very strong arm." Asked whether Cassel could play another position, Smith said, "We had switched him to tight end, and he did all of the things a tight end does, including blocking and catching the ball. I can assure you, he's a quarterback."
How now, Brown?
Troy Brown may still return to New England, but what would his role be now that the team has signed Tim Dwight, who performs similar duties as wide receiver/returner? Brown wants to know as well. Bills general manager Tom Donahoe said last week, "We brought Troy's name up at a personnel meeting and we were all surprised he was still in the market. I couldn't give you a good reason why. Sometimes when a guy gets to be 33 or 34, that might have something to do with it. I don't know if salary demands are an issue or if teams believe he'll wind up back with New England anyway. All I know is, whatever team gets him in the end, he'll help that team win games. He's a football player. What he did for the Patriots last season was above and beyond." Asked if he had interest in Brown, who has declined to comment about his situation, Donahoe said, "We're going to get through the camp this weekend and then take a look at our personnel. I would never say never, especially on a special guy like Troy. Evaluating personnel is an ongoing situation. We've signed players in training camp." The Carolina Panthers have made inquiries about Brown.
Giving no ground on running back
Despite mounting media criticism for not dumping Travis Henry, Donahoe insists he won't trade the running back until he gets fair value in return. When he couldn't get a pick in the top three rounds for Henry last weekend, Donahoe dug in even more. "I haven't received fair market value," he said. "We'll keep trying." He might be able to move Henry after teams assess their rosters and draft picks, or if someone goes down with an injury. Edgerrin James and Shaun Alexander also were not traded, as teams elected to fill needs in the draft. Henry, not surprisingly, did not show for the Bills' minicamp this weekend.
Cheers for Frazier
It's difficult to get good coaches at the last minute, which is why Tony Dungy made a superb move last week when he added Leslie Frazier, the deposed defensive coordinator of the Bengals, to his staff. The Colts drafted a tough cornerback in Michigan's Marlin Jackson, and Frazier should be instrumental in his development.
We asked an NFL scout about the Patriots' draft, and the reaction to first-rounder Logan Mankins (left tackle, Fresno State) and third-rounder Ellis Hobbs (cornerback, Iowa State) was quite favorable: "I think a few teams were disappointed that Logan wasn't there in the second round, because there were teams ready to take him later in the round. Those of us who watched him feel he'll be an NFL starter whether it's at tackle or guard. He's tough, with tremendous athletic ability for a big guy [6 feet 4 1/8 inches, 307 pounds]. He's got a great lunchpail work ethic that really stands out in his play. I think Hobbs is going to be a starter as well. He'll be a better player than Asante Samuel in time. Forget about his size [5-9], he plays much bigger than that."
Designs on another one?
Bill Parcells is retooling the Cowboys much the way he did the Patriots in 1996. After a 6-10 season in 1995, Parcells drafted Terry Glenn, Lawyer Milloy, Tedy Bruschi, and Chris Sullivan, and signed free agents Willie Clay, Shawn Jefferson, Keith Byars, and Pio Sagapolutele. This year, Parcells had what many experts think is one of the top two or three drafts in the league (Demarcus Ware, Marcus Spears, Kevin Burnett, and Chris Canty), and he signed Drew Bledsoe, Marco Rivera, Jason Ferguson, and Aaron Glenn. Let's see if he gets the same result: a trip to the Super Bowl.
Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.