Looking more like Alex Brown will be released

As another day passes without the Chicago Bears able to put together a trade for Alex Brown, the club is closer to releasing the nine-year veteran.

The Bears informed Brown that he would be released if they cannot find a taker for him in the form of a trade, and after nearly a week of searching for a deal, the reality could be that there isn’t a market for him. That’s not to say there isn’t interest in Brown. It’s just that teams might not be interested in forking over a draft pick and then paying him $5 million this season and $5.5 million in 2011 when they can cut their own deal with him after he is released.

Brown acknowledged via his Twitter account that his run with the Bears has ended.

“I am extremely grateful for my time as a Chicago Bear and I wish the Bears the best,” Brown wrote on his Twitter account. “I am glad that they gave me an opportunity to realize a dream I had had (as) a child. I appreciate the fans but as we all know this is the nature of the business. Bear down!”

If the Bears don’t find a trading partner this week, it’s unlikely one will emerge before the draft in a little more than three weeks. Stay tuned for the next move.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Diner morning news: Do the ‘Skins want Clausen?

QUOTE: “The path to perfection is difficult to men in every lot; there is no royal road for rich or poor. But difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage.” — William Ellery Channing

‘Skins are now in the front of the draft

Based on the recent workout of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, all indications from the Rams are that they’ll make him the first pick in the draft. If this is true (and I believe it is), that means the Lions and Bucs will play off each other and select either Ndamukong Suh or Gerald McCoy at two and three. I’m not certain which tackle the Lions will pick first, but it seems likely that defensive tackle is their choice. Then the Bucs, who have made it no secret that they also want a defensive tackle, will choose whoever is left on the board. That leads us to the Redskins and the fourth pick, and this is where the draft will essentially start.

The ‘Skins have scheduled a workout with Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen, which makes sense but doesn’t shed any light on their genuine interest. With all the reporting from Internet sources about which players are going to visit teams and which teams are going to work out players on their campuses, it’s hard to determine genuine interest. Teams are allowed to bring in 20 players to their facilities to give them physicals or just spend time getting to know them, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to draft them. Some teams bring in the high-rated players on their board and some bring in their lower-rated players and try to start the recruiting process for free agency after the draft. But the one commonality with all the visits is that it’s hard to determine if a team is actually interested — or just interested in collecting more information. Which leads us back to the ‘Skins and whether their workout with Clausen is genuine or a fact-finding mission.

Vinny Cerrato, the former GM of the ‘Skins, loves Clausen and defended him this week in the Washington Post, attacking several of the draft gurus who believe Clausen doesn’t have the necessary leadership skills or maturity to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. As GM, Cerrato was commissioned to spend time learning all about Clausen. He had several conversations with Mike Shanahan during the season, and Cerrato actually thought he would remain in his position once former head coach Jim Zorn was fired. But Cerrato had the rug pulled out from under him when he was also dismissed, and even though he’s on the outside, he is still a consultant for the team. So his information on Clausen will be used and will be considered valuable, in large part because he still remains friends with the owner and the new head coach.

The Redskins’ private work out on April 15 with Clausen at Notre Dame will be the last bit of information they need to make a final decision. The ‘Skins have many needs that the fourth overall pick can address, and their owner (according to the Washington Post, through Cerrato) wants them to select a perennial Pro Bowl player with that pick. So they must make sure they feel Clausen is that player.

I like Clausen as a player, but I don’t have the feeling he’s going to be a perennial Pro Bowl quarterback. However, I do feel that Oklahoma State offensive tackle Russell Okung has those skills, as does Tennessee safety Eric Berry. And both players are scheduled to visit Washington.

So does all this mean that the ‘Skins are genuinely interested in Clausen? My sense is yes, but they’re now the wild card team in the draft, and we might not know whom they’ll pick until just before the draft.

Dez Bryant

On Tuesday, I wrote that concerns about Dez Bryant were not as an athlete but more as a mature, responsible athlete. And lo and behold, he forgets to bring his cleats to the workout. Now, for everyone who thinks their team should just pick Bryant, you might want to consider what life would be like coaching him once he’s been paid large sums of money.

Bryant is a great player, but forgetting his cleats confirms that his maturity level, along with questions about him being a responsible person, is still a huge concern.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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Report: Lions considering trade for Rob Sims

Seattle could find a taker soon for veteran guard Rob Sims.

The Detroit Lions are reportedly “strongly considering” making a move to bring Sims in and bolster the interior of their line, according to Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network.

Sims is a restricted free agent and the Seahawks are making a transition to smaller, more mobile linemen that fit what Alex Gibbs likes to do. Seattle has told Sims to stay away from the offseason workout program that he could otherwise volunteer for as it works to find a new home for him. The Seahawks tendered Sims at the original round level, meaning a fourth-round pick for him. The Lions could sign Sims to an offer sheet or work out a trade with the Seahawks.

Detroit is also considering ways to sign defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove of the New Orleans Saints to an offer sheet. The Bears are also believed to have interest in Sims. They will have an open left guard position when Frank Omiyale’s move to right tackle becomes official.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Crabtree making up for lost time with 49ers

Michael Crabtree can never regain what he lost by missing training camp and then some last year.

But he can control what he’s doing moving forward and from the sounds of things the wide receiver is off to a good start for Year 2. It’s not like his rookie season was a wash for the San Francisco 49ers. Crabtree had 625 receiving yards, fourth for a rookie in franchise history, and quickly became a go-to target for quarterback Alex Smith after missing the first five regular-season games, along with the preseason and 57 practices, according to Daniel Brown of the San Jose Mercury News.

The spotlight as a holdout is off of him now and he can focus on making sure he understands Jimmy Raye’s playbook thoroughly. He had to take cram sessions after finally signing last fall.

“(I’m) learning the basics,” Crabtree told Brown. “When I first came here, it was all about cramming a lot into a little amount of time. Right now, we have the time and I’m just taking it step by step.”

It’s a good sign for the organization, which needs to become more explosive offensively. The onus is on quarterback Alex Smith, where it should be, but he needs the supporting cast to step forward. Crabtree looks to be headed in that direction.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Report: Donovan McNabb would like to play in Arizona

Donovan McNabb one day would like to play close to home.

No, he isn’t looking at the Chicago Bears, near his boyhood home, as a landing spot. The Bears have locked themselves into Jay Cutler for the future.

McNabb would like to go from wearing bird wings on the side of his helmet to wearing a bird head. He’d like to play for the Arizona Cardinals, according to a report by Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports. Part of the reason? McNabb has made his offseason home in the Phoenix area for some time.

Cole reports that if the path from Philadelphia to Arizona takes McNabb through Oakland for a season, so be it. The Cardinals already inquired about McNabb but that was before they signed Derek Anderson as insurance/competition for former first-round draft pick Matt Leinart.

It’s an interesting story and Cole notes that Leinart will make a modest $2.485 million this season. His contract, though, climbs to at least $12.86 million in 2011 and could go north of $18 million depending on various triggers, including a $5 million escalator if he makes the Pro Bowl. Hey, crazier things have happened.

The big holdup for McNabb and the Cardinals could be the Raiders. Are they going to trade for McNabb, who has one season remaining on his contract, without signing him to a new deal. If so, would they do so without placing the franchise tag on him in 2011 as they did with defensive lineman Richard Seymour? The tag for a quarterback could be in the ballpark of $20 million, and Al Davis has done far nuttier things.

Other reports have already circulated that McNabb has no interest in going to Oakland. Really? Imagine that. If it meant a 16-game stay before he could reach Arizona? Maybe. Stay tuned.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Saints fans could soon purchase vanity license plates

New Orleans Saints fans could soon be rolling in style celebrating the team’s Super Bowl XLIV championship.

A bill was approved by a state House panel on Tuesday and if it becomes law the state and the team will work to create a specialty license plate that fans can purchase for an additional annual fee of $25 above the standard cost of plates, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

At least 1,000 motorists will have to sign up for the vanity plates until they are created and sold. According to Saints lobbyist Randy Haynie, the first 300 will be made available to Saints employees and players. The bill requires the extra money be earmarked for programs that support parks, recreation and youth fitness. The money generated in each parish will remain in that parish. The law could take effect as soon as July 1.

With this development, a bill designed to create a license plate for the “Who Dat Nation” was withdrawn with the knowledge that it could lead to potential legal wrangling over the rights to the phrase.

Follow me on Twitter: BradBiggs

Alabama's McClain to visit with Falcons

Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain will meet with the Atlanta Falcons on Monday, the 21-year-old told Ralph Vacchiano and Jim Miller on Sirius Radio Tuesday, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The 6’3”, 254-pounder is considered by many to be the top inside linebacker prospect in this year’s draft class. As a junior at Alabama, McClain recorded 105 stops (53 solo), four sacks and two interceptions for the 14-0 BCS Champion Crimson Tide.

In addition to the Falcons, McClain said he also has upcoming meetings scheduled with the New York Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Drafting McClain would make sense for the Falcons, who ranked 21st in total defense last year (348.9 yds/gm) and have already spent part of the offseason upgrading their secondary by signing free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson.

However, Atlanta currently holds the 19th pick in the first round, and many believe there’s very little chance McClain falls past the New York Giants at No. 15.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

Several potential first-rounders in action today

USC safety Taylor Mays turned a lot heads in Indianapolis last month when he ran a blazing-fast 4.24 40-yard-dash.

Although the time was later adjusted (we spoke to a scout that had him at 4.31), Mays’ performance in Indy only solidified the belief that he is one of the most athletic prospects in this year’s draft class.

The 6’3”, 230-pound Mays will be back in action on Wednesday as the University of Southern California hosts their annual pro day in Los Angeles.

But don’t get caught focusing all of your attention on USC, because quarterback Colt McCoy, safety Earl Thomas and a host of other talented players will be working out in Austin on Wednesday at the University of Texas’ annual pro day.

It will be interesting to compare the performances of Mays and Thomas—both of whom are free safeties battling for a higher draft position.

Here’s a video of Mays’ 40-yard-dash at the combine:

And here’s a video of Thomas taking an INT to the house (fan perspective):

Here’s the rundown for Wednesday’s pro day workouts:

1. Pennsylvania
2. South Carolina
3. South Carolina State
4. USC
5. Texas

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

Tim Tebow’s most important handoff

Here at the Daily Jolt, we prefer our coffee on the stove top and not from the electric drip machine. We’re just old-school that way. Here’s what’s happening this Wednesday morning…

…By now, we already know that whatever Tim Tebow touches turns into gold. But could No. 15 pull off a surprise of a lifetime? No problem. At an autograph signing in Palm Beach Gardens this weekend, the former Heisman Trophy winner assisted in a marriage proposal when University of Florida alum Ian Lis wanted to propose to his girlfriend of nine years, Sarah Springer, in a unique way. Lis sought out the former Gators quarterback, who welcomed the opportunity “with open arms.” Well, of course he did. The guy’s perfect. As you can see in the video, Tebow executed a perfect ring handoff to Lis just in time so he could offer it to Springer while he went down on one knee. The guy’s just a winner in every way possible. Could he be on his way to New England to play for head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots? Boston loves a winner. Tommy and Timmy on the same team? It’d be awesome.

And, by the way, God bless.

…St. John’s absolutely struck gold on Tuesday when the university reached an agreement with former UCLA head coach and current ESPN analyst Steve Lavin to be the new face of Red Storm basketball. I’ve written about my fondness for Lavin’s coaching ability before, as I begged the AD of my alma mater — Jean Lenti Ponsetto — to fill the opening at DePaul University with Lavin. But, it’s apparent that Ponsetto is in no rush to make a decision (Ms. Ponsetto, if you hire Pitt’s Jamie Dixon then all will be forgiven). It was great to see, however, that the St. John’s undergraduate student website in support of Lavin coming to New York, Lavin4RedStorm, actually worked. The kids in charge of the site worked hard to bring their top choice onto campus, and it looks like the hard work paid off. Congratulations to all of the students who put the time and effort into the site.

What the Johnnies get in Lavin is a winner, plain and simple. I know there is some concern that Lavin has not coached or recruited on the East Coast, but he flat-out knows talent. Just look at the two top-ranked recruiting classes he brought to Westwood and the seven McDonald’s High School All-Americans he had hooping it up at Pauley Pavilion. If reports are true that he’ll be bringing along former DePaul and Virginia head coach Dave Leitao (one of Jim Calhoun’s former top dogs at UConn, as well) and Manhattan’s Barry Rohrssen, he will have the East Coast pipeline necessary to fill the nine scholarships that will be available after this senior class leaves the school. If you are a St. John’s fan or alum this morning, I am quite jealous of your program’s future. I wish I could be as excited about my alma mater.

…On another college basketball note, there’s a new head coach of Matt Bowen’s Iowa Hawkeyes. Siena’s Fran McCaffery was hired to replace Todd Lickliter, and there is optimism in Iowa City that McCaffery can return the Hawkeyes to their winning ways as seen during the Tom Davis era. Davis made basketball fun during his tenure with the press and multiple substitutions to keep fresh bodies on the floor. I don’t know if McCaffery will have the impact that Davis did, but there’s no question that the McCaffery hire is about as solid as you can get — and Hawkeyes fans should be excited. McCaffery isn’t Bruce Pearl, but he was never really going back to Iowa City anyway.

…I’m going to sneak in my quick entertainment nugget of the day before the next sports note only because I needed to include this old-school picture of my girl Christina Aguilera. Why am I including a pic of X-Tina? Well, pop singer Ricky Martin made an announcement over the weekend. I’m not going to get into it here, but feel free to surf the ‘net if you’re unaware of the news. My question is, why couldn’t I be in this video instead of him?

…New York Yankees ambidextrous pitching prospect Pat Venditte made his spring training debut on Tuesday wearing his uniquely-designed glove with six finger slots so he can wear on either hand. Venditte retired four of the seven Atlanta Braves batters he faced, giving up one run, two hits and a walk. It was a long-awaited debut, but it wasn’t the first time Venditte had made headlines, as he caused a stir immediately after being drafted in 2008 out of Creighton. The 24-year-old’s arrival in pro ball actually prompted the Professional Baseball Umpires Corporation to create a rule stating that Venditte must signal to the umpire and batter which arm he intends to use for the at-bat, so not to create such a disadvantage for the batter. In major league history, the only ambidextrous pitcher to use both arms in a regular-season game during the modern era was Greg Harris of the Montreal Expos against the Cincinnati Reds in 1995. In the 19th century, five different ambidextrous pitchers threw in major-league contests. Tuesday marked the first time Venditte actually wore Yankees pinstripes against another major league team. While he isn’t the most highly rated of prospects, it’s hard not to think Venditte at least won’t get a chance to pitch in a regular season game a year or two down the road. He likely won’t make it past the Yankees’ AA affiliate, the Trenton Thunder, this season.

Follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

Report: McNabb doesn't want to go to Oakland

Another day, another twist in the ongoing Donovan McNabb saga.

The latest intel to surface regarding the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback comes from TMZ.com, who is reporting that McNabb doesn’t want to play for the Raiders and would refuse a trade.

Unfortunately for D-Mac, he doesn’t have a no-trade clause in his current contract. But if McNabb’s adamant about not playing for the silver and black, it’s not a bad move to let his intentions be known prior to a deal going down in the hopes of discouraging the Raiders from bringing in a player that doesn’t want to be there.

Of course, we’re talking about Al Davis and the Raiders here, so even that may not be enough.

In the event No. 5 does land in Oakland, expect the Raiders fans to become more aggressive on internet message boards than ever before. Landing a Pro Bowl quarterback is one way Oakland could put an end to their current seven-year streak with 11 or more losses in a season.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh