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Insider

Divisional round notes

1/17/2010

Conspiracy theorists, take note. The contract for Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb includes a roster bonus payment of $6.2 million, according to NFL Players Association documents. But the amount isn't as significant, so much as the day that its due. Its due to be paid by May 5, 2010 -- after the NFL draft (think 5/5/10 was a cosmic accident). It was not done intentionally, but it will have lasting effects. The timing of the roster bonus ensures that any and all trade speculation surrounding McNabb will go right up to the NFL draft, if he isn't traded before then. So let the speculation begin about potential landing spots for McNabb. If Brett Favre retired, the most logical would be Minnesota, where McNabb's former quarterback coach at Syracuse, Kevin Rogers, also happens to be the Vikings quarterbacks coach. Also, if Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier lands the Buffalo head coaching job, he would be expected to make a play for McNabb, though the quarterback would have to give his blessing to any trade, being that he has only year left on his contract and it's uncertain how he would feel about playing there. Still, Buffalo is not far from Syracuse and if Frazier were to get the Bills job, perhaps he could convince McNabb to join him. Carolina also needs a quarterback. Nobody can say where it is that McNabb will land, or even if the Eagles will trade him, but the timing of his roster bonus means that the issue will be debated from now through the draft.


Warner's future in the NFL

Now that Arizona's season is over, the clock starts ticking on Kurt Warner's decision about whether to return. Players in the Cardinals locker room and around the league believe Warner has played his last game and ultimately he will decide to retire. Still, Warner's agent Mark Bartelstein said his client will take a few weeks to mull his decision, discuss it with his family and decide what's the best course of action to take. And there are, in the words of Terrell Owens former publicist, $11.5 million reasons for Warner to return for the 2010 season. But there also are other factors. This season, Warner suffered a concussion that cast medical questions on his condition and his future. Warner always has been a strong family man and would not want to do anything to detract from that experience. Warner has mulled retirement in other seasons, and always made the decision to return. But some people who know him know insist this time it is different. This time they think it will be time, and football will have to say goodbye to one of the top quarterbacks to play the game.


Holmgren making moves

New Browns president Mike Holmgren continues to clean up what he inherited in Cleveland. This week, he parted ways with Browns president Mike Keenan and he is expected to do the same with Browns executive Dawn Aponte -- two people that wound up costing Cleveland more than its fans realized.

Less than a year ago, when Keenan attempted to hire Aponte away from the NFL office, the Browns became the first organization to be charged with tampering with an NFL employee and were fined $50,000, according to league sources. A former NFL employee himself, Keenan was supposed to first contact Aponte's supervisor and when the league said he didn't, it fined the Browns for not obeying the proper procedures in hiring Aponte.

Now, just a year later, Keenan will not be with the Browns this season and Aponte no longer is expected to be, yet another waste of money for a Browns franchise that still is paying the salaries of former employees such as Phil Savage, Romeo Crennel and Rob Chudzinski.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer initially reported that Aponte could find her way to Miami, which has been confirmed, but Keenan and Aponte became a part of the first team that helped their franchise incur the first fine for tampering with an NFL employee.


Latest on the Bills' job

Candidates from Mike Shanahan to Bill Cowher to Jon Gruden to Jim Harbaugh to Brian Schottenheimer each declined to pursue Buffalo's head coaching job. Other names that were linked to the job, such as Brian Billick, did not get serious consideration. Now it leaves Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier as the leader in the clubhouse for the Bills head coaching job, partly by merit and partly by default. In a perfect world, Buffalo would like to hire a bright offensive mind. But this is not a perfect world, as the Bills already have discovered.


Effects of an uncapped year on playoff teams

The eight teams still alive in this postseason will not be quite as busy this offseason. Due to the coming uncapped year, the final eight teams will face a new set of rules that restrains how many unrestricted free agents they can sign. These final eight teams will be allowed to sign one unrestricted free agent for roughly $5.5 million or more in year one of the contract. They also can sign any unrestricted free agents for less than roughly $3.7 million in year one of the contract. But the four teams that win this weekend and advance to the conference championship games cannot sign any unrestricted free agents, unless they lose one to another team. Each team in the final eight can sign a replacement free agent for each one it loses during the offseason, so long as the contract matches or is less than the player that left.


Quick Hits

• Losing coaches of today's divisional playoff games will be the coaches for this year's Pro Bowl in Miami two weeks from today. Under the NFL's new rules, the losing coaches in the divisional round coach the Pro Bowl teams.

• Watch for Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to be in the mix for the head coaching job at East Carolina University. Gilbride was the offensive coordinator there when quarterback Jeff Blake set or tied 32 school passing records.

• Today marks the one-year anniversary that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired their head coach Jon Gruden and their general manager Bruce Allen.