<
>

NFL rumors roundup

AP Photo/John Froschauer

Here's a look at some of the top rumors for Thursday, Feb. 4:

  • Updating an item from yesterday, it sounds like the San Francisco 49ers and quarterback Colin Kaepernick might indeed be parting ways, but the QB's interest in the New York Jets doesn't appear to be mutual. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Wednesday evening that Kaepernick "has wanted out [of San Francisco] for quite some time," but the Jets "have not [been] and are not interested." La Canfora referred to the QB's situation with the Niners as an "impending divorce," adding that new head coach Chip Kelly has "done nothing to build a relationship" with Kaepernick and "a trade remains very likely." If the 49ers do plan to move on from Kaepernick, they're likely trying to remain quiet about it to keep his potential trade value afloat. It would be a mild surprise to see Kelly punt on Kaepernick without ever giving him a chance -- especially considering Kaepernick's potential game-breaking ability in Kelly's system -- but it's possible the team's relationship with its QB has already been damaged beyond repair. As for the Jets, they could be better off re-signing Ryan Fitzpatrick and looking to add more dynamic pieces around him. If New York does have interest in Kaepernick, it would behoove the team not to show it, giving the Niners less leverage and perhaps leading to Kaepernick's release.

  • As for the team Kelly used to coach, the Philadelphia Eagles have been very quiet about their plans regarding quarterback Sam Bradford, and it's unclear whether the pending free agent will wind up hitting the market. But new head coach Doug Pederson might have just dropped a hint. In a one-on-one interview with CSN Philly, Pederson was asked about the team's chances of winning right away, and he proceeded to list some of the steps needed to get there: "... You start just kinda filling in. A hole here, a hole there, get some depth here, you know, get you a young quarterback, possibly. Then you just start developing your talent and you see what happens after that." The mention of a QB was very brief, but it's hard to imagine Pederson talking about getting a "young quarterback" if the team has full confidence in Bradford being the starter moving forward. That doesn't necessarily mean Philadelphia will let Bradford walk, but the Eagles seem likely to target a quarterback with some upside in April's draft. Sitting at No. 13 in the first round, Philly isn't in an ideal position, but it is ahead of the QB-needy Los Angeles Rams. Many have suggested Cal's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz will go in the top 10 picks, but Memphis QB Paxton Lynch might be available when the Eagles pick. Depending on how things shake out with the 49ers -- and teams with aging QBs like the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys -- several teams could be looking for a new signal-caller in this draft, which might make for plenty of draft-day chatter and trades. Second-round options available to the Eagles could include Michigan State's Connor Cook or Penn State's Christian Hackenberg.

  • Quarterback isn't the only position with some unrest in Philadelphia's backfield. NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reports running back DeMarco Murray and the team "are not in a good place" and "appear headed toward a stare-down regarding his future with the organization." The team seems uncertain about Murray's ability to be effective moving forward, while Murray "doesn't feel completely comfortable with the organization, his role and how 2015 played out." Rapoport adds that Murray hasn't asked for a trade or his release. However, it would be a shock if the Eagles did either this offseason, considering it would actually cost the team $5 million more against the cap by invoking a $13 million hit in dead money. Even a post-June 1 cut would sting, as the team wouldn't save any cap space in 2016 -- Murray's $8 million cap charge would remain as dead money -- and $5 million in dead money would carry over to 2017. This situation is exactly why running backs rarely earn high-paying contracts these days, and the hefty deal handed to Murray last offseason is part of the reason Kelly was fired. Murray's extreme ineffectiveness and displeasure with his role has exacerbated the situation, but it was a poor investment to begin with. Now Pederson and Howie Roseman will try to clean it up with as little damage as possible.

  • Green Bay Packers linebacker Julius Peppers shined in his 14th NFL season, bagging 10.5 sacks and his ninth career Pro Bowl selection, and it sounds like he isn't ready to hang up his cleats yet. Bleacher Report's Jason Cole spoke with Peppers at the Pro Bowl last week, learning that the 36-year-old plans to play next season, even if it's not with the Packers. Part of Peppers' motivation, per Cole, is his chance to move up the all-time sack list, with six more sacks needed to pass Michael Strahan for fifth overall. Green Bay could save $8 million against the cap by releasing Peppers, which would leave a dead-money charge of $2.5 million, but the team isn't hurting for cap space. Cole also noted that "plenty of other players were jokingly recruiting" Peppers at the Pro Bowl, "including several from a top contender within the NFC." We can only guess who that team would be, of course, but with the Carolina Panthers in the Super Bowl and most of the Arizona Cardinals' selections staying home, the Seattle Seahawks seem like a good bet. It sounds like the "recruiting" was mostly just fun and games, but the move could make sense for Seattle if Peppers gets released and is willing to sign a modest deal. Being able to deploy Peppers with another versatile weapon like Michael Bennett -- as well as speed demon Cliff Avril -- could do wonders for the Seahawks' third-down packages.

  • In other Packers news, we heard Monday that the team wants running back Eddie Lacy to lose 30 pounds this offseason, which raised the question of what weight Lacy actually played at in 2015. Rob Reischel of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes that "it's a good bet Lacy was at least 25 pounds heavier" than the 234 pounds he was listed at on the team's website. That would put the 25-year-old back around 260 or more, meaning a 30-pound loss would get him back near the 231 pounds he weighed at the 2013 combine. It's certainly possible, and perhaps likely, that Lacy has played above his listed weight since the team drafted him three years ago. If that's the case, he might wind up being particularly effective in 2016 if he meets Green Bay's benchmark this offseason. Lacy's hopes of getting a hefty deal when he becomes a free agent next offseason might depend on how well he takes care of himself in the coming months.

  • The Cleveland Browns may be looking for a new solution at quarterback, but it sounds like they're working hard to keep their top wide receiver in the fold. Ronald Butler, the agent for wideout Travis Benjamin, told cleveland.com that he's made good progress with the team on a new contract for the pending free agent. "I'm optimistic that something will get done in the near future," Butler said, per Mary Kay Cabot. "... Cleveland has made strides in terms of getting him back in a Browns uniform." The Browns have shown an alarming amount of fondness for diminutive receivers -- four of the team's five wideouts with 20-plus targets in 2015 stand 5-foot-10 or shorter -- but Benjamin (5-10) is clearly the best of the bunch and well worth keeping around. He cooled off in the second half of the season, but with a reliable quarterback, Benjamin could certainly be a weapon for new head coach Hue Jackson.