The NFL recently released the seven-round, pick-by-pick order for the April draft. We'd known the first-round order, and we could divine the second-round order, but because of undisclosed draft-pick trades, it always got murky beyond that. Expect the compensatory picks -- choices awarded to teams that lost quality free-agents in the 2008 free-agency pool -- to be announced sometime during the league meetings in California later this month.
Seven teams look interesting to me:
• Now that St. Louis has released Orlando Pace, there's very little doubt the Rams will use either pick number three or pick 35 at the top of the second round to pick into the teeth of a tackle-rich draft.
• Carolina dealt its first-round pick on draft day last year to acquire tackle Jeff Otah, and it leaves the Panthers without a pick 'til the 59th overall selection. The Panthers have never been afraid to wheel and deal (GM Marty Hurney learned the business under Bobby Beathard, who loved trading), and they could be logical trade partners to move up -- maybe to get their quarterback of the future.
• I expect New England to get a third-round compensatory pick because of the loss of prime free-agent Asante Samuel. That would give the rich-get-richer Pats a league-high six picks in the top 100. They already have Nos. 23, 34, 47, 58 and 89. New England could be a prime player to move one of those second-rounders for some team's first-round pick in 2010.
• Because of the failure of the Jason Taylor deal, the Redskins pick once in the first 75 picks -- at 13. They don't pick again until 79.
• New Cleveland GM George Kokinis could be a power-broker on draft weekend. He's got three of the first 50 choices -- 5, 36 and 50, the latter from the Kellen Winslow trade. There won't be much of a market for No. 5 (the same value, monetarily, as five picks between 20 and 60).
• The Eagles and Giants, two receiver-needy teams, are in position to deal for Anquan Boldin, who I continue to say will not be a Cardinal by July. Philly has 21, 28 and 53, the Giants 29, 45 and 60. I find it hard to believe the Eagles won't trade for Boldin. Very hard. He's a perfect fit, and they've got the cap room to sign him.
Now for your e-mails:
• WE NEED TO REMEMBER THE SACRIFICES OF OUR MEN AND WOMEN IN UNIFORM. From Bobby of Detroit: "Wow. Powerful piece on Sergeant Mike McGuire. We have no earthly idea how incredibly life-changing their time will be in Iraq. I mean NO idea. Thank you for sharing this. I appreciate their service more than I could ever express. God bless the men and women in our armed forces!''
Thanks, Bobby. Good points.
• BLAME JASON TAYLOR. From Benny Rosenberg of Los Angeles: "I think Jason Taylor deserves an equal share of the blame for the split with the Redskins. While Washington appears shortsighted by releasing Taylor only one year removed from trading a second-round pick to get him, we should take note as to the reasons for the split. As I've read, Taylor balked at participating in approximately 26 days worth of offseason conditioning at the Redskins' facility, even though he was set to earn $8 million this year. Does that sound like the full commitment Taylor pledged to give at the beginning of his tenure in Washington? What kind of message does that send to the team? I'm all for allowing a proven veteran to condition in his hometown if he chooses, but it doesn't seem to be the case in this instance. It sounds to me like Jason Taylor doesn't have the commitment or the stomach to keep playing football, especially if he's willing to forfeit that hefty salary. Good luck to him on trying to get $8 million from another team.''
All of those points are good, Benny. And there is probably more blame on the side of Taylor than the team. But here's this: The Redskins are without the 44th pick in the draft, and they lost it over a player who had one impact game -- the two-sack performance against Philadelphia. Think of the borderline first-round picks that could be had in a top-heavy draft. It's a big blow to the 'Skins long-term.
• GOOD QUESTION. From Robert Tate of Asheville, N.C.: "It has been deathly quiet here in Pantherland. With no cap room the big news of late has revolved around contract extensions! The two elephants in the room right now are Julius Peppers and Ken Lucas -- do you have rumblings that could shed some light on their trade status?''
No, other than this: The fact that a deal for Peppers didn't get done around the start of free-agency means teams think the price is too high for him. Who wants to pay a first-round pick (or more) plus $14 million a year for a guy whose legend always has been a little better than the reality?
• I DON'T AGREE. From Alex Phillips of Coral Springs, Fla.: "After years of reading your column I can't say I'm surprised at this type of hypocrisy anymore but I have to challenge you on this one: 'I think Sage Rosenfels beats out Tarvaris Jackson in Minnesota. That's no surprise, really, but the Vikings realized they had to have a better alternative than Gus Frerotte starting every Sunday to contend for a Super Bowl. Rosenfels has the occasional brain freeze, but he's a strong-armed, semi-mobile guy who will be a kindred spirit for Brad Childress.' What in Rosenfels' multiple starts makes you feel he will easily beat out Jackson? Jackson has not even had a full season to get a chance to establish himself but writers like you can't wait to write him off. While white substandard quarterbacks get years to be average (see your fact about Kerry Collins if you need an example). I'm a Dolphins fan and watched Rosenfels for years. He is not a better QB than Jackson was after barely 10 games.''
Why introduce race? I like Jackson, have written positively about him, and am not passing judgment that Rosenfels is going to be better long-term. That the Vikings have wanted him for a while tells you something. They paid a fourth-round pick for a guy who completed 66 percent of his throws in more than limited play in Houston in three years, and averaged a very respectable 7.5 yards per attempt. It's a good value pickup.
• TOMLINSON GETS SOME CREDIT. From Mike of Kaneohe, Hawaii: "You recently wrote that LaDainian Tomlinson staying in San Diego makes no sense since he will never be a 300-carry back again. L.T. has not missed a regular season game because of injury in his eight-year career. He fell only eight carries short of 300 last year and there were only a handful of backs with 300 carries last year. I am very puzzled by your statement. Your statement is very bold and provocative, but somewhat irresponsible.''
Tomlinson turns 30 in June and his average per carry has slipped from 5.2 to 4.7 to 3.8 in the last three seasons. Why, other than because of sentimentality, would you want to invest big money in him? I love Tomlinson as a player and a person, but you pay in this game for what a player is about to do, not for what he has done. And you don't pay big to 30-year-old running backs.
• APPLES AND ORANGES. From David Davies of Conway, Ark.: "Why is it, Peter, that it makes perfect sense to you why a GM like A.J. Smith, widely considered to be a boorish dolt of man from all I have read, can be lauded for "not paying (Tomlinson) for production of two or three years ago," but a player like Anquan Boldin can be vilified for asking for more money when he has clearly outplayed his contract. In the NFL world of non-guaranteed contracts, I have never understood writers and commentators who praise teams for cutting players who under-perform but question the character of players who request market value for out-performing their contracts. Will you at least consider refraining from employing this maddening double standard in the future?''
Probably not. I said I didn't think Tomlinson should be compensated for anything other than what he is going to do in the future. As for Boldin, it doesn't make much sense for the Cards to pay two receivers a combined one-sixth of their entire salary cap. Imagine your quarterback and two receivers averaging $33 million a year. It's too much. I think Boldin should be dealt for a low first-round pick. It'd be a great trade for the Cards and whatever team lands him.