Off the Snap: Kerry Rhodes finally close to finding a home?
Catching you up on the latest must-read news and analysis from around the web….
• Kerry Rhodes remains an unrestricted free agent, despite a stellar 2012 in which he picked off four passes and performed as one of the most consistent safeties in football. He may not be unsigned for much longer, though.
Rhodes told al.com that he will play in 2013 and could have a new home soon.
"It's in the works," Rhodes said. "I can't talk about it in depth but there's a good four teams that I'm looking at. There are ongoing discussions. I'm trying to see which one will be the best fit for me. You will see me, though."
Rhodes did not reveal to al.com which teams are after him. However, there are several teams in need of safety help as training camp approaches -- Carolina, Cleveland, Minnesota and the Jets come to mind. The 30-year-old Rhodes graded out as the NFL's No. 4 safety last season, per Pro Football Focus' metrics.
"We're going to have to name a starter at some point in time," Kelly told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "That's why I think it would be unfair right now, because there hasn't been enough situations to evaluate. If someone said, 'Hey, we have to play a game tomorrow,' we have to make a decision. But we don't have to play a game tomorrow. We have until Sept. 9, so we'll see how it works itself out."
Nick Foles and Matt Barkley both could get cracks at the No. 1 gig, while Kelly's former QB at Oregon, Dennis Dixon, also currently resides on the roster. Choosing either Foles or the rookie Barkley would signal Kelly has different plans for the offense than if Vick landed the job -- Vick is by far the most mobile of that trio.
The Eagles may still dangle Foles as trade bait, too, especially if he shows enough promise during the preseason. That plan likely would be contingent on Vick winning the starting job, Barkley looking ready enough to be the No. 2 and Dixon sticking on the roster. Foles started five games for Philadelphia last season, finishing with a 60 percent completion rate and nearly 1,700 yards passing.
• The San Francisco 49ers are down a key wide receiver due to Michael Crabtree's Achilles injury, so they may turn to former Indianapolis Colt Austin Collie as a partial replacement. Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that the 49ers "remain interested in former Colt Austin Collie, but they are unlikely to make a move on the free-agent wide receiver until after training camp begins."
Collie played just one game (and made one catch) last season, after suffering a ruptured patellar tendon. The 2009 fourth-round pick also has had a well-documented string of concussions since entering the league -- at least three between his rookie season and 2011.
He is a reliable pass-catcher when healthy. Adding him would allow the 49ers to take some of the early pressure off rookie Quinton Patton, who along with A.J. Jenkins will be asked to pick up the slack for Crabtree.
• The deadline for teams to sign their franchise-tagged players to long-term contracts arrives Monday, and there's been very little movement around the league -- Denver's Ryan Clady is one of the few in that situation who appears headed for a multi-year deal.
Chicago Pro Bowl defensive lineman Henry Melton would love to be another. Thus far, however, he's had no luck trying to coax a new contract out of the Bears, despite telling the Chicago Tribune that there's been "chatter" between Melton's agent and the team.
"I can only control what I can control, and that's my performance on the field,'' Melton said. "It's kind of like when you have strong feelings for a place -- you want to stay there long term. Of course you want to get something done, but it's pretty much out of my hands.''
Should the Bears fail to get Melton under contract for beyond 2013, the two sides might find themselves back in this same situation next offseason. Melton's franchise-tag tender would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, barring another tag or an adequate offer after the season ends.
• The NFL's ongoing quest to reduce injuries led the league to implement a new rule for 2013 that requires all players to wear knee and thigh pads. It is a rule that the NFL plans to take seriously -- players will be pulled from games by the officials, should it be discovered that they're not wearing the appropriate padding. Will this help? Maybe. But players already are starting to complain about the rule, specifically concerned that the extra padding will slow them down.