The NFL's most notable holdouts are only getting more intense.
With the July 16 deadline fast approaching for the franchise-tagged players, time is of the essence. As for those wanting a new deal, the good news is that training camp is still a few weeks away.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees is obviously at the forefront of those with contract issues, but there are several others superstars in a similar position. Let's get right to it and check the latest scoop about Brees and other big-name disputes.
Good news, Bears fans, Matt Forte appears to be feeling rather optimistic about suiting up for Chicago in 2012.
In an article by Jon Greenberg of ESPN Chicago, Forte stated, "I don't think I really have a choice, do I? Yeah, I'll be here ... It's going to be a fun season."
This is scary news for the rest of the NFC North, as Chicago's offense has even more potential with Forte in the backfield. Pairing him with Michael Bush creates arguably the best two-back tandem in the league, and the Bears also have an upgraded passing attack to field a balanced approach.
After coupling a strong start to 2011 with a disappointing finish, Chicago has increased expectations if Forte does come aboard in 2012. With such dynamic talent, the Bears would become immediate NFC title contenders.
Unfortunately for the New York Jets, there hasn't been any progress in negotiations with cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Back in June, Revis was unsure about what will happen this offseason. In an article by Mike Bires of Timesonline.com, Revis stated, “I don’t know. That’s up to (general manager) Mike Tannenbaum. I really don’t know.”
On the bright side, the Jets and Revis have tangoed twice before and come to an agreement, so it seems that though a third time is likely, history is on the side of Revis suiting up this year.
And for the Jets' sake, let's hope Revis is there to shut down half the field, because Gang Green needs him to help defend against the improved AFC East offenses.
New Orleans Saints fans can breathe a small sigh of relief at the moment.
Quarterback Drew Brees has positive feelings about getting a deal done before the July 16 deadline. Via an article on ESPN, Brees stated on Mike and Mike in the Morning:
I've always said, you would think this process should be a lot simpler than it is. It just always seems to be complicated. But I'm still very confident that we'll get a long-term deal done, and hopefully that will happen sooner than later.
A long-term deal is just what New Orleans needs with Brees as well. After everything that has unfolded from the Bountygate scandal, the Saints' immediate future is in jeopardy.
With Brees under center though, that immediate future won't be nearly as difficult to face. Because he is the conductor of an efficient offense, having an inexperienced signal-caller at the helm would be disastrous.
Include how much the rest of the NFC South has improved this offseason, and the Saints need Brees more than ever. As the mid-July deadline approaches, and the longer this standoff continues, the pressure to make an agreement will intensify significantly.
The Baltimore Ravens need Ray Rice to contend for the AFC title.
And although the star ball-carrier remains out, Rice has still been preparing for the season. In an interview with 790 The Zone in Atlanta via Sports Radio Interviews, Rice said:
I have the best agent in football, so I let him take care of all the other stuff and my job is to always be ready. And the good thing about my situation is that I’m not going into a new offensive system.
Rice has the correct mindset for his situation, because if anything, it's showing his character. Getting ready for the upcoming season is all that a team can ask of a player in the offseason, and considering the Baltimore offense, he won't be missing much anyway.
After all, Rice is the main ingredient to the Ravens' offensive success, and his ability to slam the rock creates a more threatening passing attack. Baltimore needs Rice in order to fight for a tough AFC North title in 2012.
With the NFL offseason now at the beginning of July, Jacksonville and running back Maurice Jones-Drew have yet to get anything done.
And in an interview with ESPN 102.3 in Denver via Sports Radio Interviews, MJD said he doesn't want to get into details:
It’s the business side of football. And every player is a businessman, and whatever you feel is best for you and your family, you have to do that sometimes. And so, like I said before, hopefully we can work on something and get something done. But I can’t talk about it in the media, because that’s not how I handle my business.
This whole situation is unfortunate for the Jaguars, because with MJD doing work out of the backfield, Jacksonville has much promise in 2012.
Last season, the Jaguars fielded top-10 defenses against the rush and pass, and Jones-Drew led the league with over 1,600 rushing yards. Now with an upgraded receiving corps, quarterback Blaine Gabbert's development may yield a balanced attack.
Without Jones-Drew's presence in the offense, though, Jacksonville is headed toward a rough 2012 campaign. Much like Drew Brees in New Orleans and Ray Rice in Baltimore, the Jags offense revolves around Maurice Jones-Drew.
It's been a rather quiet offseason between the Kansas City Chiefs and receiver Dwayne Bowe.
Now, it appears the Bowe has interest in joining the Miami Dolphins. According to Bowe's and Vontae Davis' twitter exchanges:
Unfortunately for Miami fans, this doesn't mean much, as the Chiefs franchised Bowe this season. Still, these exchanges do stir up the possibilities for the 2013 offseason.
They admitted they just had no idea which Bowe would arrive at the practice facility, and that unknown is dangerous considering such a financial leap of faith. If the Chiefs extend Bowe and he flops, it’ll put Pioli in a pinch when left tackle Branden Albert and defensive end Glenn Dorsey have expiring contracts.
To that end, it would not be surprising to see K.C. entertain the idea of parting ways with Bowe in the immediate future. Bowe, however, must recognize the implications, because the Chiefs are in much better position to make the postseason than the Dolphins.
With a much better defense, running game and quarterback situation, Kansas City is Bowe's best option for remaining a standout No. 1 receiver. Plus, the Chiefs need Bowe, as he is Matt Cassel's best receiving target.
Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril remains optimistic, but that's about it regarding his contract situation in Detroit.
According to NFL 32 on ESPN last week:
Avril also commented on his contract status; he still hasn't signed his franchise tender. He said, however, that he was optimistic he and the Lions would be able to agree to a long-term contract by the July 16 deadline for franchise players to agree to multiyear deals.
But he said he's not sure if he'll report to training camp if the sides can't agree to a deal by the deadline.
The Lions desperately need Avril's presence outside on defense, because allowing tons of rushing and passing yards cost Detroit in 2011. We can expect the offense to dominate again in 2012, but the Motor City will see another quick playoff exit without a stronger defense.
Avril really stepped up last season by recording 11 sacks and forcing six fumbles. Detroit's defense has made some upgrades, but all that will be for naught if Avril remains out.
In the pass-heavy, offense-oriented NFC North, Detroit has the capability to outscore anyone. However, that won't consistently happen unless the defense can improve. Avril is a big part of that, and Detroit has to get him on board sooner than later.
Follow John Rozum on Twitter.