Glad to be back

Good to be back at work after a week of vacation at Bethany Beach. As my fellow mid-Atlantic people know, the weather in this part of the country has been amazing — plenty of sun, temps in the 80s, and, most shockingly, low humidity — and we had a great week with my parents and the kids “downey ocean, hun,” as they say in my local Baltimore vernacular.

In the meantime, I thought I’d touch on a few topics that have been in the news while I was gone, and some of these I likely will be following up on this week on NFL Total Access.

Brett Favre — Hard to find anyone in league circles who does not believe he will be throwing passes for the Minnesota Vikings in a matter of weeks. Barring Favre suddenly undergoing a health problem, I’m banking on a massive media throng heading to Vikes camp for opening weekend, and No. 4 being transferred from John David Booty to Favre.

Michael Vick — The former star quarterback was released from federal custody today and is ready to begin preparations for a football comeback. He is still awaiting a decision by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as to if or when his indefinite suspension will end, and while he has not been conducting football workouts or throwing balls to this point, according to a source with knowledge of the situation, when he does begin doing so, it will be with the quarterback position in mind. We will definitely be breaking down all things Mike Vick on Total Access tonight.

Derrick Mason — The Baltimore Ravens’ top wide receiver announced his intention to retire last week, but talking to agents and execs in the NFL, including some people who know Derrick well, there is a sense that this door is far from closed. Mason has had some phone contact with Ravens officials and is set to have a meeting with coach John Harbaugh — a meeting likely to take place before camp starts, and has in the past made it clear that he would like some term added to his contract, which expires after 2009. If Mason isn’t around the Ravens by mid-August, that will be telling; prior to that, it doesn’t much matter. He wasn’t scheduled for much activity early in camp as he returns from a shoulder injury (an injury he went to tremendous lengths to play through last season), wasn’t going to be practicing regularly, and everyone in the organization knows he’s always in shape and the ultimate competitor. I think that after a few weeks away from the game, Mason’s stance might change a bit. The Ravens have been reluctant to extend deals for players in their mid-30s and might continue to be. He’s certainly a very valuable asset. I’ll explore this issue more on NFL Total Access this week (the Ravens will work out some free-agent receivers Friday, according to a league source, and the group of players includes D.J. Hackett).

Darnell Dockett — Caught up with the Arizona Cardinals’ star defensive tackle for a few minutes on the phone over the weekend. He was back home in the D.C. area for his last few days of vacation before heading back to Arizona. Darnell is very excited for the upcoming season and, as he and agent Drew Rosenhaus tweeted recently, he will be at camp ready to play.  But I came away with the strong sense that Dockett still believes he has grossly out-performed his contract — hard to argue he has not — and that this topic could be revisited after the season. Should Dockett play the next two seasons under his current contract, I’d be surprised if he signed a long-term deal with the Cards. The final season of his current deal is 2011. A lot could happen between now and then, of course, and Arizona will be facing contract crossroads with LB Karlos Dansby and WR Anquan Boldin between now and then as well (Darnell also wanted me to continue to give shout-outs to Jamie Dukes for including him in his list of top DTs in the NFL).

Josh Cribbs — I’ll have more details of this tonight on air, but the return star/Wildcat weapon is looking for a new deal, too, and his representatives are set to talk to the Cleveland Browns today to set up a date and time for a full face-to-face meeting. Cribbs is seriously considering taking the financial hit and staying away from the start of camp. He isn’t deadset on a huge new contract, according to league sources, but would like to see some form of recognition as to his out-performing his deal, too, after coming into the league as an undrafted rookie. Again, more on this on Total Access this week.

Also, a few odds and ends: Look for a swath of second- and third-round picks to sign this week, several in the next few days. The Panthers and DE Everette Brown are very close to a deal, as are the Lions close to getting something done with third-round pick DeAndre Levy. Trust me, plenty of these will be going down in the next 72 hours, and by midweek, most of the first-rounders will be engaged in more regular communication with their teams as well, as those talks begin to heat up. … Been a bunch of players switching agents lately, which is not that uncommon this time of year. Redskins safety Kareem Moore recently did the same and is now represented by Harold Lewis and National Sports Agency. … The rookie pool rose by 5 percent this season, which is a number that many agents will shoot for in their second-round deals, looking for 5 percent more than was slotted at that draft position a year ago on the total deal. In terms of guaranteed money, some second-rounders have gained increases in the 15 percent range.

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