Free-agent CB Jackson will visit Eagles this week

Free-agent CB Marlin Jackson will visit the Eagles this week after visiting the Ravens, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

Jackson has been sidetracked with significant knee injuries that limited him to 11 games with the Colts the past two seasons. He was a solid player in 2006 and 2007 before being struck with the injuries.

Jackson’s contract expired after last season, and the Colts declined to place a restricted free-agency tender on him, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Dolphins bring back Pennington on one-year deal

Free-agent QB Chad Pennington and the Dolphins reached a one-year deal that pays him $4.2 million if he’s traded and $5.75 million if he starts, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Pennington, who’s coming off shoulder surgery, will earn $2.5 million as a backup to Chad Henne, which is his expected role. Should things change, those escalation triggers are in place to increase the former starter’s compensation.

Pennington has spent two seasons with the Dolphins after spending eight years with the AFC East rival Jets.

CB Robinson agrees to six-year deal with Falcons

Free-agent cornerback Dunta Robinson has agreed to a six-year deal with the Falcons, giving him the long-term security he declined in Houston and providing Atlanta the much-needed secondary help it needs.

Robinson, who spent six seasons with the Texans, will sign the deal over the weekend, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The Falcons, who ranked 28th in pass defense in 2009, targeted Robinson awhile ago and seized the opportunity to nab the best cornerback in free agency. Atlanta’s smallish corners were targeted last season and Robinson adds size and better coverage ability than any defensive back on the roster.

Robinson’s arrival could signal the departure of cornerback Chris Houston, who is not regarded as highly as in-house corners Chris Owens and Brent Grimes.

Robinson expected to sign with Falcons by Sunday

Free-agent CB Dunta Robinson will sign a multiyear contract with the Falcons by the end of the weekend, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.

The majority of the deal is in place, but details still need to be worked out. No problems are expected.

Robinson, who spent six seasons with the Texans, was targeted by the Falcons because the Georgia native would fill a glaring need.

The Falcons already brought back veteran CB Brian Williams, who was signed off the street last season and became the starter before a season-ending knee injury in Week 6.

First up for free-agent LB Dansby: Dolphins

Free-agent LB Karlos Dansby will visit the Dolphins on Friday and could sign a multiyear deal shortly thereafter if both sides can reach an agreement.

A source said any future visits involving Dansby hinge on how things go in Miami. Since that is the first stop for Dansby, there’s clearly mutual interest.

Even though Dansby is being wooed by the Dolphins, NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that the Cardinals are working hard to re-sign him. The team is going after Dansby since it likely will not be able to re-sign safety Antrel Rolle, who’s meeting with the Giants on Friday.

Dansby, who played under the Cardinals’ franchise tag the past two seasons, was set free on the open market after his salary structure would have called for him to earn more than $10 million this season. He is the top linebacker in free agency and would fill a need for a fast, inside linebacker in the Dolphins’ 3-4 scheme.

Randle El is the latest casualty in Washington

The Redskins have released WR Antwaan Randle El, making him an unrestricted free agent and clearing more salary off their 2010 payroll.

The move to part ways with Randle El was anticipated as new coach Mike Shanahan takes over and implements his offense in Washington.

The decision to release Randle El comes on the heels of the Redskins parting ways with three other veterans — RBs Ladell Betts and Rock Cartwright and G Randy Thomas.

Groin injury cuts Okung’s combine workouts short

Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung couldn't finish his combine workouts Saturday after suffering a groin injury. (Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS — Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung, considered the top prospect at his position, didn’t finish the final drills at his NFL Scouting Combine workout Saturday after tweaking his groin.

Okung ran the 40-yard dash and did several other pass-protection and change-of-direction drills before sustaining an injury, which a combine official described as minor.

A trainer tended to Okung, who went through a variety of stretching and resistance tests on a training table before he walked off carrying a bag of ice. He didn’t take part in high jump, broad jump, shuttle or three-cone drills after being hurt.

Okung had performed well, bench pressing 225 pounds 38 times, running the 40-yard dash in 5.17 seconds and looking very athletic in position-related drills.

Chargers to let Sproles test free agency

INDIANAPOLIS — Four days after releasing LaDainian Tomlinson, the San Diego Chargers could be in the market for two running backs after notifying Darren Sproles on Friday that they will allow him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Sproles’ agent, Gary Wichard, said the Chargers will not tender the running back, which they could have in order to receive compensation should he sign elsewhere. Sproles has been a solid backup, an occasional starter and a dangerous return man. He should draw interest in a limited free-agent market.

This decision not to tender Sproles was mainly done for economic reasons. If the Chargers had done so, they would have had to pay him $7.3 million next season. Should Sproles get an offer now, the Chargers could try to counter but he doesn’t have to extend that courtesy if he wants to sign elsewhere.

Although Tomlinson and Sproles formed a solid tandem for years, the Chargers were 31st in rushing last season.

San Diego, which won the AFC West, clearly will be in the market for running backs in the draft and maybe in free agency or via a trade.

Ryan will be ready to join Falcons’ offseason workouts

INDIANAPOLIS — Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who sustained a right turf toe injury in Week 12, has resumed running and will be healthy enough to join the team in offseason workouts when they begin March 22.

Ryan played the final three games of the season with the injury after missing two games, but he spent most of his offseason staying off the foot until recently.

“We don’t anticipate him having any setbacks between now and when we start March 22,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said Friday at the NFL Scouting Combine. “He’s actually back running.”

Smith said Ryan was initially supposed to be sidelined for six weeks, but the QB returned in two to start — and win — the final three games. He wore a special shoe to protect the injury.

The Falcons were eliminated from playoff contention shortly after Ryan’s return, but he declined to shut down his season in order to help the franchise post its first back-to-back winning seasons since its inception in 1966.

“That says a lot about the type of man Matt is,” Smith said.

Atlanta finished 9-7 after posting an 11-5 record in 2008, Ryan’s rookie season.

Arizona drops 2014 Super Bowl bid; NYC now favorite

INDIANAPOLIS – With the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee deciding not to submit a bid to host Super Bowl XLVIII, New York City is now the clear favorite to host the 2014 game, a source close to the situation said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday.

While Tampa and South Florida remain in the running to host, the source said New York is the leading contender. April 1 is the deadline to submit a bid.

On Thursday, Arizona’s six-member host committee announced it would try for a 2015 Super Bowl instead. In a release, committee head Mike Kennedy stated the financial burdens facing the state’s business and political community as the main reason for passing on the 2014 game. Arizona already had lost bids the last two years to host Super Bowls in 2012 and 2013.

Super Bowls typically are awarded at the league’s spring meeting; this year it is in Dallas from May 24-26. Dallas hosts the Super Bowl in 2011, Indianapolis in 2012 and New Orleans in 2013.

Are Saints paving path for Tomlinson?

INDIANAPOLIS — The Super Bowl champion Saints could be creating a vacancy for RB LaDainian Tomlinson by apparently allowing Mike Bell to become a free agent. Bell was not one of the 13 restricted free agents they tendered on Thursday. Neither was Pro Bowl guard Jahri Evans, but he will be back on the team, either through a long-term deal or by placing a restricted free agent tender on him by next Thursday’s deadline.

New Orleans could try to lock up Bell by then but that seems unlikely since his role diminished as the season wore on. By letting Bell walk the Saints might acquiesce to quarterback Drew Brees’ wishes to bring in Tomlinson, who was released by the Chargers on Monday. Brees, who carries substantial swagger, mentioned on his Twitter page this week that he wouldn’t mind being reunited with his former San Diego teammate.

“I would love to get LT in the black and gold,” Brees tweeted on Tuesday. “Crazier things have happened.”

On Thursday, Brees seemed to be backing off a bit. “Appreciate everyone’s input on LT,” he tweeted. “First off, I love who we have … Pierre, Reg, Bell, Train … might be the best stable of backs in the NFL. LT and I go way back … we’ve been thru a lot together … I just want the best for him … he will land on his feet, trust me.”

The Saints likely won’t rush to nab Tomlinson at the start of free agency on March 5, but it seems reasonable they would explore the possibility of signing him. New Orleans did its due diligence on veteran Edgerrin James last offseason before opting for Bell, but the Saints have an open mind when it comes checking out veteran running backs.

Tomlinson would be a role player should he end up with the Saints. New Orleans used three running backs –- sometimes four -– last season, with Pierre Thomas being the main starter, Reggie Bush being the top backup, and Bell or Lynell Hamilton as the third tailback. And the Saints plan on bringing Bush back, as my colleague Jason La Canfora reported on Thursday.

Evans, meanwhile, is the Saints’ best lineman and one of three Pro Bowlers from the front five. If a long-term deal isn’t reached, New Orleans likely would place a first- and third-round restricted free agent tender on him, meaning that would be the compensation they would receive from another team that tried to sign him. That high tender has proven a worthy deterrent when placed on players.

Kerney ready to come back; do Seahawks want him?

Patrick Kerney isn’t done playing yet.

The Seahawks DE said in a text message Tuesday night that “I’ve got a couple good ones left in me. … Gonna be in sick shape.”

There was speculation that Kerney, 33, might call it quits after 11 NFL seasons. Kerney has been beset by injuries and diminishing production over the past two seasons after a 2007 campaign in which he had a career-high 14.5 sacks.

Kerney said his surgically repaired elbow has healed and that he has started offseason workouts. He did say he’s waiting to see what direction new coach Pete Carroll and his staff will take in Seattle.

Kerney wasn’t specific, but he could be speculating as to whether the Seahawks will ask him to take a pay cut (he is owed $5.2 million next season and more than $15 million over the next three seasons) or try to replace him with a younger player. If Kerney isn’t retained, he could be sought by a team in need of a left defensive end who’s solid in run support and has 82.5 career sacks.

Rams weighing QB scenarios; Bulger stays for now

Though there is no guarantee that Rams QB Marc Bulger will be back next season, team officials are downplaying a report that him cleaning out his locker could signal his departure.

Like most other players who cleaned out their stalls after the Rams’ 1-15 season mercifully ended, Bulger left workout gear and other belongings in his locker, a team source said.

I’ve been told that Bulger wouldn’t mind coming back, but that he’d also welcome a fresh start should the Rams opt to release him. He’s due $8.5 million next season (his escalating contract runs through 2013), which is a large amount for a quarterback that hasn’t performed well or stayed healthy the past three seasons.

A few days before the Super Bowl, I asked Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo about Bulger’s future with the team. Spagnuolo’s answer left things wide open for interpretation.

“I’ll support Marc to the end because I love the guy,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s a competitor and a good football player. Marc can still play some good football. We saw the ability of our other two quarterbacks (Kyle Boller, Keith Null), whether you consider that good or bad. Now we can sit down and evaluate.”

The Rams hold the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft and could select a quarterback. General manager Billy Devaney told me the team is working through a lot of scenarios. The Rams also could be in the trade market for a QB such as Michael Vick or Jason Campbell.

Falcons promote Musgrave to assistant head coach

The Falcons promoted quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave to assistant head coach Tuesday.

The move is deemed a reward for helping develop Matt Ryan and also a means of retaining Musgrave after other teams called requesting permission to lure him away, possibly for offensive coordinator positions. Those teams are unknown.

Musgrave, who will maintain his role as QBs coach, joined the Falcons in 2006 under then-head coach Jim Mora. Musgrave was one of the few assistants retained when Bobby Petrino took over in 2007 and Mike Smith did the same in 2008. Musgrave and Ryan have a strong working relationship, with the coach’s low-key but firm gym-rat style on the field and in the meeting room perfectly suited for the QB.

Former secondary coach Emmitt Thomas was the Falcons’ assistant head coach the past two seasons, but his contract wasn’t renewed after the season. Thomas then was hired by the Chiefs.

Bengals’ Maualuga to enter treatment center

Bengals LB Rey Maualuga, who pleaded guilty to drunk driving earlier in the week, plans to enroll at a treatment center to address alcohol-related issues, a source with knowledge of the situation confirmed.

Maualuga was arrested Jan. 29 after police said he hit a parking meter and two parked cars in Covington, Ky. He was charged with drunken and careless driving, and a court hearing was scheduled for Feb. 25. Maualuga changed his plea to guilty on the drunken-driving charge Tuesday and received a suspended seven-day jail sentence.

However, Maualuga had his driver’s license suspended for 90 days and was ordered to participate in an alcohol and drug education program.

The Bengals are aware of Maualuga’s decision to enter the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., and are supportive of the move, the source said.

Following his plea Tuesday, Maualuga released a statement through his agents, apologizing for “making a terrible decision.”

Maualuga had a solid rookie season in 2010 after falling to the second round of the NFL draft, despite being projected as a top-20 pick.

– Steve Wyche

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