Bucs looking to trade up to #2

SoCal Raider

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[font=verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif]The Way We Hear It  NFL draft
Niners may not draft the player they covet, with a little help from his agent; Reaction to Castillo's steroid use

By Nolan Nawrocki
April 14, 2005

With only nine days remaining before Draft Day, a lot of wheeling and dealing is going on behind the scenes. Much of it involves PFW’s top-ranked quarterback.

PFW has learned that the Buccaneers have discussed a trade with the Dolphins and Browns. A team executive said the Dolphins have discussed a conditional trade with Tampa Bay  with the stipulation being that Alex Smith is available at the No. 2 spot  in which the Bucs would send a third-round pick and perhaps a player or an additional second-day draft pick to Miami in exchange for swapping first-round picks. With few teams looking to trade up, the Bucs hold more leverage in negotiations and are trying to play Cleveland and Miami against one another.

An assistant general manager, who classifed talk this week as very preliminary, said, “The Dolphins will get laughed out of the league if they accept anything less than a No. 2 pick. It won’t happen for a third-rounder.â€Â

The trade has a great chance of being circumvented by the 49ers, however, who are not expected to let Smith fall if they can agree to contract terms with Smith’s agent, Tom Condon, in advance of the draft. Condon is scheduled to be in San Francisco today to meet with top team brass.

Last year, it was Condon who was believed to be at the center of the controversy regarding Eli Manning’s refusal to play for San Diego. The Chargers’ struggles as an organization were given as the reason for Manning’s snub of the organization, but some league sources believed the more logical reason was that another one of Condon’s clients, Drew Brees, held the Chargers’ starting job and would be pushed by the wayside if the team drafted Manning.

As it turned out, both Brees and Manning appear to have benefited from their agent’s hardball tactics. With Chargers rookie QB Philip Rivers holding out during training camp, Brees held on to the starting job and had a banner year, earning the franchise tag at the end of the season and pocketing $8 million for 2005. Manning, meanwhile, signed a lucrative six-year deal with $20 million in bonuses and is the starting quarterback for the Giants in the nation’s biggest market.

This year, two team sources allege that Condon has been trying to pull a similar power play and manipulate the draft the way he did a year ago with Manning because he does not want Smith to play in San Francisco.

If Smith were somehow to slip past the Niners, despite their strong preference for him, expect contract demands to be cited as the primary reason why. Regardless, don’t rule out the clout of football’s most powerful agent in determining the shape of this year’s draft. If Condon convinces Smith and his family that Miami offensive coordinator Scott Linehan or Tampa Bay head coach Jon Gruden provides a richer learning environment and a better chance for success than the 49ers do, there is some thought among teams that Condon could wind up bullying the Niners’ new staff into selecting Rodgers, especially given that Rodgers’ agent, Michael Sullivan, is said to be much more flexible with contract demands than Condon, perhaps because Sullivan realizes that his client could slip as many as 10 spots if the Niners do not select him.

The other factor that could weigh into the decision is notoriously cheap 49ers owner John York, who after hiring Mike Nolan, said he was willing to do whatever it took to resurrect the franchise to the glory years under former owner Eddie DeBartolo. If York, who is said to charge employees for stamps on outgoing mail, is still pinching his pennies and the difference in contract demands between Smith and Rodgers is $10 million in total contract value, as one team executive said it could be, Rodgers could become the Niners’ guy.

Castillo’s steroid admission may have less impact than initially thought

Word first began swirling about Northwestern DT Luis Castillo throughout the league on Monday, when Castillo’s agents, Priority Sports, proactively began contacting teams to inform them they would soon be receiving a report from the league office revealing that its client had tested positive for steroid use.

All 32 teams were informed by Tuesday that they would be receiving a packet of information from the Castillo camp as well, including documentation from Northwestern showing that he had never tested positive for steroids during his stay at Northwestern and that his performance on tape was pure. Included was a personal letter of recommendation from Northwestern head coach Randy Walker vouching for Castillo’s character.

Initial reaction from two teams that PFW spoke to late Monday evening was one of complete surprise, almost shock. Castillo was one of the last players whom teams would have suspected of using the banned substance, given his previously exemplary character. Scouts have commended him all season for his toughness, attitude and effort, having played with torn ligaments in his right elbow suffered on the second play from scrimmage vs. Texas Christian in the season opener, a broken bone in his right hand and torn ligaments in his ribs suffered vs. Hawaii  all of which prevented him from practicing this year. Against Hawaii, it looked as if he had suffered a heart attack on the sideline after running off the field, where he collapsed in pain with the rib injury.

Scouts who visited Northwestern walked away stamping late first- and early second-round grades on Castillo, coming away saying he was the top defensive tackle they had seen this year. His non-stop motor and playmaking ability with a one-arm handicap left a very strong impression on teams.

Castillo, whom PFW had rated as the top defensive tackle in the draft, a first-team All-American and a first-round talent, will likely slip into the second round “given the current climate about steroids in America,†according to one personnel executive.

Another general manager, who admitted yesterday that he had yet to review all the paperwork sent to him, said, “It’s the biggest controversy in the United States right now. It’s going to hurt him.â€Â

A team like the Panthers, who were recently alleged to have had three players on their 2004 Super Bowl team guilty of steroid use, would not be able to select Castillo without facing a public-relations nightmare.

Three other teams that PFW contacted, however, said the news may not push Castillo down at all.

“Who’s the top defensive tackle in this draft?†one personnel executive asked. “There’s not a lot there. We are classifying this as a one-time offense. If a team wants him badly enough, you go to the owner, give him the file, explain the conditions that the agents set forth  that the player will return his entire signing bonus if he ever tests positive again  and you sign him. Teams that really want him will make a case for him.â€Â

Castillo’s agents, Mike McCartney and Rick Smith, have told teams they will be willing to tie his signing bonus to future testing, guaranteeing to refund the bonus if he ever tests positive again. The way in which the situation was handled has impressed many team executives, who say many others would have lied and hid behind the truth. Castillo may be the first athlete ever to come clean and openly admit to having taken “a shortcut,†and for that reason, he may not be affected very much at all on Draft Day. One team executive even said drugs may have been the best remedy to heal his elbow, although the source did not condone Castillo having obtained them without a legal prescription.

McCartney said: “We talked to all 32 teams and feel extremely comfortable that the evaluation process has gone well, and Luis is right where he belongs.â€Â

Another team said it was going to fight to keep him where it currently has him stacked on its draft board, saying, “You know exactly what you are getting with him. He made a mistake and he has faced the consequences like a man. He’s a very intelligent kid. If he were a habitual user, he would not have made this mistake. Guys that abuse steroids are not difficult to identify on first glance. They know how to beat the system. This is not a kid who knew anything about beating the system.â€Â

Although his chances of landing in the first round may have diminished, Castillo could still vie to be the first defensive tackle drafted and a first-round pick. Outside of the recent news, he had the fewest negatives of any tackle in the draft. Florida State’s Travis Johnson is regarded as a more naturally athletic player than Castillo, but questions about his character and one-year production have left teams stacking him in the second round. USC’s Shaun Cody has been taken off at least several teams’ draft boards due to knee, back and shoulder injuries. His teammate, Mike Patterson, is limited by his size, with teams concerned he will wear down in November and December, and his intelligence is a concern to others.

Castillo is not regarded as a true “first-round†talent, but few teams have more than 12 players graded as true first-rounders this year, meaning that in any typical year they would be deserving of a first-round selection. As a result of this year’s weak draft class, especially at tackle, Castillo was pushed up draft boards and was rgarded by many as a very likely first-rounder.

One team executive, who demanded anonymity, said, “At the end of the day, some coaches will respect Castillo more for what he did. It shows how important the game is to him and that he’s willing to pay any price to get better. It may not be right, but a lot of coaches could care less about morals. They want good football players, and this kid is a warrior.â€Â
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boon

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"the Bucs hold more leverage in negotiations and are trying to play Cleveland and Miami against one another."

I dont know about that they have to trade with us to get a qb. If they trade up to the Browns we cud slap em in the face by taking Rogers or Smith.:lol:
 

DolphinDevil28

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SoCal Raider said:
and good luck on 11-27 because you're going to need it...
If and when we get a good running back in this draft, we'll have a decent offense.

It'll probably be a shoot-out, SoCal. It looks like it's going to take an act of congress to stop your offense, while at the same time your D looks like a bunch of ballerinas dancing in pink too-toos, and I'd love to see them try to stop the likes of Ronnie Brown or Cedric Benson.

Should be a good one.
 

PHINSfan

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boon said:
"the Bucs hold more leverage in negotiations and are trying to play Cleveland and Miami against one another."

I dont know about that they have to trade with us to get a qb. If they trade up to the Browns we cud slap em in the face by taking Rogers or Smith.:lol:
I hope the niners dont pick up smith, because it seems us, tampa, and cleveland all like him quite a lot.
 

HysterikiLL

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Sure we may get laughed out of the league for taking a 1st, 3rd and second day pick but I'd rather that than just the #2 overall.

But I really want this deal. I'm sure that with this deal, we could get Ronnie Brown and the stockpile of picks we would get would help also. But I would like a second round pick -- possibly 1st, 2nd and 5th and a 4th or 5th next year?
 
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