Future of speedster Bell uncertain as draft looms


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Jan 22, 2006
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Future of speedster Bell uncertain as draft looms
By Bill Williamson
Denver Post Staff Writer

Don't be surprised if the Broncos explore the possibility of trading running back Tatum Bell. If Denver feels good about its tailback situation and believes it could get a decent return for the third-year speed burner, a deal could develop.

Before any Bell deal can be talked about, however, Denver has to figure out what it is going to do at the position. The first step was the salary cap-induced release of Mike Anderson, who was the starter last season. Anderson, who will be 33 in September, could return, but there might be interest from Houston and Miami.

Denver's only experienced tailbacks are Bell and Ron Dayne, who hasn't re-signed. If Dayne re-signs, he will get a chance to start. But if the free-agent market goes flat, Denver could make a run at a veteran. Indianapolis' Edgerrin James and Baltimore's Jamal Lewis could be intriguing possibilities.

Denver also will address the position in the first few rounds of the draft. The Broncos could look at Denver native LenDale White, of USC, with their No. 22 pick - if he's available and they decide they want to use a high pick on a tailback. Denver usually doesn't select running backs in the first round.

Regardless of what happens, there will be at least one new tailback in town. That could mean the departure of Bell. In a saturated running back market, his worth is unknown, but interested teams may include Arizona, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Minnesota and New England. But because of Bell's speed, the Broncos will consider keeping him.

Too little for T.O.?

Denver, Kansas City and Dallas are the teams most often connected to Terrell Owens, who soon will be released by Philadelphia. All would be fine landing spots for the receiver and all would be considered serious Super Bowl contenders with Owens in the attack.

Problem is, none of those teams has an abundance of salary cap room. Owens may have trouble creating a major bidding war. Any team could put together a tasty incentive package for the future, but initial money also will be important.

If no other teams make a major play for Owens, these three teams could control the market. Only Denver has visited with Owens, but there were indications at the NFL combine in Indianapolis last week that Dallas and Kansas City are interested.

Packers can sway Favre

This week, in a nationally televised interview, quarterback Brett Favre basically said he was waiting to see what Green Bay would do in free agency and the draft before making up his mind on whether to retire.

Take that as a major hint. Favre wants to play, and he wants to play for the Packers. Why else would he wait to see how the team manages the offseason?

His comments were a challenge to the team to get him some help to make a playoff run. The Packers have ammunition to appease Favre. They have a top-five draft pick and among the most cap room in the NFL. Thus, Green Bay could get Favre a ton of defense and some offense. The team could use a running back and another receiver.

If this happens, not only will the Packers be better for the future, they'll be better for the present with Favre behind center.

Whisenhunt in hunt

When Ken Whisenhunt turned down the chance to coach the Oakland Raiders days after he played a major role in Pittsburgh's Super Bowl championship, he was applauded by several NFL insiders.

The feeling was the Raiders' job was not up to his standards. Whisenhunt, who is only 43 and never has been a head coach, was told to wait for a better job.

Whisenhunt will be the top available assistant going into the 2006 season and is likely to spend the season auditioning for any opening he wants. He'll be this year's Brad Childress. After being selective, the Eagles' offensive coordinator was snapped up by Minnesota in January.

With 10 jobs filled with new faces this year, the turnover next year likely will be reduced. Potential openings could come in Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, San Diego and Tennessee. Whisenhunt can mark his name next to his choice of any opening.

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