April is trade-happy month in NFL

Philadelphia Eagles' cornerback Asante Samuel knocks the ball away from Washington Redskins'...

Philadelphia Eagles' cornerback Asante Samuel knocks the ball away from Washington Redskins' receiver Santana Moss in a game last season. Samuel could be headed to the Detroit Lions. (REUTERS)

Bill Lankhof, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:08 PM ET

Much of the hype surrounding the NFL the next few weeks will revolve around the draft.

Forgotten almost, is that April is also the most unsettling month for veteran players. It is the time when NFL teams are the most trade-happy.

Last year’s lockout precluded player movement but in 2010 there were 18 deals involving 24 veterans. This year a couple of the more interesting scenarios involve cornerback Asante Samuel, Bears’ running back Matt Forte and the possibility that Jonathan Stewart ends up in Cleveland.

The Forte situation in Chicago is a mess. He may have talked himself off the roster.

He and the Bears have been at an impasse on a long-term contract for more than a year. He has been critical of the organization in the media, resented being slapped with the franchise tag, and was bitterly displeased last week when the club signed Michael Bush.

Samuel has become expendable in Philadelphia and Stewart is now a luxury that Carolina can’t afford.

Chicago head coach Lovie Smith expressed optimism about reaching a deal with Forte noting: “My glass is always half-full. Everything you’ve ever heard from us, Matt Forte is our running back.” But not if Forte refuses to sign the $7.74 million franchise tender and become a holdout.

And, it certainly appears that might be the case.

Having Forte and Bush playing off each other in the backfield could work but a better scenario might be to trade him to fill other needs.

The offensive line remains a black hole. J’Marcus Webb hands out sacks like they’re Halloween treats, Chris Williams is road kill and Frank Omiyale, Chris Spencer and Lance Louis have been ineffective, the club finishing 20th in converting short-yardage runs and 30th in percentage of runs stuffed at the line.

New England, which lost BenJarvus Green-Ellis to the Bengals, is one potential destination. Another option is Cleveland, which is looking to replace Peyton Hillis.

The Browns also remain an option for Stewart, perhaps the top No. 2 back in the league. With Cam Newton at quarterback there just wouldn’t be enough touches for both him and No.1 back DeAngelo Williams, now that they’ve also signed Mike Tolbert.

In Philadelphia, with Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in the secondary, Samuel has become a spare part.

They’re looking for a third-round draft pick in return and the Titans, looking for secondary help, are believed to be front-runners. There has been interest lately from the Lions who need to replace Eric Wright.

The hitch is Samuel’s $9.5 million salary, although he has said he’s willing to renegotiate.

Samuel would certainly fit the Lions’ need; a veteran with 45 career interceptions, who still has some game left.

It would also re-energize Martin Mayhew’s aggressive rebuilding program that has included 19 trades since taking over as GM from Matt Millen in 2008.

“We’re looking at some opportunities now,” said Mayhew, who has been unusually quiet on the trade market lately. “Right now we haven’t had as much good fortune in that area, but we plan to keep working at it.”

TEACHER’S PET

Action: A member of the Bengals’ cheerleading squad has been arrested and charged with having sex with one of her high school students.

Reaction: Whatever happened to just giving your teacher an apple? But, then, maybe that’s old-fashioned.

SUITE NOTHINGS

Eric Winston can take a hint.

He figured the Texans weren’t that interested in him when they released him.

He signed with the rival Chiefs. End of a beautiful relationship, right?

But, no. What should show up in his mailbox but a love-note from the Texans’ marketing boys suggesting that, as a player, he might want to buy a suite for the season at Reliant Stadium.

Winston shared a photo of the invitation on Twitter, quipping “somebody didn’t get the memo.”

His wife was slightly more vexed at the Texans, suggesting they could expect ... ahhh, suite bugger all.

And, that’s the polite version.

DONOVAN MC-CRABBY

Donovan McNabb believes he was miscast in Washington and that head coach Mike Shanahan will be equally unsuccessful handling Robert Griffin III.

“I was misused,” McNabb told ESPN. “Absolutely, I was misused.”

McNabb said the problem with Shanahan and his offensive co-ordinator son, Kyle, is that instead of fitting the offence to a quarterback’s strengths, they try to mold the quarterback to fit their offence.

“I don’t think it’s a good fit,” McNabb, who was benched in his only season in Washington, said of Griffin and Shanahan.

And, if it doesn’t work right away in 2012 with Griffin, McNabb predicts Shanahan will get the axe. “If we don’t see a splash like a Cam Newton splash, this could be it . . . How long does he have with RG3? The seat is hot right now.”

URBAN PLANNING

There’s only one thing standing between Tim Tebow and success in the NFL.

That would be the NFL itself. Or, at least, the conventional thinking within the league.

Urban Meyer, Tebow’s college coach, believes Tebow can be a star — if he can find a team with enough faith to let him run the same spread offence he ran at Florida.

“Let him play,” Meyer said. “Just let him play.”

Rex Ryan and the Jets say they have the faith — for 20 plays a game. Or, just long enough to make Santonio Holmes appreciate Mark Sanchez.

QUICK HITS

The Packers addressed their pass rush issues, signing free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove. “When you think of this team,” Hargrove, 28, said, “you think of one of the most respected organizations in the league. For them to come after me is very moving. I feel blessed today.” ... Packers’ coach Mike McCarthy said the club intends to keep tackle Chad Clifton and receiver Donald Driver ... Dolphins may add another quarterback, even though they’ve signed David Garrard. GM Jeff Ireland was checking out Ryan Tannehill Thursday at Texas A&M’s Pro Day. Dolphins’ offensive co-ordinator Mike Sherman was Tannehill’s college coach ... The Ravens are looking for insurance at running back with possible options including Cadillac Williams, Joseph Addai, Cedric Benson, Ryan Grant and Justin Forsett.

COLT RIPPED OFF

Dwight Freeney is scheduled to make $14 million in 2012 and, with friends like Michael Stern, he’s going to need it.

Stern, the Indianapolis defensive end’s financial advisor, has been arrested on federal wire fraud charges that allege he and his lover swindled about $2.2 million from Freeney.

Also arrested was Stern’s lover, Eva Weinberg, who handled Freeney’s personal finances, real estate investments and business dealings involving a Hollywood restaurant, Rolling Stone LA.

About $2.2 million was wired in nearly 140 separate transactions from Freeney’s bank account by Weinberg to Arm’s Reach Consulting, a company owned by Stern, between June 2010 and October 2011, authorities said. Freeney didn’t approve the transfers and was unaware Stern was the recipient.

Stern told a confidential informant in recorded conversations that the money transferred to him by Weinberg was to be used to pay his bills and personal expenses, according to the affidavit. He also said $1.5 million was going to be put toward buying a private jet, court records show.

Stern’s lawyer has denied any wrongdoing.

 


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