Around the League

Junior Seau

There is no denying the tragic nature of the death of linebacker Junior Seau last week, but the media, as it has done so far, needs to continue to practice the responsibility demonstrated to date, and to keep tapping the brakes on any rush to judgment about the potential role of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) on his suicide.

Chances are that head trauma, and the ancillary ramifications of it, played some element in Seau's decision to end his life at age 43. But the results of potential brain trauma — even with the presence of CTE expert and forensic pathologist Bennett Omalu in San Diego for the autopsy — may not be confirmed for months.

In the meantime, several sources close to Seau told The Sports Xchange that the 20-year veteran linebacker had long ridden a financial roller coaster, that investment decisions frequently impacted him, and that late in his career, he was often delinquent in commission payments to representatives and in arrears on other fiscal responsibilities.

It would be irresponsible to conclude what weight those carried on any individual. And there's no reason for conjecture on whether such things prompted Seau's suicide, the same way it would be to suggest with any degree of certainty that 20 seasons of violent concussions did. Of course, given recent events and the enhanced knowledge with which pathologists now operate, it will also not be surprising if the head trauma played a part in Seau's death.

Seau had other ancillary concerns as a compelling if unwanted element to his post-NFL life, too, and, while the easy conclusion anymore is to blame CTE, everyone would do well to wait for the results.

The 'eavesdropping' case

There is still much work to be done, but federal sources told The Sports Xchange that it might be difficult, although not yet deemed impossible, for investigators to uncover any substantial evidence against New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis in the ongoing "eavesdropping" case that was initiated by a state police and FBI task force.

A federal source not directly involved in the case, but familiar with the charges and the work accomplished to this point, said that it "might be problematic" for the evidence to rise to the level necessary to bring action against the general manager.

As a matter of course, federal authorities typically do not bring charges unless the evidence is solid enough to provide them a strong case of conviction. It is not known how the state police, who according to Louisiana law have jurisdiction any wiretap-related situations in the state, operate.

Loomis, of course, has denied the existence of a mechanism that allegedly allowed him to monitor the game-day transmissions of opponent coaches.

The Suggs saga

For now, Baltimore officials are taking linebacker Terrell Suggs at his word, that he sustained an Achilles injury that could be season-ending (despite his contention that he will play in 2012) while doing conditioning work.

But once the dust settles, and the stunned Ravens determine how to replace the 2011 defensive player of the year in their lineup, team officials will dig deeper for answers.

The initial rumor was that Suggs sustained the injury while playing basketball, an offseason exercise he has frequently used in the past, but one he has denied in connection to the latest injury.

The Ravens organization will do a lot more background work because the ramifications of the injury, in addition to leaving the club without one of its star defenders, impact Suggs' 2012 salary as well.

As for replacing Suggs, team sources told The Sports Xchange that the Ravens won't make any "rash" moves, but will monitor the progress of younger players first.

And educated guess is that Baltimore will use a combination of three-year veteran Paul Kruger, rookie Courtney Upshaw, and second-year pro Pernell McPhee. Between them, McPhee and Kruger had 11.5 sacks in 2011, but that was as situational defenders.

Raiders chasing Clinkscales?

The possibility that New York Jets vice president of college scouting Joey Clinkscales will be reunited with longtime friend and new Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie, much rumored recently, may still be a possibility.

Clinkscales, who has held his current position for four years, said that he "expects to remain" with the Jets, instead of joining McKenzie with the Raiders.

But the Raiders haven't abandoned the pursuit of Clinkscales, who is widely respected around the league and who interviewed earlier this year for the general manager post in St. Louis, and the statement on his future may have been more a matter of semantics than anything else.

League sources indicated that Clinkscales has a month or two remaining on his New York contract, that the Jets have approached him about an extension and he has declined, and that he will be a free agent, able to bolt to the Raiders, when the current pact expires.

The Raiders have hired former Green Bay assistant college director Shaun Herock to spearhead their college efforts, but the move will not preclude an addition of Clinkscales, who would have a bigger title in Oakland, from making a move. Herock was hired, not instead of Clinkscales, but potentially in addition to him. McKenzie had planned to bring Herock aboard, no matter what ensued with the Clinkscales pursuit.

This and that

-- Pre-draft visits with teams, over which some of the media obsesses, may be important, but of the 32 first-rounders in the 2012 lottery, only 15 visited prior to the draft with the franchises that chose them. Only one of the final 10 players chosen in the opening round met before the draft with the club that selected him.

-- The aforementioned Thompson, who dined this spring with Ravens free safety Ed Reed, to soak up some of his wisdom, could end up being the backup to the eight-time Pro Bowl defender. Thompson has good size (6-1, 211), speed (4.47) and range, and the Ravens are in need of depth. The team lost a pair of safeties in free agency, including the versatile Tom Zbikowski, and Reed and fellow starter Bernard Pollard are each in their final contract years.

-- Tampa Bay continues to add defensive tackle help, last week signing unrestricted free agent Gary Gibson, a former starter in St, Louis, and the Bucs certainly have made an effort to bolster an inside position ravaged the past two seasons by injuries to Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. The Bucs' first- and second-round choices, respectively, in 2010, McCoy and Price were supposed to cement the position for the long haul. Because of injuries, though, the two have combined for only 33 of a potential 64 starts in two seasons. The Bucs already had Roy Miller, who started 16 games in 2010, and has filled in admirably the past two years. They added former first-round pick Amobi Okoye, released by Chicago in the offseason, but with 59 career starts. And now Gibson, who started 16 games two years ago, is on board. Certainly, the Bucs have been diligent about addressing the position.

-- While the Bucs keep adding tackles, defensive interior players continue to wait for the phone to ring. Among the tackles released during the offseason who have garnered little interest are Albert Haynesworth, Anthony Adams, Fred Robbins and Remi Ayodele. All want to play in 2012.

-- Odds are that cornerback Drew Coleman, released by Jacksonville last week after only one season with the team, will re-join the Jets, for whom he played previously. But New York has some competition for Coleman, who has developed into a very good slot corner and blitzer off the edge. Likewise, there is early interest by several teams in nine-year veteran corner Drayton Florence, released by Buffalo last Thursday night. Florence has started 10 or more games in six of his nine seasons.

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