Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots: 1. Linebacker Brandon Spikes confirmed the obvious on Friday, stating it would be best for him and the Patriots to have a fresh start by making a split. That had me thinking back to Spikes’ rookie season, and the initial days of training camp, when Bill Belichick was expressing excitement about Spikes. Some of the soundbites: “He sees some things that I’m not sure everybody sees.
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The rehabilitation of the Green Bay Packers’ defense is still in its early stages, but they no longer have to worry about their cornerbacks. By re-signing Sam Shields on Saturday to a four-year, $39 million contract, Packers general manager Ted Thompson now can focus on restoring the other parts of the defense to what they were early in defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ tenure. All along, Shields was the Packers’ top free-agent priority after finishing the best season of his career in 2013.
The New York Jets made an interesting phone call Saturday, inquiring about Tennessee Titans cornerback Alterraun Verner, according to a league source. Verner, 25, coming off his first Pro Bowl season, will be one of the top cornerbacks on the free-agent market. Before you get too excited, let's add some perspective here: This smacks of a due-diligence call by the Jets, who are involved in a negotiation with their own top cornerback, Antonio Cromartie.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Before the start of free agency, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Michael Johnson seemed like one of the Minnesota Vikings' most likely targets, due to his history with new Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and his familiarity with Zimmer's defense. The Vikings made their interest in Johnson somewhat official on Saturday. According to a league source, they called Johnson's agents to express interest in him, putting themselves in the middle of what is expected to be a heated competition for the 27-year-old.