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Howard's End?

The Oakland Raiders have apparently entered the Darren Howard sweepstakes, offering New Orleans either CB Charles Woodson or CB Philip Buchanon for him.

This seems unrealistic for both teams. Oakland is clearly looking for a salary dump, especially if they can get out from under Woodson's $10 million cap hit. New Orleans, on the other hand is also looking to get out from under Howard's deal so it can re-sign its own players. What the Saints want is draft picks. And the Raiders are short, already having shipped the 7th overall pick to Minnesota for Randy Moss. It doesn't seem likely that Oakland would send its number two to the Saints.

The Howard scenario is being set in concrete, at least from Dallas' perspective. It will happen after the draft, it appears, or it won't happen at all. (You know this is more likely because New Orleans' latest posture is saying they will trade Howard before the draft or they will keep him, which, as we have discussed in earlier posts, is a dumb long-term move for the team.)

With a Howard deal seeming more remote, to whom do you look for a rush, and with which pick? Shawne Merriman? Derrick Johnson? Dan Cody? Erasmus James? Demarcus Ware? David Pollack? Matt Roth? Someone else? (Show your work, it will be graded.)

Update: Saints higher-ups seem awfully eager to discuss a possible Howard deal with the Dallas press. Yesterday, GM Mickey Loomis told the Star-Telegram that Jerry was giving him the cold shoulder. Today, coach Jim Haslett tells the Star-Telegram that Dallas and the Saints have never had a serious discussion about compensation for Howard. He also repeated Loomis' threat that Howard would not be traded after the draft.

Two teams are playing poker. Jerry Jones is not saying a word. The other team is lobbying hard to the Cowboys fan base.

Who's got the better hand here?

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