The intrigue over Dallas' need for a pass rusher may increase in the next couple of days. The Denver Post is reporting that the Broncos may release DE Trevor Pryce, after failing to find a trading partner for the 29 year old end.
Pryce had been linked to the Cowboys, with many rumors in the weeks before the free agency period began -- all of them seemingly coming from Denver -- moving him from the Broncos to the Cowboys for a high pick. Denver initially took a hard stance in the press, with GM Ted Sundquist insisting that Denver would accept nothing less than a second round pick for Pryce. That demand was later made more "flexible" when Denver said it would also accept a first rounder in the 2006 draft.
The Broncos were disappointed when no serious offers emerged. The Broncos front office has maintained its game face, but now is facing a hard reality; Pryce's cap number is approximately $10 million, making him the biggest defensive contract on the Broncos' books. The Broncos can gain around $5 million in cap relief if they move him. A second factor working against Sundquist is Pryce's injury-filled 2004. He missed 14 games last season with back problems.
The urgency to move Pryce increased last week when Denver acquired three new defensive ends. After winning a bidding war with Washington for former Browns DE Courtney Brown, the Broncos made a deal with Cleveland, sending RB Rueben Droughns to the Browns for ends Ebenezer Ekuban and Michael Myers, both former Cowboys. With the draft fast approaching, Denver needs more cap room to negotiate with the new veterans and its new rookies.
If Dallas had any real interest in Pryce, it may soon get a compensation-free chance to speak with him. The Cowboys might also be able to use Pryce as leverage with the Saints in the Darren Howard talks, which have gone dormant the past two weeks.
Darren Howard Update: ESPN reports that the Oakland Raiders have taken the step of discussing a contract extension with Darren Howard's agent Gary Wichard. This would put the Raiders on even footing with the Cowboys, who talked contract with Wichard weeks ago.
This does not mean a deal to Oakland is imminent. Howard is said to prefer Dallas as a new team, and hence would ask the Raiders for more money. The Saints would also have to agree on compensation and are apparently cool to taking either of the CBs -- Charles Woodson or Philip Buchanon -- that Oakland has offered. Woodson signed a Raiders tender offer for over $10 million and would cost New Orleans even more than Howard.