Jim Thomas, Rams beat writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reports today he's hearing "it's supposed to be quiet this week" on any activity toward free-agent center Stefen Wisniewski signing with a new team.
Wisniewski, who turned 26 yesterday, has been Oakland's starting center in the last three seasons after being a guard at Penn State and as a Raiders rookie in 2011. He visited the Seahawks this month as part of his shopping for a new team. Seattle is seeking a new starter with versatility and youth with center Max Unger gone to New Orleans in the trade that brought tight end Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks and starting left guard James Carpenter signing this month with the New York Jets as an unrestricted free agent.
Thomas reported that about Wisniewski among other free-agent linemen the Rams have been considering:
Other news from the NFL meetings that began today in Phoenix:
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--The league announced it will "suspend" its blackout rule in 2015 of a team having to have a virtual sellout prior to 72 before kickoff for a home game to be shown on television in its home market. That, of course, is no issue in Seattle. It's been 11 years and 105 kickoffs since the Seahawks didn't sellout a home game, back to the 2003 opener against New Orleans, and there remains a long waiting list for season tickets.
The NFL says it didn't have a single blacked-out game last season -- not even in Oakland (!), where the Raiders now tarp the upper deck along one sideline rather than try to sell those seats -- and that there were only two blackouts in 2013.
--This ESPN report says one of the most influential owners in the league sees expanded playoffs as inevitable, but that he doesn't it coming until at least the 2016 season at the earliest.
"The most likely proposal to start," the report says, is with one added playoff team in each conference. That would reduce the number of teams with first-round byes from two to just each conference's top playoff seed. That would mean six games on the first, wild-card weekend of the postseason.
--Then there's this:
With how irrelevant and non-compelling the actual Pro Bowl exhibition has become -- I can't remember the last one I watched, can you? -- the league could play it on Neptune.
--Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times, who of course is on the Seahawks beat with me, is in Phoenix. Yesterday he attended the league's first "veteran combine" of 105 players hoping for a final chance with a team. Really liked the details in his story on Caesar Rayford, about how the former UW defensive lineman had to stay at a Motel 6 one night in Phoenix for the combine and sleep another night at a friend's house.
--Non-football now for a sec: I was covering the NCAA tournament at Seattle's KeyArena this past weekend, my first non-Seahawks assignment since joining the News Tribune in August.
This story from former AP colleague Dave Skretta on Wisconsin's players intrigued and interacting with the stenographer hired by the NCAA to quote press conferences was just great. It's the result of a reporter keeping his eyes and ears open and following a cool anecdote to become a neat story.
We've talked on here about trying to pull back the curtain on the access I get. Skretta is literally doing that here.