McNair still mulling retirement

Originally Published: February 17, 2005
ESPN.com news services

Tennessee Titans: Steve McNair is reportedly willing to restructure his contract to help the Titans get below the salary cap even though the 10-year veteran remains undecided about playing next season.

The Tennessean said in Thursday's editions that McNair and the Titans exchanged proposals that could save the team more than $5 million against the salary cap. The Titans are $27 million over the cap and have to be under it by March 1.

McNair's agent, Bus Cook, told the newspaper the quarterback still hasn't made up his mind about retirement.

McNair, 32, underwent sternum surgery in December.

''He said he feels good, the surgery feels good, and the bone graft seems to be working,'' Cook told The Tennessean.

The Titans could lower McNair's $7.5 million salary for 2005 to the NFL minimum of $765,000 and give him the difference in a signing bonus, which would be pro-rated over the final five years of the contract.

If he keeps playing past 2005, the report said the Titans will almost certainly re-work his contract because he's due a $50 million bonus next offseason.

The Titans are also working with tackle Brad Hopkins and guard Zach Piller on restructured contracts.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Dave Campo was hired as the new secondary coach. Campo worked as the defensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns the past two seasons.

The addition of Campo to coach Jack Del Rio's staff had long been expected. Campo actually interviewed for the position nearly three weeks ago, but he was not released by the Browns from his contract until last week.

Campo, 57, will bring 34 years of coaching experience, including 16 at the NFL level, to the Jaguars staff. After 18 years in the college ranks, Campo was hired by the Cowboys and then-coach Jimmy Johnson in 1989. Campo eventually became the team's head coach in 2000 and compiled a 15-33 record before being fired after the 2002 season.

He then joined Cleveland coach Butch Davis with the Browns in 2003. But when Davis was dismissed during the second half of the '04 season, it was anticipated that Campo would not stay, especially when new coach Romeo Crennel began to assemble his staff.

In Campo's two seasons with the Browns, his defense ranked 15th. It was a solid coaching job given the number of injuries and lack of overall talent on the unit.

He will inherit a Jacksonville secondary that statistically rated 16th in the league against the pass in 2004.
-- Len Pasquarelli, senior ESPN.com NFL writer

New Orleans Saints: Jim Pyne was hired as assistant offensive line coach while offensive line coach Jack Henry was promoted to associate head coach and running game coordinator, the team announced.

"I wanted to hire a bright coach who has proven skills as a teacher and who understands the fundamentals and techniques of playing up front,'' coach Jim Haslett said of Pyne. "Jim will also have the assistance of Jack, who is one of the best offensive line coaches in the business and a wealth of knowledge.''

Pyne has worked as the offensive quality coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the last two seasons. He joined the Tampa Bay staff after nine years as a player in the league.

Spokesman Greg Bensel said Henry will continue to oversee the offensive line while serving as be the chief adviser to Haslett and offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard in all aspects of the rushing attack.

Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers are replacing the much-maligned turf at Heinz Field -- again.

The work, however, actually began before the NFL Players Association released a player survey rating it among the five worst playing surfaces earlier this month. In that survey, Steelers players rated their own playing surface as the worst in the league.

Two years ago, the Steelers installed DD GrassMaster -- a hybrid surface that combines real sod with synthetic fibers -- after complaints that the footing was poor on the sand-based grass surface in place when the field opened in 2001.

Earlier this month, workers again scraped off the surface -- about a half-inch of top soil -- but they're not changing turfs, they're again installing a DD GrassMaster surface.

The Steelers are hoping that will help because the Denver Broncos did the same thing at Invesco Field at Mile High, and that field was ranked the eighth-best in the league by players.

Club president Art Rooney II said the Steelers considered fully synthetic FieldTurf, which the Steelers use on their indoor practice field across town.

"We didn't do any actual survey," Rooney said, "but we talked to some of the players about our field and whether to put in FieldTurf. None of them said they'd rather go to FieldTurf."

Cleveland Browns: Todd Grantham, who spent the past three seasons coaching Houston's defensive linemen, was hired as defensive coordinator.

Browns coach Romeo Crennel also added Dave Atkins to his staff as running backs coach. Atkins was with New Orleans the last five seasons.

The Texans played a 3-4 defensive scheme, the kind Crennel used with New England and wants to implement with the Browns.

"Todd is energetic and dynamic in how he motivates his players, helping them reach their potential," Crennel said. "He has a good background with the 3-4 defense and will certainly enhance what we are building here."

Grantham wasn't Crennel's first choice. The Browns tried to lure Patriots defensive backs coach Eric Mangini to Cleveland, but Mangini stayed with New England, replacing Crennel as defensive coordinator.

Atkins previously worked with Crennel in 1993 on Bill Parcells' staff in New England.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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