The Ed Hartwell sweepstakes remains up in the air. A month ago, league sources confided in scout.com that the former Atlanta Falcon and Baltimore Raven would sign with the Denver Broncos once the team traded Al Wilson. Unable to pull off a trade due to Wilson's physical condition, he was cut loose by Denver on Friday. But the bump in the road in Hartwell signing with Denver could be the Cincinnati Bengals. Sources have told us Hartwell was greatly impressed after meeting head coach Marvin Lewis, which is weighing heavy in his decision where to play next year. Hartwell played under Lewis in his rookie season (2001) with the Ravens when Lewis was their defensive coordinator.
The Bengals have a need for a veteran linebacker after the team released MLB/WLB Brian Simmons.
Briggs Deal Still Alive?
Sources have told us the rumored trade between the Chicago Bears and Washington Redskins is still very much alive. The feeling is the trade could still be completed a few days prior to the draft with the two teams swapping picks and WLB Lance Briggs being sent to Washington. Second-year OLB Rocky McIntosh, who some thought Chicago wanted as part of the deal, would stay put with Washington.
One player the Bears are considering heavily in the third round for insurance purposes is Notre Dame DT Derek Landri. With a suspension likely to be handed down to Tank Johnson and Ian Scott still on the free agent market, a hole could open up for the team at defensive tackle. Ironically, Landri is similar to Scott; a high intensity, explosive lineman who is limited athletically.
Hankton Takes Less Money?
The Minnesota Vikings free agent signing of free agent receiver Cortez Hankton came as a mild surprise. While we reported last month Hankton had met with the Vikings and that was the place he wanted to end up, as of Friday, the Cleveland Browns were offering the fifth-year pro a more attractive contract.
Hankton is known as a very solid special teams player but he only has 34 career receptions. That said, Minnesota's depth chart at receiver is wide open.
Houston Targeting Hall?
The draft strategy of the Houston Texans is becoming a little clearer. Presently, the team favors CB Leon Hall with the tenth spot of the draft a league source told scout.com this week. Houston badly needs help opposite CB Dunta Robinson and Hall would give them two quality starters in their secondary.
They also would definitely consider moving down if the opportunity arises. If they do, they would target one of two players, either Penn St. OLT Levi Brown or University of Florida S Reggie Nelson.
Houston head coach Gary Kubiak wasn't very optimistic about starting OLT Charles Spencer's (leg/knee) health when we spoke to him about the second-year pro during the NFL owners meetings last month.
"Right now, there's a big question about whether or not he makes it back. We think it's 50-50 that he does make it back. If he does, we'll feel very good. If not, we'll have an issue on that side that we'll have to address in the draft or find a way to make it work with (OT) Ephraim (Salaam) or (OT) Jordan Black, who we signed from Kansas City. We've improved there, but we still have to improve a great deal."
As we reported on April 6th, Central Michigan University OT Joe Staley has been flying up draft boards at the expense of Brown. It's believed Houston no longer feels it would be necessary to use the 10th pick overall on the Penn St. tackle.
If Houston drafts Nelson, he would be expected to start over third-year FS C.C. Brown.
More on Ginn
To expand on our exclusive story of the pro day workout for Ted Ginn Jr., the negative reactions continue to come in. After discussions with several who attended the workout, the consensus was Ginn was at best 70 percent healthy. More continue to wonder why the workout took place. And while some are reporting with praise Ginn ran in the 4.3's, the 40-yard stretch of track used at Ohio State is known to be notoriously fast.
Seattle Eyeing Late Round Tight End and Left Tackle?
The Seattle Seahawks currently have four tight ends on their roster but they continue to bring players at that position in for visits.
Northern Illinois University's Jake Nordin visited the team last week and they've worked out or visited with a bunch of other tight ends over the last few weeks.
Nordin, who is known as a blocking tight end, has also visited the St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins.
Seattle also has their eyes on a possible backup for LT Walter Jones. Nicholls St. University LT Jake Bender visited the team last week and he also has visited the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins.
Bender has visits coming up this week with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers. League sources have Bender going off the board in rounds four through five.
Scout.com's Adam Caplan and Tony Pauline continue their breakdown of the NFL draft with exclusive…