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Offseason Extra: Boldin, Fitzgerald offer helping hands

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Larry Fitzgerald has already had a busy offseason -- and the Cardinals haven't even had a minicamp practice yet. He's had a lot to deal with on and off the field.

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With the Cardinals, Fitzgerald nearly had a new quarterback. The team, justifiably so, looked into signing free agent quarterback Peyton Manning after he was released by the Colts.

Manning ultimately decided to sign with the Broncos and Fitzgerald said he is comfortable with Kevin Kolb and John Skelton, who will compete for the starting job in Arizona. But the idea of playing with Manning was exciting for Fitzgerald even though he will remain an elite receiver no matter who is throwing him the ball.

"He's one of the best quarterbacks in the game, so you have to see if it can work," Fitzgerald said in an interview with CBSSports.com. "But now we have to move on."

Fitzgerald spoke on the phone from Ethiopia, where he is with former teammate and current Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin. The two have teamed up with the international relief and development organization Oxfam to raise awareness of the food crisis in East Africa, which affects about 13 million people in the region.

This is the seventh time Fitzgerald has been to Africa, but this is the first trip for Boldin. The duo spent four days in Ethiopia and met with villagers affected by the crisis and also helped to work on an irrigation project that brings water to much needed areas.

"I'm just trying to give up my time and be helpful," Fitzgerald said. "We wanted to help and raise awareness."

Added Boldin: "I wanted to come and learn more about what's going on here. I wanted to get as much information as I can and help out as much as I can."

Fitzgerald said it's easy to take things for granted back home when you see people who can't drink the water in their own village. Boldin helped local villagers build a dam, and he was amazed that some used rocks as tools.

"Because of the drought, a lot of people are suffering," Boldin said. "It's hurting a lot of people."

Both receivers try to give as much time as possible through charitable efforts. When he returns from Africa, Boldin will turn his attention toward the eighth annual Q-Fest to raise money for Pahokee, Fla., where Boldin is from.

After that, it will be time for football. Boldin is hoping for a Super Bowl run after the Ravens fell short last year. He is glad the Ravens kept their main players because "the guys we have are guys we can win with."

Boldin was especially excited the Ravens will have Ray Rice back in 2012. Rice received the franchise tag from the Ravens as a free agent, and he will be a Top 3 overall pick in all Fantasy leagues.

"He's the total package," Boldin said of Rice.

Boldin also spoke highly of second-year receiver Torrey Smith, who is poised for a breakout campaign following a solid rookie season in 2011. We consider Smith a No. 3 Fantasy receiver with upside.

"For him, the sky's the limit," Boldin said of Smith, who had 50 catches for 841 yards and seven touchdowns. "He's one of those guys that's willing to learn and willing to get better."

As for Boldin, he is hoping to improve in 2012. He is now more of a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, but he can rebound if Smith continues to shine and draw coverage and Joe Flacco continues to improve.

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"It was a successful season," Boldin said of last year's performance when he had 57 catches for 887 yards and three touchdowns. "I'm just hoping to build off it."

Fitzgerald had another stellar year in 2011 with 80 catches for 1,411 yards and eight touchdowns. He would have been a monster if Manning signed with the Cardinals, but he has proven to post quality stats with any quarterback.

We would like to see Kolb win the job and prove that he's worth the money the Cardinals gave him last year, but Fitzgerald should still shine with either passer. Fitzgerald will likely be drafted in Round 2 in all leagues.

"Hopefully a good year," Fitzgerald said of his outlook for 2012. "I'm trying to improve and help everyone around me get better."

Two players who benefit from playing with Fitzgerald because of all the single coverage they get are receivers Andre Roberts and Early Doucet. Roberts had 51 catches for 586 yards and two touchdowns last year, and Doucet had 54 catches for 689 yards and five touchdowns. They should be considered late-round fliers in deeper Fantasy leagues.

"Andre is going to be good," Fitzgerald said. "He's starting to evolve. He has more potential inside as a slot guy. … Early improved and had the most productive year of his career. I'm excited for those guys."

Everyone should be excited for Fitzgerald and Boldin. They are great players on the field, but they are also excellent men off it with the work they do to make the world a better place.

For more information on Fitzgerald and Boldin's trip to Ethiopia, click here.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter @CBSFantasyFB . You can also follow Jamey at @JameyEisenberg and on Facebook .

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Player News
Bears sign linebacker Sam Acho to one-year contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:11 pm ET) The Bears have signed linebacker Sam Acho to a one-year contract, the team announced Wednesday. 

Acho spent the last  four seasons with the Cardinals, totaling 124 tackles with 13 sacks and three interceptions in 51 games. Acho played every game for Arizona in three of the four seasons.


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>> Want more NFL offseason? >> Mock drafts | Free agency tracker


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(1:07 pm ET) Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has restructured his contract, according to Yahoo Sports. He will save the Cowboys $13 million in salary cap space.

Romo indicated in a radio interview Tuesday he was going to restructure his contract and also said he was willing to take a pay cut so the team could re-sign running back DeMarco Murray, who eventually signed with the Eagles.

"DeMarco ended up asking me, 'Why don't you take a pay cut?' I said, 'I will. I would take a pay cut to go do this,'" Romo said. "I was like, 'They're going to restructure me.' That's the same thing in some ways, just for the salary cap purposes. He was like, 'OK, now we're back to being friends again.' I would take $5 million less if it meant getting him back.

"He knew that. It was just funny how he was literally worried about that part of it for a week. I'm like, 'That's not the reason.' I'm like, 'Obviously I'll restructure. I would even take a pay cut.' He was like, 'OK, we can be friends again.' It's amazing what you think about in those moments."

Romo's restructuring does clear up enough cap space for the Cowboys to potentially make a run at trading for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, who is slated to make $12.75 million in base salary in 2015, per ProFootballTalk.com.

Peterson's name has been linked to the Cowboys in the past, including Peterson's dad -- Nelson Peterson -- mentioning in late February he's heard rumors of Peterson being potentially traded to the Cowboys, Cardinals or Colts.


Dan Herron signs exclusive rights tender with Colts
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(12:42 pm ET) Colts running back Dan Herron signed his exclusive rights tender on Wednesday, according to the Herald Bulletin. Herron started three of 16 games for the Colts in the regular season, and all three postseason games. The 26-year-old rushed for 351 yards and one touchdown on 78 carries. He rushed for 170 yards on the ground in the postseason.

Saints sign cornerback Kyle Wilson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) The Saints agreed to terms with cornerback Kyle Wilson on Wednesday, the team announced.

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Saints extend contract of guard Jahri Evans
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(11:51 am ET)  The Saints announced Wednesday they extended the contract of offensive guard Jahri Evans by one year.

The Saints were hoping to rework his contract to create more cap space. Evans has started all but two games for the Saints over the last nine seasons.


Malcolm Jenkins: Eagles players not surprised by McCoy trade
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:12 am ET) While most folks were shocked when the news broke in early March the Eagles were trading running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills, apparently McCoy's Philadelphia teammates were not

Safety Malcolm Jenkins told NFL Network on Wednesday it was not surprising when it was announced McCoy was being traded for linebacker Kiko Alonso.

"In the locker room a lot of guys weren't surprised by the trade, what we were more surprised of was that it was just a player-for-player trade," Jenkins said. "I think everybody thought we would have gotten more -- Kiko, plus a couple draft picks, you know, somebody else...

"You look at the style of runner that Chip wants in his offense and even though Shady is one of the best backs in the league, he's not necessarily what Chip is looking for all the time. Chip thinks he's a great running back, he knows his talent is there, but our (system) is really predicated on downhill, somebody who is going to hit the hole every time. It's about getting up in the defenders face as fast as you can and that's not necessarily Shady's running style."

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"When you talk about what you can get for -- if you are looking to acquire more talent -- I just think Shady's cap number and what we were able to get in return for Shady, I think made sense," Jenkins said. "And some guys in the locker room who kind of know what's going on weren't surprised by it."


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(10:57 am ET) The Lions are not yet giving up on wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who has been hampered in his career by knee and Achilles injuries. 

“I think he’s a guy you have a lot of respect for because he’s had three major injuries and fought his way back,’’ Lions offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said Tuesday, per The Oakland Press. “When he’s been in there he’s been productive. We’re excited to see where he is now after a full season of not coming back from an injury. He’s had a full year to be healthy we’re excited to see what he does in the offseasaon.’’


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Report: Rolando McClain agrees to one-year, $3M deal with Cowboys
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