While meeting with the Jets, Todd Heap signs with the Cardinals

With the exception of the Plaxico Burress signing, the New York Jets look like a team that just can’t close the deal this week.

Todd HeapTodd Heap is headed for Arizona.

After losing out on free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that while free agent tight end Todd Heap was visiting with the Jets on Sunday, he ended up signing a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

Wait a second. Heap was visiting with the Jets when this happened? What were the two sides talking about? New curtains for Rex Ryan’s living room?

Whatever the case may be, the Cardinals must have really wanted Heap to pull this one off.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

While meeting with the Jets, Todd Heap signs with the Cardinals

With the exception of the Plaxico Burress signing, the New York Jets look like a team that just can’t close the deal this week.

Todd HeapTodd Heap is headed for Arizona.

After losing out on free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on Friday, Adam Schefter of ESPN is reporting that while free agent tight end Todd Heap was visiting with the Jets on Sunday, he ended up signing a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.

Wait a second. Heap was visiting with the Jets when this happened? What were the two sides talking about? New curtains for Rex Ryan’s living room?

Whatever the case may be, the Cardinals must have really wanted Heap to pull this one off.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

Vontae Leach bails on Houston, signs with Baltimore

Many people outside the city of Houston may be unfamiliar with what Vontae Leach brought to the offense each Sunday, but ask any Texans fan and they’ll tell you that re-signing the veteran fullback was at the top of the list of things to accomplish at the start of free agency.

Vontae LeachIn Baltimore, Leach will be clearing the way for the elusive Ray Rice.

The people mentioned in the second part of the previous sentence may want to stop reading right about here.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is reporting that Leach has reached an agreement with the Baltimore Ravens on a three-year deal that will pay him a total of $11 million.

The move gives Ravens running back Ray Rice a lead blocker who earned a trip to the Pro Bowl last season clearing the way for Arian Foster.

Foster, if you recall, led the NFL in rushing last season, with 1,616 yards.

So while one high-profile AFC running back has to be thrilled with the news, another is probably wondering what just happened.

Hit me up on Twitter: @JoeFortenbaugh

NU launches Heisman Trophy campaign for Persa

Dan Persa's Heisman Trophy campaign is alive and well after Northwestern officials bought billboard space in Chicago and Bristol, Conn., to promote their dual-threat quarterback for the nation's top individual honor.

Dan PersaICONDan Persa is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation.

Wildcat fans in Chicago can see the ad next week on the Kennedy Expressway at Kimball Avenue while east-coast habitants can view it near the ESPN campus.

Northwestern officials chose the theme “Persa Strong” for the ads. If that motto rings a bell, it's because ESPN.com writer Bruce Feldman had named the 6-1, 210-pound signal-caller one of the strongest players in the nation. Persa can bench-press 360 pounds and squat 520.

School officials will also send 7-pound purple dumbbells to 80 members of the media to help Persa's cause for the award.

Persa was named to the coaches' All-Big Ten first team last season after throwing 15 touchdowns and running for nine more while completing a national-best 73.5 percent of his throws.

Email dave.miller@nationalfootballpost.com or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

Osi Umenyiora, Jerry Reese have 'good conversation'

Could there be a thaw on the way in New York?

Things have been icy all offseason between Osi Umenyiora and the New York Giants but maybe there is a possibility the team’s best pass rusher can find a way to make it work.

Pat Hanlon, a spokesman for the Giants, reports that coach Tom Coughlin just told media that “one of good things from (Saturday) is that Osi and (general manager) Jerry Reese had a good conversation.”

Now, if that conversation covered a potential contract extension for Umenyiora, who knows? Umenyiora has maintained that Reese promised him a new deal and has yet to make good on his word. He’s said he wants a new contract – and one way to get one would be through a trade.

Team owner John Mara said that Umenyiora and Reese had to meet when camp began to find a way to put their differences behind them. Hopefully, the men are on their way.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Vikings get deal done with Christian Ponder

The Minnesota Vikings head to training camp and Minnesota State University-Mankato today and making the journey with them will be Christian Ponder.

The quarterback, drafted 12th overall from Florida State, agreed to terms on a four-year contract this morning, according to Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The contract is worth $11 million and fully guaranteed, according to agent Jimmy Sexton.

Although the Vikings traded for Donovan McNabb last week, Ponder has said he expects to compete for the starting job. Ensuring that he is present for the first day of camp will give him all the chances he could possibly have.

The day began with 10 first-round picks remaining unsigned. That leaves nine to get deals done.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Report: Jets make contract offer to Antonio Cromartie

The New York Jets are entertaining tight end Todd Heap on a visit today but their most pressing issue is to get cornerback Antonio Cromartie re-signed and back in the fold.

Cromartie is considered essential for the club after it lost out in the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes. According to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger, the club has made an offer to the cornerback.

Where the negotiation stands right now, no one is saying. It’s also unclear how serious the marketplace is for Cromartie at this point as he’s one of the last top cornerbacks available. The Jets signed wide receiver Plaxico Burress earlier this morning. If they can get Cromartie done shortly, they’ll be moving in the right direction.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Report: Jets make contract offer to Antonio Cromartie

The New York Jets are entertaining tight end Todd Heap on a visit today but their most pressing issue is to get cornerback Antonio Cromartie re-signed and back in the fold.

Cromartie is considered essential for the club after it lost out in the Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes. According to Jenny Vrentas of the Newark Star-Ledger, the club has made an offer to the cornerback.

Where the negotiation stands right now, no one is saying. It’s also unclear how serious the marketplace is for Cromartie at this point as he’s one of the last top cornerbacks available. The Jets signed wide receiver Plaxico Burress earlier this morning. If they can get Cromartie done shortly, they’ll be moving in the right direction.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Jets making a play for Todd Heap

The New York Jets are hosting free-agent tight end Todd Heap on a visit today and it could signal a slight shift offensively if he’s signed to be paired with Dustin Keller.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Jets coach Rex Ryan picked Heap up at the airport Saturday night. The two have a good relationship from when Ryan was an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens.

Heap was cut loose by Baltimore last week in a salary cap move and the club didn’t rule out the possibility he could return. The Jets already signed wide receiver Plaxico Burress this morning, and the 6-5, 247-pound Heap would be another interesting player to plug into the system.

There are a handful of good tight ends still available, including Zach Miller and Kevin Boss, so there is the potential for it to be a buyers’ market.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Report: Seahawks will cut Lofa Tatupu

The Seattle Seahawks asked Lofa Tatupu to take a pay cut from the $4 million he was scheduled to earn this season and he politely declined.

Now, the club has made the decision to release him, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, a decision that did not come easily. Tatupu was a durable performer for the Seahawks since being a second-round draft pick in 2005. He started 15 or more games in five of his six seasons with the club.

Now, Tatupu could be an attractive free agent to some teams but it’s hard to imagine he’ll get anywhere near the $4 million he was hoping to make this season. The free-agent market continues to be a buyers’ market at this point with teams scooping up what they believe are value players.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune