NFL news and rumors: Michael Vick, Nick Foles split reps, Bills GM defends QBs in draft class and more

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Nick Foles and Michael Vick split first-team reps during Chip Kelly's first practice as Eagles head coach, while Buffalo's general manager defended the quarterbacks in this year's draft class. Here's a look at Tuesday's NFL news and rumors.

Tuesday offered plenty of news around the NFL -- including the start of a potential quarterback controversy. Here's a look at the latest news and rumors throughout the league.

Vick, Foles split first-team reps

Let the quarterback drama in Philadelphia begin. Quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles split first-team reps at Philadelphia's first practice with Chip Kelly as its head coach, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Vick is expected to win the starting job after restructuring his contract to remain with the Eagles in 2013, but Kelly said that Vick and Foles are "even" atop the quarterback depth chart.

With a stronger arm, more mobility and a higher salary, it's still likely that Vick is under center during Week 1, when the Eagles kickoff the Kelly era in September. Kelly is going to give Foles a chance to win the job, however, and seems to be genuinely interested in a competition.

Though Kelly hasn't coached neither Vick nor Foles, he has coached against Foles, who was the University of Arizona's starting quarterback between 2009-11 -- the first three years of Kelly's tenure at Oregon.

Philadelphia's strategy in the upcoming draft will be telling. If the Eagles use an early-round pick on a quarterback, it likely means that Kelly and his coaching staff don't view Foles as the future quarterback of the franchise -- and that he likely will be Philadelphia's backup in 2013.

Bills GM defends QBs in 2013 draft class

Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix is defending this year's draft class, weeks after cutting incumbent starter Ryan Fitzpatrick. Nix believes that "two or three" quarterbacks in the 2013 draft class will blossom into franchise quarterbacks -- a view not held by many draftniks and analysts.

The Bills have been linked to former Syracuse Orange quarterback Ryan Nassib -- and both the connection and fit are logical. New Bills head coach Doug Marrone was Nassib's head coach at Syracuse, and the Bills are one of the most quarterback-needy teams in the entire NFL.

Buffalo holds the No. 8 and No. 41 overall picks in the draft, and is expected to take a quarterback with either pick. It's more likely that the Bills will address their quarterback situation in the second round, with a prospect like Matt Barkley, Ryan Nassib or E.J. Manuel, rather than the first round.

Since Drew Bledsoe was released by Buffalo after the 2004 season, the Bills have started J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm and Fitzpatrick at quarterback -- and have yet to find a franchise player.

Cowboys remain interested in Winston

If the Dallas Cowboys are going to return to the playoffs, they need to protect Tony Romo. At least somebody in Dallas' organization knows that, as the Cowboys are still interested in free-agent offensive tackle Eric Winston, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Dallas' starting right tackle Doug Free carries a $10 million cap hit for the 2013 season. Even if Dallas released Free today, the Cowboys would still be on the hook for his salary. If Dallas signed Winston, Free would either be moved to the interior line or be relegated to a backup role.

The Cowboys will be able to cut Free and spread out the cap penalty during the summer, but until then, Dallas is on the hook to pay Free quite handsomely in 2013.

Winston would be an upgrade over Free if the cash-strapped Cowboys can find a way to sign him -- which would be music to Romo and DeMarco Murray's ears.

Ravens aren't ruling out McKinnie

When the Baltimore Ravens take the field on Thursday Night Football to kickoff the 2013 season, their roster will look drastically different. Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe and Bernard Pollard are among the Ravens that have either left, or in Lewis' case, retired. Baltimore could move on from offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, but Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome acknowledged the fact that Baltimore could re-sign McKinnie, according to Aaron Wilson.

Newsome noted that McKinnie "could be" Baltimore's left tackle -- which means that the Ravens likely aren't satisfied with the current options on the roster, which include Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele.

The Chargers and Saints have shown interest in McKinnie, but neither team has put forth major effort to sign the left tackle.

McKinnie stated earlier this offseason that he won't take a discount to return to the Ravens. Reading between the lines shows that McKinnie would like to return to Baltimore -- but at his price.

Hernandez underwent shoulder surgery

The New England Patriots could be without both starting tight ends throughout their offseason program this spring and early summer. Aaron Hernandez underwent shoulder surgery earlier this offseason, and could miss New England's offseason activities.

New England is already planning on missing Rob Gronkowski throughout offseason activities -- and could be without Gronkowski when the 2013 season opens. Gronkowski needs a fourth surgery on his broken forearm, but doctors are waiting until his infection is gone until they operate again.

It's unknown when Hernandez suffered his shoulder injury, but the former Florida Gators tight end has been nagged by injuries throughout his young career. Hernandez was limited to just 10 games in 2012, and has never played more than 14 games in a season, missing two games each in 2010 and 2011.

The Patriots have an abundance of tight ends, and will likely use offseason activities to determine who will remain on the roster come Week 1. In addition to Gronkowski and Hernandez, the Patriots have Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells and Michael Hoomanawanui on their roster.

Once healthy, Hernandez could find himself often utilized as a wide receiver in 2013. New England used Hernandez out of the backfield sparingly during its Super Bowl run in 2011-12, and has a shortage of wide receivers on its roster.

Harrison, Bengals hit snag

Talks between James Harrison and the Cincinnati Bengals hit a snag on Tuesday, and it's unknown whether or not the free-agent linebacker will end up signing with the Bengals.

Harrison was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers in early March, and has drawn little interest on the free-agent market. The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year visited the Bengals over the weekend, and impressed Cincinnati's coaching staff. It appeared that Cincinnati was going to sign Harrison early this week, but the two sides hit a snag -- almost certainly over the financial language of the contract.

Entering his age 35 season, Harrison will likely have to settle for an incentive-laden contract near the veteran's minimum. If Harrison is unwilling to accept such a deal, he'll likely sit on the free-agent market for quite some time.

Cincinnati is an ideal landing spot for Harrison. Known to be outspoken, Harrison likely wants to stick it to the Steelers for releasing him -- as well as the Ravens, who hosted him earlier this offseason, before signing Elvis Dumervil. Signing with an AFC North rival would allow Harrison to try to help the Bengals beat both the Steelers and Ravens twice a season as a pass rusher off the edge.

Nelson not practicing

New Cleveland Browns wide receiver David Nelson isn't practicing with his new team, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. Nelson is still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered during Week 1 of the 2012 season.

Cleveland was the only city Nelson visited as a free agent, and the Browns signed the slot man in early April. Nelson is two years removed from his best season as a professional, when he caught 61 passes for the Bills in 2011, for 658 yards and five touchdowns.

As a 6'5 wideout, Nelson is a unique talent and should be a nice addition for Brandon Weeden and Cleveland's offense. Nelson is expected to be ready for the Browns' minicamp in June.

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