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The Baltimore Ravens remain the favorite to sign free agent wide receiver Malcom Floyd, according to reports from the Baltimore Sun's Jamison Hensley. Wednesday reports indicated that the Ravens offered Floyd a deal topping the $3 million per year salary he made with the San Diego Chargers in 2010-2011. According to Hensley, terms could be reached between the two sides by Friday.
Thus far Floyd has played the entirety of his seven year NFL career with the San Diego Chargers, stretching the field with his blistering speed while pulling in career high numbers over the last two years. Since 2009, the 29-year-old has compiled 82 receptions for 1493 yards and seven touchdowns.
Should Floyd sign with Baltimore, he would join a receiving corps headlined by three-time Pro Bowler Anquan Boldin and a smattering of journeymen and rookies. With the official formation of the new CBA, the 6-foot-5 receiver would be immediately available to join team practice.
There are a few things that never change, lockout or no. And one of them is that Al Davis is going to be active on the free-agent market. The other is that John Clayton sees everything. Which brings us to the collision of those two certainties:
Just confirming what everyone has been hearing, the Raiders are looking at Giants TE Kevin Boss, who is in Napa for a visit.less than a minute ago via yoono Favorite Retweet ReplyJohn Clayton
Boss had 531 yards and five touchdowns on 35 catches last year, which isn't bad for a tight end, and he has the added bonus of having the last name "Boss." The total yardage isn't too flashy, but his 15.2 yards per reception average was ninth in the NFL among tight ends last year.
The former Giants tight end would be a replacement for Zach Miller, on his way to the Seahawks for a nice contract there. (And the relative stability that comes from working for an organization not controlled by Al Davis.) Whether Boss could fill the sizable hole Miller leaves in the Raiders' offense is anyone's guess. But if he wants to try, it looks like he might get the chance.
Stay with this storystream to get the latest free agent rumors. Head over to the NFL Free Agency hub for a look at the deals being made. And check out Silver And Black Pride for news and commentary about the Raiders.
The Baltimore Ravens reportedly made an offer to Malcom Floyd on Monday night, topping the $3 million per year he had been making with the Chargers. According to the report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Baltimore looks to be the current leader for the 6-foot-5 receiver.
Floyd would give Baltimore yet another big target to supplement Anquan Boldin and Ed Dickson in the red zone, as well as a reliable deep threat. Floyd was the biggest beneficiary of Vincent Jackson's contract holdout early last season, before injuries sidetracked what looked to be a monster season. Through the first five weeks of 2010 season, Floyd hauled in 22 passes for 498 yards and three touchdowns. He added just 17 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns throughout the rest of the season.
Floyd's departure was offset in San Diego with the signing of Laurent Robinson from St. Louis. The full-time return of Vincent Jackson means Philip Rivers will once again have plenty of targets to throw to in 2011.
So he was serious. According to a report from Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Tiki Barber worked out with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday. It was revealed in March that Barber had filed for reinstatement into the NFL, much to the surprise of, well, everybody.
From Glazer's report, Barber supposedly looked pretty good. Still, if the Dolphins signed Barber it would fly in the face of their apparent efforts to supplant fresh legs into their offensive backfield. The team has let go of Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams, both 29 and 34 respectively while signing rookie Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush, 23 and 26 years old. Barber turned 36 in April.
In any case, it will be an interesting story to follow into the season. Still, considering the fact that we need to discuss whether or not Plaxico Burress can reintegrate himself back into the league after two years away from the game, it's unlikely we will see Barber make a significant impact any time soon.
Free agent WR Braylon Edwards can come back to the New York Jets if he wants. At least that's what Jets head coach Rex Ryan said -- as long as it's at the Jets price. We're not sure what that price is, or what Edwards think about it, but in the meantime he'll be visiting the San Francisco 49ers.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reports that Edwards will be in the Bay Area on Wednesday night. The market has seemingly dried up a little bit on Edwards. There were reports connecting him to the Arizona Cardinals but it makes you wonder what he thinks about that option if he's visiting the 49ers.
For the 49ers part, that wouldn't be a bad move, if it's on a short-term deal. He could be motivated to play well and get back on the open market in 2012 while giving the 49ers a boost in 2011. It won't take much improvement to win the NFC West next season so I'd be in favor of that move.
I'm sure the 49ers fans at Niners Nation will be buzzing about this.
Assuming Greg Pappa has some pretty decent insight into the team which employs him, it would seem that the Oakland Raiders are pretty intent on retaining the services of tight end Zach Miller. The Raiders radio announcer told Bay Area radio station 95.7 FM that "Zach Miller will be back with the Raiders" and that a deal could be announced as soon as Tuesday.
Miller, a free agent, was in Seattle on Monday visiting with the Seahawks where his former coach Tom Cable is currently an assistant. With the Raiders having just re-worked linebacker Kamerion Wimbley's contract to get under the salary cap, it would appear bringing back Miller is on the top of the to-do list.
Said Pappa: "Al Davis didn't just give Kamerion Wimbley $29 million to lose Zach Miller to Tom Cable."
Miller is coming off a third straight solid year in which he has established himself as one of the league's best tight ends. Last year, he earned his first Pro Bowl selection after 60 passes for 685 yards and scoring five touchdowns.
The 10-year veteran recorded 49 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles for the Washington Redskins last season. He recently ended his relationship with Drew Rosenhaus and has hired Joel Segal.
Jets blog Gang Green Nation isn't doing cartwheels over the possible move.
I can't say this move would excite me terribly. Buchanon is not anything special. If memory serves, he was at his best in Monte Kiffin's zone based scheme, which is not really what the Jets do. He's not terrible, though. If he was fourth on the depth chart behind Darrelle Revis, Cromartie (or some other starter), and Wilson, I would not complain.
Check Gang Green Nation for more on the Jets.
Donte Whitner may have a new NFL home soon enough. ESPN's John Clayton reports that there is a "good chance" Whitner and the Cincinnati Bengals could come to an agreement. The Bengals are in need of a safety, as the team has struggled to find a healthy body at the position over the last few seasons. Roy Williams and Chris Crocker have all missed significant time due to injury (see Cincy Jungle for a complete breakdown on the struggles at the position).
Whitner was the eighth overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in the 2006 NFL Draft and has turned into an effective run-stopping safety. As a result, he isn't much of a ballhawk, picking off five passes in his career. He finished the 2010 season with a career-high 94 solo tackles.
The Cleveland Browns had at one point looked like the front-runners to sign Whitner since their defensive coordinator is Dick Jauron, the coach who drafted Whitner while at the helm in Buffalo. That chance, however, passed with the signing of local product Usama Young
For more on the Bengals, visit Cincy Jungle.
The New York Giants could be one step closer to signing a running back now that Jason Snelling is scheduled to have a visit with the team, according to Mike Garafolo. Adam Caplan added that Snelling was on his way there on Sunday night. But the Giants could still attempt to re-sign Ahmad Bradshaw, whom they featured over Brandon Jacobs during the 2010 season.
Snelling entered the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons as a seventh-round draft choice in the 2007 NFL Draft. He was used sparingly in his first two years there, but emerged as an effective backup to Michael Turner over the last two seasons. He did his best in 2009 with 613 rushing yards on 142 attempts. He's been used extensively as a receiver over the last two seasons and is an effective blocker, as well.
With a visit on Sunday evening, might a deal emerge before the end of the night?
While the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets both lost out on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to the Eagles, they are now competing for the services of cornerback Antonio Cromartie, according to the NFL Network's Jason La Canfora. While they are the top two interested teams in Cromartie, La Canfora believes there may be a third team involved in this pursuit, as well.
That sounds similar to how the Eagles swooped in and signed Asomugha when the Jets and the Cowboys were reportedly the favorites to land the star player. But Cromartie's decision doesn't have the drama around it the way Asomugha's did.
For the Jets, they are likely selling Cromartie on what the Jets accomplished with him last season and on how large of a role he will have with the team on getting to the Super Bowl this season. Cromartie played the first four years of his career with the San Diego Chargers.
Since missing out on new Philadelphia Eagles CB Nnamdi Asomugha, the New York Jets have turned their attention to re-signing Antonio Cromartie. This is because they don't have any other good cornerbacks! No.
For hours now, they've reportedly been trying to find a way to fit Cromartie under the salary cap. According to John Clayton, this now means "calling around" to try and find a willing trade partner. No word on what they might be offering, but assume it's one of their other really good cornerbacks. No, don't assume that.
Cromartie has made it to Sunday to become one of the most highly sought free agents left in the great derby of 2011. The Jets appear to have the inside track, but the Eagles didn't appear to have any type of track whatsoever in the race for Nnamdi, and look what happened there. Just look at it.
After being spurned by the Jets, who elected to sign Plaxico Burress instead, Braylon Edwards is reportedly in talks with the Arizona Cardinals. Cardinals players, led by Edwards' friend and former teammate Kerry Rhodes, appear to be even more on board with the move than Cardinals management at this juncture:
Adding Edwards would seal a complete 180 for the Cardinals' offense, which last year looked like they couldn't score on The University of Phoenix's football team. Now, after the Kevin Kolb trade, they have Larry Fitzgerald, Todd Heap and potentially Braylon Edwards — a three-headed monster of giant targets with either great hands (Heap, Fitz) or the ability to bring down jump balls (Fitz, Edwards).
Clearly the Cardinals' players are on board with the move as well, which always helps chemistry.
For more news on the Cardinals, check out Revenge of the Birds.
The Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes are reportedly down to the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys. NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reported that the San Francisco 49ers were out and it's down to the Jets and Cowboys. No word yet on who has the lead but the Jets are apparently making preparations for Asomugha.
They've released QB Mark Brunell and QB Kevin O'Connell. Follow-up reports suggest that those moves were made to create the cap space in the chance that they can get Asomugha.
Teams have to be under the salary cap by the start of the league year, which could come on Aug. 4 so they have some time but it appears they're preparing for a big signing.
Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News reports that Asomugha's decision isn't all about money -- he wants to win a Super Bowl. Both the Cowboys and Jets are legitimate Super Bowl contenders, if you ask me, although the Jets may have a slight edge in that category.
The competition for the top free agent on the market, CB Nnamdi Asomugha, is turning into a family affair. NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reports the Asomugha sweepstakes are now down to the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys.
The Jets head coach is Rex Ryan and the Cowboys defensive coordinator is Rob Ryan and both guys are trying to haul in Asomugha.
Lombardi reports the San Francisco 49ers, who were reportedly one of the teams involved in Asomugha, are telling other folks that they're not in it anymore.
So it comes down to the Jets and Cowboys. Both teams have been cutting quite a bit of cap room suggesting they're making room for a big signing. Asomugha could be looking at a deal that pays him in the $12-14 million range so they'll need some salary cap room to make it happen.
The Jets most recently released QB Mark Brunell and reports are suggesting that the move was done in order to create more cap room for Asomugha, if they can get him.
We should be hearing a decision soon. Teams can have players officially sign contracts at 6:00 p.m. (ET) Friday night.
The biggest name on the NFL free agency market is CB Nnamdi Asomugha and the momentum right now is pointing to the New York Jets. It's far from a done deal but the front-runner right now is the Jets, especially after the Houston Texans signed CB Johnathan Joseph to a five-year deal putting them out of the Asomugha sweepstakes.
Per reports, the two other competing teams are the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. The 49ers released CB Nate Clements this week clearing up over $15 million in cap space and the Cowboys have been doing the same with a number of veterans.
The Jets were reportedly working through the night in negotiations with Asomugha and it's unclear where they stand on that.
"We're trying to get an answer out of him, one way or another," a source told the Daily News.
So is the rest of the football world. Asomugha's deal could be in the $12-14 million range and it will require the Jets to restructure at least a couple of existing contracts on the team.
Can the Jets go get the biggest name on the market? It's certainly looking that way. We'll see how this thing turns out.
Multiple sources at 49ers training camp are reporting defensive line coach Jim Tomsula told Isaac Sopoaga he would be the starting nose tackle in 2011. Although Tomsula is well known as a motivational kind of guy, it's probably safe to conclude from this news that Sopoaga is in fact the starter and more importantly, Aubrayo Franklin likely will not be returning to San Francisco.
News on Franklin's free agency future has been virtually non-existent, which is rather surprising given the fact that he is one of the more high-profile options on the free agent market. When nothing is being said on Twitter about a player, it makes you wonder what is going on. Even a little speculation would be better than nothing.
At the very least San Francisco is likely out of the picture. After signing Ray McDonald to a sizable contract extension that paid him defensive end starter money, it is not surprising that the team will move Sopoaga into the middle. Ricky Jean-Francois will likely rotate in as well.
Bushrod is one of the top tackles on the free agency market so he'll have his options. What's interesting, as Jensen pointed out, is figuring out what their pursuit of Bushrod means for incumbent OT Bryant McKinnie. That's unclear for the moment.
There are going to be a number of teams connected to Bushrod. He's one of the top offensive tackles available and it's hard to come by solid offensive tackles so he'll be in demand.
Any deal he agrees to can't become official until Friday night when players are permitted to sign with teams.
Check out Daily Norseman to see what Vikings fans are saying about this possibility.
On Wednesday WR Braylon Edwards tweeted that he wants to stay in New York but it doesn't appear that the numbers from management will match up. Though things can change, Edwards may be looking to other suitors.
One of those suitors is the Minnesota Vikings, ESPN's John Clayton reports. The Vikings lost WR Sidney Rice in free agency so they could be on the look out for another receiver. Edwards makes as much sense as anyone on the market.
Any deal Edwards reached with another team won't be official until Friday night when players are permitted to sign. Even then, he won't get to training camp until Aug. 4 at the earliest, according to the rules in the new labor agreement.
Check out Daily Norseman to see what Vikings fans think about adding a receiver.
The Nnamdi Asomugha sweepstakes roll on for another day in this young NFL free agency period. The last bit of news on Asomugha had the San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets in the lead for his services.
Hearing Houston has moved into the lead for Nnamdi Asomugha-money will be in the 12-14 mill per year range...Revis makes 11.5 per year
Asomugha is the most coveted free agent on the market and he'll be signing a major deal someplace. The Jets reportedly are serious about their interest in him and have even contacted several players about restructuring their contract to fit Asomugha. They don't need to be under the salary cap until the start of the league year, believed to be Aug. 4, so New York would have some time to move things around if they could get him.
The Texans make a lot of sense for Asomugha, too. The former Raider is one of the few cornerbacks that can contain Texans WR Andre Johnson so it makes sense to bring him onto your team. That, and the Texans pass defense was pretty bad last season.
So will it be the Texans? Or the 49ers or Jets? Time will tell in the Asomugha sweepstakes.
Now that the Seattle Seahawks have reportedly signed wide receiver Sidney Rice to a five-year deal, the losers in the Rice sweepstakes will now turn their attention to Chargers wide receiver Malcom Floyd. The Minnesota Vikings, who had been Rice's team up until Wednesday, and the St. Louis Rams are the top two teams pursuing Floyd at the moment, according to Chris Wesseling.
Floyd had emerged as a starter for the Chargers over the last two seasons. Injury limited him to just 11 games in 2010, but he did finish with career highs in touchdowns (6), yards per reception (19.4) and yards per game (65.2). His career high in receiving yard (776) came in 2009.
Turf Show Times, our Rams blog, questions whether Floyd could turn into a No. 1 wide receiver. It's a valid question to ask of a receiver entering his seventh year in the league and has only entered the spotlight the last two seasons.
With the Oakland Raiders losing cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha to free agency, who might the team turn to fill that void? According to the NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, the Raiders may turn to Antonio Cromartie. They would be no strangers to him, as Cromartie played the first four years of his career with the San Diego Chargers.
Cromartie exploded onto the NFL scene in 2007 when he had a league-high 10 interceptions. Over the last three he has totaled eight picks, three last year with the Jets. Interestingly, Asomugha is now one of the top free agent targets by the Jets.
Silver and Black Pride, our Raiders blog, is tempering its excitement over this possible acquisition, though:
My excitement over this move would be dependent upon how much they signed him for, and who his signing precluded the Raiders from getting. I would much rather have Jared Gaither or Dashon Goldson added to the roster than Cromartie.
But whatever happens, the Raiders' secondary will still suffer a setback with the loss of Asomugha.
Visit Silver and Black Pride for more on the Raiders. For more NFL Free Agency rumors, stick with this StoryStream.
It's looking like New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards will have a new home next season. His return to New York was unlikely after the Jets gave Santonio Holmes a big contract and flirted with signing Randy Moss, at least according to the latest NFL free agency rumors. It's even more unlikely now that Edwards has sent the following message out on his Twitter account.
I would love to be a Jet but the feeling doesn't seem to be mutual with the management.
He has since deleted that tweet, but later sent this one out.
On another note whatever team wants B easy step to the fore front so we can get this thing moving forward. "will work for touchdowns" lolless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet ReplyBraylon Edwards
Check out Gang Green Nation to see what Jets fans think about this rumor.
Still in search of a true No. 1 wide receiver for second-year quarterback Sam Bradford, the NFL rumor mill is suggesting the St. Louis Rams are after Sidney Rice. The rumor appears to come from John Clayton, who mentioned on SportsCenter that the Rams are among the possible landing spots for Rice. The Seattle Seahawks are also supposedly among the team pursuing Rice.
Rice is among the top wide receivers on the free agent market after coming off a pair of solid seasons. In 2009, he emerged as a starter for the Minnesota Vikings, making 83 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns. He suffered an injury in the playoffs and eventually missed 10 games of the 2010 season. In six games, he made 17 catches for 280 yards, a 16.5 yard per catch average. He also scored a pair of touchdowns.
The Turf Show Times had this to say about the 6-foot-4 fifth-year receiver:
Be advised that this does not mean the Rams will sign Rice. Not at all. In fact, in could be a tool to drive up his price for the Seahawks...maybe enough to shake Brandon Mebane loose by forcing them to spend all their money on Rice. That's almost more Machiavellian than I can imagine though...and not a guarantee to work. Just talk.
The latest in the NFL free agency rumors?
Jason La Canfora of NFL Network reports that the Jets are considering the 34-year old receiver. GM Mike Tannenbaum has been busy with the Jets receiving group already re-signing WR Santonio Holmes to a monster deal. WR Braylon Edwards is also an option but, with Holmes' deal, he may prove to be too costly for the Jets.
So that has them looking at Moss. It seems like the type of move the Jets would make so I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen.
The only question about Moss is his speed because that's what makes him so good. As age increases, speed usually doesn't so that will be the first question the Jets have to answer. From there, they'll need to consider how Moss, who has had issues at a number of stops in his career, will fit in their locker room. The Jets have a strong core and they can usually handle the bumps a player like Moss might bring.
For now, it's just a rumor, but I wouldn't be surprised to this go down at some point in free agency.
Check out Gang Green Nation to see what Jets fans think about this rumor.
We know the Jets are getting "serious" with their Asomugha talks. Now NFL Network's Michael Lombardi reports that the 49ers are "in it strong" as well. Per multiple reports, the Texans are believed to be making a push as well but, according to Lombardi, the top two contenders are the Jets and 49ers.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee notes the ties between Asomugha and the Bay Area.
Lombardi reports that at this point the Jets and 49ers are the main competitors for Asomugha's services. The Texans also are expected to make a run. Asomugha, 30, has strong Bay Area ties, which could favor the 49ers. He was drafted by the Raiders in 2003 and played collegiately at Cal. He grew up in Southern California.
Asomugha is clearly the top free agent on the market and should command a massive contract topping $15 million per year, according to various reports. He would be a big boost for any team, especially the Jets with CB Darrelle Revis already in-house.
The Kansas City Chief have yet to agree to terms with an unrestricted free agent from another but, according to NFL Network's Jason La Canfora, Arizona Cardinals WR Steve Breaston could have a home in Kansas City. La Canfora reports he's hearing that Breaston could reunite with Chiefs head coach Todd Haley.
This, of course, is unofficial and unconfirmed at the moment but apparently Breaston's on the Chiefs radar. The Chiefs could use a third receiver after No. 1 WR Dwayne Bowe and rookie WR Jonathan Baldwin.
Breaston and Haley were with the Cardinals together in 2008 when Breaston topped 1,000 yards receiving for the only time in his career. On that level, a reunion in Kansas City makes sense.
There were reportedly up to six teams in contention for Breaston as of Tuesday. It appears the Chiefs may be closing in.
Check out Arrowhead Pride to see what Chiefs fans are saying about the latest free agency rumors.
Nnamdi Asomugha is the biggest name on the 2011 free agent market, and the New York Jets do have an affinity for big names. But they also have Darrelle Revis and a roster full of expensive talent. Could New York make it worth with Nnamdi?
According to the latest reports, the answer is yes. ESPNNewYork reports that A) the Jets are interested, and B) GM Mike Tannenbaum's willing to get creative to come up with a deal that works under the Jets' 2011 salary cap, but also gives Asomugha most of the money he'd get elsewhere.
Likewise, NFL Network's Mike Lombardi tweets, "The Jets can make room to sign anyone they want--with a five year spread of bonus money and option money they can make his 11 cap number low. The cap is about making choices if they sign him, they will not be strong in other areas or have the experienced depth-its all give and take."
And of the interest in Asomugha, he says, "I keep hearing from well placed relible NFL sources that this Jet talk and Nmandi Asomugha is serious and I mean serious."
So while reports have the Houston Texans freeing up cap space and scrambling to restructure their roster for their own pursuit of Nnamdi, it seems the Jets are ready to fight, themselves.
Indeed, it sounds like New York's more interested than anyone expected, and you have to think that if Nnamdi can get paid in New York the way he might in Houston or Dallas, the Jets would have to be the most attractive situation, given their ability to compete for a championship immediately.
None of this explains why the Jets would choose to break the bank for a corner like Nnamdi just a year after giving cornerback Darrelle Revis a gigantic contract, but then... Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, and the Jets have never been fond of convention. Expect the unexpected with the Jets, even if it's inexplicable.
Few have as much to gain from a new team in 2011 than DeAngelo Williams. With a rare combination of size, speed and vision, Williams is arguably one of the best backs in the league. Running back is one the most dependent positions on one's supporting cast, however, and the Panthers' surrounding offensive talent may have been the worst in the league in 2010.
Williams played in just six games last season due to a foot sprain. In those six games he averaged just 4.1 yards per carry, matching his career-worst rookie season and falling well short of his career 5.0 average.
The bad news for Williams, as well as anybody thinking about taking Williams with a top pick in their fantasy drafts this year, is that the Panthers will be pushing hard to re-sign him. Considering they have to break in another rookie quarterback this year in Cam Newton, one has to imagine that a strong running game is a top priority. New collective bargaining restrictions may hold them back, however, and in a choice between Williams and Jonathan Stewart, the front office may be more inclined to go after the back who only missed two games last season.
If not Carolina, there are few suitors that are truly in a desperate need of a running back, or at least, in big enough need to pay top dollar for Williams. The Broncos have been rumored as a major player in his courtship, in no small part due to Williams' former head coach, John Fox, now leading the team. Denver has already invested a lot in its stable of running backs, however, and could still be feeling the burn from the Laurence Maroney trade.
Manny Lawson burst onto the scene as a poor man's Mario Williams. Lawson was the No. 22 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, the same year that his former NC State teammate was the No. 1 overall pick. The San Francisco 49ers had envisioned Lawson as the consumate 3-4 outside linebacker, one who could rush the passer, disrupt the backfield and even drop into coverage if need be.
During his rookie year, he played in all 16 games and looked to be capable of fulfilling some of that promise, registering 47 tackles and 2.5 sacks. But he got hurt his second season, tearing his ACL, and not really fully recovering until the 2008 season.
Since returning the full fitness, Lawson has been a solid player, but one who still does not have a clear position. At 240 pounds, he's still a bit undersized to make a living rushing the passer, and his 14.5 career sacks are not the kind of numbers that suggest his future is close to the line of scrimmage.
With former 49ers defensive coordinator taking over the same role with the San Diego Chargers, speculation has begun that Lawson may join his former coach. The Chargers also play a 3-4, which is clearly what suits Lawson's skill set best. The 49ers, though, are also expected to use a 3-4 as Vic Fangio comes out of the Dom Capers school.
Matt Maiocco, who covers the 49ers for CSN Bay Area, has been saying Lawson is unlikely to be re-signed by the 49ers. Other rumored suitors include the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots.
The Baltimore Ravens paid a hefty sum for Marc Bulger last season. He earned $3.8 million without attempting a single regular season pass. While the Ravens certainly appreciated the quality insurance option, it is hard to imagine they will be willing to match Bulger's asking price. Baltimore drafted Tyrod Taylor in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft, likely signalling Bulger's ouster.
Before his bench-warming season in Baltimore, Bulger was in decline in St. Louis. Of a possible 48 regular season games, Bulger played in just 36 over his last three seasons with the Rams, throwing 27 touchdowns to 34 interceptions. The numbers hardly predict an optimistic 2011 campaign. Still, one has to take into account the lack of talent on those Rams squads. And though he is certainly a veteran at 34, he isn't yet over the hill and could still contribute as a starter. There are certainly a number of needy teams out there.
The Arizona Cardinals are usually the first team to be mentioned in any discussion of free agent quarterbacks. Three different quarterbacks started for the Cards last season, all to generally disastrous results, and the team did not pick up a quarterback during April's draft. Teams like the Minnesota Vikings and the Tennessee Titans could be looking to for a veteran placeholder to help mentor rookie quarterbacks, and Bulger would certainly fit the bill there. The 49ers, Dolphins and Redskins could be options as well should any of those teams decide their current depth chart is lacking, though as with any tight-lipped situation this is all speculation.
As expected Seahawks and Vikings deep in talks for Sidney Rice. Does he go to Seattle with his old coordinator or stay in MIN wit a new one?less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet ReplyJason La Canfora
Decisions, decisions for Rice, a 24-year-old veteran who's spent his whole career with the Vikings. His breakout year coincided with what turned out to be the last magic left in Brett Favre's arm, when he tallied 83 catches, 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns in 2009.
A hip injury kept him out of the first 10 games last year, but he's young, tall, (6-foot-4) and has great hands. Wherever he goes, he'll likely become their top wideout. Unfortunately for him, neither the Vikings nor the Seahawks have, how do I put this lightly, NFL-caliber quarterbacks.
Fox Sports' Jay Glazer tweeted cryptically that former Buffalo Bills' LB Paul Posluszny would sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Glazer didn't mention any of the standard "according to source," or "source says" mumbo jumbo, only saying "he'll sign w Jags" in a response to a follower's question.
If Glazer's info turns out to be correct, the Jaguars would be getting a rock in the middle of the field. "Poz" has had at least 110 tackles the past three years, including a career high 151 last season to go along with two sacks and four batted balls. He had three interceptions in 2009.
To be fair to Glazer, he's a typically accurate reporter, and the NFL's own Jason La Canfora reported the Jags' have at least been in contact with the Penn State product.
If the deal comes to fruition, Poz would bring much-needed stability and experience to a shallow, young group of linebackers in northeastern Florida.
For more on the Jaguars head over to Big Cat Country.
If the New York Jets could pair Oakland Raiders free agent Nnamdi Asomugha with Darrelle Revis, giving them one of the NFL's best defenders on each side of the field, what would be the point of football? According to Jenny Vrentas of the Star-Ledger, Jets reps have "reached out to" Asomugha's team during the opening day of an already wild free agency period.
Asomugha isn't just the most highly sought player in this year's class. He might be the best player in the NFL, and his addition would solidify what's already New York's biggest strength. This is kind of ridiculous.
As Vrentas notes, the Jets would have to pull off some serious mathematics to free up space for Nnamdi, but he's previously said he'd be willing to play for less money if it meant gunning for a potential championship. The Jets, you'll recall, made the AFC Championship Game two years running without him.
Is anybody else excited about every Jets game finishing in single digits?
Maybe the New York Giants signed Mark Herzlich just to offset the criticism they'd get from bringing back Plaxico Burress. That very move is reportedly being discussed, says Adam Schefter. That definitely doesn't mean the team will go ahead and offer him a contract, but oh, man.
Burress spent four seasons with the Giants before going to prison for shooting himself right square in the pants.
The big receiver has brought down 7,845 career yards and 505 catches since being drafted in 2000 by the Pittsburgh Steelers. After being released from jail, he'd previously listed the Jets, Eagles, Bears and Texans among teams he'd like to play for. Actually, it seems like he listed the names of whichever teams were within earshot whenever he gave an interview.
Hey, maybe it would turn out OK. He's succeeded with Eli Manning as his quarterback before, and it's not like he's the same guy that he was when he went in. Could make for a pretty cool story if it worked out.
Holmes is considered one of the top WR free agents on the market alongside Santana Moss. Moss recently re-signed with the Washington Redskins for 3-years and $15 million. Holmes was rumored to be the Redskins first choice.
Despite sitting out the first four games of the 2010 season while serving a suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, Holmes still managed to post decent numbers: 52 catches, 746 cards and six touchdowns.
One would assume given the interest the Redskins were showing, that the Jets offer will be even with, if not slightly better than, the one Moss received.
For more on the New York Jets and their free agency search, keep an eye on Gang Green Nation.
Issues stem from a shooting incident in Texas back in March when Talib allegedly shot at his sister’s boyfriend and tried to hit him with a handgun on March 21 in Garland, Texas. That came after Talib tried to pin the crime on his mother.
Talib spent the pre-lockout and lockout days training alongside his Tampa Bay teammates and the Buccaneers never made a public statement one way or another about his future with the team. Until now, at least.
Talib is still awaiting trial, which will take place March 2012. However, the NFL could step in and take action before that. Talib is held accountable to the league and Roger Goodell and this is the kind of thing the NFL loves handing out suspensions for. He might still be a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but it could still be a long time until Talib plays again.
For more on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, visit Bucs Nation.
Matt Hasselbeck has spent the majority of his NFL career with the Seattle Seahawks, and led the team to its only Super Bowl appearance. But now those days are reportedly over: Seattle Times reporter Danny O'Neil has learned that Hasselbeck will not re-sign with the Seahawks.
O'Neil also reports that the Seahawks may have made Hasselbeck a surplus player:
It appears the Seahawks have acquired another quarterback, negating the offer for Hasselbeck to re-sign.
Hasselbeck, who has been plagued by injuries in recent years, has been linked repeatedly to Seattle's NFC West rival in San Francisco and the Tennessee Titans, and would likely be a veteran stopgap player and mentor for whatever team he ends up with for the 2011 NFL season. Other logical destinations for Hasselbeck include Arizona and Minnesota.
Hasselbeck was one of the NFL's most productive quarterbacks in the past decade, leading Mike Holmgren's Seahawks to multiple playoff appearances and throwing for more than 3,000 yards in every season in which he has started 14 or more games.
Among the 2011 NFL free agents teams will be clamoring after is Matt Hasselbeck by virtue of him being a serviceable quarterback in a league starved of able signal callers. Hasselbeck has stayed largely mum about his potential destinations however, leaving many to guess.
The Arizona Cardinals would seem to make sense, considering last year's circus. Tennessee is often mentioned as a destination as well. There, he could serve as a mentor to Jake Locker, the Titans' No. 8 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. The same could be said of Minnesota, where the Vikings will be grooming Christian Ponder. The Seahawks are still a possibility, though Seattle may be ready to move on.
No matter where he lands, Hasselbeck doesn't project much better than a one-year stopgap for any team. He hasn't played a full season since 2007, which was also the last time he had a positive TD:INT ratio. Hasselbeck will be 36 next season. Bodies only last so long in the NFL.
CB Nnamdi Asomugha is clearly the biggest name on the free agent market and could command a contract averaging over $15 million per season. He's arguably the best cornerback in the game and guys like him don't hit the open market very often.
So some team out there will capitalize and bring him in on Friday when free agents can officially sign with teams. The question is who will that team be.
The Houston Texans appear to be one team that could show interest in him. They're near the salary cap but could restructure some other deals to gain the necessary cap space to bring him in. An interesting note is that Asomugha can hold Texans WR Andre Johnson down like few other cornerbacks can so the logical move for them would be to bring him onto the team. Also, of note, is that the Texans need a top-flight secondary to compete with the Indianapolis Colts in their own division.
Another team we're seeing rumored to be in the running is the New York Jets. It's unclear if there's a lot of interest there but the Jets seem to be in on every free agent. ESPN's Chris Mortensen suggested that Asomugha could consider taking less money to play for a winner, like New York.
The Asomugha rumors will continue through at least Friday when teams can start signing these unrestricted free agents.
After a breakout 2010 season that saw defensive end Charles Johnson register a career-high 11.5 sacks, the Carolina Panthers have said that re-signing the free agent is among their top priorities. It's not hard to understand why.
The 2007 third-round draft pick eclipsed most of his career totals in 2010. During his first three years, he had started just twice, making 52 tackles and registering 10 sacks. Last year, he started every game and responded with 62 combined tackles to lead a Panthers defense that was the only thing resembling a bright spot for a team that went 2-14 last year.
In order to sign Johnson, though, the Panthers are likely going to have to get No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton under contract quickly. Signing Johnson and DeAngelo Williams are reportedly near the top of the to-do list, but both fall somewhere after getting Newton into camp.
If Johnson were to sign elsewhere, there will likely be a rather long list of suitors. Near the top of that list is probably the Atlanta Falcons, a team that could use Johnson's skills that would also allow for a return to his hometown. The Cleveland Browns are also considered a potential destination.
As an unrestricted free agent, running back DeAngelo Williams can begin negotiating with all 32 teams this morning before signing his second NFL contract on Friday. According to Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette, the 28-year-old hopes that second contract keeps him with the Carolina Panthers.
"I honestly and truly want to stay a Carolina Panther and they’re doing their part of keep me a Carolina Panther," Williams said. "So I’m very excited about that. Carolina gets the first stab at me. If everything looks great, then why entertain other offers? So that’s where we stand right now."
Chosen with the 27th overall pick of the 2006 NFL Draft, Williams gained 4,211 yards and scored 31 touchdowns on the ground, and caught 118 passes for 922 yards and four touchdowns out of the backfield during his 64 games with the Panthers. Williams made the Pro Bowl after the 2009 season, but a foot injury limited him to just six games in 2010, the final year of his five-year, $10.43 million rookie contract.
Williams has been linked to the Denver Broncos, where his old head coach John Fox could use a veteran back to pair with Knowshown Moreno in what's expected to be a run-heavy offense, and the Miami Dolphins, who are not expected to bring veterans Ronnie Brown or Ricky Williams back. The Dolphins used a 2011 second-round pick on Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas.
Williams is expected to report to Bank of America Stadium on Tuesday to meet face-to-face with Panthers general manager Marty Hurney.
For more on the Panthers, visit Cat Scratch Reader.
The New York Giants don't have any restricted free agents but they still have some work to do with unrestricted free agents. A few key players are hitting the open market on Friday at 6:00 p.m. (ET) when free agency officially opens and New York wants to keep a couple of them.
First, WR Steve Smith is reportedly willing to consider a one-year deal with the Giants. This may be the best move for him as he improves his stock before trying to hit it big on the open market next season.
Second, TE Kevin Boss wants to re-sign with the Giants but he'll test the market first saying he's earned the right to do that as a free agent. The Giants need to clear some cap space before they can bring him back.
Third, RB Ahmad Bradshaw says the Giants have a 75 percent chance of re-signing him but there should be a decent market for him so it'll be interesting to see what the max contract is for the Giants on him.
The Giants have 15 total unrestricted free agents and, like most teams, they'll want to bring a lot of them back given the lack of an offseason. Smith, Boss and Bradshaw would be a good start for Big Blue.
Santonio Holmes, unfortunately, may be a victim of his own success. Or, maybe, just of bad timing. If he had become a free agent after the 2009 season, he might have been in line for a huge payday. Following up his Super Bowl XLIII MVP performance, he gained 1,248 yards and scored five touchdowns for the Pittsburgh Steelers that year. Instead, he encountered some off-the-field issues and was traded to the New York Jets for a fifth-round draft pick.
Despite sitting out the first four games of the 2010 season while serving a suspension for violating the league's substance-abuse policy, Holmes still managed to post decent numbers: 52 catches, 746 cards and six touchdowns. The safe bet right now seems to be that he'll remain with the Jets. A lot of that could have to do with his price tag.
With both Holmes and teammate Braylon Edwards becoming free agents, there's a good chance the Jets may have to choose one of them. And if Holmes gets a big money offer from someone else, he could be leaving New York. There probably aren't a whole lot of teams willing to spend serious money on a player with his past and coming off a good, but not great year.
If any team is willing to spend, though, it's probably the Washington Redskins, who have already been rumored to have serious interest in him. Holmes is the kind of player Redskins owner Daniel Snyder seems to love and if Mike Shanahan is really on board, it could be a perfect match.
The Baltimore Ravens made the most noise when the NFL lockout ended telling several high-profile players they would be cut. Among those players GM Ozzie Newsome called to say would be cut are RB Willie McGahee, NT Kelly Gregg, TE Todd Heap and WR Derrick Mason.
McGahee and Gregg may be gone for good but, according to the Baltimore Sun, Heap and Mason could be returning. Per the report, the Ravens hope to bring both Heap and Mason back at a discounted rate. Heap was scheduled to make $4.6 million and Mason at $4.5 million.
That makes a little more sense because Heap and Mason were among the surprise cuts. Both players are still valuable to the team and key targets for QB Joe Flacco.
The Ravens will be able to officially release players on Thursday afternoon and then re-sign them by Friday. Both players are long-time Ravens so I wouldn't be surprised if contracts for both are worked out.
Check out Baltimore Beatdown to see how fans reacted to the storm of announced cuts.
Monday evening the NFL released a complete list of 2011 free agents [PDF] for all 32 teams, broken up into six categories, in advance of Tuesday's 10 am ET flurry of negotiations. Teams can't sign players until Friday, but expect non-stop free agency rumors involving every team between ... well, now and then.
The list won't contain many big surprises for fans who've kept up with their teams, but it is handy to see it all in one place. You might even have fun keeping score and crossing off players once they're signed. No, that doesn't sound fun.
It's all broken down into restricted free agents, unrestricted free agents, franchised players and so forth. Phil Dawson, Vincent Jackson, Tamba Hali and Logan Mankins are your 2011 players who've been hit with franchise tags. And check out Chiefs WR Kevin Curtis, all alone in category No. 4: "Players with four or more accrued seasons who negotiated Rights of First Refusal with their Old Clubs."
For more NFL free agency, head to SB Nation's NFL hub.
During an interview with ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis, DE Ray Edwards called himself the Minnesota Vikings "odd man out," saying he's behind Brian Robison, Adrian Peterson and others on the team's list of offseason priorities.
For much of the offseason, Edwards' prime rumored destination was the Atlanta Falcons, but a Thursday report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shifted the presumed target to the Philadelphia Eagles. When asked about Philly, Edwards replied, "Rumors are rumors. They're always being spread around this time, and we'll wait and see what happens."
Edwards will likely be one of the most-pursued defenders in the 2011 crop, with Charles Johnson the only other marquee defensive end. Johnson is expected to remain a member of the Carolina Panthers, which could open up quite a market for the 26-year-old Edwards. He has 29.5 sacks in 58 career starts.
For more on Edwards and the Vikings, head to Daily Norseman.
Sounds like WR Santonio Holmes will be a sought-after man once free agency hits later this week. According to various reports, both the New York Jets and Washington Redskins have made Holmes their top priority
For Holmes, this is great news because all it will do is drive up his value.
As SB Nation DC notes, there are a lot of "moving parts" with both teams.
The Jets also have Braylon Edwards to deal with as a free agent, which may divert their attention. On the Redskins' side, Santana Moss is a free agent, and the team will have to decide whether keeping him is more of a priority than going after Holmes.
The Jets, in my mind, may be the better fit. They're clearly a team that's ready to win the Super Bowl right now and lots of players have talked about how great it is playing for Rex Ryan. I imagine he'd want to stay there if all things were equal. However, if the Redskins come calling with a boatload of cash...it'd be hard to say no.
We should find out later this week. Teams can reportedly begin speaking with free agents on Tuesday and start signing them on Friday.
Baltimore Ravens FB Le'Ron McClain is scheduled to be a free agent though it's unclear if the Ravens will make a big effort to retain him. Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times reports that the Ravens are expected to let him depart in free agency this year.
And if McClain does leave the Ravens, Wilson reports he will have suitors.
If Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain leaves via free agency, expect the Kansas City Chiefs to have interest in him.
The Chiefs have a fullback on the roster in FB Mike Cox but, with the running game being the main focal point of their offense, it may not be such a bad idea to invest in the best fullback on the market.
But does McClain want to leave? In comments made to Wilson last week, it certainly doesn't sound like it. He says "hopefully" he'll be back with the Ravens but obviously this is a two-way street and the Ravens have to want him at the right price, too.
Teams can reportedly start contacting other teams' free agents on Tuesday but deals can't be done until Friday.
Check out Baltimore Beatdown's story on McClain last week to see what fans are saying about his possible exit.
Few quarterbacks in the National Football League can match Matt Hasselbeck's consistent production, and few quarterbacks will be available during the 2011 NFL free agency period. Consequently, Hasselbeck may be the premier signal-caller among 2011 NFL free agents, once the lockout officially ends.
Hasselbeck has been the Seattle Seahawks' starting quarterback since 2003, and helped guide the Seahawks to Super Bowl 40 in 2006. He has thrown for 3,000 yards in every season in which he has started 14 or more games, but has been hampered by injury in recent years. Since 2008, Hasselbeck has made 35 of 48 starts, and he was replaced late in the Seahawks' 2010 playoff push by Charlie Whitehurst, seen by many as Seattle's eventual Hasselbeck replacement.
Hasselbeck could still be a veteran leader for a team in search of one. So rumors linking Hasselbeck to the Tennessee Titans make sense: Hasselbeck could give Tennessee a reliable baseline the Titans didn't have during the tumultuous Vince Young era.
Other teams with holes at quarterback that might consider Hasselbeck include the Seahawks' NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals, and ... his own Seattle Seahawks, if Pete Carroll's regime decides bringing back Hasselbeck to compete with Whitehurst is worth doing.
Despite never becoming the standout No. 1 wide receiver many thought he'd be in the NFL, Braylon Edwards is still a solid receiving option and one of the top offensive free agents on the 2011 off-season market with the lockout coming to an end.
There still seems to be a decent chance that Edwards will stick around in New York with the Jets. He has, after all, formed a decent partnership with Mark Sanchez, and if he agrees to take a pay cut could be a useful player. Assuming he leaves, though, here are some of the places he could best fit:
Washington Redskins: Daniel Snyder doesn't mind spending money and has a soft spot for players his friends will have heard of, meaning someone like Edwards is always on his radar. Throw in the fact that the Redskins don't really have any big receivers and maybe Edwards could fit in nicely alongside Santana Moss.
St. Louis Rams: If Edwards hadn't been the No. 3 overall pick, his production would be considered downright Flipper Anderson-esque (look it up), making him a natural fit on the Rams. They also happen to have an extreme need for a wide receiver who has proven himself, and Edwards would have a far more impressive resume than anyone on their current roster.
Baltimore Ravens: On a talent alone, the Ravens don't seem to have much need at wide receiver. Edwards could end up being anywhere from their No. 1 to No. 5 receiver on this team. But no one is the kind of player you can just plug numbers into, meaning they will need to have plenty of options. With guys like Donte Stallworth, Anquan Boldin and T.J. Houshmandzadeh already on the roster, this would easily be the most interesting receiving corps. in the league.
NFL free agency seems to be creeping closer and closer to becoming a reality, at least if the NFL lockout ends as soon as the owners are hoping. One team that figures to be active as soon as the new league year begins will be the Carolina Panthers, provided the team is able to re-sign its own players first.
The Panthers are likely to work to re-sign current free agents Charles Johnson, DeAngelo Williams and Thomas Davis -- and possibly even offer extensions to Jon Beason and Ryan Kalil -- but after that, it seems the team will cast its free agent net far and wide.
The Charlotte Observer's Tom Sorensen indicates that Carolina could become buyers on quite a few free agents once they finish signing their own, including Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Yes, apparently quarterback could still be a position of need despite the team recently using high draft picks on Jimmy Clausen and Cam Newton -- but it probably won't be a player like McNabb who would more than likely hope to compete for a starting job. Instead, Sorensen notes it's more likely that Carolina "will add a veteran quarterback with intelligence and insight and the ability to share it. He'll also have to be adept at holding a clipboard."
That isn't to say McNabb isn't still an option under those stipulations, but once the Panthers sign their own current free agents, there might not be enough money in the bank to lure a veteran quarterback like McNabb (and it isn't likely McNabb would take a paycut knowing his starting opportunities would be limited).
Veteran inside linebacker Paul Posluszny is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent when the 2011 league year begins, and while he'd prefer to remain with the Buffalo Bills, he does have ties to New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
Fewell was the Bills' defensive coordinator when Posluszny was selected with the 34th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft out of Penn State. In 31 games (all starts) under Fewell, Posluszny totaled 247 tackles, one quarterback sack, four interceptions and four forced fumbles. In 2010, the Bills shifted to a 3-4 system under new coordinator George Edwards, and the 6-foot-1, 238-pound Posluszny set career-highs with 151 tackles and a pair of quarterback sacks.
A move to New York would also mean a move back to middle linebacker in a 4-3. During an interview last week with Sirius XM radio, Posluszny admitted to being interested in playing for Fewell again.
"Definitely, because of that connection," Posluszny said of his interest in playing for the Giants. "I love Coach Fewell and the type of defense that he ran when we were in Buffalo, you know, had a good relationship together. Actually I have an uncle that lives in the New York area and he just sent me a text the other day saying he’s read on the internet that the Giants is a possible spot for me.
"I mean, so yes, there’s a lot of interesting possibilities out there and the one thing about free agency, all players, I think, you want to know your true value."
Drew Rosenhaus reportedly told Sports Xtra that Ahmad Bradshaw is interested in playing for the Miami Dolphins next season, according to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Twitter. According to Rosehaus, "If they are interested in Ahmad, we're interested back."
The Dolphins could certainly use the infusion of fresh legs, with Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown potentially finished in Miami. The Dolphins took Daniel Thomas in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, in part due to his experience in the Wildcat formation in junior college. Bradshaw would go nicely with the physical Thomas, and would be a nice door prize for the team should they strike out on a bigger name like DeAngelo Williams.
Considering this is all coming from the mouth of Rosenhaus, one should absolutely approach this rumor with the proper levels of suspicion. The Giants will likely push hard after Bradshaw, or face the prospect of rolling with the injury-prone Brandon Jacobs as a lead back. It would not be surprising if the Bradshaw camp were simply trying to put a squeeze on the New York front office.
The NFL lockout will be ending soon and free agency will be starting. In an effort to prepare for the onslaught of new signings and contract extensions, we have a primer on the players that are expected to be available on the open market.
We've already looked at the offensive side of the ball so here's the top defensive players available.
Defensive line: Ray Edwards will get a contract from someone after several productive years in Minnesota while the Panthers will try to keep Charles Johnson from signing elsewhere on the open market. The top two defensive tackles available -- Haloti Ngata and Paul Soliai -- were franchised so they'll stay in Baltimore and Miami, respectively. The next big name is Aubrayo Franklin, who could command big money at nose tackle for a 3-4 defense.
Linebackers: Outside linebacker is an important position so it's easy to see why three of the top guys available -- LaMarr Woodley, Chad Greenway and Kamerion Wimbley -- received the franchise tag. After those guys, Manny Lawson, who could leave San Francisco, is the next biggest name. On the inside, David Harris got the franchise tag and A.J. Hawk re-signed a long-term deal so they're off the market. Stephen Tulloch and Paul Posluszny are the best inside 'backers out there.
Secondary: The biggest name on all of the open market is Nnamdi Asomugha. He'll command a major contract, among the most expensive we've ever seen, as the best cornerback in the game. It's rare that someone of his caliber hits the free agent market.
Sometime in the next week the NFL lockout is expected to end and the league will be re-opened for business. The first move for every team will be approaching free agency so this is your primer of some of the top names available on the 2011 free agency market.
Teams are first expected to have a three-day window to re-sign their own free agents so some of the players won't ever hit the open market as teams will re-sign them to new deals. The next move will be looking at unrestricted free agents which is expected to be defined as A.) a player with an expired contract B.) with four years or more of service time in the league and C.) that hasn't been hit with the franchise tag.
First, we'll take a look at the top available unrestricted free agents on the offensive side.
Quarterback: Peyton Manning and Michael Vick are the top two names on this list but each received the franchise tag so they're not going anywhere. The top non-franchise tagged free agent quarterback would probably be Matt Hasselbeck. It's unclear if he'll stay with Seattle or move on but if he does leave the Cardinals are a team to watch. Among the other free agent quarterbacks are Marc Bulger, who is expected to sign someplace as a backup, and Alex Smith, who is expected to return to the 49ers.
Running back: Arian Foster was tendered by the Texans so he won't go anywhere even though he doesn't have a 2011 contract. After him, the top name on the free agent running back market is DeAngelo Williams who will command a decent contract. Ahmad Bradshaw and Michael Bush are two other names to watch on the free agent market.
Wide receiver: The Jets are the leaders in the clubhouse with big name free agent receivers including Santonio Holmes, Brad Smith and Braylon Edwards. One, maybe two, of those guys will remain in New York. Vincent Jackson is the most talented free agent receiver but he received the franchise tag from the Chargers so he's likely staying in San Diego. The Jets' moves will determine whether this will be a talented free agent group.
Tight end: Owen Daniels already re-signed with the Texans so he won't be hitting the market as the biggest name available. Zach Miller with the Raiders is at the top of the free agent tight end list and we're not sure what he'll do. The Jaguars plan to make Mercedes Lewis one of their free agent priorities.
Offensive line: Willie Colon and Doug Free are the top tackles available. Colon missed the 2010 season with the Steelers because of an injury so it's hard to figure out what he's worth. The Cowboys may want Free back in Dallas but he'll be pricey after his solid 2010 season. Logan Mankins is the top guard on the market but the Patriots have once again restricted his movement via the franchise tag. At center, Ryan Kalil is the best young option but, like Mankins, he's been given the franchise tag. Meanwhile Olin Kreutz is a little older but still a solid option at center.
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