During the season, there is no busier day in the NFL than on Sundays. But here at the end of March, with free agency winding down and the draft still over a month away, it's harder for football fans to get all the information their gridiron-addicted brains desire. That doesn't mean that there isn't any news going on, however.
One of the biggest names in the NFL is available, and he has scheduled his first official visit.
DeSean Jackson is set to meet with the Washington Redskins this week, confirming a rumor on Saturday from Ian Rapoport that the Redskins and Bills were wild card teams in the mix for Jackson's services. Washington has fewer than $7 million in cap space, but it is still hard to tell how much Jackson is going to cost for whichever team ends up signing him.
NFL Free Agency
NFL Free Agency
They all turned down the opportunity to trade for Jackson when the Philadelphia Eagles appeared to be offering him up for anything they could get. At the time, Jackson was set to cost $12.5 million against the cap, so it would be unlikely that he approaches a number like that with the Redskins or any other team. Still, he's not going to be cheap and a team like Washington would likely have to make a cut or renegotiation of another team member in order to add Jackson.
A partnership between Jackson and the Redskins would seem to make sense for both parties.
Though Washington was 3-13 last year, they do offer a chance at playing with a franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III, a Pro Bowl running back in Alfred Morris, and wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who led the NFL in catches last season. It would mean that Jackson can stay in the NFC East and still play with one of the most explosive offenses in the league, despite the fact that they still have a lot of work to do on defense and without the benefit of adding a first round pick. Owner Daniel Snyder has never been shy about spending money on big name free agents, though few of those deals have worked out as he has expected.
While I don't think Jackson will end up playing for the Redskins, I think they will definitely explore the option. Jackson had issues with Chip Kelly and in the locker room in Philadelphia, how will he mesh with Gruden, RGIII and the rest of the Redskins? One thing is definite, Jackson has been a thorn in the Redskins side ever since draft day when the Skins chose Fred Davis one pick before him.
The Oakland Raiders have been considered favorites to land Jackson, though they won't get the benefit of the first visit. Jackson has expressed an interest in joining the Raiders, and they have enough cap room in order to add him without making any other changes. Rapoport added on Sunday that Oakland is still doing their research on Jackson, and that the Buffalo Bills were still serious suitors.
Meanwhile, the Kansas City Chiefs have been ruled out as a landing spot for Jackson, despite their desperate need for a receiver.
Chris Johnson likely to be added to suddenly-thin running back market
After the recent signings of Maurice Jones-Drew, LeGarrette Blount and Knowshon Moreno, it appears a new top running back will enter free agency. Jason LaCanfora reported recently that the Tennessee Titans will likely release Chris Johnson this week after failing to find a trade partner.
The Titans will save $6 million against the cap by releasing Johnson, with $4 million in dead money in 2014 and $2 million in dead money in 2015.
Johnson has been in the league for six seasons, and he has rushed for at least 1,000 yards in each of those. The former first round pick out of East Carolina rushed for 2,006 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2009, but he's widely been considered a disappointment in each of the last three seasons. Johnson ran for just 3.9 yards per carry in 2013 and he has just 16 rushing touchdowns combined over the last three years.
The Jets and Falcons have been listed as possible landing spots for Johnson. However, the New York Jets did quickly pull out of the DeSean Jackson race, likely due to cap concerns, so Johnson would have to be a bargain. In Atlanta's case, they do already provide stability at quarterback, two star receivers, and a potentially-interesting backfield tandem if he paired with Steven Jackson.
All signs have pointed towards the Falcons keeping Jackson for the upcoming season, and releasing him would only provide minimal relief.
The Cleveland Browns are a team with a lot of cap space left and may be interested in pairing the speedy Johnson, with free agent-signee Ben Tate. Running backs currently available include Andre Brown, Felix Jones, Willis McGahee, Michael Bush, Ronnie Brown, Justin Forsett, and Tashard Choice. Johnson would quickly move to the top of that list.
Ryan Clark visits with the defending champions
In a bit of a surprise move, veteran safety Ryan Clark met with the Seattle Seahawks this week, even though it would obviously be in a reserve role if he ended up signing with the team. The Seahawks "Legion of Boom" secondary features two of the best safeties in the NFL, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. In addition, Seattle signed backup safety Jeron Johnson to a one-year contract after placing a second round tender on him early in the offseason.
He could be used in big-nickel packages featuring three safeties and would obviously be an experienced veteran backup at worst. It's unclear if he'd be willing to play that type of role, though. Seattle may be interested in the veteran safety as a hedge bet prior to the draft and to provide competition for Deshawn Shead and Jeron Johnson, the Seahawks' two principal backup safeties.
Clark signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, the year after they beat the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL. He has started all but four games at free safety for the Steelers over the last six years, making the Pro Bowl in 2011. Clark turns 35 in October.
Jeff Fisher says Rams have not yet discussed dealing number two pick
It was two years ago that the St. Louis Rams traded out of the number two spot, and now one of the fruits of that deal is again on the table -- probably.
The Rams traded their 2012 second overall pick to the Washington Redskins for three first round picks and a second rounder, and now the final piece of that deal is the Redskins' number two overall pick this May. Again, St. Louis seems to find themselves in a position where the pick may be more valuable in trade than using it on a player that doesn't appear to fit on their current roster. The top prospects available are a trio of quarterbacks (The Rams are going to stick with Sam Bradford) and a pair of pass-rushers (Fisher already has two of the best in the league with Robert Quinn and Chris Long.)
Still, Fisher says that they haven't yet had any discussions with any team about moving the pick.
"(We have) not really had any discussion with anybody," Fisher said, via ESPN.com, "but that doesn't mean to say we won't."
Fisher also intimated that they are not interested in Sammy Watkins or any other receiver, believing that St. Louis already has proper receiving options on the team. That would seem to suggest that offensive tackle Greg Robinson would likely be the Rams first choice, though Fisher added high praise for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Some might say that Fisher is simply sugaring the prospect's draft value in order to gain leverage in any prospective deal.
St. Louis likely won't get anything close to the value they got in their 2012 trade involving Washington and Robert Griffin III, but they could still come away with a handsome reward. The Rams also have the 13th overall pick.
Is Jordan Palmer really Jay Cutler's backup in Chicago?
The free agent quarterback market is bare, as it usually is, but interesting veteran options still exist among the likes of Josh Freeman, Rex Grossman, Kevin Kolb, Matt Flynn, and several others. So how likely is it that the Chicago Bears will dip into that pool to find a replacement for Josh McCown, the new starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers that revived his career under head coach Marc Trestman in Chicago last season?
According to Trestman, Jordan Palmer, the current no. 2 on the depth chart, will get every opportunity to win that job.
Palmer, brother of Carson Palmer, has 15 career pass attempts, with his last throw coming back in 2010 with the Cincinnati Bengals. He has thrown two interceptions, despite such a limited amount of playing time. He spent some time as the Bears third-string quarterback last season, but did not get into a game.
Trestman has a long track record of working with NFL quarterbacks and getting the best out of them, highlighted by an MVP performance from Oakland Raiders QB Rich Gannon back in 2002. Could he do the same, if need be, for Palmer? Playing at the University of Texas-El Paso from 2003 to 2006, Palmer led the NCAA in interceptions during his junior season, when he threw 19 picks.
His turnaround would be even more surprising than the performance turned in by McCown last season, and it still seems likely that Chicago will add competition for Palmer, whether it's in free agency or the draft or both. McCown may not have had a great career, but Trestman at least knew what he was getting.