NFL Rumors: Latest Updates on Trades, Free Agents and More

Vincent FrankCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2012

NFL Rumors: Latest Updates on Trades, Free Agents and More

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    While the New York Giants and New England Patriots prepare to meet in the Super Bowl for a chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy and a multitude of players converge on Hawaii, the NFL offseason is set to begin. 

    You will be hearing rumblings, rumors, thoughts, ideas and nonsensical opinions on what is going to happen in the NFL for certain teams. You are sure to hear that Peyton Manning might not return to Indianapolis, Matt Forte is on his way out of Chicago and the obvious Tim Tebow rant. 

    Today, I am going to focus on 14 rumors from around the web and give you my take on them. A lot of these rumors are probably thrown around by "insiders" and "writers" looking to get their publicity up. However, there does remain some good sources of information, and I look to provide them to you here. 

Marty Mornhinweg the Favorite to Land the Indianapolis Colts' Head Coaching Job

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    Mike Floria of Pro Football Talk via CSNPhilly.Com indicated that online oddsmakers believe that the current Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator has the inside track on the Indianapolis Colts head coaching vacancy. 

    On the surface, this seems to make a lot of sense. Indianapolis is sure to go after an offensive-minded head coach with the imminent selection of Andrew Luck No. 1 overall. Why not go after an individual that has had record offensive success with the Philadelphia Eagles over the last few seasons? 

    He was the San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator from 1997-2000, a time that saw Jeff Garcia morph into a Pro Bowl quarterback. However, his only stint as a head coach didn't go all too well in Detroit. They won five games in two seasons under Mornhinweg in 2001 and 2002. 

    It has also been reported by many media outlets that Jim Tressel is a candidate for the Colts' head coaching vacancy. I am not sure how substantial these reports are at this point, but I do know that Jim Irsay is a fan of the former Ohio State head coach. 

    Follow this link to listen to Tony Dungy talking about the possibility of Tressel being hired by the Colts. 

Matt Forte Might Be a Prime Holdout Candidate If Franchised

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    It has been well-known for a while now that Matt Forte isn't happy with his current contact situation in Chicago. And for good reason. 

    His $938,000 salary in 2011 was a downright travesty considering how much Forte meant to the Bears and the amount of times he touched the ball. 

    Forte was recently quoted as saying the following about the possibility of the franchise tag being given to him. 

    “A lot of teams franchise guys so that they can get a deal done or negotiate a deal,” Forte said on The Carmen, Jurko and Harry Show on ESPN 1000. “It just depends on what the motive of that is.”

    If Chicago plans on franchising Matt Forte while not negotiating a contract extension with him, you can fully expect the star running back to hold out in 2012. 

    Forte concluded later in the interview, “I wouldn’t say holdout, but people probably wouldn’t know where I was."

    Sounds like a holdout threat to me. 

Philadelphia Eagles Looking at Trent Edwards

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    Comcast Sports Net Philadelphia is reporting that Trent Edwards might be the heir apparent to Vince Young as the Eagles backup quarterback heading into 2012. 

    Despite having some success as the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills from 2007 to 2009, Edwards has been a journeyman backup at best over the course of the last couple seasons. He couldn't even beat out Kyle Boller as a backup in Oakland this season. 

    I am iffy on this report because it's pretty clear that Michael VIck is a good bet to miss a game or two during the season. Do you think Philadelphia would be confident with Edwards as the starter in that situation? I don't. 

    Rather, you can look at them to draft a quarterback in April and go after a more polished veteran backup. 

Dallas Cowboys to Part Ways with Terence Newman

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    The Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting that the Dallas Cowboys will cut ties with Terence Newman this offseason, probably waiting until after the first of June to do so. Many of us expected Dallas to actually let the talented corner go last offseason, but that didn't happen. 

    Newman has been a really good corner for a long time in Dallas, but his age and cap hit, a reported eight million, will force the Cowboys to part ways. In addition, the free-agent corner class appears to be stacked heading into the 2012 offseason. 

    You can fully expect a myriad of different teams to look at the veteran. He is still a pretty good corner and might upgrade a particular unit as a No. 2 corner or in the slot. 

Detroit Lions Looking to Trade for Veterans

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    Late last week, ESPN reported that the Detroit Lions were willing trade partners heading into the 2012 NFL offseason. They are not looking at dealing any of their players. Instead, Detroit might be looking to bring in more veterans that way rather than go the free agent route. 

    This is nothing new in the Motor City. Detroit has acquired the likes of Rob Sims, Tony Scheffler, Corey Williams and Chris Houston via trade. It goes without saying that the majority of these trades have worked out well for Detroit. 

    While ESPN didn't get into specifics about the type of players they would be interested in, it could be concluded that they will be looking at linebacker and secondary help. 

Dallas Cowboys Taking a Look at Carl Nicks?

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    The Dallas Cowboys strayed away from free agency for the first time in a long while last offseason. It didn't work out too well for them considering the wide array of holes their team had in 2011. 

    I fully expect the Cowboys to go after a top-tier player on each side of the ball. Here, I am indicating that Carl Nicks will probably get a long look by Jerry Jones and Co. They have an offensive line that is book ended by two solid offensive tackles, Tyron Smith and Doug Free. Now, it is time for them to go after an elite interior lineman. 

    Multiple media outlets, including ESPN, have concluded that Dallas will definitely take a long look at the All-Pro guard. Additionally, the New Orleans Saints might not be in position to retain his services. They have to worry about locking up both Marques Colston and Drew Brees. The Saints are also paying top-flight money ($22 million over the next three seasons) to Jahri Evans, another guard. 

Jacksonville Jaguars to Be Big Spenders in Free Agency

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    New Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan has stated that he plans on the Jaguars spending up to the salary cap limit this offseason, which is welcomed news for their Florida fan base. 

    A report from the Florida Times Union indicates that Khan believes that the Jaguars need to be ready for a "bidding war" come this offseason. 

    Now, I am usually against teams spending big in free agency because history has proven that it really doesn't work in the salary cap era. This could be a different story with the nice base of young talent that the Jacksonville Jaguars possess. 

    They do, however, have multiple needs on both sides of the ball. I fully expect an elite receiver to be their primary target in the offseason. 

    Can anyone say Dwayne Bowe? Seems like a perfect fit to me. 

Cortland Finnegan on His Way out of Tennessee

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    The Tennessean is reporting that star cornerback Cortland Finnegan still thinks that the Tennessee Titans do not plan on retaining his services. 

    Finnegan, who hasn't heard from the Titans since their season ended, isn't optimistic about a return to Nashville. Instead, it seems that he is prepared to walk via free agency. 

    If that happens, there will be many suitors. Finnegan's former head coach, Jeff Fisher, was recently hired in the same role by the St. Louis Rams, who need an upgrade at that position. This seems like the most logical fit. 

    Teams like the Dallas Cowboys, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots could also get involved. 

Pittsburgh Steelers May Have to Cut Ties with Multiple Veterans

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers are not going to be in a good salary cap situation heading into the 2012 offseason. They are going to have a combined salary cap hit of $43.6 million for just five players: Ben Roethlisberger,  LaMarr Woodley, James Harrison, Lawrence Timmons and Troy Polamalu.

    Additionally, Mike Wallace is set to become a restricted free agent. The Steelers are either going to have to offer him a huge restricted tender or negotiate a long-term contract with the up-and-coming receiver. Either way, he promises to make a lot of money in 2012.  

    This means that they are going to have to do some shedding elsewhere. 

    ESPN is reporting that Casey Hampton, Larry Foote and James Farrior could all be salary cap casualties if the Steelers are unable to cut money elsewhere. 

    Pittsburgh has been able to avoid salary cam purges in the past. This is one of the reasons they have remained contenders for such an extended period of time. This doesn't appear to be the case right now.  

    One name to keep an eye on as a possible salary cap casualty is Hines Ward, who is probably their third-best receiver right now. 

Miami Dolphins Quarterback Rumors

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    The hiring of former Green Bay Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as the Miami Dolphins' new head coach was sure to start the Matt Flynn to South Beach rumors. Well, they are now out there in full force. 

    There are no concrete reports that Miami and Jeff Ireland would be interested in bringing in the Packers back-up quarterback. At this point, it is all conjecture. However, Flynn is a free agent and will be testing the open market.

    Philbin helped groom the former LSU star into a quarterback that is going to be a valuable commodity this offseason, and most importantly, the Dolphins are in desperate need for a quarterback. 

    Greg Rosenthal over at Pro Football Talk is reporting that the Dolphins are not assuming that they will land Flynn just because of this connection. 

    Miami Herald's Brian Jackson takes it one step forward by stating that Philbin was not brought in with the presupposition that Flynn would follow suit. 

    Another rumor that has been thrown out around the internet surrounding the Miami Dolphins quarterback situation is that Peyton Manning sits atop their wish list. A high-ranking team source indicates that Stephen Ross is hell bent on acquiring a franchise quarterback this offseason, with Manning being their primary target. 

    If I were the Miami Dolphins, my interest would be more in Matt Flynn. That situation seems more likely, and Manning cannot seriously be considered a franchise cornerstone at this point in his career. 

Lee Evans Might Be on His Way out of Baltimore After Huge Drop Sunday

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    It wasn't an easy catch, and Sterling Moore made one heck of a play on it. However, the huge Lee Evans drop that probably cost the Baltimore Ravens a shot at the Super Bowl might have been his final play for the franchise. 

    Pro Football Talk is reporting that Evans is due a one million dollar roster bonus in June and probably wont be retained after a sub-par season with the Ravens following a preseason trade from Buffalo.

    Evans, who had four regular season catches is set to make over four million dollars if that roster bonus is picked up; not really a good bang for your buck if you ask me. The eventual departure of Evans from Baltimore would have less to do with this dropped pass and more to do with the financial situation of the organization and his salary in 2012 as compared to the production we saw from him this season. 

Michael Crabtree Unhappy with His Role; Could Be out in San Francisco

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    Enigmatic San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree was nowhere to be found in Sunday's NFC Championship loss to the New York Giants. He didn't seem to take much blame for the lackluster wide receiver play in the game either. 

    Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee had the following quote from Crabtree following the 49ers loss last night:

    "You've got to make plays. You've got to give people chances to make plays. You've got to make plays."

    Without placing blame solely on Crabtree, you need to get open in order to make plays. This is something that he was unable to do against the New York Giants last night. You can blame the scheme, the quarterback and the situation all you want, but in the end, it comes down to YOU making plays. Vernon Davis did, Frank Gore did; why didn't he?

    I am also not entirely sure that Jim Harbaugh is going to be happy with Crabtree's actions following the game. While a myriad of San Francisco 49ers players took to Twitter in order to defend Kyle Williams, No. 15 was nowhere to be found in defense of his fellow receiver. 

    Instead, he seemed to blame the play calling for the 49ers' lack of success on offense yesterday. This doesn't fit into the personality of the locker room that Harbaugh has built this season. It also doesn't help that Crabtree had an incredibly poor postseason performance. 

    We might be looking at trade rumors as the offseason gets started. 

Jacksnville Jaguars Looking for Possible Competition for Blaine Gabbert

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    Vito Stellino of the Florida Times-Union is reporting that the Jacksonville Jaguars have two veteran quarterbacks on their radar: Jake Delhomme and Kyle Orton. 

    This makes a lot of sense for the Jaguars. Blaine Gabbert really didn't progress as a quarterback during his rookie season and could use some competition. 

    If Delhomme is signed, it would be more as a backup veteran presence. However, the mention of Kyle Orton in this report is intriguing. He will only go to a situation in which he has a chance to earn a starting spot and rightfully so. 

    As I indicated earlier in this article, the Jaguars plan to be players in the free-agent market. Acquiring a veteran quarterback would seem to be a nice secondary move. 

Peyton Manning Is a Coveted Man

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    Even before the Super Bowl has been played, chatter has started in regards to Peyton Manning. Various reports around the internet have indicated that multiple teams are going to make a play for the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback. 

    So, let's take a look at a couple. 

    ESPN, among others, have reported that Jeff Ireland and recently-hired coach Joe Philbin have Peyton Manning atop their quarterback wish list in Miami. I am not sure how much of this is pure conjecture because of the need the Dolphins have at the quarterback position. Additionally, getting a franchise guy like Matt Flynn makes a little more sense rather than going after a quarterback with just a couple years of football, if that, left in him.

    Adam Schefter, also of ESPN fame, has concluded that a total of four teams are interested in the services of Peyton Manning. These teams include: the Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and aforementioned Dolphins. 

    Lets break these other three teams down for a second here. 

    Washington Redskins: This does seem to fit what the Redskins have done since Daniel Snyder took ownership of the franchise. They tend to look more at free agency to fill key holes rather than the draft. This has not been a successful front office philosophy for Washington up to now.

    However, acquiring the services of Manning wouldn't necessarily mean that the Redskins wouldn't go after a quarterback in the draft. It just means that they would not be trading up for Robert Griffin III. 

    Arizona Cardinals: This seems like the most unlikely scenario out there. The Arizona Cardinals don't seem to be anywhere near contending with the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC West, and I am pretty sure Manning, if he leaves Indianapolis, is going to go to a contender.

    Additionally, the Cardinals invested picks and money on Kevin Kolb last offseason. They don't seem to be in a position to get Manning financially or contention wise. 

    New York Jets: This is the rumor that will probably get the most play. The New York media loves to overplay its hand when it comes to rumors about their football teams. However, a Manning to New York scenario seems to make some sense. Mark Sanchez just isn't getting it done at quarterback, and the Jets have a tremendous amount of talent and should contend in 2012, two things that I am sure Manning is going to look at. 

    Other possibilities: This is pure speculation, but the San Francisco 49ers could show some interest in Manning this offseason. Alex Smith, while he wants to be back, is set to be a free agent. A healthy Manning would be an upgrade over the improved signal-caller. The acquisition of a player of Manning's caliber would make the 49ers odds-on favorites to win the Super Bowl next season.