With the NFL training camps not starting up until late July, there is plenty of time for players without set contracts to finalize their agreements with their teams, right?
It sounds doable, except for the fact that some of these players have been dealing with these contract issues since the beginning of the offseason and still haven’t reached agreements with their teams.
Here’s a look at seven players we’d love to see have finalized deals prior to the opening of training camp.
The Baltimore Ravens slapped the franchise tag on Rice back in the beginning of the offseason but have yet to reach a contract agreement with him.
Aaron Wilson of Scout.com reported back at the beginning of April that Rice had expressed that he wanted to participate in the Ravens' offseason workouts, but he wasn’t going to sign his tag tender until he received a contract extension.
And while Rice will most likely receive an offer from Baltimore that he is comfortable with, it would be nice to see his deal finalized before minicamp.
Rice was the Ravens' leading rusher in 2011 with 291 rush attempts for 1,364 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Not long after pinning the franchise tag on Forte, the Chicago Bears signed another running back—ex-Oakland Raider Michael Bush—at the opening of free agency.
This not only irked Forte but also gave him more of a reason to hold out until he receives the long-term deal that he's been seeking. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported back in April that “until he has that...you will not see Matt Forte in Chicago."
Forte played in 12 games during the 2011 season before an MCL sprain ended his season early. He rushed 203 attempts for 997 yards and three touchdowns.
If Forte and the Bears can in fact reach a deal, don’t expect it to be until mid-July, right before camp starts up.
Kicker Ryan Longwell was released just this Monday after six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings.
But NFL.com reports that the 16-year veteran and the Vikings are parting ways amicably, with head coach Leslie Frazier telling the Associated Press, “He is a great person and has been an outstanding player in our league for a long time.”
Being that Longwell is both a good player and a good guy, we would love to see him find a new home before camp starts.
Longwell’s career—which kicked off in 1997 with the Green Bay Packers—consists of a total of 361 field goals for 1,687 total points and 604 extra points made.
Like Rice, New England’s Wes Welker was hit with the franchise tag early in the offseason.
On April 11th, CSN New England reported that the Patriots had not yet made any progress on the wide receiver’s contract. And just before the draft, it was reported that Welker would—reluctantly—not be participating in Week 1 of Patriots minicamp.
Although he expressed on ESPN Boston Radio (via Rotoworld.com) that he wanted to be present at the opening of camp, he could potentially end up waiting around until the July 16th contract deadline to see the multi-year contract that he desires.
The eight-year veteran has 650 career receptions for 7,226 yards and 32 touchdowns, and he has been a member of the Patriots' organization since 2007.
Veteran Dallas Clark might have seen a dip in his numbers due to being injured over the past two seasons, but we’d love to see the ex-Colt tight end find a new home before minicamp starts.
After not attracting much attention since his release from Indianapolis back in March, Clark sparked the interest of the Kansas City Chiefs. The Kansas City Star reported that Clark met with the team earlier this week.
Earlier this week, former Green Bay Packer Ryan Grant cancelled a meeting with the Detroit Lions due to what his agent described as “economic issues.” NFL.com believes this could be in relation to the Lions not having enough cap space to have paid Grant anything over $5 million.
But with no other teams coming knocking, Grant might need to rethink his asking price.
Grant played in 15 games last season—after playing in only one in 2010—and posted 134 rush attempts for 559 yards and two touchdowns.
If for no other reason, we’d like to see Drew Brees’ deal get finalized so we can stop hearing about it. And as of May 2nd, the Saints and Brees weren’t any closer to a negotiated contract.
In fact, even though ESPN’s John Clayton said mid-April that Brees and the Saints were within $2 million per year for a long-term contract, Adam Schefter reported, via Rotoworld.com, that the two sides aren’t “any closer to a new deal for Drew Brees than they were weeks ago" and that the "deal is not close to being done."
Personally, I would have liked to have seen Brees signed to a new deal and settled a couple months ago. And having his contract finalized would be one less thing that the bounty-scandal-buried New Orleans Saints would have looming over their heads.