Believe it or not, there's a slim chance Joe Flacco might not be a member of the Baltimore Ravens in 2013, and wide receiver Mike Wallace is almost a sure-fire lock to sign with a team not named the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Yep, NFL rumors are flying like hotcakes off a griddle on a cold winter morning at your local Denny's.
Free agency is almost upon us, and teams around the league are being forced to take a cold, hard look at their rosters to determine which players they can keep, which players to cut and which players to reward.
Follow along as we take a look at the hottest NFL rumors floating around the web.
Joe Flacco and the Franchise Tag
It's hard to envision Joe Flacco wearing a different uniform in 2013, less than two weeks removed from his Super Bowl victory, but apparently, it's something that's on the table.
According to SI.com's Peter King, the Baltimore Ravens might not be willing to use the exclusive franchise tag on Flacco, which would keep any teams from making a bid for him. The price tag on such a move would be $20 million guaranteed in 2013.
Will the Ravens actually leave Flacco open to be poached?
If the team cannot work out a long-term deal before March 4—the deadline to use the franchise designation—Baltimore will need to use the non-exclusive tag if it's not willing to shell out that kind of cash. This move would cost Baltimore approximately $14.5 million but would also open up the opportunity for another team to match the offer in exchange for two first-round picks.
King hints that the Cleveland Browns would be a team willing to potentially make such a deal, along with the Buffalo Bills or Arizona Cardinals.
The Ravens are in a precarious position. The team needs to look out for itself, which means keeping the roster stocked with talented players while keeping its franchise quarterback in the fold.
Unfortunately, Baltimore's salary-cap situation doesn't allow much wiggle room, and this story will be one to follow until its conclusion.
Mike Wallace to the Browns?
The Pittsburgh Steelers will likely lose Mike Wallace to free agency in 2013, and he might be headed to a divisional rival.
CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora writes:
...the Steelers do not expect to retain free-agent receiver Mike Wallace and running back Rashard Mendenhall, sources said...Many in the Steelers organization believe Wallace will end up with their division rivals in Cleveland.
New Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is apparently going to be involved in every personnel decision—a la Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys—according to the Plain Dealer's Mary Kay Cabot:
Reading between the lines, it seems like Haslam and the Browns will be really aggressive this spring, which makes perfect sense, considering the team's $30 million in cap space, per La Canfora's report.
A trio of Wallace, Josh Gordon and Greg Little would be a dangerous one for opposing defenses to cover, which would make Trent Richardson's job a lot easier between the tackles. Don't be surprised to see Wallace donning a Browns jersey in 2013.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Likely Be Big Spenders in 2013...Again
Thanks to some savvy bookkeeping by general manager Mark Dominik, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are poised to break the bank for the second-straight year.
According to the Tampa Tribune's Roy Cummings:
The Bucs have $30.1 million worth of available cap space to work with for the March 12 start of free agency, the fifth most of the league's 32 teams, according to an accounting on NFL.com.
"That has actually opened a lot of cap room for us going into 2013 – a tremendous amount," Bucs general manager Mark Dominik said. "We've got a chance to be (heavily) involved in free agency again."
Given the team's struggles on the defensive side of the ball—specifically against the pass—it seems likely that Tampa Bay will target the top pass-rushers and defensive backs coming into free agency this season.
Potential targets may include:
- Michael Johnson, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
- Cliff Avril, DE, Detroit Lions
- Dwight Freeney, DE, Indianapolis Colts
- Sean Smith, CB, Miami Dolphins
- Brent Grimes, CB, Atlanta Falcons
Stay tuned to Bleacher Report for all the latest NFL rumors, news and analysis.
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