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NFL Rumors: Latest Chatter Heading into NFL Free Agency

John RozumCorrespondent IMarch 2, 2013

NFL Rumors: Latest Chatter Heading into NFL Free Agency

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    Hooray! March has arrived and the next NFL year is on the brink of kicking off.

    Obviously the 2013 free agency period will be exciting because plenty of interesting things have been swirling around throughout pro football.

    And before we know it, the 2013 NFL draft will begin.

    February was filled with exciting news and rumors, which will only intensify as we press through March. To that end, let's take a quick look at some fascinating chatter surrounding the NFL landscape.

The Jets and David Garrard

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    The New York Jets face a dire situation at quarterback.

    And at this juncture, even a veteran in David Garrard would be an upgrade.

    As it turns out, Gang Green is entertaining the idea of a quarterback that hasn't suited up since 2010. Per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post:

    A day after word leaked of the Jets’ interest in Brady Quinn, [John] Idzik [the Jets' general manager] kicked the tires on another veteran quarterback when he brought in David Garrard for a workout.

    The look-see, confirmed by a league source, was necessary because the 35-year-old former Jaguars passer hasn’t played in the regular season since 2010 because of surgeries on his back and knee.

    ESPN.con's Adam Schefter also reported:

    David Garrard "anticipates putting a deal together" with Jets once they can work through cap issues, per source. "Bo… say.ly/PbE5hb3

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 1, 2013

    Garrard would certainly be a more dependable quarterback than Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow.

    The guy has more pro experience under center than each and has had some decent success as well. From 2006 throughout 2010, Garrard has completed over 60 percent of his attempts and sported an 81-to-50 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Giants Looking Within NFC East Bolster Run Defense?

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    Last season the New York Giants gave up an average of 4.6 yards per rush.

    That lackluster performance also affected the pass rush, which managed only 33 sacks in 2012.

    Given the impact we've seen from Big Blue's front four at controlling the line of scrimmage in recent years, last fall was quite underachieving.

    So, New York is looking within the NFC East to quickly revive its defensive front, beginning with Cullen Jenkins. According to Paul Schwartz of the New York Post:

    Jenkins, 32, is paying the Giants a visit. He met and dined Thursday night with coaches and Friday will engage in meetings and talks at the team’s Timex Performance Center facility. He was released by the Eagles on Monday and as a result can be signed immediately by the Giants, or any other team.

    “There is sincere interest there,’’ Jenkins’ agent, Brian Levy, told The Post.

    After a productive campaign in 2011 where he logged 5.5 sacks and 40 tackles, Jenkins did take a step back in 2012. Then again, Philadelphia as a team struggled to maintain consistency and the Eagles underachieved.

    Jenkins, though, will be complemented by other sound defensive linemen in Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. So, he'll be given minimal responsibility, which results in greater production at clogging lanes, draw double-teams and providing interior quarterback pressure.

The Future of Martellus Bennett

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    Tight end Martellus Bennett enjoyed the best season of his NFL career with the Giants in 2012.

    Earning 90 targets from Eli Manning, Bennett caught 55 passes for 626 yards and scored five times.

    All four stat categories are career-highs for Bennett. So, New York should strongly consider retaining him, right?

    Unfortunately for Bennett that appears to not be the case. First, Bennett responded to a tweet:

    @giantswfan they have other priorities that come before little ole me. I'm just a small piece of what they're trying to do there.

    — Martellus Bennett (@JoeGryffindor) February 27, 2013

    And in an article by Ralph Vaccihano of the New York Daily News:

    The Giants had little interest in retaining [Ramses] Barden, but according to a team source they would like to re-sign Bennett. They are concerned, however, that Bennett will price himself out of their range if he hits the open market. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where Bennett’s brother Michael plays defensive end, are reportedly interested in signing him and they have plenty of cap room to spare.

    Bennett would definitely be a great fit for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As an offense that features Josh Freeman, Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin, a reliable receiving tight end would put Tampa in the NFC playoff mix.

Steve Jackson on the Move to Atlanta?

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    Earlier this week Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported:

    Rams running back Steven Jackson will void the final year of his contract March 12, league sources told the Post-Dispatch on Monday. That means Jackson, the Rams’ career rushing leader, will test the free-agent market.

    One of the most likely suitors is Atlanta, which according to reports plans to release veteran back Michael Turner.

    Well on Friday March 1, the Atlanta Falcons did just that according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com:

    Major moves in ATL: Falcons are releasing CB Dunta Robinson, RB Michael Turner and DE John Abraham today.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 1, 2013

    So, is it reasonable to anticipate Jackson in Atlanta's backfield next fall?

    Yes, but let's also take into account the NFL draft. Although it's not overloaded with top-heavy talent at the running back position, the Falcons could potentially select a stud ball-carrier in the middle rounds. It's a deep position, which will be appealing to Atlanta as the draft progresses.

    Nevertheless, Jackson is an established veteran and has logged over 1,000 rushing yards every year since 2005. By the same token, Jackson is impressive out of the backfield and would not be the main focal point in Atlanta.

    The Falcons simply present too much talent at receiver for defenses to stop the run. Factor in the defensively vulnerable NFC South and Jackson is a perfect fit for Atlanta.

Green Bay Hoping to Address Defense

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    In late February Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported:

    San Francisco's Ricky Jean Francois is the latest candidate to surface as a possible replacement for injured Jerel Worthy in the Green Bay Packers' defensive-line rotation next season.

    A source said the Packers have expressed interest in Jean Francois, who would become an unrestricted free agent March 12 if he isn't re-signed by the 49ers.

    Although it's not exactly recent regarding today's faster paced era of collecting news and information, it's important for NFL fans.

    The Green Bay Packers struggled again defensively, as they gave up 4.5 yards per rush in 2012. The San Francisco 49ers on the other hand, were again dominant at controlling the line of scrimmage.

    Ricky Jean Francois was a key aspect for the 'Niners because of his talent for depth. The Packers need that in their defensive front, otherwise another frustrating postseason loss will occur. We know Aaron Rodgers and the offense can score at will, but the defense must get Francois to eat blocks, quickly close running lanes and get quarterback pressure when needed.

    Whether he would get put in a limited role or become an every snap player, Green Bay's ability to make plays at the line would significantly increase.

Patriots Trying to Upgrade Secondary

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    Ranking No. 29 in pass defense last season, that vulnerability came back to bite the New England Patriots.

    In short, Joe Flacco torched Bill Belichick's coverage schemes en route to the Baltimore Ravens winning the AFC.

    That display of exploiting New England's lack of coverage brings Ed Reed and Charles Woodson to mind. And according to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe:

    League sources believe the Patriots will try for Ed Reed of the Ravens at about $5 million per season. Packers free agent Charles Woodson doesn’t seem to be a fit for what the Patriots want to do, but those who know him think he would play at value money. A return by free agent Patrick Chung would be shocking.

    Either veteran would suffice for the Pats, because Reed and Woodson just know how to make plays and get themselves positioned pre-snap. Factor in their incredible and irreplaceable instincts and New England would have the luxury to blitz more.

    Already fielding two solid playmaking corners in Kyle Arrington (potential 2013 free agent) and Devin McCourty, presenting Reed or Woodson back deep allows for more Cover 2. This way, New England can keep press coverage at the line, sink the non-blitzing linebackers and let the safeties react accordingly.

    With an offense that will score, the Pats remain AFC contenders by improving their pass defense.

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