The weeks prior to the start of NFL free agency are full of rumors and speculation. With teams restructuring contracts, releasing players and otherwise trimming the fat for offseason dealings, there is a lot of movement to take place in the coming weeks.
Free agency starts on March 12, but many teams have already started cutting salary to open roster space and cap room. Former stars like Michael Turner and John Abraham were the latest subjects of such moved, but there will be plenty more on the way.
The offseason process is fluid. Every action determines a team’s next step, and with the first dominoes beginning to fall, we are starting to get a better idea of what the offseason will hold.
Let’s take a look at some of the latest rumors from around the NFL, including potential signings we may see as early as next week.
Canty had a disappointing season with the Giants in 2012, and the 30-year-old fell victim to New York’s cost-cutting strategy early in February.
The 30-year-old defensive tackle has a good career in New York, but he’s in search of a new home now. According to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, there are plenty of teams interested, and Green Bay could be one of them.
Canty, recently released by the New York Giants, would fill a need for a true 3-4 defensive end.
According to sources, Canty is scheduled to make a free-agent visit to Green Bay Wednesday but has at least two other suitors.
He’ll sure to be a hot name on the free-agent market this year, especially for teams looking for a disruptive interior rusher or five-technique defensive end. The Packers fall under the latter category, desperately needing some bulk to shore up a defensive line that didn’t do much to bolster their defense in 2012.
Green Bay doesn’t have a lot of glaring holes to fill, but it does have a number of areas to strengthen this offseason. A veteran presence like Canty would go a long way toward doing that.
Smith didn’t get off to a great start in the NFL, but he has quickly developed into one of the better right tackles in the league. After Cincinnati failed to pick up his option last season, he’s set to hit the open market in a little over a week (per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).
The Bengals used the franchise tag on defensive end Michael Johnson, which means they won’t have that option for any of their impending free agents. According to Florio, Smith wants a huge contract:
Of course, the negotiations already have begun. Tampering, yes, but they’re happening. And word is that Smith is looking for a deal that pays out $9 million per year.
If the reports are accurate, it’s hard to believe Smith will find that kind of money on the open market. Right tackles don’t usually warrant that kind of money, and there’s little chance he could be a top-tier pass-blocker on the left side.
Cincinnati would be wise to try to lock up its best run-blocker, but even with the most cap room in the league, $9 million is a tough pill to swallow (per Adam Schefter of ESPN):
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Teams with most cap room this am: CINCY $54 million under; CLEV $48 mil; MIAMI $47 mil; INDY $44.5 mil; PHIL $33.5 mi; TB $32.5 mil.2013-3-1 13:55:32
According to Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee, league sources indicate 49ers safety Dashon Goldson won’t be given the franchise tag this offseason. Barrows also referenced San Francisco’s hope to keep him, but also mentioned its stance to not “pay everybody.”
It could be that the 49ers are taking the same tack with the safety they did before the 2011 season -- allowing him to get to the free-agent market and betting he doesn't get the kind of offers he is seeking. Goldson played very well this past season. Then again, the draft is deep at safety.
Goldson wants a multi-year deal (per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle), but there’s only so much money to go around. And according to Tim Graham of the Buffalo News, Goldson is reportedly interested in playing for the Buffalo Bills, at least according to Bills receiver Stevie Johnson: "I just asked him, 'Who would you want to go to?' Out of his lips, he was talking about Buffalo a lot. I'm, like, 'Man! Hopefully, we give him an offer.'"
Buffalo used its franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd, but there’s still room for the hard-hitting San Francisco safety should they decide to make him an offer. With Byrd at free safety and Goldson at strong safety, Buffalo would field one of the best safety duos in the NFL.
According to Gary Myers of the New York Daily News, Jets general manager John Idzik was openly shopping Revis at the NFL Scouting Combine:
Jets GM John Idzik may not have found time to meet with Darrelle Revis’ agents at the NFL Combine last week, but a source said he did manage to squeeze in Revis trade talk with multiple teams in Indianapolis.
That comes as little surprise, but there have yet to be any developments on potential destinations for the league’s best cornerback should the Jets decide to make a deal.
ESPN’s Kipp Adams has a theory, but there’s little to go on at this point:
Kipp Adams @KippLAdams
Slightly surprised by John Abraham being cut. Dimitroff preparing for another big offseason. Steven Jackson & Cliff Avril? Darrelle Revis???2013-3-1 19:35:06
Atlanta would certainly make a lot of sense. With the release of Abraham, Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson, the Falcons cleared plenty of cap space to make a deal, and they certainly need help at the cornerback position.
Every team with enough cap space to accommodate Revis will likely be sending out feelers, but New York will no doubt want a handsome return for its best player. It will take a lot to pry him the Jets, even if Idzik really is shopping him.