Rounding Up the Latest NFL Free Agency Rumors and Speculation
The floodgates are about to open, as we're less than one week away from the official beginning of free agency in the National Football League.
Teams can't officially negotiate with players until March 12, but that hasn't stopped the media from speculating, as reports of who might potentially land where abound.
To help you keep track of these reports, here's a look at the latest scuttlebutt surrounding this year's free-agent class, and we'll be updating these reports regularly as the big day approaches.
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Update (03/08/13): You can add the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the list of players interested in John Abraham.
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times confirmed a Pro Football Talk report from earlier Friday that indicated that the Buccaneers have interest in the veteran defensive end.
That brings the number of teams believed to be looking at Abraham to at least five.
Update (03/08/13): From the sounds of things John Abraham is going to be racking up the frequent-flyer miles over the next week.
In addition the Seahawks, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports the Abraham will visit with the San Francisco 49ers while he's on the West Coast.
From there Florio reports that Abraham could visit with the New Orleans Saints and/or the Tennessee Titans.
Update (03/07/13): Kimberly Jones of NFL.com reports that John Abraham will travel to visit with the Seattle Seahawks, who have a hole at defensive end after Chris Clemons tore his ACL in the postseason last year.
Veteran defensive end was a salary cap casualty last month despite leading the Atlanta Falcons with 10 sacks a season ago, but if the 34-year-old wants to continue playing it appears that at least one team is interested in having him.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the Tennessee Titans are expected to make improving their pass rush an offseason priority, and Abraham is among the names listed by Florio as potential targets for the Titans.
The Titans also made a play for Abraham last year before he ultimately returned to Atlanta.
Perhaps they'll have better luck the second time around.
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Update (03/10/13): A lot of times, reports circulating about free agents are either generated by agents trying to drum up interest, or beat writers speculating so they have something to write about.
However, the latest rumor surrounding Danny Amendola would appear to have some meat to it.
Geoff Mosher of Comcast Sports Net reports that a source with "direct knowledge of the team’s free agency plans" relays that part of those plans includes pursuing the four-year veteran.
The crop of free agent wide receivers this year is pretty deep, even with Dwayne Bowe of the Kansas City Chiefs and Brian Hartline of the Miami Dolphins off the market.
In fact, there are plenty of options available even if a team doesn't want to drop top dollar on the likes of Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers or Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers.
Among the best of the "second-tier" options is Danny Amendola of the St. Louis Rams, who holds much of the same appeal of Wes Welker of the New England Patriots at a much lower sticker price.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated expects the Philadelphia Eagles to be one of the teams that becomes involved in the bidding for the 27-year-old Amendola's services, stating that new Eagles head coach Chip Kelly likes players who can "play fast and smart."
Also, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk told "The Dan Patrick Show" via Fox Sports that the New England Patriots are also interested in Amendola, claiming that if the team cannot reach an agreement on a contract extension with Welker that “the ace in the hole for the Patriots is Danny Amendola.”
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Update (03/08/13): There will surely be plenty of interest in Cliff Avril, but a reunion with the Detroit Lions doesn't appear likely, at least as things stand right now.
Anwar Richardson of MLive.com reports that according to Avril, the only thing he's heard out of the Motor City to this point is crickets.
We haven't really been talking, but there's still a few days. Maybe they will make a strong push, or we'll make a push with them. At the same time, we haven't really been talking. Last year, I got franchised, and we didn't start talking to them until four or five days before that deadline. I don't know if that's their way of doing things, but we haven't been talking.
The Cleveland Browns are once again starting from scratch, and in addition to new head coach Rob Chudzinski, the Browns are switching to a 3-4 defense under new defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
That leaves the Browns in search of pass rush help, and the team appears set to try to bolster that pass rush by asking a prominent free agent to make a switch of his own.
Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer reports that the Browns, who are flush with cap space, are preparing to make an offer to Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril.
The 26-year-old Avril, who has 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons as a 4-3 defensive end, would be asked to make the switch to outside linebacker in Horton's aggressive scheme.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, that's a switch that Avril feels he can successfully make.
However, the Browns are far from alone in their interest in Avril. As Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reports, "multiple" teams running the 3-4 are taking a look at Avril, with the Indianapolis Colts believed to be among the interested parties.
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Update (03/09/13): According to The Tampa Bay Times it didn't take long at all for a strong market to develop for Michael Bennett.
Less than 12 hours into the period in which NFL teams can contact the agents for unrestricted free agents, The Times reports that "multiple teams" have expressed interest in the four-year veteran.
It's a deep free agent class on the defensive front, and while he's been lost somewhat among bigger names such as Dwight Freeney and John Abraham, Michael Bennett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should generate a fair amount of interest after a career-high nine sacks in 2012.
However, Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times doesn't predict much of that interest coming from Bennett's old team.
Stroud expects the Buccaneers to move on from the 27-year-old, writing that "defensive end Michael Bennett has probably played his last game for the Bucs."
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Update (03/09/13): The Detroit Lions may be the leading candidates to land Reggie Bush, but they aren't the only ones.
That's the latest from Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald, who reports that "multiple teams [are] showing significant interest in the prospective free agent running back."
It does not appear, according to Salguero, that the Miami Dolphins are one of those teams.
Update (03/08/13): It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate truth from rumor where free agency is concerned, but the Reggie Bush to Detroit chatter is picking up steam.
Birkett's most recent report in The Detroit Free Press contains a statement from a former teammate of Bush, who says that the running back would make the team forget all about Jahvid Best.
“I’m going to say this and I don’t mean this disrespectful to Jahvid at all,” NFL Network analyst Heath Evans said. “But they’ll forget Jahvid’s name if they’re able to sign Reggie Bush. People just don’t know. Until you see Reggie, even if you were at the Coliseum in his college days, you don’t have a true appreciation for how quick and explosive this kid is.”
It appears that running back Reggie Bush, who racked up over 1,200 total yards for the Miami Dolphins in 2012, will be playing for a new team in 2013.
That's the word from Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald, who reports that while the Dolphins appear set to move on, "[s]ome believe there will be a stronger-than-anticipated market" for the 28-year-old.
That market includes the Detroit Lions, who were said to have "real" interest in Bush at the recent NFL Scouting Combine, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions may face competition in the bidding for Bush from out west, as ESPN's John Clayton mentioned the Arizona Cardinals as another team that could be looking at the former Heisman Trophy winner.
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Update (03/09/13): It appears that the Tennessee Titans are already preparing for life after Jared Cook.
With reports circulating that Cook's representatives are believed to be looking for over $6 million a year for their client, Terry McCormick of Titans' Insider tweeted that the Titans are already looking at fall-back options, including Dustin Keller of the New York Jets and Martellus Bennett of the New York Giants.
Tight ends who can stretch the field in the passing game are all the rage in today's NFL, and as a result of that, there's expected to be a fairly robust market for the services of Jared Cook, who has averaged over 13 yards a catch in his four seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
The Titans are still hopeful of bringing back the 25-year-old, but as Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean recently reported, the two sides "haven’t been close on money to this point."
That could open the door for another team to swoop in and grab Cook, with Adam Caplan of The Sideline View mentioning the Philadelphia Eagles as a possible suitor, while Ben Volin of The Palm Beach Post called the Dolphins a potential landing spot.
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Update (03/09/13): Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun tried to shed some light on the Ellerbe situation Saturday.
According to Preston, Ellerbe is believed to be seeking a contract that pays in the $6 million range annually, while the team is reportedly set to offer about $5 million a season.
That's a not a huge gap, but a gap nonetheless, and Preston also points out that the Cleveland Browns have "privately" shown some interest in Ellerbe as well.
Update (03/09/13): Apparently Dannell Ellerbe's camp is still waiting on that "significant" offer.
Jim Corbett of USA Today reported Saturday that Ellerbe has yet to receive any offer from from the Ravens, with Ellerbe's agent stating that "there's nothing to report right now,'
Ellerbe's agent, Hadley Englehard, said that "I expect things to pick up at the beginning of the week as we approach Tuesday.", but he also mentioned that "several'' other teams have called to express interest in Ellerbe.
With Ray Lewis retiring the Super Bowl champions have a hole at inside linebacker.
The Baltimore Ravens have an in-house candidate waiting in the wings, but first they have to re-sign him.
According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, the Ravens are preparing to make a "significant" offer to free agent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
For Ellerbe's part he would reportedly like to remain in Baltimore, at least according to Wilson.
“There's always a chance, and that's what I'm hoping will happen,” Ellerbe said. “The Ravens are a perfect situation for me. Hopefully, it's a perfect situation for me to sign on the dotted line.”
Dwight Freeney Free-Agent Scouting Report
Update: (03/09/13): Teams have already reached out to Dwight Freeney, and as expected the Denver Broncos were among them.
So reports Terry McCormick of The National Football Post, who tweeted Saturday that the Broncos and Atlanta Falcons have shown an early interest in the veteran pass rusher.
Update (03/08/13): Peter King of Sports Illustrated revealed his top 50 free agents of 2013 on Friday.
Kings ranks Dwight Freeney 11th and believes that New England will show interest in him, stating that "I have a feeling the Patriots will be in on him too."
There may be a reunion of sorts in the works in the Mile High City.
At least according to Mike Klis of The Denver Post, who reports that if the Broncos can't get defensive end Elvis Dumervil to take a pay cut, they may release the 29-year-old and take a run at free agent veteran Dwight Freeney.
The 33-year-old Freeney, who had five sacks for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, would be reunited with longtime teammate Peyton Manning, while Dumervil's release would vault him to the crop of available talent on the defensive front.
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It hardly came as surprise, but cornerback Chris Gamble was released by the Carolina Panthers on Friday, as the team tries to extricate itself from a sticky salary cap situation.
Gamble may not be unemployed long, however, complements of a team that's hurting for help in the defensive backfield.
Anwar Richardson of MLive.com mentions the Detroit Lions as a strong candidate for Gamble's services, saying that Gamble "fits the mold of the big cornerback Detroit wants to add this offseason."
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Update (03/09/13): There's finally a report about David Garrard that Garrard himself didn't start.
Jonathan Jones of The Charlotte Observer theorized Saturday, that with the Carolina Panthers unlikely to bring back Derek Anderson, Garrard could serve as an inexpensive solution at backup quarterback behind Cam Newton.
Sometimes if you want something done right ,you just have to do it yourself.
There hasn't been much buzz surrounding quarterback David Garrard, so the 35-year-old tried to generate some on his own.
First Garrard spoke with Sirius XM Radio, stating that the New York Jets would be an "ideal situation," according to Rich Cimini of ESPN New York.
Garrard then told Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald that he'd "love" to re-sign with the Miami Dolphins, although Garrard admitted that the team hasn't contacted him about bringing him back.
It appears that the Jets may be the more likely landing spot, as a source told Cimini that Garrard "anticipates putting a deal together" in New York once the Jets sort out their salary cap issues.
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Update (03/10/13): We may not know where Brandon Gibson is going to wind up, but it appears that we do know at least one place he won't.
According to Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gibson is looking for a "fresh start" and will not be returning to the Rams in 2013.
Update (03/10/13): The Miami Dolphins have been one of the most talked-about teams early in free agency, and the Dolphins have now been mentioned in regards to Brandon Gibson.
Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald reports that the Dolphins contacted Gibson's representatives on Saturday, and that talks between them and the team are "serious".
An increase in playing time last year led to a solid season for wide receiver Brandon Gibson, and it appears that the 25-year-old is set to parlay that performance into a nice contract.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that there is a "fair amount of interest" in Gibson around the league, while Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweeted that there is "more interest in Gibson than he realized."
Rapoport states that he thinks the four-year veteran could find a new home in the AFC East, although he didn't go into specifics as to which team.
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Update (03/08/13): It would seem that another team is throwing their hat into the ring where Dashon Goldson is concerned.
Citing multiple league sources, Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com reported Friday that the Philadelphia Eagles are expected to pursue Goldson, writing that "Goldson could the first piece used to help rebuild the Philadelphia Eagles defense."
Safety Dashon Goldson was a Pro Bowl performer for the San Francisco 49ers a season ago, but with franchise tagging Goldson for a second straight season a prohibitively expensive proposition, the 49ers were left little choice but to allow Goldson to hit the open market.
That in turn has led Goldson to ruminate about the possibility of playing for another team, and while Goldson told Sirius XM Radio that he "hopes there’s a future for him in San Francisco," Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Goldson also mentioned the Bengals as a good fit:
I like those guys down there. I went to school with Reggie Nelson, played with Nate Clements, I was here with Taylor Mays and Manny Lawson so I’m familiar with some of those guys and how they play. They’ve got a good football team down there. They’re on track and they’ve got a good quarterback and receivers. I will have to consider all my options and we’ll have to see whose interested in me.
The Bengals certainly have the cap space to make Goldson an offer, but the team isn't known for big free-agent spending.
That makes this much more Goldson thinking out loud than any sort of concrete possibility.
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Update (03/10/13): Well, James Harrison's agent is earning his paycheck.
Since Harrison's release on Saturday his agent has been very busy trying to drum up interest in the veteran pass rusher, telling Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun that his client would be amenable to playing for the Ravens, while telling Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer essentially the same thing about the Browns.
While many NFL teams are setting the stage to add players over the weekend, at least one time is still trying to create cap space.
That led to the release of a very familiar face.
As Mike Garafalo of USA Today reports, on Saturday the Pittsburgh Steelers released veteran linebacker James Harrison, after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a pay cut.
The 34-year-old Harrison confirmed the move on his Twitter feed, saying that "It's been a great run but all good things must come to a end."
Garafalo later tweeted that Harrison's agent has already "had a few conversations with teams," so it appears that Harrison won't have any problem finding a new home.
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New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes isn't a free agent yet, but the possibility of him becoming one is increasing.
At least that what ESPN's Rich Cimini reports, claiming that the Jets are "insisting" that Holmes restructure his contract and take a pay cut or face release.
$7.5 million of Holmes' ridiculous $11 million salary is guaranteed in 2013, but the Jets could cut at least some money off the books by either restructuring or releasing Holmes.
Those savings could grow if Holmes then signs with another team
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For the better part of the last decade running back Steven Jackson has consistently posted solid numbers while playing on bad teams with the St. Louis Rams.
Now, after voiding the final year of his contract, it appears that Jackson is moving on.
Jackson has stated that he's interested in being the workhorse back for a playoff contender. Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that while there wasn't a great deal of interest in the 29-year-old back early in free agency the Atlanta Falcons remain the front-runners to acquire Jackson.
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Update (03/10/13): As if Greg Jennings' reported contract demands weren't enough to turn off some NFL teams, Jennings has now decided to be even more of a diva where potential suitors are concerned.
Jennings spoke with Robert Klemko of USA Today Sunday, stating that any team looking to sign him had better be squared away under center.
"To me, the quarterback means a lot, if they have one or not, and I have to make sure my family is comfortable," Jennings said.
So, $12 million a year and a good quarterback? At least he doesn't want much.
It's a deep-free agent class at the wide receiver position, which is good news for a team that's hurting at the position, such as the Miami Dolphins.
However, Miami's interest in at least one free-agent wideout may not be as great as once believed.
According to Jeff Darlington of NFL.com, the Dolphins have prioritized Mike Wallace over Greg Jennings, who is older than Wallace and has struggled with injuries the past two seasons.
In fact, the market for Jennings' services may be slow to develop, especially if, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk claims, the 30-year-old is seeking a contract that will pay him in excess of $12 million a season.
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Among the many holes the New York Jets have to fill this season is running back, and with Shonn Greene set to hit free agency but not a lot of cap space to work with, the Jets appear to be looking to the bargain bin for an alternative.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN, the Jets may have interest in Felix Jones, who rushed for just over 400 yards and three touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys in 2012.
Jones battled injuries and gained only 3.6 yards a carry a season ago.However, at only 25 years old there's still time for Jones to turn his career around, and he played for current Jets quarterbacks coach David Lee at Arkansas.
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Update (03/10/13): It appears that the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts are preparing to go to war over Paul Kruger, and at the end of the day the only winner may well end up being Kruger himself.
Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun reports that the Browns and Colts are set to engage in a bidding war for Kruger's services, and one source told Wilson that the end result could be a contract that pays Kruger $10-12 million annually.
Update (03/08/13): According to Rotoworld ESPN's Ed Werder claimed on SportsCenter that the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts are far and away the leading contenders to land Paul Kruger, claiming that "Cleveland is "definitely gonna go after" Kruger and will face "intense competition" from Indianapolis."
The Cleveland Browns have over $40 million in cap space, and it appears that not only are the Browns looking to get better, but they may also try to weaken a division rival in the process.
Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer tweeted Wednesday that among the free agents the team plans to target as they transition to a 3-4 defense is outside linebacker Paul Kruger, who had nine sacks for the Baltimore Ravens in 2012.
However, the 27-year-old Kruger isn't going to come cheaply, as Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports expects Kruger to command around $10 million a season on the open market.
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Update (03/09/13): It's not getting any easier for the Buffalo Bills to retain Andy Levitre, as the list of teams interested in the guard is increasing.
Kevin Acee of The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Chargers have expressed interest in Levitre, possibly as an alternative to fellow free agent Louis Vasquez.
Update (03/08/13): Adam Jahns of The Chicago Sun-Times relays that the Bears are expected to become involved in the bidding on Andy Levitre when free agency opens on Tuesday.
As Jahns points out, Pro Football Focus ranked Levitre as the NFL's top pass-blocking guard in 2012, a quality that should appeal a great deal to new head coach Marc Trestman.
Guard Andy Levitre is one of the better young players at his position in the NFL, and while it's understandable that the Buffalo Bills chose not to franchise tag Levitre, it's puzzling that the team has yet to even reach out to him.
Yet, that appears to be the case, as Tim Graham of The Buffalo News relays that the Bills have yet to contact the 26-year-old, leading Levitre to tell Graham that "I don't know what their plan is."
If the Bills aren't interested in bringing Levitre back, then at least one other team is preparing to make a pitch to him. According to Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean, the Titans, who badly need to upgrade the interior of their offensive line, have Levitre high on their list of free-agent targets.
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2012 was a nightmare season for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall, as injuries and a falling-out with the Pittsburgh coaching staff led to Mendenhall gaining fewer than 200 yards on the ground last year.
However, that down year doesn't seem to have killed interest in the 25-year-old.
According to a report by Mike Klis of The Denver Post, the Broncos are one of a few teams that have reached out to Mendenhall's representatives during the "legal tampering" period that leads up to free agency opening officially on Tuesday.
The Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals are also believed to have some level of interest in the five-year veteran.
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As Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco recently showed, with free agency timing can be huge.
Granted, Oakland Raiders tight end Brandon Myers isn't going to see nearly the cabbage that Flacco just got, but Myers' breakout 2012 season no doubt made him quite a bit of money.
The cap-strapped Raiders would no doubt like to have the 27-year-old Myers, who caught 79 passes in 2012, back.
However, others' teams interest may drive the price too high for Oakland to stay in the bidding.
According to Tarik El-Bashir of Comcast Sports Net, those teams could include the Washington Redskins, who reportedly view Myers as a potential replacement for free agent Fred Davis despite salary cap issues of their own.
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Update (03/09/13): The Baltimore Ravens are expected to make at least some effort to keep Ed Reed in the fold.
Mike Preston of The Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens will offer Reed an incentive-laden deal in an effort to keep Reed from bolting, while providing the team with a measure of insurance against a drop-off in Reed's play.
Technically, NFL teams can begin negotiating with the agents for unrestricted free agents on Saturday at midnight, although they may not speak to the players themselves and no deals can be finalized until Tuesday.
That could leave safety Ed Reed playing a bit of catch-up, as Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk reports that Reed has yet to hire an agent.
However, Reed's not going to have a problem finding work.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com, the Ravens and Reed have yet to discuss his possible return to the team, although Reed said that "hopefully that call comes soon."
If the 11-year veteran does move on to a new team, the New England Patriots have long been rumored as a potential suitor, with league sources telling Greg Bedard of The Boston Globe that the Patriots are believed to be willing to offer Reed $5 million a season.
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Update (03/09/13): According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the early leaders for Sean Smith's services appear to be the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, Cole concedes that the situation is "fluid".
At least one team is believed to be out of the running, as Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio passed along that the Kansas City Chiefs' signing of cornerback Dunta Robinson quelled their interest in Smith per a league source.
Cornerback is a premium position in the National Football League, and after a second straight strong season Sean Smith of the Miami Dolphins should appeal to any number of teams, especially given that at 25 he's only just entering the prime of his career.
The "legal tampering" period during which NFL teams may talk to representatives of unrestricted free agents got underway at midnight on Saturday, and apparently it didn't take long for Smith's phone to start ringing.
Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald tweeted early Saturday that "three to five" teams have already contacted Smith's agent to express interest in the four-year veteran, who had 59 tackles and two interceptions a season ago.
Geoff Mosher of Comcast Sports Net tweeted that the Philadelphia Eagles are believed to have been one of those teams, while Albert Breer of the NFL Network relays that the Kansas City Chiefs are another.
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Defensive end Osi Umenyiora has 26.5 sacks over the past three seasons, but despite that productivity there hasn't been a ton of chatter surrounding the 31-year-old free agent.
That appears to be changing, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports that the Atlanta Falcons are "keenly interested" in Umenyiora as a potential replacement for John Abraham.
Umenyiora, for his part, hasn't shied away from selling himself to potential suitors, telling Mike Garafalo of USA Today that "I'm shooting for NFL defensive player of the year" in 2013.
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After 13 seasons and eight trips to the Pro Bowl it's hard to imagine linebacker Brian Urlacher playing anywhere but Chicago.
After a long quiet stretch, it appears that things are finally proceeding that will insure that Urlacher finishes his career where it started.
Urlacher's representatives and the Bears have opened negotiations, and as Vaughn McClure of The Chicago Tribune reports, Urlacher's camp has made a contract offer to the team.
McClure speculates that Urlacher is likely seeking a two-year deal worth about $5 million annually, and points out that Bears general manager Phil Emery has said that Urlacher will not feel "slighted" by the Bears' offer to the 34-year-old.
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The New England Patriots chose not to use the franchise tag this season, meaning that several key members of the team are set to hit the open market.
Among those players is starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who graded out as the 4th best player at his position in the NFL in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus.
ESPN's Mike Reiss reported Thursday that he believes Vollmer is looking for a contract that will pay him between $7 and $8 million annually.
What team might be willing to meet that price remains to be seen.
Mike Wallace Free-Agent Scouting Report
Update (03/09/13): The Miami Dolphins appear to be the front-runners for Mike Wallace, at least according to one report.
Alex Marvez of Fox Sports claims that Miami has the edge where obtaining Wallace is concerned, saying that a source called the Dolphins the "lead dog" and that Wallace would prefer to play in warm weather.
Update (03/09/13): A wild card of sorts may have entered the Mike Wallace sweepstakes.
Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald tweeted Saturday that the New England Patriots, who need a vertical threat and who have several wideouts of their own hitting free agency, have expressed "some interest" to Wallace's agent.
Wide receiver Mike Wallace is widely considered the cream of this year's free-agent crop at his position, and while the Miami Dolphins have been considered the front-runners to land the four-year veteran, it now appears that the Dolphins have some company.
According to Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald, the Dolphins "privately see the Minnesota Vikings as a significant threat" to their pursuit of Wallace.
The Vikings may not be the only team standing between Miami and Wallace, as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk passed along word from Peter King of Sports Illustrated that the Tennessee Titans could also enter the mix.
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Since joining the New England Patriots, Wes Welker has become one of the NFL's most prolific wide receivers, and the possibility of his departure now looms large over the organization.
As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports, the Patriots are still considered the favorites to retain the 31-year-old, but a league source told Florio that while Welker and the Patriots are negotiating, another team or two could muddy the waters when free agency opens.
"It's close." the source told Florio in regard to whether Welker will remain in Beantown or land on a new team.
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Update (03/10/13): There hasn't been a great deal of interest in Philip Wheeler in the preliminary stages of free agency, but at least one team is kicking the tires on the five-year veteran.
Jim Thomas of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Rams, who have a need at strong side linebacker, have expressed at least a modicum of interest in acquiring Wheeler.
Linebacker Philip Wheeler was a pleasant surprise for the Oakland Raiders in 2012, pacing the team with 109 tackles.
The question now is whether the cap-strapped Raiders can afford to keep the 28-year-old, who should appeal to a number of teams as a capable veteran who can be had for a reasonable price.
For his part, Wheeler apparently wants to remain in Oakland.
However, even he admits that may not be in the cards, telling Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that while his agent has spoken to the Raiders, "I'm not sure if it's going well or not."
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Update (03/08/13): The market for Eric Winston appears to be heating up, and at least one sportswriter expects a deal to be completed as early as Friday.
That's the word from Albert Breer of the NFL Network, who tweeted that three teams are in the running for Winston and that he should sign soon.
Update (03/07/13): Beat writer Lance Zierlein of The Houston Chronicle doesn't see Houston as a realistic landing spot for Eric Winston, stating that "it would have to be a the right price and I don’t know if Winston will be willing to take less to stay in Houston at this stage of his career."
In a somewhat surprising move the Kansas City Chiefs released right tackle Eric Winston on Wednesday.
It doesn't look like Winston be out of work for long.
Les Bowen of The Philadelphia Daily News reports that both the Eagles and the Houston Texans, who drafted Winston in 2006, have already reached out to the seven-year veteran.
Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald also threw the Dolphins' hat into the proverbial ring, stating that "It makes sense for the Dolphins to at least show interest in Winston."
Winston's release isn't official yet, but as soon as it is agent Drew Rosenhaus has an "interview tour" set up, and Winston may well already have a new home by the time free agency kicks off in earnest next week.
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The Green Bay Packers released safety Charles Woodson earlier this month in a cost-cutting move, and while the 36-year-old's best football mat be behind him it appears there's no shortage of interest in his services.
According to a tweet by ESPN's Josina Anderson, the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets and New York Giants have all expressed interest in the eight-time Pro Bowler.
However, Armando Salguero of The Miami Herald threw a bit of cold water on the Dolphins' potential acquisition of Woodson.
According to Salguero the Dolphins interest in Woodson is "moderate" at best, and Woodson's camp has indicated that the veteran is interested in playing for a contender.
The Dolphins don't really fit that bill.
More to Come
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By no means is this an exhaustive list of the available free agents this year.
We haven't even touched on players such as left tackle Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins, right tackle Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals, or cornerback Aqib Talib of the New England Patriots.
However, as the dawn of free agency draws near, you can rest assured that the chatter around the players listed above, those included in this article and others we've yet to mention will only grow.
Between now and the start of free agency, we'll be updating this article regularly as new rumors and speculation surfaces, so be sure to check back to stay up to date on the latest free-agent happenings.
Also, if there's a player who isn't listed here that you think should be, or you come across an interesting bit of speculation that you think bears inclusion here, please let me know in the comments section below.