The Latest NFL Free-Agency Rumors and Buzz
The 2013 NFL free-agency period is almost here, which means there are a plethora of rumors and buzz circling the biggest free agents set to hit the open market.
Now that the three-day legal-tampering period has begun, many rumors are surfacing about where the top talents available will land.
Big names such as Mike Wallace, Paul Kruger, Cliff Avril, Dashon Goldson and more are now looking for new homes during the three-day period before they are officially allowed to sign with NFL teams.
In the following slideshow we will break down the most recent rumors and buzz around the biggest names in this chaotic period while providing updates as they happen.
Let's take a look.
Former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Mike Wallace is the hottest commodity on the open market this offseason thanks to his versatile skill set. At 26 years old, Wallace is set to become one of the highest-paid players at his position given the incredible amount of interest teams have in him.
According to Armando Salguero, the New England Patriots appear to be in the mix for Mike Wallace:
Take this for what it is worth (I see it as solid). Agent just told me he hears Patriots have some interest in Mike Wallace.
— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) March 9, 2013
The Miami Dolphins have been pegged since the beginning as the team that will pursue Wallace the hardest and eventually land him. ESPN's Adam Schefter confirmed this notion on SportsCenter (h/t Rotoworld). Miami needs another target for quarterback Ryan Tannehill, so the pairing makes sense.
Miami may be the favorite, but it is certainly not alone. According to ESPN 1500 Twin Cities, the Minnesota Vikings are set to make a big run at Wallace as well. Minnesota is having issues with its own star receiver in Percy Harvin, so quarterback Christian Ponder could use another elite target.
Rounding out the main suitors for Wallace appears to be the Tennessee Titans (per Profootballtalk). Tennessee elected to let tight end Jared Cook walk, so adding an explosive weapon such as Wallace with the money it saved seems to be the line of thinking.
All in all, many more teams will enter the race for Wallace as the deadline approaches.
Reggie Bush may be 28 years old and looking for his third team in seven seasons, but that does not mean he is not a big name on the market.
According to the Miami Herald, Bush will have a large market once free agency opens.
ESPN's John Clayton says the Arizona Cardinals have interest in Bush, which would place him in a backfield with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells after the potential loss of LaRod Stephens-Howling.
The team most interested in Bush appears to be the Detroit Lions. According to the Detroit Free Press, he is one of the team's "top targets" in this free-agency period. Detroit needs a replacement for Jahvid Best, and the former USC star appears to be the man.
It was hard to tell if former Atlanta Falcons defensive end John Abraham was going to draw any interest on the open market after being cut, but contenders are lining up to bring him in now that free agency has started.
The first reported stop for Abraham on his free-agent journey is with the Seattle Seahawks, who need a stop-gap with Chris Clemons out due to an ACL tear:
Am told free agent DE John Abraham is on his way to visit the Seahawks.
— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) March 7, 2013
Seattle is not the only NFC West Juggernaut interested in Abraham. According to USA Today, the San Francisco 49ers are bringing in Abraham for a visit as the team looks to reach the Super Bowl again.
With Ray Lewis gone, the Baltimore Ravens are doing their best to retain inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
Their efforts appear to be in vain.
According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens have attempted to make a big offer to Ellerbe and his agent to no avail.
Instead, it appears Ellerbe and his representative want to maximize the amount of money he makes on a new deal by testing the market—which puts the Ravens at a disadvantage given their cap situation:
Dannell Ellerbe's agent says he doesn't anticipate deal with Ravens before midnight: 'Starting Saturday, we'll be talking to all 32 teams.'
— Aaron Wilson (@RavensInsider) March 8, 2013
It has recently been reported that the Cleveland Browns look to be interested in talks with Ellerbe, according to Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer:
Stay tuned, as Ellerbe could be one of the more interesting names to watch.
The Buffalo Bills recently slapped the franchise tag on safety Jairus Byrd, meaning Dashon Goldson is expected to be the biggest name on the market at the position (per ProFootballTalk).
Goldson was excellent last season as he helped take the San Francisco 49ers to the Super Bowl, and as a result has been mentioned to teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals (per Cincinnati Enquirer).
The biggest name to show serious interest in Goldson so far is the Philadelphia Eagles, according to NJ.com. Goldson is looking for around $8 million per year, and the Eagles have more than enough options to make that happen—not to mention they are seriously hurting for a safety.
-- UPDATE --
According to Jim Wyatt, the Titans' first priority as the legal-tampering period began was to place a call to Andy Levitre:
Even money #Titans GM Ruston Webster's first call went to the agent of Bills guard Andy Levitre.
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) March 9, 2013
--End of update--
Andy Levitre is one of the NFL's best guards and is quickly becoming one of the more hotly pursued names on the market.
Even more teams will reveal themselves as interested once the free-agency period officially kicks off, as Levitre is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the game.
According to the Miami Herald, former Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook wants to be paid $8-10 million per year, which would make him the highest-paid tight end in the NFL.
That has not stopped teams from showing interest in the 25-year-old.
Adam Caplan on Twitter has suggested the Philadelphia Eagles will be a major player for Cook, which makes sense with the team lacking an athletic tight end that new head coach Chip Kelly loves to have on his offense.
Philadelphia may be the biggest name, but Rotoworld speculates many other franchises are preparing offers for the promising tight end as well, including the Miami Dolphins, Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams and Seattle Seahawks.
Let the games begin.
Dwight Freeney may be 33 years old, but the future Hall of Famer still has plenty to offer NFL teams—especially those ready to compete for a Super Bowl
There have been talks of Dwight Freeney following Peyton Manning to the Denver Broncos, and according to the Denver Post, that could become a reality if Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil does not take a pay cut.
So far, the biggest name to be linked to Freeney is the New England Patriots. Sports Illustrated's Peter King thinks New England will be very interested in his services and offer him a fair deal.
Freeney could be a critical piece to most NFL teams, so how his market continues to develop will be something to watch.
Andre Smith had a breakout year last season with the Cincinnati Bengals, but the team has yet to figure out a way to bring him back.
According to ProFootballTalk, Smith may be looking for $9 million a year. Perhaps that is why Cincinnati has balked at bringing him back.
As has the rest of the league, at least according to Sports Illustrated. Teams appear to have more questions than answers about Smith at this point, given his first few years in the league were inconsistent at best as he battled injuries and weight issues.
Perhaps one team will bite and give in to his offers, but until then, the market has been quiet for Smith.
A while back, Cliff Avril and his agent went on the record as saying they wouldn't mind landing Mario Williams money, which last season was a six-year deal worth $100 million (per MLive.com).
Wouldn't we all.
Instead, Avril turned down a $30 million deal with the Detroit Lions and is now a free agent.
According to ProFootballTalk, there are multiple teams that employ a 3-4 defense looking to sign Avril as soon as possible. The Cleveland Browns are known as one potential suitor, but the other teams remain a mystery.
Paul Kruger exploded onto the scene this past year for the Baltimore Ravens and is now headed for free agency, where Yahoo! Sports' Jason Cole is reporting he will make massive money:
I didn't believe this couple of weeks ago, but do now: LB/DE Paul Kruger looks like he's going to blow past $9m per, could get over $10m per
— Jason Cole (@JasonColeYahoo) March 2, 2013
With the Ravens in a serious cap situation, it is unlikely they will be able to bring Kruger back if he wants that type of money.
According to ESPN's Ed Werder on SportsCenter (h/t Rotoworld), the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns are going to have a two-team race for Kruger's services. The latter would perform an exceptional feat by stealing Kruger from Baltimore and then using him against the Ravens twice a year.
The Chicago Bears have sounded iffy on whether to bring back linebacker Brian Urlacher at all, let alone at a bargain-bin price.
According to Lou Canellis on Twitter, the Bears and Urlacher are discussing a new deal. Whether the two sides will come to an agreement is another story entirely.
Other potential landing spots for Urlacher include the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions (per ESPN).
Urlacher is 34 years old, but there appears to at least be some mild interest in his abilities, which could land him a cheap deal and allow him to extend his career by a few years.
-- UPDATE --
Scratch William Moore off the wish list for your favorite team. According to Adam Schefter, the Falcons and Moore agreed to a five-year deal early this morning:
Falcons have agreed to terms on a five-year contract with S William Moore.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2013
--End of update--
The Atlanta Falcons had one of the better safeties in the NFL last year in William Moore, but he is headed to free agency without a new deal from the team.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Falcons and Moore are now seriously working on a deal.
The problem is the Falcons chose not to hit Moore with the franchise tag. If another team now comes calling with a better deal, he could leave. There are a variety of teams looking to add a quality safety this offseason, and several of those teams could be targeting Moore.
-- UPDATE --
It appears the Kansas City Chiefs have dropped out of the running for Sean Smith now that they are giving Dunta Robinson starter money (per ProFootballTalk). The news opens up the door for other cornerback-needy teams.
--End of update--
Former Miami Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith is one of the bigger names on the market at his position thanks to his unlimited potential at 25 years old.
Smith has at times flashed greatness, and teams are already taking notice.
Despite having just signed cornerback Dunta Robinson (per Adam Schefter on Twitter), the Kansas City Chiefs have already reached out to Smith at the beginning of the legal-tampering period, according to Albert Breer:
Even with Dunta Robinson in the fold, the Chiefs have shown an interest in CB Sean Smith early on in the contact period.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 9, 2013
Greg Jennings has his heart set on cashing in on the market now that he is approaching 30 years old, but all reports point to him not receiving a warm reception from most NFL teams.
The Miami Dolphins are widely considered the most wide receiver-hungry team out there, but NFL.com recently reported the front office has little-to-no interest in him.
To make matters worse for Jennings, right after the legal-tampering period began, a report from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune surfaced that the Minnesota Vikings—another team seriously in need of another wide receiver—also doesn't have much interest in Jennings.
It is a horrific start to Jennings' free-agency campaign, and one that could be difficult to turn around. Stay tuned.