NFL Free Agency Rumors: Analyzing Latest Buzz Around the League

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IMarch 11, 2013

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 20:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons walks off of the field dejected after the Falcons lost 28-24 against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome on January 20, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Tight ends, edge rushers and cornerbacks, oh my.

We're only two days away from the NFL's free agency period and the buzz surrounding some of the league's top names is heating up.

Whether it's a historic tight end thinking about playing one more season or a couple of world champions looking to spread their wings, free agency figures to kick off with a bang on Tuesday.

Here's a look at the latest buzz around the NFL, complete with analysis.


Tony Gonzalez to Play One More Year for Falcons?

According to Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports, "multiple sources" are hopeful that star tight end Tony Gonzalez will return to the Atlanta Falcons for one more year.

The 37-year-old, who managed 93 catches for 930 yards and eight touchdowns last season, reportedly will give it another go with the Falcons "if they pay him $7 million and he doesn't have to do training camp," according to "one Falcons player familiar with Gonzalez's thinking."

The unrestricted free agent will be able to accept offers from other teams when free agency begins on Tuesday, but Silver notes that Gonzalez and the Falcons seem willing to stay together.

Obviously, the Falcons would love Gonzalez back, even at that price. The 16-year veteran was second on the team in catches in 2012 and he racked up 14 catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff games against the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. He did so while being targeted 15 times.

Atlanta could add a tight end like Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert or Stanford's Zach Ertz in the first round of the draft, but it would be nice to have Gonzalez's successor actually learn behind him for a year.


Latest on Paul Kruger, Dannell Ellerbe

According to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun, league sources expect the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts to aggressively pursue outside linebacker Paul Kruger when free agency kicks off on Tuesday. lists Kruger as the No. 3 edge defender in the 2013 free-agent class. While Kruger demonstrated the ability to be a dangerous pass-rusher in 2012 (nine sacks, one forced fumble), he can be a liability against the run. Still, teams will be happy if he can rush the passer like he did with the Ravens last season.

The Colts, of course, just released long-time defensive end Dwight Freeney, so there is certainly a need for a pass-rusher. The Browns would like to add a dangerous pass-rusher as well, especially considering they play in the same division as Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlisberger and Andy Dalton.

As for Dannell Ellerbe, the Ravens would like to retain the 27-year-old inside linebacker, especially after Ray Lewis' retirement, but they will likely face some heavy competition in free agency. One of those teams could be the Browns, per The Baltimore Sun report.

According to Wilson, $25 million appears to be the minimum Ellerbe would sign for. Yikes.


Patriots Looking to Free Agency to Fill Gaps in Secondary?

According to Jeff Howe of The Boston Herald, the New England Patriots expressed interest in several cornerbacks on Monday. 

That included Sean Smith of the Miami Dolphins, Derek Cox of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Chris Gamble of the Carolina Panthers.

Smith, while inconsistent, is the best of the bunch overall. The 25-year-old showed in 2012 that he's capable of some spectacular performances, posting two interceptions and three forced fumbles along the way. His combination of size and speed makes him an intriguing option for New England.

It's no secret that the Patriots need help in the secondary. While they improved in 2012, they still allowed 7.7 yards per pass attempt (28th in the NFL) while allowing 27 passing touchdowns. Flacco threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns against them in the AFC Championship Game.


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