Greg Jennings and Jake Long were thought to be leaving for greener pastures when NFL free agency kicks off on March 12 at 4 p.m. EST, but recent rumors suggest both of them could wind up returning to their respective clubs in 2013.
Rumors run rampant during this period of the NFL's calendar, though. Teams send out messages through many different channels, hoping to mold the free-agent market to fit with their best interests.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the latest buzz surrounding these highly talented players as they get ready to sign new contracts with the team of their choice.
Greg Jennings May End Up with the Packers in 2013
Ever since the Packers opted not to slap Jennings with the franchise tag, it's been widely assumed that he won't be back with the club in 2013.
Not so fast.
According to Ian Rapoport, who was reporting live on NFL Network's Total Access (via Rotoworld.com), the Packers haven't ruled out re-signing the 29-year-old receiver. Rapoport also added that the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns and Minnesota Vikings have all shown "significant interest" in signing him.
Jennings recently said, "Coaching means a lot, the dynamic of the team. To me, the quarterback means a lot, if they have one or not, and I have to make sure my family is comfortable." (h/t USA Today's Robert Klemko)
When you consider that Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the NFL and that the Packers feature one of the most stable organizations in the league, it's not hard to imagine that he could be back with the club next season.
Maybe Jake Long Isn't Gone, After All
The market for Jake Long's services has been pretty quiet during the NFL's "legal tampering" period, and according to USA Today's Mike Garafolo:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
It's been relatively quiet on the Long front. Bears and Rams believed to be among the most interested. We'll see.2013-3-11 13:30:20
The Chicago Bears don't have much money to spend on free agents this year, and the St. Louis Rams play in the same division as the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers—both of which feature terrifying pass-rushers.
And if the market is dry, the Miami Dolphins might not be out of the Long sweepstakes after all, according to The Miami Herald's Armando Salguero:
Jake Long isn't a certainty to leave, a league source tells me...For Long, the Dolphins want him back. But they don't want to back the Brinks truck to his front lawn...If the market for Long is as cold as has been reported in some sectors...then the Dolphins will be in the hunt.
If the Dolphins can land Long at a price that they deem acceptable, it would be a fantastic move on their part to protect Ryan Tannehill. Jonathan Martin isn't ready to move over to the left side, and while Long struggled last year, he will likely bounce back with a solid season.
Sean Smith Isn't Likely To Return To Miami
Contrary to Salguero's report, Smith's return to the Dolphins in 2013 isn't nearly as plausible.
He writes, "Sean Smith isn't a certainty to leave, a league source tells The Herald's Adam Beasley."
NFL Network's Jeff Darlington reports that Smith is being pursued by a trio of tempting franchises:
Jeff Darlington @JeffDarlington
I ran into @NFL agent @davidcanter earlier. He's working the phones on CB Sean Smith's behalf. Keep eyes on San Fran, KC and Philadelphia.2013-3-11 23:38:58
The 6'3", 218-pound man-to-man specialist is an intriguing player in this year's market. He isn't particularly adept at slowing down smaller, shifty receivers like DeSean Jackson or Percy Harvin, but he's highly effective against bigger receivers like Larry Fitzgerald and Vincent Jackson.
Smith's value in the free-agent market seems to be riding pretty high right about now, and unless Miami is willing to open up its checkbook and pay this young man, he's not returning.
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