NFL Free-Agent Rumors: Latest on 49ers, Patriots and More

Matt Fitzgerald@@MattFitz_geraldCorrespondent IIIMarch 15, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 05:  Safety Charles Woodson #21 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after the Packers 24-10 victory against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lambeau Field on January 5, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There are still several marquee names available in NFL free agency and all the latest rumors implicate the league's most prominent teams from 2012 in some way.

The San Francisco 49ers continue to be on the lookout for improvement—especially with regard to their secondary after the departure of All-Pro safety Dashon Goldson. Another prominent team seeking veteran upgrades is the New England Patriots, who are in talks with several defensive studs.

Cap it off with one of the best safeties to ever play the game making headlines and it's an eventful Friday at this early juncture in the pro football offseason. Here is a breakdown of the latest buzz.


San Francisco 49ers

Nnamdi Asomugha is a reputedly physical presence on the outside at cornerback and was once considered one of the best in the game before signing a lucrative free-agent deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

After two disappointing seasons, the four-time All-Pro was cut loose on Tuesday. Now, San Francisco is interested in him and another All-Pro in Charles Woodson.

NFL Network's Akbar Gbajabiamila initially reported the Niners' interest in Asomugha and Woodson on Wednesday:'s Marc Sessler then indicated on Friday that Woodson did in fact meet with the team on Thursday, followed by Asomugha yesterday.

As mentioned before, Goldson leaving for Tampa Bay has put the onus on GM Trent Baalke to upgrade the defensive backfield, which was torched by high-octane passing offenses like the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens in the postseason.

The defensive back duo of Asomugha and Woodson played together for the Oakland Raiders and the reunion could revive both of their careers in the Bay Area. However, Woodson is 36 years old and Asomugha is not nearly the player he once was for the silver and black.


New England Patriots

A plethora of cut defensive veterans are at Pats headquarters, as New England looks to shore up the unit that continues to be the team's weak point.

Tom E. Curran of has the latest scoop:

The Patriots lost versatile defensive back Patrick Chung to the Philadelphia Eagles, although his role with the team was diminishing down the stretch in 2012.

Replacing him with a player like Adrian Wilson—who was a cornerstone for the Arizona Cardinals for years—could be a huge plus. It is a mostly young defensive backfield in New England, especially if Aqib Talib doesn't return.

Having too many pass-rushers is a good problem to have too and that explains why both Dwight Freeney and John Abraham are in town. Freeney spent all of his previous 11 seasons with the Indianapolis Colts and for much of his career went after New England QB Tom Brady full-force in the epic Brady-versus-Peyton Manning showdowns.

Abraham spent the past seven years with the Atlanta Falcons and is a sack specialist. He showed he had plenty in the tank in 2012, tying a career best by forcing six fumbles in addition to notching 10 sacks.

Netting either one of these players to rotate in and also mentor youngster Chandler Jones will help the Pats in the immediate future and in the long-term thanks to the impact of their leadership.


Ed Reed

The Baltimore Ravens look as though they will continue to lose valuable players on the defensive side of the ball, as legendary safety Reed has been heavily courted by the Houston Texans.

However, a deal is unexpectedly not imminent after Reed met with the Houston brass on Friday, as reported by Rich Hollenberg of NFL Network (h/t Chris Wesseling).

That doesn't mean something won't ultimately get done, though. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun indicates that there is a strong mutual interest between Reed and the Texans and Reed may shop his current offer from Houston around before settling on the current, unspecified deal.

Reed was the first player ever to intercept a 49ers quarterback in a Super Bowl, as the Ravens ascended to pro football's pinnacle. With a Lombardi Trophy finally in hand, it would be easy for Reed to walk away.

That said, it appears that Reed is bent on playing for a contender, in search of a shot at a second ring. With Glover Quin departing Houston, there is an opening for Reed to start and thrive in Wade Phillips' 3-4 scheme.