With NFL free agency rapidly approaching, the rumor mill surrounding the league is full swing, with a lot of buzz abounding about some of the top remaining players on the market.
While some players, like Jimmy Graham and Greg Hardy, know they’re staying put this year, there’s a huge number of others stars with their futures in limbo.
As the deadline to apply the franchise tag looms on March 3 and the official start of free agency follows soon after on March 11, teams are scrambling to retain their stars while they’re still the only ones able to talk to them.
Very soon, however, the feeding frenzy will begin. Read on to learn about which free agents are the most discussed and whether there’s any truth to the rumors.
While the initial thinking by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal suggested that the Washington Redskins would be crazy to let Brian Orakpo hit the open market, it’s starting to look likelier that he’ll be without a deal on March 11.
In fact, CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora would be very surprised indeed if Orakpo doesn’t have a chance to test the waters.
Would be very surprised if Brian Orakpo did not hit the open market. Tagging him puts too many resourced in 1 position for a team w/holes...— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 1, 2014
But is the rumor true? It sure seems that way.
As La Canfora notes, Orakpo would command a hefty salary hit if the team were to tag him—NFL.com indicates that such a move would cost the Redskins $11.455 million next season.
While he would likely command that amount or more per year in a long-term deal, that amount would be crippling for the team in 2014—especially considering how many holes the team has to fill and how few draft picks it possesses.
Dan Snyder will have to think long and hard about this decision, and it sure doesn’t seem likely that Orakpo will be under contract when March 11 rolls around.
The Washington Post reports that the two sides are still negotiating, but it looks like this particular rumor has a grain of truth to it.
On the other side of the Beltway, the Baltimore Ravens are frantically trying to retain left tackle Eugene Monroe.
They just locked up tight end Dennis Pitta, freeing them to direct the bulk of their focus on Monroe. With that said, that doesn’t mean it’ll be a walk in the park for the Ravens.
In fact, both the Miami Dolphins and Arizona Cardinals seem interested in Monroe’s services, with the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson listing the Dolphins as a particularly likely contender.
However, the Ravens are still trying to lock down Monroe long-term, a move that La Canfora says is still some ways away.
Ravens have a great gap still to bridge with LT Eugene Monroe, and those talks are ongoing as well— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) February 27, 2014
The bad news for the Ravens is that Monroe doesn’t seem particularly likely to give them any sort of hometown discount.
After having been unexpectedly traded by the Jacksonville Jaguars very recently, Monroe is still understandably not willing to profess his undying loyalty just yet.
He discussed the situation with Glenn Clark of WNST (h/t BaltimoreRavens.com):
Everyone in the business should understand – even coaches when they’re going through their deals negotiating contracts – you have to get the absolute best because you put forth your best effort all the time, every single day in this league. So there are definitely no discounts, and you have to have you and your family’s best interests at heart in terms of negotiating these deals.
Tagging Monroe would be an expensive proposition for the Ravens, costing them $11.654 million, so they’d likely be unwilling to go for it.
Instead, it seems as if Monroe is also bound for the open market, although the Ravens certainly have firmer ground to stand on than the chaotic Redskins.
Left tackles are always an attractive commodity and the siren song of tax-friendly Florida might be too much for Monroe to resist.
John Harbaugh and the Ravens can offer a tradition of winning, though, which could be enough to sway Monroe from the money other suitors can offer.
Either way, free agency will surely be fun to watch.