While NFL teams are not allowed to sign unrestricted free agents until March 11, there are already plenty of players making arrangements for their future.
The league has added a negotiating window to the process so teams can first make contact on March 8. After that point, we will likely know a lot more about the landing spots for each of the top players on the market.
Still, there are plenty of rumors already circulating the league concerning who is and is not signing with certain teams. Nothing has been finalized, but here is a look at the latest buzz from around the NFL.
Matt Cassel to Houston?
Although Matt Cassel was far from a superstar last season with the Minnesota Vikings, he did post a respectable 81.6 quarterback rating while leading the team to a 3-3 record as a starter. The Vikings went 2-7-1 the rest of the year.
This was also a big improvement from his 1-7 record as the Kansas City Chiefs starter in 2012.
As a result, the veteran quarterback is drawing some interest in the open market, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com:
When Cassel got his big break in 2008 while replacing Tom Brady, current Houston Texans head coach Bill O'Brien was an offensive assistant. He saw firsthand what the quarterback can do and he appears to be interested in bringing him on board to possibly lead the offense next season.
What this addition could do is allow the Texans—which have the first overall pick in the draft—to pass on a quarterback early on and instead select someone who can develop at a slower pace.
On the other hand, Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports 1 reports that Cassel could have some competition for this role:
Elsewhere on vet QB front, I'd expect Chad Henne to get some decent play. Wouldn't be shocked if Hou was in on him too. Oak, NYJ as well.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 6, 2014
Chad Henne started 13 games with the Jacksonville Jaguars this past season, but he ranked 36th out of 39 qualified players in Total QBR.
Either way, it seems like the Texans are planning on bringing in at least one veteran quarterback this offseason.
Eugene Monroe on Way out of Baltimore?
The Baltimore Ravens have to find a way to shore up the offensive line in order to protect big-money quarterback Joe Flacco. Keeping Eugene Monroe would go a long way toward helping this problem.
Unfortunately, it seems to be getting harder and harder to re-sign the big left tackle, according to Matt Zenitz of the Carroll County Times:
The start of free agency is less than a week away, and the Baltimore Ravens and impending free agent left tackle Eugene Monroe remain “nowhere close” to agreeing on the terms of a long-term contract that will keep Monroe in Baltimore, according to a source.
The Miami Dolphins, the San Diego Chargers and the Carolina Panthers are among several teams likely to be in the market for a left tackle, and at least one of them could offer Monroe more than what the Ravens are willing to pay.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald agrees with the notion that the Dolphins are a team to fear in this battle:
The Dolphins are dead last in the NFL in offensive line spending right now. They currently spend only 16.6 percent of their $52.9 million offense payroll on the offensive line. That will change significantly within the next two weeks.
The Dolphins will be looking for at least one and possibly as many as three offensive linemen in free agency — and the left tackle spot will be the priority. The names on the Dolphins radar are Eugene Monroe, Branden Albert, and possibly Anthony Collins.
Michael Vick Must Find Other Options
After losing his starting job to Nick Foles during the 2013 season, Michael Vick is apparently not even wanted as a backup on the Philadelphia Eagles, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports:
Mike Vick will not be back with the Eagles in any capacity in 2014. They are moving in a different direction with the backup role— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 5, 2014
This makes sense because the team should now feel confident in Foles being a legitimate starter after posting the best quarterback rating in the NFL this past season. There is no reason to pay extra money on a safety net.
Meanwhile, this is a good situation for Vick, because he will want to find a location where he can compete for a starting job. According to Dan Hanzus of NFL.com, the veteran was asked if he would be a Week 1 starter in 2014 and he responded, "Absolutely. I can't see no other way."
One potential destination is the Minnesota Vikings, a team that needs a new starter after struggling to find any consistency at quarterback over the past few seasons.
One person that thinks Vick could make a difference is running back Adrian Peterson:
@MikeVick would intently make the vikings a playoff team!— Adrian Peterson (@AdrianPeterson) March 6, 2014
There are certainly pieces in place for the Vikings to be successful with the addition of a quality quarterback. Additionally, this move would allow the organization to wait to take a quarterback in the draft and then give him time to develop.
Either way, it is clear that Vick will have an opportunity somewhere around the league.
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