The free-agency signing period got underway with a slew of huge signings that included defensive end Olivier Vernon inking a deal with the New York Giants, Matt Forte trading in his Chicago Bears uniform for a new one with the New York Jets, as the team confirmed Thursday night, and Danny Trevathan leaving the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos and moving to Chicago. And the free-agent frenzy is likely to continue over the weekend.
Okung visiting Giants, Lions
Russel Okung may have been late getting started, but the big tackle is about to make an impact on the free-agent market.
Okung was not allowed to participate in the legal tampering period on Monday and Tuesday, because he eschews an agent and he represents himself.
Okung has been a solid left tackle for the Seahawks for six years, and he is planning to visit the New York Giants and Detroit Lions, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport.
The Giants and Lions both have big needs on the offensive line, but the presence of Ereck Flowers would likely mean a move to right tackle. Okung would likely end up in his familiar left tackle spot if he moved to the Lions.
Prediction: While Okung is no longer at the peak of his ability and he has had injury issues in the past, he is still a solid player. He will have a better chance to play left tackle with the Lions, and that's the team he will most likely sign with them.
Fitzpatrick Out in New York?
The Jets took a step up last year under new head coach Todd Bowles and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the marriage with the signal-caller may not last.
Fitzpatrick and the Jets have not come to an agreement on a new contract, and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the two sides are not close.
Fitzpatrick was lauded during the 2015 season as he completed 335 of 562 passes for 3,905 yards with 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Fitzpatrick set career highs in passing yardage and touchdowns for the Jets, and New York nearly made the playoffs. But the Jets don't seem to be convinced that Fitzpatrick is the quarterback to lead them in the future.
Unless there is a major turnaround, it looks like Fitzpatrick will play elsewhere next season.
Prediction: The Jets and Fitzpatrick will divorce, and he will not be back with the Green and White in 2016.
Smith Making the Rounds
Andre Smith has a chance to make a lot of money. The big tackle from the Cincinnati Bengals has reached free agency, and nearly every team in the league needs to upgrade its offensive line.
Even a team that is happy with its offensive line knows it is one injury away from being in trouble. Smith is big (6'4", 325 lbs), mobile, aggressive and effective, and he has helped give the Bengals consistent offensive line play from his right tackle position.
Yahoo's Charles Robinson reported Thursday morning that Smith was set to visit the Minnesota Vikings, and according to 5 Eyewitness News' Darren Wolfson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have also shown interest. It is not likely to stop with those two teams unless Smith wants to put an end to the proceedings and sign quickly.
Prediction: Look for Smith to make the rounds before signing a contract with the up-and-coming Vikings.