NFL: Same Face, New Place? Predicting Where League's Homeless May Wind Up
The CBA now sits in the hands of money hungry lawyers and other people with pockets full of power. But even with the NFL's future so uncertain, many of the leagues players are still left without a team ahead of the 2011 season.
Meetings are set to commence sometime today in relation to the league's future, although the mutual thought shared between experts and fans is that the NFL will come off second best in the grand scheme of things.
To add a pinch of salt into the recipe, the financial situation of America's number one sport is also affecting the minds of many owners. Teams have taken a hesitant stance on performing free agent transactions until a new agreement is reached, as the fear of wasting money has swept over all 32 franchises with a lockout looming.
Of course, April's draft also throws a wrench in the works.
But until that very situation plays out in front of us, fans seem to be taking a humble approach toward a year without football and instead continue to engage in player speculation this offseason.
Now, it's time to play matchmaker and take a look at who may potentially find a new home.
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Likely Landing Spot: Arizona Cardinals
Cincinnati's quarterback dilemma continues to grow this offseason, with Carson Palmer expressing his interest in finding another team.
According to owner Mike Brown, the Bengals won't cave into Palmer's trade demands just yet. Cincinnati is keeping their cards close to their chest on this issue, but with the CBA likely to go belly up, the Bengals are playing it safe for now.
However, nothing may be enough to stop Palmer. Several teams are in need of a new quarterback, and in all reality, the Arizona Cardinals make perfect sense. Ken Whisenhunt has been without a solid quarterback for the past 12 months, and although Palmer's skill is questionable, he could bring a veteran presence that hasn't been seen since the Kurt Warner days.
Palmer does have problems that remain, especially accuracy. Cincinnati's once reliable passer completed just 362 of his 582 attempted passes last year, a puzzling statistic considering Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens occupied his wide receiver options.
Again, Arizona could also provide Palmer with another great target in Larry Fitzgerald. Other potential landing spots include Minnesota, Washington and even San Francisco, but if the Cardinals wish to pursue an older quarterback, Palmer is worth the gamble.
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Likely Landing Spot: San Francisco 49ers
All things point toward a Donovan McNabb exit from Washington this year. Tensions grew high in 2010 under newly appointed head coach Mike Shanahan, which ultimately resulted in the implosion of what appeared to be the Redskins future quarterback.
To some, McNabb is highly favored to join Leslie Frazier over in Minnesota, a rumor which has swirled for the past three months. Honestly, though, McNabb would be a much better fit in San Francisco, a team that is young, promising, and above all else, in a rather weak division.
Say what you will about McNabb; he still has a lot of potential left. Let's not forget this is the same quarterback that led the Philadelphia Eagles successfully, so it would be foolish to toss him aside and watch him rot in free agency.
And what would a move to the 49ers mean?
For San Francisco, it would finally mean a new era of excitement. Alex Smith and Troy Smith have been mediocre at the best of times, and more or less failed to turn a playoff bound team into a serious contender last year.
McNabb, on the other hand, could be valuable for the future. The 49ers currently feature two young wide receivers, Michael Crabtree and Josh Morgan, both of which remain in the starting role. Given that McNabb helped in the up-rise of DeSean Jackson, some leadership could be beneficial to the 49ers receiving corp.
Select fans in San Francisco will reject this possibility due to McNabb's bad reputation. If you can look past last season, however, there is a firm chance number five could help young coach Jim Harbaugh.
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Likely Landing Spot: Seattle Seahawks
Matt Hasselbeck's glory days in Seattle are no longer present, although the Seahawks say they have every intention of keeping Hasselbeck during the free agency period, even though he is set to test the waters.
Last season, Hasselbeck had a year to forget. Age began to catch up, and even with a new outlook on the season under head coach Pete Carroll, the Seahawks struggled to maintain a consistent pace in the regular season.
In typical Carroll fashion, though, Seattle entered the postseason and actually surprised. At the time six year player Charlie Whitehurst pinched a victory over the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field, only to see Hasselbeck replace him the very next week, when the Seahawks made the playoffs.
Weirdly enough, however, Hasselbeck has denied Seattle's latest offer to try and re-sign him, but that isn't to say the two sides are disagreeing in any way.
“It’s going good,” general manager John Schneider said. “We’re having great dialogue. Matt is Mr. Seattle, and he has done a ton of great things for the city, on and off the field. We’ve had good dialogue.”
In hindsight, Hasselbeck will more than likely retire in Seattle. Yes, he can be a wobbly passer and is at times almost Brett Favre like in terms of interceptions, but the team seems to respond to Hasselbeck, and so do the fans.
One more bad season, and you can just about write him off. While you wait for that, don't discount Hasselbeck in the starting role. Maybe a minor playoff experience was all that was needed to reignite the fire.
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Likely Landing Spot: New York Jets
LaDainian Tomlinson isn't set to enter free agency again until the 2012 season; that being said, minor trade talk has begun to pop up in New York.
This time last year debate ran rapid throughout the league in regards to potential destinations for Tomlinson's talents. In the end, the former Charger star wound up with Rex Ryan and the Jets after signing a two year $5.2 million contract.
Funnily enough, though, Tomlinson is still finding himself among trade talks, an area that is all too familiar.
At the end of the day, it isn't likely Tomlinson will stray. The Jets running game ranked fourth in the league last year, reflective of Ryan's belief in the two-headed attack which featured Tomlinson and starting runner Shonn Greene.
Both men accounted for 1,680 yards last season and eight touchdowns. Tomlinson had the better year statistically, but the future is still a little hazy, considering he is now 31 years old and competing for carries on just about every drive.
New York soaked in the glory of a solid run game last year, and the Jets aren't exactly short financially either. Owner Mike Tannenbaum expressed no interest in trading Tomlinson several months ago, but did end in saying "Things could change". Still, Tomlinson will remain a Jet at least for another 12 months.
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Likely Landing Spot: San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, Arizona Cardinals.
You may be surprised to see Frank Gore on this list, but the 49ers bruising running back isn't what he used to be, mainly thanks to wear and tear, among other things.
Starting from the standpoint of the 49ers, San Francisco may be wise to trade Gore while he still holds value. Gore is turning 29 next season, a year which will see him enter a new contract should the 49ers seriously consider resigning him.
In 2010, Gore rushed for just 853 yards and three touchdowns, the first time he rushed for under 1,000 yards since his rookie season in 2005. These statistics are likely to decline as time goes on, as Gore is one of many running backs in the league that is beginning to burn out sooner rather than later.
As for Gore's standpoint, potential options elsewhere are endless. Teams like Washington are still in need of a serious run game, and Gore's power may be right up Mike Shanahan's alley. If Washington doesn't float your boat, though, NFC West rivals Arizona may be wise to consider him, as the Cardinals converted just 58 of their attempted 209 third down conversions last year.
San Francisco are caught between a rock and a hard place on this decision. Release Gore, and the 49ers may wind up with someone much more useful, or at the very least a draft pick in which they could spend on a young rookie.
Or, it could go completely sour, and the 49ers may wind up worse then they were to begin with.
This isn't a trade that has been discussed heavily yet, but it's worth keeping an eye on as the draft approaches, especially since Gore is entering the final year in his contract with San Francisco.
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Likely Landing Spot: New York Jets
Nnamdi Asomugha is one of the biggest free agents worth watching over the course of the next three months. Teams are yet to fight one another financially for Asomugha's talents, but that isn't to say some big names aren't floating around during this laid back period.
Aside from mild contenders such as Green Bay and even San Diego, the New York Jets instantly raise an eyebrow or two, much to the delight of Rex Ryan, who has promised a Super Bowl victory in 2011, and not for the first time.
Unfortunately, general manager Mike Tannenbaum doesn't whole-heartedly intend on signing Asomugha just yet.
"We’ll see. We would like to keep as many of our own guys as possible." said Tannenbaum several weeks ago.
"That has really been our goal. How many of those we will be able to keep is really going to be hard to say right now. We have a plan, that plan is in pencil, and we will see how things play out."
If things do play out, though, go ahead and disregard Tannenbaum's thoughts. The Jets signing Asomugha wouldn't be the least bit surprising, considering current starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie is an uncertainty ahead of 2011, even though New York slapped a franchise tender on him two days ago.
Asomugha isn't known as a money hungry player, so the bright lights of The Big Apple may draw him toward other options. Nevertheless, playing alongside Darrelle Revis also has its own benefits for both the Jets and Asomugha's career.
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Likely Landing Spot: New York Jets
Along with Cromartie receiving a tender, fellow wide receiver Santonio Holmes also saw some action two days ago, as the Jets look to toss a large fist of cash his way in an effort to secure one of their most promising receivers for the future.
But with the CBA disagreement comes more uncertainty, as any tender signed in the past month may become irrelevant depending on the outcome reached by the league.
So does this mean Holmes could still wind up someplace other than New York?
In reality, it could, but it is hard to see Holmes turning his back on a team that is one of many Super Bowl favorites in the next five years.
Holmes wound up with 746 yards and six touchdowns to his name last season, making 2010 his worst season in his six year career. However, much of this is due to the competition in New York, along with the fact that Holmes missed four regular season games thanks to suspension.
If we play football next year or we wait until 2012, Holmes should still remain in green. Rex Ryan would be crazy to allow such a brilliant receiver to leave, and with Mark Sanchez still proving shaky, the Jets need Holmes to stick around.
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Likely Landing Spot: Minnesota Vikings
It was reported by the Star Tribune that the Vikings have placed a first round tender on wide receiver Sidney Rice, who missed 10 games last season due to injury. By placing a first round tender on Rice, should another team offer Minnesota a suitable offer for number 18, the Vikings would automatically be guaranteed a first round draft pick in April.
Like Santonio Holmes, though, Rice's future depends on the CBA and whether or not a suitable agreement can be reached. Minnesota aren't likely to go their separate ways anytime soon, but that doesn't discount any team willing to place a bid on Rice in the coming months.
For the Vikings, keeping Rice is essential for success in 2011. Brett Favre's self destruction can be blamed on many factors, but the absence of Rice clearly affected the entire offense last season. Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian filled in nicely at times, yet the experience which Rice brings to Minnesota was clearly missing.
Now, with no certain quarterback and an unclear offseason ahead, head coach Leslie Frazier must ensure Rice returns. Placing a tender on Rice is the first step to success, but the team mustn't lose communication throughout the offseason.
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Likely Landing Spot: Minnesota Vikings
Former Vikings head coach Brad Childress expressed his displeasure with the team's backup quarterbacks in Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels last season. The roster has changed immensely since then, but nothing can deny the fact that the Vikings are still in dire need of a quarterback this offseason.
That's where Vince Young comes in.
After weeks of speculation, it appears that Young's options have been minimized to five possibilities. Miami, Arizona, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Minnesota are all in need of a passer next season, and chances are each franchise will be vying for the right to sign Young.
If you consider Minnesota, though, all things point to "Yes" should the Vikings consider this option.
During his days with Tennessee, Young became dependent on running back Chris Johnson, a luxury that also comes with signing in Minnesota, considering Adrian Peterson remains one of the leagues best. Aside from that, the Vikings also feature three bright wide receivers in Bernard Berrian, Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice, a benefit that Young did without down south in Tennessee.
Folks have compared this potential offensive explosion to Michael Vick's circus over in Philadelphia. It is no secret Young has a fast pair of legs, and with Peterson and a barrage of suitable targets in the air, Minnesota's offense could easily take shape in the blink of an eye.
The Vikings don't seem to be too concerned with their quarterback situation just yet, mainly due to the CBA fiasco. If Minnesota steer clears of a passer in the draft, though, they may go looking for Young sometime after April.