Tag:NFL Free Agency
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:08 am
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Report: Bills won't franchise tag Stevie Johnson

Johnson could be a free man if he and Buffalo don't work out a deal. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Stevie Johnson's an interesting test case for the wide-receiver market in 2011; he and the Bills are reportedly exchanging numbers, but they're also reportedly "far apart" in contract negotiations.

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And now, the Bills reportedly won't be using the franchise tag on Johnson if they can't reach a long-term deal before March 5. That's according to Rodney McKissic of The Buffalo News, who reports that the "franchise tag option hasn't been discussed during negotiations" between the team and Johnson.

As we noted previously, Johnson's in a weird spot when it comes to his market value. $9.4 million -- the guaranteed money involved in the franchise tag -- seems like too much for Johnson. But he's certainly not a $5 million per year wide receiver.

And much of what he could get on the open market depends on how other situations play out. If, hypothetically, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker (to name just a few) all hit the market along with Johnson, his stock will drop faster than a potential game-winning catch against the Jets.

Then there's the fact that the Bills would hurt themselves in negotiations if they discussed the franchise tag. Should Johnson's camp believe the tag is an option, it a) reduces the rush to get a deal done before March 5 and b) means the Bills are automatically negotiating from a bare minimum of $9.5 million in guaranteed money.

The only surprising thing is that Buffalo is apparently willing to let their biggest playmaker in the passing game walk; without Johnson, the 6'5" David Nelson steps into the role as top playmaker, barring the Bills being able to bring another high-end free agent into Buffalo.

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Posted on: February 21, 2012 12:12 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 10:16 am
 

Are the Packers and Wells headed for a breakup?

Will Wells be around in Green Bay to protect Rodgers? (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Last October, when we told you about the Packers signing receiver Jordy Nelson and guard Josh Sitton, there seemed to be optimism about Green Bay eventually inking tight end Jermichael Finley and center Scott Wells to new deals that would preserve much of the team’s offensive core.

Well, Finley still is in limbo, as the possibility of the franchise tag hangs over his head, and now it appears there’s a real chance that Wells could be on his way out of Green Bay altogether.

Considering Wells is probably the best Packers linemen -- and one of the best centers in the game -- and considering he just played in his first Pro Bowl, this revelation comes as quite a surprise. But that’s the word from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which writes, “Wells is being told by the Green Bay Packers that he has overvalued himself as an undersized, 31-year-old center no matter how well he has played for them. Wells basically is telling the team, ‘Watch what happens.’”

As the paper writes, this isn’t a salary cap issue, because the Packers could pay Wells what he’s worth. It sounds like they’re just not willing to do it, because, I don’t know, he’s not important enough to the team.

And if the Packers don’t pay him what he wants, Wells could hold a grudge that’s been years in the making.

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From the Journal Sentinel:
Wells hasn't forgotten that the Packers cut him at the end of his first training camp.

More critically, he hasn't forgotten how Mike McCarthy and (Ted) Thompson cast him aside after three years as their starting center and replaced him with Jason Spitz in 2009. …

Wells responded with his finest season in '09, topped it in '10 and probably was even better yet in '11. Unlike so many of his teammates, Wells wasn't offered an early extension and played for base salaries of $2.25 million in 2010 and $2.75 million last year.

He remembers that, too.

What’s working against Wells: he’s 31, and he’s undersized for a center. And no matter what he’s done in the past for Green Bay, those two characteristics could cause the Packers to look elsewhere if his asking price isn’t right.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:43 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 2:27 pm
 

Stanford Routt signs three-year deal with Chiefs

Routt tackles his new teammate Bowe. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Less than two weeks ago, Oakland made the decision to cut cornerback Stanford Routt. Less than two weeks later, he's a member of the Chiefs, one of the Raiders AFC West division rivals, Kansas City announced on Monday.

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According to multiple reports, Routt's deal is for three years and worth $19.6 million.

"Stanford has a proven record of success in the NFL," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said in a statement released by the team. "He’s a talented player that has spent seven seasons in the AFC West, so he is familiar with us and our division opponents. We are excited to have Stanford join the team, and we are looking forward to getting started."

Routt was cut by the Raiders because his contract was simply untenable to new general manager Reggie McKenzie (or perhaps we should say "out of whack"?).

As our own Josh Katzowitz noted last week, Routt drew plenty of interest on the open market, as a talented cornerback available well in advance of most free agents being able to sign with teams on March 13.

Oakland's not off the hook, though. Multiple reports indicate that Routt's new deal will not offset the $5 million Routt was scheduled to receive from the Raiders in 2012, so the cornerback will be getting two paychecks.

"We are excited that we were able to come to terms with Stanford,” General Manager Scott Pioli said. “He is a talented player, and as we have said in the past, we are always looking to add competition at every position year-round. Stanford’s experience and level of play will make him a solid addition to our defense."

Perhaps the most interesting part of the addition of Routt to the Chiefs is what it means for would-be free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr. Carr was a strong possibility to get the franchise tag, but the Chiefs signing Routt means that wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is a much more likely target now.

Carr will then hit free agency at the ripe old age of 25 and likely draw a ton of interest from teams in need of a cornerback.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:20 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 12:22 pm
 

Report: Rice wants a 'Peterson type of contract'

Rice is good, but is he worth 'AP money'? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

One guy we expect to see franchised over the next fortnight or so is Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice is an unrestricted free agent, is just 25, and is one of only 16 NFL players since the merger to accumulate multiple seasons with 2,000 or more yards from scrimmage. But we also expect Rice and the Ravens to work out a new long-term deal; Rice said he's OK with the tag provided it leads to such a deal.

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But his expectations might be too high: Peter King of Sports Illustrated writes Monday morning that he's hearing Rice "wants an Adrian Peterson-type of contract" for his next deal.

Unfortunately, that's probably not happening. Prior to the 2011 season, Peterson signed a seven-year deal worth up to $100 million, with $36 million guaranteed.

That's "best running back in the NFL" money, and Peterson might be lone exception when discussing running backs who are worthy of that kind of cheddar. (Of course, Peterson spent much of 2011 dealing with a high-ankle sprain that Leslie Frazier later parlayed into a torn ACL by rushing his franchise player back onto the field too quickly.)

Rice, as talented as he is, isn't worth that much money. The Ravens know this and they won't give Rice "AP money." King writes as much, saying that he "doesn't see them going anywhere near that for Rice," although he believes that Baltimore will find a way to get Rice his cash.

A closer approximation to what Rice could get? The deal the Carolina Panthers handed DeAngelo Williams after the 2011 lockout. Williams got a five-year, $43 million deal with $21 million guaranteed.

Rice is more valuable than Williams (the stats bear that out, particularly in 2011), but Williams deal was -- and remains -- a straight-up overpay. The Panthers threw the market for "franchise running backs" out of whack, and now guys like Rice and Matt Forte, who run a lot of risk by only playing for a one-year guaranteed deal in 2011, will suffer because of it.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 7:32 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 10:10 pm
 

Mario Williams isn't worried about big money now

WilliamsBy Josh Katzowitz

With Houston’s Mario Williams set to hit the free agent market, there’s a real question whether it's worth it for the Texans to re-sign the former No. 1 overall pick to what will be an enormous long-term contract.

As the Houston Chronicle points out, the Texans would have to go to some length in order to free enough salary cap room to make Williams a strong-enough long-term offer. And if the Texans allow him to get to free agency, John McClain writes, “there are teams with so much cap room and such a desperate need for pass rushers that he could end up with the largest contract of any defensive player in league history.”

Williams, though, isn’t necessarily interested in hitting that kind of milestone. Or so he says right now.

"I'm not worried about that,” Williams told the team’s website, via Rapid Reporter Brandon Williams. “Money is money at the end of the day, and it's really not that big of a deal for me. Whatever fits best for me and the team, whichever it may be, then so be it."

Free agency starts soon
Williams obviously doesn’t have to be as concerned about money because his rookie contract paid him $54 million over six years, and though his next deal likely will far exceed that money total, Williams apparently doesn’t feel he has to cash in as large this time around.

Besides, he really enjoys Houston.

“I love it here,” Williams said. “We’ve got everything we need here. The team is right where it needs to be. The pieces fit, but it’s part of business. Whatever happens, happens.”

The Texans could franchise tag Williams, though they most likely won’t because the salary cap hit would be way too large. For now, Williams -- who said the torn pectoral that knocked him out for most of the season is 100 percent healthy -- will wait. And he seems fine to do so.

“They have to do their thing,” Williams said. “I know they have a lot on their plate getting ready for the combine and draft. So I’m just waiting. That’s part of being in this position. I tell my agent to just let me know what’s going on. Whatever he hears he’ll tell me. Once I’m told something (concrete), then we’ll sit down and talk about it. I’m not really worried about it.”

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 4:19 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2012 6:35 am
 

Report: Jets, Eagles 'curious' about Randy Moss

The NFL denied Harrison's appeal of his one-game suspension(Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Monday morning, Randy Moss fired up the Internets by proclaiming "I wanna play football" on USTREAM. Yes, that's him coming back to football. And he's eligible to sign with a team whenever he wants. However, it's not likely you'll see anyone sign him before they find out what kind of wide receiver market emerges vis-a-vis franchise-tagging.

There are definitely teams interested in Moss, though. Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports reports that the Eagles and Jets are "curious" when it comes to Moss and that the 49ers and Patriots should be lumped into potential suitors for Moss as well.

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Moss spoke on Monday morning about dealing with some personal and/or family issues. If he was going through things that altered his concentration and motivation, it's possible there's another reason for his poor production in 2010.

After all, Moss was considered "done" after a 2006 season with the Raiders that saw him catch 42 balls for 553 yards and three touchdowns at the age of 30. A year later, he was destroying the NFL for a record-breaking Patriots team, catching 98 passes for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Sure, Moss is five years older now than he was then. But he's one of the all-time physical freaks in NFL history, and if he's motivated and healthy, he can be a difference-maker.

The Patriots make sense for Moss because they lack a deep threat. Sure, Bill Belichick isn't known for second go-rounds, but he's already done it with Deion Branch; why wouldn't Moss work too if he's willing to work hard, be quiet and take less money than Chad Ochocinco?

The Jets are a logical fit also because, well, they're the Jets. If a famous veteran is on the market, they'll chase him. Also, he would fit the personality of the Jets, in theory. However, Mark Sanchez under center could be a concern for Moss, particularly if his top goals are producing big stats and winning a championship.

That applies to the 49ers, who are also a run-based team. But there's no other top wideout in San Francisco and the Niners have an easier path to the playoffs out of the NFC West.

And, of course, there's the Eagles. After last year's "Dream Team" debacle, it's easy to cringe at the idea of adding Moss. But if DeSean Jackson is dealt out of town to plug a hole on defense and a motivated Moss can come in and catch bombs from Michael Vick, that's a pretty spicy proposition.

No one knows what Moss will look like, of course. But it's Randy Moss we're talking about, which is why it's hard not to be curious.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 10:11 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:33 am
 

Randy Moss: 'I wanna play football'

Moss did a USTREAM chat Monday and said he wants back in the NFL. (USTREAM.com)
By Will Brinson

There's really nothing more surprising in life than finding yourself watching Randy Moss do a live USTREAM chat at 10:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. Except for this: Randy Moss announcing that he wants to return to the NFL while chatting live with fans on USTREAM.

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"I wanna play football," Moss said Monday morning. "Your boy is going to come back here and play some football, so I'm really excited. I had some things I had to adjust in my life."

It just so happens that Monday is Moss' birthday, so he gave back to fans by hopping on the Internet and holding a live chat. He seemed genuinely surprised by the fact that 100-plus people were watching around 9:45 a.m. ET, but was straight-up shocked when the number swelled to over 500 by the end of the hour, thanks to various people like our own Mike Freeman sending out links on Twitter.

Moss' live chat was both bizarre and entertaining. At one point, he pulled out a bag filled with all the hair he recently cut off and said it smells like "sauerkraut."

But, again, the most important thing is that Moss said he's coming back to football in 2012. Or, at least, wants to come back to football. There are teams (the Vikings, Raiders and Titans most notably) that can be crossed off the list.

Perhaps the Patriots are too much of a stretch for Moss. But there will be someone interested in taking a flier on Moss, particularly if he's as motivated as he sounded on Monday morning. On his birthday. During a USTREAM chat.

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Posted on: February 13, 2012 9:29 am
Edited on: February 13, 2012 10:32 am
 

Report: Eagles plan to franchise DeSean Jackson

D-Jax looks like a likely target for the Philly franchise tag. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Eagles wideout DeSean Jackson wants a new contract. This is not new news. But the latest reason for this discussion won't likely end with Jackson being any happier, as the Eagles are reportedly planning to place the franchise tag on Jackson before he gets to free agency.

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That's according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who says to "count on" the Eagles franchising Jackson because the team will not let Jackson "walk without getting something in return."

Philly has from February 20 to March 5 to apply the franchise tag. After that, Jackson would become a free agent. Jackson's already said he's fine with playing under the franchise tag in 2012, probably because he'd be willing to make around $9.5 million guaranteed. (More than three times the value of the entire rookie deal he just finished playing out.)

A pile of disastrous events -- an insurance policy, missed team meetings, a fourth-quarter benching, getting called out by teammates, you name it -- are sandwiched between Jackson's holdout before 2011 and his impending free agency in 2012. That being said, the Eagles need Jackson. The explosive wide receiver had just 58 catches for 961 yards in 2011, but his value to the Eagles offense as a deep threat can't be understated.

Additionally, the Eagles may seek a trade with Jackson once they use the franchise tag on the wideout, according to McLane. There are plenty of other wideout-needy teams in the NFL who might be interested in giving Jackson a long-term deal, and the Eagles would love to get something back for him.

Could a long-term deal with Jackson still happen? Of course it could. But Jackson and agent Drew Rosenhaus want Jackson to be paid like a top-five wideout.

"I think right in that range," Jackson said last year. "Maybe top-5 in the NFL. ...My playmaking skills and abilities, my punt returns, and the ability to get the ball and score on any play. I mean, Fitzgerald, he's a special receiver -- don't get me wrong -- but he doesn't play special teams so that adds an extra edge to it."

Jackson's not "wrong," per se, when discussing how his skills make him a valuable commodity. The problem is his attitude, which is so poor -- at times -- that it's reduced his effectiveness on the field and made him a distraction off of it. That's not exactly the type of behavior that sends teams scrambling to throw big-time, long-term money at a player.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com