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NFL News & Rumors

Written by Matt Boikess
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With a new Collective Bargaining Agreement likely, and Lord willing for us football deprived nutjobs, the NFL Rumor Mill is starting back up again.  Once the remaining hurdles are solved and a new CBA official there will be approximately 450 free agents looking to get paid.  The status of all of those players hasnt been determined to it's full extent but it looks as though players who have accrued 5 plus years of service time will become free agents. 

As for remaining issues, there are a few.  For starters, use of the franchise tage is a hang up.  The players want a one time use of the franchise tag per player and the owners want the current system which allows them three uses for a player. 

Retiree benefits has been a hang-up all along and underplayed by the mainstream media.  Some of those players are suffering monetarily and understandably desire to share in the wealth they helped create.  This seems to be virtually solved monetarily with just benefits to be worked out from what i have found. 

The owners have dropped their demand for an 18 game season finally but it looks as though both sides are trying to get a Thursday Night game every week to create a new revenue stream from another network.  There have been various suitors reported as interested. 

The owners reportedly want testing for Human Growth Hormone but it is unknown whether the players have agreed to such a request, though it would make sense for them to do so.   

Lastly is the fact that there are twelve NFL players who have filed an anti-trust lawsuit against the league on the day prior to being locked out.  Big names such as Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees, along with nine other players are involved.  The lawsuit, filed by the players, argues that the lockout is illegal and takes advantage of the NFL's anti-trust exemption as well as the use of the franchise tags.  The players could withdraw the lawsuit if the two sides agree to a labor deal but this is the biggest issue that could prevent an agreement.  Combined there are four total lawsuits pending hearing right now, all filed by the players against the owners.  All four could be withdrawn should an agreement be reached. They can be ruled on individually or together.   

Everyone who knows me, knows I hate the business aspect of sports and now you can once again understand why.  To those of us that love the game of football, we know it is a game.  To others it is big business.  The day I start thinking of football as a business instead of a sport is the day I stop watching sports all together. 

Now, on to the fun stuff.  There are some premier free agent names available for the first time in a long time and you have some teams 60 Million under the proposed salary cap and many teams in the 15 to 20 Million dollar range.  You can figure out that guys like Santonio Holmes, Sidney Rice, Ahmad Bradshaw, Zach Miller, Marcedes Lewis, Nmandi Asomugha, Jonathan Joseph, DeAngelo Williams and Vincent Jackson will be among those that get serious increases in salaries.  Unless the NFL adjusts its scheduling there will likely only be a 2 week window before the preseason is due to start.  This will lead to teams going after their biggest targets with their best offers instead of having a drawn out negotiating process as in past years.  Increases in veteran the salary structures of tenured veterans will play a role as many teams will now opt to pay more for a better player instead of opting to wait for a cheaper veteran who doesnt have as many offers.  It should be noted that teams are expected to have a 72 hour window to resign their own free agents. 

Last night on 7SportsXtra, a weekly radio show in which Drew Rosenhaus talks mostly about his clients, he let it slip, intentionally or not, that Ahmad Bradshaw would like to play for Miami.  Whether this is a negotiating ploy to get more money from the Giants or whether Bradshaw actually wants to be in Miami is to be determined at the outset of free agency when the offers start rolling in.  There are two things to note here though; Miami is interested in a change of pace back to pair with second rounder Daniel Thomas as rookie backs typically take some time to adjust to the NFL game speed as you saw with Ryan Mathews last year and Chris Johnson a few years ago.  Secondly, Bradshaw is currently in Miami training.  Today Bradshaw reiterated his desire to be a Giant.  Expect him to land either in New York or Miami but I do not expect him to sign within the three day window that the Giants have as there should be no leass then a handful of teams looking to acquire his services.   

The Osi Umenyiora accusations and lawsuit against the New York Giants could get ugly and lead to a trade.  Umenyiora alleges that General Manager Jerry Reeese promised to renegotiate his deal after the 2009 season which is why we heard so much about his trade demands last year.  Umenyiora wants to be paid as an elite defensive end though I am not sure he is.  He is a great pass rusher and a master of the "strip sack" but his run defense is marginal except when he really feels up to it.  Look for a trade to occur if the two sides cannot find common ground.

The lawsuit involving Manning, Brady and Brees is one of the final hurdles in getting a new CBA completed

It seems like Arizona is the destination set in stone for Kevin Kolb.  There have been various reports on the Eagles compensation requests ranging from a first and third round pick in next years draft to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a future pick.  The Cardinals are in desperate in need of a quarterback as we all saw last season.  They had, without a doubt, the worst quarterback play of any team.  Carolina and Cleveland fans might argue otherwise but its not even close.  At least those teams have guys who could pass as backups in the NFL; the Cards, not so much.

Conflicting reports on the Vikings/Ray Edwards situation.  At first it appeared Edwards days in Minnesota were numbered but today there was an article reporting otherwise.  Various teams ranging from the Falcons and Bucs have been reported as interested by multiple outlets.  Edwards is reportedly willing to switch to a 3-4 strongside linebacker role as well which lends credence to a report that the Dolphins will be interested in the pass rushing defensive end. Edwards is coming off a season in which he recorded 8 sacks a year after he recorded 8.5 sacks.  Edwards seems like a very nice complimentary end to a John Abraham if youre talking about trying to win a title. 

Sidney Rice still appears to be a priority for the team but unless the Vikings can get something done within whatever exclusivity window is agreed upon in the new CBA, Rice's pricetag may soar beyond what the Vikings are willing to pay for him though the team could still end up with an adequate replacement since Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Vincent Jackson, Malcolm Floyd, Plaxico Burress and Randy Moss are all free agents.   

Donovan McNabb appears done in Washington. Thats no secret, the question is where will he land?  He has always been in a West Coast Offense so one would have to believe Minnesota and San Francisco could be in play.  But one situation that ties in directly with McNabb could be that of Carson Palmer.  With the Bengals preparing to start Andy Dalton McNabb might be able to come in and start while giving the rookie time. 

Speaking of Palmer, I am more convinced then ever that he is truly done with pro football if the Bengals will refuse to deal him.  He has made over 75 million since his rookie contract and Mike Brown is the most stubborn (and worst) owner in pro sports.  Brown refuses to acknowledge and coply with Palmer's request to be traded or released and ignores that the team could recoup the second rounder they spent on Dalton in this draft.  Palmer has officially sold his home in Cincinnati within the last month. 

One of the biggest defensive names available will be Eric Weddle.  Weddle is a high character player who has talent and plays his tail off with excellent results.  His agent mentioned to Fox Sports this weekend that over 10 teams have called regarding his client.  With many players this would just be the normal attempt to get more money but with Weddle its believeable.  I could think of at least 25 teams who could use a player of this caliber. 

The quarterback market is thin and three names expected to get some play in the rumor mill are Matt Hasselbeck, Tavaris Jackson and Marc Bulger.  Hasselbeck could easily end up back in Seattle but the Seahawks are at least giving the appearance that they are moving on to Charlie Whitehurst.  Jackson's name has been linked to the Seahawks as well.  Hasselbeck has some good football left and still throws a very accurate ball.  Bulger today flatly denied a reported that he would play in Arizona.  The belief here is that Bulger ends up as a backup somewhere, probably back with the Ravens.  With respect to Hasselbeck, his brother Tim last night suggested that he could end up as a backup for the Titans who will look to buy time for Jake Locker. 

DeAngelo Williams will have no shortage of suitors.  While the two biggest suitors are expected to be Williams current team, the Carolina Panthers, former coach John Fox, now with the Denver Broncos has already relegated Knowshon Moreno to a 3rd down role just two years after being a first round selection.  The Panthers are expected to be busy thsi offseason resigning Williams and defensive end Charles Johnson, two of the best at their positions and two of the more highly sought after free agents. 

The Jets are always noisemakers in the offseason and will have to contend with resigning both Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes.  Its been reported that Holmes is all but locked up but Plaxico Burress and the Jets have expressed mutual interest in each other meaning Edwards spot could be in jeopardy.  Where Holmes could command between 8 and 10 million per year in free agency, Edwards age will give him a more limited market.  With Brad Smith also a free agent and the team right now over the expected salary cap at 130 million in payroll, neither Smith nor Edwards seems likely to be back.  The Jets have been the only team linked to Randy Moss this offseason.   



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