The FA buzz: WR Bryant available for 49ers?

INDIANAPOLIS - Before the NFL Combine drills begin, the information is flowing and Scout.com is in the thick of the news. Free agency continues to be a hot topic, and here we go around the AFC for the latest conversation and a look at particular players who could become serious candidates to join the 49ers should they become available on the open market next week.

Baltimore Ravens: While his status with the team remains up in the air, running back Jamal Lewis has put his home up for sale. That's not a true indicator of what will happen with a player but more often than not, a player will make that kind of move when he doesn't expect to stay with his current team.

Cincinnati Bengals: A league source told Scout.com recently that the team is expected to select a defensive lineman, probably a tackle in this year's draft. The team badly wants to improve its run defense and the Bengals are also looking to beef up their rotation on the defensive line. They're also expected to select one or two safeties and at least one on the first day of the draft.

Cleveland Browns: Many fans of the team were wondering why general manager Phil Savage made it known that they will let wide receiver Antonio Bryant make it to free agency.

Scout.com had a chance to talk to a personnel evaluator recently about the mercurial Bryant recently who said while Bryant is still very talented, but he has many "chinks in the armor."

Bryant still drops too many passes (seven last season), isn't a precise route runner (still freelances from time to time which was a problem with Dallas), and clearly has concentration lapses. Bryant, despite his solid numbers from last season, isn't seen as a No.1 type of receiver, though the 49ers might be interested in his stretch-the-field capabilities to complement the other receivers on their roster.

Denver Broncos: Tight end Jeb Putzier's agent still hasn't gotten an indication whether or not the team will exercise the roster bonus by the deadline of March 3. Joe Linta told Scout.com this week that Putzier's bonus is $1.5 million. If Putzier hits the open market, the 49ers may become a serious contender for his services, pending their decision on the roster status of Eric Johnson.

Houston Texans: Because the team is changing its defensive scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3, many who follow the Texans closely are wondering what they will do with their linebackers since one will have to come off of the field. The team has committed a lot of cap dollars to linebackers Morlon Greenwood and Kailee Wong. Both figure to be starters next season (one inside and one on the weak side). The big issue is where to play Antwan Peek and last year's surprise Shantee Orr. It's possible Peek gets moved to end to make sure he gets on the field.

Indianapolis Colts: With running back Edgerrin James not expected to re-sign with the team, don't look for his backup, Dominic Rhodes, to be his replacement. Rhodes has done a nice job in limited playing time but the feeling is he's too small to be an every-down back. He's seen more as a change of pace. Look for the team to address a potential starting job in free agency or in the draft.

Kansas City Chiefs: The feeling from those who know him well feel that veteran guard Will Shields will return to play for his 14th season with the team as his ailing back seems to be under control. The key for Shields is getting through training camp. If he feels new head coach Herman Edwards will take it easy on him in camp, look for Shields to play. Former head coach Dick Vermeil gave Shields lots of rest, which helped him to go full speed during the regular season.

Miami Dolphins: The team is expected to acquire a younger quarterback in the draft or in free agency. The NFL signal-callers that they are said to have interest in are Patrick Ramsey, Josh McCown, and Drew Brees (should he not re-sign). Brees would cost them the most and the team isn't in great cap shape so he could be out of their price range.

New England Patriots: Wide receiver David Givens would like to re-sign with the team but that won't happen unless he's willing to accept less than he might be able to make in free agency. The feeling in league circles is the team sees him as a complementary receiver and if Givens wants to be paid like a No. 1, he'll be playing elsewhere next season.

A player that the team is trying to get a good look at is running back Earl Charles who is playing over in NFL Europe (Hamburg). Charles has good size and ability and if he has a productive showing, he should find his way to training camp this summer. The team is looking for a developmental prospect that could vie for a backup job over the next few seasons.


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