Free Agency Rumor Mill Cranks Up

Seattle's offensive guard Steve Hutchinson is going to garner significant interest, as the team expects.

Free Agency News & Notes Around the League:
* The New York Jets and quarterback Chad Pennington] are a couple million dollars apart on a restructed deal, with the opportunity for the QB to make up most of his 2005 salary. The team continues to talk with the Washington Redskins regarding quarterback [b]Patrick Ramsey[/b]. League sources tell me they have started to talk contract extension, but we are not too sure with the state of the CBA.

* The Carolina Panthers and representatives for potential free agent linebacker [b]Will Witherspoon[/b] have been engaged in contract talks recently. Discussions have gotten to the point where there is a modest chance the linebacker could have a deal in place prior to the start of the free agent player signing period.

* The Detroit Lions are staying relatively quiet, but have spent a significant amount of time studying potential free agent quarterback Drew Brees (San Diego). This only lends further credence that the organization is not comfortable with Joey Harrington manning the controls. Additionally, the Lions were one of three teams that has shown a tremendous amount of interest in quarterback Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt.

* The Kansas City Chiefs will be in contact with representatives for cornerback Sam Madison (Miami) and defensive end Darren Howard on Friday.

* The Cleveland Browns would like to work out a contract extension for running back Reuben Droughns, but talks have been slow with minimal progress. If negotiations prove to be difficult, the team is expected to turn to Jamal Lewis (Baltimore) as insurance and depth heading towards the 2006 season. Contract talks between the team and offensive left tackle L.J. Shelton are progressing well, with a 50-50 chance a deal will be in place by Friday's free agent player signing period.

* Seattle's offensive guard Hutchinson is going to garner some significant interest, as the team expects. The Seahawks' front office anticipates Hutchinson will receive an offer geared to force the team's hand, and the Seahawks are poised to match any offer. The team would like to retain potential free agent running back Shaun Alexander, but are insistent they are not going to extend an offer averaging eight-million dollars a season for the life of the deal.

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