Free agent frenzy begins

Let the frenzy begin, as 444 players officially became restricted free agents at 12:01 a.m. Friday morning. Of those, 336 are unrestricted and able to sign with any team for no compensation.

It came as no surprise when the Redskins were the first to dive into the market, re-signing cornerback Dante Hall. What was a surprise was the whopping figure, reported by multiple sources to be for six years and $54 million, including $22.5 million guaranteed.

Leave it to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to turn a deaf ear to the economy.

That has to be music to the ears of other top-level free agents, including Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Ravens linebacker Bart Scott.

The start of free agency also signaled the opening of the trade window.

The Vikings are already rumored to be close to acquiring quarterback Sage Rosenfels, but that move will be overshadowed by the watch on Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson and Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel.

The Chargers spent much of Thursday negotiating with Tomlinson's agent, Tom Condon. L.T.'s contract runs through 2011, but he'll be traded or released if the team can't restructure his contract. He's scheduled to earn $6,725,000 next season, with a salary cap number of $8.8 million.

Meanwhile, Cassel has been given the Patriots' franchise tag. But with all reports indicating Tom Brady is on track in his recovery from knee surgery, New England is expected to field plenty of interest from teams trying to acquire Cassel via trade.

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