- The precarious quarterback situation and a new head coach in Detroit
does not bode well for quarterback Joey Harrington's continued employment.
Around the league, the perception of Harrington is that he is ‘lacking
football toughness', which is the opposite of the mentally tough new coach.
Additionally, the Detroit staff has spent a significant amount of time
scouting quarterbacks this off-season, with Vanderbilt standout Jay Cutler
rising near the top of the team's early wish-list.
- The Steelers enter the off-season wanting to retain up and comer, safety
Chris Hope. The team likes the tandem of Hope and Troy Polamalu in the
middle of the defensive backfield. Facing the potential departure of Antwaan
Randle El, Deshea Townsend and Brett Keisel, the Super Bowl Champions are
working behind the scenes to keep the core intact. Contract talks will heat
up with Townsend and Keisel. While the Steelers would like nothing more than
retain Randle El, the market demand is believed to be extremely strong for
the multi-faceted player.
- New York Jets cornerback Ty Law will be owed a double-digit bonus/salary
in 2006, and the team hasn't decided if they will retain his services. Law
played reasonably well during 2005 despite recovering from a foot injury,
and will be a hot commodity if released. Those close to Law have noted to
Scout.com that Law liked playing for the Jets, but that "something was
missing", meaning that it wasn't like being in New England.
- The Seattle Seahawks have been working overtime to get both running back
Shaun Alexander and offensive guard Steve Hutchinson under contract for 2006
and beyond. The likelihood of getting deals for both standout potential free
agents done prior to the free agent player signing period appears remote,
with the chances of securing Hutchinson the more probable. If the team does
not reach a deal with Hutchinson, they will place the franchise tag on him,
while letting Alexander walk. Alexander is expected to receive a significant
amount of interest from the Carolina Panthers and Arizona Cardinals.
- The New Orleans Saints have lobbed out feelers regarding the value of
the second-overall selection in the 2006 college player draft. The Saints
are expected to release quarterback Aaron Brooks (if released, Atlanta
appears to be an immediate destination) and are believed to be interested in
a quarterback on draft day. Meanwhile, talks with standout offensive lineman
LeCharles Bentley are going nowhere at this time -the team faces the
decision of letting the dominating center walk test the free agent market or
slapping the franchise tag on his services.
- In Oakland, the Art Shell era Part II is starting to heat-up. While Mike Lombardi remains the voice in owner Al Davis' ear (we continue to ask
"why?"), we hear Shell will have a great amount of input. Davis knows Shell
is really the last coach in Oakland that coached the team to play the
Raiders way: intimidation, power, and relentlessness. Also, Shell wants a
big-armed quarterback, but isn't keen on Kerry Collins, and wants receivers
to make plays (Randy Moss anybody?).
- Carolina Panthers linebacker Will Witherspoon is going to garner a
significant amount of interest, if he indeed hits the open market in early
March. The Panthers are attempting to get Witherspoon under contract prior
to the free agent signing period. If able to entertain free agency, expect
the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Houston Texans, Atlanta Falcons,
New York Giants, and the Panthers themselves to come calling quickly.
- While not a free agent, Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub
is an intriguing prospect. The Falcons have entertained numerous calls
regarding the availability of the two-year pro from Virginia, all of which
ended with the Falcons claiming Schaub is not available (at this time?). One
of the teams Scout.com has heard of having an interest in Schaub is the New
- If the Buffalo Bills don't come to a contract agreement with cornerback
Nate Clements prior to the free agent signing period, the organization will
place the franchise tag on the standout cornerback and kick returner. Also,
veteran wide receiver Eric Moulds will be asked to restructure his contract
and take a pay cut, or he could be released. Buffalo also has been in
discussions regarding the status of offensive lineman Mike Williams.
Williams, somewhat a disappointment in his time with the Bills, could wind
up being released.
- Contract talks with wide receiver Reggie Wayne and the Indianapolis Colts are progressing. Wayne, a potential free agent, has been deemed a
priority by the Indianapolis organization and the team would rather sign the
player to a long-term deal than use the franchise tag to secure his
services. If the Colts can complete a long-term deal with Wayne, the door
would be open for the team to secure free agent running back Edgerrin James'
services for at least one more season - by dropping the dreaded franchise
tag on the star.
- The San Francisco 49ers would like to retain the services of linebacker Derek Smith, but the team is not confident they can get a deal done with the steady defensive player prior to free agency. Smith could command a considerable amount of interest. The Niners other veteran free agent, Julian Peterson, is coming off an injury-marred season and didn't appear to fit in Mike Nolan's new defensive scheme. Peterson could be an interesting player, if healthy and given a change of scenery, both of which appear likely in 2006. The New York Giants, Detroit Lions, and Jacksonville Jaguars could be potential destinations for the former Michigan State product.