Getting Randle El Won't Be Easy For Birds...

Free agency starts tomorrow and one of the first calls the Eagles might make could be to Antwaan Randle El. The Steelers wide receiver and punt return specialist will be one of the more attractive players in the free agent market.

Before anybody can officially go after Antwaan Randle El, he has to officially become a free agent. Odds of that happening are pretty good, since the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers have a bunch of free agents and Randle El may be a victim of a numbers game, since even with Jerome Bettis retiring, the Steelers are a little less than one-million dollars under the cap. In fact, Randle El admitted that the two sides aren't likely to get a deal done before tomorrow.

"We haven't done too much. Certainly, it's been pretty quiet. That's because of the CBA, and it hadn't got done yet," Randle El told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "[The Steelers] were sure it [the free agency period] was going to get pushed back, and it would have given them more time. But with it not being done now, things will pick up the next couple of days."

If the Steelers do find the money to go after Randle El, they'll find a hometown discount attached. "If [the Steelers] are a million dollars off, that's not enough to make me leave," Randle El told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "If I'm the number two receiver and the punt returner, and, certainly, I have the opportunity to play, then a million-dollar difference won't make me leave here. Why would I want to move my family if I didn't have to?"

SteelerBlitz.com puts the odds of Randle El returning at 50/50.

While they haven't been able to comment on their interest in Randle El, the Eagles have to consider him a big addition to a team that will be cutting loose Terrell Owens and could certainly use an upgrade in punt returners. Plus, when Owens is gone, the Eagles will have almost $21 million in cap room to work with.

If - more likely, when - Randle El hits the open market, there will be stiff competition to get him.

The Chicago Bears could provide the toughest competition.

Representatives for the Bears organization have been coy regarding their plans this off-season, but when the name Antwaan Randle-El is mentioned, the team quickly moves from the subject, stating they are not permitted to discuss players under contract.

"Everybody in the game knows the Bears are going hard after Randle-El. He is an element missing from that team. He is a special player and one which can change the complexion and game-plan of an opposing defense," one NFC scout said.

The Bears are looking for a legitimate threat to team with Muhsin Muhammad, and their offense desperately needs an influx of explosive talent to team with their imposing defense.

"Getting a player of Randle-El's potential would be a solid move for the Bears, but the next question is going to whether they have the talent at quarterback and along the offense line to make a significant difference," the scout concluded.

Another team entering the fray could be division rival Washington. The Redskins are thought to be very interested in Randle El, but affording him may be next thing to impossible. The Redskins are $17 million over the cap and one league source speculated that they may need to cut all but about 37 of their players just to hit the cap number. That would leave the Redskins team gutted and they'd have to make even further cuts to afford Randle El.


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