Free Agent Rules To Impact Packers

Whenever a new CBA is ratified, it is expected that unrestricted free agency will be rolled back to four years under a new collective bargaining agreement. One Packer could be a hot commodity, according to Len Pasquarelli.

Rumors aside, not a whole lot of substantive information about the details of a potential framework for a new CBA has leaked from the three week's worth of not-so-secret meetings between representatives from the NFL and its decertified players association. But there are rumblings that the guidelines for unrestricted free agency could be pushed back to the previous ones, which would mean a player would need four years - not the six accrued seasons stipulated in 2010 under the "uncapped year" rules - to become an unrestricted free agent.

Such a move would affect approximately 130 players and would dramatically alter the plans of many clubs toward free agency. Suddenly the unrestricted pool would include four-year veterans like tailback Ahmad Bradshaw; wide receivers Sidney Rice and Steve Smith (Giants); tight end Zach Miller; offensive tackle Doug Free; guard Justin Blalock; center Ryan Kalil; defensive end Charles Johnson; defensive tackle Brandon Mebane; linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Stephen Nicholas; safeties Melvin Bullitt and Eric Weddle; and cornerback Josh Wilson.

Said one AFC personnel director, who believes the unrestricted limit will go back to four years, and who has evaluated all four-year veterans as if they will be unrestricted free agents (as have most franchises): "You're talking about a big jump in the caliber of the free agent class, believe me, if those (four-year) guys are in. A big jump."

A few other four-year veterans who are garnering interest as potential unrestricted free agents: Green Bay wide receiver James Jones, Atlanta guard Harvey Dahl, Carolina quarterback Matt Moore, Panthers defensive tackle Derek Landri, and Chicago cornerback Corey Graham.

The Packers, like most teams, would feel the impact if unrestricted free agency is rolled back to 2009 levels. Along with Jones, starting left guard Daryn Colledge, running backs Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn, and kicker Mason Crosby would be unrestricted under four-year rules.

Extra points

-- There isn't yet quite as much fire as there is smoke in the reports that the Eagles are eyeing pending free agent cornerback Ike Taylor and running back Reggie Bush, if he is released by New Orleans, once the lockout ends. But there are some embers to the reports, and Philadelphia is definitely a team worth watching with the two veterans. Maybe even more so than free agent wide receiver Plaxico Burress, who also has been linked to the Eagles.

-- Safety is one of the positions that annually has the greatest volume of movement in free agency, and even with the likelihood of a shortened signing period, that figures to be the case again this year. At least a half-dozen franchises will be attempting to add starting-caliber safeties when free agency begins. And because safeties generally play on special teams, the movement of veterans will be strong again.

-- Maybe his teammates will be surprised, but there are a lot of veteran Seattle players who feel strongly that pending unrestricted free agent and 12-year veteran Matt Hasselbeck will re-sign with the team. And that includes the man who is the heir apparent to the starting job if Hasselbeck departs, Charlie Whitehurst.

-- Good luck to former Florida star, NFL backup quarterback and 1996 Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel, who is about a week into his treatment for Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disorder that attacks the peripheral nerves. We contracted GBS in 2008 and it took nearly two years to get over it. It's a little-known disease - former Bears star William Perry also suffered from it in recent years - but Wuerffel seems to have the patience and the faith needed to battle it.

-- For all his brilliance, teams seemed to be scared off by what they assume will be the financial expectations of pending free agent cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. A few teams that figure to be in the hunt for the former Oakland star are guessing he will have only two or three serious suitors.

-- Another guy who isn't getting much buzz right now is Tennessee quarterback Vince Young. The former No. 3 pick overall hasn't been released yet, but new Titans coach Mike Munchak confirmed he won't be back, yet there just don't seem to be many potential landing spots. Teams are troubled by Young's perceived lack of maturity, and a few are investigating rumors he may have mishandled his money.

-- Arizona coaches want to revamp their linebacker corps and the remaking could begin with the release of veteran Joey Porter once the lockout ends. One guy the Cardinals want to get on the field more is second-year veteran O'Brien Schofield. A fourth-round pick in 2010 out of Wisconsin, Schofield was set back by injuries as a rookie, but flashed some pass-rush ability, and had two sacks in 10 appearances.

-- Sources contended that Cincinnati owner Mike Brown is among those balking at some of the terms suggested for the new CBA being negotiated. Brown, it should be recalled, was one of only two owners (Ralph Wilson of Buffalo was the other) who voted against the latest CBA extension in 2006. Turns out his read on a CBA that his brethren decided two years later was a bad deal, was right on the nose.

-- Speaking of the Bengals, it's certainly a good sign that tailback Cedric Benson joined the workouts with teammates this week. It's doubtful Benson would have returned to Cincinnati had Bob Bratkowski been retained as offensive coordinator, but there's a decent chance the pending free agent will re-sign. The Bengals have very little depth at the position and, if quarterback Carson Palmer retires, as he has threatened, the Bengals will need a strong running game to help insulate Andy Dalton, the likely rookie starter.

-- The Cleveland Browns are hardly a very deep team, but one area of volume, where the club could look to deal a veteran before the season starts, is tight end. The Browns have Ben Watson, who established a new career-best with 68 catches in 2010; promising third-year veteran Evan Moore, a Packers cast-off who has solid hands and averaged 20.1 yards on 16 catches; and serviceable vet Alex Smith. Plus the Browns chose Jordan Cameron in the fourth round of the draft. First-year head coach Pat Shurmur, who will serve as his own offensive coordinator, is a smart guy. But he can't use them all and the Browns, even if they get very little in a trade for one of the vets, can't use 'em all.

-- As reported here several times in past months, even as some were suggesting his career had been ended by the severe head injuries he suffered last year, Baltimore linebacker Sergio Kindle has been cleared by neurologists to play in 2011. Obviously, the 2010 second-rounder hasn't been involved in contact yet since suffering the injuries after falling down a flight of stairs, but the Ravens' brass is planning as if he'll play this year after missing all of his rookie campaign.

-- Father's Day: According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there have been 189 father-son pairs who have played in the league.

The last word: "He can do almost anything he wants. (But) he doesn't want to do anything. To me, that's the issue. He's one of those guys (where) you walk into a meeting and tell him, 'Put down the phone.' The next day, you have to tell him to put down the phone. The next day, you tell him (again) to put down the phone. You tell him, 'Don't read the newspaper in meetings.' The next day, you have to tell him the same thing. It doesn't stick. It's an everyday thing." - Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, per ESPN radio in St. Louis, on Albert Haynesworth.


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