Free agency preview: DE

Packers make re-signing Kampman a priority

Defensive end Aaron Kampman is the Green Bay Packers' biggest priority as free agency draws closer. Kampman is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on March 3 and both the Packers and his agent have been in contact regarding a new contract.

Kampman is coming off a sterling year (career-high 105 tackles, 6 1/2 sacks) in which he was on the field more than 90 percent of the time.

Kampman could be in line for a first-year salary and bonus of around $8 million. The Packers are not expected to designate Kampman as a franchise or transition player because this year's salaries are higher than in previous seasons ($8.332 million and $7.075 million).

With Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila locked into a long-term contract, don't expect the Packers to sign a high-priced defensive end in free agency. The Packers are more likely to select a defensive end early in the upcoming NFL Draft, like North Carolina State's Mario Williams. breaks down some of the scheduled free agents at defensive end:

• Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl DE Kyle Vanden Bosch has signed a four-year contract that will keep the top defensive end scheduled for free agency this year in Nashville rather than test the open market. Reportedly, the contract calls for Vanden Bosch to receive about $15 million in guaranteed money. He had 12 1/2 sacks in 2005.

• New York Jets DE John Abraham has an uncertain future. Will the Jets again slap him with the franchise tag, something he has stated emphatically he does not want, or will they break down and give him that coveted long-term contract? He was unhappy going into 2005, and skipped all of training camp, yet finished with 10 1/2 sacks. He would be a hot commodity if he hits the open market.

• New Orleans Saints DE Darren Howard dropped off dramatically, with Howard getting just 3 1/2 sacks before he was deactivated for the final four games. He's likely headed for a new destination in 2006.

• Cleveland Browns DE Orpheus Roye played most of the season on a bad knee and for last half of the season teams ran away from him, yet he still led the team defensive linemen in tackles. He's someone the Browns would like to re-sign, but at their price and length of contract.

• Indianapolis Colts DE Robert Mathis paced the team with 11 1/2 sacks in his role as a situational pass rusher. He was also bothered by a foot injury late in the year. As a restricted free agent the Colts will try to get a long-term deal done.

• Jacksonville Jaguars DE Reggie Hayward, their prime free agent, had 8 1/2 sacks.

• Buffulo Bills DE Ryan Denney had four sacks and is an unrestricted free agent who will draw attention as a young pass rusher with experience.

• Detroit Lions DE Kalimba Edwards, who will be a free agent in March, had seven sacks in his best season since posting 6 1/2 as a rookie in 2000.

• St. Louis Rams DE Tyoka Jackson has some years on him and is a free agent.

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