NFL free agent whispers: Volume 1

Packer Report's Bill Huber puts a Packers slant on some hard-hitting free agent storylines.

Here are a couple of developing storylines that should have some interest among Packers fans.

Gonzalez backs away from trade "demand"

The Chiefs' Tony Gonzalez, arguably the finest tight end in NFL history, wants out of Kansas City. Or maybe not.

On Tuesday, Yahoo Sports' Jason Cole said Gonzalez wanted to be traded so he can compete for a championship. On Wednesday, however, Gonzalez told FoxSports.com's Alex Marvez that he prefers to remain a Chief.

How to differentiate between those varying stances?

"I want to see who they name as head coach," Gonzalez told Yahoo. "Yeah, I hear they're talking to (Cardinals offensive coordinator) Todd Haley, but then there's this coach from Iowa State (Kirk Ferentz), some (expletive) like that and I don't want to deal with that. It seems like we're rebuilding anyway, and I don't want to do that. I don't know that I want to do that any more than I already have been."

You may recall that Packers general manager Ted Thompson had all but acquired Gonzalez for a third-round draft pick at midseason. But, literally just minutes before the deadline, ex-Chiefs GM Carl Peterson pulled the rug out from under the deal by upping the ante to a second-round pick.

Obviously, Gonzalez would be a huge upgrade at a position that's critical in Mike McCarthy's version of the West Coast Offense. The Packers ranked fifth in the NFL in scoring last season. Just imagine what a perennial Pro Bowler like Gonzalez — who caught 96 passes for 1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns for the 2-14 Chiefs — would do for Aaron Rodgers.

"It's always been important to me to approach this game with class and do the right thing," Gonzalez, who turns 33 this month and is under contract through 2011, told Marvez. "I have been so fortunate to be with the Chiefs. They've always taken good care of me. I have no complaints and I love the city, but who knows what's going to happen."

The Chiefs finished 2-14 in 2008 — their second consecutive season with double-digit losses — and failed to reach the playoffs for the ninth time in Gonzalez's 12 NFL seasons. Adding Gonzalez to the mix in Green Bay would give promising Jermichael Finley a true star to watch and learn from.

Canty allowed to shop himself

At this point of the offseason, the Packers don't have one sure-thing at defensive end. Will Cullen Jenkins be over his season-ending chest injury? Will Johnny Jolly stay out of jail? Will Justin Harrell be healthy?

So, it's interesting to note that the Dallas Cowboys are going to let standout defensive end Chris Canty shop himself this offseason.

Canty, a 6-foot-7, 304-pound defensive end who started on the right side in Dallas' 3-4 scheme, is regarded as a solid run defender. He just completed his fourth NFL season, so the 26-year-old former fourth-round draft pick has plenty of room to improve as a pass rusher (10 career sacks).

According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cowboys are going to let Canty explore his options, then try to match any offers. A strong offer, however, could blow the Cowboys out of the water, since they're not flush with cap space.

"I wouldn't expect to see Chris Canty wearing a Cowboys uniform again," the Dallas Morning News' Jean-Jacques Taylor wrote recently. "The club offered him a multiyear deal for about $23 million before the season started, and Canty never even considered it. The club hasn't spoken to him yet about a new deal, which I take as an indication they aren't planning to bring him back."

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.


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