NFL free agent whispers: Vol. 9

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

If the Green Bay Packers are interested in playmaking outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, it's going to cost a king's ransom to get him.

On the eve of the NFL scouting combine, the Baltimore Ravens named Suggs their franchise player, effectively taking him off the market. To pry Suggs away from the Ravens not only would require a blockbuster contract offer – he'll make $10.6 million as the franchise player -- but handing them a pair of first-round draft picks. Given Packers general manager Ted Thompson's fondness for draft picks and his reluctance to make a monster move in free agency, consider all Suggs-to-the-Packers talks null and void.

Nonetheless, keep an eye on Baltimore, where inside linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott are free agents, as is center Jason Brown. Neither are positions of dire need for the Packers, but their inside linebacker situation is in limbo because of Nick Barnett's knee injury and A.J. Hawk's substandard play last season. Brown, meanwhile, is considered arguably the NFL's best young center and would be an upgrade over Scott Wells.

To help keep that group in Baltimore, the Ravens released cornerback Chris McAlister earlier in the week. McAlister joins a lengthy list of cornerbacks released this offseason, including Dre Bly (Denver), Pacman Jones (Dallas) and Leigh Bodden (Detroit). McAlister, who missed 10 games with knee problems, has 26 interceptions in 10 seasons.

Peppers: Four teams on trade list

On Saturday, Julius Peppers said he will demand a trade if he is named the Carolina Panthers' franchise player. According to the Charlotte Observer, Peppers has only four teams on his trade list.

The deadline to name franchise players is Thursday, and Carolina must choose between Peppers and All-Pro left tackle Jordan Gross. Peppers wants out of Carolina, preferably to a team that plays a 3-4 defense so he can play outside linebacker. So, Carolina runs the risk of losing him for nothing if they allow him to hit the market.

According to the Observer, three of the four teams are from the NFC. The report went on to say the Panthers won't trade Peppers to two of those teams, though that does not necessarily mean those are NFC North teams. According to the reporter, Tom Sorensen, one of the teams on Peppers' list is Dallas, but the Cowboys don't have a first-round pick.

Could one of the NFC teams be Green Bay, which will run a 3-4 and brought his former coordinator, Mike Trgovac, on board as defensive line coach? Nobody is saying.

Speaking of franchise tags

One of the top defensive players in the league, Arizona linebacker Karlos Dansby, was named the Cardinals' franchise player on Wednesday. The Cards, who lead the league in salary-cap space, will try to sign Dansby to a long-term contract, which is just fine by the hard-hitting inside linebacker.

"I definitely do," Dansby told Sporting News Radio. "If they're willing to step up and get something done. If not, then it's time for me to move on."

Also, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers named wide receiver Antonio Bryant their franchise player on Wednesday, and San Diego did the same with running back Darren Sproles.

The Bucs' decision has no bearing on the Packers' offseason plans, since they aren't in the market for a receiver, but the Chargers' decision eliminates any pie-in-the-sky dreams of pairing Sproles with Ryan Grant and letting Sproles return kicks to add some juice to the special teams.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the Titans were unable to sign defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth after weeks of talks, so he's set to break the bank in free agency. The Titans did sign kicker Rob Bironas to a four-year deal to keep him off of the market.

Garcia headed to NFC North?

Two of the Packers' NFC North rivals are in dire need of a quarterback. Could it be 38-year-old Jeff Garcia?

With Bears GM Jerry Angelo saying he's not sold on Kyle Orton and with first-round flop Rex Grossman an unwanted free agent, the veteran Garcia could be a short-term answer. Another destination that makes sense is Minnesota, where the Vikings need a quarterback as they wait and see whether Tarvaris Jackson will amount to anything.

Another quarterback who fits in the mix is Cleveland's Derek Anderson, who had a breakout 2007 but struggled in 2008 and was replaced by 2007 first-round pick Brady Quinn and likely will be traded before the draft.

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

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