Eagles free agent wide receiver Donte Stallworth was in Foxborough to meet with the New England Patriots on Tuesday in an effort to sign the sixth-year player to a deal. New England, which had expressed an interest in acquiring Stallworth was believed to be close to signing him.
All that ended when the Stallworth hopped on a plane to visit with the Tennessee Titans. Despite receiving a contract offer from the Patriots, Stallworth opted to make a couple more visits before making a decision.
Drew Rosenhaus, Stallworth's agent was cited in an Internet report that an agreement was reached. The report turned out to be incorrect as Rosenhaus himself, apparently confirmed that no such agreement had been made. Instead, Rosenhaus has Stallworth in Tennessee and in discussions to make the coveted free agent a Titan.
It is believe the Titans will make a better offer than New England considering their desire to surround Vince Young with some talent. Tennessee outbid all suitors for free agent David Givens last year, choosing to shower Givens with a five-year, $24 million contract, including an $8 million signing bonus. Other offers were reportedly over $5 million less than the deal Givens agreed to.
After visiting with the Titans, Rosenhaus has Stallworth scheduled to fly to Miami to talk to the Dolphins.
New England, apparently undeterred that they were unable to sign Stallworth has decided to pursue other options while Rosenhaus flies his client around the country trying to up his price.
Rosenhaus is aware that the Patriots tried to acquire Stallworth last year when the then New Orleans Saints receiver was on the trading block. Scout.com's Adam Caplan told PatriotsInsider.com that Stallworth would have been a Patriot last year if they had a linebacker to trade. They didn't. Instead, the Philadelphia Eagles stepped in to acquire the receiver. Philadelphia sent reserve linebacker Mark Simoneau and a conditional fourth round draft pick to New Orleans for the dynamic pass catcher.
Stallworth participated in 12 games for the Eagles last year. He caught 38 passes for 725 yards (19.1 avg.) and five touchdowns. Stallworth missed time due to a nagging hamstring injury, which affected his performance.
The Patriots aren't alone in their pursuit of Stallworth. The Eagles have also reportedly offered Stallworth a contract.
It's believed that New England offered Stallworth an incentive laden deal as a way to protect the club in case the speedster is unable to perform. Aware that Philadelphia is interested in retaining Stallworth, the deal would likely have incentives built in which would allow an opportunity for Stallworth to cash in if he has the kind of year he is capable of having.
A New Target?
The Patriots have decided not to wait on Rosenhaus and his client. A league source told scout.com that free agent WR Kelley Washington, who has talked contract with the Miami Dolphins, has also drawn interest from the Atlanta Falcons and the Patriots.
The 6-foot-3, 218-pound receiver spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Tennessee product did not see much playing time behind veteran targets Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, but was considered a deep threat with speed in college.
While Washington has not had the production Stallworth has shown, it's possible with the right opportunity; he could be the type of target the Patriots need. After losing David Givens to the Titans, the tallest receiver on the New England roster was Jabar Gaffney and Chad Jackson who are both listed as 6-foot-1.
Should Stallworth decide to sign with the Titans or the Dolphins, New England has options.
There's always the Randy Moss rumor to consider.
Stallworth is expected to make a decision by the end of the week. The Patriots may not be one of his options if he waits too long.