Free Agency Wire: Updated 3/2/06 - 6:29PM PST

Out of the Combine and into the fire! With the days until the new league year whittling down sooner than anyone would like, and hope of a CBA extension dimming, teams have to assess their numbers and priorities without a road map. Scout.com will keep you up to date on all the cuts and signings through the next few days with our Free Agency Wire, updated several times daily.

FA Wire - Updated 3/2/06 - 6:27 PM

The Green Bay Packers Thursday released linebacker Na'il Diggs and punter Ryan Dutton.

According to Scout.com, the deadline to get in cap compliance now is 6:00 pm EST on Sunday barring another push back by both sides. That's if there's new agreement and the $94.5 million cap is maintained. If there is an agreement, the goal seems to be $105 million at last word.

New England updates from our friends at PatriotsInsider.com:

Willie McGinest, LB

McGinest has stated he would like to finish his career in New England if the situation permits. He has openly discussed the possibility of working out a new deal, but has not talked in terms of specifics. One Scout.com source told Patriots Insider that Patriots Vice President of Player Personnel Scott Pioli and Head Coach Bill Belichick approached Willie McGinest once prior to the end of the season regarding his contract status. This source told us "The team at that time was apparently willing to restructure his deal, which was to include a modest pay-cut."

That restructuring never materialized and the season ended with no new deal. Sources in league circles have indicated to us that -- at this time -- McGinest will be released.

Corey Dillon, RB

The word is that the Patriots are looking very hard for a running back. According to our Scout.com source, the team would like to remove Corey Dillon's cap charge from the books. Our source goes on to tell us that the organization is concerned that they do not have sufficient talent on the roster at the position. The team would have to find a replacement for Dillon before they can make a move, and the free agents on the market are certain to command deals that would be equally restrictive.

Patriots Insider and Scout.com reported earlier that the team was heavily scouting running backs, although they managed to keep it relatively quiet. If the team can pick up a top grade back in the Draft, they just may try to move or release Dillon before the season.

David Givens, WR

Reported earlier by Patriots Insider, the David Givens situation looks less promising than the others. According to our source, "Talks with representatives for Givens have been slow," we were told. "It does not look like he will sign prior to the free agent player signing period."

Givens is looking to get paid after playing most of his career under his rookie contract and last season under a restricted free agent tender of $1.43 million. He turned in a solid season with 59 receptions for 738 yards and two touchdowns. While not as good as his 2004 production, he did manage to turn in big performances in wins over Pittsburgh (9 rec, 130 yds) and Tampa Bay (6 rec, 137 yds).

Givens is looking for number-one receiver money, but the team does not view him as a legitimate number-one.

Adam Vinatieri, K

Talk about the Patriots place kicker has been muted. Bill Parcells' Dallas Cowboys are looking for a kicker, and are interested in both Vinatieri and Tampa Bay's Matt Bryant. Bryant obviously would be the cheaper alternative, but it is believed Parcells covets Vinatieri if he can be had.

There is no indication that Vinatieri wants out of New England where he has achieved pseudo-legendary status through the winning kicks he made in the Super Bowl. Our source at Scout.com tells Patriots Insider that the team was talking to Vinatieri on Monday.

The current assumption for Vinatieri is that the team will make him a fair offer, but maybe not the top paid player in the league. If Vinatieri feels it's fair, there's a good chance he'll continue to be "Mr Clutch" in the cold climes of the Northeast.

Tyrone Poole, DB

One player flying well under the radar in terms of buzz is cornerback Tyrone Poole. Poole has been injured often, missing all but one game in 2005, and only seeing action in five games in 2004. Poole has been injured the majority of his time in New England finishing each of the last two seasons on injured reserve. His first season was the only one in New England he was able to play in all sixteen regular season games.

Team sources are telling Scout.com that Poole will be released, ending a disappointing three-year tenure with the club.


FA Wire - Updated 3/2/06 - 5:21 PM

JAMIE SHARPER RELEASED

The Seahawks announced the release of linebacker Jamie Sharper. Sharper was signed in April to a five-year, $17.5 million deal with a $1.5 million signing bonus.

Through the first eight games of the 2005 season, Sharper manned the strong side admirably for the Seahawks, providing run support and veteran leadership. He had amassed 37 tackles and a forced fumble through the first half of the season.

But Sharper was added to the team’s injury reports beginning on Wednesday, November 9 - just a few days before the Seahawks faced the St. Louis Rams for the second time in 2005. The team announced that Sharper had a right knee infection, and that fluid first had to be drained from the knee on Tuesday, November 8th. Rookie linebacker Leroy Hill replaced Sharper in the lineup, and immediately began making an impact. Currently, Hill has 41 tackles, 7 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. He has excelled in blitz packages and helped fellow rookie Lofa Tatupu redefine Seattle’s revolving-door linebacker corps.

Sharper hadn’t played since, and began to appear to be the odd man out with Hill’s ascendance. In December, coach Mike Holmgren made the end of Sharper's season official to the media. “He had the infection and it was a bad infection,” Holmgren said. “(Recovery) has just taken a long time. They had to switch antibiotics just in the last couple days because he had a little bit of a setback which pushed the whole thing back even farther. It didn’t appear as though we were going to have him this year.”

MICHAEL HARDEN RELEASED

The Seahawks have announced the release of cornerback Michael Harden.

Harden was re-signed by Seattle and placed on their practice squad on December 8th, in the wake of cornerback Andre Dyson’s high ankle sprain, an injury which ended Dyson's regular season.

Harden was released from the New England Patriots’ practice squad on December 5th. Originally signed by New England on November 16, when the Pats were dealing with injuries to their secondary, Harden was never activated by the Patriots.

Harden was originally signed by the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent from the University of Missouri in April of 2004. He spent the regular season on the practice squad and was activated for the wild-card loss to St. Louis. Seattle then allocated Harden to the NFL Europe League, where he played with the Berlin Thunder. Harden played in all 10 regular season games for the Thunder, starting six. He registered 21 tackles, two interceptions and 10 passes defensed. After spending time with the Seahawks during their 2005 training camp, he was released in the final roster cuts on September 4, 2005.


FA Wire – Updated 3/2/06 – 3:06 PM

League statement on the CBA talks:

“The NFL and the NFL Players Association have agreed to extend the start of the 2006 league year for 72 hours -- until 12:01 a.m. ET, Monday, March 6 -- in order to provide time to resume negotiations. The league year had been set to begin at 12:01 a.m. ET on Friday, March 3.”


FA Wire – Updated 3/2/06 – 2:57 PM

ANDRE DYSON RELEASED

As first reported by ESPN.com's John Clayton, the Seahawks have released cornerback Andre Dyson.

Clayton reports that Dyson was scheduled to receive a $3 million roster bonus on Friday. The Seahawks have chosen to release him instead of giving him the bonus and keeping his 2006 cap number at $4.26 million.

Dyson's release will save the Seahawks $1.86 million on the 2006 cap, according to Clayton.

Dyson signed a five-year, $17.5 million contract with the Seahawks right before the 2005 draft. He played well when healthy, but missed several games due to various injuries.

FA Wire – Updated 3/2/06 – 2:20 PM

The AP reports that just a few hours after NFL owners unanimously voted down the NFLPA’s most recent proposal, the league extended its deadline for free agency by three days. The deadline for adherence to the new salary cap of $94.5 million was 12:01 AM Friday morning, and the lack of an extension to the Collective Bargaining Agreement meant that still more players would have to be jettisoned. There had been talk that teams like the Washington Redskins would scramble with the mathematical feasibility of coming in under the new cap and even filling out a roster.

NFL vice-president Joe Browne announced the move just seven hours before the deadline

Although it has been said that personnel people for each team were preparing for two different scenarios – with and without an extension - it appears that some teams had assumed a labor agreement would be reached, giving them about $10 million more to spend, to the point where some real marquee teams could be caught with their pants down to an unprecedented degree.

The new timeline gives the league and the union a bit of breathing room – and hopefully enough of a doomsday scenario incentive – to come to terms.

San Francisco 49ers - The 49ers officially announced that they have tendered contract offers to restricted free agents Brandon Lloyd and Ken Dorsey and exclusive rights free agents Mike Adams and Maurice Hicks.

The team indicated last week that it would tender both Lloyd and Dorsey. Coach Mike Nolan would not confirm at which level each player was being tendered, but it's believed Lloyd is being tendered at the high amount of approximately $1.6 million - which would require first-round compensation - while Dorsey is being tendered at the low amount of approximately $700,000, which would require seventh-round compensation.

Lloyd and Dorsey can negotiate with any other NFL team until April 21, at which time their rights will revert to the 49ers. If either accepts an offer from a new club, the 49ers will have the right to match the offer and retain the player. If the 49ers elect not to match the offer, they may receive draft-choice compensation depending on the level of their qualifying offer to each player.

Because they have two or fewer years of NFL experience, Adams and Hicks now have no outside negotiating power after being tendered offers. Their rights now belong to the 49ers, and they may not negotiate with other teams. They have no NFL options open to them other than dealing with the 49ers.

Kansas City Chiefs - Scout.com has confirmed that had the CBA talks not been extended, the Kansas City Chiefs planned to release All-Pro G Will Shields on Thursday. "Will understands the landscape of the NFL without a CBA and it's disappointing that his career with the Chiefs went this way now," his agent Joe Linta told scout.com before the deadline was moved. Linta confirmed Shields still wants to play and it's not out of the question he re-signs with the Chiefs. "Will Shields will play this year, hopefully with the Chiefs but certainly with someone." Litna added he expects several teams to be interested due to him being in excellent shape. Shields has never missed a game in his 13 years of service.

The Chiefs also have released linebackers Gary Stills and Shawn Barber and cornerbacks Eric Warfield and Dexter McCleon. Offensive lineman Chris Bober could also be a cap casualty today, though that's not confirmed at this time.

Houston Texans - TE Jeb Putzier was released by Denver in a cost-cutting move. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, scout.com has learned that the New York Jets and Houston Texans also have strong interest in signing Putzier. The Chicago Bears also are in the running. The Jets extended an offer sheet to the then-restricted free agent Putzier last year, which Denver wound up matching. The problem is New York doesn't currently have the salary cap room to sign him. Houston could use a tight end with pass catching skills. The Texans haven't had a good receiver at the tight end position since Billy Miller played for them (2002-2004).

Indianapolis Colts - DE Raheem Brock, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, was signed to a new five-year contract by the Colts. Financial terms were not disclosed.

New York Giants - S Brent Alexander, whose two seasons with the Giants and 12-year NFL career have been marked by consistency and durability, was released. Alexander has never missed a game in his NFL career, playing in all 192, with 178 starts. Alexander started the last 130 games of his career, including every one in his last eight seasons. In 2005, Alexander led the Giants with four interceptions and 12 passes defensed and was seventh on the team with 61 tackles (46 solo). Alexander’s career totals are 1,014 tackles (685 solo), 28 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries. His most recent interception was on Dec. 4 against Dallas, when he picked off a Drew Bledsoe pass intended for Keyshawn Johnson in the fourth quarter. Alexander was signed by the Giants as a free agent on May 27, 2004 and immediately stepped into the starting lineup. Prior to joining the Giants, he spent four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, two with the Carolina Panthers and four with the Arizona Cardinals, who signed him as an undrafted rookie in 1994.

Cleveland Browns - DE Orpheus Roye signed a three-year contract extension with Cleveland. He is coming off a season in which he registered a career-high 95 tackles. "I didn't really want to go anywhere else to get familiar with another organization, team or fans," Roye said. "I felt like I established a relationship with the Browns and players here." Roye had surgery on his knee following the season.

Player Wire – updated 3/2/06 -2:32 PM

LB Gary Brackett, who was a restricted free agent, agreed to a multi-year deal to stay with the Colts. Brackett led the team with 131 tackles last season.

QB Tony Banks was released by Houston, leaving Dave Ragone as David Carr's top backup for now.

S Marcus Coleman was released by Houston. He was due to make $1.785 million next season and $2.1 in 2007.

LB Rashad Jeanty was added to Cincinnati's roster. He played with Edmonton of the CFL last year.

TE Daniel Wilcox agreed to a new three-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

FB Andrew Pinnock re-signed with San Diego as a potential restricted free agent. Terms were not disclosed.

FB Joey Goodspeed (released by Rams 9/4) was added to Minnesota's roster.

CB Duane Starks was released by New England.

LS Chris Massey, a potential unrestricted free agent, re-signed with St. Louis. Terms were not disclosed.

LB Jamal Brooks (released by Browns 9/4) was added to St. Louis' roster.

LB Kellen Brantley was cut by Buffalo.

OT Joaquin Gonzalez was cut by Indianapolis.

DB Calvin Branch was placed on the reserve/retired list by Oakland.

LB Phil Archer (released by Chargers 9/4, ended season on Vikings practice squad) was added to San Diego's roster.

OT John St. Clair (released by Bears 2/23) was added to Chicago's roster.

C Joe Iorio was released by the Giants. Iorio was signed by the Giants on Jan. 23. He entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Indianapolis Colts in 2003. After being waived by the Colts, he spent time on the practice squads of the Miami Dolphins, Indianapolis and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 7, 2005. He was waived on Aug. 29 and was out of football last season. Iorio started 30 games at Penn State.

FA Wire - Updated 3/2/06 @ 7:30 AM PST

ESPN's Chris Mortenson is reporting that NFL owners have broken off talks with the NFLPA. More news to follow...


FA Wire - Updated 3/2/06 @ 5:26 AM PST


New York Jets -
The Jets and quarterback Chad Pennington are a couple million dollars apart on a restructed deal, with the opportunity for the QB to make up most of his 2005 salary.

Washington Redskins - The Redskins continue to talk with quarterback Patrick Ramsey. League sources tell Scout.com they have started to talk contract extension, but the state of the CBA could preclude those talks.

Carolina Panthers - The Panthers and representatives for potential free agent linebacker Will Witherspoon have been engaged in contract talks recently. Discussions have gotten to the point where there is a modest chance the linebacker could have a deal in place prior to the start of the free agent player signing period.

Detroit Lions - The Lions are staying relatively quiet, but have spent a significant amount of time studying potential free agent quarterback Drew Brees (San Diego). This only lends further credence that the organization is not comfortable with Joey Harrington manning the controls. Additionally, the Lions were one of three teams that has shown a tremendous amount of interest in quarterback Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt.

Kansas City Chiefs - The Chiefs will be in contact with representatives for cornerback Sam Madison and defensive end Darren Howard on Friday.

Cleveland Browns - The Browns would like to work out a contract extension for running back Reuben Droughns, but talks have been slow with minimal progress. If negotiations prove to be difficult, the team is expected to turn to Jamal Lewis (Baltimore) as insurance and depth heading towards the 2006 season. Contract talks between the team and offensive left tackle L.J. Shelton are progressing well, with a 50-50 chance a deal will be in place by Friday's free agent player signing period.

Seattle Seahawks - Guard Steve Hutchinson is going to garner some significant interest, as the team has expected. The Seahawks' front office anticipates that Hutchinson will receive an offer geared to force the team's hand (the Eagles have been mentioned prominently in many reports), and the Seahawks are poised to match any offer. The team would like to retain potential free agent running back Shaun Alexander, but are insistent they are not going to extend an offer averaging eight million dollars a season for the life of the deal.

S Jeremy LeSueur (released by Broncos 9/4, by Jets 11/22, ended regular season on Jets practice squad, ended season on Seahawks practice squad) was added to Seattle's roster on 2/26. RB Ran Carthon (released by Colts 11/30, ended season on Packers practice squad) was added to Seattle's roster on 2/26.


FA Wire - Updated 3/1/06 @ 5:06 PM PST

Bills - Released TE Mark Campbell, DT Sam Adams, and S Lawyer Milloy.

Analysis: Campbell wasn’t a surprise as new offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild will run a version of the Ram offense which didn’t use the tight end position much. The team is hoping that second-year TE Kevin Everett will be a major contributor at the position.

Adams was at odds with the team over playing time/role last year so the move to release him was expected. The team is very light on talent and depth at the position so look for that position to be addressed in the draft.

Milloy was the one surprise as there wasn’t a strong indication that he was going to be released. He should find a starting job elsewhere. For now, backup S Coy Wire, whose job Milloy took in the first place, steps back in with the first team defense.


Broncos - Released RB Mike Anderson, TE Jeb Putzier, and DL Trevor Pryce.

Analysis: Anderson was a minor surprise, but believe it or not, the team believes veteran RB Ron Dayne could have a major role in the running game next season along with RB Tatum Bell. This move gives credence that they were interested in trading for RB Ricky Williams.

As for Putzier, Scout.com noted at the NFL Combine that the team was leaning toward not picking up his roster bonus and that’s essentially what happened. They’ll look for a more complete who blocks better. Still, Putzier is a terrific athlete who is a good fit for a West Coast offense.

It isn’t as though Pryce was very old (turns 31 in August) but his play waned in recent seasons and he was part of a deep defensive line rotation so he became expendable. Still, the versatile veteran can play inside or outside and should find interest in free agency.


Browns - Re-signed UFA DL Orpheus Roye and signed DT Ethan Kelley to a one-year extension.

Analysis: Roye proved to be a terrific fit for head coach Romeo Crennel’s version of the 3-4 defense and Roye put up career tackle numbers. At 32-years old, he should have at least two good years left.

While he won’t ever be an All-Pro, Kelley is a young player with a little upside and has extensive experience in Crennel’s defense as the two were with the Patriots together. Kelley will be used in a rotational basis again which is the best role for him.


Buccaneers - Re-signed RFA QB Chris Simms.

Analysis: Unable to get him signed to an extension, they were still able to get him under contract for another season and it’s not out of the question they get him signed longer should a CBA get done soon.


Dolphins - Released OT Damion McIntosh, CBs Reggie Howard and Sam Madison, and S Tebucky Jones.

Analysis: Some point to a recent off-the-field issue as part of McIntosh's release. Fact is, he was an underachiever and not up to starting caliber for a left tackle. He would be best suited as depth for a team, not a starter.

Howard turned out to be a major free agent bust for the team and got relegated to a dime role at one point last season. He’ll find a roster somewhere in a backup capacity.

The signs were there in recent seasons that Madison wasn’t the player that he once was plus he was making too much money ($3.4 million in base salary).


Jaguars - Re-signed UFA DL Rob Meier and RFA LB Tony Gilbert.

Analysis: The versatile Meier is a good rotational player that can give the starters a breather inside or outside.

Gilbert one of their best special teams players plus he backs up starting MLB Mike Peterson.


Panthers - Released RB Stephen Davis, RB Rod Smart, DT Brenston Buckner.

Analysis: The Davis move comes to no surprise (was set to make $1.85 million) as the team is hoping second-year RB Eric Shelton can take over at least the short-yardage role. Davis is clearly at the end of the line and probably will only play another year if that.

Smart is a decent special teams player but the team was deep at running back and he wasn’t really needed.

The team is high on young defensive tackles Jordan Carstens and Kindal Moorehead, so Buckner and his $1.85 million salary became expendable. The team badly wants to re-sign UFA WLB Will Witherspoon so Buckner’s cap space should help.


Ravens - Re-signed RFA TE Daniel Wilcox to a three-year extension.

Analysis: Wilcox is a nice story and finally found a home as one of their key backup players on offense.


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