Free Agency: The Weekend Wire

The free agency period which officially began at 12:01 AM EST on Saturday has been one of the more active and interesting in recent memory. Scout.com will take you through all the cuts, transactions and rumors, providing our own insider analysis as well. Stay tuned through the weekend!

Update - 3/12/06 - 10:45 PM EST

Our friends at ColtPower.com have broken down the Edgerrin James deal with the Arizona Cardinals and we add how it relates to Shaun Alexander's recent deal with the Seahawks.

James is going to make $14.75 million this year and will have made $1.5 million more than Alexander after his four-year deal is up. Reports are indicating that James got a 4-year deal worth $30 million, including a $7 million signing bonus. That's a million short of the signing bonus that Seattle's Shaun Alexander was given.

But, wait! According to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, James will put $14.75 million in the bank by the time he hangs up his cleats at the end of his first season in Arizona. And he will reportedly earn a grand total of $20 million by the end of his second season. Both FoxSports.Com and ESPN.com are reporting that in additin to his initial signing bonus of $7 million, he'll get a $4.5 million roster bonus on the seventh day of the 2006 league year, which would be in the next day or so. The base salaries in the contract are $3.25 million (for 2006), $5.25 million (2007), $5 million (2008) and $5 million (2009).

Alexander's new contract is essentially a four-year, $28.5625 million deal, even if the official terms are for eight years and $62 million. The wire-service reports called his deal the largest signed by an NFL running back, but Alexander will never see those numbers. Seattle paid an $11.5 million bonus.

Alexander's cap number was $6.323 million in 2005. Because the NFL has allowed teams to prorate deals signed during the recent CBA negotiations over five years as opposed to four, the cap number is $5.925 million this year and $5.7 million in 2007. It jumps to $6.775 million in 2008, the third year of the deal. In the fourth year, the cap number jumps up yet again, to $7.862 million. If the Seahawks cut him after the fourth year of the deal -- Alexander will be 32 heading into 2009 -- the cap hit would be the fifth-year proration of $2.3 million. Cutting him after the fifth year of the deal would carry no cap charge.

Deal specifics:
Signing bonus: $11.5M

Base salaries: $1.625M (2006), $1.4M (2007), $4.475M (2008), $5.5625M (2009), $6.65M (2010), $7.7375M (2011), $8.825M (2012), $9.9125M (2013). Cap numbers: $6.5M (2006), $6.275M (2007), $7.35M (2008), $8.437M (2009), $6.65M (2010), $7.7375M (2011), $8.825M (2012), $9.9125M (2013).

One-year contract value: $15.125M. Two-year contract value: $18.525M. Three-year contract value: $23M. Four-year contract value: $28.5625M. Five-year contract value: $35.2125M. Six-year contract value: $42.95M. Seven-year contract value: $51.775M. Eight-year contract value: $61.6875M.

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Updated signings with analysis from Scout.com's Lane Adkins:

RB
Mike Anderson (Baltimore) – The Ravens were in need of a veteran running back and wasted no time in landing a better than average talent, Mike Anderson. Not the fleetest afoot, Anderson has proven to be a powerful inside, downhill type rusher, which could be a fit within the Baltimore offense, which is expected to take on a different look in the 2006 season. Basically a between the tackles runner, Anderson will be counted upon to carry the load for the Ravens until the team adds depth to the position. Anderson should keep the running game alive for Baltimore, but expect the Ravens to add another back in free agency or early in the draft.

Jameel Cook (Houston) – Cook is an improving blocking back. Lacks the speed and quickness to carry the load for a team, but can be an asset coming out of the backfield on occasion, as well as on special teams.

TE
Christian Fauria (Washington) – A true possession type receiver, Fauria has been effective in the red-zone and short yardage for the Seahawks. An above average receiver at this point in his career, Fauria will battle defenders for a reception, as well as fight to maintain a blocking assignment. At this time, Fauria is a well-rounded type tight-end that should not be expected to catch 50-balls a season, but rather a solid teammate and professional that knows how to play the game.

WR
Brandon Lloyd (Washington/trade w/SF) – Lloyd persevered through a long season in San Francisco to put up good numbers, with a terrible offensive team. The primary go-to receiver in San Francisco, Lloyd proved to be a solid receiver, with good speed and quickness. Lloyd’s strength is his ability to create separation, catching almost everything thrown his way, and the yardage he collects after the reception. His route running has improved over the past year and should only get better working with the Redskins’ staff. Trading a third and fourth round draft selection for Lloyd should prove to be a steal for the Redskins.

Antwaan Randle El (Washington) – This jack-of-all trades talent lands where he certainly can fill a need. Randle-El is an explosive talent in the return game and is not as well known for his skills as a receiver. In Washington, Randle-El will quickly team with wide receivers Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd to provide the Redskins a deadly combination of speed and quickness, while giving a jump-start to the Washington return game. Randle-El creates separation with ease and gets into his routes quickly, while catching the ball well.

DT
Justin Bannan (Baltimore) – Bannan plays low to the ground and provides continuous effort. Displaying the ability to stay tough against the run and true against stunts and double teams, Bannan possesses the ability to maneuver his opponent. His aggressive nature and physical play are a solid fit within the Ravens defensive scheme.

LB
Sedrick Hodge (Miami) – Plays the pass much better than his productivity against the run. Displays the ability to drop in coverage and handle his responsibilities, while in run support Hodge can get lost in the flow and be neutralized by blockers. Has the quickness desired to rush the quarterback coming off the corner, which is an asset, and could be covered to minimize his average ness against the run. The Dolphins looking for depth sign a quality person and player that should fit into the scheme.

CB
Andre Goodman (Miami) – Goodman is an exceptional athlete that possesses coverage ability, but lacks the overall skills to become a top-notch talent. Goodman is average at best in run support, questionable tackler in the open-field, and does not sport the size and strength to fight through a receiver or blocker. An overall average cornerback, Goodman could be a fit in the Miami defensive scheme which is gearing towards extreme pressure on the quarterback and more support from the safeties against the run (less time in coverage).


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Update - 3/12/06 - 7:25 PM EST

The Associated Press reports that Drew Brees visited with the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, but left town without a deal.

Brees, a free agent, is being pursued by the Saints as a replacement for Aaron Brooks. He left Sunday to meet with the Miami Dolphins in Birmingham, Ala., where he has been rehabilitating his surgically repaired right shoulder. He went 20-11 the past two seasons for San Diego, but when contract talks with the Chargers stalled, they agreed to let him test the market.

Brees said that New Orleans' rebuilding from Katrina would not dissuade him from signing with the Saints. He said he helped build programs in Purdue and at San Diego that had been down and that the challenge of rebuilding in New Orleans appealed to him.

"I think being a part of that would be a great opportunity," he said.

As far as his shoulder is concerned, Brees said he has about another four or five months of recovery and doesn't anticipate any long-term effects. Brees tore the labrum and damaged the rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder in the Chargers' final game last season and underwent surgery Jan. 5.

Scuttlebutt says that in addition to re-signing Ron Dayne, the Broncos may have more than a passing interest. in Baltimore RB Jamal Lewis. Lewis and Broncos LB Al Wilson are great friends from their college days at Tennessee, and Lewis may visit Denver this week. With Chester Taylor signing with the Vikings, the Ravens would be likely candidates for a RB draft pick and/or former Seahawks UFA Maurice Morris, whose name was linked with Minnesota before the Taylor signing.

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Update - 3/12/06 - 6:05 PM EST

Updated signings with analysis from Scout.com's Lane Adkins:

RB
Edgerrin James (Arizona) – Arizona claimed they would not be a player in the high-stakes, high-salary free agency wars. Well, guess again, landing the multi-talented James. In James, the Cardinals now have a running back which will compliment an already exciting passing game. James can run between the tackles, off tackle, and is a superb receiver coming out of the backfield. For the Cardinals, it is Christmas Day! Questions surrounding the overall state of the Arizona offensive line now must be evaluated, as James is a talent, but needs help up-front to be successful.

Ron Dayne (Denver) – May have found himself in the rushing-machine known as the Denver Broncos offense. Some of his on-field success, though limited may come from a diligent off-season workout program which he entered and the blocking emphasis of the Denver scheme. Dayne displayed much better burst and vision in the 2005 season, while maintaining a powerful lower base. The Broncos appear committed to Dayne in some capacity, whether as a starter or backup. At this time, Dayne has the eye of the Broncos’ organization and the belief is he could be the starter, if his dedication continues.

Chester Taylor (Minnesota) – Versatile back which has been the jack-of-all trades while a member of the Baltimore Ravens. Has not been a feature back at the professional level, but will get the opportunity with the Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota head coach Brad Childress envisions the opportunity to focus on Taylor in the running game, much the Eagles (Childress’ former team) does with Brian Westbrook, with Taylor being a better between the tackles rusher. In the West Coast offense, Taylor could blossom into one of the more productive backs in the league.

WR
Antwaan Randle El (Washington) – This jack-of-all trades talent lands where he certainly can fill a need. Randle-El is an explosive talent in the return game and is not as well known for his skills as a receiver. In Washington, Randle-El will quickly team with wide receivers Santana Moss and Brandon Lloyd to provide the Redskins a deadly combination of speed and quickness, while giving a jump-start to the Washington return game. Randle-El creates separation with ease and gets into his routes quickly, while catching the ball well.

LB
Will Witherspoon (St. Louis) – Plays larger than his size (6’1 230-lbs), isn’t afraid to stick a ball carrier and will fight through blocks, though has some trouble when engaged and locked onto. Witherspoon is a sideline to sideline player, displaying very good speed and quickness. Has displayed the ability to be an asset dropping into coverage, but is a better talent in the open-field. The Rams needed help at linebacker and have arguably have signed the best available.

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From Ravens Insider - The Baltimore Ravens retained one of their own free agents Sunday as linebacker Bart Scott turned down a larger, longer-term offer from the Cleveland Browns to re-sign with the Ravens, according to an NFL source.
 
Scott, 25, left the Browns' training complex after agreeing in principle to a three-year contract with Baltimore that's worth $13.5 million, including a $6.5 million signing bonus. The former undrafted free agent from Southern Illinois will earn base salaries of $1 million in 2006, $2.6 million in 2007 and $3.4 million in 2008.

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FOXSports.com has learned that the Vikings have signed Seahawks Pro Bowl offensive guard Steve Hutchinson to an offer sheet for a whopping $49 million over seven years. The deal also includes $16 million in guaranteed money, huge money for a guard, and a very high cap number in the first year. The reason for the cap number is to prevent the Seahawks from matching the offer.

Seattle tagged Hutchinson with the "transition" tag and thus have the right to match any offer. At the time they transitioned him instead of franchising him, the Seahawks probably believed they could match any offer. They still may decide to match the deal, which would give them the most expensive side to an offensive line in league history. Hutchinson teamed with Walter Jones to make up the best blocking side in football as well. In recent days, many of Hutchinson's teammates have known there would be a strong possibility that he would be leaving for Minnesota via free agency. He flew to Minneapolis late Saturday and agreed to terms Sunday afternoon.

Seattle now must decide to match the offer or let him go. Len Pasquarelli of ESPN.com speculates that the Seahawks offered Hutchinson a contract with an average of $5.8 million per year before transitioning him..

Our own "Hawkstorian" sees it this way: If the cap hit is really $13M, then the Seahawks should match.  Right now they have around $16M in cap space with $6.3M reserved for Hutch.  After matching Hutch, they'll lose another $7M, leaving them with still $9M, and flexibility to restructure other deals.

Rocky (Bernard) is going to be overpaid somewhere, so there's little chance he's coming back.  Nobody else on the team is worth huge money. If you let Hutch go, you now have over $22M in cap space with nobody to spend it on.  That would be far worse than keeping him and having to squeeze pennies to fill the holes on the roster.

I'm pretty confident the Seahawks will see things the same way.

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Update - 3/12/06 - 3:35 PM EST

As first reported by Jay Glazer of FoxSports.com, the Edgerrin James deal is for four years and $30 million. The deal will pay James $14.5 million in the first year through salary, signing bonus and roster bonus.

Update - 3/12/06 - 2:40 PM EST

The Arizona Cardinals' official website is reporting that former Indianapolis Colts RB Edgerrin James has signed a four-year deal with the Cards. Terms were not disclosed.

RavensInsider reports that the Baltimore Ravens have reached a deal with former Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Justin Bannan, according to an NFL source. The length of the contract and terms weren't immediately available except for him receiving a $3 million signing bonus.

Bannan emerged as a starter last season when Sam Adams got into a disagreement with the Bills' coaching staff. Bannan played collegiately at the University of Colorado. He's viewed as a try-hard type with a good motor.

Bannan is 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds. In four NFL seasons, he has 78 career tackles and 2 1/2 sacks. He registered a career-high 40 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks last season.

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Update - 3/12/06 - 1:40 PM EST

Updated signings with analysis from Scout.com's Lane Adkins:

QB
Sage Rosenfels (Houston) – Career backup with limited opportunities displayed some flashes of quality play while with the Dolphins in 2005. Rosenfels is a strong-armed quarterback that needs to play to gain experience and consistency. Being stuck in the quarterback quandary of Miami, signing with the Texans could be a blessing.

Chris Weinke (Carolina) – Weinke’s professional career has been marred by bad decisions when given the opportunity to shine. Sporting good size and arm strength, Weinke has been erratic, inconsistent, and does not move well in the pocket. Familiar with the Carolina offensive system and this is a good match for depth purposes.

TE
Matt Schobel (Philadelphia) – Simply stated, Matt Schobel is a pass receiving type tight-end. Schobel is not an average blocker and should not be counted upon to handle such tasks on a consistent basis. What Schobel does well is get open, often sitting down in the holes in a zone defense. Has the speed and quickness to split the seam downfield. With the questionable state of the tight-end position in Philadelphia, Schobel appears to be a nice fit for the Eagles.

Robert Royal (Buffalo) – The Bills are seeking a tight-end which possesses receiving skills to be a threat in the intermediate passing game. While his blocking skills are suspect, Royal came into his own during the 2005 season in Washington and fits the mode of receiver first, improving blocking type player the team targeted.

WR
Andre Davis (Buffalo) – Great speed, below average route-running, and injury issues are the story regarding Davis. Effective in the return game, Davis has the tools to be a successful receiver, but is consistently hampered with nagging injuries, which cost him significant playing time. As Davis gains experience he may become a legitimate wide receiver, at this time he is a downfield threat due to his speed. If he ever buys into his routes, Davis could be a huge success.

C
Justin Hartwig (Carolina) – Hartwig is a solid center despite lacking overall size. Physically strong and willing, Hartwig will engage a defensive lineman and ride him. Shows the ability to consistently beat a lineman to the gap. Is a good run blocker, pass blocking skills are improving. Looking for a center, Hartwig is a solid signing for the Panthers.

OG
Milford Brown (Arizona) – Inconsistent is just one description of Brown. One play he can look like an All-Pro, the next Brown can appear to have no clue. Despite having great size (6’4” 330-lbs), Brown can struggle against a defensive lineman push, while showing sloppy footwork and slow reactions. Can maul in close, but can not be expected to reach the second level of the defense with any consistency. Though being a four-year veteran, Brown still appears to be a project and should be expected to provide depth to an offensive line. At this time, this signing is questionable if for anything other than depth purposes.

OT
Kyle Kosier (Dallas) – Improving, versatile talent. Can play the guard or tackle positions, showing sufficient quickness to get to the second level of defense and shed off the corner. Lacks overall strength to be physical, but is aggressive and follows through the play. While not as physical as you would like, Kosier is very agile and should be a solid fit with the Cowboys.

DE
Trevor Pryce (Baltimore) – When/if healthy, Pryce is an explosive force. Injuries appear to have robbed him of his great quickness and strength off the ball. Pryce is a good fit in the Baltimore defensive scheme, if healthy. The jury is out on this signing until Pryce proves he can play without injury issues.

DT
Ted Washington (Cleveland) – Washington can still play the defensive tackle position well, though he isn’t the same player he once was. As asset on first and second down, Washington will stuff the interior of the line, providing linebackers the opportunity to make plays. In Cleveland, the interior of the defensive line is a weakness, one which Washington will impact immediately.

Larry Tripplett (Buffalo) – Larry Tripplett is not the run-stuffing defensive tackle he replaces (Sam Adams), but he will give an all-out effort. Much more quicker than physical, Tripplett has the ability to penetrate at the point of attack. Will stand his ground and shed blocks, but can be overpowered at times. In need of a nose/defensive tackle, the Bills have adequately filled the need.

Gerard Warren (Denver) – Coming off a sound 2005 season, Warren played well for the Broncos after coming over in a trade with the Browns. Still displays the ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage, while playing the run well. For the first-time in his short career, Warren played to the potential expected of him for an extended period of time and should be a main-stay along the Denver defensive line

LB
Ben Leber (Minnesota) – Ben Leber is a good linebacker and should excel in the Tampa-two type defensive scheme which will be utilized in Minnesota. With the ability to drop into coverage effortlessly, while playing the run on a better than average level, Leber will become an instant starter and player to be looked upon for his leadership qualities. This signing is one of the best from day-one in the free agent player signing period.

S
Marlon McCree (San Diego) – Physical player that has the ability to play either the strong or free safety positions. Displays good quickness and recognition, but can be too aggressive and breakdown on plays in front of him at times. Very good in run support and better than average in pass defense, though pass coverage skills have improved. The Chargers were seeking an upgrade and physical presence in the defensive backfield, which is exactly what McCree provides.

PK
Ryan Longwell (Minnesota) – Remains a solid kicker, which should show improvement in accuracy and distance in signing with Minnesota due to the weather element taken out of the equation (home games). Displays good length and elevation on kicks. A solid signing for the Vikings.

Matt Bryant (Tampa Bay) – Bryant came into his own during the 2005 season in Tampa Bay and would have been a sought free agent, if the Buccaneers wouldn’t have re-signed him quickly. Displayed consistency and a better than average leg for the Buccaneers, but has had injury issues in the past which could be concerning.

Jeff Chandler (Cleveland) – Chandler has made his rounds through the league in his three seasons. In Cleveland, Chandler should be viewed as insurance for Phil Dawson, the Browns consistent kicker. This appears to be a move by the Browns to have an additional kicker on the roster heading into training camp.

P
Dave Zastudil (Cleveland) – Solid, consistent punter that can handle holding duties on place-kicks as well as kickoffs. Zastudil possesses excellent hang-time on punts and is an adequate directional punter. With a need for an established punter, the Browns did well bringing this Cleveland native home.

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Update - 3/12/06 - 12:05 PM EST

The Buffalo Bills have announced that WR Andre Davis, who spent three years with Cleveland then saw limited duty last season with New England, has agreed to sign with the team.

Scout.com has confirmed Indianapolis Colts RB Edgerrin James is still in Arizona visiting with the Cardinals and his agent Drew Rosenhaus is visiting with the team this morning. The Cardinals would like to get a deal done with James before he leaves town. James spent time with CB David Macklin and WR Larry Fitzgerald on Saturday evening at a Phoenix Suns game.

Scout.com has also confirmed UFA QB Josh McCown will visit with the Lions Sunday. He arrived in Detroit last night. Houston, New Orleans, and Cincinnati also has shown interest in him but only to be a backup. As Scout.com reported at the NFL Combine last month, McCown is looking to challenge for a starting job which makes Detroit a strong possibility. Miami is also a target for McCown to visit.

UFA CB R.W. McQuarters has a visit set up with the Cardinals for Monday. If signed, he would compete for the nickel back position against CB Robert Tate. The team also has a visit setup with UFA CB Kenny Wright (Jaguars) who would also be a candidate for the nickel position.

UFA DT Russell Davis has a visit set up with Seattle on Monday. The team is looking for depth at the tackle position. KFFL also reports that the Seahawks are iterested in talking to Ravens LB Bart Scott.

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Update - 3/11/06 - 10:10 PM EST

During Joe Jurevicius’ introductory press conference in Cleveland, the former Giant, Buccaneer and Seahawk wide receiver spoke of his true motivation in accepting the Browns’ 4-year, $10 million offer: his desire to play in his hometown. Jurevicius grew up in Timberlake, Ohio and played at Lake Catholic High School in Mentor, Ohio. His son Michael, who succumbed to the neurodegenerative disease sialidosis in 2003, is buried in Cleveland – “right down the street from his grandma and grandpa,” Jurevicius said in January of 2006. “As soon as I leave here (Detroit, site of Super Bowl XL) and go back to Cleveland, I go there every morning and I go there every night,” Jurevicius added.

In the end, his decision seemed as much or more about sentiment, emotion and homecoming as any football-related concerns. Jurevicius could have stayed with Seattle, a legitimate Super Bowl contender, secure in the knowledge that his role as mentor and situational receiver would continue to garner the respect of coaches, fans and teammates. He could have moved to a city like San Francisco and played an increased role for a team who would desperately need him to put up some serious numbers. He received competitive offers, and may have taken less money to go where he went. In Cleveland, where he could start but still be overshadowed by the hyper-talented Braylon Edwards and the hyper-problematic Kellen Winslow, Jurevicius seemed to side with his heart over his head.

"I have every inclination in my body I'm going to come here and help the Cleveland Browns get better and make my personal dream become that much better," Jurevicius said during his Saturday night press conference. "It took me nine years. They (the Giants, Tampa Bay and Seattle) were all great places.

"This is where it all started for me, though. I had opportunities to go to a couple different places. It was first and foremost in my mind that I wanted to become a Cleveland Brown, put on the orange helmet and play in front of Lake Erie and enjoy the feeling. I'm not going to be a pro forever, and I feel, if anything, this is going to add years to my career just because of the excitement that comes along with it."

The Seahawks will go on without Jurevicius’ stats – 55 catches for 694 yards and 10 touchdowns are fairly impressive numbers, though hardly impossible to replace. Young receiver D.J. Hackett could probably meet or exceed those totals over a full season, and he may be asked to do just that in 2006.

What the Seahawks will miss is Jurevicius’ toughness, veteran savvy and real leadership. As his new teammate Trent Dilfer did last season upon his departure to Cleveland, Jurevicius leaves the Seahawks with a void that may be as much off the field as on.

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While there was little doubt that the Cleveland Browns had the most active first day of free agency, the Minnesota Vikings weren't far behind. With over $30 million in cap room, Minnesota began to address personnel issues even as the oft-discussed Daunte Culpepper trade failed to materialize.

Former Green Bay kicker Ryan Longwell signed a five-year, $10 million contract which includes a $3 million signing bonus. Then, ex-Baltimore Raven RB Chester Taylor signed a contract for 4 years and $14.1 million. Former San Diego LB Ben Leber rounded out the day’s activity with a 5-year, $20 million deal with a signing bonus in the area of $4 million.

The Vikings haven’t pulled the trigger on a major deal yet (and their willingness to pull the transition tag on CB Brian Willians shows that they wont spend money just to spend it), but by virtue of ambitious new ownership, serious dollars to spend and several big roster decisions looming, you can expect to hear a great deal more about Minnesota over the next few days.

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Update - 3/11/06 - 5:45 PM EST

BREAKING NEWS: Adam Schefter of NFLcom reports that the Cleveland Browns have reached agreement with former Seattle wide receiver Joe Jurevicius on a four-year deal worth about $10 million.

RB:
Jameel Cook (Houston) – Cook is an improving blocking back. Lacks the speed and quickness to carry the load for a team, but can be an asset coming out of the backfield on occasion, as well as on special teams.

WR
Joe Jurevicius (Cleveland) – The Browns were seeking a bigger receiver to line-up opposite Braylon Edwards. In Jurevicius, the Browns have landed an experienced receiver who played very well in the 2005 season. Jurevicius’ quickness is deceiving, as he has displayed the ability to get open consistently and makes tough receptions. With a need at wide receiver, this signing is a solid choice for the Browns.

TE
Robert Royal (Buffalo) – The Bills are seeking a tight-end which possesses receiving skills to be a threat in the intermediate passing game. While his blocking skills are suspect, Royal came into his own during the 2005 season in Washington and fits the mode of receiver first, improving blocking type player the team targeted.

CB
Brian Williams (Jacksonville) – The Jaguars were looking for another solid cornerback to improve their defensive backfield. Williams, provides the Jaguars with a solid talent at the corner, that can play safety if necessary. During the 2005 season, Williams solidified his position as a starting quality cornerback.

S
Marquand Manuel (Green Bay) – Stepped in when starter Ken Hamlin was sidelined during the 2005 season and played well. Manuel is solid in run support and his pass coverage responsibilities did not overwhelm him. Not the swiftest of foot, but is learning to play angles well Will step in and provide the Packers an upgrade in the defensive backfield.

PK
Jeff Chandler (Cleveland) – Chandler has made his rounds through the league in his three seasons. In Cleveland, Chandler should be viewed as insurance for Phil Dawson, the Browns consistent kicker. This appears to be a move by the Browns to have an additional kicker on the roster heading into training camp

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Scout.com has learned that the Cleveland Browns will bring Pittsburgh safety Chris Hope in for a visit early next week.

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Updated signings with analysis from Scout.com's Lane Adkins:

DE
Anthony Weaver (Houston) – Weaver made significant strides during the 2005 season. Point of attack play improved, and has shown the ability to get into the backfield. Plays the run reasonably well and will be expected to make plays in the Houston defensive scheme. Pass rush skills improving as he learns to play off blocks. Houston needed quickness and athleticism at the end position, and Weaver could be a solid starter for the Texans.

DT
Ma'ake Kemoeatu (Carolina) – Big, run-stuffing defensive tackle is physical at the point of attack and will certainly improve an already good Carolina defensive line. Kemoeatu was highly sought due to his ability to manhandle blockers and make plays. This is a very good signing for the Panthers.

CB
Corey Chavous (St. Louis) – Chavous remained a quality defensive back in the 2005 season and has shown little slippage. Still displays the ability to cover ground, doesn’t make mental mistakes, and supports well against the run. Not overly quick nor fast, depends on his experience to be in position. A true upgrade for a questionable St. Louis defense.

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Both John Clayton of ESPN and Adam Schefter of the NFL Network are reporting that Joe Jurevicius' most likely destination is Cleveland. Scout.com has learned that an offer is on the table, and it's speculated to be a 4-year, $14 million deal. Seattle and San Francisco are or were players in this one. More updates as they become available.

Updated signings with analysis from Scout.com's Lane Adkins:

C
LeCharles Bentley (Cleveland) – Cleveland wanted to get physical this off-season along the offensive line, a major step was taken with the signing of LeCharles Bentley. Bentley moves well for a man 315-pounds, can maul the opposition, can get to the second line of defense, and has displayed the agility to adjust on the fly. One of the top players available in free agency, Bentley can play center or guard at the highest level.

OT
Kyle Kosier (Dallas) – Improving, versatile talent. Can play the guard or tackle positions, showing sufficient quickness to get to the second level of defense and shed off the corner. Lacks overall strength to be physical, but is aggressive and follows through the play. While not as physical as you would like, Kosier is very agile and should be a solid fit with the Cowboys.

Kevin Shaffer (Cleveland) – Shaffer is a young and improving talent that will fit nicely into the Browns reshaped offensive line. Not overly big, Shaffer uses his hands and feet well to get into position. Has shown some minor inconsistency against quicker ends off the corner, but has worked diligently to improve his awareness. With a need at the left tackle position, the Browns have solidified the weakness with the signing of Shaffer.

Victor Rogers (Detroit) – Needing help along the offensive line, the Lions retained the services of tackle Victor Rogers. Rogers, a large lineman can engulf a defensive lineman, but is often beaten by quicker ends. In Rogers, the Lions keep an average lineman which should help with depth issues.

DT
Chris Hovan (Tampa Bay) – Hovan turned his career around in Tampa Bay after being jettisoned from Minnesota. Still shows the ability to shoot the gap and run-stopping ability improved once moving onto Tampa Bay. Did not disappear in games in 2005, as he had done in Minnesota. While not a top-quality defensive tackle, Hovan is better than average in the Buccaneers scheme.

Kendrick Clancy (Arizona) – Clancy came into his own during the 2005 season with the Giants. Plays the run well and displayed improved strength and quickness. Plays extremely hard and does not quit. Is not a factor rushing the passer, but has learned how to take up space and slide off blocks. A nice face-lift for the Cardinals run defense.

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ESPN.com has confirmed reports that the Cleveland Browns have signed former New Orleans center LeCharles Bentley and former Atlanta LT Kevin Shaffer. Bentley, who was the highest-profile free agent offensive lineman after Seattle's Steve Hutchinson was transition tagged, will provide a major upgrade to Cleveland's offensive line. Shaffer will profide crucial protection to quarterbacks Trent Dilfer and Charlie Frye. Contract terms for Bentley have not been disclosed, but Shaffer's deal is said to be in the neighborhood of seven years, and worth $5 million annually.

Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Dallas Cowboys are in the process of setting up a visit with tight end Ryan Hannam, who caught a game-tying touchdown against Dallas last season with Seattle, to possibly fill Dan Campbell’s role. Campbell could receive interest from New Orleans, where he would be reunited with Sean Payton, the New York Jets and Washington.

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Hannam caught 13 passes for 89 yards for the Seahawks in 2005 and is well-regarded as a blocking tight end.

Scout.com has confirmed that UFA RB Sammy Morris (Miami) has a visit set up for Monday with Seattle. If signed, Morris would replace Maurice Morris as the team´s number 2 back.

In 2005, the 6'0", 218-pound Morris carried the ball 16 times for 58 yards and a touchdown in an offense where Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams made playing time for any other back near-impossible.

Morris' best season was in 2004, when he rushed 132 times for 523 yards and 6 TDs. Originally drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the 5th round (156th overall) in 2000, Morris also can catch the ball and has logged a lot of time on special teams, which speaks to the versatility needed in Seattle for a backup RB.

Maurice Morris, Seattle's current backup to Shaun Alexander, is an unrestricted free agent and has been linked in various reports to the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens.

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Recent Signings (terms outlined if disclosed)

RB
DeShaun Foster (Carolina) – The Panthers are in a precarious position at running back. Foster is everything the team wants in a back, but questions remaining regarding injury issues kept this deal from getting done sooner. Despite the issues, the Panthers are thin at the position and are hopeful Foster can be their workhorse back in the future. (Three years, $14.5 million, including a $4.5 million signing bonus.)

Mike Alstott (Tampa Bay) – Due to his versatility and experience, Alstott appears poised to play one more season in Tampa Bay. Alstott fits nicely in the Tampa Bay offensive scheme and his leadership qualities were hard for the team to pass on (as well as a modest salary).

WR
Koren Robinson (Minnesota) – Robinson took advantage of the opportunity the Vikings provided him upon his signing early in the 2005 season and signed a new three-year deal with the team. Quickly becoming a factor in the kick return game, Robinson has become a fixture in Minnesota and was evolving in the Vikings passing game. Under new head coach Brad Childress’ offensive scheme, Robinson could play a major role. With his maturity on the rise, now may be the time Robinson begins to play to his potential.

Isaac Bruce (St. Louis) – Only due to salary-cap issues prior to the new CBA was Bruce released, then pulled back from the cut-list. Due to the CBA, the Rams had the additional funds under the salary cap to re-sign Bruce to a new contract. New head coach Scott Linehan wanted Bruce back and he got his wish, as the reliable veteran has inked a three-year deal with the club. Bruce still plays the game at a high level, while he may not be as explosive as he once was, Bruce remains one of the better receivers in the game, teaming with Torry Holt. ($15M/3 yrs, SB unknown)

OG
Jason Whittle (Minnesota) – Whittle will step in and provide the Vikings with much needed depth along the interior of the offensive line. Minnesota’s offensive line struggled last season, some of which was due to injury, players not playing to potential, and an overall lack of talent in the scheme.

OT
Victor Rogers (Detroit) – Needing help along the offensive line, the Lions retained the services of tackle Victor Rogers. Rogers, a large lineman can engulf a defensive lineman, but is often beaten by quicker ends. In Rogers, the Lions keep an average lineman which should help with depth issues.

DE
Aaron Kampman (Green Bay) – The Packers and Kampman worked long and hard to get a deal done prior to the defensive end hitting the open market in free agency. Kampman, very good against the run and a better than average pass rusher felt at home in Green Bay and didn’t want to depart. Give credit to the Green Bay front office for stepping to the plate and retaining this popular and consistent lineman. If Kampman would have opted for free agency, he would have been in high demand.

DT
La’Roi Glover (St. Louis) – Glover remains a solid defensive lineman and should improve an already quick Rams from four. Undersized for the 3-4 in Dallas, Glover should excel in the familiar 4-3 which will be run in St. Louis. With ample speed and quickness as a 4-3 defensive tackle, Glover has the ability to penetrate the line of scrimmage and attack the quarterback, while playing the run well

LB
Shawn Barber (Philadelphia) – Barber returns to Philadelphia where he tasted his greatest success with the Eagles. If healthy, Barber’s athleticism will be a welcomed addition to a Philadelphia defense which was seeking speed and quickness on the outside. The one-year deal Barber agreed to with the team is a safe offer for the team which could pay high rewards, not only for the Eagles, but for Barber if he is able to return to pre-knee injury form.

CB
Sam Madison (NY Giants) – The Giants headed into the off-season looking to improve their below average defensive backfield. In Madison, the Giants have a cornerback that has the ability to man-up on a receiver and at times demonstrates the skills to take a receiver out of the game. While not as dominant as in years past, Madison should be a quality upgrade over free agent Will Allen in New York.

S
Shaunard Harts (Seattle) – Harts is player which should provide depth to the defensive backfield of the Seahawks. Not viewed as a starting candidate, Harts could fill a reserve role in Seattle, and may have the opportunity to compete, especially with Marquand Manuel on the verge of testing free agency and Ken Hamlin recovering from injuries suffered in an off-field incident.

PK
Jeff Chandler (Cleveland) – Chandler has made his rounds through the league in his three seasons. In Cleveland, Chandler should be viewed as insurance for Phil Dawson, the Browns consistent kicker. This appears to be a move by the Browns to have an additional kicker on the roster heading into training camp.

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Update - 3/11/06 - 2:03 AM EST

ESPN.com reports that the Seahawks have contacted former Giants CB Will Allen about a visit, and that the Vikings are possibly looking to outbid Seattle for transition-tagged All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson. More on these stories as it becomes available...

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Our friends at The Orange and Brown Report and Patriots Insider are reporting a great deal of possible activity involving both teams:

DRAWING THE LINE: The Browns appear poised to move on without the services of starting left tackle L.J. Shelton. The team and player have not been able to come to terms of a deal and as of Thursday night, the two parties were still too far apart to feel confident a deal can be in place prior to the free agent player signing period.

Cleveland is poised to add experience and depth along the offensive line this off-season, with offensive lineman Tom Ashworth being mentioned as one player the team is expected to show some interest in.

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WILL HE OR WON'T HE? The rumors coming out of both Cleveland and Foxboro regarding the Browns' interest in free-agent linebacker Willie McGinest continues to gain steam.

League sources tell The OBR that head coach Romeo Crennel is salivating over the possibility of adding the veteran to his scheme, and only general manager Phil Savage doing his due diligence and coming up with “calendar” concerns would prevent the Browns from pursuing the LB.

The stumbling block could be that the Pats and McGinest are talking, with both sides wanting the linebacker/defensive end to return. We are told that the Browns will be talking with McGinest's reps on Saturday or Sunday.

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WHERE THERE'S A WILL: The Browns may have some additional competition for the recently-released McGinest, however. We're hearing that the Broncos have made a few overtures to the free-agent linebacker's agent, with the interest expected to grow exponentially if the club fails to land Jets LB John Abraham in an oft-rumored trade.

This situation could be of concern to the Browns because we're informed that no deal is imminent between the Broncos and Jets. With Denver looking to make moves quickly and having a OLB/DE pass rusher as a top priority, the Broncos could swipe the Patriots vet away from the Browns if they tire of drawn-out negotiations with the Jets.

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GREAT SCOTT: In somewhat of an odd twist, the Patriots are expected to show an interest in Ravens linebacker Bart Scott if the club cannot convince McGinest to return at a much lower salary. Scott, of course, is very visible on the Browns' free-agent radar screen, although he is not right at the top.

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THE PRYCE AIN'T RIGHT: Another Browns note we're hearing as it relates to the Broncos: do not discount defensive end Trevor Pryce returning to Denver. Pryce, who visited Cleveland earlier in the week and had what a source close to Pryce termed “a very encouraging trip”, is open to a Mile High return if he fails to garner the requisite interest on his free-agent tour.

Translation: he's open to a return to Denver if teams fail to show him the requisite money.

Translation Addendum: He may very well do so, because the Browns are not prepared to offer Pryce top-dollar due to his injury history.

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IT'S A GIVENS: Count wide receiver David Givens as one of those in the “hell yes” category in regard to the passage of a new collective bargaining agreement. A league source tells The OBR that upwards of 12 teams will have at least a fair-to-middling interest in the free agent.

(Of course, that's just an educated guess as tampering is winkwink illegal.)

If there were not a new CBA, the source said, Givens could have expected as few as five teams hot on his trail. Of course, the more teams interested in a particular player, the larger said player's bank account grows.

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GIVEN TAKE: Speaking of Givens, we hear the Browns may be prepared to make a contract proposal to the WR as early as this weekend. However, Givens may wait at least a week into free agency before settling on a particular deal and club.

Of course, there is always the potential for a team with a tremendous amount of interest—like, say, one whose name rhymes with “Cleveland Browns”—to make an offer that would have Givens' travel agent scrambling to cancel prospective visits.

We are told, as of Friday afternoon, that if the right offer is made by a team where Givens is comfortable, he will accept it. One important note, however: Givens is expected to give the Patriots the opportunity to sign him to a deal close to the offer before he accepts it.

Loyalty to a team only seems to show up when it could be annoying to Browns fans.

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Other NFL speculations and activites abound:

Jason Fabini – OT (NY Jets) Representatives for the veteran offensive lineman have been in contact with the Cowboys, though at this time a deal may not be in the offing.

Adam Vinatieri – K (New England) The Dallas Cowboys are expected to forward an offer to the veteran kicker on Saturday.

Will Witherspoon – LB (Carolina) Negotiations with the standout linebacker have not gone nearly as well as the team had hoped. At this time it is unlikely a deal will be consummated prior to free agency. The team hopes to continue negotiations, but Witherspoon is expected to receive an offer from the Minnesota Vikings as soon as Saturday.

Willie McGinest – OLB/DE (New England) The Patriots and McGinest have parted ways, but the parting could be short-lived. The team would like to retain the veteran and McGinest would like to return. At this time, the dollars and cents of the equation don’t add up and McGinest is going to test the free agent player market. According to representatives, numerous teams are expected to show an interest early Saturday morning (3/11)

Updated Issac Bruce – WR (St. Louis) The Rams released Bruce due to a double-digit cap number, though the team remains hopeful they can resign the consistent veteran. The Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, and Houston Texans are believed to be interested, with the Lions and Redskins said to be posturing heavily. If Detroit is the destination, talented but troubled wide receiver Charlie Rogers could be on the way out of Motown. The Rams re-signed Bruce to a three-year deal on Friday 3/10.

Kevin Mawae – C (NY Jets) Mawae is going to be a hot commodity on the open market. The Dolphins, Philadelphia, and Cowboys have shown an interest in the standout lineman. Miami and Philadelphia have needs at the position, while Dallas is an interesting destination due to Mawae’s tie to head coach Bill Parcells.

Updated Patrick Ramsey – QB (Washington) Ramsey has been given permission to visit teams, in hopes of getting a deal done. The Redskins refuse to release the young quarterback and will ultimately take a mid-round draft selection for him. The Dolphins and Jets have been talking with the Redskins and Ramsey, with the Jets appearing to be on the verge of agreeing to a deal for the quarterback.

Daunte Culpepper – QB (Minnesota) Daily the story changes regarding Culpepper’s status. Today, Culpepper has requested his release, and the team does not appear inclined in fulfilling the request. Trade talks with the Dolphins and now we hear the Raiders could be in the offing.

Sam Adams – DT (Buffalo) The Dolphins have expressed a serious interest in the run-stuffing defensive tackle, but it is the Cincinnati Bengals that may have the upper-hand in landing the veteran.

John Abraham – DE (Jets) Denver would love to land the pass rushing defensive end to help their poor pass rush, the problem is the Jets are seeking a first-round draft selection. The Broncos have not been willing to part with the hefty price-tag at this time. Reports now indicate that Seattle, Atlanta ans Washington are also interested, and that Abraham is expected to visit all four locations next week, barring some sort of deal in the interim.



QB:
Brian Griese (Tampa Bay) Griese has displayed the ability to be an effective quarterback at the professional level. In Tampa Bay, Griese’s career has realized a rebirth under the offensive mindset of head coach Jon Gruden, though the 2005 season ended in injury. Griese wants to remain in Tampa Bay, the team wants to retain his services, this appears to only be a salary-cap related move to help the team at this time. Negotiations are ongoing at this time and Griese could be resigned soon. If something unexpected were to occur between the team and player during negotiations, Griese could be a very interesting player in the free agent market. Due to his moderate salary requirements and necessity for many teams, Griese could command and expect a starting opportunity.

Kerry Collins (Oakland) The salary-cap strapped Raiders did not have many options in getting below the league-mandated 102-million dollar cap. Collins due to his large cap number (approximately 13-million dollars) was an easy target. Still possessing a big-arm, Collins is a vertical game type quarterback and has shown the tendency to be prone to turnovers. While his decision making process has improved, he still locks on receivers far too often. Collins will receive some serious interest in free agency, as he remains a viable starting quarterback option.

Tony Banks (Houston) Banks has been a backup to David Carr in Houston and should only expect to serve in a reserve capacity at this point in his career. Still athletic, Banks still has a strong arm, but inconsistency and a knack for turning the ball have hampered him throughout his career.

Jay Fiedler (Jets) Brought in to serve as insurance in the event starter Chad Pennington was injured, Fielder went down with a shoulder injury minutes into his first opportunity in New York. Has had some success as a starter, but is now in the twilight of his career and should be looked upon as a backup or emergency type starter.

Tommy Maddox (Pittsburgh) Appears to have lost all confidence in his ability. Often throws into coverage and has proven to be very erratic. Unlikely he will suit up in 2006, unless a team comes calling for a veteran type to step in.

 

RB:
Mike Anderson (Denver) Looking to clear cap space and provide Ron Dayne a greater opportunity (as a backup), Anderson was a somewhat surprising cut for the Broncos. Not the fleetest afoot, Anderson has proven to be a powerful inside, downhill type rusher. On the downside of his career, Anderson has the ability to play, but shouldn’t be counted on as a feature back at this point.

Stephen Davis (Carolina) At one time Davis was as good as any back in the league. Knee injuries have robbed Davis of his surprising quickness and upper-body shiftiness. Still retains power, but is too great an injury risk to count on.

Rod Smart (Carolina) Simply a reserve at the running back position, Smart has had some success in the return game and should catch on with a team seeking a better than average kick return specialist.

Tony Hollings (Houston) Never reached the potential many scouts believed he possessed when coming out of Georgia Tech. Knee injury in college robbed him of playing time and quite possibly took some of his game from him. Hollings is a reserve at best at the professional level.

Cal Murray (San Diego) Special teams type player.

 

FB:
Jerald Sowell (Jets) Has one role, of a blocking back. Good blocker that understands his role of sacrificing himself. Teams which utilize the two-back or H-back sets with a need should express an interest.

 

TE:
Lorenzo Diamond (Miami) A diamond in the rough this diamond is not. Does not offer any true threat or significance and should be viewed a role player.

Jeb Putzier (Denver) Has turned into a solid tight-end in the Broncos offensive system. Putzier release was in an effort to reduce the Denver salary-cap issues and no other reason. His blocking has improved, but should be deemed average, while excelling as a receiver. The interest in Putzier will immediate when the free agent player signing period commences.

Mark Campbell (Buffalo) As the Bills sought to gain salary-cap relief, Campbell was an easy target for the team. Has battled injuries throughout his career, when healthy has shown the ability to get open, and is a sufficient run blocker. Campbell should be looked at as a depth player for a team looking to fill out the roster with a veteran presence type player willing to play special teams.

 

WR:
(Re-signed with St. Louis) - Isaac Bruce (St. Louis) Bruce again was a solid receiver in the 2005 season and appears to not be slowing down. A very good route runner, with deceptive speed and quickness, Bruce is a salary-cap cutting measure by the team. While Bruce could resign with the Rams, he may be willing to test the free agent market, where a player of his stature could be an immediate hit. If he enters the free agent waters, Bruce will command immediate attention and should sign a significant deal.

Cedric James (New England) Non-descript, special teams type player at best.

Johnnie Morton (San Francisco) Nearing the end of his career, still runs routes well, but has slowed and does not catch the ball nearly as well as in his days in Detroit. Can be a help as a reserve, but shouldn’t be counted on to be a major contributor.

Harry Williams (Jets) Special teams type player.

 

OT:
Matt Stinchcomb OT/OG (Tampa Bay) Overall has improved over the past couple seasons. Is not a dominating blocker, can be beaten by quicker defensive linemen, but has improved footwork and positioning. Has the ability to step in and help an offensive line, but should not be viewed as a top-quality talent. Stinchcomb will garner interest on the free agent market due to his reliability and moderate contract expectations, if he does not resign with the Buccaneers.

Damion McIntosh (Miami) Age, size, and physical limitations make McIntosh a risky proposition at the tackle position. Due to the lack of top-flight talent at the tackle position in the game, McIntosh should remain in the game as a reserve.

Brad Hopkins (Tennessee) He may be getting up in age (35), but Hopkins still possesses the ability and consistency sought at the left tackle position. At one time, He was close to being a dominant tackle, utilizing quickness and excellent handwork, now he depends on experience and desire to play the position at a high level. Due to age, Hopkins shouldn’t be counted on to be much more than a two-year stop-gap player.

Matt Morgan (St. Louis) Reserve, special teams type player.

Matt Hill (Carolina) Reserve, special teams type player.

Jason Fabini (Jets) Fabini was a solid, workmanlike tackle for the New York Jets prior to a pectoral muscle tear midway through the 2005 season. Capable of manning either the left or right tackle position, Fabini has been a consistent lineman without significant injury concerns. Fabini remains strong at the point of attack due to a wide base and leg strength. Released as a salary-cap relief measure, Fabini will garner serious looks from teams seeking an above average, experience lineman.

Mike Williams (Buffalo) A classic underachiever inside a mammoth frame. Williams was a highly touted lineman coming out of Texas, but has never achieved at the level expected of a high first-round draft selection. Overall play is inconsistent and sloppy, does not move well, and cannot reach the second level of defense. Williams can start on a team which can hide his deficiencies and will receive some looks based off his size and experience.

 

OG:
Ron Stone (Oakland) This cagey veteran will not wind down his career in Oakland. A marginal, fringe type player now, Stone still has the ability to run block well, but struggles against quicker defensive linemen. Inconsistent is getting to the second-level of the defense and can be beat without help over the duration of a game. May get some looks from teams wanting to add depth, especially in training camp.

(Signed with Minnesota) - Jason Whittle (Giants) A better run blocker than pass blocker, Whittle is not overly strong at the point of attack, but will give maximum effort. Could be of value to a team looking for an average lineman for depth, or to help a team with issues at the guard position.

Will Shields (Kansas City) Just like a fine wine, Shields appears to get better with age. Still can control his man at the point of attack and run block with the best in the business. Shields plays with the find you and grind you attitude. Even at 35-years of age, Shields has the quickness and strength to pass block well. If Kansas City does not resign the veteran lineman, Shields will command immediate attention on the open market.

David Loverne (Detroit) Serviceable at the point of attack, Loverne does not possess the strength and overall skill to make an impact at the guard position. Plays smaller than his size, can be overpowered by larger defensive linemen. Could be a starter on some teams and should receive some attention once free agency commences.

 

C:
Cory Raymer (Washington) At the initial point of attack Raymer is a sufficient interior lineman, the issue for Raymer is his limited mobility and lack of athleticism. Displays the ability to compete with some success, but should not be counted upon as the long-term answer at center for a team in need. Still, he should receive some attention and land with an organization needing immediate help and depth along the interior line.

Kevin Mawae (Jets) Was playing at a high level prior to a left triceps injury which cost him the majority of the 2005 season. Tough and highly respected, Mawae remains a solid center who can generate better than average results in the run and passing game, but should not be counted on to be an elite player at this advanced stage of his career (35-years old; 12-year veteran).

Joe Iorio (Giants) Deep backup, special teams type player.

 

DE:
Duane Clemons (Cincinnati) Rather undersized as a true defensive end and lacks overall strength. Clemons plays hard is displays sufficient quickness to put pressure on the quarterback at times, though inconsistent. Clemons is average against the run and is an average talent at this point in his career, but productive enough to garner attention in the free agent player market.

Trevor Pryce (Denver) The one-time dominating player is that no longer. Injuries and age have robbed Pryce of some of the speed, quickness, and power for which elevated him to the elite pass rusher standard. Still displays the ability to compete, but should not be expected to produce more than average numbers for a defensive end or tackle. Due to his track record and team necessities in the game today, Pryce could command more than the standard for a player at his position.

Kenard Lang (Cleveland) Was a better than average defensive end for the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Browns, prior to the 2005 season. In 2005, Lang dropped weight and learned a new position (outside linebacker), all which played into his lackluster season of a year ago. If Lang can add weight, he can be a viable mid-range option for a team seeking a steady player heading towards the closing chapter of his career.

Chris Cooper (San Francisco) Marginal depth type player.

Brady Smith (Atlanta) A foot injury sidelined this high-motor, lanky defensive end. Plays every play like it’s the last one and is a solid team player in the locker room. If healthy, Smith has the ability to help a team looking for run support and with a moderate pass rush. The Falcons were seeking some salary-cap relief and this move falls into that category. Will command serious attention in the free agent player signing period, if healthy.

 

DT:
Brandon Noble (Washington) A classic overachiever that plays every play as if it is the last. Plays the run well, showing ample strength to fight and clog the interior of the point of attack. Somewhat of a liability as a pass rusher, due to his ordinary speed and quickness, but gives all he has. Noble will garner some interest in free agency due to his consistent play and realistic approach to the game.

Brentson Buckner (Carolina) Age, injury, salary-cap issues, and a drop in production all played into Buckner’s release. While still displaying the strength and ability to play the defensive tackle, he has lost mobility and quickness. Struggles against quicker, physical offensive linemen and could be at the end of the road.

Sam Adams (Buffalo) Remains a solid run-stuffing defensive tackle, but age and wear/tear on his large frame appear to be taking their toll. Not as dominant at the point of attack in 2005 and appeared to wear down as the season went on. Should have a few miles left in the tank, but don’t expect the same stellar Adams of years gone by.

Ted Washington (Oakland) Much like Adams, Washington is on the short-end of his career. Not nearly as effective in 2005 as in the past, Washington struggled. A few short years ago, one blocker rarely could get the best of Washington, in 2005 age and years of punishment at the point of attack appears to have caught up to him. Still can be effective in a spot role, but shouldn’t be depended upon to play 35-50 plays a game any longer.

(Signed with St. Louis) - La'Roi Glover (Dallas) Glover simply is not a good fit in the Dallas defensive scheme. Released for that and salary-cap reasons, Glover can expect to draw some significant interest from teams looking for a defensive lineman that plays the run well and can get to the quarterback on occasion in the right scheme (needs athleticism around him).

Lance Legree (Jets) Legree is a serviceable defensive tackle that will give effort, but is not physical or athletic enough to make an impact. Due to his desire and effort, Legree will play somewhere on Sunday’s, though as a backup.

Willie Blade (Dallas) Was unable to endear himself to head coach Bill Parcells due to his inconsistency and lack of overall performance. Though athletic for an interior defensive lineman, Blade is easily manhandled and lacks intensity. Should land in another team training camp for depth and could surprise if ever utilizing his physical attributes.

 

LB:
Jeff Gooch (Tampa Bay) Doesn’t do anything overly well, but is consistent in regards to being a depth type player. Tends to be slow in recognition, has trouble getting off blocks, and can be overpowered.

Chris Claiborne (St. Louis) Though being athletic, Claiborne just doesn’t make plays and can’t stay healthy. Claiborne was believed to be one of the special type linebackers when entering the league out of USC, but has been relatively average at the professional level. Runs well, tackles adequately, but doesn’t make plays with any consistency. After a non-descript career with the Lions, he moved to the Rams and continued his trait of being average.

Jeremy Loyd (St. Louis) Special teams/backup type player.

Na'il Diggs (Green Bay) Definitely the type of linebacker that plays better in space. Diggs is much better in coverage than at the point of attack. Teams like linebackers that display speed and quickness, Diggs will garner his fair share of interest due to his athletic ability.

Barry Gardner (Jets) Marginal backup inside linebacker type and special teams ace.

Willie McGinest (New England) Despite getting up in age, McGinest continues to play the game at a high level. Plays the outside linebacker / stand-up defensive end positions equally well and is an excellent run-stopper. McGinest can pressure the quarterback when called upon and is an excellent leader. May not be as successful in a system change at this point in his career, which lends credence to the notion he could remain in New England, or sign with the Cleveland Browns (Romeo Crennel) or Dallas Cowboys (Bill Parcells). If McGinest hits the open market, the interest will be significant.

Junior Seau (Miami) Age and injuries have slowed this one-time perennial All-Pro linebacker. Seau was never able to equal his dominant play as a member of the San Diego Chargers when arriving in Miami. Due to physical issues over the past few seasons, he should not be counted on to be a major factor for a defense, but can provide experience and leadership in a depth capacity.

LaVar Arrington (Washington) Athletically gifted, Arrington has displayed to be a disruptive force when healthy and in the right mindset. Knee injury slowed his progress in Washington’s defensive scheme of Gregg Williams, and was not open to adapting to the new scheme in place. As the 2005 season progressed, Arrington began to surface as a player in the scheme, it didn’t hurt that he also tuned down his attitude (was not getting along with the coaching staff). Has the ability to rush the passer and play the run effectively, at times is too aggressive, but should improve with experience and confidence in the defensive scheme. A definite salary-cap related release, but issues with the staff helped solidify his release. Will command immediate attention in free agency and will be expected to be a high-impact signing.

(Signed with Philadelphia) - Shawn Barber (Kansas City) Injuries have robbed this very athletic player from significant parts of seasons throughout his career. Still runs well and is coming off knee surgery. Barber is a serious medical risk and should only receive a very team friendly contract (one-year deal) to see if he can play an entire season, which is questionable at best at this time in his career.

Gary Stills (Kansas City) Very good special teams player.

Brandon Short (Carolina) Productive linebacker that has had some issues with teammates and coaches in the past, Short is on the outside looking in. While this release can be acknowledged as a salary-cap cutting move, his overall play was inconsistent and the team is looking for a more balance and chemistry. Short will draw interest in free agency due to his ability to play at a better than average level at times.

Howard Hodges (San Diego) No impact, special teams type player.

Jamie Sharper (Seattle) Salary-cap cutting move, though performance and injury plays into the equation. Sharper was a disappointment for the Seahawks, as he was unable to regain a starting role after recovering from injury. Sharper appears to have slowed down, but that may be attributed to injury. Once was a very durable and tough linebacker, in the 2005 season he was easier to neutralize. If healthy (knee surgery), he could command some looks in free agency, but there should not be a large payday offered.

 

CB:
Walt Harris (Washington) Played reasonably well with the Redskins in the 2005 season and could be attractive to a team seeking a dependable (not spectacular) cornerback at a good price. Pretty solid in pass defense, Harris is average at best in run support and shouldn’t be expected to improve entering his 11th season in the league. With the number of teams seeking help at the corner, Harris should have no problem finding a new team in 2006 (if he doesn’t resign with the Redskins).

Brandon Williams (Atlanta) Special teams, deep reserve type player.

Brandon Payne (Detroit) Special teams, deep reserve type player.

Eric Warfield (Kansas City) Very inconsistent and does not do a good job in positioning himself between the ball and receiver. Can be easily fooled and does not play to his size. Could get a look as a starter somewhere, but the odds are he will be a backup in 2006.

Dexter McCleon (Kansas City) McCleon doesn’t cover well, is better in run support, but a cornerback is paid to cover and execute. Can still contribute, but is not starter material any longer.

Reggie Howard (Miami) Appeared to have the ability to become a better than average cornerback when with the Panthers. In two-seasons with the Dolphins, Howard was a complete bust. Free agency should be relatively quiet for him, as he is a depth type player at this point.

(Signed with NY Giants) - Sam Madison (Miami) Has slowed over the past two-seasons, but still regarded as a quality cornerback. Madison reads and reacts well and is smooth in coverage. He relies more on experience and instincts, rather than speed and quickness, though Madison possesses adequate speed. Still, despite some slippage, Madison can still play the position at a high level of consistency, but has not shown the ability over the past couple seasons to be the shutdown cornerback he once was.

Denard Walker (Oakland) Smallish stature and a loss of speed and quickness make Walker a nickel or dime type cornerback at this point in his career.

Andre Dyson (Seattle) Salary-cap cutting move after a very disappointing 2005 season for the Seahawks. Injuries and inconsistency hampered Dyson throughout the season and he was replaced when relatively healthy. Based on his history, Dyson will get an offer to start in the league in 2006, but may have to prove the 2005 season was a fluke. Must do a better job against bigger receivers to taste success, is aggressive, and has a nose for the ball.

Duane Starks (New England) This one-time big-time cornerback has struggled since suffering a serious knee injury a couple years ago. Whether the knee isn’t healthy or the player is suffering from confidence issues, Starks is far from the player he was just a few seasons ago. Relatively young, Starks may still have a place in the game, but will have to start from the bottom up.

Michael Lehan (Cleveland) Has shown some coverage ability, but is always injured. At this time a player which should not be counted on to be anything more than a special teams / reserve type player.

Ahmed Plummer (San Francisco) When healthy, Plummer is a very solid cornerback. The past two seasons have been difficult for the former Ohio State star, neck and ankle woes have limited his playing time, which helped lead to his release (as well as the salary-cap savings). Again, if healthy, Plummer can be a significant player at the corner position, but that is a big “IF”. Will draw serious interest as teams are always seeking cornerback that can cover, and Plummer does that well, when healthy.

Ty Law (Jets) Coming off a serious foot injury, Law played his way into shape during the 2005 season and was named to the Pro-Bowl. A truly outstanding cornerback and playmaker in the defensive backfield, Law will command significant interest in free agency. Still can man-up with the best of them, positions and handles himself well against large receivers, and displays consistency getting between the ball and receiver.

Michael Harden (Seattle) Could be a reserve and special teams type player.

Willie Williams (Pittsburgh) The Pittsburgh Super Bowl victory could be the final farewell for Williams. Smallish is stature, he has lost the speed and quickness necessary to play the cornerback position. The Pittsburgh defensive scheme helped minimize deficiencies. A definite salary-cap move, production also plays a factor in his release. A backup at best now and may end his career with the ‘ring’.

 

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Matt Bowen (Washington) Possesses solid recognition skills, but lacks speed and quickness, which limits his productivity and worth. Aggressively plays the run and is much better in support. Can start on a team with a need at the position if surrounded by athletic type players in the defensive backfield to minimize his average athletic ability.

Russell Stuvaints (Pittsburgh) Reserve, special teams type player the Steelers really like.

Mike Logan (Pittsburgh) Adequate run and pass defender, has the ability to help a team as a depth player. Should not be deemed a serious starting quality safety, but can step in and fill a gap in the short-term.

Lawyer Milloy (Buffalo) Not the dominant defensive back he once was, Milloy can still play the game at a high level and provides a great deal of experience. Over the years Milloy has lost a step and may not cover as much ground, but he makes up for this due to his ability to be in position. Any team looking for a safety for a couple years will seriously consider this former New England Patriots and Buffalo Bills standout.

Tebucky Jones (Miami) Jones has never played to the level expected when he was a first-round draft selection. Poor fundamentals and a lack of urgency leaves Jones on the sideline.

Marcus Coleman (Houston) Was starting in Houston until he violated team rules and fell out of favor with the coaching staff. Coleman still has the ability to be a serviceable safety if above average talent surrounds him in the defensive backfield, due to questionable pass coverage skills at this point in his career.

Brent Alexander (Giants) Considering retirement and coming off a poor season with the New York Giants, this option may be best served, as Alexander appears to have nothing left.

Oliver Celestin (Jets) Reserve player with potential. A definite special teams player which should play on Sunday somewhere in the 2006 season.

Jerry Wilson (San Diego) A step slow, average at best in coverage, and will not intimidate a receiver, Wilson’s days of starting in the league are over. At best, now a backup and special teams type contributor.

Derek Pagel (Dallas) Special teams type player.


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