The Thursday FA Wire, 3/16/06 - 8:15 PM EST

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 continue to take you through all the cuts, transactions and rumors, providing our own insider analysis as well.

Update - 3/16/06 - 8:15 PM EST

Seattle tight end Ryan Hannam just completed a visit to Miami, and is now expected to visit the Dallas Cowboys next. The Cowboys are in search of a run-blocking tight end now that unrestricted free agent Dan Campbell signed a five-year contract with the Detroit Lions.

Two more Seahawks comings and goings - backup DE Rodney Bailey has signed with the Steelers, and CB Jimmy Williams has re-signed with Seattle. Terms of Williams' contract were not disclosed.

The OBR's (Scout.com's Cleveland Browns site) John Taylor reports that San Francisco 49ers LB Julian Peterson, who visited Seattle today, has a rather outstanding contract demand.

According to a league source, Peterson is seeking $18-$20 million in any new contract he signs.

$18-$20 million in guaranteed money.

To put that into proper perspective, Edgerrin James and Shaun Alexander received $15 million guaranteed each and they were coming off Pro Bowl seasons. Peterson is coming off a sub par 2005 season, which came on the heels of an Achilles injury that limited him to five games in 2004.

Then again, Peterson is represented by the notorious Poston brothers, so that does somewhat explain the exorbitant demands. In order for the Cleveland Browns interest to go from minimal to anything close to serious, the source said, the Peterson camp “will have to drop their price drastically”. Taking a cue from the Browns—or is that vice versa?—the Patriots are also interested in Peterson, but are taking a wait-and-see attitude. In addition to Cleveland and New England, Seattle and Miami have shown interest. Peterson has already visited the Seahawks in the last the last 24 hours, and has a visit scheduled for the Dolphins in the next day or two.

Additionally, the source said, the 49ers are about to renew their efforts to re-sign their prodigal LB.

According to a league source, it's believed UFA FB William Henderson (Packers) is leaning toward re-signing with the Green Bay Packers. Henderson, according to the source, wanted more than the Minnesota Vikings were willing to pay in a signing bonus. The Packers have plenty of room under the salary cap and the Vikings aren't able to accommodate his demand.

Blocking tight end John Gilmore has rejoined the Chicago Bears with a two-year, $2 million contract that includes $550,000 in guaranteed money, according to an NFL source. Gilmore visited the Oakland Raiders and had spoken with the Baltimore Ravens.

The Baltimore Ravens have released offensive tackle Orlando Brown, who still has designs of extending a career interrupted for three years by a serious eye injury.

The Chicago Bears signed cornerback Dante Wesley, who had been with the Carolina Panthers, to a two-year contract.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Stockar McDougle to a contract today. The seventh-year pro had spent the previous season in Miami after signing a one-year contract as an unrestricted free agent.

McDougle, 29, played in seven games starting two last season for the Dolphins. The 6-6, 348-pounder started two games at right tackle. He started all 32 games at right tackle for the Detroit Lions from 2003 to 2004. He has started 56 of his 68 career games with 45 starts at right tackle, eight starts at left tackle and three starts at left guard.

Our friends at TheRanchReport, Scout.com's Dallas Cowboys site, report that the 'Boys may have more than a passing interest in Seattle RFA kicker Josh Brown. Cowboys still consider themselves to be in a "buyer's market" when it comes to the number of available kickers this off-season. In fact, four candidates are on the Cowboys' radar: Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt (UFA), Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri (UFA), Brown (RFA), and maybe Atlanta's Todd Peterson (UFA).

Narrowing that list down is relatively easy: the problem with Vandergajt is he usually doesn't handle kickoffs. The problem with Vinatieri is that he will command too much money.

Brown may be quickly emerging as the leading candidate to handle kicking duties next year in Dallas.

Thursday afternoon, Brown's agent, Robert Roche, confirmed that Dallas has been in contact as recently as the past few days. "Yes, they (the Cowboys) contacted us earlier this week," he said.

Roche also said while the Cowboys have shown interest, they have not yet signed him to an offer sheet.

As a restricted free agent, Seattle has already tendered a one-year, $712,000 offer to Brown. The team would have to receive a seventh-round draft pick as compensation if he signs elsewhere. Given the Cowboys' current situation, the signing of Brown seems to make a good bit of sense. For starters, he has a very strong leg (5-of-8 from 50+ yards last season with a long of 55 yards). He also has the ability to handle kickoffs, which is a skill that is important to Bill Parcells, and he's also proven to be one of the more reliable kickers in the league (39-of-42 inside of 40 yards for his career).

Scout.com has confirmed that the Detroit Lions have reached a contract agreement with UFA QB Josh McCown (Cardinals).

The Philadelphia Eagles today announced they have signed quarterback Jeff Garcia and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney each to one-year contracts. Garcia was most recently a member of the Detroit Lions, while Gaffney was with the Houston Texans.

“Garcia is a guy who’s had a lot of success in the National Football League,” said head coach Andy Reid. “He knows how to win football games and he’s been to the Pro Bowl multiple times. He’s a very smart player and is very familiar with our offensive system. He’ll be a great back-up to Donovan.”

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Garcia (6-0, 200) is one of the most productive quarterbacks in the NFL with 19,076 yards and 126 touchdown passes over the past seven seasons. His quarterback rating (85.8) ranks fourth among active players with 2,700-or-more pass attempts. Along with Donovan McNabb, the Eagles now boast two of the three active quarterbacks to post 125-plus touchdown passes in fewer than 100 games (Daunte Culpepper has 135 TDs in 81 games, McNabb 134 in 94 games, and Garcia 126 in 91 games). McNabb and Garcia are also among the NFL’s all-time leaders in TD/INT ratio: Steve Young (2.17), McNabb (2.03), Joe Montana (1.96), Peyton Manning (1.88), Tom Brady (1.86), and Garcia (1.77).

The 36-year-old Garcia will be entering his 13th season in professional football, his eighth in the NFL. Following his collegiate career at San Jose State, he played five seasons in the Canadian Football League highlighted by a 1998 Grey Cup Championship with the Calgary Stampeders, when he was named the game’s most valuable player.

In 1999, Garcia signed with the San Francisco 49ers and was pressed into a starting role in 10 games for an injured Steve Young. In 2000, his first full season as a starter, Garcia threw for a 49ers team record 4,278 yards and 31 touchdowns. The following season, his first of three straight Pro Bowl campaigns, he passed for 3,538 yards and 32 touchdowns, becoming the first passer in 49ers history with 30-plus touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

Garcia will reunite with Eagles assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg who served in the same capacity with the 49ers from 1999-2000. After five seasons in San Francisco, Garcia played with the Cleveland Browns in 2004 and the Detroit Lions in 2005.

Wide receiver Rod Gardner has agreed to a one-year contract with the Packers, according to his agent Joel Segal.

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Update - 3/16/06 - 9:45 AM EST

NFL.com's Adam Schefter confirms other reports that after entertaining Buffalo free-agent safety Lawyer Milloy and New York Jets defensive end John Abraham on March 15, the Seattle Seahawks will host a visit with San Francisco free-agent linebacker Julian Peterson on March 16. Schefter has also speculated that if the Seahawks were to decide today to match the "poison-pill" offer sheet given to Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, Seattle would proably do so.

However, given the sheer number of defensive players the team is talking to at this point, it's just as reasonable to assume that they're anticipating a future without Hutchinson and considerable improvement in the defensive side with the cap money they have left. After re-signing DT Rocky Bernard to a 3-year, $13 million deal with a $5.4 million signing bonus, the Seahawks have about $14 million left under the 2006 salary cap.

Schefter also reports that the Dallas Cowboys may have an interest in Seattle RFA kicker Josh Brown.

Randy Lange, of the Bergen Record, reports free agent WR Tim Dwight (Patriots) is planning to visit the Seattle Seahawks. In the 2005 season with the New England Patriots, Dwight caought 19 passes for 33 yards and 3 TDs. A renowned return specialist, Dwight also returned 32 punts for 273 yards and 10 kickoffs for 250 yards.

Randy Lange, of the Bergen Record, reports free agent WR Antonio Chatman (Packers) will meet with the Seattle Seahawks.

Mike Sando of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Seahawks will also host a visit with LB Jamie Winborn. Winborn played with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005.

The Eagles reached a one-year contract agreement with former Houston Texans WR Jabar Gaffney. He won't be available to the media on Thursday as he's out of the country.

He's known as a solid inside/possession receiver with good hands and good size. He's also good on third downs and the redzone area. His one big negative is that he's not going to stretch the field at all.

DE Rodney Bailey, who spent the 2005 season with the Seahawks, may be signing with the Steelers, according to multiple reports.

RB Shawn Bryson officially re-signed with Detroit on Wednesday. Before free agency opened, he was believed to have agreed on what wass reported to be a three-year contract worth $4.5 million.
Although he is listed on the depth chart as the backup to Kevin Jones, Bryson has been one of the Lions most valued players since being signed three years ago as an unrestricted free agent, coming off knee surgery in Buffalo.

During the past season Bryson rushed 64 times for 306 yards and a touchdown, and he also caught 37 passes for 284 yards. His value goes beyond the numbers, however, because he is capable of filling in as a fullback, is the Lions best receiver out of the backfield and is their best at picking up the blitz. The Lions reached an agreement with Bryson shortly after the NFL reached an agreement on a CBA extension.

S Will Demps signed with the Giants, and will likely replace released FS Brent Alexander. "I think this is a good fit," Demps said. "They need a veteran safety to come in and run the back end (of the defense). This is a first-class, prestigious organization. I thought I'd be a perfect fit here. The things they do in Tim Lewis' defense are very similar to what we did in Baltimore. He saw a lot of things he can do with me, and I love that."

CB Walt Harris, who was released by Washington last week, signed with San Francisco. "I'm definitely ready to come in and help," Harris said. "I've been a young guy before, and I know how I thought as a young guy. I was surrounded by a lot of veteran leadership, and that helped me out a whole lot. I just really want to return the favor."

OT Stockar McDougle, a free agent from Miami, has signed with Jacksonville. The deal is reported for two years and a little more than $1.5 million. He will receive a $100,000 signing bonus.

RB Travis Minor has agreed to a one-year deal to return to Miami. Financial terms were not disclosed.

TE Brian Jones, an exclusive rights free agent, signed his one-year tender with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jones, 24, played in 13 games starting one last season for the Jaguars. The 6-3, 252-pounder caught two passes for 49 yards and finished tied for third on the team with 10 special teams tackles.

OG Lewis Kelly re-signed with the Giants. Kelly spent most of last season on the practice squad. He was elevated to the active roster for the season's final three games and played on special teams in a victory over Kansas City on Dec. 17.

LB Nate Webster, a free agent from Cincinnati has reportedly agreed to a two-year deal with Denver worth around $1.5 million.

OT Kevin Barry re-signed with the Packers. Barry, a 6-foot-4, 332-pound offensive tackle out of Arizona, rejoined the club as an unrestricted free agent. A fifth-year player who hails from Racine, Wis., Barry originally made the Packers' season-opening roster in 2002 as a nondrafted rookie free agent. In four seasons Barry has made eight starts while playing in 59 games, including all 16 in 2005.

The Baltimore Ravens released veteran linebacker Peter Boulware on Wednesday. Boulware missed several 2005 games due to various injuries and faces an uncertain future.

Green Bay unrestricted free agent fullback William Henderson had an encouraging meeting with the Vikings coaching staffing Wednesday, but he left town without a contract.

The Vikings and Henderson’s agent, James Williams, began financial discussions immediately following Henderson’s meeting with coaches, but the sides couldn’t come to an agreement on the signing bonus, Williams confirmed.

Henderson said he was encouraged about the possibility of playing with former Packers and current Vikings Darren Sharper and Ryan Longwell, and playing under new Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

He said the offensive system run by Bevell, the quarterbacks coach in Green Bay last year, and head coach Brad Childress will be similar to the one run by the Packers last year.

Williams told Viking Update that Henderson was excited about the possibility of blocking for new Vikings running back Chester Taylor, and the two sides are expected to resume negotiations on Thursday.

The free agent market has a number of talented fullbacks, including Mack Strong (Seattle), Tony Richardson (Kansas City) and Jeremi Johnson (Cincinnati). It could be a buyer’s market.

Scout.com has learned that another unrestricted free agent from the Packers, quarterback Craig Nall, was also unable to come to a contract agreement with the Vikings because of the signing bonus. Nall met with the Vikings on Tuesday. The Vikings also wouldn’t commit to him being the No. 2 quarterback on the team..

According to the Buffalo News, the Bills are expected to have more free-agent visitors this week. Defensive tackle Jermaine Haley, a former Miami Dolphin who was out of the NFL last season, is expected to visit, along with safety Keyon Nash, who has seen time with Oakland the past four seasons. There were indications out of New York the Bills may invite Jets free-agent left tackle Jason Fabini for a visit.


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