Welcome to the Scout.com free agent insider blog live at the 2008 NFL Combine.
We'll be posting insider notes throughout the week so check back frequently.
UPDATE 4:25 PM EST
According to a league source, San Diego Chargers OLB Shawne Merriman (knee) may have a surgery on the knee he injured last season. He missed one after spraining his knee in a Week 14 game against the Tennessee Titans.
Merriman battled through knee, Achilles, ankle, and calf injuries during the regular season.
UPDATE 3:11 PM EST
In a mild surprise, the Chicago Bears decided against using their franchise tag on WR Bernard Berrian. It should be noted that the team still has exclusive negotiating rights on Berrian until next Friday (February 29).
If Berrian isn't re-signed by Chicago, that means both of their starting receivers in 2007 (Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad) will be playing elsewhere in 2008. Incredibly, the projected starting receivers at this point are Mark Bradley (6 catches in 2007) and either Rashied Davis (17 catches in 2007) or Devin Hester (20 catches in 2007)
Look for the Minnesota Vikings, Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Jacksonville Jaguars, and San Francisco 49ers to show interest in Berrian if he becomes free.
UPDATE 2:04 PM EST
While San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Nolan confirmed Thursday OLB Manny Lawson (knee surgery) started running recently and should be ready to participate in the team's OTAs (Organized Team Activities), a league source believes the team will look for pass rushing help in free agency. The 49er defense posted a paltry 31 sacks last season.
Players that the team could be interested are free agent OLBs Calvin Pace (Arizona Cardinals) and Clark Haggans (Pittsburgh Steelers).
Pace, sources say, is a long-shot to re-sign with Arizona. It's believed Pace wants to test free agency since he's coming off of a solid season and a league source notes that San Francisco is interested in Pace and will want to talk to him at the start of free agency next week.
Haggans won't be re-signed by Pittsburgh as the team will be replacing him with second-year OLB LaMarr Woodley.
UPDATE 1:34 PM EST
It's not a secret that the Minnesota Vikings, like so many teams, will be looking for help at the receiver position at the start of free agency next week.
League sources indicate the team has interest in Oakland Raiders WR Jerry Porter. The former West Virginia University product exercised a clause in his contract which will enable him to void the final two years of the deal.
What Porter brings to the table is his ability to run after the catch--a key trait for a receiver to have who plays in the West Coast offense.
Porter should find good interest around the league in his services because of the dearth of talent at the position that will become available at the start of free agency on February 29.
UPDATE 12:58 PM EST
While Philadelphia Eagles management has denied they have given starting CB Lito Sheppard permission to seek a trade, league sources indicated to Scout.com that the team will look to use one of their first two selections on a cornerback in this year's draft.
The team is also expected to re-sign RFA CB Joselio Hanson while letting veteran CB Will James leave.
UPDATE 12:45 PM EST
While various reports indicate the Chicago Bears will use their first-round pick on a quarterback, league sources told Scout.com here at the combine that the team will look to use their top selection on an offensive or defensive lineman.
On the offensive line, Chicago has a dire need for help at RT and LG.
Defensively, the help they need is in the interior.
It's believed the earliest Chicago would look toward selecting a quarterback is in round two with Joe Flacco (Delaware) or Chad Henne (Michigan) as the likely targets.
UPDATE 11:05 AM EST
With Antrel Rolle moving to free safety in 2008, Terrence Holt's days as a Arizona Cardinal could be numbered.
Holt signed a five-year, $15.5 million deal last March including $4 million in guaranteed money.
The guarantees are tied up in roster bonuses (2007/2008). It's believed Holt has a $2 million bonus coming in March. So it's possible the team won't pick it up thus making him a free agent again. His base salary is $2 million for 2008.
UPDATE 10:25 AM EST
While the decision to place the franchise tag on Chicago Bears WR Bernard Berrian isn't due until later today, it's beginning to sound like the team might be leaning on using the marker on him.
In the midst of speaking to the media on Thursday morning, head coach Lovie Smith Smith made it clear the team wants to keep their best receiver.
"We'll try to do whatever we can to keep him," the head coach said.
With a robust $30 million or so in cap space and few options at the receiver
position projected to be available in free agency, the team may have no choice
but to keep Berrian under the franchise tender of $7.848 million for 2008.
If Chicago decides against using their franchise tag on Berrian, they'll have until next Friday to reach a long-term deal with him or he'll be a free agent. The problem is there's a tremendous risk involved if they don't sew him up for at least one more season and the only other free agent Chicago has that would cost them any thing close to significant money is WLB Lance Briggs. So money shouldn't be an issue in retaining Berrian.
By Scout.com'scount, there are at least 12 teams that are looking for a high-end receiver and Berrian is no worse than the No. 2 free agent at the position (D.J. Hackett being the other). So if Berrian leaves, they'll have to look at the draft to find talent at the position.