NFL Free Agency Insider Blog: Week One

What's the latest on DE Tyler Brayton and with other free agents visits?...We have details of the Demorrio Williams deal and exclusive information on which other teams that were interested in him...Will D.J. Hackett and Bryant Johnson find interest now that Bernard Berrian and Donte' Stallworth are off the free agent market. Those details and a lot more information inside...

UPDATE SUNDAY 4:06 PM EST

Free agent WR Bryant Johnson is believed to still be in Buffalo visiting with the Bills. If Johnson doesn't get a deal done with Buffalo, he could visit the Tennessee Titans some time next week, a league source told Scout.com.  

UPDATE SUNDAY 3:02 PM EST

League sources have confirmed the following free agent visits to Scout.com:

- Arizona Cardinals: LB Brandon Chillar (St. Louis Rams) on Monday, DE Travis LaBoy (Tennessee Titans) on Sunday or Monday, and DE Antwan Odom (Tennessee Titans) on Wednesday.

- Indianapolis Colts: DE Tyler Brayton (Oakland Raiders) on Sunday.

- New England Patriots: CB Jason Webster (Buffalo Bills) on Monday.

- Cincinnati Bengals: DE Tyler Brayton (Oakland Raiders) Monday or Tuesday.  

UPDATE SUNDAY 2:12 PM EST

As Scout.com first reported on Friday, DL Tyler Brayton would be making his first free agent visit to the Carolina Panthers on Saturday. Brayton is visiting the Indianapolis Colts today.

A league source notes that the Panthers have already made Brayton a contract offer. While the details of the offer aren't known, Carolina would give Brayton a chance to start opposite DE Julius Peppers. With Indianapolis, the best he could hope for is to be the first end off of the bench.

The Cincinnati Bengals, who are also looking for pass rush help, are also interested in bringing in Brayton for a visit.

Another free agent end, Antwan Odom (Tennessee Titans), has drawn interest from Cincinnati as well.

UPDATE SATURDAY 11:13 PM EST

Scout.com has confirmed the Kansas City Chiefs reached a five-year contract agreement with free agent LB Demorrio Williams for a total of $16 million, $5.5 million guaranteed.

Williams, a league source notes, is expected to compete for playing time against veteran WLB Donnie Edwards. There had been some speculation that starting MLB Napoleon Harris's job was in jeopardy but that doesn't appear to be the case at this point.

Other teams that showed interest in the former Atlanta Falcon were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who had scheduled a visit for Monday, Chicago Bears who had scheduled a visit for Tuesday, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints, Houston Texans, and Buffalo Bills.
 

UPDATE SATURDAY 10:43 PM EST

Scout.com has confirmed free agent WLB Demorrio Williams has scheduled visits with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday and Chicago Bears on Tuesday.

However, FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer reported Saturday evening that Chicago agreed to a new deal with WLB Lance Briggs. So Williams likely won't make that visit to Chicago.

Williams, as Scout.com first reported, visited with the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday.

The New York Giants have also expressed interest in Williams.
 

UPDATE SATURDAY 9:42 PM EST

Scout.com has confirmed free agent DE/DT Tyler Brayton visited with the Carolina Panthers on Saturday. He's off to Indianapolis to meet with the Colts on Sunday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and Detroit Lions have also expressed interest in the former first-round pick of the Oakland Raiders.

Cincinnati has also scheduled a visit with Brayton for next week.
 

UPDATE SATURDAY 6:02 PM EST

With free agent WRs Donte' Stallworth and Bernard Berrian agreeing to deals on Saturday, the market for free agent WRs Bryant Johnson and D.J. Hackett to heat up over the next few days.

League sources told Scout.com to expect the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, and Washington Redskins to consider bringing one of those two receivers in for a visit.
 

UPDATE SATURDAY 4:01 PM EST

Veteran WR Keyshawn Johnson is still deciding what he wants to do with his career. The decision comes down to staying with ESPN or going back to playing football.

A league source who knows Johnson well told Scout.com that despite speculation that he would sign with the Miami Dolphins if he decides to play again, Johnson would also have interest in playing for the Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee showed interest in Johnson after Carolina released after the 2006 season and Johnson would have a chance to play for a up and coming team.

UPDATE SATURDAY 3:01 PM EST

A league source notes that despite reports elsewhere, the Arizona Cardinals are interested in free agent G Alan Faneca. However, because they're still dealing with a contract restructuring for WR Larry Fitzgerald, they're unable to get involved in signing any name free agents at this point. Fitzgerald is due close to $14.6 million in base salary in 2008 and that salary is prohibitive to the team's salary cap.
Faneca is still likely to sign with the New York Jets.

UPDATE SATURDAY 2:01 PM EST

As Scout.com noted previously, free agent Demorrio Williams (Atlanta Falcons) has visits scheduled with the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears. The New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, and Buffalo Bills have also expressed interest in the weak-side linebacker.

UPDATE SATURDAY 11:14 AM EST

Had the New Orleans Saints not re-signed DT Brian Young, a league source notes the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and New York Jets were interested in talking to the veteran interior defensive lineman.

UPDATE SATURDAY 11:00 AM EST

Two teams, Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, continue to show interest in free agent D.J. Hackett and could decide to set up visits with the wide receiver for some time next week, a league source told Scout.com.

UPDATE SATURDAY 10:52 AM EST

As noted previously, free agent LB Kevin Bentley (Seattle Seahawks) has a scheduled visit with the Houston Texans on Sunday. He's also received interest from the Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and Atlanta Falcons.

UPDATE FRIDAY 11:32 PM EST

Free agent WRs D.J. Hackett and Bryant Johnson remain status quo at the moment while many teams are keeping an eye on where free agent WR Bernard Berrian will wind up.

Teams want to see where the market will be set at the position since Berrian is considered the top free agent.

So far, Hackett has drawn interest from the San Francisco 49ers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, and Tennessee Titans. The Buccaneers, Scout.com has confirmed, are still deciding whether or not to have Hackett in for a visit in the near future.

Scout.com has also confirmed Johnson has drawn interest from the Tennessee Titans and Buffalo Bills.

UPDATE FRIDAY 7:52 PM EST

Free agent LB Kevin Bentley has a visit coming up with the Houston Texans on Sunday, Scout.com has confirmed.

Bentley is known as a solid special teams player and he can back up at least two linebacker positions.

UPDATE FRIDAY 6:15 PM EST

Interesting note we have on free agent DE/DT Tyler Brayton.

A league source told Scout.com that owner Al Davis got involved in the negotiations Friday evening and tried to convince Brayton to re-sign with the team. Davis had stayed out of negotiations until just before Friday's free agent deadline. Davis and defensive coordinator Rob Ryan tried to convince Brayton that he could be a starter in 2008. But Brayton hasn't forgotten that he was benched at various times in his career with the Raiders so he's determined to test the market.

Scout.com has confirmed Brayton is on his way to visit the Carolina Panthers and is scheduled to visit the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Brayton has also received interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Denver Broncos, and Cincinnati Bengals.

 

UPDATE FRIDAY 5:35 PM EST

Viking Update's Tim Yotter notes the Minnesota Vikings have yet to sign FS Madieu Williams or WR Bernard Berrian but both players are visiting the Vikings today and are taking physicals.

Williams, though, has already agreed to a multi-year deal.
 

UPDATE FRIDAY 2:41 PM EST

Before FS Madieu Williams reached a multi-year contract agreement with the Minnesota Vikings on Friday, a league source told Scout.com that the former Cincinnati Bengal considered offers from the Atlanta Falcons, Tennessee Titans, and Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Bengals also got in the mix this week but weren't considered a strong bet to re-sign him.
 

UPDATE FRIDAY 12:44 PM EST

Veteran P Matt Turk (Houston Texans) has a contract offer to re-sign with the team, a league source told Scout.com. Turk, the source notes, will take a few days to think about it and will make a decision on what he plans to do next week.
 

UPDATE FRIDAY 12:03 PM EST

The Minnesota Vikings were able to send WR Troy Williamson to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday in return for a late round selection.

There were other teams that also expressed interest in acquiring the former-first round pick. A league source told Scout.com the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns were two of many teams that inquired about his availability.

It's clear that Cleveland is looking for a speedy receiver to play opposite WR Braylon Edwards and FoxSports.com's Jay Glazer reported Friday that the club is bringing in free agent WR Donte' Stallworth in for a visit.

Kansas City also is in need of a receiver that can stretch the field to play opposite physical WR Dwayne Bowe.

UPDATE FRIDAY 2:52 AM EST

A league source told Scout.com early Friday that the Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans, and possibly the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the early suitors for free agent WR Bernard Berrian (Chicago Bears). Scout.com first reported at the NFL Combine last week that Berrian was the top player on Minnesota's free agent wish list. Several local reports from Minneapolis say that Berrian will be visiting the Vikings on Friday.

A fourth team, the San Francisco 49ers, aren't likely to pursue Berrian at this point, according to the source due to his asking price.

San Francisco could pursue mid-level receivers such as D.J. Hackett or Bryant Johnson or veteran WR Isaac Bruce, who was released by by the St. Louis Rams on Friday. Bruce knows new 49ers offensive coordinator Mike Martz's timing-based passing game well due to their time together with the Rams.

As for Tennessee, it's believed they'll go after Johnson or D.J. Hackett if they aren't able to sign Berrian or deem his asking price as too high. While neither player is looked upon as having top speed, Johnson and Hackett have solid run-after-the-catch ability - which is a key facet in offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's passing scheme.

Tampa Bay clearly has a need for a young, talented receiver considering they've had trouble filling the starting position opposite veteran WR Joey Galloway. Former first-round pick WR Michael Clayton has been a major disappointment for the club and third-year WR Maurice Stovall hasn't contributed much. Veteran WR Ike Hilliard was a starter for the club last season but would be best served in a No. 3 role.

UPDATE THURSDAY 8:49 PM EST

Pittsburgh Steelers LG Alan Faneca is expected to receive plenty of interest in free agency. As of Thursday evening, the three teams that figure to show the most interest the former LSU standout lineman are the San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, and Arizona Cardinals.

San Francisco has openings at both guard spots with the possible retirement of (LG) Larry Allen and the likely departure of (RG) Justin Smiley. Both are set to become unrestricted free agents.

The Jets have not been able to adequately fill their troublesome LG spot since they traded Pete Kendall before the start of last season to the Washington Redskins.

Arizona does have LG Reggie Wells but he could be moved to another position on the offensive line.

UPDATE THURSDAY 3:47 PM EST

Last year, the Cleveland Browns made a big splash in free agency with the signings of LG Eric Steinbach, RB Jamal Lewis, DE Robaire Smith, OLB Antwan Peek.

This year, the club has close to $30 million to spend under their salary cap. Recent bonuses that weren't achieved and other player moves pushed the total toward the readjusted amount.

Some of that money will be targeted on defensive linemen.

A team source told Scout.com and the Orange and Brown Report that DT Isaac Sopoaga, who re-signed with the San Francisco 49ers, was one of the team's top targets coming up in free agency. Sopoaga agreed a five-year, $20 million deal with San Francisco. A league source notes that despite only being on around 45 percent of the defensive snaps last season, San Francisco made him a priority to re-sign. With the former University of Hawaii defensive lineman off the board, the team is looking at other alternatives.

One player thought to be on their list to pursue is on Friday is New Orleans Saints DT Brian Young. The durable and interior lineman is known as a good run stopper. Cleveland struggled against the run for most of last season so their potential interest in Young makes sense. Young missed seven games last season due to illness (he was 100 percent shortly after the season ended) but he only missed one game in the prior six seasons.

In other team news, a league source told Scout.com and the Orange and Brown Report backup LB Matt Stewart is not expected to be re-signed.
 

UPDATE THURSDAY 11:46 AM EST

Despite reports to the contrary, a league source told Scout.com the Oakland Raiders are making a last minute push to re-sign DL Tyler Brayton.

Oakland had shown next to no interest in re-signing the former first-round pick but in recent days, team owner Al Davis has been talking to Brayton about coming back and challenging for a starting job at end.

UPDATE THURSDAY 11:01 AM EST

As we've noted in the this a few times over the past week or so, the safety position should get a lot of interest in free agency starting on Friday.

New York Giants FS Gibril Wilson could garner the most interest of the three top players at the position who are set to become unrestricted free agents.

A league source told Scout.com that the Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, and Oakland Raiders will likely show the most interest in the four-year pro.

Other teams that could be interested in Wilson are the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Jacksonville Jaguars, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tennessee Titans.

UPDATE THURSDAY 9:59 AM EST

League sources indicate that while several teams including the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have shown interest in Denver Broncos WR Javon Walker, it's unlikely he'll be dealt. Rather the sixth-year pro probably will be released.

Walker is due a $5.4 roster bonus this Monday (March 4) and sources believe it would be hard to a team to trade for a player who is coming off of knee surgery on a troublesome right knee. The surgery was done this past October and he missed a total of eight games last season. Denver head coach Mike Shanahan didn't deny that Walker could need microfracture surgery on his right knee somewhere down the line. Walker had ACL surgery on his right knee early in the 2005 season.

"I think you'd have to talk to (head athletic trainer) Steve Antonopulos there. The doctors thought that after his surgery (back in October) that it would take five to six weeks to get back full speed. There's talk of a microfracture (procedure) somewhere down the line. I don't know when that'll be, it could be two to three years from now, it could be four years, you just don't know," the head coach said at his season-ending press conference last month.

Another problem is Walker has four years left on his contract and is due over $20 million in base salary.

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 8:22 PM EST

As noted in last week's NFL Free Agency Blog at the NFL combine, the San Francisco 49ers would be looking for pass rush help. We noted that one player that the club would have their eye on would be Arizona Cardinals OLB Calvin Pace.

League sources believe San Francisco is his top choice to sign with. However, the New England Patriots may make a run at him since they just released starting OLB Rosevelt Colvin and are in need of pass rushing help.

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 8:11 PM EST

A league source told Scout.com that Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald and the club are getting closer to a new extension.

Arizona has revised their offer from a six-year deal with around $18 million in guaranteed money to a five-year deal with around $25 million in guarantees.

The source adds the team is very confident that a deal can be struck by the weekend.
 

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 1:11 PM EST

League sources believe the Tennessee Titans will be very aggressive in signing at least one receiver early in free agency. Their targets are believed to be Bernard Berrian, Bryant Johnson, or D.J. Hackett.

Berrian is believed to be first on the list because of his down field speed and he's a good fit for offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's vertical stretch passing game.
 

UPDATE WEDNESDAY 12:18 PM EST

While the Cincinnati Bengals have said repeatedly that they won't trade Chad Johnson, league sources believe the Washington Redskins haven't given up hope in acquiring the disgruntled wide receiver.

League sources told Scout.com that Washington is still looking for a competitive package that might be attractive enough to change Cincinnati's mind.

Washington is looking for a taller, physical receiver to play opposite WR Santana Moss.

Backup WR Brandon Lloyd, in no surprise, was released on Tuesday and only three receivers remain under contract who saw meaningful playing time last season.

A league source notes that in a desperate attempt to mend fences after the 2006 season, Lloyd's agent, David Dunn, met with Redskin officials at last year's owners meetings. Unfortunately, that move didn't wind up working well at all. Lloyd had another underperforming season and Washington finally pulled the plug on one of the club's worst acquisitions in recent memory.

Look for Washington to show interest in Seattle Seahawks WR D.J. Hackett once free agency starts. He knows new Redskin head coach Jim Zorn from their days in Seattle and Hackett is the kind of run-after-the-catch type of receiver that fits well in Zorn's scheme.

UPDATE TUESDAY 11:05 PM EST

League sources indicate the Philadelphia Eagles plan to sign at least one defensive end in free agency. The team will be releasing veteran DE Jevon Kearse and disappointing end Darren Howard is likely going to be moved inside to tackle.

As noted last weekend, Tennessee Titans DE Antwan Odom is said to be on their list. Odom's teammate, Travis LaBoy, is also believed to have Philadelphia's interest.

Odom is more of a power rusher while LaBoy, league sources say, is more of an edge rusher. Another end the team could show interest in is Jacksonville's Bobby McCray.

Philadelphia is expected to sign at least one pass rusher to rotate with current starters Trent Cole and Juqua Thomas.

 

UPDATE TUESDAY 9:46 PM EST

The safety position could see a lot of action come the start of free agency on Friday.

While it was assumed Cincinnati Bengals FS Madieu Williams would be playing elsewhere in 2008, league sources indicate the club would still like to re-sign him. If he isn't re-signed by Friday's 12:01 AM EST deadline, Williams should receive a lot of attention.

Because Williams has good size, he might wind up playing at SS for another team. If so, the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans could show interest in him.

Jacksonville could be looking for an upgrade over SS Gerald Sensabaugh and Tennessee SS Chris Hope (neck) isn't a lock to play next season.

Teams that have a clear opening at FS such as the Denver Broncos and Minnesota Vikings could also show interest.

UPDATE TUESDAY 8:13 PM EST

The San Diego Chargers have told veteran FB Lorenzo Neal that they plan to cut down his role going forward, a league source told Scout.com. In fact, the source notes the team could try to trade Neal since they plan to move FB Andrew Pinnock up to a starting role

Neal has three years left on his contract with base salaries of (2008) $1.5 million, (2009) $1.5 million, and (2010) $1.75 million and the source notes he feels he can play for two to three more seasons.

UPDATE TUESDAY 5:47 PM EST

Veteran WR Justin McCareins, who was released by the New York Jets on Tuesday, should receive a fair amount of interest in his services.

The Minnesota Vikings, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tennessee Titans are just three teams of several who are looking for help at the receiver position but could show interest in the seven-year veteran.

Minnesota is looking for receiver help and sources believe McCareins is a good fit for the West Coast offense due to his ability to run after the catch. He could push for a starting job if he signed with this team.

A league source points out that Philadelphia's second option at the receiver position during the free agency period of 2004 was McCareins--Terrell Owens was the first. The Eagles are in need of a veteran receiver that runs well and McCareins fits that bill nicely.

As for Tennessee's interest, McCareins best days as a pro were under offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger who is back for his second stint with the club.

UPDATE TUESDAY 5:32 PM EST

League sources indicated to Scout.com that the Kansas City Chiefs will show significant interest New Orleans Saints C Jeff Faine at the beginning of free agency on Friday.

The 26-year old former University of Notre Dame lineman is clearly the best center on the market but New Orleans isn't expected to step up their efforts to re-sign him.

Sources also told Scout.com that Kansas City hasn't shown any interest in re-signing veteran C Casey Wiegmann who is seen as the second best player on the free market at his position.

UPDATE TUESDAY 3:51 PM EST

Negotiations remain slow on an extension for Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald. So slow that some around the NFL really wonder if Fitzgerald is being realistic with his contract demands.

A source with knowledge of the situation told Scout.com that Fitzgerald is looking for a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $27 million in guaranteed money. That amount of guaranteed money is roughly the same amount that Detroit Lions rookie WR Calvin Johnson agreed to in his six-year deal.

The source notes that the Cardinals are offering a six-year deal to Fitzgerald for around $18 million in guaranteed money. So it's clear both sides have a long way to go before there's a deal struck despite the optimism coming from general manager Rod Graves.

Currently, Fitzgerald is due $14.5925 million in base salary in 2008 and $17.355 million in 2009.

UPDATE MONDAY 6:02 PM EST

While speculation builds on where Seattle Seahawks free agent WR D.J. Hackett will be playing next season, league sources indicate he should yield something close to what WR Drew Bennett received from the St. Louis Rams last year.

Bennett signed a six-year deal with St. Louis worth $30 million. The contract included $10 million in guaranteed money. But sources indicate there will be a difference in what Hackett gets paid since he'll be signing on with a team that will have him as an immediate starter--Bennett handled the No. 3 role for St. Louis last season.

MONDAY UPDATE 4:30 PM EST

A league source indicates New York Giants FS Gibril Wilson will be one of the most sought after players in free agency.

Wilson is known as one of the better run defending safeties in the game but he struggles a bit in pass coverage.

The source notes among the teams that should show interest in Wilson are the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, and Minnesota Vikings. Minnesota's potential interest is interesting since that's a team that has struggled to cover the pass in recent seasons.

Despite local print reports that the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in Wilson, the source adds the team will be bringing back starting FS Brian Dawkins for his 13th season with the club.

MONDAY UPDATE 3:34 PM EST

League sources indicate Cincinnati Bengals free agent DE Justin Smith will receive a ton of interest at the start of free agency on Friday.

Among the teams that will show early interest are believed to be the Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, and San Francisco 49ers.

All of those teams listed will be looking for pass rush help in free agency and during April's NFL draft.

Smith posted at least five sacks in each of his first six seasons as a pro but only posted two sacks in 2007.

But what sets Smith apart from other ends is that he plays the run quite well.


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