While players whose contracts are set to expire can't begin making visits with other teams just yet, several well-known players have either been released, given franchise tags are have been the subject of recent trade rumors around the NFL.
WR Muhsin Muhammad was released by Chicago after three seasons with the team. Muhammad, who will turn 35 in May, caught 40 passes for 570 yards and three touchdowns last season. His reception total has decreased each of the past four years.
DE Jared Allen was given the Chiefs' franchise tag, meaning he will not become an unrestricted free agent. Allen will receive nearly $9 million for a one-year tender if the sides are not able to agree to a multi-year deal. The Chiefs have been trying to lock up Allen for the past two seasons, but have been unable to reach a long-term agreement to this point and did not want the NFL's reigning sack leader hitting the open market.
CB Lito Sheppard's name surfaced in television reports that the Eagles had given his agent, Lamont Smith, permission to seek a trade. The team quickly moved to squash that rumor. "Any report suggesting that we've allowed Lito or his agent to seek a trade is absolutely, undeniably false," team spokesman Derek Boyko told the Philadelphia Inquirer. Sheppard s signed through 2011.
MLB Zach Thomas visited with the Patriots on Monday, and was offered a deal according to the Miami Herald. However, terms of the offer were unknown, other than it wasn't enough to get Thomas to immediately sign. Thomas is expected to visit with New Orleans on Tuesday and Dallas on Wednesday. The Bills and Jets are also rumored to be in the hunt for his services.
DE Alex Brown was given a two-year contract extension by the Bears. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
DT Darwin Walker's $5.2 million option for next season was declined by the Bears. He signed a five-year contract last year after being acquired from Buffalo, but managed just 33 tackles in 11 games while struggling with knee and elbow problems. He carried a cap number of $6.5 million for next season.
RT Fred Miller, who started 46 games in three seasons with Chicago, was released by the Bears. He had offseason ankle surgery and also has had a bothersome knee. Miller was due a $500,000 bonus in March with a $4 million salary next season. The move saves the Bears $5.8 million in cap space.
PK Billy Cundiff signed a two-year deal with the Chiefs. He is expected to compete with John Carney and Nick Novak in training camp.
OL Stacy Andrews was given the Bengals' franchise tag. He will receive a one-year tender at the average salary of the top five linemen in the league last season, and the sides can continue to negotiate on a long-term deal.
WR Paris Warren signed a one-year, $510,000 deal to stay with the Bucs, according to the Tampa Tribune. An exclusive rights free agent, Warren would have become unrestriced March 1.
DE Justin Smith's days with the Bengals could be numbered after the team elected to put the franchise tag on OL Stacy Andrews. The Bengals used that designation on Smith last year when the two sides couldn't agree on a long-term deal. Smith now appears as though he will become a free agent.
WR Marty Booker is expected to visit with the Patriots on Tuesday.
S Erick Harris signed a two-year deal with the Chiefs.
DT T.J. Jackson signed a two-year deal with the Chiefs.
CB Chad Johnson signed a two-year deal with the Chiefs.
OT Joe Lobdell signed a two-year deal with the Chiefs.
OG Rob Smith signed a two-year deal with the Chiefs.
S Kalvin Pearson appears headed for free agency, as the Tampa Tribune reported that Pearson is looking for more security than the one-year deal the Bucs are offering.
PK Nick Novak signed with the Chiefs. He will compete with Billy Cundiff and John Carney for the job in training camp.