Nick Mensio

Free Agency Dose

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NFL Hot Stove, Day 1

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

After a somewhat disappointing legal tampering weekend, free agency will thrust itself upon us in full force Tuesday afternoon. Our player news page will be updated with such timeliness that you may struggle to keep up, so I’ll use this daily roundup to corral all the rumblings, rumors, and signings of the previous day.


It'll be your one-stop shop to get caught up on NFL current affairs.

Monday was highlighted by two out-of-nowhere trades that strengthened the NFC West and made life tougher for defensive coordinators in St. Louis and Arizona.

The 49ers swung the second-biggest deal among Monday’s moves, acquiring wide receiver Anquan Boldin from Baltimore in exchange for a 2013 sixth-round draft pick. Boldin will likely be the third wheel in an impressively physical pass-catching group that already included Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Taking on Boldin’s $6 million base salary, cap-strapped San Francisco is likely out of the mix to keep free safety Dashon Goldson or sign cornerback Sean Smith, at whom they initially hoped to make a run. The Niners still have 14 picks as the draft approaches, and we wouldn’t rule out an April trade for cornerback Darrelle Revis. ... San Francisco signed nose tackle Ian Williams to a two-year, $3.2 million extension through 2015, and he'll be in the mix to replace free agent Isaac Sopoaga. ... The Niners are also expected to pursue free agent kicker Lawrence Tynes as they actively search for David Akers’ replacement. ... Free agent tight end Delanie Walker has his sights on the open market.

The Bears are committed to shoring up the offensive line in front of Jay Cutler, and the names that keep coming up are free agent left tackles Jake Long and Jermon Bushrod. ... Free agent strong-side linebacker Nick Roach is a hot commodity. Teams are also looking at him as a middle linebacker after he filled in admirably for Brian Urlacher down the stretch last season.

The Bengals are focused on locking up their own players. After re-signing defensive end Wallace Gilberry on Sunday, Cincinnati has turned its attention to fellow in-house free agent defensive end Robert Geathers. … Cincinnati is rumors to be a darkhorse for Steven Jackson, though they've never been free-agency spenders under penny-pinching owner Mike Brown.

The Bills have been dead quiet for the past couple of days. The only news that involves Buffalo is teams coming hard to steal their free agent left guard, Andy Levitre. The Titans are believed to be in hot pursuit of Levitre, followed by the Broncos and Colts.

The Broncos’ biggest issue right now is what to do with right defensive end Elvis Dumervil. Denver wants Dumervil to take a pay cut from his $12 million salary, but he has refused and requested his release. If Dumervil hits the market, he’ll be one of the most sought after pass rushers available. … Denver has expressed interest in free agents left guard Andy Levitre and running back Rashard Mendenhall. If the Broncos were to sign Mendenhall, it would likely signal the end for Willis McGahee. … The Broncos took care of some financials on Monday, as well. Safety and special teams ace David Bruton was re-signed to a three-year, $4.5 million deal. Denver released quarterback Caleb Hanie and linebacker D.J. Williams. Williams should land on his feet elsewhere.

The Browns are flush with cap space, and they have been connected to every free agent under the sun. When we’re talking free agent receivers and pass rushers, Cleveland will always be mentioned. The Browns have been linked to wide receiver Greg Jennings, tight ends Jared Cook and Brandon Myers, as well as outside linebackers Cliff Avril and Paul Kruger. Cook would be an ideal fit as a seam-stretcher under tight end guru Rob Chudzinski. The Browns are expected to make signing one of Kruger or Avril a priority as they transition to the 3-4 defense. … Other free agents on the Browns' radar are cornerback Greg Toler and defensive linemen Ricky Jean-Francois and Jason Jones. … We expect Cleveland to be one of the more active teams on Tuesday.

The Buccaneers are another team long on money, and they have been linked to prominent free-agent defensive backs. Tampa is considered one of the two favorites for free safety Dashon Goldson, while they’re also eyeing cornerbacks Sean Smith and Derek Cox. GM Mark Dominik has his sights in the right direction. The Bucs fielded one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season. … Free agent defensive end Michael Bennett wants to return to Tampa Bay, but sees the writing on the wall. Tampa Bay doesn’t value him as highly, and they’re expected to move forward with Da’Quan Bowers at left end while pursuing more of a nickel rusher. … The Bucs are shopping 2010 third-round wide receiver Arrelious Benn. He has been a major disappointment, and it would be a surprise if he even brought back a late-round pick.

The Cardinals spent Monday adding to the free-agent pool with the release of running back Beanie Wells, and then taking another player off the market with the re-signing of safety Rashad Johnson to a three-year deal. Wells didn’t fit coach Bruce Arians’ offense. Johnson may have aspirations for the starting strong safety job after Adrian Wilson’s release. … The Cardinals are reportedly interested in two of the top running backs in Rashard Mendenhall and Reggie Bush. Mendenhall and Arians know each other from Pittsburgh, and Bush would be a nice complement to Ryan Williams. … Arizona made a contract offer to free agent return man La’Rod Stephens-Howling last week, but the sides are far apart. It was initially reported that free agent cornerback Greg Toler was being re-signed to a three-year pact, but that report has since been rescinded due to a mix-up. ... Kevin Kolb and Arizona brass are expected to discuss a restructured contract at the end of the week before a $2 million roster bonus comes due on Saturday. … The Cardinals hosted free agent safety Gerald Sensabaugh on Sunday and Monday, but he left without a deal and has other options. Johnson’s re-signing may have had something to do with that. The price for free agent cornerback Sean Smith is too high for the Cardinals. … The Cardinals waived practice squad-type running back Fozzy Whittaker.

The Chargers have prioritized re-signing free agent guard Louis Vasquez, but the new regime has yet to even make him an offer. Losing Vasquez would make one of the worst offensive line situations in the league even weaker. The Colts will be hot on his trail. … San Diego has opened contract talks with free agent defensive linemen Vaughn Martin and Aubrayo Franklin. Both players could likely be re-signed on the cheap. … Free agent right tackle Eric Winston visited the Bolts over the weekend, but left town without a deal. The Chargers are installing a zone-blocking scheme this year, so the interest in Winston makes sense. If signed, it would almost certainly mean right tackle Jeromey Clary’s time has run out. … The Chargers remain interested in free agent cornerback Jerraud Powers. He was with new GM Tom Telesco in Indianapolis. … Restricted free agent running back Curtis Brinkley will not be tendered an offer.

The Chiefs were relatively quiet on Monday. Coach Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey have been the most active duo prior to the start of free agency. Despite signing cornerback/safety Dunta Robinson over the weekend, Kansas City is not believed to be out of the running for free agent cornerback Sean Smith. The Chiefs are also one of five or six teams to show interest in free agent defensive lineman Jason Jones, who is scheme-versatile.

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Nick Mensio is a football writer for The 2014 NFL season marks his third with Rotoworld. He can be found on Twitter at @NickMensio.
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