Nick Mensio

Free Agency Dose

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NFL Hot Stove, Weekend Recap

Monday, March 18, 2013

The weekend played out just as the second and third days of free agency did last week. There was action in spurts, but overall it wasn’t too wild. The money just isn’t out there.

We did see a few big signings, a noteworthy release, and a fax snafu that ultimately led to another player getting cut, though. Greg Jennings picked purple and signed with the Vikings for five years. The long wait for Jake Long to finally make a decision ended late Sunday night when he picked the Rams over the Dolphins. The Patriots re-signed Aqib Talib on a bargain one-year deal, but they also decided to cut ties with Brandon Lloyd after one season. The Broncos released Elvis Dumervil after the team didn’t receive the faxed contract from Dumervil’s agent before a 4:00PM ET deadline on Friday. Other than those five items, the weekend was rather slow-paced. Things should heat back up this week at the NFL Owners Meetings.

Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals officially gave up on quarterback Kevin Kolb and released him on Friday, saving $7.5 million in cap space. Arizona will have an open competition at the quarterback position this summer, and it will likely consist of Drew Stanton, Brian Hoyer, and a draft pick. However, that draft pick isn’t expected to come via the Cardinals’ No. 7 overall pick. Back to Kolb. I mentioned on Friday a few teams I could see him landing with: the Bills, Bengals, Browns, Jaguars, Jets, Raiders, and Bucs. … Arizona added a couple more pieces to its defense over the weekend. Cornerback Antoine Cason signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal, and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy inked a one-year, $1 million pact. Cason turned down more money from the Jaguars, and we expect him and Patrick Peterson to play the outside with Jerraud Powers in the slot. Shaughnessy will likely be a rotational end, and he could see some snaps as a stand-up edge rusher. Both players came at bargain rates. … The Cardinals were mentioned as a team having interest in free agent guard Kevin Boothe. He can play any spot on the line except center. … Free agent return man and receiver Josh Cribbs was back in town on Sunday night to take a physical, so he could be locked up shortly.

Atlanta Falcons: Tight end Tony Gonzalez officially signed up to continue his career by inking a two-year, $14M deal on Friday. He’ll obviously be a TE1 in fantasy after finishing third in fantasy points at the position last season. Steven Jackson’s addition could take away a few opportunities, though. … Free agent cornerback Brent Grimes is expected to start narrowing down his choices in the next couple of days. The Falcons remain in play.

Baltimore Ravens: Baltimore added more help to its defensive line over the weekend by adding ex-Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears on a two-year, $3.55 million deal. The Ravens now have about six or seven quality guys to man the three defensive line spots. Spears brings nothing to the table as a pass rusher, but he can play the run. … The Ravens remain in on free agent safety Ed Reed, and GM Ozzie Newsome expects Reed to have a team by the end of this week. Baltimore and Houston remain his strongest suitors. … Some teams are reportedly sniffing around restricted free agent tight end Dennis Pitta. Baltimore tendered Pitta at the second-round level. We wouldn’t expect him to change teams. … The Ravens paid receiver and return man Jacoby Jones his $1 million roster bonus, ensuring that he’ll be back with the team this season. Baltimore also picked up a $5 million option bonus in cornerback Lardarius Webb’s contract. He’s reportedly recovering well from his mid-season ACL tear. … Free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil is reportedly firmly on the Ravens’ radar. He might actually be an upgrade on Paul Kruger. When playing in the 3-4 with Denver in 2009, Dumervil led the league with 17 sacks as an outside linebacker.

Buffalo Bills: Buffalo reportedly has no interest in free agent quarterback Kevin Kolb. He’d be an upgrade on Tarvaris Jackson, but not a massive one. The Bills will likely look for their 2013 signal caller in the draft. … The Bills could be interested in free agent safety Jim Leonhard. He has experience in DC Mike Pettine’s defense, and he would be quality insurance behind Jairus Byrd and Da’Norris Searcy.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers had two free agent offensive linemen in for visits over the weekend: Chris Williams and Frank Omiyale. Carolina is eyeing the clearance rack with these two guys, but they have no money to spend. They’re reportedly not expected to sign either one. … Carolina was mentioned as a team that has some interest in free agent guard Kevin Boothe. As was mentioned earlier, Boothe can play both guard and tackle. He’d be an upgrade at right tackle over Byron Bell. … The Panthers aren’t expected to be able to land free agent defensive tackle Dwan Edwards with the one-year deal they are currently offering.

Chicago Bears: Cornerback Zackary Bowman re-upped with the Bears on a one-year deal. The 28-year-old is a core special teams player. … Chicago is still undecided on where offensive lineman Gabe Carimi will play. The former first-rounder will either battle J’Marcus Webb for the right tackle job, or he could be the starter at right guard. Carimi was killed in pass protection last season.

Cincinnati Bengals: Franchise player defensive end Michael Johnson signed his one-year, $11.2 million tender. The deal is fully guaranteed. The Bengals will bring back their entire defensive line on a defense that finished third in the league in sacks in 2012. … Cincinnati has shown interest in free agent tight ends Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis. Spaeth signed with the Steelers on Friday night, but Davis is still available. Even though Davis’ hands proved to be terrible last season, he can still block. … The Bengals are reportedly closing in on deals with free agents linebacker Rey Maualuga and cornerback Pacman Jones. Maualuga would likely return as Cincinnati’s strong-side linebacker with Vontaze Burfict replacing Maualuga in the middle. Jones hasn’t drawn any interest on the open market, and he could likely be re-upped cheaply on a one-year deal. … Free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick met with the Bengals on Sunday. He spent the 2007-2008 seasons with Cincinnati and would be an upgrade on Bruce Gradkowski as Andy Dalton’s backup.

Cleveland Browns: The Browns continue to poke around the free-agent tight end market. Cleveland has reportedly looked into Fred Davis, but it’s unclear how serious they are on him. They’ll likely wait him out a bit longer as he recovers from last season’s torn Achilles’. The Browns are also interested in Kellen Davis. He doesn’t make much sense after the team signed Gary Barnidge last week. … Free agent cornerback Brent Grimes paid a visit to Cleveland over the weekend. The Browns don’t see Buster Skrine as a capable starter on the outside. Grimes and Joe Haden would be a strong duo for the Browns. Grimes is expected to start the decision process this week. He’s coming off a torn Achilles’ of his own. Grimes tore his in Week 1 and should be ready in plenty of time for training camp. … The Browns aren’t expected to sign free agent quarterback Jason Campbell. He wouldn’t be much competition for Brandon Weeden, but he’d be a better fit than Colt McCoy as the backup.

Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys remained silent through the weekend. The only nugget of news linked to the Cowboys was that right tackle Doug Free’s roster spot appears to be secure for now. Dallas could clear $7 million in 2013 cap space by designating Free as a post-June 1 cut.

Denver Broncos: The story of the weekend resided in Denver. The Broncos and right end Elvis Dumervil agreed to a pay cut on Friday afternoon. Dumervil was going to cut his 2013 salary from $12 million to $8 million, but Dumervil’s then-agent Marty Magid failed to fax the revised contract back to the Broncos before the 4:00PM ET deadline on Friday. The Broncos were then forced to release Dumervil. Due to the cap hit the Broncos would endure by re-signing Dumervil, they’re expected to move in a different direction. Veteran free agent pass rushers Dwight Freeney and John Abraham are likely targets.

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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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