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saint5221 11-04-2003 09:43 AM

2004 NFC free agents with team by team analysis
 
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Pro Football Weekly

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons
Potential UFAs: CB Juran Bolden, S Keion Carpenter, RB Travis Jervey, QB Doug Johnson, TE Brian Kozlowski, S Gerald McBurrows, LB Twan Russell, LB Artie Ulmer.
Potential RFAs: TE Sean Brewer, PK Jay Feely, OG Kynan Forney, OG Roberto Garza, WR Quentin McCord, LB Karon Riley, LB Matt Stewart.
Analysis: Carpenter might not start following the team's bye, and he likely is on his way out. Bolden's situation will depend on how well he plays during the second half of the season and if his recent legal problems don't continue to be an issue. Johnson brings a lot of extra baggage from the first half of this season, and the Falcons may be looking to start over at the backup QB position. Considering the struggles the Falcons have had this season, there is a feeling that the team is due for a shakeup, which could mean that none of the free agents are in good shape to return. Ulmer is a solid special-teams player who always seems to be around the ball, so he could get a little more of a look for next season. Stewart and Garza both are solid role players, but the Falcons aren't about to open their wallets wide for a pair of players who aren't considered superstars. Still, they would like Garza to continue to develop, and the Falcons should give him that chance. Same goes for Stewart, who could get a three- to five-year contract extension in the next several months.

Carolina Panthers
Potential UFAs: OG Kevin Donnalley, WR Kevin Dyson, LB Greg Favors, S Deon Grant, CB Reggie Howard, OG Jeno James, PK John Kasay, LB Jason Kyle, TE Kris Mangum, DE Kavika Pittman, OG Tutan Reyes, LB Lester Towns, DE Al Wallace, TE Jermaine Wiggins, OT Matt Willig.
Potential RFAs: LB Brian Allen, S Jarrod Cooper, FB Nick Goings, RB Rod Smart, WR Steve Smith, S Travares Tillman.
Analysis: The Panthers will take a long look at Donnalley, but his status will hinge on the team's efforts to re-sign James. If James returns, Donnalley could be out of a job. Donnalley has helped rookie Jordan Gross adjust to the NFL, and he could get more consideration for his help in that area. Dyson's situation is a little more tricky. He has been out for the first couple of months with an Achilles injury, but if he is productive when he returns to action, he could be re-signed as a replacement for Muhsin Muhammad, who is in danger of becoming a salary-cap casualty. Kasay would like to end his career in Carolina, but the Panthers aren't going to sling big money his way. Among the restricted free agents, Smart and Smith are valuable, but the Panthers won't do more than throw mid-level money at them because they don't want to fall into salary-cap hell. Smith's negotiations with the team already have been a little tempestuous, but everyone seems to be back on the same page, and he is expected to re-sign with the team.

New Orleans Saints
Potential UFAs: QB Todd Bouman, CB Fakhir Brown, RB Ki-Jana Carter, OT Spencer Folau, C Jerry Fontenot, S Victor Green, DT Grady Jackson, RB Fred McAfee, TE Walter Rasby, LB Derrick Rodgers, FB Terrelle Smith, CB Fred Thomas.
Potential RFAs: S Steve Gleason, LB Sedrick Hodge, DT Kenny Smith, TE Boo Williams.
Analysis: Fontenot and Jackson both are huge question marks, and chances are the Saints won't make a big push to keep either one. Folau likely won't be re-signed either, mostly because he hasn't fit very well into New Orleans' system this season, but Green is a priority. The Saints like Green and the depth he gives them in the secondary, and considering the lackluster play of Tebucky Jones, Green could become the team's best safety by the end of the year. McAfee, Rodgers and Thomas will get serious offers from the Saints, and Rodgers in particular stands to profit from a solid season. The Saints would like to keep some continuity on the defensive side of the ball, and the stoppers will be the priority this season. Thomas is a quality special-teams player and a solid corner, but considering that the Saints just re-signed WR-RS Michael Lewis to an extension, the team won't be willing to pay big for another big special-teams contributor.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Potential UFAs: WR Reggie Barlow, OG Cosey Coleman, LB Jack Golden, OT Cornell Green, RB Thomas Jones, QB Shaun King, DT Warren Sapp, RB Aaron Stecker, P Tom Tupa, LB Nate Webster, TE Todd Yoder.
Potential RFAs: FB Jameel Cook, DT Chartric Darby, S John Howell, DE Ron Warner, DE Ellis Wyms.
Analysis: Coleman appeared to be on the way out after last season, but a good summer and solid play during the preseason earned him a starting job. He figures to get something worked out with the Bucs because his versatility has made him very valuable. The big question, however, is what the Bucs will do with Sapp. He still believes he is one of the premier players in the league, but he will be 31 after the season and hasn't been quite as productive this season. If Sapp sticks to his guns about getting major money, the Buccaneers might let him walk. Head coach Jon Gruden would prefer to keep Sapp around, but Sapp's off-field antics have made him a distraction as well. Sapp has limited his leverage with his actions, and considering that the Bucs just gave DT Anthony McFarland a five-year, $34 million extension, there might not be much money left for another high-priced defensive tackle. Webster's play in relief of the injured Shelton Quarles could earn him some market value. Tampa Bay would like to hold on to him, but the Bucs won't break the bank for Webster.


NFC East

Dallas Cowboys
Potential UFAs: C Gennaro DiNapoli, CB Mario Edwards, DE Ebenezer Ekuban, DE Eric Ogbogu.
Potential RFAs: DT Willie Blade, RB Aveion Cason, OT Javiar Collins, RB Troy Hambrick, C Matt Lehr, S Lynn Scott, LB Markus Steele, TE James Whalen, WR Randal Williams.
Analysis: The good news is that there are no must-sign free agents who are expected to command high salaries. The biggest unrestricted free agent is probably Edwards, who is starting while CB Derek Ross works his way back. And with Ross, Donald Mitchell (who is out for the year) and Pete Hunter in tow, Edwards is not a priority; the market will dictate whether he will return. Unless Ekuban makes a huge turnaround in the second half, he likely will be a goner as well. Ogbogu has shown promise, but they certainly are not going to break the bank for him. With promising rookie C Al Johnson the future at the position, it's likely the team will bring back just one between Lehr and DiNapoli. The team probably will tender offers to most of the remaining restricted free agents. The cap situation is fairly strong considering the team's youth and lack of major contracts other than WR Joey Galloway.

New York Giants
Potential UFAs: C Chris Bober, CB Ralph Brown, WR Ron Dixon, QB Jason Garrett, DT Cornelius Griffin, S Johnnie Harris, LB Dhani Jones, CB Kato Serwanga, LB Brandon Short, DE Keith Washington.
Potential RFAs: DT Lance Legree, QB Jesse Palmer, CB Will Peterson, TE Marcellus Rivers.
Analysis: The market for Bober, one of the team's most promising linemen last season, probably increased -- ironically enough -- when he played some at right tackle in emergency duty. Bober is far better at center, his more natural position, and he has struggled at right tackle, but tackles can command more on the open market. After seeing what the losses of ORG Jason Whittle and ORT Mike Rosenthal have done to the team, the Giants most likely will do their best to bring Bober back and surround him with fresh talent. Brown probably is playing for a contract, but he'll never be more than a nickel back in New York. Perhaps some team will like enough of what it sees in Brown, who is filling in indefinitely for the injured Peterson, that it will overpay for him - in which case, the Giants likely would let him walk. Sources close to the team indicate it might like Jones a shade more than Short, but the team would like to keep its two starting linebackers in place. Dixon, Garrett and Palmer likely could be elsewhere next season. Griffin is a tossup, but the team has first-round pick William Joseph in waiting.

Philadelphia Eagles
Potential UFAs: DE Marco Coleman, LB Carlos Emmons, DT Paul Grasmanis, RB Duce Staley, CB Bobby Taylor, CB Troy Vincent, OG Bobbie Williams.
Potential RFAs: LB Keith Adams, RB Correll Buckhalter, QB A.J. Feeley.
Analysis: The big news of training camp was the absence of Staley, who wanted a contract extension beyond this season and held out nearly a month to get it. The team didn't budge. Now Staley remains an afterthought as RBs Brian Westbrook and Correll Buckhalter appear to be the future backs. Taylor also made noise about the lack of an extention while the team was busy working on an extention for WR Todd Pinkston, whose deal could have been voided if he reached certain numbers. But Taylor thought better of holding out. One observer thinks the team - in a perfect world - would like both Taylor and Vincent back, but that is highly unlikely. They will not overpay for either one, but the Eagles will have a better shot at keeping one or both with the CB market potentially being so strong next year. If the teamdid have a preference, it might be Taylor because he is two years younger. The team has been talking about a deal informally with Emmons since this summer, and he appears to be a priority, but the team has never been too aggressive with re-signing its own linebackers early. Grasmanis is a team guy, and the Eagles would love him back, all things being equal. Feeley has said he prefers to stay put for now, and though his feelings might change at the end of the season, he appears happy where he is, and the team is too.

Washington Redskins
Potential UFAs: LS Ethan Albright, CB Champ Bailey, DT Martin Chase, OG Lennie Friedman, DT Bernard Holsey, WR Pat Johnson, LB Kevin Mitchell, S David Terrell, DE Peppi Zellner.
Potential RFAs: LB Orantes Grant, FB Bryan Johnson, WR Darnerien McCants, S Ifeanyi Ohalete, LB Antonio Pierce.
Analysis: The big name obviously is Bailey, who turned down a nine-year, $55 million deal during the preseason. One of the hangups was the reported size of the bonus, which appeared larger than it really was. Bailey's agent, Jack Reale, recently told PFW that negotiations probably would start up again in December as the season winds down and that he was optimistic the two sides could get something done. Of course, the team certainly has the option to place the franchise tag on Bailey. And the team's tenuous cap situation hangs in the balance, which also could affect Bailey's plans. The capsituation has the potential to get ugly, with decisions having to be made long-term with OLB LaVar Arrington and OLT Chris Samuels, whose contracts could become albatrosses with huge escalator clauses kicking in. The majority of the remaining unrestricted guys are lower priority, meaning the team will not overextend itself to re-sign them, but you could see a number of them return. Among the restricted free agents, McCants could be the most attractive to other teams, and someone could be willing to sign him to a big offer sheet if he continues to produce.

NFC North

Chicago Bears
Potential UFAs: S Mike Green, OG Corbin Lacina, CB Todd McMillon, FB Stanley Pritchett, OT Scott Sanderson, DT Keith Traylor, OG Chris Villarrial, WR Dez White.
Potential RFAs: OT Mike Gandy, LB Bobbie Howard, DE Joe Tafoya.
Analysis: Potential changes in key management positions could dictate the team's strategy in free agency, but keeping starting offensive linemen would figure to be a priority. Then again, current GM Jerry Angelo allowed OLT Blake Brockermeyer to walk prior to the 2002 season. The top priorities are OLs Villarrial and Gandy. Gandy has been respectable at the OLT spot and Villarrial, when healthy, is a dominant run blocker. Depending on his demands, Villarrial may not be back with OGs Terence Metcalf and Steve Edwards earning time this season. WR White may get interest elsewhere. Scouts believe White has potential, and because the Bears' rarely throw deep, are unsure whether it will be realized in Chicago. Moving to a different offense, one that emphasizes the vertical passing game more, could benefit White. SS Green has started for two seasons, but the Bears are high on hard-hitting youngster Bobby Gray. Many are of the opinion that Chicago overrated its talent in the secondary after going 13-3 in 2001.

Detroit Lions
Potential UFAs: OG Eric Beverly, OG Ray Brown, RB Shawn Bryson, QB Ty Detmer, LB Jeff Gooch, LB Barrett Green, DE James Hall, WR Shawn Jefferson, P John Jett, DT Kelvin Pritchett, CB Otis Smith, S Bracy Walker, LB Brian Williams, CB Jimmy Wyrick.
Potential RFAs: WR Scotty Anderson, LB Donte' Curry, QB Mike McMahon, RB Stephen Trejo.
Analysis: Detroit has four free-agent linebackers, but Green may be the most attractive. Because Williams lacks durability, Green is likely to get a decent offer to return with Earl Holmes, Wali Rainer and Boss Bailey already under contract. Beverly, though, is the wild card. He has been reliable as a spot starter and has the versatilty to play four positions. With 40-year-old Ray Brown leaning toward retirement, the Lions may give Beverly a starting spot. Hall has progressed, but some in the organization question whether he will ever be more than a serviceable starter. However, DE Robert Porcher cannot play forever and Hall and Kalimba Edwards would give the Lions an experienced DE rotation.

Green Bay Packers
Potential UFAs: P Josh Bidwell, OT Chad Clifton, S Antuan Edwards, WR Antonio Freeman, CB Michael Hawthorne, QB Doug Pederson, OT Marcus Spriggs, TE Wesley Walls.
Potential RFAs: S Curtis Fuller, CB Bhawoh Jue, LB Torrance Marshall, TE David Martin, DT Rod Walker.
Analysis: The Packers' offseason strategy will again be decided by QB Brett Favre. If Favre retires, the Packers will unhappily welcome around $10 million of cap space. In terms of free agency, Clifton is the big fish for Green Bay. The Packers wanted to make certain Clifton stayed healthy after reconstructive surgery in the offseason. So far, he's acing most tests. ORT Mark Tauscher is signed through 2008, but the Packers have Pro Bowl ORG Marco Rivera (UFA), OLG Mike Wahle ($5 million) and C Mike Flanagan ($1.9 million) to pay in 2005. SS Edwards is a solid starter, but the Packers have been irked by the level of play they have received from the SS position for two seasons. Nickel CB Jue is a restricted free agent but it is too early to predict whether Green Bay will bring him back. Walls, 37, is a one-year project that won't likely to be renewed.

Minnesota Vikings
Potential UFAs: RB Doug Chapman, OG Lewis Kelly, DT Cedric Killings, TE Jim Kleinsasser, OG Everett Lindsay, DT Fred Robbins, C Cory Withrow.
Potential RFAs: RB John Avery, CB Eric Kelly.
Analysis: Kleinsasser did not agree to a long-term deal in the offseason, instead choosing the one-year franchise tender. The Vikings, perhaps in part with an eye toward Kleinsasser's future, cleared the salary of TE Byron Chamberlain in October. As long as head coach Mike Tice is around, Kleinsasser isn't going to get away. He's a great blocker and a good enough receiver to be considered a weapon in this offense. OG Kelly has a lot of potential, and the Vikings have already hinted that he could be the heir apparent to starting ORG David Dixon. Dixon is on his last leg and has been spelled by Kelly at times this season. Another offensive lineman, C Withrow, has the ability to start elsewhere and has been awaiting the opportunity to test the open market for nearly two seasons. The Vikings considered trading him on Draft Day last April, but kept him as insurance for Pro Bowl C Matt Birk.


NFC West

Arizona Cardinals
Potential UFAs: CB David Barrett, TE Steve Bush, OG Chris Dishman, S Justin Lucas, CB Emmanuel McDaniel, DT Derrick Ransom, OT L.J. Shelton, C Jason Starkey.
Potential RFAs: DT Marcus Bell, WR Bryan Gilmore, PK Bill Gramatica, CB Renaldo Hill, WR Kevin Kasper, S Adrian Wilson, LB LeVar Woods.
Analysis: The Cardinals recently cut off OLB Raynoch Thompson and P Scott Player at the free-agent pass by re-signing them to new deals. With a fair amount of cap money remaining, they have talked about doing the same thing with Shelton and Barrett, by far their most coveted future free-agent commodities. But closing in on the 2003 campaign's midpoint, it seems less likely they will be able to strike new deals with either of them before the season ends. Both players could attract some interest on the open market, particularly Shelton, the team's best overall offensive lineman so far this season. As they usually do, the Cardinals will tender most of their RFAs. At one time the team considered locking up Wilson, who has great physical tools and looked like a star in the making after an impressive rookie season. But he has regressed considerably. Bush, a local product who provides good versatility, is a decent bet to be re-signed. Despite the fact OG Leonard Davis' cap number almost doubles after this season, the Cardinals again should have more than sufficient funds to shop for free agents next offseason. Look for them to be on the prowl once again for a legitimate pass rusher, among other needs.

St. Louis Rams
Potential UFAs: TE Cameron Cleeland, S Rich Coady, QB Scott Covington, P Sean Landeta, OG David Loverne, OT Orlando Pace, S Jason Sehorn, OT John St. Clair, OG Adam Timmerman, CB Fred Weary, DE Grant Wistrom, DT Brian Young.
Potential RFAs: QB Marc Bulger, CB Jerametrius Butler, DE Bryce Fisher, TE Brandon Manumaleuna.
Analysis: The Rams are expected to have in the neighborhood of $10 million at their disposal under the salary cap. If they are able to extend Pace's contract, or put the franchise tag on him again, and then also opt to cut the cord with QB Kurt Warner - which they would have to think very hard about doing, since it would result in a $4 million cap hit - most of that money would be gone. In addition, the Rams likely will put the highest tender on Bulger, who could garner substantial interest on the open market if he continues performing at his current level. Of their remaining free agents after this season, the Rams probably would be most interested in bringing back Timmerman and Wistrom, but it's unlikely they'll have enough money to re-sign both of them. Considering that Timmerman has been playing lights out as of late while Wistrom's production is down, Wistrom could be the odd man out. It's also unlikely the Rams will make much of a push to re-sign Sehorn, who has been unable to play because of a foot injury, and Young, a fill-in type on a high-priced defensive line.

San Francisco 49ers
Potential UFAs: DE Chidi Ahanotu, C Brock Gutierrez, S Ronnie Heard, TE Brian Jennings, DT Travis Kirschke, WR Terrell Owens, LB Julian Peterson, CB Ahmed Plummer, WR Tai Streets, TE Jed Weaver, CB Jason Webster.
Potential RFAs: RB Kevan Barlow, DT Devone Claybrooks, CB Rashad Holman, TE Eric Johnson, PK Owen Pochman, CB Jimmy Williams, WR Cedrick Wilson.
Analysis: Owens, Peterson and Plummer each will become free agents after meeting incentives that void their current contracts at season's end. The Niners' primary target is Peterson, who they know will be expensive, and it's quite possible they will franchise the amazingly athletic linebacker. Owens appears to have burned too many bridges and probably will be able to test the free-agent market. There's a feeling by some in the organization that he isn't going all-out because he wants to stay healthy for a future elsewhere. Even if Owens goes on a tear the rest of the season, the odds are against him returning to the Niners. The verdict remains out on re-signing Plummer, who really tailed off last season after a great year in 2001. Plummer has looked very solid so far in '03, though, and could command a $5 million to $6 million signing bonus. Barlow, the team's most attractive RFA, almost certainly will receive the high tender. Webster has been hurt a lot lately and could be expendable with second-year CB Mike Rumph starting to come on. Streets has done well lately in San Francisco, but the native Chicagoan reportedly is anxious to return to the Midwest. Ahanotu probably would be welcomed back with open arms at the right price. The team has more than a few veterans who could qualify as cap casualties, including RB Garrison Hearst (if he wears down again like he did last season), DT Bryant Young, OT Derrick Deese and possibly LB Derek Smith.

Seattle Seahawks
Potential UFAs: CB Doug Evans, LB Randall Godfrey, WR Darrell Jackson, OT Walter Jones, LB Isaiah Kacyvenski, DE Lamar King, P Tom Rouen, CB Shawn Springs, CB Willie Williams, DT Cedric Woodard.
Potential RFAs: WR Alex Bannister, FB Heath Evans, LB Orlando Huff, C Dennis Norman, OT Floyd Womack.

Analysis: There's reason to believe that, after repeated failures, the Seahawks and Jones finally might be able to reach agreement on a new long-term deal, with the Hawks upping the ante on the signing bonus beyond the $13.1 million they most recently offered him. After Jones, the two UFAs the team is expected to be most interested in re-signing are Godfrey, who has been an excellent pickup this season, and Jackson, who could be looking for No. 1-WR money on the open market. Springs has yet to show that he's fully recovered from a shoulder injury this season, and unless he comes on very strong the second half of the season, he's probably a good bet to sign elsewhere with Marcus Trufant on a fast track toward becoming the team's No. 1 cover corner. Rouen has done a better job than expected replacing Jeff Feagles and is likely to be re-signed. The versatile Womack will be offered a good tender. Don't look for the Seahawks to be as active in the free-agent market as they were this past offseason, but they still will make their presence felt, especially if a big-time defensive end or tackle is available.


saint5221 12-10-2003 10:25 PM

2004 NFC free agents with team by team analysis
 
Bump

BlackandBlue 12-11-2003 09:04 AM

2004 NFC free agents with team by team analysis
 
Still can\'t believe we got Rodgers for a 7th round draft pick. Best offseason aquisition? I\'d say yes.

Danno 12-11-2003 09:10 AM

2004 NFC free agents with team by team analysis
 
Quote:

Still can\'t believe we got Rodgers for a 7th round draft pick. Best offseason aquisition? I\'d say yes.
And so many people blasted the acquisition at the time.
Also:
Orlando Ruff: turned out to be better than most people thought. Not great, but better than many gave him credit for.

Tebucky Jones: All he lacks is tackling ability and he\'s a pro-bowler ;)

Henry Ford: Bust

Ernie Conwell: Bust-Boom-Bust. Overall a good acquisition IF he comes back 100% next year.

Ashley Ambrose: About what was expected.

Walter Rasby: I have no clue. I\'d say OK, but unnecessary with Boo, Ernie, and Hilton.

BillyC 12-11-2003 09:24 AM

2004 NFC free agents with team by team analysis
 
Quote:

Tebucky Jones: All he lacks is tackling ability and he\'s a pro-bowler ;)
I guess there\'s a lot of different ways to look at this aquisition. I think when you go after a high priced free agent you should sign a proven player before paying out the big bucks. While there is little doubt that Tebucky has all the physical tools, he was never able to crack the starting lineup in New England.

Now, it seems like if Tebucky is going to reach a level that is consistant with his pay he is going to have to receive the proper coaching. My concern is if Bill Belichick wasn\'t able to get Tebucky to reach his full potential in New England, then what are the chances that Jim Haslett and company will be able to achieve that.

It\'s too early to say that Tebucky is a bust, but next year should let us know what we have.


[Edited on 11/12/2003 by BillyC]

BrooksMustGo 12-11-2003 09:33 AM

2004 NFC free agents with team by team analysis
 
Billy you are spot on about T-Sucky and Belichick and paying him big dollars for showing us nothing.
I\'m not sure we have to wait until next year though.


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