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Monday, March 1, 2010
Daily mailbag: A. Rolle and the NFC North

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

The following three notes arrived through the mailbag portal back-to-back-to-back over the weekend.


What? No Green Bay fans want Antrel Rolle?

OK, let's go through the basics first. Arizona will release Rolle, a Pro Bowl alternate as a safety for the Cardinals, before he is due a $4 million roster bonus. It's possible he could return to the Cardinals, but he will be a free agent if, as my NFC West colleague Mike Sando points out, he clears waivers first. At that point, he'll be free to sign with any NFL team -- even those who finished in the Final Eight -- because he won't be classified as an "unrestricted" free agent.

This is the silly season in the NFL, the time when fans consider the players on other rosters more attractive than incumbents. But there's no reason to avoid a Rolle discussion with an NFC North context, especially given the questions directed our way. So let's go team-by-team, looking at the chances each NFC North team could sign Rolle, here as we await official word from Arizona.

Minnesota Vikings: Joel is one of many Vikings fans who are jumping the gun on Antoine Winfield's move to safety. From everything I know, Winfield will remain a cornerback for the foreseeable future. His contract contains a de-escalator if he becomes a full-time nickel back in 2011, but there is no language about moving to safety that I'm aware of. Moving Winfield to safety is an option for the distant future.

I was critical of the Vikings' safety play at times last season, but I do think strong safety Tyrell Johnson deserves more time to develop. Rolle might be an upgrade over Madieu Williams, but that would require the Vikings giving up on a player they committed $13 million in guaranteed money two years ago. It's possible, but not likely. Rolle is worth watching from a Vikings angle only in the sense that he is among a smaller group of free agents they can sign even if they don't lose one of their own. Chances: Not high.

Chicago Bears: I think Enzo's suggestion makes the most sense. At the scouting combine, Bears coach Lovie Smith admitted "we need to improve the safety position" either by bringing in new players or at least increasing competition. I'm guessing they'll try the former.

Rolle has 12 interceptions and four touchdowns over his four-year career. I don't think he's a perfect player, but put in the right situation, he would be a significant upgrade for the Bears. Chances: Pretty high.

Detroit Lions: Rolle would be a decent complement to Louis Delmas, and certainly an upgrade over the revolving door the Lions used opposite Delmas last season. But at this point, it appears the Lions are focused on acquiring Antonio Cromartie from San Diego.

There's nothing preventing the Lions from signing Rolle even if they do trade for Cromartie. But assuming they don't have unlimited financial assets, it might make more sense to balance out their offseason acquisitions to positions other than safety. Chances: Possible.