Monday, March 9, 2009
Black and Blue all over: Free agency, Phase II
By Kevin Seifert
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
Hope everyone had a pleasant weekend. It was decidedly quiet in these parts after Friday's flurry of moves.
Yes, the second tier of NFL free agency has begun. The big names are off the board, and now teams are filling in their depth and shifting gears to the draft. The college Pro Day schedule is kicking into gear, and executives like Minnesota vice president Rick Spielman plan to hit the road Monday.
What's left? You have to imagine that Chicago will address its right tackle position in some way, most likely by re-signing free agent John St. Clair. Green Bay will continue to sift through the rubble for players with experience in the 3-4 defense. They still have interest in free-agent linebacker Kevin Burnett.
Detroit, meanwhile, has indicated an interest in adding to its quarterback depth. Will the Lions help release the logjam of veterans available on the free-agent market, a group that includes Jeff Garcia, Rex Grossman, Byron Leftwich, J.P. Losman and others? And will the Bears join that pursuit or settle in with Caleb Hanie as their No. 2 quarterback? Those are some of the questions we will be following this week.
But first, let's catch up on the highlights of NFC North weekend coverage:
- Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wonders if Packers cornerback Tramon Williams will hold out for a multiyear contract this offseason. Williams is an exclusive rights free agent, which means his contract has expired but he is not eligible to sign with another team. It's the same situation Packers running back Ryan Grant found himself in last offseason.
- Tim Froberg of the Appleton Post-Crescent wants an apology from former Packers offensive lineman Tony Mandarich, who has admitted to steroid use during his playing days.
- It's pretty clear Minnesota has no interest in re-signing safety Darren Sharper. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune wonders where Sharper will end up.
- As it turns out, tight end L.J. Smith did visit Detroit last week. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press reports Smith hasn't ruled out signing with the Lions.
- Jerry Green of the Detroit News debunks, once and for all, the "curse" of Bobby Layne.
- Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press on former Lions defense end Corey Smith: "I have been more stung by the thought that someone I met -- not a friend, not a close associate, just someone I spoke with a few times -- suddenly could be whisked away, not even a body to confirm the death. He's here. Then he's gone?"
- Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times is confident the Bears will soon sign St. Clair.