Gamesmanship? Rice, Goldson and Kolb

July, 27, 2011
7/27/11
12:51
AM ET
A few thoughts while wrapping up a frenetic but ultimately unsatisfying first day to the NFL free-agent negotiating period:
  • ESPN's Adam Schefter caught my attention Tuesday night with a tweet regarding Minnesota Vikings receiver Sidney Rice and San Francisco 49ers safety Dashon Goldson. According to Schefter, Seattle and Minnesota are targeting Rice, while Oakland and San Francisco go after Goldson. There weren't many bidding wars on Tuesday, leading me to believe some of these situations could play out a little longer. Players cannot take free-agent visits until the signing period opens Friday, making it tougher for teams to know what opportunities actually exist for players. In the past, a player emerging from a visit without a contract would lose leverage. In the current climate, top agents such as Drew Rosenhaus, who represents Rice and Goldson, can negotiate without the usual checks and balances. It's high-stakes poker.
  • Seattle's interest in Rice comes as no surprise. The team chased receiver Brandon Marshall in trade talks last offseason. Vincent Jackson was another big-name receiver under consideration. Rice would fit especially well in the Seahawks' offense now that former Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell is installing Seattle's passing game. Seattle also has ample salary-cap space to land Rice. Bevell's familiarity with Rice could help ease concerns over the hip problems that have bothered Rice in recent seasons.
  • The 49ers want to bring back Goldson, but at what price? Goldson wasn't what was wrong with the 49ers' pass defense last season. Neither did he break through with a Pro Bowl-caliber season, as the 49ers had hoped. Still, San Francisco needs to keep together some of its defensive core. The 49ers could lose nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin. Linebacker Takeo Spikes agreed to terms with San Diego. Nate Clements' contract could precipitate his release. Keeping Goldson would help.
  • The Arizona Cardinals appear in strong position as they consider options at quarterback. The way they sat back and projected patience Tuesday is looking like a smart approach. I can't think of another team likely to trade for Philadelphia's Kevin Kolb. The Cardinals should be in no rush. Teams cannot sign players or visit with free agents from other teams until Friday. Kolb could not practice with them until Aug. 4 if Arizona acquired him and signed him to a new contract. Even if Kolb is the Cardinals' top choice, the team might be wise to play up interest in other candidates. Why not seek permission to meet with Kyle Orton? Why not bring in Matt Hasselbeck? There's no reason for Arizona to overpay for Kolb unless another team emerges as a serious suitor.
  • New York Giants defensive tackle Barry Cofield and Raiders guard Robert Gallery were free agents to watch in the NFC West as the negotiating period opened. It's looking like we can remove Cofield from consideration for the St. Louis Rams after he reached agreement with the Washington Redskins, according to a report by Schefter. Cofield's ties to St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo made him a natural fit for the Rams. Losing him to former Rams coach Jim Haslett won't sit well with fans who hoped Cofield would land in St. Louis. Gallery's ties to Seahawks assistant head coach/offensive line Tom Cable still make him a natural fit in Seattle. The team needs a starting left guard.
  • Back in Seattle, meanwhile, the Seahawks are trying to re-sign defensive tackle Brandon Mebane. The money Cofield commands could help shape the market for Mebane and other defensive tackles. Removing Cofield from the market also leaves one fewer defensive tackle available for teams to sign.

Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday night. Wait, it's Wednesday already in the Eastern time zone. Must be free agency.

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