NFC West: Free Agency 2010
The following former UFAs from NFC West teams remain free agents able to sign with any team that will have them, but none will factor into the formula used for awarding compensatory draft choices:
Arizona: left tackle Mike Gandy, outside linebacker Chike Okeafor, outside linebacker Bertrand Berry (retiring), cornerback Ralph Brown, fullback Dan Kreider, quarterback Brian St. Pierre
Seattle: fullback Justin Griffith, linebacker D.D. Lewis, cornerback Ken Lucas, tackle Damion McIntosh, snapper Jeff Robinson, snapper Kevin Houser
San Francisco: safety Mark Roman, cornerback Dre Bly, cornerback Walt Harris, linebacker Jeff Ulbrich (retiring)
St. Louis : defensive end Leonard Little, tight end Randy McMichael, safety Clinton Hart
The chart breaks down the players by team and 2009 starts.
The market for Oshiomogho Atogwe appears undefined roughly 12 hours into the former Rams safety's life as a free agent.
Of course, Miami wasn't considered the most likely destination for receiver Brandon Marshall before the Dolphins acquired him, as one acquaintance noted. Stuff could be swirling beneath the surface in the absence of visible evidence.
Maurice Morris, Nate Burleson, Rob Sims, Julian Peterson, Bryant Johnson, Shaun Hill, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Jonathan Wade, Marquand Manuel, Will Heller, Roy Schuening, Jahi Word-Daniels and Trevor Canfield come to mind.
The Lions have also collected former NFC West head coaches, from Steve Mariucci to Scott Linehan to Mike Martz.
There's nothing preventing Atogwe and the Rams from continuing to work toward a long-term agreement, particularly if the sides exercise good faith.
The Rams had until midnight Tuesday to upgrade their one-year offer to Atogwe from $1.226 million to nearly $7 million, a move that would have allowed the Rams to maintain rights to the restricted free agent. But if the team had valued Atogwe at that level, its previous offer probably would have reflected as much.
Instead, the Rams took a calculated gamble. Atogwe is gambling as well. He turns 29 later this month and he's coming off an injury shortened season, so now is the time for him to maximize his value. Whatever the Rams offered before the June 1 deadline could decline in the future. That would be unfortunate for Atogwe if the market fails to bring him a deal more in line with the $6.3 million he earned from the Rams in 2009.
The Rams and Atogwe are victims of unusual circumstances. The Rams' pending ownership change probably makes them less flexible than they might otherwise be financially. Changes in labor rules hurt Atogwe by making him only a restricted free agent this offseason. Related rules left the Rams with rather extreme options -- $1.226 million or nearly $7 million -- as they decided how to value a good but not great player.
One key could be to what extent the relationship between Atogwe and the Rams survives these unusual circumstances. There's still time to for the Rams to keep him in St. Louis if both parties negotiate in good faith.
Ali, 25, started four games for the Browns in 2008. He spent time in the UFL last season before signing with Baltimore. He did not play in a game before the Ravens released him.
Kreider, 33, is an unrestricted free agent.
Update: Thanks to Darren Urban of azcardinals.com for reminding me that Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt previously said Kreider would not be back.
Yet, as Schefter points out, Bulger does have the skills to be an effective quarterback and a change of scenery could conceivably jump-start his career. The Rams held onto Bulger until other teams, including the Cardinals, had made moves to address the quarterback position on their rosters. There were few appealing options for Bulger once the Rams finally did release him.
The Cardinals were known to have interest, but they couldn't wait around all offseason. The quarterback market would have moved on without them. They showed interest in Charlie Whitehurst, then signed Derek Anderson once Seattle landed the San Diego quarterback.
I'm not sold enough on the idea that Bulger would automatically deliver a division title to the Cardinals. At this point, then, it's a little late to comfortably add Bulger to the quarterback mix in Arizona. What say you?
The Rams offered another potential sign Wednesday when they acquired free safety Kevin Payne from the Bears for a 2011 draft choice. Payne has started 22 of 32 games for the Bears over the past three seasons, picking off four passes.
Atogwe becomes a free agent in June if the Rams do not upgrade their offer to him from $1.226 million to nearly $7 million. Payne, 26, is signed through the 2010 season.
The Rams have not closed the door on Atogwe, but they appear to be protecting themselves in case they cannot work out a deal with him. It's pretty clear the team is not going to pay the nearly $7 million this season. If Atogwe decides to leave, the Rams now have better depth at the position.
I left a message with Robinson's agent and ran the information past a team official, but couldn't immediately confirm anything. There's no need now that the Cardinals announced Robinson's re-signing.
This is a smart move by the team. Robinson has been a steady veteran player for the Cardinals. He improves the depth at nose tackle significantly. The Cardinals are still getting rave reviews for drafting Tennessee nose tackle Dan Williams in the first round Thursday. Robinson gives Arizona another starting-caliber option at a position critical to their defense.
Robinson, who turns 36 in June, played about a third of the Cardinals' defensive snaps last season.
The deal, reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, justifies the Cardinals' decision not to select an offensive lineman in the 2010 draft. The team now has three veteran starting-caliber guards under contract -- Faneca, Reggie Wells and Rex Hadnot -- with incument starter Deuce Lutui unsigned.
This can only be a good move for Arizona. More here.
Two names -- Southern receiver Juamorris Stewart and Mississippi cornerback Marshay Green -- weren't included in the list put together Sunday.
The full list:
- Max Hall, quarterback, BYU.
- Marshay Green, cornerback, Mississippi.
- A.J. Jefferson, cornerback, Fresno State.
- Casey Knips, tackle, South Dakota State.
- Max Komar, receiver, Idaho.
- Davis Moosman, center, Michigan.
- Alfonso Smith, running back, Kentucky.
- Juamorris Stewart, receiver, Southern.
- Devin Tyler, tackle, Temple.
- Stephen Williams, receiver, Toledo.
That might explain why the Rams did not draft one even though they've needed to upgrade their depth behind Steven Jackson.
Their relationship with former Eagles starter Brian Westbrook could work in their favor. Westbrook visited with the Rams to take a physical and it's possible the team could sign him eventually if the medical side checks out. Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, among other Rams staffers, were with Westbrook in Philadelphia for years.
Westbrook is 30 and that tends to be a bad number for running backs, but if he could help in a situational role, the Rams would be better off. Westbrook would also give them another veteran player familiar with their offense. He would fit better in St. Louis than with most teams.
They began signing or agreeing to terms with college free agents.
Seattle announced agreements with 15 such players. The other NFC West teams haven't made announcements, to my knowledge, but the reports are trickling in:
- 49ers: Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount, Florida A&M returner LeRoy Vann, West Virginia quarterback Jarrett Brown, Western Illinois cornerback Patrick Stoudamire, Wisconsin free safety Chris Maragos, Missouri receiver Jared Perry, Mississippi receiver Shay Hodge and Louisville receiver Scott Long. These reports came from Matt Maiocco, Matt Barrows and nepatriotsdraft.com.
- Rams: Wisconsin linebacker Simoni Morris, Oklahoma State running back Keith Toston, Idaho running back DeMaundray Woolridge, Mississippi State receiver Brandon McRae, Florida State receiver Rod Owens, Duke quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, Texasn A&M tight end Jamie McCoy and Idaho safety Jeromy Jones. Also, Northern Arizona running back Alex Henderson will compete on a tryout basis. These reports came from Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and also from the Idaho Press-Tribune.
- Cardinals: BYU quarterback Max Hall, Michigan guard David Moosman, Kentucky running back Alfonso Smith, Idaho receiver Max Komar, Toledo receiver Stephen Williams, South Dakota State tackle Casey Knips, Fresno State cornerback A.J. Jefferson and Temple tackle Devin Tyler. The website nepatriotsdraft.com produced this list. A BYU website reported Hall's agreement. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported Smith's agreement. The Idaho Press-Tribune reported Komar's agreement. The Toledo Blade reported Williams' agreement. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported Knips' agreement. The Fresno Bee reported Jefferson's agreement. The Owl's Nest blog reported Tyler's agreement. I have seen nothing to independently confirm Moosman's agreement.
The Rams did not draft a running back, which explains their renewed interest in Brian Westbrook. More on that in a bit.
But there's more to this fish story: Washington, acquired by the Seahawks on Saturday, spoke with reporters via conference call shortly before departing on a previously scheduled fishing trip with good friend Chris Baker. The Seahawks acquired Baker earlier this offseason.
"It was kind of weird," Washington said. "I was like, 'Dude, man, we're teammates now.' He told me I would be very pleased about Seattle. Everyone out there is great."
Washington and Baker were planning to fish for striped bass in the Atlantic off Long Island. They were teammates previously with the Jets.
"It's ironic we're teammates now and fishing together," Washington said.
Washington has been rehabbing from a broken tibia and fibula. Surgeons reinforced the leg with a metal rod that will remain in the leg, Washington said. He hopes to be ready for training camp.
They liked Toler enough to send veteran cornerback Bryant McFadden back to Pittsburgh with the 195th choice in the draft for the 155th choice.
McFadden was scheduled to earn $4.75 million in salary and a $225,000 workout bonus in 2010, the final year of the free-agent contract he signed with Arizona last offseason. The Cardinals deemed the price too high.
Toler's emergence made them feel comfortable about this move.
ESPN's Adam Schefter, citing a league source, now suggests Lawson could be traded, and that at least one team has shown interest already.
Lawson is phenomenally athletic and an often-dominant player on special teams. He stands as one of the few combine athletes in recent memory -- Matt Jones was another -- to measure taller than 6-foot-5 before running the 40-yard dash in the low 4.4-second range and approaching 40 inches with his vertical leap (39.5 in Lawson's case). His performance at the 2006 combine helped make Lawson a first-round choice.
There's much to like about Lawson's attitude and effort levels. I've found him to be affable and engaging. He seems like a good teammate and good team player for the 49ers.
The production hasn't matched his draft status, however, and that helps explain why the 49ers haven't addressed Lawson's contract as he enters the final year of his rookie deal. Lawson finished last season with a career-high 6.5 sacks. The team does have other options at outside linebacker, but if Calvin Pace can cash in after a 6.5-sack season in Arizona, Lawson isn't out of line thinking he should get more than his $625,000 salary for this season.
Thinking he should get more and getting more are not the same thing, of course. Lawson's problem is an NFL players' problem. Players aren't becoming unrestricted free agents until they play six seasons. Teams have the upper hand in negotiations as a result. For the 49ers, a new deal for Lawson should rank below re-signing Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis, whose deal runs through this season, or Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis, whose deal runs through 2011.
I would expect the 49ers to act more decisively once they have a better feel for the future labor landscape.
Adding veteran Travis LaBoy on a one-year deal, as reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, improves the 49ers' numbers at the position.
It's unclear whether LaBoy will be healthy enough to produce or even make the team. He hasn't played since Arizona cut him following the 2008 season. A foot injury precipitated the release and sidelined LaBoy last season. He can be a productive situational player when healthy.