- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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There will be a lot of rumors circulating this weekend, based on who the Redskins have contacted during this open negotiating period. But it’s not as if these are all meaningful discussions.
Nobody can be signed and just because they talk to someone early Saturday afternoon, it might not mean much come Sunday night or Monday morning or, especially, on Tuesday. An agent can use that first negotiating call to get better offers from another team later in the weekend. Of course, he can always go back to the original team.
The point is, it will be tough to get a handle on a lot of what takes place this weekend. Some teams might be reluctant to say too much for fear that their initial talk will be used as leverage for other teams.
General manager Bruce Allen can contact an agent, ask what they want, find out it’s several million more than they’re willing to pay and then move on. But the agent can tell the media that, yes, Washington contacted us about this player. Doesn’t mean the interest is legit.
The Redskins contacted some players early in this period a year ago and that was their only discussion. Not having cap space prohibited them from doing much, but they could have gone in different directions had they wanted or opted not to re-sign almost all of their own free agents. Still, they lacked the money to reach out to some high-profile players. It's hard to imagine they would sign someone such as Buffalo's Jairus Byrd, but they should at least make contact just in case. Along with that, they'll call the agents for players such as safety Mike Mitchell and corner Aqib Talib. Perhaps they'll find out they can sign those two at a price tag close to what it would cost to sign Byrd.
It’s good business for agents if they can somehow spread the word that X number of teams are interested in their client (some teams more so in particular because of their desire to spend).
In some ways, it’s akin to bringing in a number of players before the draft. Clearly you’re not going to draft all of them, but it’s part of the so-called due diligence. But this period does allow teams to shape their lists and prioritize come Tuesday. Keep in mind, though, what an agent asks for this weekend could change quite a bit once his client sits on the market unsigned in a week or two.
This is a feeling-out period and by Monday night we should be able to have a better handle on what will happen starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday when free agency begins.
You can’t schedule a visit during this weekend (wink, wink). And if they do schedule a visit, you’re certainly not going to let people know. The NFL wouldn’t like that.
Players can’t talk to teams or visit teams during this period and if you represent yourself, then you can’t talk to a team until free agency begins. Also, restricted free agents can’t be discussed until free agency starts as well.
Among the names you might hear this weekend in relation to the Redskins: defensive lineman Linval Joseph, safety Mike Mitchell, linebacker Joe Mays, linebacker Jon Beason, linebacker Brandon Spikes, linebacker Daryl Smith, safety Malcolm Jenkins, corner Aqib Talib, receiver Hakeem Nicks, receiver Golden Tate, receiver Kenny Britt, corners Sam Shields and Walter Thurmond. I don’t know about the offensive line, but there are some solid centers available other than Alex Mack. I don’t know how many of these players the Redskins will actually target, but they either make sense for them or I’ve heard their names discussed. And I know there are players not on this list who will be contacted (or, rather, their agents will be).