NFL Nation: Stephen Spach
Red Bryant, Paul McQuistan and Heath Farwell previously re-signed.
Seattle and the other NFC West teams have added only two UFAs from other teams, however. I've put together UFA scorecards for each team in the division. Ages are in parenthesis. Here goes ...
UFA unsigned (age): defensive end Raheem Brock (33), defensive lineman Jimmy Wilkerson (31), safety Atari Bigby (30), quarterback Charlie Whitehurst (29), linebacker Leroy Hill (29), linebacker Matt McCoy (29), defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove (28), linebacker David Hawthorne (26), running back Justin Forsett (26), linebacker David Vobora (25)
UFA re-signed: Farwell (30), Robinson (29), McQuistan (28), Bryant (27)
UFA added: none
UFA lost: tight end John Carlson (27)
Franchise player: none
Comment: Forsett has provided value, but the Seahawks will want to add a power back as depth behind Marshawn Lynch, who re-signed before free agency. Mike Tolbert, a free agent from the San Diego Chargers, could be worth a look if the running back market remains soft. Tolbert weighs 243 pounds, has 21 total touchdowns over the past two seasons, and caught 54 passes in 2012. The price would have to be right after Seattle committed to Lynch.
San Francisco 49ers
UFA unsigned: fullback Moran Norris (33), tight end Justin Peelle (33), safety Madieu Williams (30), quarterback Alex Smith (27), receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (26), guard Chilo Rachal (26), safety Reggie Smith (25)
UFA re-signed: cornerback Carlos Rogers (30), linebacker Tavares Gooden (27)
UFA added: none
UFA lost: guard Adam Snyder (30), linebacker Blake Costanzo (27), receiver Josh Morgan (26)
Franchise player: safety Dashon Goldson (27)
Comment: Randy Moss and potential addition Rock Cartwright do not appear in the listings because they were not unrestricted free agents. Re-signing Alex Smith and finding additional receiver help appear to be the top priorities. The 49ers are showing little outward urgency on either front, however.
UFA unsigned: defensive lineman Vonnie Holliday (36), kicker Jay Feely (35), long-snapper Mike Leach (35), outside linebacker Clark Haggans (35), outside linebacker Joey Porter (34), offensive lineman Floyd Womack (33), punter Dave Zastudil (33), tackle D'Anthony Batiste (29), safety Sean Considine (29), guard Deuce Lutui (28), safety Hamza Abdullah (28), tackle Brandon Keith (27), receiver Early Doucet (26)
UFA re-signed: none.
UFA added: Snyder (30)
UFA lost: cornerback Richard Marshall (27)
Franchise player: defensive end Calais Campbell (25)
Comment: The Cardinals have been in a tough spot. They would have faced criticism had they declined to pursue Peyton Manning. They could now face criticism for sacrificing the first week of free agency while waiting for Manning. The reality is that Arizona probably wasn't going to be all that aggressive in the market this offseason, anyway. It did hurt losing Marshall to the Miami Dolphins after coordinator Ray Horton called him the Cardinals' defensive MVP.
St. Louis Rams
UFA unsigned: cornerback Al Harris (37), quarterback A.J. Feeley (34), offensive lineman Tony Wragge (32), linebacker Brady Poppinga (32), punter Donnie Jones (31), offensive lineman Adam Goldberg (31), guard Jacob Bell (31), receiver Brandon Lloyd (30), cornerback Rod Hood (30), running back Cadillac Williams (29), defensive tackle Gary Gibson (29), receiver Mark Clayton (29), tackle Mark LeVoir (29), tight end Stephen Spach (29), safety James Butler (29), tight end Billy Bajema (29), quarterback Kellen Clemens (28), running back Jerious Norwood (28), linebacker Bryan Kehl (27), linebacker Chris Chamberlain (26), cornerback Justin King (24)
UFA re-signed: none
UFA added: cornerback Cortland Finnegan (28)
UFA lost: none
Franchise player: none
Comment: The Rams are not looking to re-sign many of their own free agents. They want to turn over the roster, and that is happening in a big way. The team's failure to secure playmaking help for quarterback Sam Bradford stands out as the biggest theme to this point. Finnegan was a welcome addition, but he isn't going to score many touchdowns.
The chart below shows a general overview.
I'm not sure any of them qualify as players the Rams absolutely must bring back, particularly with a new coach and new schemes on both sides of the ball.
Receiver Brandon Lloyd would help fill a need, but at what price? Would he fit as well in a new offense after producing at disproportionate levels to this point when paired with former coordinator Josh McDaniels, now in New England?
Guard Jacob Bell played for new coach Jeff Fisher in Tennessee. He might have more value to the new staff than he had to the old one; McDaniels wanted more powerful guards, such as Harvey Dahl.
This item, like the previous one for Arizona, expands upon Brian McIntyre's lists. I've added columns for offensive and defensive snap counts from 2011, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information. The final column shows how much each player's previous contract averaged.
Update: Punter Donnie Jones is also an unrestricted free agent. His previous contracted averaged not quite $1.2 million.
Receiver Danny Amendola, listed with the restricted free agents below, has not played since suffering an elbow injury in the 2011 season opener.
The offense has gone through quite a transition.
With an assist from Hank Gargiulo of ESPN Stats & Information, I've put together a chart showing how playing time has changed for the Rams' skill players over the last two games.
Some of the changes are injury related (Jackson is healthy, Danny Amendola is on injured reserve). Some are roster related (Lloyd added, Mike Sims-Walker subtracted). Some are a little more complicated (Lance Kendricks seeing the field less frequently).
Of course, A.J. Feeley has taken over for the injured Sam Bradford at quarterback. The offensive line has changed since Adam Goldberg replaced an injured Jason Smith at right tackle.
A few quick thoughts:
- Rookie Greg Salas is getting significantly more playing time. The team successfully targeted him on a fourth-and-2 play against New Orleans on Sunday. He appears to be gaining momentum. Fellow rookie wideout Austin Pettis has seen his playing time fall.
- Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui has gained snaps at Kendricks' expense. Kendricks has sometimes struggled with dropped passes, but I haven't figured out for sure why his playing time has diminished. A healthier Hoomanwanui would account for some of the change. The team has run 10 snaps of a grouping with Lloyd, Jackson and all three tight ends.
- Receiver Danario Alexander was inactive with a hamstring injury against New Orleans. Against Dallas, he played 13 snaps with a group featuring Lloyd, Jackson, Billy Bajema and Hoomanawanui. That five-man combination has played more snaps than any other featuring Lloyd. The runnerup, with 11 snaps, features Brandon Gibson, Kendricks and Salas instead of Bajema, Hoomanawanui and Alexander.
- Again, this offense remains in transition. We can safely say Lloyd is the focal point at receiver. Salas and Hoomanawanui have been gaining, while Pettis and Kendricks have fallen back some. But the combinations will continue to evolve, particularly once Bradford returns from his high-ankle sprain. Bradford and Kendricks developed a quick connection at training camp.
The chart shows percentages of all offensive plays, whether or not a player was active, sorted by change from the first six weeks.
- Rams: receiver Danny Amendola, running back Steven Jackson, receiver Austin Pettis, safety Jermale Hines, linebacker Jabara Williams, tight end Stephen Spach and defensive end C.J. Ah You. Jackson tested his strained quadriceps during warmups, but was never expected to play. Amendola is recovering from a dislocated elbow. Rookie defensive end Robert Quinn is active after sitting out the opener. Ah You underwent wrist surgery recently. Right tackle Jason Smith, who suffered an ankle injury in the opener, is active.
- Giants: receiver Jerrel Jernigan, cornerback Prince Amukamara, running back Da'Rel Scott, tight end Travis Beckum, guard Mitch Petrus, defensive end Osi Umenyiora and tackle James Brewer. Umenyiora and fellow Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck missed the opener with injuries. Tuck is active and, if sufficiently healthy, will likely present matchup problems for the Rams, particularly when lined up against Smith.
We're about an hour from kickoff. I'm seeing Rams fans wearing Eric Dickerson and Jack Youngblood jerseys, and another with a Sam Bradford jersey. The stadium remains mostly empty at this time, however.
- Seattle Seahawks: released kicker Jeff Reed, defensive lineman Junior Siavii, defensive lineman Pep Levingston and linebacker David Vobora; claimed defensive lineman Landon Cohen (New England), kicker Steven Hauschka (Denver), defensive lineman Al Woods (Tampa Bay) and tackle Jarriel King (New York Giants).
- Arizona Cardinals: released rookie linebacker Quan Sturdivant and veteran tight end Stephen Spach; put in a failed waiver claim for receiver Brandon Tate; agreed to terms with veteran running back Chester Taylor; claimed defensive backs Crezdon Butler (Pittsburgh) and Korey Lindsey (Cincinnati) off waivers.
- St. Louis Rams: lost quarterback Thaddeus Lewis to Cleveland, defensive end George Selvie to Carolina and receiver Mardy Gilyard to the New York Jets on waiver claims; agreed to terms with veteran interior offensive lineman Tony Wragge.
- San Francisco 49ers: claimed quarterback Scott Tolzien off waivers from San Diego, releasing linebacker Keaton Kristick with an injury designation to make room on the roster; put in a failed waiver claim for former New England tight end Lee Smith.
Teams are also assembling practice squads. The 49ers announced adding seven players to theirs, all released by the team on the reduction to 53 players. I'll round up those additions once they become official.
Kevin Kolb's arrival from Philadelphia gives the Arizona Cardinals renewed hope at quarterback and clear direction following Kurt Warner's retirement.
It provides a fresh start after a forgettable 2010 transition season for Arizona.
So much has changed for the Cardinals since their Super Bowl appearance following the 2008 season. Other rosters around the league have turned over since then, of course, but not every team was coming off a Super Bowl appearance.
Quite a few teams have sought change. For the Cardinals, it just happened.
Warner's departure, while easily the biggest change, was far from the only one. Between five and eight starters from that Super Bowl game project as starters in 2011, depending upon how many of the team's unrestricted free agents re-sign.
When Steve Breaston left the Cardinals for Kansas City this week, drawing attention to the cumulative effect of Arizona's roster upheaval, a Seahawks fan drew parallels between Seattle's post-Super Bowl decline and the Cardinals' plight last season.
"Don't misunderstand," Ricky Frey wrote on my Facebook wall, "I'm a Hawks fan, but it seems eerily familiar to watch this happen and know what happened to Holmgren/Mora. Writing on the wall?"
Not if Kolb has anything to say about it. Acquiring a relatively young, potentially ascending quarterback puts Arizona in position to avoid the decline Seattle experienced as a Matt Hasselbeck struggled with injuries while the roster around him withered away. The NFC West remains in transition overall, and the Cardinals know it.
"It’s obviously winnable, but it’s funny to think that everybody thinks you can just step in and win it," Kolb told reporters Friday. "You’re talking about NFL football teams here. I know last year 7-9 is what won it, but it doesn’t matter. ... The door is open, we know, and we’ll be ready to kick it in when it’s time, but it’s not going to be an easy task."
Larry Fitzgerald, Levi Brown, Darnell Dockett, Adrian Wilson and the recently re-signed Lyle Sendlein started for Arizona in the Super Bowl and remain starters in 2011. Another starter from that Super Bowl game, Gerald Hayes, was released this week. Three more are becoming unrestricted free agents: Deuce Lutui, Bryan Robinson and Gabe Watson.
Six Arizona starters from that game are retired or did not play last season: Mike Gandy, Warner, Edgerrin James, Terrelle Smith, Chike Okeafor and Monty Beisel. Seven more play for other teams: Reggie Wells, Leonard Pope, Anquan Boldin, Antonio Smith, Karlos Dansby, Antrel Rolle and the recently traded Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Some were role players. Others were tougher to replace.
Breaston was a backup on that team, but he played extensively as the third receiver and finished the season with more than 1,000 yards.
Kolb's addition headlined a flurry of transactions the Cardinals announced Thursday and Friday.
Sendlein, safety Hamza Abdullah, cornerback Michael Adams, tackle D'Anthony Batiste, center Ben Claxton, punter Ben Graham, fullback Reagan Maui'a and tight end Stephen Spach re-signed.
Five draft choices have signed. Guard Daryn Colledge, defensive end Nick Eason, tight end Jeff King, receiver Chansi Stuckey and linebacker Stewart Bradley have signed as free agents from other teams.
Re-signing Sendlein while adding Kolb, Colledge and Bradley suggests the 2011 team is still coming together, not necessarily falling apart.
"Any way you can add in 'thrown to' and 'drops' in this stat?" Furfanam asked in one comments section.
Consider it done.
Jason Vida of ESPN Stats & Information produced the information. I've broken it out in four charts. A few notes on the findings:
- Jason Witten, who edged Antonio Gates for the top spot in our rankings, dropped only two of the 126 passes thrown his way last season. That gave him easily the lowest drop rate -- 1.6 percent -- among tight ends with at least 50 receptions.
- Heath Miller had the most receptions (42) without a drop. Green Bay's Jermichael Finley (21), Jacksonville's Zach Miller (20) and Jim Kleinsasser (17) were next.
- Brandon Pettigrew, Dustin Keller and Kevin Boss had the most drops with nine apiece. Chris Cooley, Tony Gonzalez, Aaron Hernandez and Owen Daniels were next with six each.
- The St. Louis Rams' Daniel Fells ranked 13th in lowest drop percentage among players with at least 20 targets. Teammate Billy Bajema, with three drops in 21 targets, had the highest drop percentage in the same category.
The first chart ranks NFL tight ends by most receptions. It also shows number of targets, drops and drop percentage. Witten, Jacob Tamme and Gates were the only tight ends with at least 50 receptions and no more than two dropped passes.
The second chart shows lowest drop percentages among tight ends targeted at least 20 times last season. Miller's standing atop the list backs up James Walker's contention that the Pittsburgh Steelers tight end was underrated in our power rankings.
The third chart ranks NFL tight ends with at least 20 targets by the highest percentage of dropped passes.
ESPN Stats & Information's totals on Bajema matched my charting. I had Bajema dropping passes against Tennessee, Denver and Arizona.
The final chart focuses only on NFC West tight ends, ranking them by lowest percentage of dropped passes.
No-brainers: Veteran insider linebacker Monty Beisel had started during part of preseason and the Cardinals are lean at the position after placing Gerald Hayes on reserve/physically unable to perform. But Beisel wasn't the answer at the position and keeping him on the roster for Week 1 would have guaranteed his salary. Rookie Daryl Washington looks like he'll be starting at linebacker sooner rather than later. The Cardinals have also been pleased with veteran Paris Lenon. Reggie Walker also survived the first wave of cuts.
What’s next: The Cardinals still must release three players to conform with the 53-man limit. Matt Leinart's future remains in limbo. Coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters Friday that he wasn't prepared to make a decision on that front just yet. The Cardinals have four quarterbacks on their roster: Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton and Leinart. That situation should shake out in the coming days. Whisenhunt said he needs to figure out whether Leinart could fit as a backup if the team decided to name Anderson its starter. "It's not so much a question of Matt and his ability to play football as it his how he fits with our team," Whisenhunt said. Update: Here's my take on Leinart, who was released Saturday.
Cardinals players cut:
QB Matt Leinart
LB Stevie Baggs
TE Anthony Becht
LB Monty Beisel
LB Cody Brown
DE Jeremy Clark
DE John Fletcher
CB Trevor Ford
WR Ed Gant
OL Herman Johnson
WR Mike Jones
WR Onrea Jones
CB Justin Miller
OL Jonathan Palmer
OL Tom Pestock
FB Charles Scott
WR Isaiah Williams
Dockett fell on Faneca and the two wound up at the feet of Matt Leinart. It all happened so fast. The play had hardly begun.
"I'm not trying to hurt him," Dockett said, "but damned if I ain't trying to go 100 percent every time I put my hand on the ground."
Upset, Leinart spiked the ball. Offensive tackle Levi Brown did what the lineman's code said he had to do. He slugged Dockett.
The Arizona Cardinals saw this as a good thing, a case of Brown standing up for his quarterback.
"I like that," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "You're looking for those guys to develop that bond or that territorialism to protect their guy."
Of course, Dockett couldn't let Brown or anyone get away with a free shot on him in front of the team and fans at the Walkup Skydome.
Dockett unloaded on Brown in combination and pretty soon the entire team was involved. The Cardinals conducted the remainder of practice with an intensity rarely seen outside game conditions. Bodies were flying. Fists, too.
Backup tackle Tom Pestock threw two uppercuts at linebacker Mark Washington and the two had to be separated. Tight end Stephen Spach goaded linebacker Cody Brown into a tug-of-war by the face masks. Linebacker Joey Porter ran over and verbally lit into Brown, excoriating the second-year pro for letting Spach get the better of him -- exactly the type of direction the Cardinals expected from Porter when they signed the veteran pass-rusher.
"Don't accept anything from anybody, even your teammates," Porter said. "I don't care if he grabbed your face mask or did something dirty. Let him know that is not acceptable. You can handle it right there on the field and get it over with in 30 seconds and come back in the locker room and all be on the same page. But you let anybody get away with something once, they are going to do it all the time. My message to him was, 'Don't let that happen, especially not in front of me.'"
There were confrontations even before the team portion of practice, as when guard Deuce Lutui jabbed defensive lineman Alan Branch in the facemask area during one-on-one pass-rush drills. Branch threw his helmet and barked at Lutui on his way back to the side where defensive players were standing.
The Cardinals' emotions dissipated quickly following practice. Some linemen laughed as they reenacted punching motions. The players won't be on the field Tuesday until late in the afternoon, anyway.
"When you are putting the pads on, man, as much as you love your teammates, damn, you trying to kill them," Dockett said. "That is what it's all about. That is the only way you can get better. You can't come out here and play 80 percent and hope to win our third division title. It just don't happen like that."
Dockett apparently had the San Francisco 49ers in mind.
"Every day we step on the field, we have to go harder and harder and harder," he said. "We got to treat them (teammates) like they're the 49ers. They have to treat us like we're the 49ers. That is the only way we are going to be able to compete and that is the only way we are going to be able to back up all the great work and try to win our third title."
- Offensive line coach Russ Grimm's selection to the Hall of Fame raises his profile among Cardinals players who might have known he played without knowing he was one of the great guards. Grimm and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Darnell Dockett spoke for about 15 minutes at one point during practice. Grimm was sharing pointers based on his knowledge of the game and personal experiences. The two shook hands about 10 minutes into the conversation as if they were finished, only to quickly reconvene and continue. I'll have more on this subject another time.
- Defensive tackle Alan Branch, facing a make-or-break season is obviously lighter. He even led teammates in sideline-to-sideline runs before practice. I caught him stopping about 5 yards short of the sideline on one of the runs, though.[+] EnlargeAP Photo/Matt YorkRain forced the Cardinals and their defensive line to practice indoors on Sunday.
- It's tough for the offense to function sometimes with Dockett blowing up plays. He drove right guard Reggie Wells into the backfield on one play, sending Wells flying into quarterback Matt Leinart, who hit the FieldTurf surface at the 16,000-seat Walkup Skydome. Dockett expanded his offseason training regimen to include pushing his Cadillac for 30 to 40 feet at a time, with 2-minute breaks between sets (former Seattle Seahawks tackle Walter Jones used to push around a pickup truck as part of his training). Dockett said it's "no sweat" matching up against 340-pound offensive linemen after pushing around a vehicle weighing several thousand pounds.
- Second-year safety Rashad Johnson might be making a conscious effort to become more physical, something he must do to challenge for playing time. The Cardinals practiced in pads and Johnson took advantage of the opportunity to hit. He tagged receiver Onrea Jones on one play when both met at the ball.
- Stephen Spach made a one-handed grab to beat new Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes for a 35-yard touchdown up the left seam.
- Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is not yet full strength following knee surgery, coach Ken Whisenhunt said. It was obvious between plays because Rodgers-Cromartie sometimes moved with a limp. But he was very active and ran well when plays were live. Learning to play through injuries and at less than full strength can be difficult for some young players. I thought that was a challenge for Rodgers-Cromartie late last season.
- The first-team offensive line, from left to right: Levi Brown, Alan Faneca, Lyle Sendlein, Wells, Brandon Keith.
- The second-team offensive line, left to right: Jeremy Bridges, Rex Hadnot, Ben Claxton, Deuce Lutui, Herman Johnson.
- Lutui weighs about 360. I would have guessed 345 to 350. He's a big guy and he can hide weight. He did not appear sloppy to me. The Cardinals would like him to play in the low 340s.
- Keith looks the part at right tackle. He appears strong. I didn't see the Cardinals hold full-speed pass-rush drills, however. The offensive and defensive lines took a break lasting perhaps 15 minutes at one point during practice.
- A long-term extension for Dockett remains a possibility this season, Whisenhunt said. The Cardinals want to reward him.
- The Cardinals think Faneca still has something left even though the Jets ate millions in salary to remove Faneca from their roster. Dockett and Whisenhunt both said they've seen good things from Faneca. "Very athletic," Dockett said.
- For a minute, I thought the Cardinals had an elite new prospect at safety, but Pro Bowler Adrian Wilson was wearing No. 9 instead of his usual No. 24. He wore No. 9 in high school and recent returned to have his jersey retired.
- Beanie Wells, Steve Breaston and Charles Ali were among the players I saw drop passes. Breaston couldn't make the grab on what would have been a long touchdown pass.
- Rookie receiver Max Komar made the best catch of the day, snatching a pass while lying on his back.
I'm looking forward to spending the next few days at Cardinals camp. I'll have more observations Monday.
The Seahawks' agreement with Patriots castoff Chris Baker fits the profile. Baker, 30, and Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates were together with the Jets in 2005. Baker averaged a career-high 14.9 yards per catch that season. He caught 14 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns with New England last season. The Patriots terminated his contract.
The Seahawks also showed interest in former Patriots tight end Ben Watson, but he signed with Cleveland instead. This deal with Baker made Seattle the latest NFC West team to seek depth at tight end. The Rams brought back Daniel Fells. The Cardinals brought back Anthony Becht and Stephen Spach. The 49ers visited with Becht.
Scouts Inc. on Baker: Baker is a short, thickly built tight end who isn't a powerful blocker at the point of attack, but has enough athleticism to be an effective target in the passing game. He has good foot agility, quickness and balance to be an effective short and intermediate route-runner. He has improved as a route-runner by using his body to get separation. He has good, reliable hands to extend and make receptions away from his body. Baker doesn't have great burst or speed to stretch deep seams and he can be a liability as a run-blocker at the point of attack or anchoring versus bull rushers off the edge. He has developed into a solid football player, but is somewhat one-dimensional because he is primarily used as a receiving tight end and wall-off type blocker.
It's possible the Seahawks disagree with that assessment. If not, the team is getting another receiving tight end to go with John Carlson. John Owens, Cameron Morrah and Jason Pociask are also on the roster at tight end for Seattle.
Unrestricted free agents: TE Anthony Becht, LB Monty Beisel, LB Bertrand Berry (retired), LT Jeremy Bridges, CB Ralph Brown, LB Karlos Dansby, LT Mike Gandy, FB Dan Kreider, WR Sean Morey, LB Chike Okeafor, K Neil Rackers, NT Bryan Robinson, QB Brian St. Pierre, S Matt Ware.
Restricted free agents: SS Hamza Abdullah, WR Steve Breaston, G Ben Claxton, FB Justin Green, LG Deuce Lutui, TE Ben Patrick, TE Lyle Sendlein, TE Stephen Spach, WR Jerheme Urban, NT Gabe Watson.
Franchise player: none
What to expect: The Cardinals generally do not pursue marquee free agents from other teams. That trend figures to continue. The Cardinals have too many of their own free agents to re-sign for them to worry about chasing other teams' castoffs. We might see Arizona plug the roster with a few lower-tier free agents. They had success doing that last offseason, particularly with Becht at tight end. Dansby leads the list of 2009 starters expected to depart.
St. Louis Rams
Unrestricted free agents: QB Kyle Boller, DE James Hall, SS Clinton Hart, LB Paris Lenon, DE Leonard Little, LS Chris Massey, TE Randy McMichael.
Restricted free agents: S Eric Bassey, S Craig Dahl, TE Daniel Fells, LS Ryan Neill, DT Clifton Ryan, CB Jonathan Wade, DE Victory Adeyanju, FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, T Alex Barron, RB Sam Gado, DT Gary Gibson, WR Ruvell Martin, G Mark Setterstrom.
Franchise player: none
What to expect: The Rams could be in the market for a veteran quarterback such as Chad Pennington. Beyond quarterback, coach Steve Spagnuolo said the Rams could use a little more seasoning in the form of veteran role players. The Rams will remain a young team, but they could add some experience. The team parted with players fitting that profile last offseason, but most had inflated salaries. The ones St. Louis adds this year figure to carry lower price tags in most cases. The Rams have said they want Little and Hall back. McMichael figures to be gone.
Unrestricted free agents: WR Nate Burleson, FB Justin Griffith, LS Kevin Houser, LB D.D. Lewis, CB Ken Lucas, T Damion McIntosh, S Lawyer Milloy, DE Cory Redding, LS Jeff Robinson.
Restricted free agents: T Brandon Frye, WR Ben Obomanu, LB Lance Laury, G Rob Sims, G Chris Spencer, DE Darryl Tapp.
Franchise player: K Olindo Mare
What to expect: The Seahawks are a little difficult to figure. Their owner has the money to bankroll aggressive spending if Seattle chooses to go that route. Coach Pete Carroll surely realizes the team could use talent upgrades. The new general manager, John Schneider, comes from the Ted Thompson school of personnel. Thompson's aversion for free agency is well established, although Schneider has characterized himself as slightly more aggressive. The problem, of course, is finding good players on the market. Burleson will hit the market. He could return if the price is right. Carroll has said nice things about Redding, who should be affordable.
San Francisco 49ers
Unrestricted free agents: WR Arnaz Battle, CB Dre Bly, CB Walt Harris, T Tony Pashos, FS Mark Roman, T Barry Sims, LB Jeff Ulbrich (retired), LB Matt Wilhelm.
Restricted free agents: LG David Baas, LB Ahmad Brooks, CB Marcus Hudson.
Franchise player: NT Aubrayo Franklin
What to expect: The 49ers have largely turned their back on free agency now that they feel better about their roster. I would expect the team to lay low again when the signing period begins late Thursday night on the West Coast.
McAllister was signed yesterday after sitting out all season. He’s expected to lead the Saints onto the field as a ceremonial gesture. Defensive back Chris Reis, linebacker Anthony Waters, guard Jamar Nesbit, tight end Darnell Dinkins, tight end Tory Humphrey and defensive end Paul Spicer also are inactive to the Saints. Chase Daniel is the third quarterback.
Arizona’s inactives are quarterback Brian St. Pierre, fullback Nehemiah Broughton, safety Rashad Johnson, linebacker Gerald Hayes, offensive lineman Herman Johnson, defensive end Jeremy Clark, receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Stephen Spach.
Receiver Anquan Boldin, linebacker Gerald Hayes, fullback Nehemiah Broughton, safety Rashad Johnson, tackle Herman Johnson, defensive end Jeremy Clark and tight end Stephen Spach are inactive for the Cardinals. Brian St. Pierre is the third quarterback. If he plays, starter Kurt Warner and backup Matt Leinart cannot enter the game.
Inactive for the Saints: running back Deuce McAllister, safety Chris Reis, linebacker Anthony Waters, guard Jamar Nesbit, tight end Darnell Dinkins, tight end Tory Humphrey and defensive end Paul Spicer. Chase Daniel is the third quarterback.
The pressbox announcer just referred to Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt as "Ken Wizenhunt" -- another indication which team is the visitor for this divisional-round game.
Boldin's name appeared on the team's list of inactive players, submitted 90 minutes prior to kickoff.
Also inactive for Arizona: Nehemiah Broughton, Rashad Johnson, Reggie Walker, Herman Johnson, Jeremy Clark and Stephen Spach. Brian St. Pierre is the third quarterback.
Receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet, Jerheme Urban and Sean Morey are active for the Cardinals.
The ankle and knee injuries Boldin suffered in Week 17 limited him too much for the Cardinals to leave open a spot on their 45-man roster.