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NFL’s silly season kicks offwith the start of free agency
Open for business, wild as it might get.
The NFL’s calendar turns toward a new season Tuesday when free agency begins. As if there hasn’t been enough news with the Peyton Manning tour, bounties in New Orleans and veterans being cut by their teams, now comes the roster feeding frenzy.
Four-time MVP Manning is, of course, the top free agent after he was released last week by Indianapolis. So far, he’s met only with Denver and Arizona.
Manning did not show at Miami’s headquarters Monday despite speculation he would meet with the team.
Dolphins owner Stephen Ross arrived at the team complex at midmorning, and several players — including quarterback Chad Henne — showed up around the same time to work out. Henne is a free agent and not expected back this season.
A media stakeout at the complex began when a local TV station camera crew arrived at 4 a.m. Half a dozen TV cameras and a handful of reporters eventually gathered across the street.
While Manning is pursued, many other game-changers, such as Ray Rice, Wes Welker, Matt Forte and DeSean Jackson, were given franchise tags and will require compensation if they switch teams.
Still, there are dozens of enticing options, from Mario Williams to Mario Manningham, from Vincent Jackson to Matt Flynn.
“You go into pro free agency to try to address a need, hopefully not needs,” Jaguars general manager Gene Smith said. “You want to get a couple of players out of it that can come in here and help you right away. You’re looking for a quality starter or maybe trying to fill a situational role on your team. But filling huge holes, that’s not where you want to be.”
Addressing those needs is best done in the draft. But that grab bag isn’t until late April, by which time many teams will have spent many millions of dollars on free agents.
Several others will let players walk to clear salary cap space.
A few teams were busy placing tenders on restricted free agents to avoid losing them without compensation. Pittsburgh did so with Pro Bowl receiver Mike Wallace and five others.
Buffalo did the same with offensive linemen Chad Rinehart and Kraig Urbik. San Francisco tendered cornerback Tramaine Brock and linebacker Larry Grant.
Cincinnati re-signed four potential free agents: fullback Chris Pressley, running back Cedric Peerman, linebacker Vincent Rey and defensive tackle Nick Hayden.
The New York Jets said their top priority in free agency was keeping nose tackle Sione Pouha and the seven-year veteran agreed to a three-year deal Monday.
By John R. Bolton
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