The NFL free agency period does not begin until next Tuesday, but that hasn’t stopped the rampant rumors and speculation from beginning to swirl. One of the most coveted players on the market will be pass-rushing specialist Michael Johnson, who could be poised to bolt the Cincinnati Bengals for a new home.
According to the NFL Network, the Minnesota Vikings will be a team to watch.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to a two-year deal with quarterback Chad Henne, keeping the veteran from hitting free agency and possibly shaking up what the Jaguars have planned in the 2014 draft. The contract is worth $8 million with a reported $4.5 million guaranteed.
Henne started 13 games for the Jaguars last season, ripping the starting job away from an injured Blaine Gabbert. He finished 4-9 in those appearances with 13 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 76.5 QB rating. Gabbert currently remains on the Jaguars’ roster, too — he’s signed through the 2014 season and the entirety of the $3.8 million owed to him is fully guaranteed.
In other words, cutting Gabbert would not save the Jaguars any money for the upcoming season. However, with $55 million-plus available under the cap, more than any team but Oakland, they may not mind taking a small hit if they are done holding out hope that Gabbert will improve.
Defensive end Michael Bennett was a key member of the Seattle Seahawks defense during their run to the title last season, and now he is set to hit the open market and become one of the league’s premier free-agent targets.
Many have discussed the possibility of Bennett, who suggested he is unwilling to take a hometown discount to remain in Seattle, joining his brother Martellus with the Chicago Bears. However, it could be one of the Seahawks’ NFC West rivals that presents the greatest competition for Bennett’s services.
According to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com, there could be a “bidding war” for Bennett between the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.
The yearly “how will the Dallas Cowboys work their magic and get under the salary cap” watch has begun, and one of the biggest questions for the team has been what to do with star defensive end DeMarcus Ware.
Ware is set to earn a $12.25 million base salary in 2014 with a full cap figure of $16 million, but the team is actively searching for a way to reduce his cap hit and shed the final $600,000 it needs removed so that it can squeeze under this year’s salary cap of $134.25 million by March 11.
Trouble is, Ware is not willing to take a pay cut, according to a report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Clarence Hill.
Would the Cowboys be willing to release Ware, which would save $7.8 million?
Ware is coming off of a season in which he produced a a career-low six sacks in 2013. He also underwent surgery for the second straight offseason to repair nerve damage in his elbow. On the other hand, however, he’s been a standout for Dallas, a crowd favorite and a reliable player on an otherwise unreliable defense.
It’s a situation to watch closely as Ware would instantly become one of the biggest names available on the open market.
Former Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr enters the 2014 NFL draft with the most impressive bloodline among the signal-callers who are in the first-round discussion — and NFL teams have been taking notice.
Carr, who is the younger brother of former Houston Texans No. 1 overall pick David Carr, has said that teams discussed the possibility of signing his older brother if they select him in the draft.
The two brothers have been working out this offseason with Mike Sullivan, who coached David on the New York Giants. In the eyes of the younger Carr, placing the two quarterbacks on the same roster can only help a franchise.