NFL Free Agency Set To Begin; What Will Giants, Jets Do?
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NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Open for business, wild as it might get.
The NFL’s calendar turns toward a new season Tuesday when free agency begins at 4 p.m.
As if there hasn’t been enough news with the Peyton Manning tour, Saints bounties and veterans being cut by their teams, now comes the roster feeding frenzy.
So what’s on tap for the locals?
The Jets said their top priority in free agency was keeping nose tackle Sione Pouha. The seven-year veteran agreed to a three-year deal Monday.
“Every player that approaches the last year of their contract and enters the screen door of free agency knows there’s always the possibility (of leaving),” Pouha said, “but in my mind I always wanted to be with the Jets, remain with the Jets.”
Otherwise, don’t expect much. General manager Mike Tannenbaum admitted on WFAN earlier this month that he likely won’t be making a huge splash this offseason.
“We’re really looking to try to keep our own initially and then kind of going from there,” he told Boomer Esiason and Craig Carton. “I don’t expect that. This league is filled with unexpected opportunities, and I do pride myself on every rock, every day. But I don’t foresee that this year.”
The Jets could sign a backup quarterback to help push starter Mark Sanchez. A reunion with wide receiver Braylon Edwards has been rumored, or another No. 2 wide receiver could be targeted. The team also seems to have a perpetual need for a solid pass rusher.
Then there’s Plaxico Burress, who hasn’t “totally” ruled out a return to New York.
As for the Giants, they’re thought to be under the 2012 salary cap by only $2 million to $3 million.
The Giants will need to replace backup running back Brandon Jacobs, who they released last week. They’ve re-signed cornerback Terrell Thomas. Wide receiver Mario Manningham is expected to sign elsewhere.
The team has been hampered by injuries at tight end. They may want to explore bringing back Kevin Boss, who will be released by the Raiders, according to multiple reports.
Four-time MVP Manning is, of course, the top free agent after he was released last week by Indianapolis. He reportedly sat down with Dolphins coach Joe Philbin in Indianapolis Monday night. He’s also met with the Broncos and Cardinals.
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 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. On Monday, the Redskins released safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who signed a five-year, $26 million contract just before the NFL lockout began last March. They also cut veteran fullback Mike Sellers.
So Washington has 16 players who could leave, plus tight end Fred Davis, who received the franchise tag and would bring two No. 1 draft picks if he signs elsewhere. Not that the Redskins would mind an extra pick or two considering the high price they paid to St. Louis to move up to the second slot in the draft so they can choose Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.
A few teams were busy placing tenders on restricted free agents to avoid losing them without compensation. The Steelers did so with Pro Bowl receiver Mike Wallace and five others.
The Bills 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.
A slew of veterans have taken the opposite route after being released by their teams. Indianapolis’ housecleaning went far beyond Manning, with RB Joseph Addai, TE Dallas Clark, LB Gary Brackett, QB Curtis Painter and safety Melvin Bullitt cut last week.
Minneapolis went down the same path, cutting guards Steve Hutchinson and Anthony Herrera and cornerback Cedric Griffin.
What do you want to see the Giants or Jets do? Sound off in the comments below…
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