The negotiating period got off to a slow start yesterday, but as afternoon flowed into evening, reports of free agents and free agents-to-be choosing their homes came rushing in. That leads us to believe day two could get much crazier, but here's a roundup of some of the relevant action from day one, plus an update on a possible Kevin Kolb trade.
Kolb to Seattle Reportedly Dead
Cue the "Kolb to Arizona was never a foregone conclusion" comments. While much of the talk during this extra long off-season centered on the Cardinals trading for the Eagles' backup quarterback, it was thought the Seattle Seahawks could still be in the mix for the young signal caller.
The NFL Network's Jason La Canfora put that theory to bed on Tuesday, reporting Seattle will pass on doing a deal with Philly for Kolb. Instead, they expect to sign Tarvaris Jackson, and are in talks with Matt Leinart as well, to join Charlie Whitehurst when free agency officially opens on Friday.
As Reuben Frank indicates, this could come as bad news for the Birds, who could have used Seattle's potential involvement as leverage against the division rival Cardinals. Meanwhile, it's said Arizona is exploring other options themselves, including trading for Denver's Kyle Orton, or signing free agent Matt Hasselbeck, who will not re-sign with the Seahawks. (Update: Hasselbeck agreed to terms with the Titans.)
Arizona also added Marc Bulger yesterday, as many outlets predicted months ago.
That being said, the Eagles are still in a decent position to negotiate. If Arizona intends to get its quarterback of the future, and not just a placeholder for another couple of years, Kolb is the answer. Orton has turned out to be a capable starter, but has likely reached his ceiling, while Hasselbeck and Bulger are veterans whose careers are heading toward the light.
For Seattle's part, the decision to go with a collection of Charlie Whitehurst, Tarvaris Jackson, and Matt Leinart is questionable at best. It's fair to wonder what the Seahawks ever saw in Whitehurst, and Jackson could never quite put it together in five years with Minnesota. Head coach Pete Carroll might try to rekindle his winning ways with Leinart, as the duo dominated the college ranks at USC, but so far the lefty quarterback has been a complete bust in the NFL.
Of course, there are no guarantees Kolb ever develops into a championship caliber quarterback either, so by abstaining the Seahawks could become the ultimate winners in these sweepstakes. One thing that seems clear right now though is, barring some unforeseen developments under center, they won't be winners on the football field in 2011.
And as for the Cardinals, we certainly wouldn't rule out a deal yet. They can use this to their advantage to knock the Eagles' asking price down, but that will only work to an extent. Still, we might have to temper our excitement on the return for Kolb now.
Q to St. Louis
It did not take long for Quintin Mikell to find a new home. The Eagle of eight years was scooped of off the market quickly, as expected, with the St. Louis Rams offering an outrageous four-year deal worth $28 million, and $14 in guaranteed dollars.
It's an obvious fit, so much so that it's hard to believe we never saw it before. Free safety O.J. Atogwe departed St. Louis and signed with Washington before the lockout got underway, so there is certainly a hole in their defensive backfield. Mikell should be comfortable filling it in head coach Steve Spagnulo's scheme, a disciple of Jim Johnson.
As for what the Birds are losing, Mikell filled the void at strong safety nicely after neither Michael Lewis or Sean Considine panned out. In four seasons as the starter, '08 was clearly his best, earning a second team All-Pro nod. Since the departure of Brian Dawkins however, Mikell's play has been solid, but at 31-years-old this September coupled with his likely commanding top dollar as a free agent, he was not special enough to warrant an extension.
Of course, how "special" Mikell was is irrelevant now if Jaiquwan Jarrett or Kurt Coleman aren't ready to take over.
After spending the last four months in limbo, knowing he would not be wearing midnight green, but unsure of what the future held, it's nice to see Q will land somewhere decent. The Rams are a team to keep an eye on over the next year or two, especially considering the state of the rest of the NFC West.
Mikell won't have to wait long before he gets a crack at his old team either. The Eagles will head to St. Louis to kick off the 2011 season on September 11.
Charles Johnson to Stay in Carolina
Defensive end is on many fans' wishlists—and certainly the organization's as well—but one of the premier free agents is already off the market. Johnson has reportedly agreed to a six-year contract worth $76 million to remain with the Carolina Panthers. The deal includes $32 mil in guaranteed money.
Johnson had a breakout season in 2010, which put him on the radar for the pass rush-needy Eagles. The 25 year old out of Georgia tallied 11.5 sacks in his first year as a starter, cementing a big money contract from somewhere this off-season. In the previous two seasons, Johnson came up with 10 sacks despite starting in only two games.
We're not convinced the Birds were ever willing to invest that kind of combination of money and years on a defensive end anyway, considering they already have Trent Cole, and just one season after trading up to draft Brandon Graham. We still think they will look to add a pass rusher though, only somebody who is either cheaper (Mathias Kiwanuka?) or will be forced to take fewer years (Jason Babin?).
Thoughts on McNabb to Minny
Believe it or not, Minnesota might be exactly the right place for Five to rejuvenate his career.
Any way you look at it, McNabb didn't get a fair shake in Washington. Their offense was pitiful, with problems that went beyond the passer. The offensive line was feeble, and his weapons seriously lacking. The coaches were just as hard-headed as their quarterback, and it simply was not the right fit for anybody involved.
Things would be different with the Vikings. The line is better, and they have an all-world running back in Adrian Peterson who can carry the load. Meanwhile, the receiving corps includes some talented players, especially if they can prevent another club from wrestling away Sidney Rice.
Yup, I think if you put McNabb on the Vikings, they actually are probably pretty good—in fact, potentially much better than last season under Brett Favre/Joe Webb.