The700Level’s update on NFL free agency: overrated so far

The700Level’s update on NFL free agency: overrated so far

Free agency is set to open in the NFL at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, but already we’ve been inundated by reports that the Philadelphia Eagles are interested in this free agent and talking to that free agent. Thanks to the so-called “legal tampering” period the league instituted last year, teams were allowed to begin negotiating with impending free agents on Saturday, three days before they can sign on the dotted line.

There is little doubt the Eagles have shown interest in most, if not all of the players that popped up in reports over the weekend. Carolina Panthers safety Mike Mitchell, Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey and Cincinnati Bengals defensive end/outside linebacker Michael Johnson were among the more prominent names the club was said to have contacted already.

As league insiders have pointed out though, gauging the actual level of interest any team has in a player can be an entirely different story.

Philadelphia’s own Andrew Brandt provided some insight into where many of these reports materialize.

Greg Gabriel for the National Football Post spent 30 seasons working in NFL scouting departments, including the Eagles. He was a lot more shall we say direct about his opinion of many of the rumors circulating.

I believe the local writers breaking these stories have done well to choose their words carefully and not make anything out to be more than it is. Using Mitchell as an example though, who was first reported to be a potential target by Eliot Shorr-Parks for NJ.com, why wouldn’t the Eagles show some level of interest? The Birds need at least one, perhaps two starters at safety. They should be shopping around, comparing prices on literally all of the practical options.

It’s also important to note the fact that the Eagles have talked to Mitchell doesn’t mean they haven’t or won’t speak to numerous others. With all of the help that’s on the market at this position, it’s hard to believe Mitchell would be any team’s No. 1 target. Frankly, I’m not certain he’s even an upgrade over Nate Allen.

Likewise, it’s entirely possible the Eagles haven’t reached out to certain potential targets yet because they’re waiting for a market to develop. Think Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd based on Geoff Mosher's report for CSNPhilly.com. We know the Birds don’t want to pay him the $9 million per year he’s said to be seeking, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have interest. Letting him field offers and swooping in late with a competitive number could prove to be part of a strategy.

What’s been happening so far feels a lot more like a feeling-out process than an actual event. I have to think for every free agent who’s been known to have contact with Philadelphia, there’s 10 others the organization has inquired about or at least considered internally.

We’ll see what happens when the curtain rises on Tuesday. As of right now though, I’m selling a lot more of these stories than I’m buying.

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92 on Sunday night.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch. It was Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.

Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.

Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state (see full recap).

Rose, Anthony help Knicks hold off Kings
NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points and the New York Knicks held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 on Sunday night for their eighth win in 11 games.

The Knicks took a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 18 consecutive points in the third quarter but outplayed the Kings down the stretch to win their third straight overall and improve to 9-3 at home.

Brandon Jennings added 19 points for New York and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but shot just 9 for 30 and looked fatigued while struggling late while playing the entire second half (see full recap).

Ibaka's big night leads Magic past Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 98-92 on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Magic.

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit's first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

On Jackson's first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play -- he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Byron scored the clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a winless swing through California with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for just the second time in seven road games. Montreal had only one win in its previous 11 games in California before scoring three times in the four-round shootout.

Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw also scored and Carey Price made 27 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist apiece for the Kings, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots (see full recap).

DeKeyser gives Red Wings OT win over Isles
NEW YORK -- Danny DeKeyser scored 1:02 into overtime to give Detroit a victory over New York.

Mike Green scored twice and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist for Detroit, which improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games. Peter Mrazek stopped 32 shots to improve to 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey scored for New York, which had won a season-high three straight. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

Detroit's Frans Nielsen had an assist while facing his former team for the first time since leaving the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Red Wings last summer. The 32-year-old Danish center was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2002 draft and had 119 goals and 230 assists over 10 seasons in New York (see full recap).

Late goal lifts Jets over Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Andrew Copp scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:45 left, Bryan Little got his third goal in three games and Winnipeg edged Chicago.

Copp beat Scott Darling on the stick side with a shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the left post.

Chicago's Artemi Panarin scored with 6:54 remaining to tie it at 1, moments after Copp hit the post, to spoil Connor Hellebuyck's bid for a second shutout against Chicago in less than a month. Panarin completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kane, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side.

Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves and outdueled Darling, who started his second straight game for the Blackhawks in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. Darling made 30 saves, including three on breakaways.

Little's power-play goal with 43.4 seconds left in the second period was his fourth point in four games since missing 23 with a lower-body injury (see full recap)