NFL Offseason Thread: Combine & Free Agency Version

The NFL Combine officially starts tomorrow and the first workouts will be held on Friday. Tebow will probably get the lions share of the publicity and there’ll be a ton of attention paid to the D Lineman drills with Suh, McCoy and a slew of other first rounders projected. Some of the most amazing combine numbers will probably be turned in by Safeties, a position loaded with elite athletes this year.

My Bears have a ton of holes and no first day picks, so I’ll be scrubbing the stories looking for sleepers at S, OG, RB, CB and DE/DT. What about you? Coverage starts on the NFL Network at 9AM EST tomorrow.

The other big news is the rash of veteran’s released in the past couple days. Today the Eagles released Brian Westbrook, though it might not be official for a month. Yesterday the Chargers released LaDanian Tomlinson. The Panthers have announced that they will not franchise Julius Peppers so you can expect to see him in the free agent pool.

As a Bears fan I’d love to see Peppers in Chicago, but the team just isn’t going to break the bank for him and I’m not sure I blame them. That contract could be an albatross for any team that actual works within a budget and the Bears need to spread that money around to multiple positions. On the other hand, I have zero interest in LDT or Westbrook coming to Chicago, though I’ll probably talk myself into it if it happens since both seem to fit in the Martz scheme (at least they did in their primes).

Here’s a list of the notable NFL Offseason dates. The big ones:
[ul]
[li]Feb. 24-March 2 — NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis, Ind.[/li][/ul]
[INDENT]Workout Schedule
Friday, February 26 – Kickers, punters, special teams
Saturday, February 27 – Offensive linemen, tight ends
Sunday, February 28 – Quarterbacks, wide receivers,
running backs
Monday, March 1 – Defensive linemen, linebackers
Tuesday, March 2 – Defensive backs
[/INDENT]
[ul]
[li]Feb. 25 – Deadline for clubs to designate franchise and transition players.[/li][li]March 4 — Deadline for submission of qualifying offers by clubs to their restricted free agents whose contracts have expired and to whom they desire to retain a right of first refusal/compensation.[/li][li]March 4 — Deadline for clubs to submit offer of minimum salary to retain exclusive negotiating rights to their players with fewer than three seasons of free agency credit whose contracts have expired.[/li][li]March 5 – Start of capped or uncapped 2010 NFL season.[/li][li]March 5 — Free agency begins.[/li][li]March 5 — Trading period begins.[/li][li]April 22-24 — NFL Draft, New York City.[/li][/ul]
What are you thinking?

I’m thinking I can’t wait for real football to start again.

I think the Combine is one of the most overrated, overhyped events in the NFL, and over the last few years, it has only gotten worse as the NFL draft has risen to prominence in the minds of football fans. I don’t have the NFL network, and I probably wouldn’t watch it much anyway.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t use the information garnered at the Combine to influence my thoughts on who I’d like to see in a Packer uniform next year. And in the arid desert that is NFL offseason, anything, even an overhyped “underwear Olympics” like the Combine is a welcome diversion.

:snort!: :smiley:

I have a theory about running backs based on Ricky Williams. Personally I bet if Ladanian gets picked up with another team and goes through camp he will suck and be released. But if he just takes a year totally off from football, and lets his body recover without really trying to maintain playing shape he could come back the next year and be effective again(although not as effective as his prime)

Unfortunately my theory will likely not get a test case.

Heh, considering the premium the Packers put on the combine and the draft this disinterest is quite the dichotomy.

The big talk 'round these parts is the debate over whether the 49ers should trade one of their two first-round draft picks to the Eagles for Donovan McNabb (whether or not the Eagles are interested).

I can’t say it would be a bad move, in and of itself. Sure, he’s better than Smith, but is he better than Smith and a first-round tackle? Is there good enough secondary help in the second round to not worry about a first-rounder?

In other news…
The 49ers run the 3-4 that Peppers has gone on record as wanting to play in. Do they have the money to bid against the Patriots and others? Doubt it.

I’m not a big McNabb supporter but if I were a Niners fan I’d be in favor of such a move. He’d be a good fit and a big upgrade, especially with Davis, Gore and Crabtree on offense. Frankly I don’t think NcNabb is worth a 1st round pick considering his age and the likelihood of the Eagles dumping him regardless. If the Niners could get say a 3rd rounder back it might be more palatable, plus it saves them from paying two big rookie contracts.

In an earlier draft of my post I said I’d like a late-round pick on top of McNabb. The Eagles have an extra 3rd-rounder acquired from the Seahawks, that wouldn’t be too bad.

What’s McNabb’s contract situation? What are the odds that he’ll be released and you could sign him as a FA without giving up anything? With the shortage of QBs in this years FA class I don’t think I’d want to get into a bidding war, but I also wouldn’t want to give up a 1st rounder for a guy who’ll jump ship or retire in 2011. On paper it’s a pretty good deal, but only if you think McNabb can be your starter for the next 4 seasons and can get you into the Super Bowl in say 2011 or 2012.

The Lions need to fill gaping holes everywhere, but if they take their pick at 2, they can’t lose between the defensive lineman and the defensive lineman, both are at a position of need. Also of note, if they trade down is the speedy defensive lineman and the undersized defensive lineman.

I don’t think anybody’s going to the Super Bowl in 2011. :frowning:

Someone will. Whether it’s a team containing members of the NFLPA is a question.

Hear, hear! Well said, and I agree. I hate the offseason. The combine doesn’t tell us too much as fans, either, except that the fastest receiver will be drafted by the Raiders!
:slight_smile:

I think Williams was an exception in this case. LT has taken a beating over the years, and I don’t think his prospects for claiming a starting job anywhere are very good right now, nor will they be improved with another year of age away from the game. I’m seeing him as a Corey Dillon-esque type fill in back (ala the Patriots) for a contending team that already has another RB that’s at least pretty good, and he can provide a supporting role. Its going to come down to money with him, and ego.

Wow, are the Eagles pondering dealing McNabb? I hadn’t heard. Whom do they have to start if they let him go? Kolb? A rookie draft pick?
I think the Eagles would be stupid to get rid of him right now. He’s still a good QB.

I’ve never really thought about it. Why do you think the Packers put a premium on the combine? Going just by memory, I don’t recall Greg Jennings, Clay Matthews, Aaron Rodgers, BJ Raji, or many others making their bones at the combine rather than performance. Maybe Nick Collins, who was a small school guy who ran well at the combine, but on the whole, I didn’t know they put a premium on the combine.

"Jason La Canfora of NFL.com reports via Twitter Julius Peppers is the Bears’ top free agent target.

Aaron Kampman very much on their radar too."

Interesting…

It’s all speculation at this point. They have 3 QBs under contract and the experts seem to be of the opinion that McNabb’s run has ended, the fans and the organization are ready for a change. McNabb during the playoffs did some interviews and did a lot of talking that sounded like he was doubtful he’d be back. Kolb is supposedly still considered the heir-apparent and would be given the chance to claim the job. Vick’s status is uncertain.

Well, I wasn’t necessarily implying that they over-value the Combine as compared to the college performance. The Packers and TT are very public about building through the draft and are perhaps the most adverse team in the league to trading picks and signing free agents. All that means that TT and the Packers scouting department need to pay close attention to the Combine and pre-draft posturing. You don’t have to be stupidly overrating the likes of Heyward-Bey and Ghoulston to be putting a premium on the Combine.

Just about every analyst I’ve read has paired up Peppers and the Bears. As far as I can tell there’s zero to it, pure fluff and speculation. The Bears have repeatedly said they aren’t going to change the way they’ve been doing things in 2010, to that means no massive FA signings and no blockbuster contracts. Kampman is a more realistic possibility if the numbers following injury aren’t too outlandish. Peppers supposedly is bound and determined to play in a 3-4, ruling the Bears out.

It’s a bit sad to see Tomlinson released, but you can’t really argue with it. It’s amazing how consistently RBs decline. A few weeks ago, the NFL network had a Den-SD game from 02 or 03; I’d forgotten how great LT used to look. I think it’s one of those things where you don’t notice the slow decline over a few years, but side-by-side it’s obvious.

For now I’m pinning my hopes on a very tenuous comparison of the 05 Colts and the 09 Chargers. The Colts lost their first playoff game after a bye partly because of bad FG kicking, then got rid of their big name RB and won the next year. Obviously this means SD is a lock this year :).

Tomlinson is projected to rush for less than 400 yards this next season based upon RB trends.
That is sad, but apparently inevitable.

My Falcons (and yes, I do consider them to be MINE, because I have been a fan since the franchise began and suffered for many years with a brain-damaged family running the front office) are looking for a CB in the draft. Some folks are positing Devin McCourty out of Rutgers for the pick at 18 or 19 (first round). Rutgers? Do they have a football team?
:wink:

Anyway, the combine is over-hyped imho, but the draft is a lot of fun to speculate upon, especially since it is ONE HUNDRED and NINETY SEVEN days until the first game!

Yeah, it is pretty much all media and fan speculation, as it has been for some time. If the Eagles did go against what they have publicly said (Reid has said he wants McNabb back and he has some of the say on roster decisions), Kolb would start. I’m still not sold on Kolb as a starter, but he showed a lot of promise last season in his two starts.

McNabb is still a good QB, which is why they need to move him now. I said they needed to move him before last season while his value was still high, and I think they should move him while he still has some value at all. If anyone would give up a 1st, the Eagles need to do it. They could finish their retooling process with two firsts, a second, and two thirds, in addition to their completely revamped offense. The Eagles could use all of those picks on their vulnerable defense since the offense is pretty much completely set. McNabb can’t win with this team. He’s pretty much exactly wrong for the Eagles’ offensive game plan. And they already have someone right now who could come in and compete (hopefully…). Why not move him and get something back? It isn’t as if the fans would cry foul if McNabb were to be moved… most of them want him out anyway.

The strange thing is that this Eagles front office has traditionally dropped the older veterans before it reached this point. Sometimes even without a competent backup waiting to fill in. So they’re showing McNabb a lot of loyalty here.

The Chicago papers have repeatedly announced that Tim Ruskell has been hired (and then not hired) about every day for 2 weeks or so. What the hell is the hold up? The Combine starts tomorrow and players are being cut all across the league and the Bears continue to smack their dicks in the dirt over this Ruskell thing. The guy isn’t exactly in high demand elsewhere and his resume is nothing special, if he’s being a pain in the ass and negotiating a tough deal let’s kick his ass to the curb. The last thing the Bears need is another egomaniac in the front office.