Waiting's overrated: 'Skins, Jets take early lead in free-agent frenzy
The 'Skins made a big splash, signing Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall
The Lions are apparently making a big push to sign CB Bryant McFadden
LB Ray Lewis is likely to shun the Cowboys and re-sign with the Ravens
Stories abound on a busy dawning of the NFL's offseason. The Jets are desperate to get Bart Scott to quarterback their defense and are in the driver's seat to sign him. And after a year of salary sanity, the Washington Redskins led the rush in free-agency this morning, inking defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, the prize of the free-agent crop, to a 7-year, $100 million deal and cornerback DeAngelo Hall to a contract with $22 million in guaranteed money. Friday afternoon they will host Cowboys defensive end Chris Canty.
Here are the other lively teams, and players, this morning as the 32 teams prepared to spend a good chunk of the record $750-million in cap money the NFL has available this off-season:
Baltimore, a source close to several of their players said, was more likely to sign and retain Ray Lewis and let fellow linebacker Bart Scott walk. One of those two linebackers entered Thursday evening highly likely to go to the Jets, and the source said that appeared to be Scott. Retaining Lewis would be a leadership coup for the Ravens, but the deals on both men are not done. The source also cautioned that the situation could change in Friday negotiations, though he said it's likely, in particular, that Scott will end up in the Big Apple. If the Jets do sign Scott, expect a deal for five or six years, at about $8 million per season.
Tampa Bay, a record $61 million under the salary cap after purging everyone but the office secretaries this week, was targeting New Orleans middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma and Pittsburgh wide receiver Nate Washington. The Bucs don't want to hit home runs in free agency, but rather doubles with solid players they don't have to overpay.
The Giants were hot on the trail of Atlanta linebacker Michael Boley, and one source said the Giants were prepared to make Boley a $5-million-a-year player. He's a strongside linebacker with 52 starts in his four NFL seasons.
St. Louis, while trying gamely to persuade cornerback Ron Bartell to stay for approximately $6 million a year, was prepared to lose him if a team was willing to offer more. In the meantime, coach Steve Spagnuolo is set to host his former strong safety with the Giants, James Butler, on a Friday visit, along with a rising star of this free-agency crop -- 25-year-old center Jason Brown, formerly of the Ravens.
Veteran quarterbacks saw the market explode with contracts like Nnamdi Asomugha's $15-million a year deal with the Raiders, and the Cardinals and Titans were the victims. Arizona couldn't get a deal done with Super Bowl veteran quarterback Kurt Warner, and Tennessee couldn't get Kerry Collins re-signed, so both entered the market. It's likely, though, that Warner will stay with Arizona and Collins with Tennessee.
Smart money said two big corners -- Bryant McFadden and Domonique Foxworth -- were leaning toward signing with Detroit and Baltimore, respectively. The Ravens have a strong need at corner, and Foxworth, 26, would be a good opening building block.