Five moves to expect soon after the lockout ends
Once the NFL lockout is over, teams will need to move quickly on free agency and the trade market to get players into their system as quickly as possible. As soon as the league announces it's open for business, moves will happen quickly.
Here are five headlines we expect to see within a week of the lockout ending:
Arizona Cardinals trade for Kevin Kolb: When the Cardinals ignored all the quarterback prospects in the draft, it became clear they were serious about trading for Kolb. Even though they don't want a rookie, they need someone young enough to build around.
The 26-year-old Eagles quarterback didn't put up big numbers in seven games last season (7 TDs, 7 INTs, 76.1 rating), but his stats are skewed because the team threw him out there with the third team against Dallas in a disastrous Week 17 loss. Kolb showed he's a very proficient West Coast quarterback in impressive wins over San Francisco and Atlanta last season.
But the most important reason the Cardinals will go after Kolb is his leadership. Kolb showed what kind of teammate he is by how he handled losing his starting job to Michael Vick. And teammates have always rallied around Kolb going back to his days at the University of Houston.
The big question is: will the Cardinals give up a first-round pick? Seems like a reasonable price for a starting quarterback, but maybe multiple second-rounders would be enough. Arizona also has to re-sign Kolb, who is only due about $1 million this season after signing a two-year, $12 million contract extension before last season.
Philadelphia Eagles sign Plaxico Burress: The Eagles' risk on Michael Vick paid off in a big way and they'll probably be more comfortable bringing in Burress than most other teams. Philly has a solid receiving corps with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, but they have to sign Jackson and Maclin in coming years. Philadelphia likes to bring in players at positions where it has to sign players to increase its leverage.
The Eagles are well aware of Burress' talents because he has had a lot of success against them through the years. The 34-year-old wideout is big and strong and would give Vick a new kind of target. Even though he's not fast, Burress doesn't need as much separation as other receivers to catch the ball. The Eagles will encourage Vick to get rid of the ball quickly next season, which means he could comfortably target Burress early in plays.
Dallas Cowboys sign Nnamdi Asomugha: Asomugha could go on a LeBron James-like tour of the NFL, but he won't have a lot of time to weigh his options. Of all the teams with a need at cornerback, the Asomugha race could come down to the Cowboys and Texans. No one needs help in the secondary more than Houston, but if all things are equal, Jerry Jones could woo Asomugha with all the extras that come with being a Cowboy. There's a lot more glamour in Dallas than in Houston, and the Cowboys defense could be very good under new coordinator Rob Ryan.
Some of the other teams reportedly interested in Asomugha could be scared off by his price tag. Teams like the Jets and Ravens are already spending a lot of money at cornerback. The Patriots could certainly use Asomugha, but they don't pay a lot for that position. The Lions also have to covet Asomugha, but he may not be convinced Detroit is ready to become a playoff team.
New York Jets sign Randy Moss: The Jets could lose Santonio Holmes to a big free-agent bidder like the Washington Redskins. Or they could be forced to pay so much to keep Holmes that they have to jettison Braylon Edwards. If the Jets can't keep their top two receivers, Moss is a viable alternative.
The Jets are in a Super Bowl-or-bust mode and have no fear of character issues -- just look at Holmes and Edwards. They also believe in bringing in veterans that other teams think are washed up, like LaDainian Tomlinson and Jason Taylor. Moss' agent, Joel Segal, is talking Moss up. And the 34-year-old receiver has already had one major career resurrection when he left Oakland for New England.
Cincinnati Bengals announce Andy Dalton is their starter: The Bengals will send that message to the team and the nation as soon as they can. They don't have much of a choice, because Carson Palmer's not coming back and they're not going to invest in a veteran quarterback who would be just a short-term solution. More importantly, they have to think the former TCU quarterback can handle it. You have to feel a little bad for any rookie quarterback who may have to face the Ravens and Steelers two times apiece. But Dalton is mature and smart and can handle a few setbacks.
* And one headline we won't read before the season starts...
Donovan McNabb signs with team X: The veteran quarterback is too expensive to trade and the 'Skins seem to want to move on. If they cut him and he's an unrestricted free agent, what team would offer a big enough deal to satisfy McNabb's demands? McNabb is a potential Hall of Famer and isn't going to want to sign a bargain basement deal. The Seahawks and Dolphins have to be interested, but may not offer enough. As unlikely as it seems, the 34-year-old quarterback may have to wait until the season starts and another veteran gets hurt.
Sharks beat Kings in overtime to get much-needed Game 3 win
Red Wings drub Blackhawks, even series at 1-1