The Crystal Ball, Redux
America's nondenominational Christmas Eve is finally upon us. Are you ready for some (free agent) football?
I'm going to take a stab at predicting what goes down today based on all of the reporting I've been doing over the last month, and particularly the last 48 hours. Free agency officially begins at 12:01 am, but, come on, it really gets going about 3 days before the combine when the chatter heats up between teams and agents and some parameters begin to fall into place. I don't intend for this post to take precedence over the original Crystal Ball - that still stands - but meant this as more of a one-day snapshot just before the money starts getting throw around for real.
Without a doubt LB London Fletcher remains the Skins' top dog, and re-signing Derrick Dockery is a huge priority as well. By all indications, Fletcher will be at Redskins Park Saturday and I still believe a deal with him gets done that day. The Bills would like to keep him and Detroit showed some interest, I heard, but the Lions have seemed to back off recently (getting into a bidding war with Dan Snyder can bring pause). Fletcher is represented by Drew Rosenhaus, who is a figure of great disdain in the Buffalo organization from what I gather (another of his Buffalo clients, McGahee, is on the trading block), while The Snyder loves doing business with him.
Last I heard the Skins and Dock still had a divide to bridge and I continue to hear that Kris Dielman and Eric Steinbach, the top two guards on the market, will get in the range of $12 million guaranteed. So Dock's got to think he's going to get paid. I still wonder if it will take giving him something in line with Jansen's new contract (the Skins standard $5 million to sign with a $5 million guaranteed bonus the following March) to get this thing done once and for all. I still think they keep him, but might not get it done before the start of free agency.
The Skins and Lions continue to talk about CB Dre' Bly. Denver, Atlanta and New Orleans are in the hunt, too. Problem for the Skins is that they have no picks between No. 6 overall and the fifth round to trade in this draft and the Lions are rebuilding (aren't they always?). Still, the Skins are pushing. I also hear that Washington has a dual role in these trade talks as well, however, beyond Bly. The Skins want to get more picks in this draft - trading down from No., 6 continues to be the word - and don't rule out a weird three-way trade between the Skins, Lions and Denver in which maybe Bly lands with the Broncos but the Skins get back that 2007 third-round pick that went to Denver in the ill-fated three-way deal for T.J. Duckett (who, as fate would have it, I hear might be signing with the Lions as a UFA).
Got all that? I can't rule out the Skins getting Bly themselves - as this situation remains in flux and will be all day - and I have a feeling they leave the trade table doing something here, even if it is landing a draft pick.
Again, they like Smoot a lot. He is expected to be cut sometime tonight and I expect the Skins to pounce. How the Smoot/Bly stuff goes will impact the Springs situation, although cutting him in June remains a distinct possibility.
However, I don't think Nate Clements will be too feasible at this point. This dude might end up trumping Champ Bailey's deal from a few years back given how crazy this 2007 market is going, and the Skins aren't going to give him $20 million to sign. In fact, I would be surprised if Washington is his initial free agent stop. Now, should he see a few teams - I hear San Francisco and Tennessee could be his first two destinations - the Skins will certainly monitor the situation and they will do what they can, but I can't see them as a frontrunner on this one, especially with the Smoot and Bly options in play.
As for defensive end, I continue to think the draft is the area where this will be most heavily addressed. While few around Redskins Park really think the Giants will trade Strahan, and even fewer imagine them sending him to a division rival with two years still on his contract, if the buck-toothed one's meeting with NY officials turns sour and they do shop him, expect the Skins to make a push. Now, I don't think they would add a whole bunch of years to his deal - they know he's got two seasons left at most - but sure, Dan would throw him some frontloaded cash in a new bonus to get something done. Say what you will about the owner, but he's never been afraid to dip into his pocket to try to win (even when misguided at times).
Again, I don't think Strahan is going anywhere and no one I spoke to around the league did either, but never say never. A lot of the ends the Skins really liked (Kelsay, for one) have been re-signed or franchised so the market is think. They like Patrick Kerney but he's been injury prone and is a high motor guy more than a real freak of nature pass rusher and again, for once I see them showing some restraint in what could be a totally out-of-whack market given the limited supply of decent players available. I don't see them being a frontrunner for him, either. Denver could be where he lands.
As for offense, with Fauria cut, they have no one behind Cooley. Todd Yoder in the end will probably take what they offer to come back and I still think they add another TE. From what I have gathered, the Skins not in the mix for Eric Johnson, Kyle Brady or Marcus Pollard (trade) at this point, and I can't see them breaking the bank to get the guy in New England. Have not been able to nail anything down firm on Jerramy Stevens, so maybe he's getting some interest. Can't say for sure, still working on it.
Other than that, unless Renaldo Wynn takes a paycut and an offer with essentially no guaranteed money I think he could get cut today. Can't see John Hall still on the roster Friday and Patten could go, too. Springs restructuring has been at a stalemate but I will continue to monitor that as well.
Will check in throughout the day. Happy hunting.
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