Hail to the big spenders


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Jan 22, 2006
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Hail to the big spenders

By Charles Robinson, Yahoo! Sports
March 13, 2006

If anyone questioned whether the Washington Redskins would have dominated free agency in an uncapped NFL, the answer came over the weekend.

The Redskins doled out massive deals for Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antwaan Randle El and St. Louis Rams safety Adam Archuleta – while also trading for San Francisco 49ers wideout Brandon Lloyd and committing to giving him a new contract. While it's not a surprise to see the Redskins so active in the market, the deals given to both Randle El and Archuleta had some surprising numbers.

By all accounts, the Redskins overpaid for Randle El and Archuleta, committing $22 million in signing and roster bonuses to a pair of players who were considered wildly overrated free agents in many circles. Archuleta's deal – the richest pact for a safety in NFL history – will pay him an average of roughly $5 million per season, while Randle El's $11.5 million signing and roster bonuses – and $31 million total – are more lucrative than some contracts given to No. 1 receivers.

With Archuleta and Randle El off the market, here are the top 10 free agents still available:

1. Drew Brees, QB, San Diego Chargers – The cash Brees is looking for is mighty steep for a good-but-not-elite quarterback – around $10 million per with a $15 million signing bonus. That has narrowed his market down to two realistic suitors – the Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints. Still, he's not likely to get what he's asking for from either of those teams. He's visiting with the Dolphins now and is expected to sign with either Miami or New Orleans by the end of the week. If that doesn't happen, the Minnesota Vikings could be the next trip for Brees.

2. Julian Peterson, OLB, San Francisco 49ers – The clamoring for Peterson was slow going early on, with the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals still potential destinations. Peterson's financial expectations – he's seeking a contract that would place him among the highest-paid linebackers in the NFL – could have something to do with teams failing to warm to him. Surely, there is still some consternation about the Achilles injury Peterson suffered two seasons ago. It's likely that his future will be tied to that of LaVar Arrington. Whoever signs first will be shrinking the market and free agent dollars for the other.

3. LaVar Arrington, OLB, Washington Redskins – The Cleveland Browns appear to have dropped out of the running, but Arrington has drawn the eyes of more than a dozen teams. The Giants and Cincinnati Bengals are two possible destinations – with the Giants looking like the frontrunner. Arrington met with the Dolphins over the weekend, but the possible signing of Brees likely would eliminate Miami from the running. The Philadelphia Eagles are another possibility.

4. Rocky Bernard, DT, Seattle Seahawks – The St. Louis Rams apparently have bowed out after signing La'Roi Glover, but there should be plenty of remaining interest in Bernard's services. He is expected to meet with the Giants this week, and the Eagles are believed to be interested. After losing Kendrick Clancy, the Giants may be the favorite. Bernard isn't likely to last longer than this week on the market.

5. Charles Woodson, CB, Oakland Raiders – Like the other big-name clients of Carl and Kevin Poston – Arrington and Peterson – there hasn't been a frantic pace to sign Woodson. But interest should pick up as the market settles down this week. The top two suitors for Woodson appear to be the Jacksonville Jaguars and Kansas City Chiefs. The Dolphins also could enter the fray, depending on what happens with the Brees situation.

6. Adam Vinatieri, K, New England Patriots – The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have not made Vinatieri a priority, as erroneously reported by some outlets. The lucrative deal signed by Ryan Longwell will raise the bar for interested teams, and the one with the most cap space is Longwell's former employer, the Green Bay Packers. If Green Bay doesn't seal the deal this week, the Dallas Cowboys and Patriots are the next likeliest destinations, in that order.

7. David Givens, WR, New England Patriots – With Randle El off the market, Givens is the best wideout left on the board. He may be looking at possibly rejoining the Patriots, with so many other teams going different ways to fill their needs at wide receiver – San Francisco signing Antonio Bryant, the Browns adding Joe Jurevicius and so on. Givens won't last much longer, with the Tennessee Titans having made an offer and the Chargers and Carolina Panthers still showing interest. The Houston Texans' loss of Corey Bradford could push them further into the mix for Givens.

8. Jon Runyan, OT, Philadelphia Eagles – The market for Runyan hasn't been as deep as expected, but it could get a boost as the upper-tier free agents continue to dry up. A return to Philadelphia looks like a distinct possibility, as does a visit to Tampa Bay. The Cardinals also remain a possible suitor, though the Edgerrin James and Kendrick Clancy deals may have eaten too much cap room to make landing Runyan a possibility.

9. Ryan Pickett, DT, St. Louis Rams – The possible landing spots for Pickett are drying up quickly, with several interested teams signing other defensive tackles over the weekend – including the Buffalo Bills, Browns and Cardinals. That leaves two teams still in the running: the Packers and Giants. Pickett visited with the Packers on Sunday and is expected to make a trip to New York some time this week.

10. Willie McGinest, LB New England Patriots – The Browns have taken themselves out of the running for McGinest. He may end up visiting the Denver Broncos this week. For now, it looks like a real possibility McGinest could return to New England, and he apparently has not scheduled visits to other teams in hopes of working something out with the Patriots after the initial rush of signings.
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