Although NFL teams have been negotiating with pending unrestricted free agents since this past Saturday, the official start to the 2014 league year and free agency is at 4 PM ET today. The last few days have produced numerous interesting rumors. Those rumors include several potential high-profile cuts, big money deals already in place, and noteworthy names on the trade block. Here's the latest from around the NFL:
Bills Interested in Retaining Chandler and Carpenter
Starting with some Bills news, Mark Gaughan of the Buffalo News reported yesterday that the Bills have expressed an interest in re-signing both tight end Scott Chandler and kicker Dan Carpenter. While it appears highly unlikely that either player will reach an agreement prior to 4 p.m. today, it's possible that both players will remain in Buffalo next year. The Bills are actually unable to sign Carpenter until the new year starts today. This is due to the fact that Carpenter played on a one-year veteran minimum deal last year. While there are potential replacements already on the roster at both positions, re-signing each would provide the team with much-needed depth.
Updates on Byrd
Sticking with a Bills theme, according to James Walker of ESPN.com, safety Jairus Byrd is reportedly looking for $9 million a season from his new team. Such a contract would put him behind only Kansas City safety Eric Berry in terms of yearly salary. Various levels of interest by Miami, St. Louis, Cleveland and Washington have been reported. Miami has since denied their interest and instead signed free agent safety Louis Delmas to a one-year contact that could be worth as much as $3.5 million.
Revis Departing Tampa Bay
In what was perhaps the biggest NFL news of the weekend, Adam Schefter reported yesterday that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will trade or cut star cornerback Darrelle Revis before this coming Wednesday. The reason for Tampa's urgency stems from an unwillingness to pay Revis a roster bonus of $1.5 million that he was scheduled to receive on Thursday. This decision certainly comes as a bit of surprise. Last year, the Buccaneers traded away their first-round pick and an additional conditional pick to acquire Revis from the New York Jets. After his arrival to the club, then Tampa general manager Mark Dominik signed Revis to a six-year, $96 million contract extension. This past season, which happened to be Revis' first year back from a torn ACL suffered in 2012, was seemingly a successful one. While he battled a number of ailments, Revis managed to start all 16 games and recorded 50 tackles and 2 interceptions. However, new Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht apparently wants a clean slate without any significant contracts on the books. Revis, 28, will likely have no shortage of suitors on the open market. In a league that is becoming increasingly pass-happy, teams will undoubtedly love to add a top cover-corner to their existing secondary.
Bennett Stays in Seattle
Even after an aggressive recruiting pitch from his brother Martellus, Michael Bennett is staying in Seattle. Bennett, 28, signed a four-year, $28.5 million contract, which includes $16 million guaranteed. This comes despite a report from Pro Football Talk that cites a league source claiming that two other teams were offering Bennett more money. The interest in Bennett is not surprising. Though he didn't start a game last season, Bennett did play 57 percent of Seattle's defensive snaps, and recorded 8.5 sacks for the Super Bowl champions.
Smith's Days in Carolina Likely Numbered
A storied 13-year stay in Carolina looks to be drawing to a close as longtime Panthers receiver Steve Smith appears headed to the open market. While many speculated that Smith's possible departure was related to his contract or his declining numbers, it appears the Panthers merely want to move on from Smith on a personal level. Smith's track record is littered with altercations involving opponents and teammates and controversial opinions shared with the media. In addition to those distractions, Smith's leadership style has reportedly grown tired within a predominately young Carolina locker room. NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport reported yesterday that Panthers management is attempting to trade Smith, but with a $7 million cap hit, such a deal is unlikely. If Smith does depart, whether it be by trade or release, he will leave as the Panthers all-time leader in every major receiving category.
Other Notable Names in the News
According to the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett, former Buffalo Bills practice squad member Joique Bell is close to signing an extension with the Detroit Lions. Despite the fact he has yet to be released by the Houston Texans, quarterback Matt Schaub is drawing interest from a number of teams including the Cleveland Browns. That is according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com who also reports that the Browns may pursue linebacker Karlos Dansby in free agency. Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post believes free agent tackle Branden Albert's Twitter activity suggests he's headed to Miami. Abramson cites that Albert has recently added Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller, Brent Grimes, and new signee Louis Delmas to his followers. According to Adam Schefter, oft-injured running back Darren McFadden is drawing "significant interest" on the market. Lastly, longtime Steeler cornerback Ike Taylor has agreed to a $4.25 pay cut to remain in Pittsburgh.