(PhatzRadio / AP) — Aqib Talib, one of the top defensive free agents of 2014, is close to re-signing with the New England Patriots, according to reports.
“He long had been regarded as one of Washington’s top free agent targets. He has ties to people within Washington’s organization, having played for secondary coach Raheem Morris while in Tampa Bay, and Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen drafted Talib when he held the same position with the Buccaneers in 2008.”
NBC’s Washignton reporter Dianna Russini tweeted earlier that Talib looks like he will stay put in New England for a third season.
Talib had previuolsly told the Boston Herald that he “wants to be paid as a top-of-the-market corner in free agency.”
NFL free agency doesn’t officially open until March 11, but the rumor mill is already in full swing. Find all the latest buzz from around the league below.
Monday, March 10
• The Dolphins are “gearing up for another big year in free agency,” writes Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. One of their big targets? Bill S Jairus Byrd.
• Denver is expected to pursue Browns S T.J. Ward when the market opens Tuesday, per Mike Klis of the Denver Post.
• Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun believes the tackle market will shake out like this: the Rams’ Rodger Saffold is expected to sign with the Raiders, but he’s still in talks with the Buccaneers; the Raiders’ Jared Veldheer is expected to sign with the Cardinals; the Bengals’ Anthony Collins will sign with the Bucs, “provided that he doesn’t re-sign with the Bengals.” Chiefs OT Branden Albert is expected to sign with the Dolphins.
• Upgrading the secondary appears to be a priority in Washington. The Redskins have expressed interest in Pats CB Aqib Talib and Panthers S Mike Mitchell, reports Mike Jones of the Washington Post. Washington has also expressed interest in Bills S Jairus Byrd. “Talks not at a serious point yet, though,” Jones writes.
• Chris Johnson will be hitting the trade block very soon, reports ProFootballTalk. “If the Titans can find no takers, they will cut him.”
Sunday, March 9
• There’s currently “no market” for free-agent running backs, according to ProFootballTalk. Among the notable names on the market: Knowshon Moreno, Darren McFadden, Donald Brown, Rashad Jennings, Ben Tate, LeGarrette Blount and Ahmad Bradshaw.
• People inside the Patriots organization are making “a strong push” to keep WR Julian Edelman, says Mike Giardi of Comcast SportsNet New England.
• Lovie Smith and the Buccaneers are making a “hard push” for Bengals DE Michael Johnson, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
• Ravens DE Arthur Jones is drawing interest from the Titans, Redskins, Packers, Giants and Vikings, according to Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
• Nearly seven teams are interested in Cowboys DE/OLB Anthony Spencer, tweets ESPNDallas’ Calvin Watkins.
• The Redskins are interested in Bengals OT Anthony Collins, Patriots CB Aqib Talib and Panthers S Mike Mitchell, writes Mike Jones of the Washington Post.
• The Lions have inquired about Browns S T.J. Ward, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
Saturday, March 8
• The Bucs cut former first-round pick Davin Joseph, wiping $6 million off their books. The guard missed all of the 2012 season after knee surgery. Only one qualifying guard graded lower than him last season by Pro Football Focus’ metrics. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times was the first to report the news.
• If the Miami Dolphins don’t have any luck in their pursuit of Branden Albert and Eugene Monroe, the Miami Herald says they’re also interested in also interested in Rodger Saffold and Jared Veldheer.
• Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean wouldn’t be surprised if the Titans made a run at either Ben Tate or Donald Brown.
• ESPN 1500 Twin Cities says the Vikings have joined the pack interested in Alterraun Verner.
• Would the New York Giants be interested in having Devin Hester as their return man? Giants beat writer Mike Graziano isn’t totally selling the idea of Hester coming to New York but he’s not buying either.
Friday, March 7
• Matt Cassel, who finished the season as the Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback, will return to Minnesota on a two-year deal, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport.
• There’s a chance Mark Sanchez could stay with the Jets on a revised deal, according to ProFootballTalk. Sanchez has a $9 million base salary and is due a $2 million roster bonus later this month.
• DeMarcus Ware may not want to take a pay cut in Dallas as he “believes he can get a payday in free agency,” according to Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.
• The Eagles haven’t ruled out bringing back Michael Vick, reports the AP.
• Despite getting the transition tag, C Alex Mack intends to test free agency (via Brent Sobleski of USA Today): ““We’ll see what happens. It’s tough to know. I don’t know how teams feel about me. I still have an opportunity to meet with coaches and experience free agency. That’s the goal. I like Cleveland; I know it. I like these new coaches. But there are other opportunities out there.”
• No deal is imminent between the Raiders and OT Jared Veldheer, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. ”He’s going to take his decision into the weekend, weigh his options and the market.”
• Former Saints DE Will Smith could be a backup plan for the Seahawks if they fail to re-sign Michael Bennett, reports Albert Breer of NFL Network.
• The Packers offered DT B.J. Raji a one-year, $4 million deal, but “there are indications Raji isn’t interested in the Packers’ offer,” reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
• The Buccaneers are looking for a backup QB, and Josh McCown and Shaun Hill are on their list, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.
• Michael Bennett intends to test free agency, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Thursday, March 6
• Will Matt Cassel land in Houston? The Texans’ interest in the QB is “real,” reports Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. “New Texans coach Bill O’Brien was an assistant with the Patriots during Cassel’s final two seasons in New England,” details Kevin Patra at NFL.com. “Interest in the veteran might indicate the Texans aren’t sold on taking a quarterback No. 1 overall in the 2014 NFL draft and would rather develop one taken in the later rounds while using Cassel as the bridge to that future.” CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora also expects Cassel to land with the Texans.
• Despite speculation, the Eagles aren’t actively shopping DeSean Jackson and they have no intention of parting with the wideout this offseason, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. ”Jackson isn’t close to being cut, and even if he was one misstep away from forcing the Eagles to move him, they most certainly wouldn’t release him without getting something in return. … [A]fter talking with almost a dozen sources from around the league, it’s clear the Eagles aren’t interested in dealing the 27-year-old Jackson – not by a long shot.”
• Champ Bailey, released Wednesday by the Broncos, is open to playing safety on a new team, via Lindsay H. Jones of USA Today. “My vision is to still play corner, but I’m a little more open-minded about the season I had last year. I’m a corner at heart. If a situation made sense to play safety, then I would consider it.”
• TE Jermichael Finley (neck) is hoping to get medical clearance to return to the field in the next few weeks. ProFootballTalk quotes a source who says that clearance could be coming “very soon.”