|03.05.10 at 11:09 am ET|
Jason LaCanfora of the NFL Network is reporting that the Patriots have an offer on the table for free agent defensive end Julius Peppers. It is believed that the Bears have the inside track on landing Peppers — just hours into free agency the former Panthers’ pass-rusher already had a meeting scheduled with Chicago — but both the Patriots and Eagles are also reportedly making a pitch for Peppers.
Considered an elite pass rusher, the 6-foot-7, 283-pounder has compiled 81 career sacks, including 10.5 sacks or more in five of the last six seasons with the Panthers. New England has been listed as a possible destination for Peppers several times over the last year. Before he was tagged by Carolina prior to last season’s free agency period, it was believed the Patriots were ready to make him an offer. In addition, Peppers has been linked to New England on many occasions since the end of the 2009 season.
|03.05.10 at 2:05 am ET|
In the early hours of free agency, it certainly appears that the Chicago Bears have the inside track on landing defensive end Julius Peppers.
Multiple outlets are reporting that Peppers, considered the premier pass-rusher available in this year’s free-agent pool, has a Friday meeting set up with the Bears with an eye toward signing a deal quickly. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that barring any unforeseen complications, the Peppers deal gets done in rapid fashion and announced with the Bears by Friday afternoon. (Reports indicate that if a deal does not get done in Chicago, Peppers’ agent Carl Carey considers Philadelphia a fallback plan.)
No Patriots news to report as of yet — Leigh Bodden, Derrick Burgess, Kevin Faulk, Tully Banta-Cain, Jarvis Green, Chris Hanson, Steve Neal and Benjamin Watson all became free agents as of midnight Friday. Reports indicate Bodden has drawn interest from a handful of teams, including Houston, Seattle, New England and Pittsburgh.
Other free agency news — as of this hour — has linebacker Karlos Dansby heading to South Florida for a visit with the Dolphins. The move would mark the second big addition for an AFC East in the last 24 hours, as the Jets swung a deal to obtain cornerback Antonio Cromartie from San Diego in exchange for for a 2011 third-round draft choice that could become a second-rounder. With Cromartie and Revis, that gives the Jets two cornerbacks who are 30 or younger and have been first-team All-Pros within the past three seasons.
|03.05.10 at 1:48 am ET|
Each Friday leading up to next month’s NFL Draft, we will focus on one player the Patriots could be targeting with the 22nd pick. We kick off the series with Clemson pass-rush specialist Ricky Sapp, who is projected to play outside linebacker in the 3-4.
|03.05.10 at 1:31 am ET|
With free agency set to begin Friday and the Patriots facing a number of key personnel decisions, we’re going to take a look at the best and worst of Bill Belichick’s forays into free agency with the Patriots. Yesterday, we looked at the five worst signings of the Bill Belichick Era. Today, here are the five best:
|03.04.10 at 4:36 pm ET|
In a surprise move hours before the NFL’s free agent period was set to begin, the Patriots released veteran tight end Chris Baker on Thursday.
Baker, 6-foot-3, 258 pounds, was signed by the Patriots as a free agent on March 2, 2009. He played in all 16 regular-season games with seven starts last season and finished with 14 receptions for 142 yards and two touchdowns.
A veteran of eight NFL seasons, Baker originally joined the NFL as a third-round draft pick of the New York Jets out of Michigan State in 2002. During his NFL career, he has accumulated 159 receptions for 1,746 yards with 14 touchdowns.
|03.04.10 at 1:59 pm ET|
The Patriots placed tender offers on three restricted free agents Thursday afternoon — Logan Mankins, Stephen Gostkowski and Pierre Woods. (The tenders are the level of compensation a team would receive if the player is signed to an offer sheet and that deal wasn’t matched.)
Here’s a quick take on what today’s tenders mean:
Logan Mankins (first- and third-round tender — one-year, $3.268 million)
The move was to be expected, effectively taking the Pro Bowl offensive guard off the market. Mankins is one of the best young offensive linemen in the AFC — if not the entire league — but its almost inconceivable that a team would spend a first- and third-round pick for him. You would have to think that the Patriots and Mankins have had at least preliminary talks about a long-term deal for the California native, who will turn 28 next week. Bottom line is that New England should feel pretty confident that Mankins isn’t going anywhere.
Stephen Gostkowski (second-round tender — one-year, $1.75 million)
The kicker was tendered at a second-round rate, which, on the surface, should assure the fact that he will return to the Patriots. (Hard to imagine a franchise giving up a second-round pick for a kicker, even someone with Gostkowski’s resume.) However, Gostkowski has proven himself to be among the league’s elite at his position since he was taken in the fourth round of the 2006 draft out of Memphis. New England should feel secure that they will likely be able to hold on to its kicker, but his departure isn’t completely out of the question given the occasionally erratic personnel decisions made on a daily basis throughout the league.
Pierre Woods (low tender — one-year, $1.176 million)
Woods was tendered at the lowest level, which only gives the Patriots the right of first refusal — essentially, New England gets the chance to match any offer the player accepts. (Because Woods entered the league as a rookie free agent, the Patriots would not get any compensation in return.) Woods was an important part of the Patriots’ special teams last season (he was tied for the team lead in special teams’ tackles), and added depth at the outside linebacker spot. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he decided to leave New England and end up playing for a former Belichick assistant (Kansas City or Denver).
|03.04.10 at 1:23 pm ET|
The Patriots have issued three tenders this afternoon, placing a first- and third-round tender on guard Logan Mankins and giving him a one-year, $3.268-million offer. The franchise also gave a low tender to outside linebacker Pierre Woods ($1.176 million), while kicker Stephen Gostkowski was given a second-round tender with a one-year, $1.75 million offer.
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