It didn't take long for the wheels of madness to start spinning Tuesday, as NFL front offices appeared to have as much penned-up energy as the fans.
Some of that energy was released Monday night, in fact, as the Ravens informed Derrick Mason, Todd Heap, Willis McGahee and Kelly Gregg of their impending releases. The rest of the league generally waited until Tuesday to get to work, but the waves of change resumed from there.
Contract talks between Matt Hasselbeck and the Seahawks fell apart, and the Broncos openly began shopping Kyle Orton. News leaked that Dallas plans to axe all of Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. Cincinnati owner Mike Brown even conceded that Carson Palmer wouldn't play again for the Bengals.
Of course, it wasn't all about departures as of Tuesday afternoon. Vincent Jackson and Logan Mankins signed their franchise tenders, and Tarvaris Jackson reportedly agreed to terms with the Seahawks. Plenty of undrafted rookie free agents found homes, too, with Adam Froman (Atlanta), Derrick Locke (Minnesota), John Clay (Pittsburgh) and DeAndre Brown (Philadelphia) among the biggest signings.
But even with these concrete developments, there are plenty more what-if scenarios to examine as events rapidly unfold over the course of this week. Check below to see what might all be in store.
Uncertainty in Philadelphia (Kolb and Jackson)
The reported signing between Seattle and Tarvaris Jackson throws a wrench in the Kevin Kolb trade talks. It was previously believed that Seattle and Arizona were basically the only teams interested in Kolb, so if Arizona is the only remaining suitor, it's not inconceivable that Philadelphia might have to reduce the asking price a bit. After all, why would the Cardinals make a big offer for Kolb if they have no competition? It's not like the Eagles are prepared to hold onto Kolb all year after talking him up as trade bait all this time, especially at a salary of roughly $6 million.
While the Kolb matter shouldn't affect the 2011 Philadelphia offense a whole lot, the Tuesday news on DeSean Jackson figures to hold much bigger short-term implications.
Nothing concrete has occurred as of press time, but Michael Vick hinted Tuesday that Jackson might be looking to hold out from training camp if the Eagles don't sign him to a long-term extension. Since Jackson has been playing at a Pro Bowl level basically his whole career, it's tough to blame him for wanting a pay raise. Considering his agent is Drew Rosenhaus, it might be a bit surprising if the brash Jackson is willing to go another year on his rookie contract. But it'd be equally surprising to see the Eagles brave the 2011 season without what might be their most popular player. If Jackson does stay away from camp, it shouldn't take long for contract discussions pick up speed.
In an unrelated development, it's worth noting that Philadelphia signed four undrafted rookie receivers Tuesday, including former blue-chip recruit DeAndre Brown of Southern Mississippi. Those signings could spell trouble for the theory that the Eagles will attempt to sign Plaxico Burress.
Tarvaris Jackson on board—Who's next?
By agreeing to terms with Tarvaris Jackson on Tuesday, Seattle closed the door on Matt Hasselbeck and seemingly bowed out of the bidding wars for Kevin Kolb and Kyle Orton. All three would likely be far better fantasy options in Seattle than Jackson.
Jackson reportedly agreed to a two-year, $8-million deal, presumably more cost efficient than any of those three players. That cost consciousness could indicate that Seattle has its sights on another free agent of considerable status.
Jason La Canfora of NFL.com claimed that unrestricted free agent Sidney Rice was one such player. While the idea of playing with rookie 12th overall pick Christian Ponder doesn't necessarily instill great faith in Rice's fantasy value for 2011, the idea of playing with Jackson has to be significantly worse. Rice's owners in keeper and dynasty leagues should probably hope he goes anywhere but Seattle.
What now for the Cowboys?
Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo had been liabilities for Dallas in recent times, but their exits nonetheless create a number of questions for a Dallas offense that's facing a surprise amount of turnover heading into 2011.
Of course, the draft selections of DeMarco Murray (third round) and Tyron Smith (ninth overall) signaled the end of the respective Dallas careers of Barber and Colombo, but the releases of Williams and Davis figure to hold a fair amount of impact.
The fantasy value of Dez Bryant in particular clearly went up with Williams' exit, as he's now an undisputed starter in Dallas' strong passing game. Bad as Williams was the last two years, he totaled 12 touchdowns on just 75 catches in that span, leaving plenty of end-zone targets available in Dallas now. Considering his hops and rare ability to make circus catches, Bryant could capitalize on that fact to the tune of double-digit touchdowns in 2011. Williams' departure also opens up possibilities for whoever earns the third receiver spot, a race that could come down to Kevin Ogltree and sixth-round pick Dwayne Harris.
But it might not be easy for the Dallas offense as a whole in 2011. Starting left tackle Doug Free and left guard Kyle Kosier are both free agents, and now the team needs a right guard to replace Davis. So even if the Cowboys make two free-agent signings on the offensive line, they'll still need to replace two starters. The worst-case scenario is they lose both Free and Kosier, resulting in the team replacing an unprecedented four-fifths of its line. It probably won't get that bad for Dallas, but discontinuity is a big concern on the offensive line in Dallas, especially when your star quarterback just missed most of the previous year with a broken collarbone.
As most NFL observers have anticipated since the winter, the bidding war for DeAngelo Williams has been narrowed down to Carolina and Denver, or so reports Gaston Gazette writer Steve Reed. The Dolphins were reportedly involved initially, but it probably didn't take long for Williams' price to exceed their budget. In any case, fantasy owners of Williams and Jonathan Stewart are hoping Williams reunites with coach John Fox in Denver, while Knowshon Moreno's owners hope Williams stays far away. ...
Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards both figure to attract much attention as unrestricted free agents, and with the Redskins reportedly interested in both players, neither figures to sign for anything close to cheap. The perennially big-spending Redskins are believed to be enamored with Holmes, so he in particular could make a killing before free agency is over. ...
Vincent Jackson signed his franchise tag and reportedly plans to play the full 2011 season. That's great news for those who have already invested in Jackson, but what does it mean for everyone else? The San Diego Union-Tribune believes that Malcom Floyd's days are done in San Diego, while the definite presence of Jackson figures to complicate any intentions to trade for Carolina's Steve Smith, too, particularly after Patrick Crayton played so well last year. ...
Chris Johnson is fully expected to hold out from Tennessee's training camp. After getting big numbers from Johnson on a cheap contract the last few years, it's tough to see the Titans playing hardball on this one. ...
Despite talking up Kyle Orton as a starter all offseason, one of the first news items of the day Tuesday was a Broncos source leaking to the Denver Post that the team was looking to trade Orton. It's hardly a surprise, as Tim Tebow was impressive as a starter last year. Depending on the asking price, there is a very large group of potential landing spots for Orton, including Miami, Tennessee, Minnesota, Washington and maybe even Arizona if the Cardinals scoff at Philadelphia's asking price for Kevin Kolb. ...
Arizona Republic writer Kent Somers hears that at least six teams are interested in Steve Breaston, but it's not clear if the Cardinals are included in that number. Unfortunately, none of the six teams in general were identified. Breaston's only 1,000-yard NFL season came under the watch of Todd Haley, but it's not clear if there's room for Breaston in Kansas City with Jonathan Baldwin and Dexter McCluster already battling Dwayne Bowe for attention. ...
TampaBay.com suspects that Tuesday's signing of third-round pick Mason Foster implies that the Buccaneers have moved on from star middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, an unrestricted free agent. If this proves true, Foster instantly becomes one of the league's most desirable IDP options at linebacker. Don't let his third-round status fool you - Foster can really play.