Speculation drives NFL grapevine

RYAN WOLSTAT, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:04 PM ET

TORONTO - Player started trickling into camps on Tuesday as teams unlocked their doors following the longest labour shutdown in NFL history.

Teams began seriously working on trades, signing rookies and talking to agents about free agents, setting up a flurry of activity to come in the next few days as teams reshape their rosters.

The first exhibition game will be on Aug. 11, when Philadelphia takes on Baltimore.

No. 1 overall selection Cam Newton reported to the Carolina Panthers a day early, eager to get started.

“I’ve got to get to business,” he told the media.

It was a good day for Carolina all around as, according to profootballtalk.com, one of the best free agents on the market, defensive end Charles Johnson, has agreed to stay with the Panthers for a reported six years and $76 million US with $32 million guaranteed. Johnson had 11 1/2 sacks last season and will disappoint his main suitors by staying put. The Panthers lost Julius Peppers a year ago and couldn’t afford to see Johnson leave town as well.

On the trade front, Philadelphia has made it known that Kevin Kolb is available and though Arizona continues to be the frontrunner for his services, the Eagles are eager to start a bidding war.

Denver has put Kyle Orton on the block and will give Tim Tebow a chance to win the starting job, while other signal callers like Vince Young, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hasselbeck and perhaps even Carson Palmer — who the Bengals continue to insist will not be traded — could soon be on the move.

According to ESPN, Minnesota is talking to Washington about a trade for McNabb.

Palmer asked for a trade last season and the team refused, leading to his alleged retirement.

Tennessee might replace Young with Hasselbeck, while Buffalo reportedly is considering pursuing Young.

The NFL has resolved its “Tom Brady” antitrust lawsuit. A settlement has been reached, bringing that courtroom drama to a welcome end and leading to the recertification of the NFL Players’ Association in the near future. When that is done, remaining CBA negotiations can be concluded so a signed, complete CBA can be finished by Aug. 4.

Another interesting development saw San Diego wide receiver Vincent Jackson — one of the plaintiffs in the Brady suit — announce that he will sign the Chargers’ $11.3 million franchise tender and report to camp on time.

On the flip side, enigmatic Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is considering holding out, according to teammate Michael Vick.

Also on Monday, Dallas dumped underachieving busts Roy Williams and Marion Barber, along with guard Leonard Davis, solving some salary cap problems. Meanwhile, Baltimore cut Willis McGahee, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap and Kelly Gregg, saving nearly $19 million in cap room.

Quick hits

A Canadian quickly found a home the day after the end of the lockout. Massive Queen’s University offensive lineman Matt O’Donnell signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. The former Vanier Cup winner was the 15th overall selection of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in May and has not ruled out playing for the team in the future should he not make the Bengals ... According to various reports, ex-Minnesota QB Tarvaris Jackson will sign with Seattle on Friday, helping to fill the void left by Hasselbeck’s departure ... Bills linebacker Paul Posluszny has said that he hopes to return to the Bills rather than sign elsewhere ... According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles will let all of their unrestricted free agents go, including linebacker Stewart Bradley and running back Jerome Harrison. So much for team unity. Expect the Eagles to open up the wallet big-time in search of more star power ... The Giants released veteran guard Rich Seubert who dislocated his knee cap in the last game of the 2010 season ... Mason Foster, selected in the third round out of the University of Washington, was the first rookie to sign after the lockout, reaching a deal with the Tampa Bay Buccanneers ... Linebacker Nick Barnett tweeted he is done in Green Bay after eight seasons ... NBC’s Darren Rovell tweeted that “Each NFL team got $96 million in national television money last year, up $800K from the 09-10 season” ... Roger Goodell announced that teams will reimburse employees for lost wages during the lockout. Some had already done so ... Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez told reporters he is considering restructuring his contract in order to give the team a better chance to re-sign free agents like Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.

ryan.wolstat@sunmedia.ca


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