The first official day of the NFL’s abbreviated offseason may not have featured the blockbuster signings many anticipated, but a number of big names still made headlines Tuesday — many for joining the growing ranks of the unemployed.
If you failed to wake up from your lockout hibernation when the clock struck 10 a.m. EST today, here’s what you missed:
• The Baltimore Ravens began their day by announcing they plan to part ways with long-time veteran contributors Willis McGahee, Todd Heap, Derrick Mason and Kelly Gregg. With the extra cap room, they may pursue highly sought-after shutdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
• Later in the day the Dallas Cowboys followed suit, as it was reported they intend to dump salary by cutting running back Marion Barber, wide receiver Roy Williams, offensive linemen Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo and place kicker Kris Brown. With the extra cap room, they may pursue highly sought-after shutdown cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
• While the Ravens and Cowboys were shedding veterans, the Pittsburgh Steelers and Chicago Bears loaded up on undrafted rookies. Chicago’s haul included 6-4, 304-pound Oregon State center Alex Linnenkohl — a welcome addition for quarterback Jay Cutler’s battered body — while the Steelers added South Carolina castoff tight end Weslye Saunders.
• A number of veteran quarterbacks were in the news for a number of different reasons. Carson Palmer reportedly decided he’d rather retire than live one more day wearing Bengals stripes, while Seahawks’ playoff hero Matt Hasselbeck would also prefer a change of scenery. Seattle is looking to bring in Tarvaris Jackson to fill the void under center (don’t worry, Tarvaris, Brett Favre lives far, far away from the Pacific Northwest) which could open the door for the Redskins to deal Donovan McNabb to Minnesota to serve as a stop-gap while rookie Christian Ponder gets his feet under him. Elsewhere in the world of quarterback news, the Broncos are behind Tim Tebow 100 percent, and to prove it, they’re shoving 2010 fantasy football hero Kyle Orton out onto the trading block. Meantime the Colts will do everything in their power to re-sign Peyton Manning — could you imagine him wearing a different helmet? — but owner Jim Isray says he won’t break the bank to do it.
• Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson was enjoying the lockout so much that he’s considering not coming to work now that it’s over. According to a source close to Jackson, he’s contemplating holding out for a renegotiated contract. That source happens to be Eagles QB Michael Vick — the same guy who tweeted Brett Favre would be a welcome addition to his backfield... as a backup. More big news in Philly: According a a report in the Inquirer, the Eagles may let all of their free agents — including starters Stewart Bradley, Quintin Mikell and Sav Rocca — walk.
• Green Bay Packers veteran linebacker Nick Barnett — who missed most of last season including the Super Bowl after wrist surgery — announced on his Twitter feed that he will be released after eight years at Lambeau.
• And finally, because he was feeling inconsequential and, frankly, pretty freakin’ bored, John Riggins announced John Beck annoys him.
Check back here for more news from the NFL’s version of hell week (or is it Christmas in July?) as it unfolds. Things are bound to heat up in the coming days as we await answers to the league’s biggest questions:
— Where will Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards end up?
All that and more as our NFL free agency coverage continues on the Early Lead...