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Weekend Roundup

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We're less than 2 weeks away from the start of free agency.  And we're just a few days away from the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.  So while the season is long gone, the offseason is about to kick into high gear.

And for diehard football fans like us, I suppose that'll have to do.

So while you were out celebrating this Valentine's/President's weekend, here's a little news that you might have missed:

FREE AGENCY UPDATES
Like I said, the beginning of free agency is inching closer and closer.  And some of the biggest potential free agent names are still available - with only RB Brandon Jacobs and QB Matt Cassel having been slapped with the franchise tag.  So courtesy of Pat Kirwan of NFL.com, here are some updates on which teams may or may not use the tag on their key free agents.

  • Kirwan thinks the Cardinals should use their franchise tag on Karlos Dansby.  But doing so would cost Arizona over $9.6 million.  Unfortunately for Dolphin fans, the Cards have close to $40 million in cap space.
  • While it's widely expected that the Raiders will eventually place the franchise tag on Nnamdi Asomugha, here's something to consider.  Kirwan writes that it would cost the Raiders $11.7 million to tag Nnamdi.  But the Raiders currently only have about $10 million in cap space.  And says Kirwan about Asomugha's situation: "He reportedly cleaned out his locker at the end of the season, and now the Raiders have to use an $11.7 million tag to keep him, which would blow out their salary cap. They might resort to keeping punter Shane Lechler on a franchise tag at $2.48 million. The Raiders have well over $34 million in roster bonuses due to players this offseason, so cash will be tight."  Keep in mind that Oakland doesn't necessarily have to clear enough cap space prior to the deadline to franchise players (Thursday at 4 pm EST).  But it's definitely worth paying attention to what goes on in Oakland this week.  After all, a guy can dream...
  • One of the potential free agents that has intrigued many Dolphin fans, including myself, is Rams' safety Oshiomogho Atogwe.  And while it was believed for a long time that the Rams would franchise Atogwe, Kirwan writes that he thinks St. Louis "will pass."  If so, it's not hard to imagine the Dolphins showing interest.  He'll be the top free safety on the market.  And safeties are among the game's lowest paid positions, so he wouldn't cost a premium price.
  • Kirwan expects the Panthers to tag tackle Jordan Gross, meaning Julius Peppers (a hot topic among Dolphin fans) will likely hit the open market.

And here is what Kirwan writes about the Dolphins' situation:

It wouldn't surprise me if the Dolphins don't tag anyone, but they have the cap space to secure one player. I think safety Yeremiah Bell, with a $6.34 million tag, is the guy, and then the Dolphins take their chances at offensive tackle with Vernon Carey. It's a good year in the draft for tackles and a questionable year for safeties.

You know - it's going to be interesting to see what happens this week in regards to Miami's franchise tag.  The Dolphins could be holding out to see if the Panthers tag Gross before deciding to franchise Carey - if they can't come to terms with Vernon.  And in all honesty, over $6 million for Bell is a little steep - though I'd imagine the Dolphins would work hard to come to terms on a longer deal with Yeremiah before Bell actually signs the franchise tender.

QUICK HITS
-On Sirius NFL Radio, ESPN's AFC East blogger (and former Palm Beach Post writer) Tim Graham said that an inside source told him the Dolphins' #1 offseason priority is the center position.  Apparently, the Dolphins were very disappointed in Samson Satele's play, especially against the NFL's larger nose tackles.  This is just further proof that "where's there's smoke, there's fire."  We've been hearing all along this offseason that the Fins are looking to upgrade at the center position.  If I were Samson, I'd be preparing for a positional switch to guard.

-Interesting little nugget in Armando Salguero's latest article.  About Chad Pennington, Armando writes: "Pennington, it must be noted, is spending this offseason in a breakneck workout program to ensure he not only matches his 2008 exploits, but also improves upon them."  That's what a team leader is all about.  He knows his job isn't exactly written in stone.  He can feel the youngster Chad Henne breathing down his neck.  So he's doing everything in his power to better himself and his team.  This would be a great time for me to once again thank Brett Favre and the NY Jets for everything they've done for this Dolphins' franchise.

-Bills RB Marshawn Lynch was arrested over the weekend in California and charged with felony possession of a concealed firearm.  This is the 2nd time Lynch has been in some legal trouble in his brief NFL career.