Free agency has slowed down with the biggest names off the market, but teams are still exploring their options with un-signed players while also monitoring the trade market.
The market for Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is reportedly warming up, but more teams have been ruled out as potential suitors rather than actual destinations.
According to ESPN, Johnson felt he was underused by the Titans offense last season, and also played hurt with a torn meniscus in his knee. The same report indicated Tennessee has found some team or teams interested in Johnson, but reporter Ed Werder already ruled out the St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals.
The Rams make sense for Johnson if only for his relationship with former Titans and current Rams head coach Jeff Fisher. Unlike Tennessee, St. Louis also has several receiving weapons and a mostly capable quarterback in Sam Bradford.
Arizona could be a solid fit, as Johnson would likely enter the 2014 season as the primary rushing threat. The Cardinals recently lost running back Rashard Mendenhall to retirement, and Arizona finished 23rd in rushing yards (1,540) in 2013.
Johnson, who represents a $10 million cap figure next season, reportedly told Tennessee he was willing to re-structure his contract to make it easier to trade him. The 28-year-old has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his first six seasons in the NFL, but his touchdown down numbers have declined in the last three years.
The other big name that’s been floated in trade talk is Philadelphia Eagles speedy receiver DeSean Jackson. Standing as the team’s biggest cap hit at $12.75 million next season and the longest tenured, Jackson led the Eagles in all receiving categories last year with 82 receptions, 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
However, there appears to be a belief that many other receivers could flourish in head coach Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense.
The New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers inquired about Jackson, and Philadelphia notified the receiver that they were listening to offers, according to CSN Philly. The Eagles are said to be asking for no less than a third-round pick for Jackson, but teams may be hoarding picks due to this year’s deep draft class.
The Patriots have been on a tear this offseason, and adding the explosive Jackson to quarterback Tom Brady’s arsenal could prove deadly to the rest of the AFC East. The same may go for San Francisco, who will need receivers to compete against NFC West rival Seattle’s seemingly impenetrable secondary.
CSN’s story recollects that Philadelphia has shopped Jackson before. Previously, the Eagles were asking for no less than a second-round pick, and then lowered their price with no takers.
Then there’s free agent defensive end and former Minnesota Viking Jared Allen, who remains arguably the biggest name on the open market. After threatening to retire if he didn’t receive a contract he liked, the 31-year-old with 128.5 career sacks reportedly met with the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks earlier this week, according to CBS Sports.
Long admirers of Allen’s, Seattle apparently tried to acquire him before the trade deadline last season. Allen could scale back his $10 million a year contract demands for a chance to win a Super Bowl. Seattle only has roughly $15 million in salary cap space left, and only has that much because it let right tackle Breno Giacomini slip away to the Jets and defensive end Chris Clemons fly off to Jacksonville, among other players.