Let the games begin.
The new league year is now officially under way as the 4 PM bell sounds, which also means that the free agency period is officially open.
No doubt several free agents are preparing to sign contracts as you read this, even though teams are not allowed to schedule meetings with players until free agency actually begins and they officially become free agents.
Already the Cleveland Browns seem to have replaced linebacker D’Qwell Jackson with Karlos Dansby and safety T.J. Ward with Donte Whitner, which, as one person on Twitter quipped, accomplished the rare feat of getting older via free agency.
Meanwhile, the Cincinnati Bengals are expected to lose defensive end Michael Johnson. They have also released center Kyle Cook, who started every game last season, which could open the door for guard Mike Pollak, whom they just re-signed, to move over and play the center position.
The Baltimore Ravens are reportedly potentially interested in wide receivers Julian Edelman and Steve Smith, who may be traded or released, and are also considering the recently released Houston Texans tight end, Owen Daniels, after re-signing Dennis Pitta. Former Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is now the Ravens’ offensive coordinator.
The Pittsburgh Steelers? They spent New League Year Eve getting their own house in order, working out a pay cut of $4.25 million with cornerback Ike Taylor and reportedly firming up their first move of free agency, which will be the release of outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley with a post-June 1 designation.
With somewhere between $7-8 million to spend in free agency, and the potential if necessary to create additional cap space, it’s difficult to get a feel on what the Steelers might do, if anything, on opening day.
Certainly, they will look to retain some of their own free agents, but not many of them are likely to draw much interest, and can stand to wait.
They have been linked by some to Tennessee Titans and 2013 Pro Bowl cornerback Alterraun Verner, but the extent of their interest, and whether the Steelers would be willing to pay what he would ask, remain unclear.
Perhaps the biggest news we might get out of today will include reports of scheduled visits in the upcoming days, maybe a modest re-signing or two of Jerricho Cotchery or Jonathan Dwyer; things of that nature. Otherwise it’s been largely quiet out of the South Side. Perhaps because they’re up north, looking at draftee cornerback Darqueze Dennard.