If the players do confirm a new labor agreement today, we should see swift action on a number of free-agent signings beginning on Tuesday.
In a significant change, teams won’t have an exclusive window to negotiate with their own free agents. Players can entertain offers from other clubs while they consider offers from their most recent employers. So while Panthers owner Jerry Richardson says he’ll be “very aggressive” in free agency and that his team will concentrate “on our own first,” his starting running back DeAngelo Williams will be able to compare the Panthers’ proffered contract to other teams’ offers (oh, I dunno . . . like, maybe the Denver Broncos and Miami Dolphins) and will know for certain just how aggressive Richardson is. And with talented running backs Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson already on a Carolina roster full of holes, how aggressive can he be?
Former Panthers head coach John Fox is now in Denver, and the Broncos have Knowshon Moreno atop their tailback chart, who has underwhelmed in his first two NFL seasons. The National Football Post’s Dan Pompei reports that the Broncos “haven’t given up on Moreno” — and why should they, since the Georgia alum is under contract for three more years? — but Fox is no stranger to a two-headed running-back-by-committee.
The Miami Dolphins are in the market for a veteran running back, as well — with promising but untested (and un-training-camped) rookie Daniel Thomas atop the depth chart, pending the departure of aging veterans Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. (Giants free-agent RB Ahmad Bradshaw’s name pops up in connection with Miami, but I can’t see the Giants allowing the Dolphins to outbid them for Bradshaw’s services.)
In any event, the non-exclusivity of free-agent negotiations will make for an interesting 72 hours.