Happy NFL Free Agency, Everyone!

Senior Writer

And we’re off. Well, we’ve actually already been off, because teams have been re-signing their free agents for most of the day, but now we’re finally going to get down to business and watch our favorite NFL teams jump all over the cream of this offseason’s free agent crop, and everything begins with the quarterback questions. First up is Peyton Manning, obviously, because if I squint really hard I can make my Twitter feed look like Manning and Dwight Howard had a threeway with Fab Melo today.

The favorites would appear to be the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos, because we’ve been led to believe that those are the only teams that Manning has met with. But apparently that’s not true, according to a blog on the Palm Beach Post’s website today.

Word broke late Monday night that the Dolphins did, in fact, meet with Manning for about six hours on Monday, just like he met with the Broncos and Cardinals for six hours each over the weekend. But in an interesting twist, Manning didn’t visit with the Dolphins in South Florida, even though he has a home here. Instead, Manning secretly met with the Dolphins in Indianapolis, likely to avoid the intense media crush that is trying to follow Manning’s every move.

That’s not too surprising, as Manning said that he would speak with Dolphins officials after he said he didn’t need to, and he also agreed to meet with Tennessee Titans officials after it was reported that he wasn’t going to meet with any other teams. After all of this is over, I’m going to need a nice, long nap.

So what about the second best QB option in free agency? Haha, no I don’t mean Brady Quinn, you sillies. I’m talking about Matt Flynn, who is going to become a very wealthy man very soon despite only having played in two NFL games. Apparently the Dolphins, Cleveland Browns and Seattle Seahawks are the three favorites to go nuts over Flynn, which means Miami owner Stephen Ross is probably curled up in a ball freaking out right now. So which team has the best shot at Flynn? Maybe the Seahawks, if they can stop being bipolar.

There’s a pretty strong buzz the Seahawks are going to pursue Williams aggressively. Could be Seattle chases Flynn, too, seeing him as the answer to its need for a long-term quarterback. After all, Seattle general manager John Schneider worked in Green Bay when the Packers drafted Flynn. It’s also possible Seattle will decide the big-money, multiyear commitment Flynn is likely to receive is too much for a backup who has only two career starts. (Seattle Times)

Quick, here’s my impression of Flynn after he signs his new contract…

A lot of people seem to think that the Chicago Bears are ready to go crazy, spending wildly on receiver Vincent Jackson and DE Mario Williams, but they don’t need to on the former because they just traded for Brandon Marshall. As for the latter, there may not be as much money as expected.

When reports come out stating the Bears have close to $30 million to spend in free agency, the reality is they do not. The number gets driven down due to bonuses and escalators in contracts held by players currently on the roster. For example, maybe Jay Cutler gets a $200,000 bonus for completing 60 percent of his passes. That is a very reachable incentive and has to be factored into the $120.6 million cap figure, thus driving down what money the Bears would have available to spend. (CSN Chicago)

And that’s good news for the Washington Redskins, because despite having all of their cap space taken away by the NFL, they are still expected to do everything within their power to sign Jackson to make Robert Griffin III’s transition easier. That is, if they decide that’s more important than the dozen other holes they have.

The Redskins need help in many other areas, but the salary cap penalty could limit their options for upgrades at tackle, guard and defensive back. They also need to decide on a veteran quarterback to help tutor Griffin and possibly be the fill-in starter while the rookie learns the NFL ropes. (Hampton Roads)

Jackson’s stock is also sky-rocketing with the news that Steelers receiver and restricted free agent Mike Wallace was given a one-year offer by the Pittsburgh Steelers for less than $3 million. Obviously they can match any offers, but this is one hell of a ballsy move, dangling the fastest receiver in the league out there like that.

The Steelers offered Wallace a one-year contract worth $2.742 million, and they have the right to match any deal that another team dangles in front of the two-time, 1,000-yard receiver. If Wallace signs elsewhere, the Steelers receive that team’s first-round pick as compensation. (Boston Herald)

Jackson’s stock is also rising now that the New Orleans Saints locked Marques Colston into a 5-year deal worth $40 million. Too bad the Saints have a baker’s dozen of other free agents walking out the door.

Brees isn’t under contract with the Saints but he cannot test the market after being tagged as an exclusive franchise player. New Orleans now has 13 players set to become unrestricted free agents led by left guard Carl Nicks, wide receiver Robert Meachem and cornerback Tracy Porter. (Fox Sports)

Going back to the teams in the QB hunt, if the Denver Broncos end up winning the Manning sweepstakes – as I sort of predict, because I could still see him going back to Indianapolis after all of this nonsense – that means the Dolphins, Browns and Seahawks are left with the WalMart bargain bin of QBs to choose from, including their incumbent duds.

Who will jump on the “Plan B” quarterbacks?: Flynn and Manning seem to be the two big QB prizes on the market, but there is a grab bag of guys who you could consider the next level of available bodies. Included in that group are Chad Henne, Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Rex Grossman, Brady Quinn, Vince Young and others. Considering how many teams are unsatisfied with their current quarterback situations, the price might drive up on the best of that bunch. (SI.com)

There’s something about “Plan B” that just seems so fitting for those quarterbacks. Meanwhile, they could be joined by another Morning After QB if Arizona makes a decision to dive head first for Manning.

According to NFL rules, the Cardinals would have to release Kolb by 1 p.m. Friday. That’s the official deadline to remove someone from the roster by Saturday. the move has to be turned into the league office by then. No, it can’t be done at midnight on Friday.

So, the Cardinals, I assume, are hoping Peyton Manning makes a decision by 1 p.m. Friday. If he picks the Cardinals, the team likely will let Kolb go, saving itself from paying the bonus. If Manning choose another team by then, I expect the Cardinals to keep Kolb and pay the bonus. (AZCentral.com)

That’s just way too much to process right now. Hopefully this all plays out nice and quickly. Otherwise, I’m gonna need a keg or 12.

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