Market begins to form at cornerback, tackle
All is quiet on the Green Bay Packers' front for the moment. How much longer it stays that way is anyone's guess.
That wasn't the case in many other NFL locations Saturday. At many key positions, the market started forming for prospective unrestricted free agents, whose agents were able to begin communication with teams at 11 a.m. CST Saturday, prior to the start of free agency Tuesday.
A few organizations, including Houston and Dallas, were able to reach agreements to take potential free agents off the board before others could poach. Several of the moves could have implications for the Packers, who have yet to re-sign any of their 11 unrestricted players.
Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga already is considered the best tackle available on the market, but his forecast appeared to jump a few notches after two more veteran right tackles, Doug Free and Derek Newton, reportedly were pulled off the market early Saturday.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the 31-year-old Free agreed to a three-year contract for $15 million with $6 million guaranteed to stay with the Cowboys. Newton, who's four years younger, signed for five years, $26.5 million with $10 million guaranteed with the Texans, according to ESPN.
Bulaga, who'll turn 26 in two weeks, likely will exceed Newton's average salary when his agent, Tom Condon, finishes negotiations. The 6-foot-5, 314-pound right tackle missed 23 games over two seasons with hip and knee injuries, but was a rock for 17 starts last season for the Packers.
Along with Newton's deal, the Texans also agreed to a four-year, $34 million deal with cornerback Kareem Jackson that includes $20 million in guarantees, according to ESPN.com. Jackson, 26, was considered one of the top three cornerbacks set to hit free agency by most pundits.
Another veteran, Brandon Flowers, reportedly is close to an agreement to return to the San Diego Chargers. Those signings could spike interest league-wide in Packers' free-agent cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Davon House.
Williams is the older of the two. He'll turn 32 years old next week. However, he's proven his durability in playing 140 of a possible 141 games (including playoffs) for the Packers with 22 interceptions since 2010 (including playoffs).
House, who'll turn 26 this offseason, is the younger option. His size (6-1, 195) could also be enticing given the NFL's penchant for tall and lengthy cornerbacks. However, he has an injury history and never been a full-fledged starter.
Jackson's $8.5 million average salary could set the table for cornerbacks not named Byron Maxwell, Seattle's top free agent who could challenge for more than $10 million per season.
Eying Hawk: The Minnesota Vikings have considered kicking the tires on former Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk, according to ESPN.com.
It's not the first time the Vikings have taken interest in a former Packer. Over the last five years, Minnesota has signed quarterback Brett Favre, receivers Greg Jennings and Charles Johnson, and linebacker Desmond Bishop. Last month, they claimed former Packers tight end Brandon Bostick off waivers.
Hawk, 31, had surgery after the season to remove bone spurs from his ankle, but said upon his release on Feb. 25 that he should be cleared shortly.
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