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San Francisco’s Addition of Randy Moss Kicks Off Free Agency

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When 35-year-old legendary WR Randy Moss worked out for New Orleans last week, the effusive praise escaping from that tryout wasn't enough to convince die-hard skeptics Moss was for real.

49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh just needed a few passes of his own to convince himself Moss, and perhaps not Steelers restricted free agent Mike Wallace, is the deep threat he covets.

Harbaugh threw passes in khaki pants and a sweatshirt to Moss, and apparently the NFL's second-leading touchdown receiver did well enough to earn a one-year deal. And with that signing, the first significant bullet has been fired in this year's free agency bonanza.

Moss, who was not under contract in 2011, thus making him eligible to sign with any team at any time, highlighted Free Agency Eve, a day that saw Houston surprisingly release veteran RT Eric Winston (likely to free money to help them sign DE Mario Williams, C Chris Meyers and RG Mike Brisiel), Oakland release TE Kevin Boss (signed just last season) and Arizona release LT Levi Brown.

Houston was going to have to make some kind of move to free up cash to help sign more of their free agents, Arizona is trying to put together a package to be able to land 2012 free agent prize QB Peyton Manning and Oakland is, well, Oakland.

Players released from their contracts in 2011 (Manning, for example) are free to sign with another team at any point, so in many ways, free agency is underway.

The additions of Winston and Brown make an intriguing scenario for free agency, which starts at 4 p.m. today for players who were under contract through 2011. The market for offensive linemen is pretty strong, and it likely could affect the draft, scheduled to begin April 26.

Winston is one of the better right tackles in the league and won't likely fall from his previous salary. Brown, on the other hand, is a guy teams will view as a player with a lot of potential, although he hasn't shown that on the field very often since the Cardinals selected him in the first round of the 2007 draft. Experienced left tackles do have value, though, and he won't likely be out of work in 2012.

Manning, who's playing Master of Puppets this week, is reportedly deciding between Arizona, Denver and Miami, with an alleged meeting with Tennessee head coach Mike Munchak scheduled for this week.

The trickle-down effect for the Manning chase could be intriguing. Titans owner Bud Adams has expressed his desire to bring the former AFC South foe Manning aboard, which could affect the Titans other pursuit, that of DE Mario Williams, another AFC South enemy. Manning is said to be taking his time in deciding where he'll play in 2012, but Williams will likely move a bit faster.

Chicago is allegedly interested in Williams, which would give the Bears the most physically imposing pass rushes in the NFL, teaming up with DE Julius Peppers. Chicago would have the scratch to decimate the offensive lines of the rest of the NFC North - a division not known for its dominating offensive lines.

Chicago is said to be after WR Vincent Jackson as well, and they have the salary cap room to make both of them competitive offers. Adding those two players, along with keeping RB Matt Forte and getting QB Jay Cutler healthy, the Bears would be strong contenders in the AFC.

A typically quiet free agent player, Cincinnati has loads of cap space and with the young talent it's already amassed, it could be poised to make a run at a few players as well. The likelihood of Wallace leaving Pittsburgh isn't very great, but if it would happen, Cincinnati is as likely as destination as anywhere else. That cap space and the presence of two first-round picks, not to mention the impending suspension of free agent WR Jerome Simpson (was indicted for drug trafficking in January) give the Bengals both the means and the motive to make a run at him.

There are plenty of storylines, as is always the case with free agency. With or without cap space, the Steelers are typically sitting back and watching on Day 1, but with the events transpiring thus far, who knows what will happen?



Source: Behind the Steel Curtain

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