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Mike Wallace #17 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts with fans after his touchdown
The Dolphins have an edge in inking free agent WR Mike Wallace, a source told FOXSports.com.
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Free-agency news: Friday

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The NFL’s new “tampering window” allowing contact between teams and agents for pending free agents from other teams opened early Saturday morning like a half-cocked auction.

You can look and even make an unofficial bid, but you can’t agree to buy.

An NFL memo sent to all 32 teams has placed a chilling effect — at least publicly — on just how much can be accomplished before the start of Tuesday’s free-agent signing period. As first reported by CBS Sports and ESPN, the league has sternly warned that no verbal agreements can be reached between clubs and free agents from other squads.

If the league gets wind of such deals being made or the news becomes public through the media, the NFL has threatened to conduct a tampering investigation that could result in penalties.

The net result: While reports of players being linked with teams will continue as the start of free agency approaches, such information will probably come in a trickle rather than through what some had speculated would be a flood of contract agreements verbally accepted over the weekend.

The “tampering window” was instituted by the NFL this year in hopes of reducing the amount of rampant dialogue that was being done illegally between teams and agents well before the signing period opened.

It would be naïve to think that this move would completely put the kibosh on tampering. As per usual, such contact quietly continued between teams and agents last month at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

However, an official 88-hour negotiating window before the start of the signing period at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday should help set the market value for a slew of players and generate quicker contract agreements either with the current team or elsewhere.

Teams do not have to wait until Tuesday to re-sign their own free agents. Also, club officials still cannot speak directly with players under contract to other clubs before free agency begins.
Alex Marvez

Cardinals release WR Doucet, make offer to QB Hoyer — 9:07 p.m. ET

The Arizona Cardinals have released wide receiver Early Doucet and given a qualifying, second-round tender offer to quarterback Brian Hoyer.

Doucet, a third-round draft pick in 2008, has been plagued by injuries much of his NFL career. He caught 28 passes for 207 yards in 12 games last season. For his Arizona career, Doucet had 139 catches for 1,491 yards and seven touchdowns in 54 games.

Hoyer, signed by Arizona late last season, is a restricted free agent but Arizona has the right to match any offer. If they decide not to match, the Cardinals will receive a second-round draft pick as compensation.

The Cardinals also extended offers to three exclusive rights free agents: running backs William Powell and Alfonso Smith and defensive end Ronald Talley.
— The Associated Press

Redskins hindered by NFL cap penalty — 8:54 p.m. ET

The Washington Redskins are in jeopardy of losing their best special-teams player, a backup linebacker and one of the NFL's most high-character individuals.

A source told FOXSports.com that Lorenzo Alexander is receiving interest from "multiple" teams with the Redskins looking unlikely to re-sign him.

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Alexander recently told me and co-host Gil Brandt on SiriusXM NFL Radio that the Redskins made an initial contract offer that wasn't impressive enough to keep him from testing the market. Affecting their decisions on Alexander and other pending free agents, the Redskins are facing an $18 million salary-cap penalty for violating NFL rules in 2010.

Washington, though, did prioritize the re-signing of three restricted free agents heading into the Tuesday start of the free-agent signing period. Veteran tackle Tony Pashos also is on the team's free-agent radar, the Washington Post reported.

Alexander, 29, reached the Pro Bowl last season as the NFC's special teams representative. A multiple-time selection as Washington's Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, Alexander continues to make just as big an impact in several communities through his ACES Foundation.

NFL teams are now allowed to have contact with agents who represent players in the upcoming free-agent class. However, the league has said no contracts can be verbally agreed upon before the signing period begins.
— Alex Marvez

Jets re-sign LB Mauga to 1-year deal — 8:34 p.m. ET

The New York Jets have re-signed linebacker Josh Mauga, one of the team's four restricted free agents, to a one-year contract.

Agent Michael Hoffman confirmed the deal on his Twitter page Saturday. Mauga is a key backup and special teams performer who missed 11 games last season with a torn pectoral muscle.

The Jets decided not to offer Mauga a low tender offer of $1.32 million, and instead were able to re-sign him at presumably an even lower amount.

The Jets' other RFAs are tight end Jeff Cumberland, who received the $1.32 million tender, long snapper Tanner Purdum and offensive tackle Austin Howard.
— The Associated Press

Source: Dolphins have edge on signing Wallace — 6:24 p.m. ET

The weather — and a whole lot of money — has given the Miami Dolphins an early edge in the free-agent bidding for Mike Wallace.

A source told FOXSports.com that the Dolphins are the "lead dog" to land Wallace when the signing period officially opens at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday.

The top wide receiver in the free-agent market after four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Wallace was expected to draw offers from multiple teams that would average between $11 million and $12 million a season. But the steamy climate where the Dolphins are based could be the tiebreaker as Wallace mulls where to play. Read more
— Alex Marvez

Source: Chargers, Novak agree to 4-year deal — 6:23 p.m. ET

A person with knowledge of the deal says the San Diego Chargers have agreed in principle to a four-year contract with kicker Nick Novak.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details are still being finalized. Novak, who had been scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, can't sign the contract until free agency begins on Tuesday afternoon.

Teams are able to negotiate with agents of unrestricted free agents from Saturday into Tuesday afternoon.

Novak made 18 of 20 field goal attempts (90 percent) in 2012, the third-highest conversion rate in team history. He was signed on Sept. 29 after Nate Kaeding hurt his groin in practice two days before a game at Kansas City. Novak also kicked for San Diego in the final 15 games of 2011 after Kaeding was hurt on the season-opening kickoff.

Also Saturday, the Chargers signed long snapper Mike Windt to a four-year contract.
— The Associated Press

Teams show interest in Bears' Roach — 6:20 p.m. ET

Chicago Bears free agent linebacker Nick Roach appears to be drawing interest from other teams.

Roach's agent Josh Wright declined comment on the status of negotiations with the Bears, but said six teams had called as of Saturday afternoon.

Roach has mostly played strong side linebacker during his six seasons with the Bears, but has also seen time in the middle.

He played the final four games there last season with Brian Urlacher — also a free agent — sidelined by a hamstring injury.

Wright said some of the teams are looking at Roach to handle the middle. He also says Roach has no preference if he plays there or at strong side.
— The Associated Press

Redskins lock up Paulsen, Young — 6:08 p.m. ET

Tight end Logan Paulsen and fullback Darrel Young have agreed to three-year contracts to remain with the Washington Redskins.

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Paulsen and Young settled on their new deals Saturday. Both had been set to become restricted free agents next week.

Undrafted from UCLA, Paulsen has spent three seasons in Washington, with his playing time increasing each year in large part because of injuries to Fred Davis and Chris Cooley.

Paulsen started 10 regular season games last season, catching a career-high 25 passes for 308 yards and one touchdown. He also caught a touchdown pass in the Redskins' playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

Primarily a blocker for tailback Alfred Morris, Young rushed 14 times for 60 yards in 2012. He also caught eight passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
— The Associated Press

Report: Arizona to release Doucet — 4:21 p.m. ET

The Cardinals will cut receiver Early Doucet, The Arizona Republic reported on Saturday.

The move is expected to save the team about $1.7 million in cap space. Doucet has been in Arizona since the Cards drafted him in the third round in the 2008 draft, with his biggest season coming in 2011, when he caught 54 passes for 689 yards and five touchdowns. Read more.

Texans' Dobbins, McCain drawing interest — 3:41 p.m. ET

Two members of the Houston Texans defense are generating buzz in the free-agent agent market.

A source said that inside linebacker Tim Dobbins has received interest from four teams while three squads have given feelers to cornerback Brice McCain.

The Texans have interest in re-signing both players, the source said.

Dobbins, 30, has spent the past two seasons with the Texans serving predominantly as the team’s top backup at both ILB spots. Dobbins started six games last season before landing on injured reserve with an ankle injury.

McCain, who served as Houston’s slot cornerback, also landed on IR with a late-season foot injury. McCain, 26, has four interceptions in 56 career games with six starts.

Free safety Glover Quin and outside linebacker Connor Barwin head the list of potential free agents for the Texans. The NFL’s free-agent signing period begins Tuesday but teams are allowed to have contact with agents of players from other teams until then.
Alex Marvez

Falcons, Pro Bowl safety reach deal — 1:40 p.m. ET

The Atlanta Falcons announced on Saturday that they had agreed to a five-year contract with safety William Moore, who earned his first Pro Bowl berth this past season, FOXSports.com has confirmed. ESPN first reported the signing on Saturday morning.

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Moore, 27, and Thomas DeCoud anchored the secondary during Atlanta’s run to the NFC Championship Game. Moore finished his fourth NFL season with 75 tackles, four interceptions and eight passes defensed.

The hard-hitting Moore was considered one of the top safety prospects in free agency. San Francisco’s Dashon Goldson, Detroit’s Louis Delmas and Miami’s Chris Clemons are among the safeties set to become unrestricted free agents Tuesday when the NFL signing period begins. Adrian Wilson — a four-time All-Pro selection in his 12 seasons with Arizona — was released Friday by the Cardinals.

With the start of unrestricted free agency just around the corner, Moore was one of the most important players for the Falcons to re-sign. Read more.
— Alex Marvez

Saints keep Galette — 12:35 p.m. ET

Junior Galette has a new contract – and a new position.

The New Orleans Saints announced Saturday that Galette was re-signed to a three-year contract.

Galette enjoyed his best NFL season in 2012 as a defensive end, registering a career-high five sacks along with 22 tackles. Because of his athleticism and pass-rush skills, the 6-foot-2, 258-pound Galette will be shifting to outside linebacker in the 3-4 defensive scheme being installed by new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

Gallette joined the Saints as an undrafted college free agent from Stillman College in 2010.
Alex Marvez

Harrison out in Pittsburgh — 12:30 p.m. ET

One of the most prolific defensive players in Pittsburgh Steelers history is with the franchise no more.

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The Steelers announced Saturday that outside linebacker James Harrison was released.

The move came after Pittsburgh’s front office was unable to reach agreement with Harrison on a restructured contract. Harrison was set to earn $6.57 million in 2013 and the Steelers are struggling with salary cap issues.

“James has been an integral part of our success during his years in Pittsburgh and helped us win two Lombardi Trophies during that time,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said in a team-released statement. “We appreciate all of his efforts and wish him the best.”

Harrison expressed similar sentiment on his Twitter account (@jharrison9292) when writing, “It’s been a great run but all good things must come to (an) end. Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you!” Read more
Alex Marvez

Redskins, Paulsen agree to deal — 12:20 p.m. ET

Tight end Logan Paulsen has agreed to a three-year contract to remain with the Washington Redskins.

Paulsen reached terms with the team on Saturday. He had been set to become a restricted free agent next week.
The Associated Press

Cribbs not long for Cleveland? — 11:58 a.m. ET

Josh Cribbs’ days in Cleveland appear numbered.

A source told FOXSports.com on Saturday morning that Cribbs has drawn interest from “multiple” NFL teams as franchises are now allowed to contact agents about the pending unrestricted free agents on other squads.

The source, though, said the Browns are currently not in that mix as the free-agent signing period is set to open Tuesday.

Cribbs has spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Cleveland primarily as a special-teams standout and jack-of-all-trades offensive player. Cribbs was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team in the 2000s as a kickoff returner and is the all-time leader in Browns history in that role. Cribbs also is tied for the NFL all-time record in kickoff returns for touchdowns with eight.

Cribbs will be signed as both a wide receiver and returner by a new team, the source said. Cribbs posted a career-high 41 receptions in 2011 but wasn’t a significant part of the team’s passing offense in 2012. He finished with only 13 touches (seven catches; six rushes), marking his lowest production since Cribbs’ rookie campaign in 2005.

Cribbs, 29, should benefit from being in a relatively weak group of second-tier free agent wide receivers behind Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace and Green Bay’s Greg Jennings.

Even though Cleveland reportedly has an NFL-high $47 million available in salary cap space, Cribbs’ departure was expected with a new Browns front office making the team’s personnel moves.
— Alex Marvez

Source: Bills keep McKelvin — 11:35 a.m. ET

Buffalo Bills cornerback Leodis McKelvin has become the NFL’s highest-paid returner.

A source told FOXSports.com that McKelvin has agreed to a four-year, $20 million contract with the Bills. Further financial details were not immediately available.

McKelvin, 27, was set to become an unrestricted free-agent when the NFL signing period opened Tuesday. He enjoyed a spectacular season on special teams for the Bills. McKelvin averaged an NFL-high 18.7 yards on his 23 punt returns and scored twice. He also averaged 28.3 yards on 18 kickoff returns. Read more
Alex Marvez

Titans in tough spot with Cook — 11 a.m. ET

Two weeks ago at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak was gushing about what tight end Jared Cook would be providing to his team’s offense and third-year quarterback Jake Locker in 2013.

“We know what a talent he is,” Munchak told me and co-host Jim Miller on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “With the offense we put in place and the coaches we brought in we’re going to have a chance to do that.

“We need him to be here. He’s a big part of Jake’s (development). Look at the playoffs. The tight ends were probably the most important part of every win that you saw. We need Cook to be that for us.”

Unfortunately for Munchak, that might not be happening with an unexpected turn of events leading Cook toward the free-agent market that opens Tuesday across the NFL.

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The Tennessean had reported that the Titans were set to name Cook their franchise player. However, such a designation never occurred by last Monday’s NFL deadline.

The Titans have yet to publicly explain what happened, but finances may have played a role with Cook reportedly set to file a grievance about how he would have gotten tagged. Although he is listed as a tight end, Tennessee frequently used Cook in the role of a wide receiver.

At $10.54 million for a one-year guaranteed contract, the franchise designation for a wideout is roughly $4.5 million more than for a tight end.

The Titans would have needed to pay that difference if they lost the grievance or lift the franchise tag outright.

“He knows we want to get it done,” Munchak said about signing Cook to a new contract. “We’re going to do all we can to get him in and use him in ways where next year we’re seeing totally different production by him.”

The 6-foot-5, 248-pound Cook is among the league’s most athletic tight ends. But such skill hasn’t translated into production during his first four NFL seasons. Cook’s receiving numbers (44 catches for 253 yards) in 2012 were lower than the previous season. Cook has never posted more than 50 catches, 800 receiving yards or four touchdowns in a single year.

The potential, though, is there for the 25-year-old Cook to become one of the NFL’s top tight ends. That’s why he is considered one of the hottest potential free agents at the position.

“We think he’s got to be much more productive,” Munchak said. “We’ve got to allow that to happen. That falls on him and us – him to be more consistent, us to give him more opportunities (with) the football.”

If Cook isn’t receiving those opportunities, 2012 fifth-round draft pick Taylor Thompson and five-year veteran Craig Stevens would be the top tight ends on Tennessee’s roster. Thompson is making the conversion from playing defensive end at Southern Methodist University; Stevens had a career-high 23 catches for 275 yards and one touchdown while starting 15 games for Tennessee in 2012.
— Alex Marvez

Report: Boldin rejects Ravens' pay cut — 8:34 a.m. ET

Wide receiver Anquan Boldin has rejected a proposal from the Baltimore Ravens to slash his salary, and he would test free agency if the team releases him, USA Today Sports is reporting.

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A source told FOXSports.com earlier today that the Ravens want Boldin to renegotiate the $6 million base salary he is set to earn in 2013. Otherwise, Boldin will be released before Tuesday’s start of the free-agent signing period.

Boldin was one of quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite targets during the postseason, especially in third-down situations. Boldin caught six passes for 104 yards and one touchdown in Baltimore’s 34-31 championship victory over San Francisco. Read more
— Alex Marvez

Tagged: Falcons, Bills, Bears, Bengals, Browns, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Dolphins, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, Seahawks, Redskins, Panthers, Jaguars, Ravens, Cardinals, Steelers, Chargers, Texans, Ron Edwards, Adrian Wilson, Ed Reed, Brandon Moore, James Harrison, Anquan Boldin, Josh Brown, Brandon Moore, Dunta Robinson, Chris Gamble, Nate Kaeding, Matt Cassel, Nick Novak, Lorenzo Alexander, Tim Dobbins, Aaron Ross, Kevin Kolb, Matt Moore, Nick Roach, Leodis McKelvin, Fred Davis, Early Doucet, Brice McCain, Mike Wallace, Jared Cook, Henry Melton, Brian Hartline, Kevin Huber, Vontae Davis, William Moore, Sean Smith, Brian Hoyer, Mike Windt, Alfonso Smith, Logan Paulsen, Junior Galette, Darrel Young, Jake Locker

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