One-year deals appearing early in this free-agent market


The one-year deals are already here.

It took only three days of free agency for players to take one-year deals. A one-year deal for a solid veteran player represents the notion that the market is already softening and it is better to take the short-term deal and get back into the market next year.

NFL free agency
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There is a lot of risk for the player with a one-year deal because an injury can wipe out an attempt at a big deal in 12 months. Usually the one-year deals start in the third week of free agency, but the signings have been fast and furious, and the market is already turning into a buyer's market.

Three days ago, I never would have thought the Seahawks could get DE Michael Bennett in a one-year deal. Bennett was discussing giving the Bucs a chance to match an offer when he thought there was a megadeal right around the corner. I'm sure Dominic Rogers-Cromartie thought he was in line for at least a deal like Cary Williams' three-year, $17 million contract, but he settled for a one-year contract with the Broncos. Leon Washington might have been released by the Seahawks, but Pete Carroll told me they wanted him back if he didn't get the right deal. He signed a one-year deal with the Patriots.

Agents know the annual owners meetings is a line of demarcation in free agency, and when the team brass returns from the four-day trip to Phoenix, which will begin Sunday, most teams will turn their interest to the draft. We will see a number of one-year deals in the coming days.

My top 10 remaining free agents

By the time you read this, all 10 could be signed, but it's the job of the pro personnel director to keep his free-agent board up to date.

That being said, here are my top 10 players still on the market:

1. Jake Long, OT
2. Ed Reed, S
3. Karlos Dansby, LB
4. Andre Smith, OT
5. Greg Jennings, WR
6. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB
7. Eric Winston, OT
8. Brent Grimes, CB (medical)
9. James Harrison, LB
10. Aqib Talib, CB

Talkin' to two old high school teammates

I had a chance Thursday to have a conversation with Reggie Bush and Alex Smith about their new teams. But first, can you imagine what their high school team must have looked like on offense with Alex under center and Reggie behind him? That was some serious firepower!

Reggie couldn't be happier with his choice to play for the Lions. The club made it clear it is looking for balance in the offense after leading the NFL in pass attempts over the past two seasons. Bush expects to be asked to run between the tackles on plenty of occasions, and was even more excited when he watched some game tapes of all the two-high safety looks and rolled coverage to Calvin Johnson.

That means the Lions will not have to worry about a safety down in the box as the unblocked defender. Reggie could have a big season; he mentioned the fast surface in Detroit's dome perfect for his game.

Alex Smith wasn't as outspoken as Reggie, as he is feeling his way through the new Chiefs offense. His wife is having a baby any day now and rightfully Smith is focused on that great day.

Smith mentioned he has been part of a lot of offenses in his NFL career, so he and Andy Reid and Doug Peterson should have be a good exchange of ideas about offensive philosophy. As for getting together with the receivers, it's going to happen, but not until the baby boy is born and the offense is at least in the planning stages. Alex was out in the community attending a college basketball game and talking with Chiefs fans.

Both young men needed a change of scenery, and they got it. I think both fan bases are going to enjoy the football they will bring to the field.

The rule proposal about running backs

I was in Naples, Fla., during the week the competition committee developed the proposals that will be presented to the clubs next week at the owners meetings. My experience with rule proposals is many don't pass the first time presented and usually get through at a later meeting or the following year. The exception to that is when a rule proposal has to do with player safety.

It was only a matter of time before someone felt a running back dropping his head on a power run to "lower the boom" on a would-be tackler would be perceived in a similar fashion to the open-field tackler that leads with his head. This rule might pass, but officiating it in real time during games is a different story.

What's going to happen to the big physical running back who makes his living breaking tackles because he isn't quick enough to avoid a tackler? There are times in a game when a running back knows he has to be lower than the tackler if he wants to advance the ball. To get low, the head and shoulders come down. The intent isn't to lead with the crown of the helmet, but to break a tackle. A moving target (the runner) charging at a moving target (a tackler) can't always predict the collision point.

Are we going to ask the runners to stay upright and take body shots? Are we going to say a goal-line leap over the pile is a penalty if the runner's helmet collides with a tackler?

It sounds great to introduce rules based on player safety, but I really think the clubs need to sit on this rule for a year and think it through.

Pat Kirwan has been around the league since 1972, serving in a variety of roles. He was a scout for the Cardinals and Buccaneers, a coach for the Jets as well as the team's Director of Player Administration where he negotiated contracts and managed the team's salary cap. He is the author of Take Your Eye Off the Ball: How to Watch Football by Knowing Where to Look, and the host of Sirius NFL Radio's Moving the Chains.

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