Combine Report - Feb. 28: Free-Agency Rumors

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

While most of the media will focus on 40 times, vertical jumps and bench press tallies over the next few days in Indianapolis, the combine is also the unofficial start of free agency. Here’s what I’ve heard over the past week.

Even before the Minnesota Vikings officially cut ties with running back Adrian Peterson, several sources told me the team was showing a good deal of interest in Latavius Murray of the Oakland Raiders.

In the past 24 hours, Oakland announced they will let Murray test the free-agent waters.

The former sixth-round pick from Central Florida rushed for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns last season after 1066 yards and six scores the prior year. Added to that total were 95 receptions.

While most are focusing on which receiver the Washington Redskins will re-sign between DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, I’m told it’s a goal of the franchise to re-sign defensive lineman Chris Baker during the combine.

A 16-game starter last season, Baker finished with 47 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

The two sides are expected to meet during the combine and, if a deal can’t be worked out and Baker hits the open market, there are several teams waiting in the wings to scoop him up.

The possibility of Jackson returning to the Philadelphia Eagles has captured most of the headlines, but I’m told the team would also be content with Garcon if Jackson re-signs with the Redskins or his price tag is out of reach.

The bottom line is Philadelphia wants to come out of free agency and the draft with weapons for Carson Wentz.

Eyebrows were raised when the New York Jets signed Brian Winters to a four-year extension at an average of $7.25 million per annum. That contract will help set the market for the rest of the guards in free agency, and many are expecting big money.

I’m told Kevin Zeitler of the Bengals is likely to sign a deal close to $10 million a year, if not slightly over that amount. Most I’ve spoken with believe Cincinnati won’t re-sign Zeitler as that’s out of the range they are willing to pay for a guard.

The deal for free agent Larry Warford of the Detroit Lions is expected to broach $9 million annually.