Combine Report - March 2: Free-Agency Rumors & More

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Tony Pauline

Draft Analyst Writer

Thursday at the combine featured a lot of talk and scuttlebutt surrounding free agency. Here’s the latest from Indianapolis.

Receiver Alshon Jeffery has said he wants to sign with a contender, but that won’t stop the San Francisco 49ers. Several sources tell me the team will go hard after the wideout once he hits the open market.

Word is that the Cincinnati Bengals could use the money they won’t be spending on Kevin Zeitler on a big-name cornerback.

The belief is that Logan Ryan will be the player they target if he does not re-sign with the Patriots, though the market for the cornerback will be competitive and expensive.

The Buffalo Bills are meeting with representatives for running back Mike Gillislee, and both sides hope to hammer out a long-term extension. I’m told the ball carrier, who finished with 577 yards and eight touchdowns last season, is hopeful he can play in Buffalo the rest of his career.

General manager John Dorsey has told people here in Indianapolis that the Kansas City Chiefs are out of the free-agent market after the team recently re-signed safety Eric Berry and guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif to large contracts.

The terms of Duvernay-Tardif’s contract -- five years for $48 million -- raised eyebrows, but Dorsey told people he feels waiting a year would’ve resulted in a much larger contract for his starting right guard.

Defensive lineman Terrell McClain is finding a large market for his services. The versatility to line up as a one-technique, three-technique or zero-technique lineman has increased his attractiveness to teams.

As has been reported over the past few weeks, I can confirm the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks are interested in approaching McClain once free agency begins.

Don’t kill the messenger, but top brass of the New York Jets privately admitted today they don’t expect to put a winning product on the field for at least two years.

And while this may be obvious to most, it is a startling admission from a team struggling to fill its new stadium with fans.

The current situation has little to do with general manager Mike Maccagnan.

For years former general manager Mike Tannenbaum traded away early draft capital and multiple picks at a time for aged veterans such as receivers Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards. Tannenbaum did much the same in order to move up in the draft and select quarterback Mark Sanchez as well as running back Shonn Greene.

The plan almost worked, as the team assembled by Tannenbaum and coached by Rex Ryan went to successive AFC title games.

The Tannenbaum era was followed by two disastrous drafts from his replacement John Idzik Jr. in which little was gained, despite a year when the franchise had multiple first-round picks followed by a draft which featured 12 selections.

One rarely thinks about tax implications when it comes to veteran free-agent contracts but from what I heard today, more and more big-ticket free agents are looking at teams located in tax-friendly states.

The example given today was Ndamukong Suh, who signed with the Miami Dolphins in the tax-friendly state of Florida.

Based on his contract guarantee of $60 million, the Detroit Lions would’ve had to increase Suh’s guarantee to $65 million in order to keep pace with the Dolphins. The Oakland Raiders would’ve had to up the ante to $70 million in order to equal Suh’s after-tax income from the Dolphins' contract offer.