March 8, 2013

Free Agency Negotiation Period Begins

The NFL's new anti-tampering mechanism, a three-day negotiating period before free agent contracts can be signed, begins Friday night.

The NFL has warned clubs against announcing the signing or even the agreement in principle for unrestricted free agents during the negotiating period which will end Tuesday afternoon.

Unrestricted free agents for the Saints on the afternoon of March 12 are starting left tackle Jermon Bushrod, outside linebacker Jonathan Casillas, backup quarterback Chase Daniel, starting defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis, veteran wide receiver Devery Henderson, linebacker Ramon Humber, cornerback Elbert Mack, defensive end Turk McBride, cornerback Johnny Patrick, offensive tackle William Robinson, wide receiver and special teamer Courtney Roby, outside linebacker Scott Shanle and tight end David Thomas.

DE Will Smith and LB Jonathan Vilma will also likely join that list, unless they agree to massive paycuts before Tuesday's deadline.  The Saints must be under the salary cap at that point, and will need to make more moves to get there.

Starting C Brian de la Puente, long snapper Justin Drescher, DE/LB Junior Galette and RB Chris Ivory are restricted free agents who are believed to have received qualifying tenders from the Saints.  The Saints must issue those restricted free agent qualifying offers before Tuesday's free agent deadline.

Ivory has reportedly received a second round pick tender, qualifying the Saints to a second round pick as compensation should another team sign him away, and the Saints refuse to match.  Ivory's one-year qualifying offer would pay him $2.023 million.

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