Teams may consider dipping into restricted free-agent pool

The NFL's free-agency signing period is here, and as always it starts with a bang before settling down by next week.

This year, the flood of terminated players will keep the interest up, but the money is going to dry up quickly. There will be a lot more money saved than spent when free agency ends on July 22.

One place worth paying attention to is the restricted free-agent pool. Not one restricted free agent changed teams last year; the most restricted free-agent movement in recent years was 2003, when five players switched teams.

So, why take a look at a very inactive pool of talent? Well, there are many different restricted tags and I would not waste my time on a player with a first- and third-round compensation tag on him. However, I would look at some of the other categories.

Here is a look at what could be a perfect storm for the right team. For instance, if a team has multiple picks in a certain round and the compensation for a player is one of those picks, it might make sense to construct a deal and make a run at a restricted free agent. If a team is picking way down at the bottom of a round, then it also might make just as much sense to look at restricted free agents with that compensation. You should know what a "poison pill" in a contract is by now, but if you don't, please note that it is language that states something that is extremely difficult for a team to accept in a deal to retain a player. I don't like "poison pills," but this is a way to get a player and these "poison pills" have been used in the past.

Here is a look at three different scenarios that could play:

Scenario No. 1

There are two teams with multiple first-round picks, the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers. Both teams are looking for an offensive tackle in the draft as well as a safety. Do they look at the Baltimore Ravens' Jared Gaither, stack him up against this year's offensive line draft class and say, "Here's a 23-year-old kid with 28 NFL starts at 6-foot-9, 340 pounds who is proven and better than everyone in the draft except for Russell Okung, or maybe he is even better than him?"

As for a team at the bottom of the first round, the Ravens claim no interest in receiver Brandon Marshall, but when they pick at No. 25, or when a team such as the New England Patriots pick at No. 22, Marshall may look a lot better than what is currently on the draft board.

I wonder if the Saints at pick No. 32 in the draft would look at safety Antoine Bethea if they lose Darren Sharper. Bethea is 25 years old with 59 starts; just a thought.

Scenario No. 2

There are three teams with multiple second-round picks, the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Patriots. Would they be willing to give up one of those picks for a young starter at a position of need?

The Chiefs may be looking for a safety, and a player such as Melvin Bullitt is on this list. Need a running back? Jerious Norwood, Pierre Thomas and Jerome Harrison are on the second-round compensation list.

The Buccaneers need defensive line help, and they may find the Indianapolis Colts' Daniel Muir interesting after the season he produced in 2009.

Scenario No. 3

Finally, there are three teams with multiple third-round picks: the Cleveland Browns, Oakland Raiders and Philadelphia Eagles.

Would Vikings QB Tarvaris Jackson interest one of these teams? He is trained in the West Coast system, and if the Browns are headed in that direction, one of their third-round picks might make sense, especially if they are going to go in a new direction at quarterback. Derek Anderson is due a big bonus on March 15.

All the talk is about Julius Peppers and the other restricted free agents, but somewhere in the offices of a few teams there will be discussion about a few young restricted free agents who have enticing compensation values.

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