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March 14, 2012The craziest time of the NFL calendar -- free agency -- began at 3 p.m. central time Tuesday and has already proven to be as wild as ever. This season, though, a number of former Texas A&M football players are taking part in or could be affected by the process. Aggieyell.com takes a look.
Already getting paid:
Red Bryant, defensive tackle, Seattle Seahawks
2011 Stats: 32 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown), 2 fumbles forced.
Thoughts: If you need any further indication of how incompetent Dennis Franchione's coaching staff was, look no further than Bryant. When he was drafted, Seattle officials said they believed that, once Bryant was taught basic technique, he would be come a force -- and that's just what's happened. The Seahawks considered placing the franchise designation on Bryant, which would have meant a salary of better than $10 million for next year, but decided against it and signed him just hours into free agency anyway. The price tag: 5 years, $35 million with $10.4 million guaranteed.
Not bad for a 3-star.
Geoff Hangartner, C/G, Carolina Panthers
2011 stats: Started all 16 games for the Panthers
Thoughts: Released right before last season began by Buffalo, Hangartner returned to the Panthers and returned to form. He became a critical part of a team rebuilding behind Cam Newton and was rewarded with a three-year contract. Terms were not disclosed.
On the market:
Martellus Bennett, TE, Dallas Cowboys
2011 stats: 17 catches for 144 yards in 14 games.
Thoughts: Bennett approached bust status with the Cowboys, catching four touchdowns in his rookie season and none after. Bennett didn't thrive in the shadow of Jason Witten and the Cowboys don't seem to be falling all over themselves to re-sign him after he distinguished himself more off the field than on it. Bennett is visiting with the New York Giants, who lost two tight ends to knee injuries in the Super Bowl, Wednesday. Tough coach Tom Coughlin could be what he needs, but New York...may not be.
Melvin Bullitt, S, Indianapolis Colts
2011 stats: 11 tackles, 1 pass defensed and 1 INT in 2 games before suffering a season-ending injury
Thoughts: Bullitt was thought to be the safety of the future for the Colts after they released Bob Sanders last year, but his role as unquestioned starter lasted all of two games before becoming one of droves of Indianapolis players to be lost for the year. The Colts decided to lose him last week as part of their purge, leaving Bullitt rehabbing and without a job. He's shown enough to get another contract, but it may be a while before he signs.
Michael Bennett, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2011 stats: 39 tackles, 4 sacks, 1 force fumble, 2 fumble recoveries in 14 games.
Thoughts: The Bucs have already been busy this offseason, snagging Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, but their first move had to do with keeping Bennett. A restricted free agent, the Bucs could designate a "tender" or price, another team would have to pay to get Bennett. Tampa wasted no time in placing a first-round tender on him, likely keeping him in town for a salary of more than $2.7 million next season. Bennett has been outstanding for Tampa since they picked him up off of waivers from Seattle.
Could soon be free:
Stephen McGee, QB, Dallas Cowboys
2011 stats: 24-38, 182 yds., 1 TD in 1 game in 2011.
Thoughts: Even though he hasn't played badly when he's had the chance, the Cowboys showed what they thought of McGee when they signed Kyle Orton to a three-year deal Wednesday. With his opportunity to back up Tony Romo gone, McGee could find himself out of Dallas shortly if the Cowboys decide to give a chance to a younger quarterback. If that's the case, McGee will find a job somewhere, but it may be in a role similar to what he's had in Dallas.
Watching with interest:
Ryan Tannehill, QB, team TBD
The last man to take the reigns of the Aggie offense has seen one team (Washington) that could have drafted him move in another direction by mortgaging their future on Baylor's Robert Griffin III (probably). But there are several other teams out there with interest who are also testing the free agent waters. As a result, Tannehill is likely watching Cleveland (maybe after Packers backup Matt Flynn), Seattle (after Chad Henne and Flynn) and Miami (after some guy named Peyton Manning) closely for a clue on where he may end up next month.
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