It's already been a wild day in the NFL, and it sounds like several teams have already reached tentative deals with free agents. ESPN reports that defensive end Charles Johnson has agreed to a 6-year, $72 million deal with the Carolina Panthers. Johnson said he was blown away by the Panthers' offer, and quite frankly, so am I. Johnson is certainly a long-term investment, because I don't see Carolina being very good the next couple of years. Johnson noted that the two other teams who expressed serious interest in him were Denver and Atlanta.
Johnson stated that the Falcons really wanted him but backed off after hearing how much Carolina was offering him. With Johnson off the table, you have to believe the Cleveland Browns will be making a push to get Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards locked up before Friday, when players can officially sign their deals. Multiple reports have confirmed that the Falcons will not pursue Edwards, perhaps because they know he will command a similar deal that Johnson received.
Right now, if you believe the credibility of what has been happening on Twitter, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Browns are the two teams who are neck-and-neck in trying to lure in Edwards. Cleveland needs a top-notch veteran lineman to add some tenacity to their front four, and Edwards is perfectly capable of delivering on that front.
In other news, the St. Louis Rams have reportedly reached an agreement with safety Quintin Mikell of the Eagles. It would be a 4-year deal worth $28 million. That sounds much more affordable than what defensive ends seem to be getting, but Mikell wasn't the top-rated safety in this free agent class: Eric Weddle was. The Browns appear to be one of the team's going after Weddle's services. Lee Hamilton, a radio host, tweeted that Weddle's agent said they would be making visits to Minnesota, Cleveland, and Dallas. The Chicago-Sun Times also listed the Browns as one of the team's that has shown interest in Weddle.
Cleveland's interest in Weddle does not preclude them from signing a different safety. Donte Whitner is still available, as if Abram Elam. Hopefully Tom Heckert and Mike Holmgren are able to work their magic and bring somebody in who can make a positive impact the next couple of years (and we're not talking about Matt Hasselbeck).