We noted Thursday that NFL teams will face tight salary cap situations for the first time in years. A few hours later, the cap-related cuts started coming -- leading with the Oakland Raiders' decision to release cornerback Stanford Routt.
There were cash considerations in Routt's departure as well; he was reportedly due a $5 million bonus if he was on the Raiders' roster Friday. But Routt is a talented player who has six interceptions and 28 defensed passes in the past two seasons, and almost immediately you began filling the mailbag with questions about potential connections with NFC North teams.
Nick of Columbus, Ohio, wrote: "What might the chances be of [Green Bay Packers general manager] Ted Thompson going for another Oakland free agent cornerback? Maybe they could pair him with Tramon Williams on the other side, and move Charles Woodson to safety if Nick Collins still needs time, or if his career ends.
You could make a reasonable argument that all four NFC North teams have a need at cornerback, if in fact the Packers move Woodson to safety -- which is by no means a certainty. The Chicago Bears ended last season with uncertainty opposite Charles Tillman, the Minnesota Vikings had one of the worst pass defenses in NFL history and the Detroit Lions are facing the pending free agency of starter Eric Wright.
Generally speaking, I'm not going to post an item on the chances of every available veteran landing in the NFC North -- unless there is a reason to think it might or should happen. But this is the start of the speculation season, and I figured we should celebrate.
Alas, two non-division teams have jumped to the front of the line for Routt's services. He has visits scheduled with the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans. We'll let you know if an NFC North team comes into play for Routt or any other free agent.
*Update: The Vikings are one of five teams that have inquired about Routt, according to ESPNDallas.com's Calvin Watkins. The others, including the Bills and Titans, are the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys. At this point, Routt's only scheduled visits are with the Bills and Titans.