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Free Agent Frenzy: Handshake Deals

I've heard a couple people mention at different time that teams will not go into this free agency period without working out some deals before the lockout is lifted. I'm sure this is not entirely within the rules, but I'm sure there are ways to get around it. In fact, I'm positive that trying to work out any deals with players that were not on your team in 2010 and have not been granted free agency yet is indeed tampering. That means the only players that teams would probably attempt this with are their own would be free agents and players, like Bob Sanders, that were already released by other teams.

Now, with regards to attempting handshake deals with a team's own free agents I think its important to consider the complexity of a deal. For players that either know they are going to be starters in the NFL or would like the chance to be starters in the NFL, they are going to be looking for multi-year deals and probably don't want to cut corners by limiting their options to just one team. For the Chargers this would be players like: Eric Weddle, Kevin Burnett, Brandon Siler, Malcom Floyd, Stephen Cooper, Darren Sproles and, with his own set of additional problems, Vincent Jackson. The ones that the Chargers would be more likely to give a wink and a nod to are veterans who provide depth, know the system and probably can best expect 1 or 2 year deals at either league minimum or their previous rate.

If I'm thinking like the Chargers, here's who those guys would be for me:

1. Jacques Cesaire - Long time Chargers, team leader, knows the defense and was on the team when Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky was last with the Chargers. He's also started games in the NFL and would be able to do so again if the shortened camp keeps Corey Liuget from becoming a starter.

2. Travis Johnson - Southern California guy who would probably like to stay here. Another veteran with multiple years now as a Charger. Again, who knows if Liuget will prove ready or if Vaughn Martin can step up without a real offseason with the team. There could be a lot of 1st round picks this year that end up playing the bench role due to the lockout and veterans like Johnson are key to filling the gaps that creates.

3. Billy Volek - I mentioned before that he could be a candidate in Carolina. If he hasn't been able to talk to the Panthers then he can't exactly feel comfortable about that. It might just be safer to come back to the Chargers where he knows what to expect from the team.

4. Randy McMichael - I think the Chargers liked what they saw in McMichael and they definitely need a capable backup for Antonio Gates. They didn't draft one, so making sure they have a veteran in place behind the All Pro will be a priority.