Leroy climbs Hill as top free agentLeroy Hill | Seahawks | Interested: 49ers? Dolphins? Chiefs? Colts? Broncos? Browns? According to what Seattle Seahawks general manager Tim Ruskell indicated during a press conference - as reported by Mike Sando on his NFC West blog - Leroy Hill's franchise tag was lifted for two reasons. One, the team wanted the flexibility to sign Hill to a long-term deal, and the contrived framework of the franchise tag was seen as limiting in this regard. Two, the team just made Aaron Curry the highest-drafted linebacker since 2000, when the Washington Redskins took LaVar Arrington with the No. 2 overall pick, and this gave the team some depth in the linebacking corps if things didn't work out with Hill at all.
According to Sando, Seahawks coach Jim Mora spoke with Hill on Sunday morning, and the linebacker seemed "shook up" and "disappointed" at the team's decision to withdraw the tag. It's possible that Hill's agent Todd France may be able to draw some nice offers from other teams, but the original offer that the Seahawks made of $36 million over six years is unlikely to be matched, and the $8.3 million tender Hill would've earned under the franchise tender is a pipe dream at this point.
But there's no doubt that Hill will have some suitors. At just 26, and coming off an 84-tackle season in 2008, he will draw interest from a few teams with the cap space and the roster need at outside linebacker. The Miami Dolphins waited until the seventh round to grab an outside linebacker and they may show some interest in Hill. On the other hand, before the draft weekend, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland instructed Jason Taylor that they would negotiate with him after the draft if the team didn't select a pass-rusher. Officially, Ireland tells the Palm Beach Post that the team has yet to discuss a Taylor signing, but since the only player taken by the team at either linebacker or defensive end was seventh-rounder J.D. Folsom, there's a strong possbility that Taylor returns for his farewell tour in Miami, and this might take the 'phins out of the Hill sweepstakes depending on Taylor's compensation.
Staying in the AFC, the Cleveland Browns need an upgrade to the outside linebacker position and the team waited until the fourth round to address the need with Kaluka Maiava. Given that the team traded out of the fifth overall pick, they won't have to commit a large amount of money to their recent draftees, and would be able to make a sizable offer to Hill if necessary. It was a bit surprising that the Denver Broncos didn't wind up with an outside linebacker amongst their draftees, and they too might have some cap space left depending on the type of packages they offer their dual first-rounders. Other AFC teams expected to give France a call are the Indianapolis Colts and Kansas City Chiefs, although the Colts' likelihood of signing Hill is more remote given their usage of the Tampa 2 defensive scheme, which Hill would have to learn from scratch.
Finally, in spite of recently extending Parys Haralson through 2013, the Seahawks' NFC West rival San Francisco 49ers could sniff around Hill in the coming days. The team has a force at inside linebacker in 24 year-old Patrick Willis, and a Willis-Hill tandem would give the Niners a great core to build around.
There are questions about Hill's character that stem from an offseason incident where he was found asleep at the wheel in the Atlanta area, and investigating police officers found him to be possession of marijuana. This may impact the payday Hill will receive on the open market, but he is certain to be signed somewhere soon.
Ok so no mention of the Birds in there but would anyone not be happy if we got him. Love what Andy & Co. did in the draft this weekend but the primary focus was offense and Secondary. I think our LB corp is pretty talented but the only bonified star in the making I truly see there is Bradley. What do you think guys would it be worth it to go after Hill?