NFL Free Agency: LB Market Still Wide Open

SEATTLE WA - JANUARY 08: David Hawthorne #57 of the Seattle Seahawks reacts after a defensive stop in the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints during the 2011 NFC wild-card playoff game. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

One of the interesting, under the radar stories after the first few days of free agents has been the lack of action on linebackers. None of the notable 4-3 MIKE LBs have signed at this point and in the case of Stephen Tulloch, widely seen as the top guy, there hasn't even been a visit scheduled.

Here's what NFL.com had to say about the remaining LBs.

2. Stephen Tulloch, LB, Detroit: The market may heat up for Tulloch in the second week of free agency with the more "in demand" positions taking precedence this week. He was and still is the best available MLB in the free-agency market.

4. Curtis Lofton, LB, Atlanta: Having a visit scheduled with the Saints and a reported offer already in hand from the Buccaneers, it appears likely that Lofton will be wearing a new uniform next season. The Falcons may use the newly signed Lofa Tatupu in combination with Akeem Dent to replace Lofton in the middle.

6. David Hawthorne, LB, Seattle: Hawthorne is a run-thumping linebacker who is most comfortable in the middle, but has shown some versatility on the outside. He is coming off three consecutive seasons of 100-plus tackles and may price himself out of a return to Seattle.

Interestingly enough, both Hawthorne & Lofton are scheduled to visit the Saints this weekend. The Saints also had Joe Mays in for a visit, so they're clearly in the market. New Orleans will probably be in need of a MIKE for a while as Jonathan Vilma appears to be one of the ringleaders of the Saints bounty scandal and is likely to face some discipline from the league. That said, signing either of these guys isn't a short term move. Both are expected to get pretty big money.

It also could be pretty telling that New Orleans haven't even invited Tulloch, who is clearly the top guy left. His reported demand for $6 million per year could certainly be scaring teams off.

As for the Eagles, we've heard only whispers about their intentions at LB. They reportedly made a one year, token offer to Dan Connor, who opted to go to Dallas. Gerald McCoy of the Bucs tweeted that Curtis Lofton had decided to sign with the Eagles, but quickly retracted that. Whether that was a sign the Eagles were at least speaking with Lofton is something that has yet to be confirmed. As for Tulloch, who would be the most perfect fit in Jim Washburn's wide 9, there's not even been a whisper.

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