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DMN: Race is on for Karlos Dansby

Four teams in the running for Cardinals linebacker. Michael Lombardi

Print This February 15, 2010, 10:50 AM EST

QUOTE: “We live in a stage of politics, where legislators seem to regard the passage of laws as much more important than the results of their enforcement.” -- William Howard Taft, “Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers”

Happy Presidents Day to everyone…

A report over the weekend said Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby is interested in four teams -- the Giants, ‘Skins, Chargers and Dolphins -- who are all good fits for his talent and could use his services within the framework of their defenses. But will all four be able to acquire his rights? Three of the four can be active in pursuing Dansby, and only the Chargers will be limited with their offer based on a $5-million first-year salary and the restrictions placed on the final eight teams. The Chargers can make this work if they want, but they have so many other players to sign that even though Dansby would be a welcome addition, they first have to think about getting wideout Vincent Jackson and tackle Marcus McNeill re-signed. It’s difficult to acquire new free agents when you have pending free agents of your own — there’s only so much money to go around.

The other three teams will be free to spend whatever they want but will have some form of internal budget. For example, the ‘Skins, picking fourth overall, will have to account for that expense in their free-agent planning. In the past, they have always been heavy hitters in free agency -- and I suspect they will be this year as well -- but they never had to spend for the fourth pick overall, which in terms of cash is like signing two heavy-duty free agents. What the ‘Skins must prepare for and protect themselves against is the return of a cap, as unrealistic as that might seem today.

The Giants spent a ton of money last year in free agency, and their committed cash expense is high for 2010, so I can see them signing a player like Dansby -- but it will have to be the right deal. My sense of the Giants this free agency period is that they’ll shop for bargains along with making deals that fit their budget. Team owner John Mara has complained about player costs, so he would look bad if the Giants were overly aggressive in free agency.

The Dolphins also spent money in free agency last year and, like the Giants, are high in committed cash. But my sense of the Fins is that they’ll be active in free agency trying to fix their problems on defense. They signed linebacker Channing Crowder last year to a big deal but all season were looking for inside backer help. What hurts most is when you sign a player to fortify a need, but three months later that help has not been provided. The Dolphins, like the Giants, were too slow on defense, especially inside at linebacker, so it makes perfect sense that they would be chasing the same players.

So who gets Dansby? My money would be on the Giants or Dolphins, but don’t rule out a sleeper team like the Patriots, who could use more speed on defense. One thing’s for sure when it comes to those three teams -- they all seem to share a passion for the same players, especially on defense.

Follow me on Twitter: michaelombardi

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