Gary Horton: The old addage ''the calm before the storm'' is over because the storm happened this past weekend. Although teams had 2-3 dress rehearsals before FA actually started, you could tell the teams that had money to spend were well prepared and moved quickly to make moves to better themselves. There were some very interesting signings over the weekend which I'm sure you will ask about this morning. Let's go! Adi (College Park, MD): Does the Cardinals' signing of Edgerrin James mean they will be going after Maryland TE Vernon Davis in the draft with the 10th pick? Gary Horton: I think you are exactly on target. The missing link in this passing game is an athletic TE. Whether in the first round or other rounds, that is a position they will target to come away with a quality guy. I don't expect them to be active in free agency the rest of the way because of what they have already spent. Gary Horton: Edge is a great signing for them and I'm impressed he had the guts to sign with a team that has not been a contender. The Arizona players did a nice job recruiting him. I think Edge thinks with Warner and the receivers they have, he can have running success like he did at Indianapolis against a lot of nickel and dime defenses. But Arizona still has work to do on the OL. Having a legit 25 carries a game back with great production makes this an offense to be reckoned with. Even though they haven't upgraded the OL, it becomes better overnight with a back like Edgerrin. James (Orlando, FL): Why are the 49ers so quiet? Don't they realize they're awful on both sides of the ball? Gary Horton: I think they do, but they are not in great cap shape. Even though they have a bad roster. Secondly, it's very hard to attract free agents because they are so far away from being a contender. I'm shocked they let a guy like Brandon Lloyd go. He was their best young receiver. I understand he wasn't in favor with his teammates and coaching staff, but this team has very few playmakers. I'm not sure what their philosphy is right now. Paul (San Diego): What do you think about the big money for Edge? Wouldn't it have made more sense to draft Lendale white and use that money to build an OL? Just my opinion Gary Horton: No. I think in Arizona's case he is worth it. In their situation, there are other things to consider. Expanding the fan base is one. They are going into a new stadium and a guy like James creates a buzz in Arizona that you are trying to become competitive and that is sorely needed there. I think this offense for the last two years has felt like it couldn't be successful without a go-to back. That was the key. You can fill in around him in the OL and find a TE in the draft. But there is no guarantee White would have been there. And quite honestly, Denny Green wants to win NOW. Seth (Reading, PA): Do you agree with me that if Dallas gets TO and Viniteri they will be automatic Super Bowl contenders with those additions? if not, what else do they need. Gary Horton: I don't necessarily agree with that. I think while it could certainly improve them, there are still a lot of questions with this team. It starts with the OL and until we see better production there, there is not much hope for optimism. Bledsoe is very up and down and defensively, they are still trying to retool and they are not great in the secondary. As good as TO can be, will he fit in? Will he be a distraction? What's to make us think the problems he caused in San Fran and Philly won't surface in Dallas? Vinatieri would be a HUGE positive. Gary Horton: A realiable FG kicker could be the difference in going to the playoffs or not for the Cowboys. Brian (VA): I thought the 49ers were 20 million under the cap?! Gary Horton: Yeah, but their problem is they are trying to restructure some of their own players and they also have a very unusual financial outlook. I've been told that they have almost adopted the Billy Beane philosophy of contracts .. in kind of a complicated Moneyball concept. Even if they have money, they put certain values on certain stats and they may not spend the money. I'll be honest, they are the toughest team to read right now because of who they let go and the difficulty of trying to grasp what they are doing. But if you don't make a splash in FA in the first 2-3 days, it's a pretty good bet you are not going to be overly active, other than signing role players. Andy (DC): Wow, how good are the Skins going to be next year? Lloyd at #2 and Randle-El as the slot/gadget guy? And lets not talk about overpaying -- we offered less on average per year than the Bears did, just more of it in bonuses. Gary Horton: They are going to go to a 3 WR formation with one back which could be devastating. Moss will be the go-to guy, Randle El will be the slot guy and Lloyd the possession guy. I think their philosophy will be much like Indy. Force defenses into nickel and dime coverage, spread the field, and you have a great speed runner in Clinton Portis. This offense could be devastating if they gel. That is obviously easier said than done. Their moves have been very true to what they want to do. As a fan, you have a clear idea of their plan heading into '06. Gary Horton: They must be very creative because I'm not sure where the money is coming from .. Gary Horton: Let me also reclarify about the 49ers .. I probably gave you the wrong impression when I said they were not in good salary cap shape .. they have money to spend, I just don't think they will spend it because of their philosophy and the value they put on certain things. I also think they have had so many cap problems in the past, they are a little skiddish. You almost get the feeling they are acting like a team with no money. Deitrich (Philly): I'm worried about the Eagles this year. Look at what the entire division is doing, and the Eagles are doing nothing. Please tell me this will change. Gary Horton: Well, it's hard to second-guess the Eagles because over the years they have been so good in both adding players and cutting players. I was told they really wanted LeCharles Bentley, the center from NO that signed with Cleveland. Other than that, I agree that they have been fairly quiet and it seems obvious to me that they don't value a lot of these high priced free agents. They don't spend money just to be spending money. They only look at it if it makes sense. This is still a very good young roster. I think they will make some mid-level acquisitions to build their depth. Drew (Chicago): What is going on with the Javon Walker scenario? Gary Horton: I tend to think Javon will get his wish and be traded. I don't see how he could co-exist with an attitude, right or wrong, that the Packers haven't been honest with him. Also, his perceived hard feelings towards Favre. It's a potentially dangerous situation in terms of chemistry. He appears to be a bitter guy. I would think a trade in this situation might make a lot of sense. Dennis (Bayside, NY): Have you seen a GM who seems to be more afraid of free agency than Ted Thompson? Gary Horton: I think Green Bay is just a conservative organization. They don't make a lot of rash moves. In all honesty, and this is just my opinion, I have felt in the past they had a tendency to overrate their talent level. I always thought that was a reason we didn't see more dramatic moves. We have seen a not very talented defense over the last couple years but not a lot of moves to fix it. In the end, maybe they will be right and they do have the talent, but I see a lot of holes in this team and they aren't being filled. I do like that they resigned DE Aaron Kampman. Shawn (Clearwater, FL): What will happen with Dante Cullpepper? Gary Horton: I believe he will be traded. I thought it would be done by today. I think he has certainly alienated himself in Minnesota. It has almost become a bizarre situation. I understand he is representing himself without an agent. I think he is in way over his head. He is making some moves that make him look silly. I don't think he has a great relationship with the new coaching staff. That, combined with the injury, doesn't give you a good feeling. The problem for Minnesota is this becomes a game of chicken. Once teams know the Vikings want to move Culpepper, they are going to try and squeeze this thing as long as they can to get him at the cheapest possible rate. I think a trade will get done but both sides will have to make adjustments. Don't be surprised if Minnesota goes after a QB in FA, maybe even via a trade. Sean (Charlottesville VA): Brees is making a mistake if he takes a little more money and goes to New Orleans. He has a chance to be a part of a good team in Miami. Gary Horton: I think it's a really tough decision because there are emotional factors involved with NO. You have a struggling city that has gone through hard times and a guy like Drew Brees could see himself as the face of this franchise and a guy that on a very small sports level, could really be a boost to the city and help its rebuilding. But it's also a big mountain to climb. On the other hand, Miami is probably closer to being a playoff team. You have a great place to live with a great lifestyle. I'm not sure Brees will make this decision stricly on finances. I think it is very important to note that while you may not say he is bitter, he leaves San Diego in his mind knowing he should still be the starting QB. Jack (Seattle WA): What do you think will happen with the Seahawks and Steve Hutchinson? Gary Horton: I think it was an excellent move by Minnesota. He is the most dominating guard in the NFL in my opinion. He can bring a lot of help to an OL that needed upgrading. I think it would be very difficult for Seattle to match. Hutchinson and Walter Jones are the best left side of an OL in the last 10-15 years. There will be tremendous pressure on the front office to try and NOT let that duo break up. I think ti is 50-50 on whether Seattle matches it or not. Gary Horton: I think Minnesota has done a tremendous job out of the gate at identifying exactly who they want and going after them. Mac (DC): Speaking of NO.........What about Brooks? Is he ganna be playing anywhere next season? Gary Horton: I'm sure he will play somewhere. Once the QB situation is settled in NO, then I think the market will heat up for Brooks. He is a talented guy. A lot of teams would probably have an interest in him. Although, with all the QB questions out there right now, I don't think I have heard him mentioned very often. Eli (Cleveland): What's Cleveland's chances of getting Lavar Arrington? If not, what other linebackers will they look at? Gary Horton: Yes, I think they have a shot. And he would be a nice fit as a 3-4 rush LB. I like Ted Washington, LeCharles Bentley and Joe Jurevicius. I think Arrington could cap off a very good early FA period in which we thought the Browns would not be overly active. But they are another team that quitely had a great gameplan. T-Mac (Washington, D.C.): What are the Giants going to do to continue the development of Eli Manning? Gary Horton: He has the supporting cast around him in terms of WRs, TEs and a running game. He has an OL that gelled better than I thought. In Manning's case, he just needs continued game experience. The offseason is very important in terms of his ability to read defenses and make good decisions. He looks like a young QB that faded down the stretch in '05. I thought I saw a guy who would start to lose some of his mechanics and throw off his back foot, etc., late in the season. But I think he is a talented guy and the more time he has on the field and to watch film, the better he will develop. I think he will be an excellent NFL QB. Jason (TX): How are the Colts going to replace Edge? What are their plans in FA? Gary Horton: I don't think they had any hopes of getting back James, even if they took the company line about letting him explore the FA market. I think at that moment they knew he was gone. They still want to upgrade the defense. This team is so good in the passing game and has such a good OL, they feel like they can plug in a young back or go the mid-level route in FA or pick up a back in the draft. That is not to say they expect Edge type production. Gary Horton: There are people in this league that think Edgerrin James is closer to hitting the wall than a lot of fans think. He may be one of those backs that starts to slow down very quickly. I'm not sure I agree with that. But if that is your philosophy, you probably aren't going to give a guy a long term contract when you are not sure he will be healthy. That's just speculation on my part. I'm not saying the Colts feel that way. Shane ((Oregon)): I have to go to class in a minute!!! Please fill me in on the future of Joey Harrington!!! THANKS!!! Gary Horton: I think with Martz as the off. coordinator, Harrington has a real chance to survive and maybe start in Detroit. I think Martz sees things he can fix. With Warner not being available, the Lions don't have many QB options to go to if they get rid of Harrington. Martz has a huge ego and he has a tremendous reputation for developing QBs. If he took a guy like Harrington and made him into a legit starter, it puts him right back as a head coach candidate in the next couple years. That is not something you can minimize in this whole equation. I think Harrington will get every chance to be the starter in '06. Now go to class! Gary Horton: In closing, the first 2-3 days of FA have really been interesting. In my opinion, if you were looking to grade the leaders .. Minnesota, Washington, Arizona and Cleveland are at the top of the class .. these teams did great recruiting and targeted their needs and went after them. I think all four teams will be dramatically improved. I love to see teams sign players on the first day of free agency because that tells me they knew exactly what they wanted. Thanks for all the questions! We'll do it again next Monday!