Following are whispers we've been hearing from around the league:
• The Eagles, we hear, are planning to hit the free-agent market to look for a defensive end. With the news that DE Brandon Graham (right knee surgery) likely will not be available to start the season, expect the team to target a veteran pass rusher. Plus, the new salary cap — and floor — likely means the team will have the ability to pay for some talent.
• The Giants might have their sights set on Bills LB Paul Posluszny, and he almost certainly has mutual interest because of his respect for Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell (who coached him in Buffalo), but Posluszny has said his first preference will be to return to Buffalo. For other free-agent options, keep an eye on Bucs LB Quincy Black, who has played both OLB spots.
• PFW asked Falcons TE Tony Gonzalez if he's feeling a greater sense of urgency to win his first Super Bowl this season, considering that, heading into his 15th season, retirement is not far off. "Honestly, it's just as important to me now as it was right around my fifth year in the league," Gonzalez said. "That's when I really hit that point where I was like 'Man, I really want to win a Super Bowl.' When you first come into the league, at least for me, I was just trying to fit in and be the best player that I could be. Don't get me wrong, I was trying to win as many games as I could, but you're kind of just concentrating trying to make sure everybody doesn't think you're a bust."
• Buccaneers DT Gerald McCoy has made public his desire to become a leader on defense and we hear he already has made strides in that effort. With such a young defensive line, the players he lines up next to will be looking to him for guidance and he could be particularly helpful to rookie DEs Adrian Clayborn and Da'Quan Bowers.
• After his breakout year in 2010, Saints FS Malcolm Jenkins, a third-year veteran, could take another step toward stardom in '11. Count Saints SS Roman Harper among those who are optimistic about Jenkins' potential. "Malcolm's going to be a big-time player for us," Harper said. "He's got all the skills. He wants to be great. Just has to continue to put in the time and it's going to come. He's extremely talented. He can run. He can do everything. Malcolm only knows one speed, and that's full speed. He's going to give it his all at everything he does. That's why he's going to be successful."
• With no great options to replace Olin Kreutz at center on the roster, there is pressure on the Bears to make the right offer to the 13-year veteran whenever free agency begins. He'll generate interest on the open market and losing him would cost the Bears a solid player and a true leader.
• We hear that the Vikings' preference for adding a veteran quarterback will be through free agency rather than trade, which makes Marc Bulger perhaps a more likely option than, say, Donovan McNabb, Kyle Orton or perhaps Vince Young. The way the team figures, it would rather not give up a draft pick for a player who only will be a placeholder for Christian Ponder, whom it wants to win the starting job in time.
• There is no question that the Colts would like to re-sign free-agent RB Joseph Addai, whose contributions as a blocker and receiver make him a very valuable asset in the club's complex scheme. But we hear that Addai's durability issues, paired with the Colts' greater needs at safety and in re-signing QB Peyton Manning, could mean they are prepared to let Addai walk.
• WR Reggie Wayne and DE Robert Mathis are the biggest names among Colts players who will become free agents in 2012, but WRs Anthony Gonzalez and Pierre Garcon are also scheduled to become free agents after the season. The Colts are known for always looking one year down the road when drafting players, but dire needs along the offensive line prevented them from addressing the WR position this year. Regardless of whether the club elects to re-sign Wayne and the others, don't be surprised when it addresses the WR position in the '12 draft.
• Finding at least two dependable defensive backs is priority No. 1 for the Texans once free agency begins. We hear that finding a replacement for unrestricted free-agent P Matt Turk, who is not expected to return, also will be on the to-do list.
• The Jaguars think that WR Jason Hill could turn out to be the deep threat the offense has sorely missed for several seasons. Another player who could help take the top off the defense and create mismatches for Jaguars opponents is TE Zach Miller. We hear the Jaguars are cautiously optimistic that Miller can stay healthy and become a bigger part of the offense entering his third season.
• Don't be surprised if Chase Beeler, a starting center at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh, is signed as an undrafted free agent by the Niners and quickly thrown into the mix at center. Beeler has been working out regularly with the Niners this offseason. "They'd be smart to sign him," said one team source who has attended many of the Niners' players-only workouts at San Jose State. "He's a really gritty, hardworking guy."
• We hear it's possible the 49ers might consider switching third-round rookie CB Chris Culliver to safety if they are unable to re-sign free-agent FS Dashon Goldson.
• The latest word out of Seattle is that it's unlikely the Seahawks will be willing to break the bank to re-sign free-agent defenders Raheem Brock and Jordan Babineaux. "The thing to remember about Brock is that, as good as he was down the stretch, he really didn't become a factor until (DE) Red Bryant went down with a season-ending injury," one team insider said. "They really are trying to get younger, so it seems both guys will be back only if the price is right."
• It would appear the Cardinals' projected starting cornerbacks are going in different directions when they step on the scale. While Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has added about 10 pounds that he hopes will enable him to mix it up a bit more in a defense expected to be a lot more aggressive under new coordinator Ray Horton, we hear first-round draft pick Patrick Peterson has trimmed down to 212 pounds — about 10 pounds lighter than his playing weight at LSU — in an effort to improve his quickness.
• We hear Packers CB Brandon Underwood's days are probably numbered in Green Bay after being recently charged with disorderly conduct for a domestic disturbance. The Packers granted Underwood a reprieve last June after pleading no contest to soliciting prostitution, and his latest off-the-field baggage is a good bet to send him packing along with DL Johnny Jolly, who was arrested for the second time for codeine possession in March.
• One interesting free-agency story line to watch for Baltimore: the Ravens would like to add another pass rusher, and their ability to employ 3-4 and 4-3 looks will allow them to potentially consider defensive ends and linebackers. Adding an end who can get after the quarterback might mean more 4-3 fronts for Baltimore, a daily team observer suggests.
• Steelers ROLB James Harrison publicly apologized for criticizing QB Ben Roethlisberger and RB Rashard Mendenhall in a Men's Journal story in a statement posted on Facebook on July 14. Whether Harrison, who a daily team observer tells PFW is respected by his teammates for his work ethic, will face any discipline from the Steelers or have to smooth over any hard feelings behind the scenes has been a source of speculation since news of the Men's Journal story broke.