NFC FA Rumors: Cole, Hardy, McDonald, Hawk

The Eagles officially announced on Wednesday that they’ve released Trent Cole from his contract, and the veteran edge defender didn’t waste much time in scheduling his first free agent visit. According to Adam Caplan of (via Twitter), Cole is meeting with the Buccaneers, a team that runs a 4-3 system. Having played in the Eagles’ 3-4 scheme for the last two years, Cole is viewed as a better fit as a defensive end for a 4-3 club, and Tampa Bay is certainly in need of an outside pass rusher.

As we wait to see if anything comes of Cole’s visit with the Bucs, let’s check in on a few more free agent updates from around the NFC….

  • NFL spokesman Greg Aiello says there’s nothing stopping a player on the exempt list from signing a new contract, which is good news for Panthers defensive Greg Hardy (link via The league has yet to announce its decision on whether or not Hardy will face discipline for alleged off-field conduct, which could diminish enthusiasm for the defensive end on the open market, but he’ll still be able to negotiate with teams and accept an offer next week.
  • In other legal news, agent Tom Condon has informed teams that the Santa Clara District Attorney won’t be pursuing charges against free agent defensive lineman Ray McDonald, per Ian Rapoport of (Twitter links). According to Condon, the Santa Clara DA hasn’t fully completed the release, but McDonald’s counsel has been informed of the decision. Since McDonald was cut by the Niners in December, he’s eligible to sign a new contract anytime.
  • Linebacker A.J. Hawk may not be totally out of the picture in Green Bay, according to Bob McGinn and Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who report that the Packers left the door open for the linebacker’s possible return.
  • In addition to hosting Ted Ginn Jr. for a visit this week, the 49ers also met with former Vikings wideout Jerome Simpson, writes Matt Maiocco of Simpson, who was suspended at the start of the 2014 season, was cut by Minnesota and hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since 2013. The Niners, meanwhile, are on the lookout for receivers, since they could part ways with Michael Crabtree, Brandon Lloyd, and Stevie Johnson this month.
  • Appearing on SportsCenter today, cornerback Byron Maxwell suggested he would like to sign with a team that plays a Cover 3 scheme like the Seahawks do, tweets Nick Underhill of the New Orleans Advocate. Of course, if a team running another coverage scheme makes Maxwell a big offer, I would guess he’d be willing to compromise that stance.
  • Lions offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds is expected to test the free agent market next week, tweets Adam Caplan of
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