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Shaun Alexander is interested in the Panthers

Shaun Alexander hasn't turned his back on returning to the Seahawks, but he appears to have spent a good amount of time at the Pro Bowl making friendly with the Panthers. From the Seattle Times:

The Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers already are rumored to be interested in Alexander. Neither team can officially express that, or they face tampering sanctions from the NFL. But nothing can stop players from talking.

"I never really thought I could be with another team," Alexander said. "But it was neat to be with the Carolina guys."

The Panthers' coaching staff and four players took part in the Pro Bowl.

Just in case you forgot, Alexander was a free agent last season and threatened to simply not play if the Seahawks simply stuck him with the franchise tag instead of working out a long-term deal. Ultimately, the two sides worked out a unique one-year contract worth the same as a franchise tender but with specific language indicating that the team would not be able to use the franchise tag or transition tag on him the following free agency peroid.

So he's a now a completely unrestricted free agent -- once the free agency period begins on March 3, any team will be able to sign him without offering any sort of compensation to the Seahawks.

Unlike rumored suitors such as the Cardinals and 49ers, a deal from the Panthers would actually make sense. Carolina's offensive line doesn't have the monumental problems as seen in San Francisco and Arizona, so Alexander wouldn't neccesarily have to suffer a sharp nosedive in production. Plus, Stephen Davis will likely be released in a salary cap move and DeShaun Foster probably won't return as a free agent, so there should be a vacancy.

Unlike most of the NFL stories that we hear this time of the year, this is one rumor worth following.

Free Agency: Shaun Alexander a recruit again [Seattle Times]