Free Agency 2011 – PFF Reaction Blog – Day 4: 7/30/11

| July 29, 2011

NFL Free Agency is here, so how better to react to breaking news with the Pro Football Focus Free Agency blog.

Every deal and some of the rumors that come through, our team will be responding to. Letting you know what they think and what it means.

Day 1 live blog |  Day 2 live blog |  Day 3 live blog

Be sure to check out our twitter feed @Profootbalfocus for constant tweets reacting to these most exciting of crazy times in the NFL. Keep checking back and clicking refresh, this station will be manned at all times!

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0.46 After about six hours, this is Nathan Jahnke signing off for the night. Thank you everyone for a great week. Rick will be on shortly to continue the blog through the night if there are any moves, and hopefully we have another fun filled week of free agency as we await the preseason.

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23.49 While things have pretty much come to an end for the night, we will give you something to look forward to for tomorrow. I’m currently working on an All-Available Team; the best players available at each position so you know who to put at the top of the wish list for your team.

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23.32 John Clayton is reporting the 49ers are looking at Olin Kreutz to replace David Baas at center. While he could improve the leadership on the offensive line, I don’t think he would have the same effect that Matt Birk had on Baltimore like Clayton suggested.

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23.20 We will still be here if there is any news, but right now we’re left to talking about rumors. Bills are looking at both Channing Crowder and Nick Barnett at inside linebacker. Bills fans on twitter are dreaming of them signing both players which would result in a very strong inside linebacking core.

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23.00 INJURY! Unfortunately we are in the very first practices, and there is already a season ending injury. Bengals MLB Roddrick Muckelroy ruptured his ACL and is out for the year. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and was only in for three plays on defense last year against the Chargers. He was solid on special teams with a +2.0 rating on kickoffs.

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22.42 TRADE! Just when I think I will have no more moves to report on tonight, there is a trade. The Rams have traded guard John Greco to the Cleveland Browns. With the release of Jacob Bell and Adam Goldberg’s free agent status, I thought we would see more of Greco in the Rams starting lineup, but now we could see him crack the Browns starting five. In just 71 run blocks in 2010, he managed an astounding +7.1 run block rating. That will be very useful in Cleveland where they are used to Eric Steinbach and Floyd Womack who had a combined -30.8 run block rating.

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22.39 There aren’t even rumors of moves going on right now. Therefore if you have any suggestions for things we can do to improve Pro Football Focus, please let me know on twitter@PFF_NateJahnke . With what we have in mind, 2011 should be our best year ever, but we’re always looking for ways to improve.

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22.24 If you are still with us, I applaud you. With just an offensive linemen and punter signing in the past hour, it looks like things have started to die down for the night. If you still need your football fix, and haven’t read Five Questions – Free Agency Edition, that would be a good place to start.

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22.09 There is all this talk on twitter about baseball. Something about a trade deadline? That makes it harder to catch the football news, but it looks like the Bills are trying to get Nick Barnett to join the team.  He is one of the 10 8 Cuts to Watch, and would be a tremendous help to the defense who only really has Kyle Williams as a great player on that side of the ball.

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21.57 SIGNING! After the Giants cut a good number of offensive linemen, their quest to rebuild the line has continued with the signing of Chris White. After spending a good part of the year as Seattle’s right guard in 2009, he was on the bench and only played nine snaps at fullback and tight end in 2010.

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21.53 Something I picked up on earlier today although there had been talks earlier in the off-season; Dexter McCluster of the Chiefs practiced at halfback today rather than wide receiver which is where he played last year. The Chiefs have been busy with drafting Jonathan Baldwin, signing Steve Breaston and bringing back Terrence Cooper, so the news makes sense in that regard. We can only hope he is good enough at running back to take carries away from Thomas Jones which would make the Chiefs offense even more exciting to watch.

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21.42 As I’m sure most of you know, the only way to get these numbers that have been mentioned throughout the blog along with many many more is by purchasing the PFF Premium Package. For only 30 dollars, you get all of our ratings from 2008-2010, as well as the 2011 ratings that will be updated on a daily basis early on each week until each game from that week is complete. Ratings and snap counts are broken down into different categories, and you get a number of other statistics that you simply can’t find anywhere else. If you want a sample to see what all we provide, we offer the 2008 season for free so you know exactly what you’re getting.

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21.28 SIGNING! It’s always exciting when I get to give you the most recent punting news. The AFC Champions Pittsburgh Steelers are bringing back Daniel Sepulveda who was one of the better punters in the league last year. He had a max hang time of 5.3 seconds which was one of the highest in the league. While Jeremy Kapinos currently remains on the roster, as long as Sepulveda’s torn ACL is healthy he should have no problem winning the job.

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21.19 SIGNING! The first time Willis McGahee was mentioned to the Broncos it was premature. Now it’s a done deal as he signed a four year contract with the team. I’m not sure how that is a good fit, as their top two halfbacks strengths are in catching the ball, where Moreno had the 11th highest rating in 2010, and McGahee the 16th. While most teams that lost their division have been very active, the Broncos have been very quiet, as this is their only other addition to go with Jeremy Jarmon who they received in a trade with the Redskins.

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21.12 Of the Top 20 Free Agents Remaining as of this morning, only two were signed today (Cullen Jenkins and Chris Carr). One of the reasons is three of the 18 are former Giants. Ahmad Bradshaw, Steve Smith and Kevin Boss could all be back with the team, but they have been very quiet so far signing guys, with Davis Baas and Steve Weatherford being the only additions from other teams.

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21.05 SIGNING! The Bears are busy tonight trying to improve by bringing in players who played in the state of Texas, this time adding halfback Marion Barber. In the three years we’ve been grading him, Barber has been close to average in all aspects of the game. This could mark the end of Chester Taylor’s run in Chicago, who is getting paid far more then he deserves for the little production he’s had.

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20.49 Just in case you’ve just been looking at the live blog and not the rest of the site, the Fantasy section has been hard at work all week. All of the big moves have been talked about in a fantasy perspective, and the depth charts and rankings have been kept up to date. Of the quarterbacks with new teams, Kevin Kolb ranks on top. You’ll need to check for yourself to see where Reggie Bush ranks for the running backs and Sidney Rice for the wide receivers.

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20.39 Now that there hasn’t been a move in a little while, back to the free agent contest. No one guessed Cullen Jenkins to the Eagles, Harvey Dahl to the Rams, Josh Wilson to the Redskins, Kevin Burnett to the Dolphins, Paul Posluszny to the Jaguars, Stephen Bowens to the Redskins or Takeo Spikes to the Chargers.

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20.31 It pains me to see all of the people saying how great Barrett Ruud is due to the number of tackles he makes. Clearly not enough people have read the Stats Sheet Misconceptions: Tackles article. This is a prime example of tackles being a very misleading statistic, and the Titans will soon find this out.

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20.25 SIGNING! When Amobi Okoye was released earlier today, he had a lot of teams talking to him early. He has already made his choice, and that is to join the Bears. In Chicago they like rotating their defensive tackles in and out, so he will join Matt Toeania, Henry Milton, recently re-signed Anthony Adams and rookie Stephen Paea in the rotation. Okoye was the only one with a positive pass rush rating in the group, so it’s likely he will see a good portion of his snaps on 3rd downs.

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20.17 SIGNING! I thought it would be a quiet night. So far I’ve been wrong. The Titans have agreed to a one year deal with MLB Barrett Ruud. His 41 stops on 1051 plays is not nearly enough for an inside linebacker, as former Titan Stephen Tulloch had nearly double that. It’s clear he won’t be returning to Tennessee now, which means there are a number of quality ILB/MLB available still. Maybe Tampa Bay will sign one of them, now that they don’t have a proven MLB on the roster.

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20.11 Reports are out that it is unlikely that center Olin Kreutz will come back to the team. Based on our numbers, the move makes a lot of sense because of his age and his -17.0 run block rating last year. However one of the things we can’t measure is leadership, and based on what I’ve read, that is something that will be missed in Chicago. It looks like the best offensive linemen on the Bears from last year Roberto Garza will take over the center spot.

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20.05 The 49ers have had a rough week thus far, losing linebackers Takeo Spikes and Travis LaBoy to San Diego, both of which had PFF ratings above 10, and now Clements. They haven’t added anyone to the roster other then David Akers at kicker. In the weakest division in the NFL, the 49ers had a chance to be the best team in the division, but it looks like they are getting worse rather than better.

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19.56 SIGNING! Soon after his official release from the 49ers, Nate Clements found a new home in Cincinnati. He is the second player from my 10 Cuts to Watch piece to get signed today. He replaces Johnathan Joseph who the Bengals wanted back but couldn’t get. In terms of coverage in 2010, Clements had the better coverage rating, but Joseph had the better yards per pass route run with 1.17 vs. Clements 1.28(lower is good for defensive backs). The fact that Joseph is younger means that this is a step down for Cincinnati, but of all the replacements they could get, Clements isn’t bad.

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19.51 Some of the picks almost everyone got right include Charles Johnson, Doug Free, James Anderson, Marshal Yanda, Santana Moss and Santonio Holmes, which makes sense as all of them returned to their old team. The only moved player that a large number of people got right was Justin Durant to the Lions.

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19.42 While not much is happened, I’ll give some updates on the free agent contest we have going on. 50 readers entered, letting me know where they thought our top 51 free agents would go. The contest will end Thursday at midnight, or once the rest of the remaining free agents are signed. 33 of the 51 have already been signed, and the two people tied for the lead have 17 correct each, so just barely over half.

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19.28 While it should come to no surprise, the Kyle Orton trade to Miami is dead for now. Denver is demanding a second round pick which Miami and the rest of the league isn’t willing to supply. It’s unfortunate because Orton had the 16th best pass rating in the league last year, which means he should be good enough to start for a handful of teams in the league. No one wants him bad enough for a second round pick though, because most people including myself thinks Orton will never do better then the middle of the pack at quarterback.

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19.20 SIGNING! Guard Leroy Harris has signed a 2 year contract to remain in Tennessee. In 2009 after Kevin Mawae retired, Amano moved to center which allowed Harris to start at left guard. That move was part of why the Titans line fell apart last year, with Harris receiving a -21.9 overall rating and Amano a -26.4 rating. However teams prefer continuity along the offensive line to improve it, and that looks to be the route Tennessee is going.

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19.12 It sounds like James Jones will be wearing green next year. Reports are that his options are down to the Jets and Packers. While he has a reputation for being a good young receiver who drops some balls, his PFF rating suggests that he isn’t that great of a receiver, with a -7.0 receiving rating in 2010. In New York he could very well be a starter which would not be a good combination with Mark Sanchez, where in Green Bay he would go back to being a backup but at least have balls thrown at him by Rodgers to drop.

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19.00 Hello, it’s your favorite PFF member from the midwest, ready to keep you updated on all of the news going on in free agency tonight. If you hear any rumors or signings, feel free to inform me on twitter @PFF_NateJahnke so I can clue everyone in along with some analysis.

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18.53 Rams Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo has said that WR Mark Clayton‘s knee is not yet fully healed, and that the team will be monitoring his recovery closely.  The Rams have one heck of a crowded WR depth chart now with last season’s incumbents, draftees and free agent additions all jockeying for position on the depth chart and it’s tough to see where Mark Clayton fits even when healthy, which is a sham since he began 2010 tearing it up in St Louis.

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18.50 Getting ready to hand over to Nathan for the night shift, but before I head off, I’m going to direct you to like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ProFootballFocus

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18.38 RELEASE! The Broncos have reportedly released safety Renaldo Hill, saving themselves from his $2.4m base salary in 2011.  Hill played well last season and despite being 32 years old is well worth that amount of cash.  The Broncos drafted some young safeties in the draft, and maybe they’re prepared to roll with youth at the position, or maybe they’ll look to re-sign Hill to a cheaper deal, but if they lose him it’ll be a decision they might regret, and a loss they could have avoided by paying a well-earned $2.4m salary.

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18.25 The Rams are panning on hosting Brady Poppinga tomorow for a visit.  Poppinga is an ok player, but is 32, coming off a torn ACL, and really not needed in SL, which prompts me to ask: What the hell has David Vobora done to be so utterly ignored in St Louis?? I know he was Mr Irrelevant, but that’s just a nickname guys, wake up and start him!

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18.16 SIGNING! In another of those moves that makes perfect sense when you think about it, the Minnesota Vikings have reached an agreement with Michael Jenkins on a three year contract according to Adam Schefter.  Jenkins of course comes from Atlanta along with new Vikings OC Bill Musgrave and knows the offense and what’s expected.  He’s had an up and down career so far, grading well (albeit far from elite) in two of the past three years, but was stinking in the third (’09).  None of his numbers leap out, including his 12.2 yards per reception average, but something that’s always stood out to me about Jenkins is he has ridiculous long-speed.  I’ve seen him make up 5 yards to get ahead of Roddy White to throw a block downfield at a full sprint.  Wonder why nobody has ever used that to better effect on deep passes.

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17.52 SIGNING! Ex Bills and Jaguars QB Trent Edwards has agreed a 1-year deal with the Oakland Raiders to backup Jason Campbell according to Adam Schefter.  That’s an interesting pairing of QBs that both have the ability to play well if they’re not rattled.  Of course Oakland’s line, that was coming together quite nicely under Tom Cable, seems to being disintegrated during this off-season, so the chance of either of them getting that unmolested time in the pocket seems pretty slim.

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17.46 The Broncos are apparently bringing in Ty Warren for a visit, in yet another move that doesn’t quite add up.  Warren is a prototype 3-4 DE, who can 2-gap from the 5-technique and stuff the run to his side.  I’m sure he could probably do the same from a 4-3 DT position, but he brings nothing to pass-rush which most teams want to see from their DTs.  Which brings me to a question…Has anybody actually asked the Broncos if they’re running a 3-4? Von Miller seemed miscast in a 4-3, but was seen as a great fit for a 3-4.  Warren is too. They were also interested in Stephen Bowen and Jason Hatcher, two Dallas 3-4 DEs.  All of these players could convert to the 4-3, but maybe the Broncos are just planning on building a 3-4 and haven’t told anybody!

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17.41 According to Jim Haslett, DC for DC (sorry), Barry Cofield will primarily play NT for the Redskins, which explains their absence from the Aubrayo Franklin sweepstakes (I say sweepstakes, more like lonely wait by the phone by the looks of it).  I’ve got to say, I just don’t see it.  Cofield is a pretty well rounded player, and can rush the passer and stop the run, but that’s all been from a 1-gap system.  It’s a different world trying to anchor on the nose and still hold up.  It’s going to be interesting to see how he manages, but my instincts say he’s not going to have a stellar season in that NT role, but might show much better in sub-packages.

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17.32 RELEASE! Or more accurately, waive!  Noel Devine has been waived, which has to be one of the shortest stints on record. Not surprisingly we’re a little light on analysis on this one.. Uh, he’s really, REALLY small..and quite fast.

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17.21 As we suspected there is interest in Amobi Okoye.  Adam Caplan is reporting that he has already drawn interest from two teams since his release.

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17.17 SIGNING! Because they haven’t made enough moved recently the Eagles agree to terms with Akeem Jordan, linebacker, for one year.  Jordan has been an impressive linebacker for them except for his utter inability to pressure the passer on the blitz.  If the Eagles would stop sending him, he could be a very effective player, grading well against both the run and pass.

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17.15 TRADE! Hot on the heels of the Cullen Jenkins signing the odd man out in the Eagles rotation just got dealt to Cleveland.  Broderick Bunkley has been sent to the Browns for a 5th round pick.  That has the makings of a steal for the Browns, with Bunkley grading very well against the run in two of the past three seasons, and also showing he can pressure the passer last season in a slightly different role for the Eagles.  If the Browns can convince him to put it all together they’ve made out like bandits.

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17.12 SIGNING! Colts officials say they have re-signed UFA HB Joseph Addai to a new contract.  Addai is an interesting back.  He’s obviously no Adrian Peterson, but he is a better runner than he’s often given credit for, ranking 13th in terms of rushing grade in our rankings last year, and has one of the most quick lateral-cuts you’ll see in a runner.  Given the options for the Colts other than Addai, bringing him back makes a lot of sense.

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17.03 Nick Barnett is scheduled to meet with the Lions tomorrow.  The Lions have added a 2-down run-stuffer in Durant so far this off-season and will be running with Levy again, but Barnett would round out the trio nicely and allow them to drop Durant to the bench in sub-packages.  Barnett could play either MLB or WLB for the Lions depending on what position they’ve decided is best for Levy going forwards.

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16.49 According to Vittorio Tafur of the SF Chronicle, the Oakland doctors didn’t clear Gaither.  That’s a huge bit of news and a real shame for a player who has the ability to be an elite LT in the NFL.

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16.32 SIGNING! Now the moves come in a quick flurry.  It’s a well known phenomenon, the 4.30 rush…  The Raiders have reportedly passed up the opportunity of signing an elite pass-protecting man-mountain in Jared Gaither, and elected to sign Khalif Barnes to a one-year deal to be the starting right tackle, according to John Clayton.  I’m not sure I can form the words to express how utterly ridiculous a sentence that is.

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16.29 SIGNING! Billy Volek signs for another two seasons of backup duty according to the San Diego Union Tribune.  We all know the story with Billy Volek, he sits on the bench for an age being proclaimed as the best backup in the league based off a crazy stint of 400-yard games years back, but in the end teams would rather throw the farm after Kevin Kolb and let Tarvaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst battle it out than start him.  He fits well in SD.

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16.25 SIGNING! There it is, Cullen Jenkins finally signed according to Adam Schefter, and to a five-year, $25m deal…with the Eagles!  Philadelphia appear to be really loading up this season.  Jenkins was probably the second best pass-rusher from the 3-4 DL over the past couple of seasons (Justin Smith is on another level there), but he’ll be in a deep DT rotation in Philly.  They’ll rotate their defensive line to keep them all fresh, and with some of the players there that could be a fearsome prospect for offenses to deal with.

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16.19 RELEASES! The Texans were shopping around to try and trade David Anderson and Amobi Okoye.  Apparently they couldn’t get anything done according to ProFootballTalk and they’ve been released.  That’s not really a surprise in Anderson’s case, though with the league-wide scramble for smaller, quick receivers, he’ll likely find work somewhere, but it does surprise a bit with Okoye.  He is still just 24 years old despite 4 years of starting experience in the NFL, and even though he is very weak against the run, he did have a reasonable year rushing the passer.  Some team is going to try and get his potential out of him next season, perhaps relegating him to specific sub-packages and trying to improve his pass-rush moves.  Okoye was likely overdrafted in the top 10 with the hype surrounding his young age, but he isn’t without talent.

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16.04 RELEASE! The Colts have informed Kelvin Hayden that he will be released according to Jason LaCanfora.  This has cap casualty written all over it.  Hayden was due to make more than $6m this season and even though he is arguably Indy’s best corner, his injury and lack of stellar performances means they can probably look to re-sign him for a much lower figure if they want.

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15.55 SIGNING! Finally something new happening!  The Rams have agreed to a three year deal with former Broncos and Ravens DT, Justin Bannan.  Bannin is an interesting piece for the Rams, having experience in multiple fronts and positions, chiefly from his days in Baltimore and their (at the time) hybrid D.  Much more of a run defender than a pass-rusher, Bannan should help the Rams stiffen up against the run, but it remains to be seen if he can offer them anything more.

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15.33 Ralph Vacchiano is reporting that the Osi Umenyiora holdout is over and he is now on his way to camp.  Osi wants to be paid like an elite defensive end, but the sad truth is he just isn’t that level.  Sure he’s a good player, and he’s a tough assignment for a pass protector, but teams don’t scheme to stop him (though there’s certainly a case that the Eagles probably should have at some point along the way to racking up 6 sacks against Winston Justice way back when..)

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15.26 Want to see more numbers than you can shake a stick at?  All the info we’re hitting you with in this blog, along with our play-by-play grades of every player in the NFL over the past three seasons and beyond is available with a PFF Premium subscription.  Now just $29.99 for 365 days of access.  That’s just 8c a day!  Check out this page to find out more and see a video giving a behind the scenes look.

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15.21 With that news hot off the press, why not take a moment to check out some of the rest of the stuff we have going up on the site.  Long-time users will be familiar with our 5 Questions feature from last season. Well click the link and check out our free agency edition.  With news still slowly coming in we’ve also got a healthy number of our top 51 free agents still available. Check out who

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15.13 NEW DEAL! After a quick dinner break Sam Monson is back, and in the nick of time.  ESPN and Mort are reporting that Peyton Manning has just agreed to a new 5-year, $90m contract with the Colts, dashing the hopes of Dan Orlovsky the new Colts’ backup QB.  That contract apparently equals the average numbers of Tom Brady’s new deal, because it’s in the rules that you can’t mention one without comparing him to the other.

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14:46 While I have a minute with not much going on, just wanted to thank everyone for coming to Pro Football Focus for all of your free agent needs.  There are a number of good players available and more moves to be made, so we’ll be here all day and all night and however much longer we need to while these deals are still constantly getting done.

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14.32 While Ty Warren was close to making my Ten Cuts to Watch list, he might be closer to joining a new team than those players. He will reportedly be in Denver tonight. If he could return to his old form where he had a +15.9 run stop rating in 2008 and +10.7 in 2009, he would be a major upgrade over anyone they currently have in terms of stopping the run on their line.

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14.28 It’s been reported that  Pete Carroll has named Tarvaris Jackson the starting quarterback in Seattle. Usually I would expect the newcomer to have to earn his job, but I would say this move says more about their lack of trust in Charlie Whitehurst than their trust in Jackson.

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14.20 SIGNING! While the great Sam Monson just mentioned that Chris Carr was close to returning to Baltimore, Nathan Jahnke is here to tell you that he is indeed returning under a four year contract. He made the Top 20 Free Agents remaining list and with Josh Wilson packing his bags for D.C., it makes sense that Carr returned.

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14.07 There are now plenty of rumblings that the Miami Dolphins are interested in TE Zach Miller.  Miller was our 9th ranked TE last season, with good grades in both receiving and run blocking, but it’s worth pointing out that put him some distance behind Anthony Fasano in the rankings.  The two are different players, with Miller being a better receiver and Fasano the better blocker, but it still needs to be pointed out that the Dolphins could probably get far better production simply by looking for Fasano to do more in the pass game, rather than by going hard after Miller.

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14.00 Jason LaCanfora is reporting that Chris Carr is very close to re-signing with the Ravens.  Carr fits well in Baltimore, but might be better as a pure nickel corner rather than starting.  Nevertheless he had a really nice 2010 in coverage, giving up just 8.7 yards per reception, being beaten for a long of just 29 yards and only allowing a single touchdown.

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13.36 I continue to be confused as to the lack of interest in some players this free agent period.  Cullen Jenkins was somebody I expected to see gone on day 1 of all of this, but here we are still waiting.  Jason LaCanfora is reporting that one team to keep an eye on in that regard is the New Orleans Saints.  That’s an interesting one, and would presumably see Jenkins playing multiple positions in a 4-man line, but it probably isn’t the best fit in the world.

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13.06 In the back and forth Kyle Orton/Miami saga ESPN’s John Clayton is now reporting that the deal is dead – Orton received a $1.5m bonus.  Orton’s salary this season is a big one, so I’d still be very surprised if they were content to eat the dollars all year if he’s to serve as a backup for Tim Tebow.

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13.02 RELEASE! Mike Williams (of giant OL fame) has been released by the Redskins officially.  After the form of a rookie Mike Williams and the resurgence of ‘Big’ Mike Williams in Seattle we all forgot about the true BIG Mike Williams in DC as he was sidelined with medical issues.  It’s a shame really as he seemed like he had the right attitude and work ethic finally, but then got sidelined and wasn’t able to show anything.  Any team to come sniffing around will likely have to clear him medically before they go anywhere.

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12.40 SIGNING! The Bengals have brought back free agent safety Gibril Wilson to a one year deal for somewhere around the veteran minimum reports Joe Reedy.  Wilson was still playing OK in 2009 but he tore both his ACL and MLC in pre-season last year and those are disaster injuries for any player, let alone one of his age.  It would be a major surprise if he was able to play to any kind of high level.

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12.36 Daniel Graham appears to be doing the rounds.  Reports have placed him visiting the Titans, now at the Steelers, and also talk the Seahawks could be interested.  Graham has been always known as a blocking tight end, but his run blocking hasn’t stood out in any of the past 3 seasons, and it was downright bad last year.  The good news is that he was pass blocking on 242 occasions last year and only surrendered 6 total pressures, so his pass protection can still be elite, and some teams will value that.

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12.04 Multiple reports around that the Jets are interested in Plaxico Burress.  Given that the Steelers are leading the way with both breakfast and lunch the Jets need to get into the game with some serious wining and dining.

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12.00 SIGNING! I’ve never pretended to understand much what the Colts do at backup QB behind Peyton Manning…I guess when you’re dedicating so many dollars to the guy and he’s hit so infrequently you just tend to add bodies, and so it is this time with the Colts reportedly adding ex Lions and Texans QB Dan Orlovsky.  It probably speaks volumes that the first thing most people can remember about Orlovsky is he once sacked himself by running clean out of the back of the end zone against the Vikings.

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11.56 SIGNING! Vaughn McClure, beat writer for the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Corey Graham is on his way back to re-sign with the Bears.  Graham is a sub-package defensive back but a stud on special teams, and the Bears value special teams more than most teams.  He’s an important get for them, even if it’s not a headliner.

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11.53 Per Adam Schefter the Richard Marshall deal is a one-year contract with the Cardinals.  Seems they’ll give him a season to prove his 2010 year was a fluke down-season. If he can play up to his 2008/9 level he’ll likely earn himself a new deal there.

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11.46 SIGNING! Vikings linebacker Erin Henderson tweeted that he signed his RFA tender last night and will remain with the team.  Henderson has a real opportunity to win the starting spot that is up for grabs as long as Ben Leber remains a free agent, and has shown well in limited action for the Vikings in the past.

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11.39 The big news coming out of Pittsburgh is that free agent and former Steelers draft pick WR Plaxico Burress has been meeting with them and fed on at least two separate occasions after breakfast with Mike Tomlin and lunch with others at the facility.  The Giants apparently didn’t feed him once according to Ralph Vacchiano, so obviously the Steelers are well in the lead for his services, because the way to a guy’s signature is always in a pancake breakfast!

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11.23 Here’s an interesting nugget: The Official Bills site is listing ex Jets WR/KR/Wildcat option Brad Smith as a QB.  With Tyler Thigpen formerly doing well as a pistol QB with Chan Gailey in Kansas City, you’ve got to ask yourself, just what is brewing in Buffalo?

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11.17 SIGNING A Jets fan’s best friend, Manish Mehta is at it again, this time breaking the news that Donald Strickland has agreed to a one-year deal to return for the Jets.  Strickland was there in ’09 before spending 2010 in San Diego. He’s strictly a sub-package guy, and not anything to jump for joy over.  Probably doesn’t really lessen the sting of missing out on Asomugha…

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11.04 SIGNING! There has been so little news in the past hour that Khaled has just lost the will to live.  To save him from himself Sam Monson takes the help and brings you the news that the Cardinals have made a move to replace the outgoing DRC with ex Panther, Richard Marshall.  Marshall was a good player in 2008 and ’09, but he had a horrible 2010, grading poorly in coverage and coughing up 10 penalties.  He allowed 75% of all targets to be completed and QBs had a rating of nearly 100 when throwing at him (98.4).  Cardinals have replaced one player with a dismal 2010 with another.  Both guys need to get back to earlier form.

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09:51  SIGNING! Well I thought the Chiefs would go after Aubrayo Franklin, but it turns out they’ve picked up Kelly Gregg.  The former Baltimore man has signed a one year deal.  In my opinion age and injury have slowed down Gregg, who finished the year with a +6.3 in run defense, but most of that was done earlier in the year.  He’s better than what they had, but how much does Gregg have left?

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09:18  SIGNING! We’re back in business people.  Kevin Faulk is returning to the Patriots, at least for a chance to compete in a crowded backfield.  I don’t like his chances of making the team, even with the respect Bill Belichick has for him.  It’s admirable to find a running back playing at his age, but he’s coming off injury, and was in decline before that.

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09:05 Manish Mehta has produced the goods again.  He reported earlier that Braylon Edwards will not be brought back by the Jets.  Despite not dropping many balls last year, Edwards has never been able to shake that reputation as a dropper from his time in Cleveland (oh, and when that ball smacked him in 2009 against the Bills).  He’s still a talented player though, and presents a match up problem for teams so interest will no doubt be high.  It makes a lot of sense for Minnesota to make a move for him if they don’t go after Malcolm Floyd.

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08:33 There’s zilch going on right now.  But check through the timeline for some potentially interesting comments, and some links to some good articles.  Well they’re good to me damn it!

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07:44 If you’ve missed some of the articles that went up overnight check out who are left of my top 51 free agents and some of the top guys who got cut.  It’s not just about those guys who had their contracts come to a natural end you know.

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07:22 Still here.  Still waiting.  Something to speculate.  What’s going on in Dallas with their defense?  Rob Ryan used a two gap defense in Cleveland and looks to be setting up something similar with the signing of Kenyon Coleman.  With Jay Ratliff turning up light, and Ryan not being afraid to bench Shaun Rogers in Cleveland for a prototypical two gapper, could we be starting to see a controversy developing?  At this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point during the season Ratliff found himself limited to sub packages.

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06:24 Come on people, get up and start making moves.  Or at least start gossiping.  The media need to bring their A game today like they did yesterday.  The build up to Nnamdi Asomugha signing with the Eagles was an example in how to tell a story.  Who could today’s Asomugha be?  Or will it be a case of the drama revolving around spurned lovers (like Braylon Edwards and Antonio Cromartie).

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05:59 Why aren’t more teams interested in Cullen Jenkins?  Apparently the market is drying up for him but here’s the thing.  Jenkins is talented.  Jenkins is versatile.  Jenkins can rush the passer.  He’s athletic enough to play at defensive ends in both front, and defensive tackle in 4-3.  So I ask the question again, why is nobody looking at him.  Teams never tire of telling us how important pass rush is.  Well Jenkins is the most productive interior pass rusher of the last three years.  Jeez.

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05:28 I’m telling everyone to watch out for that Saints defense.  They are lining themselves up to be the ultimate boom/ bust team in the league on D.  Their front four all get up field, and they’re looking to bring in more one gap penetrators having chased Brandon Mebane and now Cullen Jenkins.  Quite clearly this a change of philosophy from Saints after using new Viking Remi Ayodele to man the middle on base downs last year.  They’ll get plenty of tackles for losses, but what about when teams get to the second level?  If Vilma and Shanle are starting again you probably have the premier linebackers when it comes to not being able to shed blocks and make plays.  Tackles for losses, and runs for big gains.  That’s what we can expect on Saints D next year.

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05:25 In better news, it’s addition by subtraction in Arizona.  Losing Deuce Lutui, means Rex Hadnot will actually get a chance to start.  Hadnot played really well in 2009 with Cleveland so could surprise a lot of people.  I don’t believe I’m going to say this, but the Cardinals actually look pretty decent on the inside of their offensive line.  Not that it matters when Levi Brown guides rushers to the passer mind …

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05:22 Unfortunately Manish Mehta has deserted us.  It would appear that there will be no early morning signings until the sun at least comes up.  What’s that all about?  Any way, disappointment time.  One of my bargain buys in free agency has resigned with his team.  The man with the impossible name to spell, Scott Mruczkowski must have found no interest in him, because he’s signed on to backup in San Diego.  That’s a shame, Mruczkowski was excellent when he filled in for Nick Hardwick in 2009.  Why can’t teams remember that far back?

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04:31 Good bless you Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.  He reports that he’s been told the Jets won’t bring back Brodney Pool.  That’s some real reporting there, not like these others guy who believe in such ridiculous concepts as ‘sleep’.  Pool is a top cover safety who fell into the Kerry Rhodes trap of not picking off many balls.  That’s why he won’t be on a lot of peoples radar, but a healthy Pool is an excellent free safety.  How do I know?  Because PFF says so!  We ranked him fourth in our coverage safety ranks last year.  Very under the radar signing.

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03:45 I’m back!  I hope you all missed me as much as I missed you.  I’ll be about the place for the next eight hours or so before I earn my weekend ‘me time’.  Let’s hope for a cracking day where we get even more big names signings.  As ever if there’s anything you want to see then khaled.elsayed@profootballfocus.com is the place to send ideas.  Being the big shot, Y List (heck I was Z List for some time) celebrity I am I can’t guarantee I’ll respond, or that I won’t steal your idea.  But other than that I’ll be super pleasant.

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03:21 Shift over. The infamous Khaled will be taking you through the morning after his three hours of beauty sleep (if you’ve seen Khaled, you know that’s not enough). Thanks to both of you for reading along during these late hours. Tomorrow night I’ll bring music.

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2:52 Perfect for 3 o’clock in the morning … Andy Simms tweets that “Reagan Maui’a agreed to a 2 year deal to stay with the Arizona Cardinals” A 10 snap/game fullback that finished the 2010 season with his best-graded game of the year: a +1.4 run blocking grade on 11 snaps. I’ve got nothing.

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2:30 Stop in and check out the Top 51 Free Agents article … 20 still up for grabs. Your team getting one of them? 3-4 in need of a NT? Aubrayo Franklin. Giants letting him slip away? Ahmad Bradshaw. Not quite locked in Oakland? Jared Gaither. Under the radar pressure producer? Matt Roth. Versatile D-line big man? Cullen Jenkins. And many more … lots of FA action remains.

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01:56 The Star-Ledger’s Jenny Vrentas says the Jets have re-signed strong safety Eric Smith. A reserve player that got a chance as an injury replacement in the late half of last season, Smith showed well when given the chance. Consider this an “oh yeah, well, take that!” statement to the rest of the league after the Jets missed out on Asomugha. Cromartie? Braylon? What’s next for Rex & gang?

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01:33 Interesting for tomorrow … what will Philadelphia do with Samuel? Keeping him and his growing salary could be key to a Super Bowl run. Letting him go to free cash and make full use of the two corners just brought in, could help shore up other areas. Tough to trade, but the CB-needy teams that lost out on Nnamdi should be begging for scraps at this point. Man, I’m hoping he stays, can’t wait to see Nnamdi’s play when teams have to challenge him – finally an end to the ‘how much of it is hype?’ question.

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01:25 Piecing together a “Five Questions” post for tomorrow. Asking some of our anlysis team their thoughts on the FA action to date. Looking like a good read. Check for it.

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01:00 ESPN Dallas’ Todd Archer says Dallas has brought in DE Kenyon Coleman. Bouncing around the league since 2002, his most recent stop was for two seasons in Cleveland – highlighted by a fast start in 2010 where he collected a sack, a hit, and six pressures to go along with some solid run D performances. After the Pittsburgh game in Week 6 though, he tailed off and didn’t show much the rest of the way. Have to believe this is a hole-filler more than the answer they were looking for.

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00:30 Getting some editing done with one eye on the twitter feed. Not much popping at the moment. It’s like everyone is asleep … or has a life. Nate’s got a piece on the way talking about some of the players that were cut. I’ll have it posted in a bit.

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00:02 Following up on the Gaither to the Raiders thing: word was he was signed, then that he wasn’t, then we heard that he was in Napa at practice today – not participating, just shaking hands and chatting with staff. Seems the thought now is it’s a matter of getting the health questions (his back injury that kept him out for all of 2010) figured out before moving forward. Also from Raider camp, Kamerion Wimbley may be nearing a long term deal that would allow the team some extra room to maneuver … likely helping to lock down Zach Miller (who doesn’t seem to have drawn as much attention as he should) and agree to proper figures with RFA Michael Bush.

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23:45 Rick checking in now. It’s late Friday night, the end of a three day whirlwind, and I’ll be sitting in for a while to catch any scraps that snuck through the exhaustive tracking Khaled, Sam, and Nate have been doing – GREAT job by them! Now that we have some downtime, it’s a perfect opportunity to catch your breath and skim back through the earlier editions of this live blog (links above). So much has gone down, a refresher in time-line form is worth it.

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23:06 With nothing going on now, the live blog will likely see a break until moves start happening again. Some articles will be up tonight as well for your reading pleasure.

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22:46 While viewing the team websites, I found a number of restricted free agents are back in Tampa Bay. Along with James Lee who I mentioned earlier, we also have receiver Michael Spurlock, cornerback Elbert Mack, safety Corey Lynch and kicker Connor Barth. Spurlock and Lynch both had 314 snaps and slightly negative ratings. Barth was solid in field goals with a +3.7 rating, but not so much on kickoffs with a -4.8 rating.

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22:41 Yes, I’ve still here just in case you were worried. There just aren’t any moves being reported right now. It has given me time to update the list of free agents, so soon enough you will be able to see the best list on the moves that have/haven’t been officially announced on team websites. There are a number of great players still available. Teams will start going to plans B, C, D and so on soon now that a fair number of players as gone. The craziness is no where near over.

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22:23 Again things are very quiet right now. The Free Agent Tracker has been updated again, with plenty of cuts and signings confirmed now, as well as some lesser known restricted free agents who have signed with their teams again. Also if you’re interested in fantasy football, the fantasy part of the site has given you all the fantasy information you need on each of the big signings.

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22:05 RELEASE! It looks like Matt Leinart has already won the backup job in Houston, as the Texans released Dan Orlovsky. In two years with the Texans he had just one play where he got to hand the ball off.

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22:00 SIGNING! The Rams have had a busy week, with upgrades at guard with Harvey Dahl and safety Quintin Mikell amongst others. Now they have improved their wide receiver group by bringing in former Jaguar Mike Sims-Walker. He had a +3.5 rating last year, although it would have been negative had it not been for an amazing 153 yard game against the Cowboys in the middle of the season. It is just a one year contract, so if he doesn’t live up to expectations his time in St. Louis will be short.

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21:57 We hit our word count, so we made a new post and we’re still rolling. It’s still Nathan Jahnke here and will continue to keep you updated for the next few hours and then we’ll keep going with the live blog as long as free agency is still keeping busy. (Since we have to flip it, we’re going to call this one Day 4 and get it set for Saturday.)

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  • thadjw

    You guys are great. Love the coverage. One thing that would add a lot… More talk about what teams are being able to with salary cap and the real numbers they still have available to them. Is the new cap $121m or $123m? I’ve seen both. Can the Partiots still add people? How well did those two contracts they picked up get renegotiated? How did the Eagles structure the nnamdi contract?

    That would be a great addition to the great stuff here and you guys sound knowledgable enough to be able to add this! TW

  • uppercut

    @ 18.16: Before I got to the part about deep-speed, I was worried because stat wise Jenkins didn’t appear to be able pull off big plays like Floyd or Edwards, but if Donovan can throw accurately down-field to him I’m ok. If not, maybe send Harvin deep more (he’s great bouncing off tackles from the slot, but he’s got track-speed and sometimes you just have to send that on a Go route)