Countdown to Free Agency: Live Blog

| March 10, 2012

We literally cannot wait any longer for the extravaganza that is the NFL Free Agency, so–knowing we’re not alone in that regard–we’re going to dedicate the next 56 hours to analyzing the cuts, trades, signings and rumors as we wait for the 2012 league year to start.

So all you need to do is sit back and relax as we break it all down using our unique PFF analysis and data to look at what the moves could mean.

Comment away to our Twitter Feed and keep up to date with all the moves with our NFL Free Agent Tracker and if you think you’ve got what it takes and want to win a free PFF Premium subscription  enter our Free Agent Prediction contest where you can test your mettle against the PFF staff.

Now let’s hope for some interesting developments!

(Note: To update the page click refresh)

 

Tuesday 13th March 

 

00:20 There are a lot of reports that Marques Colston and the Saints are working hard on getting a new deal done. It’s not surprising that he wants to be reunited with Brees. He ended the season with one of the best six game spans we’ve seen out of a receiver. During that time he had between seven and nine catches in each game, caught an astounding 83% of balls thrown his way, had 15 yards per catch, and averaged a touchdown a game.

 

 

Monday 12th March

 

23:27 Our Free Agent Tracker is completely up to date with all of today’s moves. It is the only place where you can see not just who is available, but a general idea of how they did last year with overall PFF ratings and snap counts from 2011. For example if you want to look at the available offensive tackles with the highest PFF ratings in 2011, it is just a few clicks away.

 

23:03 MANNINGWATCH! Chris Mortensen reported that Manning met with Joe Philbin between five and six hours today. 24 hours ago it sounded like the Broncos and Cardinals were the front runners, but this should be a sign for optimism for Dolphins fans. With players like Eric Winston and Tony Pashos now on the market, there are more players that could help fill the hole in the Dolphins line to help block for Manning if Miami is his destination.

 

22:51 If you want to take part in our Free Agent Contest, you have just one more hour to get your entry in!

 

22:33 RELEASE! It looks like the Texans were happy enough with TJ Yates at quarterback, that Matt Leinart and his two year stunt with Houston has come to an end. In that time he was given just 36 snaps over two games. He looked good in his little time with an Accuracy Percentage of 91.7%. Chances are he will get a third home sometime this offseason, but other more proven veterans will probably get more of an opportunity.

 

22:13 RE-SIGNING! Backup defensive linemen Amon Gordon will be in a Kansas City uniform the next two years. The Chiefs had three men in their base defense and two different guys for the nickel defense. Any time one of them needed to be substituted out, Gordon was the man to go in for 293 snaps over the season. While he had two sacks which was the second most for Chiefs defensive linemen, he had just one other pressure.

 

21:33 SIGNING! Oh no they didn’t. The 49ers just went and got themselves a genuine Randy Moss. Moss looked great by all accounts in his workouts for the Saints and 49ers, but have we all forgotten how bad he was in 2010? Maybe he was just having one of his off years, and maybe the 49ers will have at least found themselves someone that can challenge teams deep. Their wide receivers combined to catch just nine balls on throws over 20 yards. Yikes.

 

21:25 The Rams have tendered six players including starting safety Darian Stewart, but one guy they opted against bringing back is C.J. Ah You. He finished the year with a -7.7 grade from our good selves, but it’s hard to rate a player who was so often played in a position where he was destined to fail. He was simply too small to play defensive tackle in their sub package defense as he often did and it showed.

 

21:10 Jason LaCanfora reports the Raiders are expected to formally announce the releases of Kevin Boss and Kamerion Wimbley tomorrow. We’ve spoken about Boss already but what about Wimbley? There’s a definite lack of edge rushers who can play with their hand off the ground and put their hand on the ground in sub package situations, so Wimbley is primed for another big day. Probably not quite as good as the stats suggest (he should get a Brandyn Dombrowski sized asterisk next to his sack count), he nonetheless is a big talent who has come on leaps and bounds these past two years.

 

20:55 TENDERING! The Ravens have put a 2nd round tender on Dannell Ellerbe. Sure they may be about to lose Jameel McClain but Ellerbe was completely out of his depth as a nickel linebacker, earning a horrid -8.7 coverage grade despite only spending 130 plays in coverage.

 

20:00 TENDERING! So what else has been going on? Well the Bengals have tendered versatile backup linebacker Dan Skuta (who they also used as fullback and defensive end in 2010). He received a 2nd round tender which will ensure he returns to Cincinnati with such a crowded free agent linebacker market. Skuta did grade out positively last year in less than 200 snaps, picking up a +2.9 grade despite struggling big time in coverage. And just because we should we’re going to move back to ET to make things easier to follow!

 

18:40 TENDERING! The Philadlephia Eagles just placed the 2nd round tender on Antonio Dixon. He missed most of last year but was our 15th ranked DT in 2010 with a particularly strong showing in run defense despite playing less than half of the Eagles defensive snaps. That tender should scare teams off him suitably.

 

18:34 MANNINGWATCH! Adam Schefter reports that the Texans have changed tact and the Winston move may have been done as they prepare to make a run at Peyton Manning. Clearly Houston knows that if they can get Manning they don’t need any tackles after watching him win with players like Charlie Johnson protecting him. The whirlwind that is Manning-mania claims another victim.

 

18:30 The blog has gone a little quiet as the PFF staff dissects the news that Eric Winston has been released. Interesting note – Eric Winston is trending worldwide. An offensive tackle trending worldwide? I’m double shocked. An article is in the works.

 

17:55 We’ve all jumped the gun on the Levi Brown being released rumors. By all accounts its going to happen, but hasn’t happened yet. His value on the open market took a hit with the surprise release of Eric Winston.

 

17:50 RELEASE! And this is a real shocker. So much so that even though it comes from the twitter account of Eric Winston with heartfelt thanks to the Texan fans, you kind of think he must be pulling our leg. Winston was close to making our All Pro team at right tackle, and has been one of the most consistent right tackles in the league, earning a +31.2 grade over the past three years. That has come completely out of left field and really shakes up the offensive tackle market, with the dependable and talented Winston immediately becoming the best tackle available. For a line built on continuity that move could cause issues for the Texans.

 

17:22 TENDERING! The Raiders have got their tender book out and done so with exclusive rights free agents Marcel Reece, Mason Brodine and Bryan McCann, and restricted free agent Desmond Bryant. Bryant starred (in limited action) as a defensive tackle in 2010, before a good 2011 saw him play the weak side defensive end spot. The Raiders would be wise to lock him down, as his talent and versatility combo is hard to match.

 

17.05 RE-SIGNING! The Saints have brought back backup QB Chase Daniel on a one-year deal. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of their backup, but it does keep the most familiar arm outside of Drew Brees in-house going forward, for at least another season.

 

17:14 RELEASES! Following up on some earlier reports both Kevin Boss and Levi Brown are now on the market. Both men come with baggage, but let’s be honest, neither tight end or tackle class is particularly deep and while it’s never nice being released, they could both make a pretty penny out of having their contracts terminated.

 

17.00 TAGGING! Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe is reporting that Patriots defensive lineman Kyle Love will get the ERFA tag tomorrow.  The Exclusive Rights tag essentially means Love is staying put.  He was a valuable member of the Patriots’ defense last season but like many of them was far better against the run than he was rushing the passer, getting to the passer just five times (sacks and knockdowns) during the regular season from 385 pass-rushes.

 

16.50 Arizona is expected to release Levi Brown.  Brown was taken with the 5th pick of the draft, ahead of players like Adrian Peterson and LaRon Landry.  For almost his entire career he has been one of the worst tackles in the NFL, but for the final seven games of this season he was legitimately impressive for the Cardinals, proving that he can do it, but raising serious questions about where that play was for the previous few years.  He’ll get a look, but he’ll have to prove he can bring that level of play going forward.

 

16.40 The Raiders’ house-cleaning continues, with TE Kevin Boss expected to be next in line to receive his pink slip.  Boss was a big free agent signing by the Raiders just last season but evidently the new regime doesn’t view 368 yards as enough of a return to justify the future years of his contract.  Boss is now two seasons away from his best year, but in 2009 he was one of the best-graded TEs in football, excelling as both a blocker and receiver.

 

16.38 TENDERING! Ravens CB Cary Williams has been given the 2nd round tender.  Williams started all last season for the Ravens, and had an up and down season.  He allowed 822 yards and 4 touchdowns, but he also got his hands to 14 passes (despite not intercepting any), and allowed 52.3% of the 111 balls thrown at him to be completed.  Fellow CB Lardarius Webb received the 1st round tender, and was one of the best CBs in football last season, not allowing a single receiving TD.

 

16.30 TENDERING! The Chiefs have tendered ILB Jovan Belcher at a 2nd round level.  Belcher is very much in the shadow of the All-Pro caliber Derrick Johnson but is a fine run defender in his own right.  He needs to improve his coverage, allowing 85% of throws into his coverage to be complete last season, but he is not without ability.

 

16.20 In addition to the release of Ron Bartell the Rams are also expected to move on from DE James Hall.  Though he isn’t getting any younger, Hall is still a productive DE in both facets of play and may prove to be a bargain for somebody prepared to look past his years.

 

16.08 Brad Biggs is reporting that the St Louis Rams will release Ron Bartell.  Bartell didn’t play last season through injury but was arguably the best member of the Rams’ secondary in 2010.  The downside is that Bartell’s injury is a scary sounding one – fractured bones in his neck.  He should draw interest, even at 30+, but he’s going to have to get through some thorough medicals before he signs.

 

16:05 RELEASE! The Browns are have ended Tony Pashos’ time at the club. He was marked improvement on the early season combo of Artis Hicks and Oniel Cousins but he failed to do much in the run game and found himself protected in the pass game by the Browns tendency to get rid of the ball quickly. He’s still got something left, even if you never like to see a tackle give up seven sacks in a season.

 

15:35 Our 11th ranked defensive end from 2011, Andre Carter, wants to return to New England, but is that best for all parties? A success as the Patriots switched to the 4-3 defense, they moved back to a 3-4 which got the best out of players like Vince Wilfork. Carter has flopped whenever he has played in a 3-4, notably in Washington where he went from +12.8 in 2009 to a -11.7 and losing his starting job in 2010. Sometimes things just aren’t meant to be.

 

15:16 TENDERING! The Steelers did what everyone thought they would do and tagged RFA Mike Wallace with the 1st round tender. Teams are always so loathe to give up draft picks (too much faith in their own scouting departments) but if you have a low first, then why wouldn’t you make a run at a man who may be the leagues’ premier deep threat? Wallace has picked up 1,049 yards on balls thrown over 20 yards in the air over the past two years. That’s a scary amount and something teams looking to stretch the field should consider.

 

15:11 TENDERING! An interesting piece of tendering in Detroit, where Sammie Lee Hill can he had for a 4th round pick. That’s risky for a player who has performed admirably in the past two years as part of the Lions defensive tackle rotation, earning a +14.9 grade in that timeframe. There’s plenty of defensive tackle needy picks who should swap a 4th in a flash for a talent like Hill.

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14:32 RELEASE! The Redskins just lost $36m of their cap (super ouch) and have responded by cutting O.J. Atogwe. The former Rams safety earned a +4.0 grade in coverage and automatically becomes the best safety on the market. Don’t feel sorry for him, he’s going to get another big pay day.

 

14:17 RELEASES! The Rams are on fire at the moment, saying goodbye to their starting defensive tackles Fred Robbins and Justin Bannan. Both players performed well last year earning a +17.8 grade combined, but it seems the Rams are getting ready to move in a different direction with their line. Could that see them picking up Jason Jones, reuniting him with Jeff Fisher and moving him back to his favored defensive tackle spot? Makes sense.

 

14:10 RELEASE! The Rams have cut their losses on Jason Brown and parted ways with the former Raven center. Brown earned a benching at center and then stunk it up at both guards spot to earn a -16.7 grade, looking far removed from the player who picked up a +9.7 grade in 2008. The never ending offensive line overhaul in St Louis continues.

 

13:53 RELEASE! The Redskins have said goodbye to long term full back Mike Sellers. It wasn’t a shock with Sellers at just 51 snaps on the year for 2011.

 

13:25 MANNING-WATCH! The latest developments see Michael Lombardi telling us that the Titans have a visit lined up with the man who tops our Top 75 Available Free Agents. What does this mean for Jake Locker and Matthew Hasselbeck? Interesting Hasselbeck fact, out of all QBs who dropped back from center to pass at least 150 times last year, he had the lowest average time in the pocket before getting rid of the ball/ getting sacked/ scrambling past the line of scrimmage. That’s a wordy sentence but I think you get my meaning.

 

13:22 It appears Jeremy Mincey is going to hit free agency. A name many won’t be overly familiar with, he’s a guy who could strike it big as he has talent and age going for him. He’s coming off a year where he ranked 12th in our 4-3 defensive end ratings and is that all too rare defensive end who can go after the quarterback without neglecting his responsibilities in run defense. He’s likely to get a bigger deal than many see coming.

 

13:10 Mike Tolbert has been chatting away about potential landing spots, with him suggesting the Steelers and the Bucs make sense. The Buccaneers present an interesting option because the tandem of Tolbert and LeGarrette Blount would seem to be a match made in heaven. Tolbert is something of a weapon out of the backfield catching the ball, and can’t be relied upon in pass protection. Blount? Not so much, but he is a tremendous talent pounding the ball earning a +7.9 grade for his rushing.

 

12:37 RE-SIGNING! Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee has let us know the 49ers have locked down Tramaine Brock for another year. Brock got on the field for 121 snaps (including penalties) and earned a +2.5 grade for his work in coverage (though he owes a debt of gratitude to Kellen Clemens). It would be somewhat risky hoping for him to replace Carlos Rogers even with Chris Culliver taking over the role as starter.

 

12:05 The Bucs could need a new starting center soon. Stephen Holder suggests Jeff Faine could be getting released very soon. Faine has been particularly bad these past three years, earning a combined grade of -36.5. He’s never lived up to the massive deal the Bucs handed him in 2008. There aren’t many teams who know how to overpay an offensive lineman like the Buccaenners. Jeremy Zuttah, had probably his worst stretch of play at center after some decent performances at left guard. Naturally he’s in line to replace Faine.

 

11:25 Joseph Pearson reports that Captain Munnerlyn is getting an increase on his base salary after he played in 79.8% of the Carolina Panthers defensive snaps. Munnerlyn, in addition to having one of the cooler names in football, had some struggles in 2011 but foudn himself playing outside corner in base and in the slot in the Panthers nickel and dime packages, spending 40.3% of his snaps lined up there.

 

10:40 TENDERING! In a move that will surprise no one who watched them play last year, the Bills have tendered both Kraig Urbik and Chad Rinehart. Both men ranked in our top 20 guards last year and did so despite the ever changing nature of the Bills offensive line. It’s quite amazing how the Bills offensive line has gone from one of the worst, to one of the best in the NFL in such a short period of time.

 

10:25 RE-SIGNING! Thank you Manish Mehta for delivering us the news that our top ranked defensive tackle from 2011, Sione Pouha, has re-signed with the Jets on a three year deal. We did a piece looking at Pouha not too long ago and can’t speak highly enough about the man who finished second in our ‘Run Stop %’ stat for defensive tackles. An important piece of business done by the Jets there.

 

10:15 The New York Daily News reports that Mario Manningham is extremely likely to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Manninghams’ somewhat disappointing 2011 was helped by an impressive post season featuring that catch, but he’s more than catch wonder. His 2009 and 2010 season both had plenty of good associated with them and his ability after the catch is second to none. In those two seasons he forced 28 missed tackles, while also having the 2nd highest catch rate on passes thrown more than 20 yards in 2010. Considering Josh Freeman threw just 36 balls over 20 yards last year, Manningham could add a much needed vertical threat to the Bucs offense.

 

09.38 NEWS! The Detroit Lions have restructured the contract of Ndamukong Suh now that they, along with the rest of the NFL, knows what they’re dealing with in terms of the salary cap.  Detroit will free up some 2012 cap space by converting Suh’s base salary to a bonus and kicking the cap hit down the road.  They announced similar restructures for QB Matthew Stafford and WR Nate Burleson.

 

08:30 So the weekend was quiet but with teams needing to clear up cap room before the start of the league year today threatens to be an eventful day. We’ll have someone standing by at all times to react to breaking news. We’re nice like that. In the meantime here’s a breakdown of how the Patriots offense could improve.

 

 

Sunday 11th March

 

16:04 The Colts have told Anthony Gonzalez he won’t be wearing the horse shoe next season. How will they replace the 126 snaps he managed in the past three seasons?

 

17:02 MANNING-WATCH! Jim Wyatt is the latest to get in on the act with some reporting on the next suitor trying to catch the attention of the ever so coy Peyton Manning. He reports Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams is going to pitch to take Manning back home to the AFC South and where he played college football. Interesting. What does it mean for Jake Locker, and what does it mean for Matt Hasselbeck? As decent as the numbers Hasselbeck put up, his inability to handle pressure means the Titans have to get rid of the ball quickly, putting a severe handicap on what the offense can do consistently.

 

16:50 SPECULATION! Apparently the wide receiver needy San Francisco 49ers are making an effort to get Josh Morgan re-signed. Morgan forced 12 missed tackles in 2010 and can certainly make stuff happen after the catch, but does he represent the upgrade this unit needs if it is to improve? Morgan has never managed a positive grade on a full seasons work.

 

16:05 NEWS! The 49ers will not be tendering receiver Brett Swain. The former Packer got on the field for 61 regular season snaps (and 21 in the post season) but only caught two passes on six balls thrown his way. Swain’s career highlight remains the three special teams tackle he made in the 2010 Super Bowl, and if he’s going to catch on anywhere it may be in that role.

 

15.40 NEWS!  It’s not much, but we now have official salary cap figures for 2012 from the NFL, which should lead to teams making some moves now they know what they have to work with.  The cap figure this season is $120.6m, up just $225k from last year.

 

13:55 NEWS! The New York Post reported that talks are stalling between Terrell Thomas and the Super Bowl winning, PFF using, New York Giants. Personally, we’re not surprised given how tough it can be for cornerbacks coming off ACL surgery, and that Thomas wasn’t actually that great in 2010. After an impressive 2009 campaign Thomas picked up a -8.5 coverage grade (10th worst in the league) after he gave up seven touchdowns and a completion percentage of 61.3%. Sometimes a season off is all it takes to forget.

 

13:30 RUMOR! The Boston Herald were kind enough to let us know one team is really hot on BenJarvus Green Ellis, and speculates that it’s the Kansas City Chiefs who need to find a tough inside runner to replace the ridiculously overused and aged Thomas Jones. ‘Law Firm’ gets an awful lot of credit for his ball security, but he’s more than just a sure set of hands; as a runner he’s always managed to do something extra and that marks him “underrated” in our books. He finished 2011 with our 8th highest grade for pure rushing and 18th in our Elusive Rating. Whether it the Chiefs or not, a team is going to get good value from a player like Green-Ellis.

 

12:55 We know the tight end market isn’t exactly deep, but is it that bad that everyone is forgetting just how bad John Carlson was for the Seahawks before his injury? A poor blocker and a receiver you wouldn’t rely on, Carlson finished with our 7th lowest grade of all tight ends in both 2009 and 2010. There’s a reason the Seahawks spent big money on Zach Miller.

 

12:37 ESPN Chicago’s Mike Wright tweets that the Bears are looking at David Hawthorne and could face competition from Detroit. As a player who can play any linebacker spot (other than outside in a 3-4) Hawthorne should have plenty of people interested, even if his 2011 season was probably his weakest since bursting onto the scene in 2009. However, with a +8.8 grade you know you’re getting a good player, who has proven he can handle an every down role. If the Bears can persuade him to take a two down role at a sensible price that could be excellent for them, but may also prove a little bit of a waste of Hawthorne’s ability.

 

12:10 NO NEWS IS GOOD NEWS! It’s oh so quiet at the moment which means what NFL chatter there is seems to be dedicated to psycho-analyzing the behavior of Peyton Manning and what it means as the prospective candidates and their fanbases get as excited as a teenage boy watching a Katie Perry video. Eventually, when Manning does sign somewhere, there are going to be a lot of broken hearted fans so be on the lookout for those classic rejection reactions of anger, denial and particularly the classic ‘we never wanted him anyway’. Those teams should be looking for contingencies, and where better to look than our Top 75 Free Agents. You may lose a Manning, but there’s always an opportunity to spend ridiculous amounts of cash on some other NFL player who isn’t quite as good.

 

10:22 TENDERING! Those New Orleans Saints may need all the defensive players they can get with suspensions looming. With that in mind Jonathan Casillas has received a tender which should see him return to New Orleans next year. Casillas was something of a liability in coverage, accounting for the lions share of his overall -11.2 grade on the year. That said, it should be noted playing in a Gregg Williams defense does tend to highlight the worst in a linebackers coverage ability while exchanging that downside for some gaudy sack statistics. The bottom line here is that the Saints still need to get better at linebacker. A lot better.

 

9:56 Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune speculates the Bears will be big players in free agency, and that could lead them to making a move for Mario Williams. A freakish athlete, Williams tends to do a lot of his good work against weaker tackles, so the NFC North could be exactly the type of environment to help his reputation grow. The sack specialist has our 15th highest Pass Rushing Productivity rating over the past four years, while the little talked about John Abraham is up in second. Just saying.

 

8:48 So, so early. I don’t know about you, but when I’m fighting to wake up I turn my attentions to some of the content the PFF team has put out. That means re-reading the mammoth breakdown of the available nose tackles on the market, and looking at the most impactful run defenders from the defensive tackle and 3-4 defensive end spot.

 

8:24 WORKOUT! According to the man who doesn’t sleep, Adam Schefter, the 49ers have scheduled a visit with Randy Moss. Moss, who earned a -11.7 grade from our good selves in 2010, received rave reviews in a workout for the Saints and adds an extra element of intrigue to a talent heavy group of free agent wide receivers. It’s an area the 49ers need to upgrade, especially challenging defenses on deeper passes with their wide receivers. Their WRs combined for just nine receptions on balls thrown 20 yards or more down the field. That owes something to the quarterback play, but also for the ability of receivers to get open with Alex Smith reluctant to go deep. His 9.7% of passes thrown downfield was the 4th fewest in the league.

 

8:15 RUMOR! The inevitable seems ready to happen tomorrow with the Arizona Republic reported no headway in negotiations between the Cardinals and Levi Brown. That would see Brown release, clearing up a huge wad of cap space to be used on who knows what by Arizona. Brown is an intriguing prospect in a thin tackle market, struggling for his entire career until the final eight games of the 2011 where he did enough to convince you he may have got it. The question is why did it take Brown, who earned a +8.9 grade for his second half of the year after picking up a -26.5 in the first half, so long to step his game up?

 

Saturday 10th March

 

19:20 While we learn that the floozy known as Peyton Manning has continued his flirty ways by speaking with the Seahawks (from Jay Glazer), not much else is going on. There’s some news telling us what we already know; it looks like Jason Jones is about to hit the open market with a deal miles away with him and the Titans. I did a piece on why this is probably the best for all concerned. It took me ages and has pretty tables – do you need any more compelling a reason to read?

 

18:40 Quite the break. Obviously everyone is pondering just how Ken Whisenhunt is going to convince Manning that Arizona is the place for him. Here’s a hint; don’t show him clips of an offensive line that is great at getting it’s quarterback hit. He’d be better advised to show him this little study we’ve done at PFF, looking at which receivers don’t drop the ball. Two names in that top 10 that Manning might like to be throwing to next year.

 

17:54 Ask and someone delivers something – that man is Jay Glazer who tweets that Peyton Manning is on his way to meet with the Arizona Cardinals this evening. Ben Stockwell had the Cards as one of his front runners in the Manning sweepstakes and understandably so. Good young defense, Larry Fitzgerald and a route to the Super Bowl perhaps easier than some of the other suitors. It says a lot about just how bad Kevin Kolb (who ranked 27th out of 38 in our QB rankings) was that the Cards are prepared to pretend like their big trade and contract for him never happened.

 

17:51 Nothing much going on today, as if to fulfil the prophecy of Sam Monson who expects an extremely quiet weekend. Come on NFL executives don’t let Sam be right! So while we wait who don’t you have a look at the Top 75 Free Agents according to the PFF analysis team.

 

17:15 RUMOR! The Colts purge doesn’t appear to be done yet. Long time Colts beat writer Mike Chappell speculates that the huge cap hit of Dwight Freeney, coupled with his age and a new defensive scheme being implemented means he could be meeting up with Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, Joseph Addai or Peyton Manning sooner than he probably thought at the end of the season. Interesting times in Indy where there defense is primed to go from being one of the most vanilla, to one of the more exotic defenses with Chuck Pagano at the helm. How vanilla were the Colts last year? Freeney spent 98.3% of his snaps at defensive right end. By contrast, Terrell Suggs (with Pagano as his defensive coordinator) was lined up at DRE on just 29.6% of plays – spreading his snaps between lining up with his hand off the ground and on the left side.

 

16:50 CATCH UP SIGNING! Earlier in the day the Carolina Panthers re-signed Richie Brockel. Sure it’s not the most amazing of deals, but we’re in a quiet period and where else would I get to tell you that Brockel spent 79.37% of his plays in a traditional full back role? I bet you didn’t know that.

 

16:30 We’re still pushing out content as we tend to do, and one of our latest pieces is either a) a cure for insomnia b) a fascinating read regarding the situation the free agent nose tackles could find themselves in. Take a look at our ‘Life on the Nose: Today’s Market for NFL Nose Tackles’  as we look at what could be awaiting Sione Pouha, Antonio Garay and Paul Soliai while also looking at what happened to Aubrayo Franklin in August last year.

 

16:15 CUTS! The Minnesota Vikings have been clearing up some cap room and released guards Anthony Herrera and Steve Hutchinson, and cornerback Cedric Griffin. Hutchinson isn’t the player he once was with age slowing him down, but he’s still got the technical ability and nous to keep his quarterback upright – the success of Brian Waters in New England may convince a few people to get into contact with him. It may not be quite the same for Herrera who was poor in 2011 (-9.9) and was outplayed by Joe Berger. As for Griffin he had some issues giving up some big plays and penalties. But for a player who had torn both his ACL’s performed admirably in coverage (+3.1 coverage grade). A year further removed from his knee issues could see some team land a real bargain.

 

16:00 SIGNING! We’re going to kick off our countdown to free agency with some bad news for those hoping to see Curtis Lofton return to Atlanta. The Falcons, per Adam Schefter, have reached an agreement with former Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu. After spending the entire 2011 season out of the league had a pretty horrible 2010 season (-8.4) and has always been a player who has gotten by on making the big plays, rather than consistently making plays.

 

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