Keep checking back for constant updates and quick PFF thoughts on all of the major news that breaks as players hunt down new homes for 2012.
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22:46 SIGNING! It’s been a busy night, as Arizona has brought back Levi Brown to a five year deal. Brown was released on Monday to help with cap issues in order to better recruit Manning. There was a time where Brown was the end of many jokes here at PFF because he was one of the worst left tackles in the league. However in the last six weeks of the season, he completely turned his play around. In that time he allowed just one sack, zero hits and eight pressures. He’s had individual games where he’s allowed more pressure then that. He’s looked well in run blocking all year, so it will be very interesting to see if he can continue to turn things around in 2012.
22:41 SIGNING! It’s always fun when a player is the one to announce his signing on twitter, and that’s exactly what happened with Michael Robinson. He announced he is returning to the Seahawks to be their fullback for a third season. In 2011 he played just 220 in 14 games and was a run blocker for 75% of those snaps. He ended up with the fifth lowest blocking grade for fullbacks. Outside of that he had four runs and nine catches which resulted in a touchdown and a fumble.
22:31 Aaron Wilson is reporting that guard Geoff Schwartz has a visit lined up with the Vikings on Monday. The move makes a lot of since for Minnesota if they can pull it off after releasing their two starting guards. Joe Berger looks primed to take one of the starting spots, but they only have a pair of late round draft picks ready for the other spot. Schwartz missed last year, he played very well in 2010 which has led a lot of teams to take a look at him. He allowed just 23 overall pressures in his time and was rather successful in run blocking as well.
22:14 SIGNING! The Colts have continued their quest to re-assemble the 2010 Eagles offensive line by adding Mike McGlynn after trading for Winston Justice yesterday. He was the backup right guard in Cincinnati last year which included starting six games. Although he has only allowed three sacks in the past two years, he has also allowed seven hits and 31 pressures. He had a negative run blocking grade last year, but that was due to not being able to handle Darnell Dockett. The Cardinals aren’t on the Colts 2012 schedule, so McGlynn has nothing to worry about. With how few experienced players are currently on the Colts roster, it wouldn’t be surprised if he wins a starting job either at one of the guard spots or center.
21:33 SIGNING! The agent of Artis Hicks is reporting that Hicks has signed a one year deal to join the Dolphins. This will be his fourth home in four years, as he was a Viking in 2009, a Redskin in 2010 and a Brown in 2011. He has played both guard and tackle, and most recently right tackle with the Browns while Tony Pashos was injured. In the first three games he allowed 11 pressures on 72 pass blocks. He will be an experienced backup for the Dolphins who is capable of taking over various positions if there is an injury.
21:15 SIGNING! According to his player reps, Erik Coleman has signed a one year deal to remain in Detroit. Last year he was behind Amari Spivey and Louis Delmas on the depth chart, but going into 2012 Coleman should at least get a chance to compete in training camp. Last year he was in on just seven defensive snaps, and was in one two special teams tackles. He saw significant time in 2009 as the Falcons strong safety where he excelled in the run game with 25 run stops, but allowed six passing touchdowns.
20:48 According to Adam Caplan citing a league source, that guy again, the Chargers have landed much sought after former Denver WR Eddie Royal. On at least two occasions Royal was thought to be signing with the Redskins but both were debunked, third time’s a charm? After an excellent rookie year in 2008 Royal struggled to make a consistent impact there after bottoming out with an ineffectual 24 catches at less than 10 yards per catch this season with Tim Tebow at the helm in Denver. Royal has shown talent in the past and can also return kicks and punts but after the signing of Robert Meachem earlier this week is joining a crowded wide receiver corps as the Chargers new signings will be fighting for catches with Malcom Floyd and Vincent Brown. The Chargers may have lost Vincent Jackson but they have brought in real talent to fill that void and Philip Rivers shouldn’t be short of options when the season gets under way in September.
20:19 The linebacker market has been quiet but there has been more chatter today which Jason LaCanfora has added to by reporting that Baltimore free agent Jameel McClain will visit with the Broncos on Friday. Former ILB partners of Ray Lewis have tended not to fare too well once they have left Baltimore and McClain wasn’t an every down every game player in Baltimore sharing time in various packages with Brendon Ayanbadejo and Dannell Ellerbe. Former Bronco LB Joe Mays is scheduled to visit New Orleans and Indianapolis this weekend so it makes sense for Denver to be active in looking for a two down replacement in a defense where personnel changes greatly from base to sub packages.
20:08 The Chiefs and TE Kevin Boss have hooked up with both on the rebound. The Chiefs were spurned, and reportedly not happy at what transpired, by John Carlson and Boss was cut this week after an unsuccessful first season in Oakland. Aaron Wilson is reporting that the deal is worth $9 million over three years. Boss only graded above +1.0 once as a receiver last year in Oakland but during his breakout 2009 season in New York Boss provided a safety valve over the middle whilst excelling as a run blocker. That run blocking form has also deserted him of late but he graded above +1.0 as a run blocker seven times in 2009. A return to that form and the Chiefs should get some huge runs to the outside from new signing Peyton Hillis and returning starter Jamaal Charles in particular.
20:04 Reports have the Bengals entertaining former St Louis and Tennessee G Jacob Bell at the moment, presumably with a view to having him replace Nate Livings at left guard. Livings was last reported to be visiting with the Cowboys. Both moves, by Cincinnati and Dallas, would be understated to say the least. They obviously weren’t interested in getting into the bidding process for the top guards but to jump so early on such average, at best, guards in somewhat baffling. For the cap rich Bengals in particular jumping at bringing in Bell who was playing dreadfully in 2011 is somewhat of a surprise and an unadventurous move. Cincinnati will be hoping that Bell recovers his 2010 form when he collected a +4.6 grade for the season though still had his share of bad games.
19:48 UPDATE! Perhaps not just yet on that Westerman signing (19:38). Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News reports that Westerman and the Dolphins are in negotiations but have yet to reach an agreement yet. A situation to keep an eye on in the next hour.
19:38 SIGNING! According to Richi Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com former NY Jets LB Jamaal Westerman has agreed to terms with the Miami Dolphins.Westerman was a versatile pass rush for the Jets rushing the passer from 12 different spots on the Jets’ defense last season. Westerman’s role in the Dolphins’ defense remains to be revealed but his versatility is sure to be a boost for Miami as they move forwards with a new defensive scheme.
19:30 Jim Thomas of the St Louis Post-Dispatch just went in to full name dropping mode reeling off the list of free agents in for visits with the Rams. Former Eagle/Giant WR Steve Smith, former team-mate Mario Manningham headed to St Louis as we noted at 18:49, QB Shaun Hill, G Travelle Wharton and former Packer Scott Wells all in town. The Rams were in dire need of a roster overhaul and all of these guys should represent excellent value to help the Rams turn this around with big impact players presumably coming through the draft and all those picks from the Redskins over the coming seasons.
19:10 RE-SIGNING! Some wild rumours had the Bears in for Mario Williams but that was unlikely to ever pan out so instead Chicago has brought back one of their own on a short term deal. Israel Idonije is back with the Bears on a one year deal after a poor season in 2011 starting across from Julius Peppers. Idonije has been at his best when his snaps have been limited but thrust into a full time role in a Chicago defense that does not rotate much Idonije struggled to provide a consistent pass rush. If the Bears use him in a platoon with a better pass rusher Idonije would become a very valuable member of the Chicago defense once again. Idonije recorded 36 stops in the regular season, tied for fourth most amongst 4-3 defensive ends last season.
18:52 Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that the Cardinals are close to a deal that will see Levi Brown return to Arizona just days after they cut him due to an impasse in renegotiating Brown’s contract with the team. Brown’s colossal contract was an obvious stumbling point and Brown was never going to give up that money but after his second half of the season it is perhaps not surprising to see the Cardinals bring Brown back. No-one will have more knowledge of Brown’s upswing in form than the Cardinals and this was the best stretch of his career. Somers muses that Brown could move to the right side depending upon how the Cardinals’ off-season pans out and if that were the case the Cardinals would be taking a massive risk on that side of the line likely pairing Brown with new signing Adam Snyder. If the two play like they have for most of the last four seasons then the Cardinals would have without doubt the worst right side in all of football.
18:49 According to Adam Schefter the free agent tour of Mario Manningham will continue as he has left San Francisco without a deal after his visit today. Manningham was widely expected to cash in after his big Super Bowl but he has seen others receivers do just that whilst he appears to be in that second tier of receivers. Manningham can contribute but didn’t do so consistently in New York but is looking to convert his key play in the Super Bowl into a big contract and more playing time elsewhere. Cincinnati are also reported to be interested in Manningham and Jason Cole reports that Manningham has left San Francisco heading for division rival St Louis tonight.
18:34 Mike Klis of the Denver Post reports that former Broncos linebacker Joe Mays will visit with the New Orleans Saints (on Saturday) and then, assuming no deal, the Indianapolis Colts (on Sunday). The ILB market has been stagnant thus far in free agency and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mays have to wait his turn behind more capable, well rounded linebackers. That said Mays is an exciting, young, downhill linebacker who would really bring an element of physicality to the run defense of both the Saints and the Colts. He may well be a two down linebacker but for the right price his aggression and attitude in the run defense would be a boost to both defenses that have been found wanting in this department for a number of years.
18:23 RE-SIGNING! According to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe the Patriots have reached an agreement with one of their free agent centers. As expected the Patriots have kept hold of Dan Connolly who took over for Dan Koppen when the latter went down in the Patriots Week 1 trip to Miami. We graded Connolly as a sub-par pass protector this year grading 33rd out of 35 centers during the 2011 regular season. Connolly yielded 19 total pressures in the regular season but raised his game from Week 17 onwards accruing a grade of +4.0 for the Patriots final four games of the season. If this is the end for Koppen he will join the lengthening list of veteran centers who can all come in and contribute to teams looking for a veteran line captain. Koppen was our 10th ranked center in 2010 and whilst he is the wrong side of 30 should still have a couple of good years left.
18:17 Reports surrounding Matt Flynn have fluctuated ever since free agency opened just over 48 hours ago and now another swing as the Dolphins’ dwindling chances of landing Peyton Manning have brought Miami back into the running for Flynn. Adam Schefter reports that the Dolphins have arranged a visit with Flynn after he is done in Seattle who earlier today were reported to be closing in on signing him but not for starters money. Plenty of teams have been affected by Manning but perhaps no individual has been affected more than Flynn in the early days of free agency. The Browns weren’t interested enough to offer a deal after hearing Flynn’s agent’s parameters and with the Dolphins holding out hope for the big signing there was no competition for Flynn. If Miami have now admitted defeat on Manning then Flynn and his agents may finally have the competition for his services that will drive his value upwards.
17:55 SIGNING! The Broncos have signed Mike Adams, the former Browns safety. A smart move by a Broncos team that has been pretty quiet so far, Adams was a 16 game starter for the Browns and notched a +5.6 grade for his work in coverage. No word on whether this move by the Broncos is part of the process to woo Peyton Manning, a counter attack to the Titans bringing in Steve Hutchinson. This could get messy.
17:49 SIGNING! It’s the move all Patriots fans have been expecting, but very few of them have wanted. Mike Reiss reports Steve Gregory to New England is a done deal for 3 years. What can we tell you about Gregory? Well he had our 10th lowest grade of any safety in coverage. An improvement on James Ihedigbo (8th) but not something that should really excite anyone. Needless to say he didn’t make our top 75 free agents, but maybe getting out of the shadow of the excellent Eric Weddle will see him step up.
17:36 SIGNING! The Patriots have signed Marcus Harrison according to Greg Bedard. It would be a surprise to see Harrison catch on in New England given his past performance in Chicago. He missed the entire 2011 season after he managed just 96 snaps in 2010, and was poor in 2009. Back then he earned our 8th lowest grade of all defensive tackles.
17:24 RE-SIGNING! We knew the Browns re-signed Alex Smith yesterday and they’ve also retained Oniel Cousins. There’s an empty right tackle spot, but you can’t think that Cousins is the answer after he had some problems filling in for Tony Pashos at the start of the year. In just 52 pass blocks he gave up three hits and eight pressures.
17:15 Evan Mathis’ meeting with the Ravens appears to have gone well. If he were to sign that would give the Ravens our highest ranked left guard in the league in 2011. In Marshal Yanda they already have the top right guard from last year. That should make Ravens fans forget all about Ben Grubbs.
16:53 Adam Schefter lets us know that Steve Smith (the one of Giants and Eagles fame) is currently undergoing a physical with the St Louis Rams. This move has potential to be very nice for the Rams, but for it to do so it needs Smith to be healthy (hence the physical) and for him to recapture some of that 2009 form. Remember how good he was then? He had our 10th highest receiving grade that year.
16:31 So the Jets are going to bring in Brady Quinn for a visit on Friday according to Mike Klis in a move that is bound to give Mark Sanchez the competition he desperately needs. Or not. You decide. Quinn hasn’t been on an NFL field since 2009 when he was atrocious in Cleveland.
16:18 SIGNING! There’s a steady stream of signings coming through at the moment, with Dan Connor signing up with Dallas after rejecting a deal with Philadelphia according to Geoff Mosher. Connor has tremendous upside as a two down thumper, but has struggled when more has been asked of him. Over the past two years he’s earned a +19.6 in the run game, and -3.1 in coverage while playing in base packages.
16:10 SIGNING! Remember when Chris Horton was the best thing since sliced bread in Washington. He got involved in a lot of turnovers but eventually his overall play saw him riding the pine in Washington, and now he finds himself a New York Giant as he revealed on twitter. He didn’t play at all last year but graded relatively well between 2008 and 2010. Enough that you wouldn’t mind him somewhere on the depth chart at least.
16:00 SIGNING! The Titans have snapped up Steve Hutchinson on a three year deal per John Clayton. Finishing 8th in our guard rankings in 2011, it will be interesting how the Titans line reshuffles to accommodate the seven times Pro Bowler. He’s not the run blocker he once was, but even at this stage of his career he’s still better than most of what the NFL has to offer.
15.43: SIGNING! NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that the Browns have signed former Eagles DE Juqua Parker to a one-year deal worth a maximum of $3m. Parker is no spring chicken, but he is a consistent pass-rusher racking up 20 total pressures last season from only 146 pass-rushing snaps. The Browns added some run defending help earlier in free agency and now they address pass-rush with a nice addition.
15,41: ESPN’s John Clayton is reporting that C Scott Wells is visiting St Louis. The center market has not been a strong one this year but Wells is a very good one and well worth a look for some teams.
15:22 RE-SIGNING! The Miami Dolphins, according to Aaron Wilson, have re-signed Steve Slaton on a one year deal. It seems like such a long time ago Slaton was wowing us in 2008, finishing the year our 4th ranked running back. Since then? It’s kind of all gone downhill since then, culminating with him seeing the field for just 57 snaps in each of the past two years.
15:17 According to Kevin Acee the Chargers could be about to add another weapon to their arsenal. Eddie Royal is taking a physical with the team, and could be set to sign on once the teams doctors have done their poking and prodding. Royal is an intriguing fit in the Chargers offense and he could fine a nice niche for himself working underneath, but there’s some depth for him to surpass to get playing time. He does have special teams value, as San Diego know only too well.
15:00 Apparently the New Orleans, as confirmed by Mike Triplett, have interest in former Atlanta Falcons free agent Curtis Lofton. The linebacker market has yet to establish itself, so this could just be the Saints doing their due diligence as they look at all the ways they could possibly upgrade on Jonathan Vilma. That’s a pretty long list by the way, with Vilma earning our 4th lowest grade of all middle linebackers last year. That’s not just a one off, Vilma (who struggles getting off blocks big time) was last in 2010.
14:47 Denver and Tennessee are reported to be interested in John Abraham according to Jason LaCanfora. Clearly Abraham is waiting for Peyton Manning to decide where he’s going so he can get himself a ring. It’s surprising in a market that is devoid of quality pass rushers that more aren’t displaying an interest in Abraham who finished 3rd in our 2011 defensive end rankings. Those who think he’s lost a step are kidding themselves on the evidence of last season.
14:30 Cornerback needy Oakland Raiders will be hosting Ron Bartell. The former Ram had a decent enough year in 2010 with a +4.5 grade in coverage, before being limited to just 61 snaps in 2011 as injury scuppered his season. He should be affordable for a cash strapped Raiders outfit given he’s coming off a fractured neck and is 31 now.
14:20 SIGNING! The 49ers have added to their special teams unit by bringing in Rock Cartwight. He led the Raiders in special teams tackles with 11 in 2011. Cartwright played 53 snaps on offense last year for Oakland as well for what it’s worth.
14:01 In spite of picking up an injury in their playoff loss in Denver it would seem that NT Casey Hampton‘s career in Pittsburgh may not be over as some had suggested. Hampton has re-structured his contract to clear some cap space for a franchise pressed hard against the cap. Whilst this does not preclude him being cut down the line pending his recovery from his torn ACL but this does suggest that the reports of the Steelers being “emphatic” that he would return to Pittsburgh in 2012 are close to the mark. Hampton was amongst our top 20 rated run defending defensive tackles in the league last year.
13:45 SIGNING! In a move that comes in a strange hurry the Redskins have swooped for former New England and Chicago S Brandon Merriweather who was also reported to have visited Denver. The early interest in Merriweather is somewhat surprising for a player who was found out in his last two stops in the NFL. Merriweather had a solid season in 2009 (receiving an overall grade of +6.7 from us) but has always had a frustrating penchant for giving up the big play. From a safety that isn’t a desirable trait and the dreadful game he had in over the top coverage against Steve Smith in Week 4 last season is an unwelcome reminder of just how bad Merriweather can get.
13:31 So with the signing of Mario Williams another top free agent is off of the board but there is still plenty of quality out there, including our #1 free agent. Keep a track of our top 75 free agents, which has lost three members today including two from the top ten entering Thursday, right here.
13:20 Calvin Watkins has shed a little more light on the Cowboys’ signing of Brodney Pool. The contract is only good for on year, marking Pool’s third straight season in a defense run by one of the Ryan twins, and according to Watkins keeps the Cowboys in play to pick up a safety in the draft next month.
12:45 Shawn Zobel was one of the first to break the news of the Williams signing and he’s reporting that the total value of Williams’ contract over the course of six years is $96 million with $50 million of that being guaranteed. That exceeds Julius Peppers‘ contract by $2 million on a per year average with an extra $8 million in guarantees.
Check out our grading of the Bills’ signing of Williams here in our Deal Grader.
12:24 Is the saga in Buffalo finally reaching an end? Chris Mortensen is reporting that the Bills will host a press conference at 13:30 ET to announce the signing of DE Mario Williams. The Bills’ approach could be defined with a number of clichés; “full court press”, “old school”, “lock in”, but at the end of the day all that matters is getting Williams to sign on the dotted line. Williams will be the highest paid defensive player in the league by all accounts and would form a devastating defensive line for the Bills along with interior pairing Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus. If Williams had been allowed to leave town it would have been utterly devastating for the Bills, credit due to them for seeing the process through and getting their man.
12:15 RELEASE! The 49ers have announced the release of CB Shawntae Spencer who was due to earn $3.3 million this season. Spencer registered only 87 snaps in six games under new head coach Jim Harbaugh failing to find a spot on the defense and being firmly marginalized on playing time. Spencer didn’t fare much better during 2010 which saw his last period of extended playing time allowing a 70.1% completion percentage in 2010 on his way to a -7.9 overall grade.
11:31 SIGNING! Per Jason Garrett in a press conference announcing the Brandon Carr signing the Cowboys have added to their secondary further by signing former Jets S Brodney Pool. According to Calvin Watkins the Cowboys tried to sign Pool last year but didn’t have the money, they finally got their man. Pool graded out around average with us last season for the Jets but closed out the season well. From Week 13 onwards Pool graded negatively only once and graded above +1.0 in New York’s final three road games of the season.
11:24 The guard market is starting to move with Grubbs going to New Orleans and Mathis visiting Baltimore. The Panthers interestingly chose not to tender Geoff Schwartz who can play both tackle and guard. He is drawing interest from various teams with the 49ers the latest team to bring him in for an interview. Schwartz appears to have slipped through the cracks thanks to a staff change over in Carolina and would provide a colossal upgrade for the 49ers who lost Adam Snyder to division rival Arizona yesterday. Thanks to cuts the guard market has some more depth to it than heading into free agency.
11:00 RE-SIGNING! Slot cornerback Dimitri Patterson has re-signed in Cleveland for three years according to Pro Football Talk. Patterson was all over the place whenever he had to start at outside corner in Philadelphia, but was a success in the slot with the Browns last year. His +4.2 coverage grade was well earned as he gave up no touchdowns and broke up 11 passes.
10:28 SIGNING! The left guard merry-go-round continues with Ben Grubbs signing on in New Orleans. According to Adam Schefter he’s signed on for five years, for $36m with $15m guaranteed. Grubbs is a drop off from Carl Nicks, but then who wouldn’t be? He’s consistently graded positively in our guard rankings, finishing 7th (2011), 5th (2010) and 9th (2009) in our left guard rankings. A worthwhile consolation prize.
10:12 SIGNING! The Buccaneers have added a backup quarterback in Dan Orlovsky according to the Bucs official website. He had some decent moments in leading the Colts to two wins at the end of 2011, and can come in and do a job if needed. You just wouldn’t want to count on him for any extended period of time.
09:39 The Giants may be looking for some receiver depth and so are bringing in Kevin Ogletree for a visit. He got on the field for 280 snaps last year in Dallas but struggled to stand out while picking up 173 yards.
09:30 The Cowboys are having Brodney Pool over for a visit. You figured Pool may have soured on the Ryans’ non-safety defenses, but a jobs a job. A talented player, he managed 561 snaps in 2011 but didn’t really find himself in favor until Jim Leonhard went down for the year. Pool was one of the better safeties in the league in the two years prior, and is one of the stronger safeties in a weak safety class.
09:00 Apparently Jeremy Shockey would be keen to return to the New York Giants. The Giants aren’t interested, but that doesn’t mean Shockey hasn’t got anything left in the tank. We graded him as a +6.1 in the passing game as he was a dependable target for Cam Newton.
07:55 Wake yourselves up people because today promises to be even busier than yesterday! We have no sound reasoning as to why, just a gut feeling. Like the kind some front office personnel must have when they endorse the crazy contracts they’re handing out. While we wait here’s our analysis team going at it in our Five Analysts, Five Questions!
06:30 According to Manish Mehta Brandon Meriweather will be visiting with the Jets today. Meriweather was cut by the Patriots and then benched by the Bears while picking up a -3.2 grade on 425 snaps. There is a lot of upside to the former first round pick, and he was tremendous in 2009, but there are a lot of question marks regarding whether he can consistently be a top safety.
04:44 Look away Texan fans. The ‘Texodus’ saw Eric Winston leave (a move we profiled here) and that means Rashad Butler is in line to take over at right tackle. Butler spent most of his career as a jumbo goalline tight end until a suspension for Duane Brown promoted him into the lineup at left tackle in 2010. He didn’t fair well there
04:10 Let’s give you some overnight news. The Lions may have saved themselves a pretty penny by getting out of the bidding for the overpaid Eric Wright, but it leaves them thin at cornerback. They’ve arranged a visit with Jacob Lacey who finished last year with a -3.4 grade, far better than the -14.1 Wright managed. Lacey took a step forward from 2010 and is worth a look at giving those improvements and his age (24).
04:02 It’s a new day, and we’re feeling good. Thanks to you all for making yesterday the busiest day in PFF history. You rock. But obviously so do we and that’s why you kept coming back. Let’s see if we can top yesterday with more news, more content and more fun!
Click here for all the goings on from Day Two of Free Agency!