2013 Free Agency Live Blog: Day 1
As the 2013 NFL league calendar begins and 2012 contracts end, we'll provide blow-by-blow analysis as the teams and players agree on free agent deals.
2013 Free Agency Live Blog: Day 1
Merry Free Agency to one and all, as the Christmas of the NFL calendar is finally with us. Now is the time to find out if your team has been naughty or nice, because the fun is about to start and teams are set to begin opening their checkbooks.
We’re so excited about this season of joy, that we’re going to have a dedicated PFF’er on call at all times to frequently update our Live Action Blog and comment on all the day’s developments.
So really all you need to do is just sit back and relax.
Check out the Countdown to Free Agency blog that got us to this point, catch up to us on Twitter, and keep up to date with free agency moves by following our Free Agent Tracker that comes complete with player grades and snap count numbers from 2012. And if you want more detail then you really need to get yourself a PFF Premium Subscription.
Let’s start the blogging!
(Manually refresh the page every 15 minutes to update the blog)
We’ve moved onto our Day Two Blog which you can find right here.
23:35: The Jets continue to work to get themselves out of salary cap jail as they re-structured the contract of CB Antonio Cromartie. He was set to make a base salary of $7 million in 2013 but that cap number will fall to $840,000 with a signing bonus of $8.5 million. Cromartie is coming off a strong 2012 in which he tied for 12th among cornerbacks with 0.97 Yards/Cover Snap.
23.35: UPDATE: Multiple sources have confirmed that Martellus Bennett’s deal with the Chicago Bears is for four years, $20 million.
23.21: More Arizona Cardinals news as Plain Dealer’s Mary Kay Cabot is reporting that WR/KR Josh Cribbs is down to two teams: Arizona and the New England Patriots. Cribbs only played 63 snaps on offense last season but it’s his return ability that makes him a coveted asset. He averaged 27.8 yards on kick returns and 12.0 yards on punt returns.
The Cardinals also have QB Drew Stanton in for a visit according to Albert Breer. Stanton hasn’t taken a snap since 2010 when he graded at -7.0 for the Detroit Lions.
23.15: Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports is reporting that Rashard Mendenhall is landing in Arizona. If he were to sign that would make plenty of sense with the recent release of Beanie Wells and the Cardinals desire to have running backs who run without much of the pass catching. Mendenhall was underwhelming in 2012, but had a decent Elusive Rating in 2011 at 37.1. If the Cardinals bring in Mendenhall or any other back, it might not matter much if they don’t improve the offensive line as well. The line finished last in our 2012 Offensive Line Rankings earlier this off-season and have yet to improve it.
22.30: SIGNING! Alex Marvez of Fox Sports is reporting that the Falcons have re-signed left tackle Sam Baker and Jason La Canfora is reporting that it’s a six-year deal. Baker is coming off his best season since being drafted in the first round in 2008. He graded at +11.6 overall, good for 27th among offensive tackles. His +6.9 penalty grade led the league as he was guilty of only one all season.
22.16: Former 49ers safety Dashon Goldson has been in Tampa Bay visiting the Buccaneers to possibly form a safety tandem with 2012 first rounder Mark Barron. Goldson was our 20th ranked safety at +6.5 overall and our top remaining free agent safety. He’s a true free safety who would allow Barron to play to his strengths as an-in-the-box safety after he graded at +2.8 against the run but struggled in coverage in his rookie season at -6.8.
22.03: According to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports, if the Lions are unable to sign Reggie Bush, he has visits lined up with Arizona, Washington and Cincinnati lined up. Apparently both Detroit and Arizona are offering full-time roles. Bush set a career-high with 227 carries in 2012 and ranked 12th among running backs with an Elusive Rating of 28.3.
21.40: According to Pro Football Talk it appears likely that the Broncos are going to take a chance on Rashard Mendenhall being healthy enough to add something to their backfield. The sad thing about Mendenhall is he was starting to impress when a torn ACL injury really derailed his career and rendered his 2012 year a waste. After all not everyone is Adrian Peterson when it comes to super human recovery. It makes sense for him to take an incentive laden deal, though with a surprisingly strong market developing for his talents, who knows?
21.30: RELEASED! This was inevitable after the Dolphins brought in Philip Wheeler, but in an effort to get more explosive the Dolphins overhaul of their linebacker unit is complete with the release of our sixth ranked 4-3 outside linebacker Kevin Burnett. After a rough start in Miami Burnett played like a Pro Bowler last year but it’s clear the team wanted to get younger and more dynamic at the position. Mission accomplished.
21.20: SIGNING! The Redskins have re-signed Kedric Gholston on a three-year deal courtesy of Adam Schefter. Gholston managed 404 snaps in 2012 but with Adam Carriker coming back the 2006 sixth round pick may struggle to see quite as much playing time. He proved a serviceable player much better suited to being a rotational body than a starter in his time with Washington.
21.05: Figures in on the Desmond Bryant deal and it’s easy to see why he’s signed on the Browns dotted line. 5-years and $34m are pretty healthy numbers (per Adam Schefter) with Albert Breer confirming $15m of that guaranteed. He may be a lousy drunk, but he’s one rich football player now.
21.00: SIGNING! After a stellar 2011 Erin Henderson was met with a rather lukewarm market for his services. With a year where his play fell off (though he still graded positively) he’s not going to spend quite as long waiting for his market to develop, instead becoming the sixth Viking to re-sign today (or is it seven, there’s been a lot of them) per Jason La Canfora. Henderson is a good two-down player who is at his best around the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately for him he can be exposed in coverage and in the modern NFL that is always going to limit your value.
20.55: SIGNING! Per Ian Rapoport the Browns are making a swoop for one of the more coveted free agents out there in the shape of Desmond Bryant. The move made for Paul Kruger may garner all the headlines, but when it’s all said and done this might be the best decision the Browns make during this free agency period. Bryant finished the year our sixth ranked defensive tackle in 2012 after impressing massively when asked to play defensive end in the Raiders 4-3 alignment in 2011. He’ll greatly assist the Browns move to a 3-4 defense.
20.45: Some backtracking going on with news that Brent Grimes hasn’t actually reached a deal with the Falcons. Yet. Stay tuned to watch this one develop.
20.40: SIGNINGS! More from Philadelphia who have also brought in both Patrick Chung and Jason Phillips. The Patriots faithful are mighty pleased to see the back of Chung who never took his chances with the organization. Yet such is the talent the Eagles have at safety he represents something of an upgrade. Phillips played a handful (113) snaps for the Panthers last year and didn’t embarrass himself but you have to think he’s ticketed for more of a special teams role in Philadelphia. He managed 11 special teams tackles last year.
20.35: SIGNING! Pro Football Talk is all over the news right now so you want to check them out. They’re reporting the Colts have re-signed Darius Butler on a two-year deal, presumably to man their slot in the year ahead and beyond. The former Patriot excelled here, allowing just 0.94 yards per snap in coverage while in the slot, the 12th best number of all cornerbacks. That helped him to a +4.5 grade on the year and a fully deserved contract.
20.30: SIGNINGS! The Eagles are continuing their roster overhaul by bringing in a couple of players with a lot to prove. Isaac Sopoaga has been signed up according to Albert Breer on a three-year deal worth $12m with $5m in guarantees. That’s a bit rich for our liking with Sopoaga one of these players who wherever you line him up looks instantly replaceable. Don’t expect a huge impact from him 49ers fans. Bradley Fletcher on the other hand is someone that intrigues all of us at PFF. Per Adam Caplan he’s signed up and if he can stay healthy then he’s got a lot of talent he brings with him. Last year, despite being demoted from a Rams lineup that was keen to move on from him, he made the most of his opportunities to allow only 0.52 yards per snap in coverage. The lowest of all cornerbacks in the league.
20.25: SIGNING! The Steelers, always one of the more active teams in free agency, have signed David Johnson to a one-year deal according to Gerry Dulac. Johnson missed all of 2012 injured but earned a +9.0 for his run blocking in 2011. Getting him back on the field promises to help an ailing rushing attack.
20.20: SIGNING! Did you think Miami was done for the day? Silly you. Pro Football Talk reports that they’ve signed Philip Wheeler on a five-year, $26m deal with half of that guaranteed. That’s a hefty sum of money but Wheeler did finish the year our sixth ranked outside linebacker with his knack for generating pressure (he had 30 of them) something that nobody could avoid. The question now is what becomes of Kevin Burnett after the earlier departure of Karlos Dansby.
20.15: SIGNING! Good news for the Falcons who let one cornerback go last week in Dunta Robinson have ensured they aren’t losing another. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter they’re bringing back Brent Grimes for one more year after he missed nearly the whole of 2012 with an Achilles injury. Back in 2011 Grimes had the third highest coverage grade of all cornerbacks, giving up a league low 0.58 yards per snap in coverage. Grimes is extremely talented and if he’s healthy this represents a big move for Atlanta.
20.10: SIGNING! The Broncos have brought back one of their own. Defensive Tackle Kevin Vickerson has re-signed (per Adam Schefter) after a solid 2012 season where he earned a +5.4 grade against the run while offering bits and pieces (14 quarterback disruptions) rushing the passer. With Terrance Knighton visiting it remains to be seen if they bring back the impressive Justin Bannan, who we gave the sixth highest grade of all defensive tackles for his run defense in 2012.
20.00: SIGNING! The Eagles have got themselves a versatile fullback in the shape of James Casey. As we mentioned earlier Casey was on the field at fullback for 17 of the Texans rushing touchdowns in 2012, but it was his work in the receiving game that really caught the eye. He added 330 receiving yards and three touchdowns as a difference maker in the passing game. John McClain of Die Hard fame reported the news that Casey signed for three-years and with a possible $14.5m in case on the table. No wonder he didn’t leave Philly without signing.
19.55: RELEASES! The Raiders were always likely to let go of a few players and they’ve cleared up some cap room in releasing Darrius Heyward-Bey, Michael Huff and Dave Tollefson. They’ve promptly spent a little bit of that on re-signing Phillip Adams. “DHB” has never lived up to his drafting, developing into a solid receiver and no more who failed to make the impact expected of him. Meanwhile Huff should find himself a healthy market, doing a decent enough job when injuries forced him to move from safety to cornerback to highlight his versatility. As for Tollefson? Well it was an odd move on paper and his complete inability to generate pressure (he managed just seven quarterback disrutptions on 115 pass rushes) proved it to be a signing that never should have been made. On the bright side Adams flashed some talent in his late season cameo, and if he can stay healthy he should provide the Raiders some much needed competent play at the cornerback spot.
19.45: The contract numbers are in for Percy Harvin and he’s been handed a mammoth $67m deal over six seasons with only $14.5m guaranteed. We were expecting bigger numbers but this makes a lot of sense for both parties with Harvin’s history of not playing a full load of snaps making him something of a risky proposition. There aren’t many more wide receivers more dangerous than Harvin who forced 22 missed tackles last year despite playing only 427 snaps. The next most was the 17 of Brandon Marshall on 994 snaps.
19.30: So that was an interesting little period. Everyone is taking a little break to dissect all the moves. Meanwhile you should get in touch with our Twitter account and save us from answering an endless supply of questions about Jermon Bushrod.
19.20: Rumor has it, courtesy from Aaron Wilson, that the Ravens have interest in James Harrison. He spent some of his career out of college with the Ravens but never caught on before going on to make himself a force on the Steelers defense. But let’s be honest, it would be extremely odd to see him lining up in a Ravens uniform against the Steelers. But that’s what happens in the NFL and given how Harrison has always tormented Baltimore it makes a lot of sense. We wrote this piece not too long ago detailed what Harrison has left to offer.
19.15: SIGNING! The Ravens have been busy losing a lot of their Super Bowl winning squad, but they’ve added a Super Bowl winner of their own with the signing of Chris Canty. The former Giant was limited to just 300 snaps last year but turned it into a +6.6 grade with him continuing to show a flare for getting to the quarterback. His background playing in a 3-4 defense and 4-3 defense makes him a perfect fit for the Ravens hybrid front.
19.00: VISIT! Judging from the twitter account of Rey Maualuga he’s visiting with the Cardinals, or at least going to be. It’s hard not to upgrade on Paris Lenon, who finished the year our second lowest inside linebacker. But Maualuga actually finished with a lower grade in a very disappointing year for Cincinnati that made him expendable. He has talent but his transition to middle linebacker really seemed to knock him back a bit.
18.55: SIGNING! A big loss for the New York Jets as the KC Star reports that Mike Devito is joining the Kansas City Chiefs. Devito has long been a talented run defender, and while he doesn’t offer any pass rush at least the Chiefs aren’t investing old-school first round pick money on a two down defender. Nice move. Per Jason La Canfora he’s getting over $12m on a three-year deal. Good money for a player like Devito who’s earned it with his at times selfless play.
18.50: SIGNING! The Vikings averaged 6.3 yards per carry when Jerome Felton was lined up at fullback. That was the highest for any team with their fullback on the field and it’s played a part in them re-signing the former Lion per Dan Wiederer.
18.45: RELEASED! Another one from Mr Schefter. The Dolphins have been on a bit of a splurge and are needing to balance the books somewhat. That means the heart and soul of their defense is gone, with Karlos Dansby cut. The aging former Cardinal was our 13th ranked inside linebacker last year (Dannell Ellerbe was 14th) but the Dolphins have got younger and healthier at the spot. He won’t be short on suitors Dansby who had a year that warranted Pro Bowl consideration.
18.40: SIGNING! The move the Rams were desperate to make, with Jared Cook signing for St Louis per Adam Schefter, who himself is having a hell of a day breaking news. Long on potential we’ve all heard how Cook was misused in Tennessee, with the tight end having no interest returning to the Titans. Now, under former Head Coach Jeff Fisher, he’ll get a chance to show what he’s truly capable of. Look for him to see more than nine targets on deep balls he saw last year. He did catch three of those with them ending up in touchdowns. He’ll be one of the most interesting players to watch next year.
18.35: SIGNING! Ian Rapoport is breaking some news that the Bears and Jermon Bushrod are putting together the finishing touches on a long term deal. The Saints Bushrod has become a solid tackle after initially struggling protecting the blindside of Drew Brees, but does he offer much of an upgrade on J’Marcus Webb? In our pass blocking efficiency rankings Webb finished 35th overall, and Bushrod 44th. There are other mitigating circumstances (such as help afforded, opposition) but Bears fans shouldn’t expect this move to fix their offensive line. Not on it’s own. In any case Mr Schefter has confirmed this. Yippee.
18.30: Just updated some numbers on the Delanie Walker deal per Mr Schefter, and that’s it’s a 4-year, $17.5m deal with $8.6m of that guaranteed. That’s not bad money if you can find the work.
18.10: SIGNING! The Vikings have re-signed a fourth player for the day, with Jamarca Sandford. Despite Minnesota keen to rotate him out of the lineup, he formed a promising partnership with Harrison Smith and earned a +4.5 grade that makes the two-year deal they handed him a smart move. The retooling goes on.
18.05: RUMORS! There seems to be a market developing for DeAngelo Hall, a man who gave up 1,045 yards into his coverage last year. Reports are the Cowboys are contemplating bringing him into play at free safety which is one way of tackling that problem. Nevertheless Mike Jones mentions the Vikings, Bucs and Falcons as all expressing an interest as well as the Lions.
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