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.
Turn the page for what happened before 6pm ET
18.00: SIGNING! Another deal for Indianapolis, who have snapped up the under utilized Falcons defensive end Lawrence Sidbury. Why not? Since being selected in the 2009 draft he’s managed just 362 defensive snaps with the Falcons never convinced by what he brings to the table. Maybe a fresh start will be what gets the best out of him.
17:55! An update from Bob McGinn with some contract numbers regarding Erik Walden. Apparently it’s $16m over four years. They’ve done a lot of good work today but that’s not a good move for a player who just doesn’t offer a whole lot. It will be surprising to see him earn anywhere near that amount come the end of this deal.
17.50: SIGNINGS! The Dolphins have been busy today. They’ll be happy to have gotten starting free safety Chris Clemons back for a year after he posted a +4.4 grade for his work last year. But they’ll be even happier to have landed the Ravens top priority, Dannell Ellerbe, making the assumed successor to Ray Lewis their man. What this means for either Karlos Dansby or Kevin Burnett is anyone’s guess, but time will tell.
17.45: RELEASED! Here’s one from earlier. The Bills released Ryan Fitzpatrick. Why you might ask? Well if you go back and watch how he played last year you’ll get your answer. It was always a bad move investing big on him and in the end it led to the downfall of Chan Gailey. He was our 35th (out of 38) ranked quarterback last year. He’ll find a job, but as a backup.
17.40: SIGNING! The Chargers were in desperate need of some offensive line help and so that has led them to bringing in King Dunlap according to Adam Caplan. Dunlap had some problems in the run game but his work in the passing game will reassure many Bolt fans after he finished the year with the 15th best pass blocking efficiency score of all offensive tackles. It’s not flashy, but it’s an upgrade.
17.35: SIGNING! A real nice move by the Colts who have snapped up Donald Thomas as they go about retooling an offensive line that gave up a league leading 244quarterback disruptions last year. The underrated Thomas filled in ably when New England needed to, and it saw him turn his 614 snaps into a +10.2 grade (which was actually better than that of Pro Bowler Logan Mankins). He’s a talented player and it’s one of the better moves on the day.
17.30: SIGNING! In case you missed the big deal of the day, the Dolphins got their man in Mike Wallace. He got himself $30m guaranteed on a five-year worth up to $65m. It’s not bad money if you can get, but the homerun threat Wallace brings to the Dolphins offense could prove crucial if they’re to challenge the Patriots.
17.25: SIGNING! Another one from the Colts who have announced they’ve signed out bottom ranked 3-4 outside linebacker from 2012, Erik Walden. His pass rushing was pitiful, turning his 369 pass rushes into just 23 quarterback disruptions, while blowing contain on a number of occasions in the run game. Packers fans are united in being the most happy about this move.
17.20: SIGNING! They didn’t tender him when they had the chance but the Giants obviously see something in Ryan Torain and have brought him back on a one-year deal per according to his agent Blake Baratz. Torain always ran well when he was a Redskin before injuries cut him down and saw him deemed surplus to requirements. He presents some interesting depth if the G-Men have some issues in the offensive backfield going forward. Or he’s a guy who will be easy to cut. Either way, it is what it is.
17.15: SIGNING! The Colts have been busy haven’t they? They’ve announced that Greg Toler is joining their defensive back ranks. Though he battled injuries that limited him to only 308 snaps, he graded at +6.8 overall including +8.8 in coverage last year. Opponents completed only 42 percent of passes into his coverage and he defensed six of the 41 passes thrown his way. A shrewd move for a player high on potential if he can just stay healthy, and on the field.
17.10: SIGNING! Confirming the report from earlier, Martellus Bennett has indeed signed with the Bears on a four-year deal. He bet on himself with a one-year prove it deal, finished fifth overall in our tight end rankings, and now gets the long term security every player is after. Kudos.
17.10: SIGNING! Numerous people reported the Colts locking down Gosder Cherlius (with Daniel Jeremiah being the first to report it), but it’s Albert Breer who has come through with the news its a five-year deal. Cherilus had himself a fine year in pass protection for the Lions that propelled him to second overall in our right tackle rankings, giving up 38 quarterback disruptions on 787 pass blocking snaps. Still with rumors of Cherilus having some issues with his knees it’s a worry for a Colts line that absolutely has to get better at protecting his quarterback if they want to improve.
17.05: SIGNING! It’s nice being a backup quarterback. You don’t have any of the pressure of facing NFL defenses and spend your days carrying a clipboard around. Then, if you’re Chase Daniels, you turn that into a three-year, $3m per annum deal according to Jason La Canfora. There’s more to it than that, but it’s interesting that the Chiefs were happy to make such a big investment on a guy with 70 career snaps in four years in the league.
17.00: SIGNING! Because punters are people to, the Redskins have re-signed Sav Rocca. He was our 19th ranked punter in 2012. So there’s that. For a team short on cash it makes a lot of sense to tie up role players like Rocca without much fuss.
16.55 SIGNING! Resigned to losing Jared Cook, the Tennessee Titans have snapped up Delanie Walker according to Jim Wyatt. There’s no confirmation on whether Walker dropped the pen when signing his deal, though there is confirmation (from our good selves) that he dropped nine of 30 catchable balls thrown his way for the worst drop rate of any tight end. On the plus side he redeemed himself with some excellent blocking that indicates he could contribute on an every down basis if he sorts out his problems with the dropsies.
16.50: SIGNING! Big news for San Diego who have added to their offense with the signing of John Phillips. The former Cowboy is a tight end who has signed a 3-year deal according to Adam Schefter, after playing just 342 snaps in a backup role to Jason Witten last year. He earned negative grades for his work in the passing game for those Chargers fans hoping they’d found some pass protection help.
16.45: RUMOR! The Eagles look like they could be busy these next few days turning over their roster. According to Dan Graziano it looks like they could be getting James Casey snapped up. Casey represents an interesting weapon at the fullback spot, and while he’s not the best blocker in the league, it’s worth noting that the Texans picked up 17 of their rushing touchdowns when he was on the field lined up at fullback.
16.40: SIGNING! Mike Garafolo broke it and the rest of the world have confirmed that it is the Broncos that have got their hands on Louis Vasquez. It’s a 4-year deal for $23.5m and it plays into the old philosphy that if you can snap up someone from a divisional rival and who improves your team, you do. It’s an upgrade for the line given some of the problems they had at right guard, but Vasquez is far from a difference maker in the run game, an area the Broncos have struggled some. More of a worry has to be where this leaves the Chargers, already owners of a terrible line with a lack of depth.
16.35: VISITS! The Eagles want to be the 49ers. Or something like that. They’re bringing in two their defensive linemen as they attempt to make the switch from underachieving 4-3 defense, to a super successful 3-4 one. Those men? Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. Only kidding. It’s Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois. That’s not quite as excited right? Sopoaga has long been someone who has benefited from the talent around him meaning his lack of ability to do much of anything went unnoticed. The more versatile Jean-Francois graded out positively last year when filling in across the line and is attracting a lot of interest as teams try to steal away the 49ers defensive line depth.
16.30: SIGNING! Adam Schefter is earning his money today (and then some). Paul Kruger has signed with the Browns on a 5-year, $40m deal. That’s a lot fairer than some of the talk that had Kruger going for north of $10m a year, but it’s worth noting that Kruger still has a lot to prove. Sure he led our pass rushing productivity charts for all 3-4 outside linebackers, but he hasn’t done it as a full time starter, with Kruger noticeably struggling when Terrell Suggs was out hurt. Still it’s a big and bold move by a Browns outfit that needed to make a statement, and needed to get some pass rush. Consider them successful on both fronts.
16.25: SIGNING! A big deal this one with Adam Schefter reporting that the Titans have locked down Andy Levitre for an absurd 6-years and $46.8m. Really? Levitre is a good guard (finishing ninth in our guard rankings last year) and he offers the kind of versatility which is extremely helpful along an offensive line. But is he a special player that is the difference between winning and loser? More to the point is he a better player than say Ben Grubbs or Evan Mathis who would earn signficantly less per annum than Levitre? His agent deserves a lot of credit for turning the Titans massive need at guard into a massive pile of money for his client.
16.20: RELEASED! This one was always on the cards once the Titans brought in the infinitely better George Wilson, but they’ve put Jordan Babineaux out of his misery according to John Glennon and released him to save some cap room. Babineaux earned a -5.1 grade last year with his coverage woes being particularly noticeable. On the plus side he wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Michael Griffin, so he’s got that going for him.
16.15: SIGNING! From the twitter account of Adam Teicher, the Chiefs have signed Anthony Fasano. They must be hoping he can be the player they desperately hoped Kevin Boss would become before injuries ended his time in Kansas City prematurely. Fasano has always been an excellent blocking tight end who offers something in the shorter and intermediate areas of the passing game. A fine complementary tight end if Tony Moeaki can regain his rookie form a year further removed from injury.
16.10: VISIT! Everyone is reporting that Mike Wallace is in Miami right now talking terms with the Dolphins, in a move that everyone and their gran saw coming. Miami are desperate for a deep threat, and Wallace is desperate for a team with deep pockets. It’s like a match made in heaven. Wallace was poor by his high standards last year, but he showed his ability to be a big play, game changing style receiver in 2010 and 2011, finishing in the top 15 of our receiver rankings for wideouts both years. More on this one to follow when it’s confirmed. Unless some cheeky scamp of a team wants to swoop in and thwart the Dolphins.
16.05: RUMOR! The Bears have (possibly) made the first big splash of free agency and locked up long time Pro Football Focus favorite Martellus Bennett courtesy of our own Mike Clay. The most complete tight end available on the market has always shown what a talented blocker he is, but he used his one-year prove it deal with the Giants to show he’s more than just an early downs player. He finished fifth overall in our tight end rankings for the year with positive grades in every area of his play. His cryptic tweeting suggests he’s locked in on Chicago, but he also says a deal is not currently done. Make of that what you will.
16.00: SIGNING! The Vikings have re-signed Joe Berger to a one-year deal. There’s bigger news to come, but Berger provides solid depth on the interior of the Vikings offensive line even if he only played three snaps on offense last year. Going back to 2011 he managed 502 snaps for the Vikings and earned a +11.0 grade, indicating that he can be an excellent contributor if given a chance. We wouldn’t bet against him putting some pressure on either of the guards in Minnesota.
15.50: SIGNING! Big one for the Vikings. In a move that reinforces the notion they’re going to keep on running the ball (and why wouldn’t they) they’re not letting Phil Loadholt hit the open market. Our eighth ranked right tackle in the 2012 season is reporting to have inked an extension courtesy of Tom Pelissero. It’s no real surprise with Loadholt a big part of the Vikings success running the ball, where they averaged 8.6 yards per carry on all runs outside right tackle.
15.45: SIGNING! The Bengals are doing their best to bring back their entire defensive line from 2012 into the new league year. After re-upping on Wallace Gilberry for three years, they’re also bringing back Robert Geathers according to Geoff Hobson. Geathers has always struggled to generate pressure, but his versatility has long been an asset to the Bengals, who like to get him working from the inside in their nickel package. Geathers was our fifth lowest ranked defensive end last years and we can’t fathom (other that concerns over the conditioning of Carlos Dunlap) how he’s held down the starting defensive left end job for so long.
15.40: SIGNING! From Mike Garafolo, Aaron Ross is returning to the New York Giants after a failed stint in Jacksonville. The former Super Bowl winner had his issues in New York but was positively exposed as a Jaguar, allowing 1,3 yards per snap in coverage, giving up three touchdowns, and not intercepting any balls in his 369 snaps in coverage. The Giants will be hoping a return to familiar surroundings brings out the best in Ross.
15.35: RELEASED! It has been on the cards for a while, but Adam Schefter is now reporting that today is the day when the Eagles part ways with Nnamdi Asomugha. The man who should cause every General Manager to act in a cautious manner in free agency, is one of the biggest FA flops in recent memory. He failed to deliver on his much hyped arrival in Philadelphia and was found out as teams went after him more and more. This year quarterbacks had a 120.6 quarterback rating throwing at him (fifth highest in the league) as he surrendered 698 yards on his 66 targets with five touchdowns allowed. Heed the warning about paying big guys.
15.25 SIGNING! The agent of Ben Hartsock, Mike McCartney, has broken the news that his client has re-signed with the Panthers. The former Jet played 209 snaps last year in a purely blocking role and excelled as we would expect. His +6.7 grade for his blocking was the eighth highest of all tight ends, with all those above him playing considerably more snaps. Limited upside but he’s a proven asset when the Panthers run the ball.
15.20 SIGNING! With just less than an hour left until free agency opens the Rams have struck to ensure that DE William Hayes will return to St Louis according to Mike Garafolo. On a “prove it” one year deal Hayes was a productive run defender on limited snaps, he led 4-3 defensive ends with a run stop percentage of 13.2% this past season. Hayes wasn’t tremendously productive as a pass rusher (24 pressures on 217 snaps) but he did a good job of converting pressure into sacks with 7 of his 24 pressures resulting in a sack.
15.15 RELEASE! It’s not often that Adam Schefter is beaten to the punch but Leon Washington managed to do it tweeting his own release, thanking Seahawk fans in the process, before Schefter could announce it. A dynamic and consistent returner Washington was due $1.5million in base salary but the arrival of Percy Harvin his versatility on special teams and offense was of diminished value to the Seahawks. Washington graded as a top 10 punt returner each of the last two seasons.
15.15 RUMOR! The Jets are always good for a rumor and Manish Mehta has come up with the goods again reporting that the Jets have tabbed their replacement for outgoing free agent RB Shonn Greene. Mehta reports that the Jets are looking at former Carolina and Oakland RB Mike Goodson as his replacement. On 35 carries this season (non-qualifying) Goodson registered an elusive rating of 124.5 and forced 13 missed tackles on 51 touches.
15.05 RUMOR! According to ProFootballTalk the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are a “serious trade partner” for Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets. Considering what the Buccaneers threw at Eric Wright last season in one of the most unexpected big contract moves early in last year’s free agent period the mind boggles at the sort of money they could offer to Revis coming off of an ACL surgery. If healthy Revis is the league’s premier corner but teams moving for him are gambling a lot in terms of picks, dollars and cap space to get the pre-injury Revis.
Turn the page for earlier updates
14.35 RUMOR! Reports earlier today had division rival Chicago pushing hard for Phil Loadholt but also according to Tom Pelissero the Vikings are on the verge of a deal with their giant right tackle. Whilst he has had his struggles throughout his career as a pass protector Loadholt was much improved this season and graded positively as both a pass protector (+7.0) and a run blocker (+11.1). The latter is the key thing Loadholt brings to the table with the Vikings averaging 8.4 yards per carry to the outside of Loadholt they don’t want to risk losing his impact on the ground game.
14.30 RELEASE! The Vikings are waving goodbye to another one of their best players as Tom Pelissero announces that they have released CB Antoine Winfield. Most other teams around the league are placing an increasing importance on getting productivity, and limiting the oppositions productivity from the slot, but in just more than 24 hours the Vikings have jettisoned one of the league’s best slot receivers and one of the league’s best slot corners. Winfield led the league in stops by a cornerback last year with 26 (next best was 16) and his tackles in run defense came at an average gain of 2.4 yards, also by far the best mark among corners. Minnesota gains $7.25million in cap relief by releasing Winfield.
14.30 TENDERING! The Lions are faced with their entire defensive end corps hitting free agency this off-season but one that should be back is Willie Young who according to Tim Twentyman has been tendered at the second round level. The Lions will hope that in a potentially expanded role they will be getting the 2011 version of Young who was third in our pass rushing productivity metric at 13.7 but in 2012 he was 14th lowest 6.2, quite the decline.
14.25 SIGNING! With the 4 O’clock hour just more than 90 minutes away Adam Schefter is starting to bring in the news. Just ahead of the new league year, and on the back of re-structures and releases, he reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers have reached agreement on a multi-year deal with ILB Larry Foote. Earlier in the day it was reported that the Cardinals were interested in Foote as a, marginal, upgrade on Paris Lenon but instead Foote returns to continue his second stint in the Steel City. Things didn’t go well for Foote in his first year as a starter since his one year in Detroit, his run defense grade was a disappointing -9.0 and he allowed four touchdowns in coverage. The Steelers are getting a known commodity in Foote but they will need to see more from him moving forwards.
14.20 RE-STRUCTURE! The Steelers continue to make moves to create them some breathing room against the cap this time re-structuring the contract of OLB Lamarr Woodley according to Dale Lolley. Since signing his big contract (6yrs, $61million, $22million in guarantees) Woodley’s performances have not lived up to the expectations such a contract demands. The Steelers save $4million against the cap this year and will hope to get better value from Woodley moving forwards.
14.15 RUMOR! With Chris Clemons hitting free agency the Miami Dolphins have a need at free safety and according to Omar Kelly of the Miami Sun-Sentinel they are eyeing a replacement. Kelly reports that the Dolphins are showing interest in former Packers S/CB Charles Woodson. Making the stereotypical late career switch from corner to safety Woodson was solid for Green Bay last season and offers the versatility to cover downfield and be active around the line of scrimmage, at least in the short term.
13.55 RUMOR! Versatile receiving tight ends are one of the must have items for NFL teams these days and Rich Cimini is reporting that the Titans will look to make a like for like replacement in their offense when free agency opens. Citing the every reliable “source” he suggests that the Titans will look to replace the departing, and under-used, Jared Cook with impending Jets free agent TE Dustin Keller. In New York Keller had experience both as a slot weapon but can also be used more as an inline tight end than the Titans were willing to do with Cook.
13.50 RUMOR! According to Jason LaCanfora the Pittsburgh Steelers will ink a one year deal with former receiver Plaxico Burress in the coming days. After signing with the Steelers midway through last season he only played 34 snaps and in four games and caught three passes, including a touchdown, on seven targets. Considering the Steelers state against the cap and the impending departure of Mike Wallace, two hours and counting, Burress figures to see an expanded this season alongside Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.
13.45 RELEASE! After years of the Texans settling for Kevin Walter being their second wide receiver Adam Schefter reports that they are finally moving on from their reliable if unspectacular starter. Whilst he may not garner a great deal of interest as any sort of game breaking receiver Walter is a safe pair of hands, part of the reason the Texans were always so comfortable falling back to him. In the last three seasons combined Walter only dropped eight passes. The cap strapped Texans save $2.5million against the cap with this move.
13.40: RELEASE! News from Gerry DuLac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the Steelers will today release G Willie Colon. One of the few quality performers on some poor Pittsburgh offensive lines of the last five years injuries caught up to Colon in recent seasons, including missing almost the entire 2011 season. Colon sporadically showed good form at guard this season but in spite of some quality displays this season he missed five games and committing eight holding penalties. His release saves the Steelers $5.5million against this year’s cap.
13.20: RUMOR! According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post Dispatch the Rams have shown interest in CB Brent Grimes. With Janoris Jenkins, Cortland Finnegan and Trumaine Johnson under contract that is a fairly crowded backfield in St Louis but Finnegan does carry a $15million cap hit this season coming. After his injuries Grimes would be sure to come in significantly cheaper than that.
13.10: SIGNING! Nobody is breaking news on the Ravens like Aaron Wilson, who informed us all that James Ihedigbo will return to the Ravens on a one-year deal. Ihedigbo found an ideal role for himself this year as a backup safety and core special teamer after being exposed somewhat when starting for the Patriots in 2011. He was on the field for 295 snaps this season.
13.05: SIGNING! Who needs Percy Harvin when you can re-sign Jerome Simpson (per Adam Schefter)? The Vikings are bringing back their incredibly athletic (and incredibly inconsistent) receiver to see if he can improve upon a pretty disappointing first year in Minnesota. Simpson turned his 262 routes into just 274 yards. That meant he earned himself 1.05 yards per route run, 0.02 more than Michael Jenkins managed. Kevin Williams responded to the news questioning just who exactly Simpson is.
13.00! Welcome to the Official Pro Football Focus Free Agency Day One Blog. Building on our countdown to free agency blog we’re getting ready for the main event with all the big deals going down. We’ll be updating this blog every fifteen minutes with news, reaction and analysis to all the goings on. Bookmark it and enjoy it.