2013 Free Agency Live Blog: Day 2
Hungover from yesterday’s whirlwind of free agency action? Understandable, but you’ve got no time to recover — we’re barreling into Day 2 of the NFL’s 2013 calendar and there are plenty of free agents who’ve yet to find a home.
As we did on Day 1, we’ll have this blog manned around the clock to update with comments on all the day’s developments.
Get caught up on the action that got us to this point by checking out our Countdown to Free Agency and Day 1 blogs. You can also 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 than that, then you really need to get yourself a PFF Premium Subscription.
Let’s start the Day 2 blogging!
(Manually refresh the page every 15 minutes to update the blog)
23:50: SIGNING!: According to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego, the Chargers have signed former Jaguars cornerback Derek Cox to a 4-year deal. He’s graded at -2.5 last season after career year in 2011 that saw him grade at +6.8, though he only played six games. And therein lies the problem with Cox who has not played all 16 games in a season since his rookie year in 2009. His negative grade last season stemmed from his tackling woes that saw him miss one out of every 5.2 attempts, fourth-worst among cornerbacks.
23:29: SIGNING!: LaRon Landry to the Colts appears to be final according to Jason La Canfora. Ian Rapoport reports it as a 4-year deal worth $6 million per year including $14 million guaranteed. The Colts’ defensive overhaul continues.
23:27: After visiting the Eagles earlier today, Ricky Jean-Francois is visiting the Colts and there are pictures to prove it.
23.14: Have the Steelers found James Harrison’s replacement? According to Jason La Canfora, OLB Victor Butler will be in for a visit tomorrow. Butler has experience as a 3-4 outside linebacker and he graded at +7.2 overall last season including +3.3 as a pass rusher. He’s shown well for the majority of his four seasons in Dallas as a backup so this may be his chance to earn a starting job.
23.05: With the signing of Rodgers-Cromartie, exactly 50 members of our top 100 free agent list have either re-signed or given a restricted free agent tender. While plenty of players are off the board, there are still plenty of good players to go around. If anything happens tonight we will certainly keep you posted, and we will definitely keep you posted on our live blog over the coming days.
22.50 SIGNING!: According to Adam Schefter, the Broncos have signed former Eagles cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He joins future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey and Chris Harris Jr. who emerged as a great corner who can play in the slot and be a potential Pro Bowler. For most of the season Tony Carter ended up as the corner to come in on nickel situations and performed admirably allowing just a 49.3 catch rate. Regardless the Broncos felt the need to add depth to an already strong position. Rodgers-Cromartie had three interceptions and 13 passes defended but frequently had the yellow flag thrown at him with 11 penalties on the year. This isn’t a good sign for Tracy Porter returning to Denver.
22.35 The signings for today might not be over yet! Jason La Canfora is reporting that LaRon Landry is very likely going to sign with the Colts tonight. In 2012 Tom Zbikowski was a starter, but was replaced late in the season by Joe Lefeged. Best guess is Landry would take over this spot next to Antonie Bethea. The Colts have already made plenty of changes on defense with the additions of Greg Toler, Erik Walden and Lawrence Sidbury, so it isn’t surprising the Colts are still trying to upgrade. While Landry wasn’t quiet worthy of the Pro Bowl last year, he can bring a presence in the run game that the safeties in Indianapolis didn’t have as much last year.
22.20 Earlier today it sounded like Josh Cribbs was very close to a done deal with the Arizona Cardinals who went on a spending spree today on lesser known free agents. Now Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer Browns is saying a deal is mostly in place, and should be finalized in the morning. Last year Cribbs received anywhere between zero and ten offensive snaps each game which led to seven catches and six carries. He likely would be the Cardinals kick returner as he averaged 27.4 yards per return while the returners last year William Powell averaged 24.1 and LaRod Stephens-Howling had 22.5.
22.10 VISIT!: John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is continuing the news on the NFL wide game of musical safeties. Tomorrow we should see Ed Reed visiting the Texans and Charles Woodson visiting the 49ers. If no deals are made, then we could very well see Reed visiting the 49ers and Woodson visiting the Texans. Houston lost Glover Quin today to the Lions, so there need for safety also makes sense. Once the game of musical safeties ends, it will be interesting to see which safeties are left standing without a team waiting for an injury so they can sign on with a team.
21.55 VISIT!: Just when you thought nothing else would be quiet for the night, Adam Schefter comes to the rescue with a tidbit of news. Free agent safety Louis Delmas left St. Louis and is now heading to San Francisco. The Rams are looking to replace their recently released Quintin Mikell, while the 49ers need a replacement for Dashon Goldson who made big money with the Buccaneers. Whoever loses in the Delmas sweepstakes won’t have such a huge loss with so many other safeties available. Kerry Rhodes, Mikell, Kenny Phillips, Charles Woodson, Ed Reed, Adrian Wilson and LaRon Landry are amongst the bigger names still left on the market, and then there is always the draft. Delmas missed the beginning of the season, but in his time quarterbacks just had a 61.0 QB Rating when throwing his way.
21.45: In case you’ve been watching these moves and wondering what any of them mean for a players fantasy value, chances are the PFF Fantasy team already has you covered. They have been reacting to the major moves after they happen and how it will effect their fantasy value.
21.15: While it’s easy to get caught up in all of the players in new teams, it’s also worth noting the teams that have been quiet over the first two days of free agency. By a quick count, only nine teams have yet to acquire a new player by free agency or trade. This includes the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets and Washington Redskins. Some of these teams have faced salary cap issues which have prevented them from making moves. The three teams that are the exception are the Falcons, Bengals and Packers who have the cap space and have stayed quiet so far. It will be worth see when any of these 2012 playoff teams start to get a little more active with their cap space, or if they truly want to just build through the draft.
21.00: The majority of the signings so far have been of players that are in their fourth or fifth year in the league, while most of the players on the wrong side of 30 have had to wait. One of those players who has yet to reach a deal is Brian Urlacher, who according to the Chicago Tribune has been in contact with the Minnesota Vikings. While it is never fun to see a legend who has played with one team for so long switch teams late in their career, the sting hurts that much worse when it goes to a rival team. The Vikings have spent most of free agency bringing back most of their own men. This includes Erin Henderson, but their middle linebacker from last year Jasper Brinkley is still available. Even though Urlacher isn’t the player he once was, he would still be a major upgrade in terms of coverage over Brinkley if the Vikings were to sign Urlacher.
20.45 VISIT!: There was a time where the free agent wide receivers was the most talented position group. Less than 30 hours into free agency the talent has mostly dried up with a few exceptions. One of the best receivers remaining is Brandon Gibson, who is visiting the New York Jets according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. He is staying there at least until tomorrow, so there is a decent chance Gibson could become the second former Ram to join an AFC East team in free agency. Outside of bringing a few of their players back, the Jets have been very quiet this free agency period, and good skill players is definitely a need for them.
20.15: We’re still waiting on numbers for the Cliff Avril deal but the shocking thing is that it’s only for two years. That implies the soft market for Avril was somewhat legit, and is understandable when you think he hasn’t really delivered as a top pass rusher would in the past two years since his breakout 2010.
20.00: One of the intriguing things to watch going forward in 2013 will be how the 49ers use Glenn Dorsey. As a former first round pick and fine defender of the run I can’t imagine that Dorsey would have been short on offers that would see him play a considerable amount of action. With that in mind it’s hard to see him simply backing up Justin Smith and Ray McDonald, two guys who rarely come off the field. No, with Isaac Sopoaga leaving it almost makes too much sense that San Fran would want to try Dorsey as their nose tackle. They don’t need him to two-gap with the brilliance of their inside linebackers, and Dorsey has proved a destructive player of the run during his time with KC. It interests me that’s for sure.
19.45: After those two blockbuster deals we’re all taking a little moment to catch our breath. Awaiting the next stunning installment of “Free Agency 2013: Game Changer”.
19.30: Good news and bad news for the Arizona Cardinals fans out there courtesy of Kent Somers. The good news is that you managed to usher our lowest ranked inside linebacker in the league last year, Rey Maualuga, out there without accidently signing him to a Stewart Bradley-style deal. The bad news is that Jasper Brinkley is set for a visit and he himself earned a -18.0 grade last year while being relegating to two-down duty. Still it’s not Paris Lenon so that’s something.
19.25: SIGNING! But that’s not the only big deal that just went down. The Patriots have moved on quickly from Wes Welker and signed Danny Amendola to a five-year, $31m deal per Adam Schefter. It fills a big void in the Patriots offense but they have to be concerned with the durability of the injury prone Amendola who averaged 0.14 yards per slot route run less than Wes Welker last year. Wasn’t this supposed to be a quieter free agency? Significant changes in significant places.
19.20: SIGNING! Well forget that for a second. Because Albert Breer is reporting that not only is Cliff Avril on his way to Seattle, he’s actually agreed terms with the Seahawks. You think the Seahawks are in it to win it this year? No terms on the deal yet but the Seahawks have to be hoping that they get more from him than the 35 pressures from 391 pass rushes he managed in 2012. We fully expect him to replace Chris Clemons though whether this sees the Seahawks flirt with a hybrid defense less or more we couldn’t speculate.
19.15: VISIT! More from Schefter who reports that Cliff Avril is alive and well and on his way to Seattle to take his first visit. Now wouldn’t that be a bold move for Seattle to land many peoples top edge rusher without much of a fight? Avril has endured a tough two years in Detroit after his break out 2010 season where he was a pass rushing menace. But his top end talent means we’re a little surprised he’s found such a soft market. Maybe this visit will spark things into life …
19.10: SIGNING! It’s gone quiet so Adam Schefter has brought us all back to life with the stunning news that Jonathan Casillas will be staying in the NFC South. Only it won’t be with the New Orleans Saints. No the treacherous swine is bidding the Saints adieu and taking his talents to Tampa Bay. And so a rivalry was reignited. Casillas has hung around the Saints since being an undrafted free agent in 2009, seeing his most considerable action in 2011 when he earned a horrid -11.4 grade. In his defense that was with Gregg Williams coaching the team and near enough any linebacker the Saints had (save Danny Clark) looked poor during those years. It’s hard to imagine him being anything more than a special teamer in Tampa.
19.00: VISIT! The Colts, bored due to the fact they haven’t signed anyone recently, will be hosting Ricky Jean-Francois who finished his visit to Philadelphia without a contract per Matt Barrows. We’ve spent too many words talking about “RJF” this year but in summation he’s a guy that will provide depth all along the defensive line, and promises to add something to the run defense of whichever team he joins. You just wouldn’t want to overpay a player who has yet to prove himself a starter in the league.
18.45 SIGNING! Another one for the Titans who have signed special teams and nickel linebacker Moise Fokou according to Jim Wyatt. The former Eagle was last seen in Indianapolis where he spent most of his time as a sub package linebacker amassing 390 snaps and earning a +0.9 grade. He’s earned a two-year deal with Tennessee and looks a like for like replacement with the departed Will Witherspoon.
18.20 RELEASE! Various reporters at ESPN Dallas have broken the news that the Cowboys have cut ties with veteran DE Marcus Spears today. With the Cowboys’ cap strapped state and an impending switch to a 4-3 players like Spears were always likely to be far game as the Cowboys transition their defensive roster. Spears was involved in a heavy rotation on the defensive line this season for the Cowboys, one of four players to play between 300 and 400 snaps, and for what he was principally there to do (defend the run) he was at least solid earning a 0.0 grade for that facet of his game this season. Spears hasn’t been the same player, or at least graded to the same level, since he went down halfway through the 2010 season. In those first nine weeks he earned a +6.6 overall grade including a +9.5 run defense grade. Since then his overall grade is -7.1 and his run defense grade -3.5, a player on the decline?
18.15 SIGNING! Another team busy making moves on Day 2 is the Arizona Cardinals who have announced their fifth signing of the day in the shape of form Jets’ safety Yeremiah Bell. Having saved money by the release of Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes the Cardinals now have a pressing need at safety and have filled one spot with Bell who was nothing more than steady for the Jets last season. Unlikely to make a highlight reel play for you Bell was at least a safe pair of hands for the Jets and his one real letdown performance (-4.1) came in the Jets’ final dead rubber defeat against the Bills in Week 17.
18.10 SIGNING! Next up for the Raiders on their day of budget signings is former Broncos and DE Jason Hunter. Having missed the entire 2012 season the most recent data we have on Hunter is from the 2011 season where he wasn’t his most productive registering only 10 pressures (1 Sk, 9 Hu) and earning a -9.7 pass rush grade. Things don’t get any better for Hunter until you get back to the middle of the 2010 season when he had a solid first half of the season with Denver (+7.1 for the first eight weeks of the season).
18.00: VISIT! We were starting to wonder if the attempts of Ed Reed, his agents and his former teammates to drum up a market in him were failing. Well as John McClain reports, the Texans have taken the bait, and as they are on the rebound from Glover Quin dumping them, they’re reaching out to Ed. If Reed is expecting a big pay day he might not bother with the up-against-the-cap Texans, but after a year where he looked visibly slower, he might not have a great deal more options. He stilled earned a positive grade in coverage, but the multitude of missed tackles (15) of them, are a worry.
17.58: RUMOR! According to Matt Maiocco the 49ers and and Nnamdi Asomugha have mutual interest in a joining of their good selves. Everybody knows Asomugha will go down as one of the biggest free agent busts in history for his failed run with the Eagles, but with something to prove who’s to say he can’t find some of his old form on the West Coast? Well most people who watched him get torched and allowed quarterbacks a 120.6 rating into his coverage. But still, weirder things have happened.
17.55: SIGNING! The Raiders are trying to find some bargains out there and according to the agent of Pat Sims, it’s led to them signing his client. Sims has been something of a constant underachiever, failing to crack the Bengals starting lineup and rarely making the most of his opportunities as the chief backup to both Geno Atkins and Domata Peko. He played just 209 snaps last year as he battled injuries, registering a 0.0 grade with a positive in the run game, and negative for his pass rushing. You’d imagine this was a low risk move by the Raiders as they try and bring their cap in line with the rest of the league.
17.50: SIGNING! The Broncos are extremely busy today aren’t they? John Elway is breaking most of the news himself, the fiend, but his latest bit of tweeting sees him welcoming Terrance Knighton to the organization. Knighton fell out of favor with the Jaguars old coaching staff despite making a pretty decent impact (+4.2) on his 666 snaps, and has always been on of these players who on his day looks like he could warrant Pro Bowl consideration. Unfortunately there’s a lot of less than stellar performances from him out there. Can Denver get the best from him on a regular basis?
17.45: SIGNING! This one comes from Kent Somers who informs us it’s cornerback swapsies between the Cardinals and Colts. After losing Greg Toler to Indianapolis Arizona is bringing in Jerraud Powers. The now former Colt allowed 65% of balls into his coverage to be complete, four of which were touchdowns. He did however intercept one ball and deflect another eight. So that’s something. Consider this a win for Indy depending on the size of this deal.
17.40: Updated numbers on the Geno Hayes to Jacksonville deal from Aaron Wilson. The Jags may have got themselves a bargain because it’s a two-year deal for just $2m. If Hayes can somehow rediscover that form of yesteryear, then that could be very handy.
17.35: SIGNING! We like this move by the Raiders. Per Adam Schefter they’ve signed Kaluka Maiava on a three-year, $6m deal. Nice. The former Brown excelled in a two down role in 2012 and it earned him the seventh highest grade of all 4-3 outside linebackers. There’s reason to believe he might be asked to do a little bit more in Oakland, with his work in coverage flying under the radar in Cleveland. He allowed just 0.5 yards per coverage snap, the lowest of all his peers.
17.30: SIGNING! From his agent Mike McCartney we’ve learned that Drew Stanton has signed with the Arizona Cardinals on a three-year deal. Yep that’s how depressed the quarterback market is. There’s been some hype regarding Stanton but the guy we remember is one who when he got a chance to play in both 2009 and 2010 amassed a -14.6 grade on just 357 snaps. So in other words he should fit right in with guys like John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.
17.25: SIGNING! The Cleveland Browns demand your attention. They’ve been out of the news far too long today and so have wrestled attention back to them by bringing back Chris Ogbonnaya for two years (from Mary Kay Cabot). He was only on the field for 153 snaps this year which limited his ability to make the kind of silly mistakes we’d become accustomed to seeing from him when he earned a -7.4 grade on the year (helped by one of the worst running back performances we’ve even seen against the 49ers). He’ll provide depth but if your a Browns fan you’re hoping he doesn’t need to see much of the field at all.
17.15! SIGNING! From Josina Anderson, Lorenzo Alexander is on his way to Arizona on a three-year deal. The special teams stalwart got some action on the defense last year at both inside and outside linebacker but lacked the ability to make a positive impact, grading out as a -6.6 even if he did register 24 combined sacks, hits and hurries. He’ll provide depth.
17.10: RELEASE! He played pretty well last year, but Kerry Rhodes has become a cap casualty in Arizona as per Jason La Canfora. He was bringing a $6m cap hit and obviously wasn’t inclined to take any less money so the Cardinals have called his bluff and he now hits the open market. Rhodes finished the year as our fourth ranked safety, with his monster game against the Jets likely going down as his most impressive performance as a Cardinal. He won’t be short on suitors if his demands are reasonable.
17.00: As you can imagine the NFL community is trying to process this news and understand what it means. The consensus? A very angry Tom Brady. Rumor has it that it’s only a two-year deal for $12m per Schefter. It that really all teams were prepared to pay for a guy who had 72 combined first down and touchdown passes last year (sixth highest in the league).
16.50: SIGNING! No sarcasm attached to this one, because it’s a massive move. Adam Schefter is announcing that the Broncos have reached an agreement with … drumroll please. Wes Welker! We all kind of assumed that Welker would return to New England and it’s probably the biggest surprise of free agency that the Broncos have stepped up to the plate and made him an offer he could sign off on. Of course Welker has become the league’s premier slot receiver, leading the league in slot yardage with 1,040 last year. It almost seems unfair to think Peyton Manning will be throwing to him, Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker.
16.45: SIGNING! Big news for the Chiefs, and if you could infer sarcasm from an opening line, you’d realize I’m talking about how they’ve confirmed they’ve not only signed Donnie Avery, but also Bryan Mattison. He didn’t look all that impressive in his 80 snaps with the Chiefs this year (-1.3) and was terrible back in 2011 with the Rams where he earned every bit of his -9.2 grade. We wouldn’t expect this to change how the Chiefs offensive line looks next year.
16.35: SIGNING! The Titans are really enjoying spending lots of money this week. That’s continued because, as Adam Schefter reports, they’ve landed Sammie Lee Hill on a three-year deal for $11.4m. In all honesty it’s not as bad as some of the deals out there with Lee Hill coming on some as a pass rusher this year, picking up two hits and 17 hurries to earn a +7.9 grade in this regard. There’s a lot of potential there but how is he going to hold up when more is asked of him?
16.30: SIGNING! It’s been a rough couple of days for the Jets but they’re fighting back amidst all the laughter heading their way. Per Pro Football Talk they’re bringing back Lex Hilliard for another year. What you mean that’s not the move Jets fans were pining for? Hilliard was our lowest graded fullback last year because his blocking is terrible. His best work is done on special teams so maybe that’s why they’re not washing their hands of him.
16.25: SIGNING! The Panthers are desperately low on cornerbacks, so they’ve got themselves some affordable relief by bringing in Drayton Florence on a one-year deal per Adam Schefter. Florence spent most of last year in Detroit where he earned a -2.8 grade for his coverage, allowing 63.2% of passes into his coverage to be complete. He’s not the best cornerback out there but when you’re as needy as the Panthers you learn to get by.
16.20: SIGNING! John Elway used to throw a football, now runs a football team, and dabbles in breaking news. Like a boss. Only don’t get to excited Broncos fans because you haven’t landed that slot receiver you so desperately want yet. No you’ve signed Stewart Bradley on a one-year deal. Bradley was poor in Philadelphia and so bad in Arizona that despite them paying him big money he couldn’t crack a starting lineup that featured Paris Lenon, our second lowest ranked inside linebacker in 2012. Don’t expect much.
16.15: VISIT! We won’t lie to you. The world is watching and waiting to see if the on/off love affair between Wes Welker and the New England Patriots is coming to an end after those pesky Broncos made a play for the superstar slot receiver. So it’s all gone a bit quiet (outside of everyone laughing at how much money Shonn Greene received). But Ralph Vacchiano is a pro and he’s still bringing us breaking news. And that news is that the Giants are hosting Ryan Mundy. The free agent safety filled in for Troy Polamalu this year playing 292 snaps and earning a -3.5 grade for his troubles.
Turn the page for more analysis on the developments of the day
16.05: RUMOR! This one courtesy of Rob Demovsky who states that the Packers and Steven Jackson are working on a possible three-year deal. It’s an interesting move from the Packers who are starting to dab their toes into the free agent waters to fill some holes they’ve been struggling to fill for a long time. Jackson would give them the feature back that would bring some real balance to their team, and with a healthy +6.6 rushing grade, he can still get the job done.
15.55: SIGNING! The Titans are flush with cap to spend and, according to Adam Schefter, that means they’re handing $10m over three-years to ex-Jets running back Shonn Greene. This has been in the works all day and returns Greene to a role he is far more suited for; backing up a feature back. Let’s be honest, Greene was given an excellent opportunity to make a name for himself being a very good offensive line. He didn’t take it. Too often he plodded his way through his tenure as a Jet not picking up yards after contact or forcing missed tackles. There were times when he made you think he was capable of more, but they were the exception and not the rule. Tennessee continuing spending an awful lot without getting much in return.
15.40: VISIT! From Armando Salguero, the Dolphins are busy poking and prodding Dustin Keller to see if he’s worth them bothering to put an offer in front of him and his agents. Miami were heavily linked to Jared Cook and with Plan A now a Ram, they turn to Plan B, safe in the knowledge they can get an athletic mismatch and at the same time screw over their divisional rivals. This time of year is so mean spirited.
15.35: POSSIBLE VISIT! From the twitter account of Bryant McKinnie, the man who stepped up in the postseason when the Ravens needed him most, is heading to Miami, which we can assume means he’s visiting with the Dolphins. Either that or he’s heading out to party because we all know McKinnie has a feel for the night life. Signing him (if he is indeed visiting) would certainly lessen the impact of losing Jake Long, if for nothing else it wouldn’t force the Dolphins hands into playing Jonathan Martin at left tackle. McKinnie earned a +5.6 grade for his 418 snaps in 2012 as he proved that when in shape, he can still get the job done.
15.20 SIGNING! More news on a signing from Adam Schefter and this is an intriguing one as the 49ers have reached an agreement with former Chiefs DE Glenn Dorsey. In Kansas City Dorsey played in one of the league’s last true 2-gap schemes and the 49ers have both of their defensive ends installed with Justin Smith and Ray McDonald incumbent and entrenched starters. The 49ers have a vacancy at nose tackle with Isaac Sopoaga’s departure to Philadelphia confirmed. Does Dorsey take those roughly 350 snaps a season that Sopoaga has vacated as a nose tackle? Does he afford depth at end to ensure that Smith and McDonald don’t have to play close 1000 snaps each as starters? Plenty of intrigue to see how the 49ers manage this one over the course of the sumer and 2013 season.
15.15 SIGNING! (Update/Confirmation) This is perhaps a bold and dangerous move acting so quickly but by the fact that the Lions official twitter account has just announced that they have signed Glover Quin (update to 15.10 & 14.35) we think that’s a pretty reasonable source to say that this is now an agreed deal.
15.10 AMENDMENT! Further to the brief mention below, according to Tania Ganguli ESPN have withdrawn their initial report on Glover Quin signing with the Detroit Lions. Free agency is always a fluid situation until the player signs his name on that line.
15.05 SIGNING! Just a matter of minutes after throwing some cold water on the Lions’ reported signing of Glover Quin (see 14.35), Adam Schefter reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have completed the signing of former 49ers S Dashon Goldson to pair with first round pick Mark Barron in the Bucs secondary. Having played under the tag last season in San Francisco Goldson was a visible and physical presence in the 49ers secondary but the 49ers never appeared willing to cough up the sort of deal it would have taken to tie Goldson down for the long term. To his credit Goldson put in his best and most consistent season with 49ers when tagged last season and finished the regular season amongst our top 10 safeties in terms of coverage grade at +7.1. Tampa Bay will hope this gives them one of the best safety tandems in the league over the next few years.
14.55 SIGNING! The Jacksonville Jaguars have tweeted the signing of former Florida State, Tampa Bay and Chicago Bears linebackers Geno Hayes. He recorded three starts down the stretch with the Bears last season (+1.9 on 93 snaps in those games) but hasn’t seen extended playing time since being part of the Bucs’ disastrous 2011 run when he graded negatively as a run defender in his final six games with the franchise. His best football came in 2009 and 2010 when he recorded a number of positively run defense grades in each season but at his size he is always prone to being physically taken out of a game and leads to some alarmingly bad games. His 52 stops saw him ranked third in the league among 4-3 outside linebackers in 2010.
14.45 RUMOR! There have been tweets and stories all day about the Patriots reportedly lowball offer for Wes Welker and that the former Patriots’ star slot receiver was ready to leave New England behind him. ESPN’s Adam Schefter has just added more fuel to that fire reporting that Welker and the Broncos are in serious talk trying to “hammer out an agreement” with a decision expected today. Though he dropped too many passes this season, even for the volume of passes thrown his way, Welker is still brutally efficient at getting open and moving the chains. For a quarterback like Peyton Manning who changed the way he plays as a quarterback this season as he got to know his own limitations after a series of neck surgeries, Welker’s ability to get open on short routes could be huge for the Broncos. The Patriots are always confident in their ability to replace their own free agents but replacing Welker could be their sternest test yet.
14.40 VISIT! According to Jenna Laine former Buccaneers T Jeremy Trueblood will visit with the Washington Redskins this weekend. Trueblood only played 82 snaps this season for Tampa Bay and in his last season of extended action in 2011 earned a -20.9 overall grade. With Tyler Polumbus a free agent and seemingly less than no cap space the Redskins are scraping the barrel for value signings. Trueblood should come cheap but surrendered 59 pressures in that 2011 season, cheap doesn’t necessarily mean value.
14.40 SIGNING! We mentioned it earlier in the day, but the Browns have made it official that they’ve signed Gary Barnidge on a three-year deal per Mary Kay Cabot. They’re still expecting to make a run at a more dynamic playmaker at the position (with rumors linking them to Fred Davis) but Barnidge should fill the token third TE role and play his usual 100-200 snaps.
14.35 SIGNING! The Lions may not have been very busy yesterday but they’ve stepped things up on day 2 by closing a deal with former Texans S Glover Quin according to Adam Schefter. With the versatility to line up at free safety, in the box and also cover the slot Quin brings a great deal of versatility to the Lions and has always graded out as a solid safety, earning positive grades for run defense and coverage in the last three seasons (though never in the same season). Good news for Lions fans is that his marquee performance of 2012 came against division rival Minnesota (+4.5), a game in which he recorded 5 stops in run defense against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.
14.30 RUMOR! Free agent tours aren’t always one stop shops and Manish Mehta is reporting that WR Brandon Gibson will be leaving New York without a contract agreed and continuing his tour of teams interested in his services. According to Mehta his next scheduled stop was Miami but with Mike Wallace already signed up and Brian Hartline re-signed before the free agency window opened it isn’t clear whether the Dolphins would retain a level of interest in Gibson. Only Rob Gronkowski converted a higher percentage of targets into touchdowns and first downs than Gibson did in St Louis last season.
14.15 VISIT! The cap strapped Raiders are a team in need of some free agent signings on the cheap and their latest visitor, as reported by Ian Rapoport, is former Bengals’ DT Pat Sims. Registering just north of 200 snaps this season Sims came in with an overall grade of precisely 0.0 with a +2.0 grade for his run defense. The Raiders have already lost Desmond Bryant to the Browns and are unlikely to have the cash to keep hold of Richard Seymour so Sims could be a budget replacement for some of their snaps on the Raiders’ depth chart. In his five years in the league Sims has never played more than the 570 snaps and hasn’t topped 300 in either of his last two seasons in Cincinnati.
14.00 VISIT! Per Sean Jensen, the versatile Nick Roach is visiting with a Raiders side desperate for some help on the defensive side of things after losing two starters yesterday. Roach isn’t going to blow you away as his -2.5 grade on the year suggests, but neither will he let you down, and his ability to play on the strongside and in the middle presents the versatility teams crave. For him he has to see Oakland as about as good a shot as possible as he has of landing a starting gig.
14.00 VISIT! According to Ian Rapopport the Arizona Cardinals are stepping up their search for a corner to start opposite Patrick Peterson by welcoming former Chargers CB Antoine Cason for a visit. An in state product from the University of Arizona, Cason’s high watermark in San Diego was a 2010 season when he earned a coverage grade of +9.0 and broke up 13 passes. However his form dipped over the last two seasons and finished this season with a -7.6 coverage grade, only picking up 4 positive game grades all season. He was also flagged seven times in each of the last two seasons.
13.55: RUMOR! The Eagles are transitioning to a 3-4 defense this season but they are hardly starved from edge rushers with the likes of Trent Cole, Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry on the roster but Jason La Canfora reports that they are also keeping tabs on one of their former players, Antwan Barnes. His first stint in Philadelphia lasted all of two games in 2010 (45 snaps) but as a situational pass rusher in San Diego he was productive and strangely underused on a team that didn’t generate a tremendous amount of pressure. In 2011 Barnes finished second in Pass Rushing Productivity among 3-4 outside linebackers at 13.8 and could add some juice to most pass rushes around the league.
13.45: SIGNING! We’ve been waiting a while for this but the moment a free agency becomes a true free agency has happened; the Arizona Cardinals have picked up their first discarded Steeler, and per Adam Schefter Rashard Mendenhall is that man. After a brutal injury at the end of the 2011 season, 2012 was something of a write off for Mendenhall who was unable to replicate the miracle recovery Adrian Peterson made. Giving him a one-year prove it deal should work out for all parties as we get to see if he truly is over the injury and can get back to playing his best football.
13.30: VISIT! It’s clear that the Saints, who have a visit lined up with Derek Cox, are looking for cornerback help. It’s not surprising after Patrick Robinson led the league in yards allowed into his coverage. Well Cox isn’t the only guy on their radar with the news that Keenan Lewis is heading to New Orleans for a visit. Lewis didn’t pick up a single ball last year, but his 16 pass deflections led the league and would represent an upgrade on a Saints secondary that took a pounding in 2012.
13.20: SIGNED! We like this move. We like it a lot. The San Diego Chargers lost their best offensive linemen. They have a terrible offensive line. Only it just got better with the signing of Chad Rinehart on a one-year deal as per Michael Gelkhen. An underrated player Rinehart missed most of 2012 hurt, but take a trip back in time to 2011. He was our ninth ranked guard then on the back of the league’s third best pass blocking efficiency score where he allowed just 10 quarterback disruptions on 537 pass blocking snaps. Somewhere Philip Rivers is smiling a wide smile to himself.
13.15: SIGNED! The Detroit Lions have got their man! That man is Reggie Bush according to Pro Football Talk who has signed onto become their feature back. We’re a little surprised Bush has found such a strong market and demand for his services given his “meh” inducing performances for the Dolphins this year. He can at times be electric, but all too often he is too quick to bounce the ball out and his four fumbles are a big concern. If you asked us the Saints had it right with their use of Bush, but the Lions desperately needed an injection of some speed at the spot with the likely retirement of Jahvid Best so it makes sense. Mikel Leshoure had the fourth lowest elusive rating of all running backs in 2012.
13.05: RELEASED! Jeff Dickerson dropping the info that the Chicago Bears are really overhauling their tight end position as they release our top ranked run blocking tight end from 2012, Matt Spaeth. You’re not going to get much in the way of receiving help from Spaeth, but the big-bodied former Steeler is bound to receive interest for what he can add to a team’s running game. It wouldn’t surprise if Pittsburgh tried to bring him back.
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