2013 Free Agency Live Blog: Day 2 part 1
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!
Click here to get to the most recent breakdowns on the days free agency going ons
13.00! More numbers and this time regarding Erin Henderson and the Vikings. His two year deal is worth four million which to us seems about right for a two down player.
12.55: VISIT! While we didn’t agree that he warranted a Pro Bowl birth, we’re not going to say there isn’t a lot of interest in free agent safety LaRon Landry. The former Jet got beat for a first down or touchdown on 4.1% of his snaps in coverage (10th worst of all safeties) but he’s got himself a fearsome reputation for the hits he can put on a receiver. Anyway he’s visiting with the Colts and if they let him out of the building (as opposed to locking the doors and forcing him to sign a contract) he’s heading over to San Francisco. Travelling is fun.
12.50! Some numbers in from Pro Football Talk who report the Indianapolis Colts are going to pay Donald Thomas $14m over four-years. That’s some good value with Thomas taking his chance in New England to prove himself as a capable starter and earning our 17th highest grade of all guards with a +10.2 grade. On 614 snaps and splitting between left and right guard, that’s pretty impressive.
12.45: VISIT! The Jaguars have learned from their mistakes of the past and been very quiet these past few days. Well now they’re striking and striking big! They’re brining in Alan Ball. The former Texan would provide secondary depth at every spot (as he did for the Texans in his 106 defensive snaps) while becoming a key special teamer. He earned a +5.0 grade in this regard last year while making 16 special teams tackles (and missing none).
12.30: RUMOR! This comes from Jason La Canfora and it’s a rare mention for the quiet-as-a-mouse like Atlanta Falcons. Word on the street is they’re interested in Richard Seymour which makes a lot of sense when you look at the Falcons gradual transition from 4-3 defense to hybrid front. Last year Atlanta miscast Jonathan Babineaux as a five-technique and the outcome was Babineaux not having one of his better years. Seymour is a far more natural fit in that position, but if rumors are to be believed he might want more money than the Falcons are prepared to hand out. Still on 361 snaps he managed a +9.5 grade, highlighting he still has something to offer.
12.20: RELEASE! Sean Jensen has delivered the goods this time, though Matt Toeaina won’t be best pleased with the news. The Bears have decided to say goodbye to the big defensive tackle with the hair that made him so easy to spot. He managed just 80 snaps last year before injury cut his season short after playing in 401 in 2011 as a starter. A purely situational player (and that situation is when the other team runs) he doesn’t offer much pass rush, and he’s the kind of player who barely holds up in the run game. It wouldn’t surprise us if he was brought back or latched on somewhere on a short term, veteran minimum contract.
12.05: SIGNING! There is but one Adam Schefter who we like to imagine is currently chained to his desk, with shots of caffeine injected into every so often. He’s broken the news that the Chiefs are giving Alex Smith exactly the kind of receiver he loves; one that loves going down the field! That guy is Donnie Avery, owner of the worst hands in football last year when he dropped 16.7% of all catchable balls. On the plus side he did catch six deep balls (the same as Mike Wallace.). Unfortunately for him Smith isn’t exactly a guy who likes challenging teams down the field.
12.00: SIGNING! An interesting move by the Detroit Lions this one as they’re re-uniting Head Coach Jim Schwartz with his former Titans defensive tackle Jason Jones. It’s a move that makes a lot of sense with Jones struggling to stay on the field to such a degree that you really couldn’t trust him to be a full time starter. But with his snaps managed by the quite frankly excellent pairing of Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, we might get a glimpse of the guy who wowed as with his explosive pass rushing in 2010 and who even earned a +7.7 grade as a situational rusher for Seattle this year. He’s a fine player and this adds another dimension to the Lions defense (particularly situationally).
11.55: SIGNING! It’s not the biggest signing in the world but we do at least get to brighten up the page with our signing icon. The Oakland Raiders have re-signed Coye Francis per Adam Caplan. Francis managed 11 snaps on defense last year with most of his value derived from his special teams work where he turned his 20 returns into 475 yards. Bigger deals to come.
11.50 RELEASED! We talked about this yesterday, but it’s been confirmed by multiple sources that the Steelers have released Willie Colon. No surprise there. For as much as when the mood took him he would punish defenders, there were too many penalties and he’s spent too much time off the field. He’s a long way removed from being our top ranked right tackle in 2009.
11.45: RUMOR! This comes from Ralph Vacchiano who reports that something to look for down the line is the New York Giants making a move for Dave Tollefson. After his failed stint in Oakland it would be a big surprise for anyone other than the Giants to make a move for someone who would be extremely cheap and offer depth and value on special teams. Tollefson just isn’t an impact player who lacks the ability to get past pass blockers and off blocks.
11.40: VISIT! The Philadelphia Eagles were busy yesterday as they try to undo the damage of the past two years where they signed too many free agents, by signing more free agents. I don’t get the math either but I’m assured it’s all good. In any case fresh off overpaying for Isaac Sopoaga, they’re hosting his former teammate Ricky Jean-Francois. Now guys with a hyphenated surname are always good by me, and with “RFJ” you also get a guy who has taken what chances the 49ers have handed him, and looked like a guy who could contribute along the line. On early downs. Don’t expect an awful lot of pass rush out of him (especially as he looked a little bigger last year) but we’re a lot higher on him than we remain on Sopoaga.
11.35: VISIT! One player who is attracting some interest is the talented, yet durability challenged, Derek Cox. Word has it from Larry Holder that he’ll be visiting with the New Orleans Saints tomorrow. My big question is why tomorrow? Why not today? We need news now and Cox is severely letting us all down by taking his sweet time getting to New Orleans. In any case Cox has had an interesting career. Thrust into the Jaguars starting lineup as a rookie long before he was ready, he emerged in an injury shortened 2011 to look like something of a building block. Of course he would then go onto miss more time in 2012 while the Jags put him in some unfavorable situations (he just wasn’t up to going man-to-man with Calvin Johnson or Brandon Marshall) that exposed his limitations.
11.30: It’s all gone a bit quiet. Essentially everyone is talking about how the Ravens are DOOMED because of all the players they lost. We don’t necessarily agree with everything Pete Prisco wrote here, but it should severe as to reassure Ravens fans that while they’ve lost some quality, those guys weren’t exactly playing at a level that made them irreplaceable. Now that doesn’t make it ideal but after shrewd moves like the Chris Canty pick-up yesterday, let’s see how this pans out.
11.15: RUMOR! It’s not been the easiest offseason for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’ve put themselves in a tricky position with the cap and as such they find themselves pawing around the trash to find something of value. That has led to them showing some interest in Kellen Davis. That laughter you hear is the Bears fans mocking the Steelers. But still Davis has developed into a solid blocker, and if the Steelers are simply looking for a guy who might be required to play more snaps if Heath Miller isn’t healthy by the start of the season they could do worse. Not much worse, but you get our point.
11.10: VISIT! We’re not overly sure what prompted the New York Giants to bring in Jasper Brinkley for a visit, but according to Jenny Vrentas that’s what they’re doing. Brinkley was nothing short of a disaster in Minnesota, being ticketed for an every down role but being so poor in coverage they had to end that experiment early. He had the fourth lowest grade of all inside linebackers, and while his work in the run game wasn’t terrible, a guy that missed 19 tackles is one to be weary of.
11.05: RELEASE! Oh the perils of free agency. For every Vincent Jackson there is a Laurent Robinson or Robert Meachem. And now a year later the Jaguars find themselves releasing the former Falcon, Charger and Cowboy receiver per Ryan O’Halloran. He had some worrying issues with concussion last year, but given his problems staying healthy is was always a risky deal handing him $13.8m guaranteed after he impressed linking up with the Cowboys in 2011. For the Jags he only ran 185 routes, managing 252 yards and less yards per route run than Michael Spurlock. File this one as another “when gambles don’t come off”.
Turn the page for the early, early morning news
10.55: RUMOR! Consider this one very likely as Joe Person reports that Gary Barnidge is likely to reunite with his old offensive coordinator in Cleveland and sign for the Browns. Barnidge has always been an intriguing player but has often found himself buried on the depth chart, playing just 140 snaps last year, missing all of 2011 hurt, while managing just 221 snaps in 2010. Here’s hoping the former fifth round pick can find some more playing time so we can really see what he can offer.
10.45: SIGNING! The Giants haven’t been particularly active, as has become the norm with them, but they’re signalling the end of the Lawrence Tynes era according to Jenny Vrentas. They’ve reached an agreement with Josh Brown, last of the Bengals, who came in at the end of the 2012 season and kicked 11-of-12 (including one from over 50) in an impressive cameo. Tynes nailed 84.6% of his kicks last year but a couple of misses from under 40 lingered long in the memory.
10.40 SIGNING! Have the Steelers just found the next Charlie Batch? Adam Schefter reports that Pittsburgh have signed QB Bruce Gradkowski from division rival Cincinnati on a three year deal to be their safe pair of hands behind the ever injury prone Ben Roethlisberger. Backup quarterback is a more important position on certain teams like Pittsburgh where the starter is prone to missing starts and the Steelers will be keen for Gradkowski to fill the Charlie Batch role of being able to come in and manage a start when called upon. Gradkowski only played 76 snaps in two seasons with the Bengals as Andy Dalton’s backup.
10.35 SIGNING! They’re coming thick and fast now as the agent for Manny Lawson reports that he has signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills. Lawson saw his role in Cincinnati diminished in his final year registering fewer than 400 snaps last season with the Bengals and recording his first negative overall grade for a single season in the five years we have been grading games here at PFF. Lawson brings versatility having played in both 3-4 and 4-3 fronts in Cincinnati and San Francisco and whilst he has never excelled in either system he is a solid contributor who graded well as a run defender his first season with the Bengals. It makes a lot of sense for a Bills team expected to be implementing a multiple fronts defense.
10.25 RELEASE! It looks like Day 2 of Free Agency is just starting to heat up and Bernard Pollard has beaten every reporter out there to the punch by announcing his own release on twitter. Super Bowl winning teams always face competition for their free agents, the Ravens showed no desire to match lofty contract offers for the likes of Paul Kruger and Dannell Ellerbe yesterday, but Baltimore is now being active in cutting ties with players under contract. Pollard brought a real physical presence to the Ravens’ secondary both in coverage and as a run defender where he graded +5.5 for the regular season, ranking 7th in the league for safeties in run defense.
10.20 SIGNING! After a three hour wait we’ve got another signing and… it’s just updating the last “rumor”. According to Mike Garafolo and Ian Rapoport the Lions have now agreed to terms with Chris Houston to return to the team. According to Tim Twentyman, citing a league source, it is a five year deal for Houston and the Lions.
10.05 RUMOR! More news out of Dertroit where Dave Birkett brings us more news this time that the Lions are closing in on a deal to bring back CB Chris Houston. Comfortably the best corner in a subpar Lions secondary the past two seasons Houston has been remarkably consistent. If this deal is finalized in the coming hours Houston will be one of the first dominos to fall in an increasingly crowded cornerback market and should allay the fears of any Lions fans who feared for a downgrade at corner when unsubstantiated rumors surfaced yesterday regarding interest from the Lions in DeAngelo Hall. Houston graded among our top 40 corners in coverage last season.
10.00 RELEASE! In one of the more unsurprising moves on Day 2 of free agency considering the action on Day 1 Sean Jensen has confirmed ProFootballTalk’s report that the Bears have parted company with TE Kellen Davis, saving them $2.5million in cap space. After the signing of Martellus Bennett yesterday this was an utterly unsurprising development and brings to an end Davis’ entirely underwhelming stint in the Windy City. In his final two seasons in Chicago Davis developed into a solid run blocker but he never developed into the kind of receiver his physical attributes suggest he should’ve been. Davis dropped eight passes this season whilst catching only 19 passes on 44 targets. The Bears should get much better production and value from Bennett moving forward whose contract looks better and better by the minute.
09.40 RUMOR! This could be edging towards our first signing graphic in nearly two and half hours. The Lions are busy today hosting Reggie Bush in an apparent game of guess the limo but Dave Birkett reports that the Lions have also just wrapped up a physical with DT Jason Jones. With Sammie Lee Hill on the way out the Lions have a gap in their defensive tackle rotation and Jones, when healthy, would certainly bring the same sort of upfield aggressive penetration that Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh bring to Jim Schwartz and Gunther Cunningham’s aggressive up the field defense. However discipline in run defense has consistently been a weakness for the Lions inside and Jones has only graded positively twice as a run defender in five seasons. The Lions also have a major need at left defensive end but they need only look at his 2011 season in Tennessee (-14.6) to realise that that wouldn’t be a good idea.
09.21 VISIT! After a brief lull this morning, presumably everyone had to get breakfast, Albert Breer comes to us with news that CB Drayton Florence is on his way to Carolina for a physical. Having cut Chris Gamble just before free agency started the Panthers are wafer thin at corner with Josh Thomas their highest graded corner currently on the roster at -1.7 last seaon. Florence struggled to find his best form with the Lions returning in the middle of the season from injury and hasn’t had a season coverage grade above zero since 2010 in Buffalo.
08.50 RUMOR! According to Jason La Canfora the Cleveland Browns are going to be in the running to make more deals today. La Canfora reports that they could extend and continue the tight end market by showing an interest in Fred Davis who missed more than half of this season in Washington having collected a +7.3 grade as a receiver for the Redskins the season before.
08.30: VISIT! Two parties that were very busy yesterday, Adam Schefter and the Miami Dolphins, appear to be at it again already today with Schefter reporting that the Dolphins will move on from missing out on Jared Cook by welcoming former Jets TE Dustin Keller for a visit. Keller’s run blocking is questionable at times but as a receiving tight end playing with Mark Sanchez as his quarterback he has been productive without ever grading terribly well. Simply in terms of value Keller might prove to be a reasonable consolation prize after the Dolphins seemingly balked at Cook’s price tag.
08.15: VISIT! After making a few moves yesterday the Chiefs are making an early start to Day 2 of Free Agency as Jason La Canfora reports that they will welcome former Rams, Titans and Colts WR Donnie Avery for a visit today. Avery snagged some deep passes for the Colts last season on his way to a career high 60 receptions and 781 yards however he also had more than his share of drops. He was third worst in the league with a drop rate of 16.67 (12 drops to 60 receptions) and he had the worst drop rate in the league on deep passes (dropping four passes aimed 20+ yards downfield compared to six completions).
07.50: So yesterday saw a lot of money spent and a lot of players finding new homes. Not all of those moves will pan out, one move in particular caught our eye as a potentially dubious move in terms of the upgrade for the price the team paid. This morning Ben Stockwell gives his view on the Bears’ decision to sign Jermon Bushrod from the New Orleans Saints. What do you think was the most questionable move of the first day of free agency? Comment below or catch up with us on twitter.
07.20: RUMOR! John Keim is a man with sources. And those sources tell him that the Redskins are interested in a certain tackling machine of a cornerback, Antoine Winfield. We can’t imagine the Redskins being able to land him on the cheap with Winfield coming off an excellent year where he topped our cornerback rankings. Now sure a lot of that was down to his work in the run game (he managed 26 defensive stops here when the next most for a cornerback was 16), but he still earned a positive grade in coverage and has the ability to cover on the boundary or the slot. We suspect that by the time Winfield is signed up with another team more than just the Redskins will have made goo-goo eyes at him.
07.15: SIGNING! He is Adam Schefter and he doesn’t need sleep. He’s dropped some knowledge on all of us that the Browns have reached an agreement with Quentin Groves in a move that hurts the Cardinals more than it helps the Browns to some degree. With little competition Groves proved the most productive outside linebacker on the Arizona roster last year, earning a 9.4 pass rushing productivity score that was higher than those managed by Dwight Freeney, Lamarr Woodley and Robert Mathis to name but a few. The former Jaguar looks destined to be a guy who spells Paul Kruger or Jabaal Sheard.
06.30: VISIT! Titans fans will be happy to know that Shonn Greene will be visiting with them per Manish Mehta. Despite posting back to back four digit seasons Greene finds himself rightfully look to become more of a change of pace back, and it’s quite a change of pace he’d provide to Chris Johnson. There have been times in his career where Greene has delivered on his potential, but all too often he’s gone missing when the Jets have needed him to make a play, simply taking what his line gives him and no more. It’s why he had the second lowest Elusive Rating of all running backs in 2012.
06.00: While Day One is always the craziest day of free agency, there’s still an awful lot of quality players left on the market. The slow developing markets for corners and offensive tackles should see some movement, though it’s interesting that we heard very little regarding possible destinations for guys like Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer. Similarly Sean Smith was expected to move early and for a hefty and sum and is yet to materialized. Get in touch with our twitter account to let us know who you think the big mover of the day will be.
05.30: Lot’s of fun stuff coming up today – the staff is currently putting the finishing touches to the much loved “Deal Grader”.
05.15: Some news from yesterday that you may have missed. The Saints pushed through on moves they were expected to make in restructuring the contracts of Jonathan Vilma and Will Smith. The two long time Saints were forced into taking pay cuts, with Smith dropping to $3m (from $6m) and Vilma to $1m (from $4.8m). It’s a hefty saving from the Saints but they’ve still got two players on the roster who look bad fits for their 3-4 defense. Smith isn’t the kind of flexible talent who you can see having much success as a five technique defensive end, while Vilma needs more bodies in front of him to keep blocks away from him. He does not do a good job shedding blocks when linemen especially get their hands on him. Perhaps he’s ticketed for a sub package role, but in any case these moves don’t make the Saints a better football team, they just give them some extra room to operate.
05.00: The early bird catches the worm and so after “Team PFF” took a collective nap (not together mind you) we’re back to respond to all the developments after a hectic day one of free agency.
01:00: According to Albert Breer, Jake Long “will likely be a member of the Rams” if he passes his physical. Long has taken a lot of criticism for taking a step back after ranking as the league’s second-best offensive tackle in both 2009 and 2010. His 2012 grade of -0.4 was the lowest of his career and he finished the season on injured reserve so questions abound about his ability to bounce back to an elite level. Another subplot is the development of incumbent left tackle Rodger Saffold who graded at a career-high +8.6 in 10 games last season. He may have to make the move to right tackle to make room for Long.
0:50: SIGNING! Again, Adam Schefter reporting the news at the late hour. This time it involves fullback Quinn Johnson as he returns to the Tennessee Titans. He played in 257 snaps. On pass plays more often than not he ran pass routes, but dropped two of the eight passes thrown his way. He will likely spend much of the year blocking for Chris Johnson again.
0:40: Adam Schefter is reporting that Terrance Knighton is close to a deal with the Denver Broncos. Earlier in the free agent signing period the Broncos re-signed Kevin Vickerson. The addition might not be good news for a potential return of Justin Bannan. In 2012 Knighton was about as close to average as you could get, with his two sacks, seven hits and ten hurries being a decent amount on his pass rushes. He was only penalized once and had one missed tackle, so if anything he was consistent and not making the big mistake. The move to Denver would reunite him with former coach Jack Del Rio.
00:01 Remember you can find all our detailed reaction to the happenings on day one the NFL calender right here.