2013 Free Agency Live Blog: Day 3
With the second day of NFL free agency in the books, we turn the page, catch our breath, and dig into Day 3.
Of course we’ll have the blog manned around the clock to update with PFF notes and comments on each bit of free agent news, but between flurries make sure you stop in to the past days’ entries to get our takes on all of the moves to date:
You can also catch up to us on Twitter, and browse our exhaustive Free Agent Tracker that comes complete with 2012 PFF player grades and snap counts. And, if you want more detail than that, then you really need to get yourself a PFF Premium Subscription.
Let’s start the Day 3 blogging!
(Manually refresh the page every 15 minutes to update the blog)
We’re onto Day Four now, so join our blog over here.
23:59 With Day Three coming to a relatively quiet close, be sure to catch up on some of our latest articles breaking down the first three days of free agency: By the Numbers: Welker and Amendola, Jermon Bushrod: Upgrade or Side-Step?, and On the Market: Huff and Heyward-Bey. Also, our Free Agency Deal Grader continues to update as the signings trickle in.
22.35: The numbers are out on Matt Cassel’s new contract with the Minnesota Vikings. He is getting four millions dollars on a one year deal, which makes him one of the highest paid backup quarterbacks in the league. For anyone that wants to see Christan Ponder out as the starting quarterback, this contact only encourages their hopes as they can see just how much the Vikings think of Cassel.
22.25: Adm Schefter is reporting that if Matt Schaughnessy plans on visiting the Titans next followed by the Eagles if nothing works out with him in Arizona. A move to Tennessee would make sense, as the Titans defensive line was made up of mostly pass rushers, and the addition of Sammie Lee Hill earlier in the week only contributed to that. Defensive Tackle Jurrell Casey is an excellent run stuffer and they have other linemen who are decent in run defense, Schaughnessy would allow some of the other defensive ends to focus more on their pass rushing. Like Arizona, Schaughnessy seems like an odd fit for a 3-4 defense so Philadelphia might not be the best fit for him.
22.15: VISIT! To continue the string of late night Patriot news, Albert Breer is reporting the Patriots will have John Abraham in for a visit tomorrow. New England has lacked a consistent pass rusher. Last year Chandler Jones was their best pass rushing option. He started the season strong with six sacks over his first eight games, he had zero over his last eight. Adding someone like Abraham would allow them to have a quick fix at the pass rushing position, and eliminate one of the Patriots biggest remaining needs.
21.55: VISIT! Ian Rapoport is giving us some late night news. Safety Adrian Wilson is set to visit the New England Patriots. The Patriots have a number of defensive backs who are unrestricted free agents with the most notable one being Aqib Talib. The Patriots still have Steve Gregory, Devin McCourty, and 2012 second round pick Tavon Wilson at safety, although McCourty can always move back to cornerback again. The Patriots interest in a safety might be a sign that McCourty would go back to cornerback, which would lesson the likelihood of Talib’s return. Adrian Wilson wasn’t nearly the same player he was in 2011, but he can still be a decent player in coverage. He allowed just 44.4% of passes thrown his way to be caught in 2012.
21.45: So far most of the younger free agents have been signed, with a lot of the big names remaining being the older more established players that can be short time fixes. One exception to that has been at offensive tackle. After rumors yesterday about Jake Long to the Rams, all has been quiet on that front today. We haven’t heard much about Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer and they are two of the best free agents remaining. When Eric Winston was released he was linked to a number of teams, but recently we haven’t heard his name either. Once one player signs, the rest are likely soon to follow, but to this point offensive tackle is arguably the deepest position with younger talent remaining in free agency.
21.20: Things again seemed to have quiet down in terms of signing and visits. However the last two nights in the later hours of the night a signing or two has broken. When they do, we’ll be here to give you the info you need to know.
20.50: SIGNING! Mike Garafolo of the USA Today is reporting that the Cardinals have signed Linebacker Jasper Brinkley to a two year deal. The Cardinals have been attempting to replace Inside Linebacker Paris Lenon who received our second lowest overall rating for inside/middle linebackers last year. Rumors linked players like Larry Foote and Rey Maualuga to Arizona who also both ended up with very poor PFF ratings, but they settled on the man who had the second most missed tackles for inside/middle linebackers at 19, and allowed a QB Rating of 113.6 when quarterbacks threw his way. The Cardinals have made plenty of additions this off-season, but there has been little reason to believe they can compete with what San Francisco and Seattle has done.
20.25: VISIT! Pro Football Talk is reporting that Raiders Defensive End Matt Shaughnessy is on his way to Arizona tonight to have a visit with the Cardinals. He is a reliable player in the run game with just two missed tackles last year and a decent Run Stop Percentage of 6.0%. However don’t let the five sacks fool you, as he only came up with five hits and five hurries outside of those five sacks which doesn’t make for that strong of a pass rusher. The fit seems a little weird, as he is not a strong enough pass rusher to do much as a 3-4 outside linebacker pass rusher, yet he is also a little small to be a 3-4 defensive end. It certainly raises some questions to why the Cardinals might be interested in a player like Shaughnessy.
20.00 RUMOR! Adam Schefter is reporting that all signs point to Ed Reed signing with the Houston Texans at some point tomorrow. The Texans lost Glover Quin to free agency, so signing Reed would pair him up with Danieal Manning as the starters at safety in Houston. If Reed does in fact sign, it will be interesting to see how the Texans plan to replace Quin in the dime defense, as he would play more of a strong safety role.
19.45: SIGNING!: Pro Football Talk is reporting that the the Seahawks have signed defensive end Michael Bennett to a one year, 5 million dollar deal. During the Seahawks playoff run they became very thin at defensive end, and are now doing their best to make sure that won’t happen again after signing Cliff Avril yesterday and now Bennett today. Prior to the start of free agency we placed Bennett at the top of our top edge rushers list due to his ability to make tackles for losses in the run game and for giving a consistent pass rush, while Avril was second. It is probably a sign that the Seahawks aren’t optimistic about Chris Clemons recovery at the moment. At just five million dollars, this move is a complete bargain for Seattle and makes the Seahawks Super Bowl chances even more realistic.
19.30: It is now Nathan Jahnke taking over the live blog for the early evening shift. If any visits are revealed or signings made, you know where to find the news along with some reactions.
19.15: SIGNING! The Jaguars have been one of the quieter teams in free agency but they’ve added to their cornerback ranks with the re-signing of Antuwan Molden. He made one special teams tackle with the team last year after earning a -4.9 grade as part of the New England Patriots Super Bowl losing team in 2011. He gave up 1.51 yards per snap in coverage, but it’s hard to see this being the kind of move that will appease a fanbase concerned with their depth at the position.
19.00: It was only a couple of days ago when we couldn’t move for the amount of news that was coming our way. Not so now. It’s gotten a bit quiet. The usual leverage the players have doesn’t seem to be there in a deep class of free agents. Still the blog keeps on going and we’re ready to break the news to you as and when it happens.
18.45: It’s all a bit quiet at the moment so if you have a spare moment or two and are interested in some numbers comparing Wes Welker and Danny Amendola, well then you really ought to click here.
18.30: RUMOR! This one is also from Ben Volin which should let you it’s about the Dolphins. They’re taking a look at Thomas Howard who missed all bar 62 snaps of the 2012 season with a torn ACL. Back in 2011 Howard was our 23rd ranked outside linebacker, in large part thanks to a +7.0 grade he picked up in coverage. The downside is his work in the run game which might indicate he’s being viewed either as depth, or for a situational role after the big signings of Philip Wheeler and Dannell Ellerbe.
18.20 SIGNING! The Patriots are adding to their return game with the signing of former Jet Leon Washington. You never know if New England (for whom Danny Woodhead is a free agent) might be looking at what Washington can do on offense. He was only on the field for 73 offensive snaps last year in Seattle, but did finish with the ninth highest punt return rating we handed out. The news was broken by Washington on his own twitter feed.
18.15: VISIT! We know the Dolphins hosted Michael Bennett and Dustin Keller today, but Ben Volin has also let us know Lance Louis was in town. The versatile lineman has some experience as tackle, but would like come into play at right guard, with rumors John Jerry would move to right tackle. Louis started off strong in 2012 with a couple of good games, but hard a tough four game stretch before his season ended against Minnesota in Week 12. He earned a positive grade for his pass blocking, but like a lot of Bears didn’t do so well in the run game.
18.05: And the numbers are in for Connor Barwin to the Eagles. It’s a six-year deal for $36m for a guy who was our second lowest ranked 3-4 outside linebacker last year. That one isn’t going to score well on the old Deal Grader is it? On the plus side only $8m is guaranteed. Unless his play takes a giant leap, hard to see him seeing much of that money.
18.00 Number are in on the Steven Jackson to Atlanta deal. He’s going to get $12m over three years with $4m guaranteed. That’s less guaranteed money than Shonn Greene. You read that right. Atlanta have done well to not overpay and get stronger at an area of need. The Falcons are getting themselves ready for another run at the big one.
17.50: We, like you, kind of expected Miami to close Dustin Keller but Rich Cimini is reporting that Keller left the Dolphins without having signed. It’s surprising given how prolific the Dolphins have been in upgraded their team, but leads you to believe perhaps Keller things he can get more money from elsewhere. Keller isn’t much of a blocker but is the kind of mismatch from the tight end spot Miami are craving.
17.40: SIGNING! Per Tania Ganguli the deal is done and the Eagles are signing Connor Barwin. It’s something of a surprise and has you asking a lot of questions about the future of Trent Cole in Philadelphia. You can check out our twitter timeline and our comments from 16.50 with what we think about this signing. Essentially we don’t see it making the Eagles a better team.
17.30: From earlier today Sean Smith got a three-year deal worth $18m with $12m of that guaranteed. Now is the time to go out there and show you’re worth it on every down.
17.15: VISIT! Joey Galloway is known for his ability to stretch a defense. He’s now known as the guy who informed us that Ted Ginn is visiting with the Bengals. In a revamped receiver group Ginn only saw the field for 101 snaps all year (including the playoffs), with his real value coming on special teams. His punt returning is likely why Cincinnati are interested.
17.00: SIGNING! We heard earlier that the Bucs had signed former Saint Jonathan Casillas. Well they’ve also announced the acquisition of Kevin Ogletree. Remember when, after the season opener, Ogletree was the next big thing after catching eight balls for 114 yards and two touchdowns. He would finish the year with another 322 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll battle it out for a possible third receiver job in Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay also announced the sad release of Quincy Black who suffered a severe injury and may never play football again.
16.50: It’s not official yet, but Jason La Canfora is reporting that the team set to overpay for Connor Barwin is … the Philadelphia Eagles. Barwin put up some good sack numbers back in 2011 and as a report was the coolest pass rusher in town. It didn’t matter that Wade Phillips ultra attacking defense drew blockers away from him and his pass rushing productivity score was only an 8.7 (17th best out of all 3-4 outside linebackers). In any case he’s coming off a year where that number dropped to 5.8. The fourth lowest of any 3-4 outside linebacker. That helped him to a -22.4 grade. Still, not as bad as Erik Walden.
16.40: SIGNING! The Redskins are bringing back Bryan Kehl on what we assume is a one-year deal courtesy of Chris Russell. Kehl didn’t play a snap on defense for Washington but made six special teams tackles and it’s likely that’s the role he’s ticketed for in 2013. Though with the Redskins cap woes who knows. Maybe next year he works his way into their linebacker rotation. He has 391 career defensive snaps to his name.
16.20 SIGNING! These signings really are coming thick and fast and this tweet from Sean Jensen came more than 15 minutes ago so I apologise if he wasn’t the first. Jensen reports that not only is Keenan Lewis signing with the New Orleans Saints but also that he turned down significant money from another team to sign for his hometown team. Jensen’s source says that Lewis’ contract is worth a maximum of $26million over five years with further proof that the cornerback market is significantly lower in cash terms than 12 months ago. Lewis’ lack of an interception in Pittsburgh last season was well documented but his 16 pass defenses and a positive coverage grade paint a picture of a player who can cover opposing receivers very well. One thing that is for sure, playing in a Rob Ryan defense that at present doesn’t have a demonstrably potent pass rush Lewis’ coverage skills will be sternly tested on an island in New Orleans this season.
16.15 SIGNING! The hits just keep on coming this afternoon as Adam Schefter reports that the Atlanta Falcons have reached an agreement with former Rams RB Steven Jackson. You would think that, injuries aside, this will bring to an end Jackson’s long wait for a playoff game but more than that he still offers some spark and physicality as a ball carrier earning a +9.2 overall grade with the Rams this season. In combination with Jacquizz Rodgers, Jackson could form a devastating one two punch in the running game to go with the Falcons phenomenal 1-2-3 punch of White, Jones and Gonzalez in the passing game. Last season Jackson tied Rodgers with a mark of 2.7 yards per carry after first contact which put them both inside the league’s top 20. If the Falcons can bring upgrades to their run blocking on the offensive line the mind boggles at how good this offense could be.
16.10 SIGNINGS! Note the multiple there the Eagles have been busy today and according to Mike Garafolo have signed up two defensive backs from a division rival and a geographical neighbor. Joining from the New York Giants is S Kenny Phillips whilst joining from Super Bowl champions the Baltimore Ravens is CB Cary Williams. In New York Phillips battled injuries to try and stay on the field but when on the field he is one of the league’s better safeties and is a clear and present upgrade over the Eagles’ starting duo from last season. In the last three seasons Phillips graded positively in both run defense and pass coverage peaking with his role in the Giants’ Super Bowl run where he recorded a +13.6 overall grade including a +11.1 coverage grade. Meanwhile Williams has, numbers pending, cashed in on his role in the Ravens’ Super Bowl run this season. Williams was blighted by inconsistency this season grading +1.5 or above in coverage three times this season but grading out -2.0 or worse four times, including an abysmal -5.1 against the Patriots in Week 3. Numbers will dictate how much of a risk tihs is for the Eagles.
16.05 UPDATE! Everyone loves a saga? Right? Matt Cassel may not be Tim Tebow, and Christian Ponder might not be Mark Sanchez but maybe this is the low budget equivalent for 2013? Refuting Schefter’s tweet (15.50) local beat writer Dan Wiederer reports that, “To be clear. The Vikings have no intention to have Cassel be their starter. None.” That’s a pretty clear update on that front, let’s see how it plays out. I wonder whether ESPN will be broadcasting live from Vikings training camp this season?
16.00 RETIREMENT! After 12 seasons in the league the Detroit Lions have just tweeted that veteran left tackle Jeff Backus is retiring. Backus graded positively as a pass protector in each of the last four seasons in the Lions’ pass happy offense peaking in 2009 with a +13.5 grade that was sixth best amongst left tackles. Backus’ retirement and Gosder Cherilus’ departure for Indianapolis leaves the Lions needing to replace both tackles. Last year’s first round pick Riley Reiff figures to take one of those two spots, could the Lions go tackle with their first round pick for the second straight season?
15.50 UPDATE! Further to that last signing of Matt Cassel to Minnesota, Adam Schefter reports that he is not only en route to Minnesota’s facility but that he is expected to challenge for the starting job with Christian Ponder. The Vikings were widely expected to be in the running for a momentous signing but I suspect many fans were expecting or hoping for a certain receiver from Green Bay to help out their incumbent and embattled starter rather than for the Vikings to pick up a quarterback at a similar level to provide one of the least appetising quarterback competitions of the summer.
15.30 SIGNING! In a move that was as widely predicted as it was mystifying Jay Glazer announces that the Vikings have completed the signing of former Kansas City QB Matt Cassel. Ever since he arrived in Kansas City there has been very little positive to see and say about Cassel’s performances. While things were never as bad as his first season in Kansas City (-24.2 grade in 2009) he also never finished a season with a positive overall grade and only had nine games with an overall grade of +1.0 or better in his four seasons. Cassel is at least a better backup option for the Vikings than Joe Webb proved to be in the playoff loss to Green Bay and brings some veteran presence that was sorely lacking on the Vikings’ depth chart. However if the Vikings are viewing this as a competition signing for Ponder then they might be a little wide of the mark.
15.20 SIGNING! More news out of Chicago this free agency period where Brad Biggs reports that the Bears have re-signed defensive tackle Nate Collins on a one year deal. Collins has been in the league since 2010 but exploded into awareness this season with a stellar debut for the Bears in Week 8 against Carolina. Earning a +5.4 grade in that game on the back of a pair of hurries in the passing game and a pair of stops and some further destructive work in run defense. Limited to a bit part role for the rest of the season Collins is an intriguing player to keep an eye on in a Bears’ defensive tackle rotation that, outside of Henry Melton, didn’t deliver on its promise last season.
15.15 NEWS! Also going on right now on top of free agency is the league’s Competition Committee Meeting. Ian Rapoport reports that one of the changes coming is a change to the infamous “Tuck Rule”. To paraphrase Rapoport’s tweet if a passer now loses the football while “tucking” the ball this will now be a fumble. Unfortunately for Raider fans this decision comes more than a decade too late for them.
EDIT: Just a note to say that the “Tuck Rule” and any other proposal from the Competition Committee is just that, a proposal. The owners will vote on whether they enter or leave the rulebook at the next Owner’s Meeting.
15.10 SIGNING! Jim Irsay tweeted for Colts fans to get excited for another free agent signing and both Adam Caplan and Jason La Canfora appear to have beaten him to the punch this time by announcing that Ricky Jean-Francois has signed with the Colts. Caplan reports that the deal is worth $22million over 4 years with Jean-Francois seemingly now grasping the starting spot that he was never likely to earn in San Francisco. Playing 328 snaps on the 49ers run to a Super Bowl defeat the former LSU Tiger earned the fourth most snaps of any San Francisco defensive lineman this season and if he maintains his performance level (+4.2 run defense) will bring some much needed stoutness to the Colts’ run defense. Jean-Francois has been lauded for his position versatility during the free agency period after registering 76 of his 328 snaps last season at nose tackle in a 3-man line.
14.45 SIGNING! The Giants struggled desperately at linebacker last season but Jenny Vrentas reports that they are going to try again with one of their budget signings from last off-season with the re-signing of Keith Rivers. Ending the season fifth on the team’s linebackers with 238 snaps Rivers missed a number games in the middle of the season and after a strong debut (+2.2 run defense, 4 stops) against the Cowboys in Week 1 struggled to find a consistent performance level. His last extended action in Cincinnati (2011, 512 snaps) saw him earn a +5.9 overall grade and finish among the league’s top 10 4-3 OLB’s with a run stop percentage of 8.7%.
14.25: We could have another cornerback exiting the market soon. Adam Schefter is reporting that it’s looking likely that Keenan Lewis will sign with the New Orleans Saints today. Lewis didn’t intercept any balls last year but led the league with 16 pass deflections. We’d expect him to replace Patrick Robinson who led the league in yards allowed into his primary coverage with 1,071 yards.
14.10: VISIT! The market for Michael Bennett has appeared slow to develop but per Pro Football Talk he’ll be taking a visit with the Dolphins today. Bennett spent most of his time at left defensive end in Tampa Bay but would likely be ticketed for a role on the right side of the defense, with Miami bound to be extremely happy with the production they’re getting from Cameron Wake at that spot already. Bennett is coming off a tremendous year and was our top ranked edge rusher to hit the market. Capable of making an impact rushing the passer and in the run game, he’s a true every down threat. He was our seventh ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2012.
14.05: Not much going on this very second. Just a lot of speculation regarding how much Smith got. Most people seem to think it was around the $5m per year mark which would be considerably less than most speculated before free agency.
Turn the page for the events of earlier in the day
13.55: The Giants have announced they’ve restructured the contract of David Diehl. We’ve long pointed out the flaws in the game of Diehl, but after a bad start to the year he rebounded with what can be best described as solid play in the back half of the season. At this point of his career the Giants might just want him around for depth, but with no obvious candidate at right tackle, perhaps he’ll get another run as a starter.
13.45: SIGNING! You see I bring the big news with me. Per agent David Canter, Sean Smith has signed a three-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Smith is long on talent even if he did lead the league in giving up the most combined first downs and touchdowns last year. He gave up 1.17 yards per snap in coverage last year (27th best of all cornerbacks) and finished the year with a +0.7 grade in coverage on the back of a strong start and poor finish to the year. It will be interesting to see the amount of money involved, but in any case Smith is going to have to deliver more consistently.
13.40! Ben Stockwell is taking a break so you’re left with me, @PFF_Khaled manning the blog. You’re in for a treat.
13.30 SIGNING! These have been thin on the ground today but again it’s the Titans being active as Jim Wyatt reports that Darius Reynaud has agreed to a one year deal to return to Tennessee. Astonishingly Reynaud’s 94 offensive snaps were the second most for a Titans’ running back last season as Chris Johnson dominated the Titans’ backfield snaps. Reynaud’s biggest impact however came, and with the arrival of Shonn Greene seems set to be again this season, on special teams (+6.4 on punt returns) averaging more than 13 yards per return on punts and collected a pair of touchdowns in the Titans’ regular season finale against the Jaguars. The battle between him and returning Marc Mariani should be interesting.
13.20 RUMOR! More form Adam Schefter who reports that the Chiefs are in pursuit of former Miami CB Sean Smith. The cornerback market swelled just prior to the start of the free agency period and through the first 24 hours which has led to an extremely slow market. With the number of corners on the market, all of whom have their issues for teams to be aware of and manage, teams have seemingly been unwilling to be the first to make a move and potentially end up over paying. With Smith the Chiefs would be hoping to solve the problem that arose when Brandon Carr departed for Dallas 12 months ago and though his performances in Miami were inconsistent Smith possesses a blend of speed and size that was always likely to make him a corner teams would pursue even in the crowded and slow free agent CB market. As a mark of his inconsistency Smith registered a +0.7 season grade in coverage last year that was compiled with the aid of four games of +1.4 or above and five games of -1.5 or worse.
13.15 VISIT! The 49ers have bigger fish to fry, if you believe the reports out there, but Adam Schefter is reporting that they are also hosting former Bengals LB Dan Skuta for a visit today. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that with NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis both under contract this isn’t for defense but special teams and depth. Skuta recorded just more than 100 snaps last season and was used disproportionately and ineffectively as a blitzer, recording only one hurry on 32 blitzes but his run defense (-0.4) and run defense (+0.2) were solid. On special teams he has recorded 41 tackles and missed 5 in the last three seasons (3 of those special teams misses coming last season) but he did also concede four penalties on special teams patrol this past season with the Bengals.
12.55 RUMOR! News continues to be slow as we approach lunchtime on day 3 but news from ProFootballTalk has the Steelers giving Beanie Wells as part of his visit with the team. In a disappointing four year career out of Ohio State, Wells has never had much by way of help from his offensive lines in Arizona but at the same time he has never looked like fulfilling that first round promise and outperforming the blocking his lines have given him. With three straight rushing grades of +1.5 or above to start the 2011 season things might have been on the up for Wells but he neve rmaintained that form. Without a change in form and improvements in run blocking Wells wouldn’t appear to offer much of an upgrade for the Steelers’ running game that needs to focus on getting more touches for Isaac Redman.
12.10 RUMOR! It’s been a long time coming and we’re not there yet but Ian Rapoport and Tony Softli are both reporting that things are starting to move on at a pace between the Rams and Jake Long. After a lengthy physical Rapoport reports that the Rams are OK with Long medically and Softli reports that the Rams and Long’s agent are getting close to a deal, with a deal possible very soon assuming they don’t hit any snags. Health is the big question mark with Long who when healthy in 2008-2010 was amongst the league’s elite tackles but injuries took their toll in the last two seasons as he regressed towards the league average. If the Rams can get Long with a clean bill of health they could get a bargain depending upon how much they give up in terms of contract dollars for Long. This would re-unite the top two picks of the 2008 NFL Draft in St Louis with Chris Long building a niche as one of the league’s better pass rushers and until two injury plagued seasons Jake Long emerging as one of the league’s elite pass protectors.
11.50 VISIT! More news on the Jets with Aaron Wilson reporting that former Chargers, Eagles and Ravens DE/LB Antwan Barnes is headed in for a visit today. Barnes began his career as a situational player on one of Rex Ryan’s defenses in Baltimore but only really started to flourish when given more snaps in San Diego over the last three years. He is coming off of a down system this season as he struggled to find a niche in an overhauled edge personnel grouping in San Diego this season. In 2011 though he was one of the league’s most productive pass rushers on a per snap basis collecting 45 pressures (11 Sk, 5 Ht, 29 Hu) on 273 pass rushes and a +15.7 pass rush grade. The Jets are a prime example of a team starved of pass rush that Barnes could give a real spark too as a situational pass rusher.
11.40 RUMOR! One of the more under the radar receiver targets on the market is Brandon Gibson and Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News is reporting that Gibson has concluded his visit with the Jets and is leaving New York without a deal and heading onto his next visit. Outside the Dolphins significant investment in Mike Wallace receivers have found money hard to come by so far in free agency, even Wes Welker could only garner $6million per year. Mehta reports that Gibson’s remaining scheduled visits are with the Dolphins and Titans (Friday). At this stage there are a number of wide receivers who could help teams out that are going to be available at a very reasonable level in terms of contract value. Gibson finished the season with some impressive efficiency stats and in the right situation could emerge further in 2013.
11.15 As we hit a little bit of a lull in the news this morning be sure to take the time to catch up with our Free Agent Tracker to keep track of all the moves that have been made and who is left on the market at every position. Also check in with the Deal Grader for our take on the moves that have been made so far in free agency.
10.40 RUMOR! Another former starting QB that could be hitting the market, much postulated elsewhere, is Kevin Kolb with Ian Rapoport citing sources saying that he will be released before he is due to receiver a roster bonus on March 17th. Having been put into a QB competition with John Skelton based on the Cardinals winning more games with Skelton under center at the end of the 2011 season, in spite of Skelton’s clear limitations, Kolb was denied the chance to win and keep the job by injury this season as Skelton and Ryan Lindley both struggled to even look passable quarterbacks. This would put three quarterbacks with recent starting experience onto a market starved of starting quarterbacks but there still may not be much of a frenzy for a trio of maligned QBs.
10.35 RELEASE! Many reports have had the Chiefs trying to shop QB Matt Cassel by way of a trade in the last two days but, shockingly, there appears to have been no trade market for him. So now Adam Teicher of the Kansas City Star is reporting that the Chiefs have cut him instead in one of the less surprising moves of the off-season. His one season deputizing for Tom Brady promised so much but in spite of leading the Chiefs to one playoff spot he never delivered on that promise and was one half of a dismal QB tandem in Kansas City this season. In four seasons with the Chiefs Cassel never finished the season with a positive overall grade.
10.15 SIGNING! Citing a source Jenna Laine reports that the Redskins have agreed to terms with OT Jeremy Trueblood pending a physical. Trueblood missed almost all of the 2012 season in Tampa Bay and in 2011 he finished the season with a -20.9 overall grade. After starting the “PFF Era” with a +30.4 grade in 2008 Trueblood has been amongst the league’s weaker RTs grading -11.0 or worse in the subsequent three seasons. Trueblood’s stronger suit has always been his run blocking but his highest season grade as a run block since 2008 was a +0.8 in 2010.
09.45: RUMOR! Most of the tight end talk has centered around Martellus Bennett, Jared Cook and Dustin Keller. While Keller remains on the market, so does Fred Davis, who missed nearly all of 2012 hurt. Well Adam Schefter is reporting there’s a fight breaking out (not literally) over his services with the top two suitors being the Redskins and the Browns. He ran 166 pass routes in 2012 and turned them into 325 yards, giving him a yards per route run figure of 1.96. That would have seen him finish second of all tight ends. Potential bargain alert.
09.30: VISIT! We do like some of the people the Raiders are bringing in, and that continues with the news that veteran cornerback Terence Newman will be visiting (per Matt Maiocco). Cowboys fans may be surprised by this given how much he struggled in his final year in Dallas, but he was impressive in Cincinnati finishing 19th overall in our cornerback rankings (with some good work in run defense helping him out). He allowed 56.5% of balls into his coverage to be complete while picking off two balls and deflecting another eight.
09.20: While our own @PFF_Khaled was outraged at the prospect of the Lions moving Jason Jones back to defensive end (where he was terrible for the Titans in 2011), Pro Football Talk reports he’s actually going to be used at defensive tackle (where he was excellent for the Titans before that and Seahawks in 2012). A rare talent, Jones is simply too quick for a lot of offensive guards out there and it shows up by his constant ability to get pressure.
09.15 RUMOR! Per Geoff Mosher the Eagles are out of the running for Sean Smith. Rumor is that Smith is seeking $8m per year, which if he played at the level he is capable of on every down would make sense. But he doesn’t and if you remember our piece on first downs and touchdowns allowed, Smith led the league in giving up 46 of them. Part can be blamed on how Miami used him but all too often he didn’t play like a guy who deserved anywhere near that quoted amount, and when you consider what players like Chris Houston got ($5m per annum), it wouldn’t surprise to see that price come down significantly.
08.55: VISIT! It’s all a bit fluffy out there at the moment. People reacting t onews and worshipping at the alter of our Welker and Amendola route running comparison chart. Hooray for us. Anyone thank the Lord for Tim Graham, who has a source don’t you know. And that source has told him the Patriots are going to bring in Donald Jones for a visit today. The former Bills receiver played 684 snaps last year without putting a convincing claim forward to being a starter going forward. But the former undrafted free agent has picked up 265 yards and two touchdowns in three career games against New England.
08.30: RUMOR! We heard whispers of Wes Welker turning down a two-year $15m deal and reports suggest (as expected) that is was the Titans were the team trying to make that happen. Welker turned them down because he wanted to play for a contender, which speaks volumes to how far Tennessee is from being a contender. They’ve spent a lot of money over the past 48 hours, but as Nate Dunlevy writes, have they really gotten any better?
08.15: RETIRMENET! With the Ravens winning the Super Bowl all the retirement chat has surrounded Ray Lewis and Matt Birk before Steve Hutchinson got in on the act as well. But don’t forget about the Falcons center Todd McClure (no relation to Troy) who is calling it quits after a marvellous 15-year career which saw him make 195 starts for the Falcons. Five years we’ve been doing our thing and five years we’ve graded McClure positively. He goes out on top and the Falcons are left hoping that Peter Konz can fill some pretty big shoes.
07.50: VISIT! Hurrah for news! Adam Caplan reports that the Raiders hosted defensive tackle Corey Williams. The former Lion has the kind of explosiveness that guarantees he’s going to get pressure on the quarterback. You just have to accept he’s going to get flagged a lot, with him picking up 26 in the last three years. After injury limited the 32-year old to just 226 snaps last year, he’s a name that hasn’t been mentioned much. But if you can get him healthy he’s a player that will give offensive guards a lot of problems. It makes a lot of sense for the Raiders to be looking at him.
07.45: Are we spoilt to expect news this early in the morning? There are plenty of big name free agents still out there. For those looking for a conventional 4-3 defensive end Michael Bennett remains the top guy out there coming off the back of two strong seasons. He’s not a flawless player and there are games where he will go missing. But he’s like a shark smelling blood in that if he senses weakness in a tackle (much like he did to Doug Free in Week 3 of the season) he will bully them convincingly. He’s a name to watch for today.
07.30: If you want to catch up on all the going-ons from yesterday then you need only look at our Day Two blog. Seriously a lot went down. We couldn’t even begin to summarize it.
07.00: It’s pretty quiet. Is this the calm before the storm? Before the cornerback markets finally sees some deals being made? We await the days first deal eagerly.
6.45: VISIT! This one from Schefter again and it’s probably something Green Bay fans don’t want to hear. Greg Jennings is heading to Minnesota to visit with the Vikings today. Those NFC North guys are an incestuous bunch, right? Jennings is the most complete receiver available in free agency, able to operate all over the field and make things happen after the catch. He’d be a big get for a Vikings offense that is extremely short on receiver talent even if he did only manage 531 snaps and will be 30 during the season. Back in 2011 Jennings was our 16th rated wide receiver with our pure receiving grades.
6.35: RUMOR! Another one from Mr Schefter, who is still the King of Free Agency news, and that’s the Chiefs are trying to trade Matt Cassel before they have to release him. Schefter suggests the Vikings as a landing spot, to which Vikings fans everywhere react with a huge wave of indifference. Cassel earned a -4.9 grade on his 593 snaps compared to the -16.1 grade Christian Ponder did and if nothing else would represent an upgrade on scattergun backup, Joe Webb. If only Percy Harvin knew Cassel was coming in maybe he would have stayed around in Minnesota? We kid.
6.30: VISIT! We had ourselves a little nap and now we’re all refreshed to bring you the news from the day. So let’s see what Mr Schefter, a man who doesn’t need naps, says. The Patriots missed out on Joshua Cribbs but they’re brining in ace return man Leon Washington for a visit. It’s hard to see the former Seahawk being considered anything other than a special teams guy but at least in that regard he’s an exceptional talent. He was our 11th ranked returner with his work in the punt game being particularly impressive.
1.45: Another note involving the Jets: running back Mike Goodson made a stop in Cincinnati Wednesday but didn’t settle on a deal and will visit New York on Thursday. Goodson didn’t get much time on the field after being brought in to be part of the Oakland backfield in 2012 (35 carries, 16 catches), but when he did, he impressed. His PFF Elusive Rating in those limited touches was an off-the-charts 124.5 thanks to the 13 missed tackles he forced and his average of 4.89 yards after contact. His Yards Per Route Run number (2.60) was also something to boast about, albeit again based on a small sample.
0.10: Per Antwan Barnes‘ twitter account, he will be visiting the Jets tomorrow. Barnes, a pass rush specialist, took a step back in 2012 with a -0.5 grade as a rusher, but he’s just one year removed from posting a +15.7 with a PRP of 13.8 that ranked second among 3-4 outside linebackers. This could be a good value signing for the Jets.