2013 Free Agency Live Blog: Day 4
Ah, Friday. The winding-down end of the work week for some, but for NFL front offices it promises to be a continuation of the madness we’ve seen since the league year opened. Plenty of roster spots still to fill and many, many intriguing options still on the market.
As always, 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.
Time for Day 4!
(Manually refresh the page every 15 minutes to update the blog)
23:54 Just before the Day 4 buzzer was about to sound, Jason Wilde reports that the Bucaneers have signed former Packers tight end Tom Crabtree. Despite his fan-favorite status in Green Bay, Crabtree’s never graded positively here at PFF and he’s been especially poor as a run blocker where he’s graded at a combined -23.7 over the least three years. In 2012, he played 366 snaps and was targeted 10 times catching eight of them for 203 yards. His 72-yard touchdown against the Cardinals was his obvious highlight of the season as he beat LB Paris Lenon down the seam and sprinted into the end zone untouched. His departure should open the door for more playing time for TE D.J. Williams while Crabtree will battle incumbent tight ends Luke Stocker and Nate Byham for playing time in Tampa Bay.
23:16 The news cycle is back on track as Pro Football Talk reports that safety Craig Dahl is visiting the 49ers. San Francisco lost free agent FS Dashon Goldson to the Bucaneers this week, so Dahl represents a possible replacement. He played 96 percent of the Rams’ snaps last season, grading at -6.1 overall for the year. Dahl is a true free safety who played “in the box” a league-low 11 percent of the time. Goldson ranked third in that department, so on the surface, it appears that Dahl will be good fit for the scheme. If there’s a concern, it’s Dahl’s tackling as he was seventh-worst among safeties missing one out of every 5.7 tackle attempts.
21.15: Things have began to calm down for the night in the wonderful world of football. There have been a few tweets by Miami Dolphins offensive linemen encouraging Jake Long to return to Miami. While money plays a huge role in determining where free agents line up, the well wishes of teammates certainly can’t hurt his chances of returning to Miami. The Dolphins have gone on a spending spree this off-season with receivers and linebackers, and it hasn’t stopped there as Brent Grimes could also potentially join Miami. Offensive tackle is one of their biggest weaknesses, and bringing Long back would help their playoff push.
20.45: SIGNING! Jeff Dickerson of ESPN reports that Tight End Matt Spaeth has agreed to terms with the Steelers. He started his NFL Career with Pittsburgh in 2007, and spent the last two seasons as a Chicago Bears where he became our highest rated run blocking tight end in 2012. In Pittsburgh he will continue that role as a run blocking tight end while Heath Miller will stay as the receiving tight end. This is not a good sign for Leonard Pope’s chances of returning to the team.
20.20: The Greg Jennings numbers are in! Josina Anderson is reporting that it is a 5 year deal with a max value of 47.5 million dollars with 18 million of that being guaranteed. In comparison, that isn’t nearly as much as Mike Wallace was able to bring in, but better than the other receivers that hit the open market.
20.15: Albert Breer reports that Ed Reed doesn’t have any visits lined up and plans to be patient. While that plan could end up working out for Reed, with just how many good safeties are left on the market, if he waits he might end up waiting until August and need to wait for an injury to happen. Regardless of if this works out for him or not, we know at least one top free agent will remain on the market for awhile.
20.00: It is now Nathan Jahnke taking over the Live Blog. There have been a few late night signing each night in the new league year, so when those inevitable transactions happen, I will be here to give you the info you need to know.
19.35 SIGNING! It’s got busy all of a sudden. Mike Jurecki is reporting that Adrian Wilson has signed with the New England Patriots. Wilson found himself relegated from the Cardinals sub package during the season and ultimately cut at the end of the year after it looked like age had caught up with the former Pro Bowl safety. Wilson went from earning a +20.3 grade in 2011 to a -2.4 in 2012.
19.30 SIGNING! Thoughts are turning to what goes on this weekend but for now Adam Schefter is bringing us some big news. The Minnesota Vikings have reached an agreement with … Greg Jennings. It’s a significant move for a Vikings organization that simply had to give Christian Ponder a quality receiver to work with, and Jennings is exactly that. Capable of working all over the field, Jennings missed much of 2012 but you need only look back to 2011 to see what he is capable of where he picked up a very healthy 2.07 yards per route run. Turning 30 this year may concern many, but this is a big get for the Vikings. Interestingly it’s a five-year deal … we await the numbers.
19.25 SIGNING! From earlier today, Adam Caplan reports that the Lions have re-signed Dylan Gandy. Gandy got on the field for one snap last year, 10 the year before and 32 in 2010. With the Lions losing some linemen this year whose to say the long term backup doesn’t getting a crack at a starting job.
19.15 RUMOR! According to Jason La Canfora three teams are showing interest in Jason Campbell. Who are those? Well it’s only the Bears, Jets and Browns. Campbell had planned on taking 2012 off and getting paid for clipboard duties, but got forced into action behind a porous Bears offensive line. The end result wasn’t pretty with his start against the 49ers seeing him earn a -5.5 grade. He’s not that bad a player as his strong start to the season with the Raiders in 2011 showed.
19.05 If you missed it yesterday and you’d like to look at some of the numbers comparing Wes Welker and Danny Amendola, then all you need to do is click here.
18.50 SIGNING! Per Adam Schefter the Jets are replenishing their depleted defense by signing the often injured 33-year old Antonio Garay on a one-year deal. We’re a little frustrated with Garay who as recently as 2010 was our second ranked defensive tackle on the year. He has the ability to generate a ton of pressure from base and nickel packages, topping the pass rushing productivity charts that year and second a year later. The problem for him has been staying on the field. He only managed 151 snaps last year.
18.40 VISIT! That’s not the only news Howard Balzer is breaking. Former Rams safety Craig Dahl is visiting with the 49ers. He’d represent a significant drop off from Dashon Goldson if he was to start but on the plus side he is a more natural replacement than some of the guys the 49ers have brought in. He spent a league low 11% of snaps in the box for the Rams and so is more of a prototypical free safety. He had some problems with tackling, but didn’t get beat for an awful lot in the passing game.
18.30 VISIT! Former first round pick Chris Williams is visiting with the Panthers per Howard Balzer. You don’t need us to tell you Williams was a colossal bust as a Bear, drafted to be the teams franchise left tackle, he ended up released as a failed guard. He spent the the second half of last year with the Rams but could only crack their lineup for 82 snaps where he didn’t distinguish him at all. It’s hard to see how he’d fit in with Carolina other than to offer depth you hope to never have to use.
18.15 RELEASE! From his own twitter feed it looks as if Ben Obomanu has been released. There was always going to be some fallout from the trade of Percy Harvin to the Seahawks and the most obvious outcome was this move. Obomanu only played 151 snaps on offensive last year, and it’s easy to see why after he didn’t deliver on the 556 snaps he had in 2011 (he earned a -7.8 grade).
18.10 It’s been a busy hour or so following “Faxgate”. But take a break from the news by reading how Ben Stockwell thinks Michael Bennett is backing himself in a prove it year, and five signings that Sam Monson thinks make no sense.
17.55 VISIT! From the official Miami Dolphins twitter account, the team hosted free agent cornerback Brent Grimes on an official visit. Grimes was our top ranked cornerback available on the open market, even after missing nearly all of 2012 hurt. I mean there’s a big reason why the Falcons franchised him last year, and it has to do with Grimes being one of the most lockdown corners in the league. Back in 2011 he allowed 0.58 yards per snap in coverage, the lowest of all cornerbacks in the league. Given the market for defensive backs and his injury history someone is going to get a big bargain in him if he’s healthy.
17.45 SIGNING! From the twitter account of Kent Somers, the Arizona Cardinals are giving Antoine Cason a chance to put himself in the shop window next year. The former first round pick looked like turning into a special corner back in 2010, but like a lot of players couldn’t build on a career year and has since frustrated a Chargers faithful. It’s just a one-year deal so there’s plenty of incentive for him to make plays rather than giving them up.
17.40 It never surprises us when we hear the word “A.J.”, “Hawk” and “paycut” in the same sentence. This comes from Tom Silverstein who says that Hawk agreed to one, and it’s easy to see why after the former first round pick lost his every down role to a man who was fifth on the Packers inside linebacker depth chart in 2012, Brad Jones. Hawk just hasn’t been the player advertised, and with Desmond Bishop and D.J. Smith back from injury, could this be the year where he loses his starting spot?
17.35 RUMOR! Another one from Manish Mehta who is saying the Jets are expressing an interest in keeping their Landry quota up. How you ask? By going after Dawan Landry, the former Jaguars and Raven safety. After some good years in Baltimore, Landry didn’t really live up to the pay in Jacksonville and found himself cut this year. He’s a little less explosive, but a little more reliable than his brother and likely a lot cheaper. It might not be the worst move in the world but the cash strapped Jets.
17.30 SIGNING! We mentioned earlier that the Ravens were looking at Marcus Spears, and now they’ve only gone and signed him to a two-year deal. That’s the word from Alex Marvez anyway. Spears has always been something of an underachiever in Dallas, never being the kind of impact player you’d hope to get in the first round. But he has formed a big part of their defensive line rotation, even in 2012 when he was finally demoted from his starters role. It’s hard to see him starting in Baltimore but he’s likely going to form a part of their rotation behind Haloti Ngata, Chris Canty and whoever they end up playing at nose tackle.
17.15 SIGNING! After the signing of Danny Woodhead earlier, this move seems a bit odd by the San Diego Chargers. They’re re-signing Ronnie Brown per Adam Caplan. That’s not a knock on Brown who was impressive in his role of passing downs specialist, reeling in the eighth amount of receiving yards of all running backs. It just has us curious as to how the Chargers are going to divvy up the passing downs opportunities between him and Woodhead.
17.10 News regarding the New York Jets. They’ve lost a lot of starters on defense and their attempts to fill part of that void with Antwan Barnes has failed as he left the complex without a contract according to Manish Mehta. Barnes finished second out of all 3-4 outside linebackers in our 2011 pass rushing productivity chart, spending most of his time rushing the passer from the Chargers sub package defense. He’s got talent but obviously his demands weren’t acceptable to the Jets.
17.00 SIGNINGS! That’s not the only move the Jaguars made. They’ve also announced the signing of two former Texans in the shape of Alan Ball and Justin Forsett. Ball will provide depth as every spot in the secondary as well as being a core special teamer where he had 12 tackles last year. Forsett is a more interesting one and took what carries he had in Houston and made the most of them, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and forcing 11 missed tackles. He even sort of had a touchdown. Nice moves.
16.50 SIGNING! The Jaguars have pounced by making a move for Roy Miller. A man beloved in some circles, he’s purely a two down defender and not exactly tremendous in that regard. He played 503 snaps last year, earning a 0.0 grade for his work in the run game, and a -5.8 for what he produced as a pass rusher (just five hurries and a batted pass). He’s likely to compete for a starting spot, replicating the role Brandon Mebane plays in Seattle (zero technique in their hybrid defense).
16.45 TRADE! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been trying to get rid of Arrellious Benn for a couple of days now and it seems like it’s paid off. The Philadelphia Eagles have sent their sixth round pick and a conditional 2014 pick in return for Benn and the Bucs seventh round pick. Since suffering a horrible injury during a promising rookie year Benn just hasn’t been able to deliver on the potential that saw him a one time second round pick.
16.35 SIGNING! You can take this one to the bank as it comes from Adam Schefter. The Dolphins, who have already spent big on two receivers this offseason, are adding another in the shape of Brandon Gibson. A reliable target for the Rams last year, Gibson actually finished second in the league in terms of target to first down or touchdown conversion. He’s likely ticketed for a number three receiver role but it will give the Dolphins three guys, none of whom have much experience working from the slot.
16.10 RELEASE! A twist in Denver where Mike Klis reports that pesky paperwork has got in the Broncos’ way and DE Elivs Dumervil has been released. This will definitely be a case of wait and see for us and everyone involved, the Broncos had just reached an agreement to cut Dumervil’s pay by $4million but were in a race against time to file everything in time and clearly Old Father Time won yet again and forced the Broncos’ hand. This adds another body to the free agent market at defensive end, but for how long? According to Klis the Broncos could still re-sign Dumervil but there would be salary cap implications and it’s “not that simple”.
15.55 SIGNING! According to Jason La Canfora, amongst others, the Jets have moved to fill one of their vacancies at guard by signing Willie Colon with Adam Schefter reporting that the deal is worth $1.2million. Colon graded well as both a run blocker (+6.0) and a pass protector (+4.6) this past season but his overall grade was blighted by a dozen penalties (-8.3) which was the most of any guard in the league this season. Also missing time through injury this is not a move without its risks for the Jets but if he can stay on the field and keep the penalties under control this could be a move that works out well for the Jets.
15.50 SIGNING! We’ve seen player’s breaking their own news but now we have player’s breaking new teammate’s news. O’Brien Schofield has tweeted that he will be joined at the Arizona Cardinals by former collegiate teammate DE Matt Shaughnessy. Joining after four years with the Oakland Raiders Shaughnessy has graded consistently well as a run defender but has been just as consistently ineffective as a pass rusher. In the Cardinals 3-4 defense Shaughnessy figures to shift inside to defensive end rather than standing up to play linebacker so it will be interesting to see how his run defense and pass rushing will translate to a more interior position than he has played in Oakland and also how many snaps he will get on an Arizona defense that has seen Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett dominate the snaps (both played in excess of 1000 snaps in 2011) in recent seasons.
15.40 The writing was on the wall when the deals and monetary values for Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett, and so Elvis Dumervil has agreed to a pay cut to stay in Denver per Michelle Beisner. If you saw our piece on overvalued edge rushers then you’ll know we think this was a long time coming. He’s still set to make $8m this year (which is far too much for our liking) but the Broncos keep their edge rushing duo of Dumervil and Von Miller partnered up. They’re primed for a big run next year and Dumervil is wise to want in on that.
15.35 SIGNING! He’s been visiting with the 49ers recently but Pro Football Talk is reporting that Louis Delmas is returning to Detroit on a two year deal to form a safety partnership with Glover Quin. Delmas is a guy with a reputation that suggests he’s a better player than he is. He missed a lot of last year hurt, but go back to 2011 and you’ve got a guy who missed a tackle for every 4.9 he attempted. That number was the second worst in the league and helped him earn a -5.7 grade on the year. He’s got to get stay healthy, and he’s got play better for Detriot and their secondary to take a step forward.
15.30 Want to bear witness to the first ever Pro Football Focus, Google + Hangout? Of course you do. Watch Neil Hornsby and Sam Monson explain a little about PFF and have a discussion about some of their favorite players of the PFF era.
15.15 This one comes from the Baltimore Sun who are reporting that the Ravens are showing some serious interest in Marcus Spears, the former Cowboy. After bringing in Chris Canty the Ravens are looking to add some bodies up front as they continue a mini-transformation of their roster. Spears played 394 snaps and earned a -3.3 grade. The Cowboys hit on DeMarcus Ware in 2005 but Spears, despite playing a lot since then, just hasn’t been the guy they wanted him to be.
15.00 Not a surprise this one. Roy Cummings reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their grievance over the right to release Eric Wright and not have to pay him a dime. It’s good news for the Bucs even if Wright did haven’t the horrible year he mustered up in 2011. He earned a -1.8 grade, hardly befitting of his salary, but good enough that some cornerback needy team will make him an offer. Just don’t expect it to match what Tampa Bay gave him last year.
14.45 VISIT! Per Geoff Mosher, Dan Connor is scheduled to visit with the Giants. Short on linebacker depth and looking for guys who can contribute, this move would make a lot of sense. Connor didn’t enjoy the best of years in the Cowboys 3-4, but he was an excellent two down player during his time in Carolina who would really meet lead blockers the way you like to see a linebacker do so. Back in 2010 he earned a +12.7 grade despite just playing 261 snaps.
14.30 From Matt Maiocco we now know that Glenn Dorsey will play for $6m over two years with the 49ers. It remains to be seen how they use him but the odds are he’ll simply fill in for Isaac Sopoaga, a defensive end they turned into a nose tackle when Aubrayo Franklin left. Dorsey has consistently been a beast in the run game so the move makes sense on paper. Just keep him off the field when the other team is passing okay?
14.15 SIGNING! Courtesy of Mike Reiss, Danny Woodhead is saying goodbye to New England, and hello to the San Diego Chargers after penning a two-year deal. Obvious comparisons will be made between Woodhead the Chargers former diminutive running back Darren Sproles, with Woodhead a more than capable third down back. With an assist from the excellent Patriots line Woodhead converted 26.3% of his rushing attempts into first downs. Eighth highest of all running backs with at least 50 carries.
14.10 One story we’re expecting some resolution on shortly is regarding Denver. John Elway has come out and flatly said that Elvis Dumervil is overpaid at his current salary and that unless he takes a pay cut, then Denver will move onto plan B. Dumervil is a useful pass rusher with a knack for turning his pressure into sacks, but he’s not irreplaceable. The deals Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett got have put the leverage with the Broncos right now and it will be interesting to see how this develops.
13.50 RELEASE! Tough times for Tom Zbikowski. He’s been released by the Indianapolis Colts after one year with the team. Zbikowski was on the field for 707 snaps and earned a -2.4 grade in that time where he spent 42.4% of running plays in the box. Obviously the acquisition of LaRon Landry made him surplus to requirements. His solid play during his time in Baltimore should ensure he gets the chance to compete for another job, and if not, he’s always got special teams to fall back on. He made nine special teams tackles in his last year as a Raven.
13.40 SIGNING! More lunchtime signings and this time it’s Sean Jensen reporting that the Bears will welcome back CB Zachary Bowman for another year. Bowman has signed on for the veteran minimum and having played only 21 snaps on defense last season this signing is principally about special teams. Bowman earned a +2.4 season grade on special teams including a league best +4.0 grade for covering and blocking on punts. Bowman was the Bears’ leader in terms of special teams tackles last season with 10.
13.30 SIGNING! So everyone’s wrapping up their contract negotiations for lunchtime then? Next up is Kyle Arrington re-signing for 4 years with the New England Patriots according to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston. Arrington has finished each of the last two seasons with a positive grade in run defense and earned a +6.0 coverage grade from Week 11 until the end of the Patriots’ season in 2012.
13.20 SIGNING! Another player announcement with Geoff Schwartz announcing on twitter that he has signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. Schwartz was bizarrely underused with the Vikings this past season who made it clear they wanted Brandon Fusco at right guard for the long term even though Schwartz outperformed him whenever he was given snaps on the field. For the season Schwartz earned a +5.8 grade on 160 snaps and figures to have the chance to win a starting job in Kansas City under new head coach Andy Reid. Though hampered by injuries Schwartz has always graded well when he has been on the field and if given a fair chance should earn a starting job with the Chiefs and upgrade either of their guard spots. Jon Asamoah was impressive (+15.0) at right guard this past season so the vulnerable member of that interior figures to be last year’s rookie left guard Jeff Allen who earned a -19.5 grade for the season. However under new stewardship this interior could be somewhat in flux with starting spots up for grabs.
13.05 VISIT! More news from Jim Thomas who reports that Brandon Gibson is still on his scheduled visit with the Miami Dolphins having previously left a visit with the New York Jets without a deal. Depth at wide receiver is always good but having already signed Brian Hartline and Mike Wallace in the last week Gibson may not see the opportunity that he wants for an expanded role with the Dolphins anymore. Thomas reports that if Gibson leaves Miami without a deal as he did in New York that his next visit will be with the Tennessee Titans. The only Titan receiver who earned a positive receiving grade last season was Mike Preston on 61 snaps as the Titans struggled for consistency in the passing game with changes at quarterback and Kenny Britt struggled to play just more than 600 snaps. Gibson would at the very least add more competition in the Titans’ receiving corps.
12.45 VISIT! The Packers have lost one linebacker already this week and Mike Garafolo reports that versatile linebacker Brad Jones is currently visiting with the Tennessee Titans. Jones never impressed much as a bit part player at outside linebacker but was a revelation inside when the Packers were hit by a string of injuries next to A.J. Hawk. Throughout the season Jones consistently outperformed Hawk and ended the season with a positive grade as both a run defender and in pass coverage. In what is becoming a common theme Jones’ highest graded game of the season came against the team he is visiting, Tennessee, but it wasn’t an isolated performance as was the case with his teammate Erik Walden and his performance against the Colts. Jones finished third on the Packers’ roster this season with 37 defensive stops behind only Hawk and Clay Matthews.
12.30 RUMOR! More on the Jake Long story with Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporting that the free agent tackle is scheduled to leave St. Louis later this afternoon with, at this time, no deal agreed. In a second tweet Thomas goes on to say that “according to sources” multiple teams are showing interest in Long. Now we “know” from prior reports that the Dolphins are “back” in for Long but multiple tends to imply more than just two so it will be interesting to see where he heads next. Clearly teams are still interested in Long who is not too far removed from being one of the league’s best tackles but it is hard to believe that any new team entering these negotiations wouldn’t want to take as long to do all their homework on Long’s physical state as the Rams did as well. Earlier reports hinted at this being a two horse race between the Rams and Dolphins but if more teams are interested then this could yet be an extremely drawn out process that could drag into the weekend and beyond.
Turn over the page to find out what went down earlier in the day
11.55 VISIT! The Patriots signed a lot of receivers last off-season and didn’t keep many of them around. Having already signed Danny Amendola and today bringing in Donald Jones you might think they were done with their receiver shopping this year but perhaps not. With one a little out of left field Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots are hosting restricted free agent Emmanuel Sanders of the Steelers on a visit today. Sanders’ tender would require the Patriots to give up a third round pick if they wanted to sign him, and the Steelers chose not to match the offer sheet, and caught a career high 44 passes for 624 yards this past season. Sanders did much of his work from the slot last season finishing around mid-table in both yards gained in the slot (361, 25th), yards per route run from the slot (1.28, 33rd) and receptions (30, 18th).
11.45 RUMOR! In what could be the most protracted signing saga of this year’s free agency period so far it would appear that the Dolphins are back in negotiations with Jake Long according to Albert Breer. According to Breer the Dolphins always had a price in mind and it would appear that the open market, read the St. Louis Rams, haven’t necessarily exceeded that. Breer reports that both the Dolphins and the Rams are involved in the discussions at this point and maybe discussions with one of the two parties might pick up pace in the coming hours.
11.35 SIGNING! His brother Damien was the first to break this story and Adam Schefter has just confirmed it, Dustin Keller has now officially left the Jets for division rival Miami on a one year deal. Keller only played 416 snaps this season but earned a +3.4 receiving grade catching more than 75% of the passes thrown his way for an average gain of more than 11 yards and forcing five missed tackles. Keller isn’t Anthony Fasano as a blocker but he also isn’t your prototypical “receiving tight end” that can’t block for toffee. His best season as a blocker came in 2010 earning a game grade of +1.0 or better as a run blocker on seven occasions.
11.30 RELEASE! This was always a case of when not if but Adam Caplan is reporting that this is now official, or will be at 4pm Eastern today, and the Cardinals have parted ways with Kevin Kolb after they failed to come to agreement on re-structuring his contract. Injury robbed Kolb of his chance to make the Arizona starting job his own last season and the money due to him was always likely to see him released. After Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s departure from Philadelphia earlier in the week this means that both sides managed to lose out in the trade from a couple of years ago. The Cardinals have, according to Caplan, left the door open for Kolb who at this point would probably still be the Cardinals’ best QB though how he’d fit into Bruce Arians’ vertical offense would be a serious question. Kolb earned a +2.1 passing grade this season but was only 4/15 on deep passes.
11.15 SIGNING! We’re getting close to lunch time so is Day 4 about to heat up? Adam Schefter adds to this mini-streak of signings in the last twenty minutes by reporting that the Patriots have added former Buffalo Bill Donald Jones to their WR corps. Jones had his best graded game of the season (+3.0) against the Patriots in Foxoborough last season but wasn’t tremendously productive throughout the rest of the season. In his following two games he dropped three passes and fumbled once, he didn’t top 35 receiving yards in a single game after that. Clearly moving from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Tom Brady is a frame shift in terms of the guy getting you the ball so it will be interesting to see how much he is a part of the Patriots’ plans on offense and how productive he can be if he gets on the field.
11.10 SIGNING! The Redskins are one of two teams struggling for cap space due to penalties relating to the uncapped year so they’re scraping around for bargain signings. They’ve just announced on twitter the re-signing of LB Bryan Kehl who has also spent time with the Rams and Giants since entering the league. Kehl didn’t register a single snap on defense for the Redskins last season but he did record six special teams tackles in three games late in the season.
10.55 SIGNING! You know it’s a quiet period when you’re commenting on R.J. Stanford signing his exclusive rights tender with the Dolphins. Still it’s early in the morning right? Anyway his agent David Canter reported the news. Stanford played 147 snaps on defense last year and earned a -5.4 grade in coverage during that time (three missed tackles not helping his cause).
10.45 According to Sean Jensen the Raiders have signed Nick Roach to be their starting middle linebacker. He filled in for Brian Urlacher at that spot during the final four games of the season where he earned a +0.2 grade while also seeing time there in 2009. It continues the Raiders policy of spending wisely if not in an eye-catching way. Exactly what the franchise needs.
10.30 What’s the hold up Ed Reed? The long time Raven safety is still visiting with the Texans who have put a full court press on him in an effort to get him to replace Glover Quin. Is it working? Only time will tell. Reed is still a capable safety but his best days are behind him as evidenced by his 15 missed tackles.
10.20 SIGNING! According to Adam Schefter “The Jets are on the free-agent scoreboard”. With whom you may ask? Well after losing the plodding Shonn Greene, they’ve added the far more explosive Mike Goodson. Goodson has a knack for making plays and is a dangerous player if you can get him in the open space. Despite the Raiders struggles last year with their zone blocking scheme he turned his 35 carries into 221 yards. That meant he averaged 3 yards per carry more than Darren McFadden, and forced half as many missed tackles as McFadden on just 16% of his carries. Numbers are in already and it’s three-years for $6.9m.
10.10 As Mike Wright points out, Daryl Smith, is one of the most underrated linebackers in the league. We agree and Smith is still our top ranked linebacker available on the open market despite missing most of the 2012 season. That’s how highly we value the guy who was our second ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in 2011.
09.55 RUMOR! Just when you thought the exodus from Baltimore might be coming to an end news from Aaron Wilson that it could yet rumble on. This is very early days yet but Wilson reports that restricted free agent TE Dennis Pitta has been getting “preliminary enquiries” from more than one team. After the departure of Anquan Boldin it’s hard to imagine that the Ravens would let their other inside receiving threat leave but with the precarious nature of the Ravens’ cap space if a team really wanted Pitta they could get creative with a contract that the Ravens could find very hard to match. However the key word to consider in Wilson’s report ispreliminary, restricted free agent signings are very rare and this could be teams doing nothing more than their due diligence with the tight end market losing its top players early in free agency.
09.50 We’ve hit a real lull in proceedings this morning with visits on going and not much news coming out of any of the reliable sources. So to fill the void the Buffalo Bills have taken the time to remind us all that on this day last year they sealed the signature of Mario Williams. Whilst his performance didn’t match his contract in 2012 he did hit a purple patch around the mid-season mark earning a +14.1 grade between Week 9 and Week 13 hinting that the Mario Williams from his best days in Houston could still re-emerge in Buffalo.
09.05 VISIT! Adam Schefter confirmed that report by Curran and followed it up by reporting that the Jacksonville Jaguars and new head coach Gus Bradley will host former Seattle and Houston RB Justin Forsett. His most noted contribution last season was the Texans’ “phantom” touchdown against the Lions on Thanksgiving but he again showed that he is an efficient ball carrier with a +4.6 season rushing grade as he picked up 5.9 yards per carry including 4.1 yards per carry after contact. Forsett also forced 11 missed tackles on only 63 carries last season and could be a very useful change of pace to complement the returning Maurice Jones-Drew in Jacksonville.
09.00 VISIT! In addition to the already reported visit of John Abraham to the Patriots, Tom Curran reports that New England are also hosting their former foe Dwight Freeney. 2012 was inconsistent season for Freeney in the Colts’ new defensive system but he did still put in some very solid pass rushing performances against the likes of Miami (+2.0, 4 pressures), Buffalo (+3.6, six pressures) and Kansas City (+3.5, eight pressures). It seems clear that the Patriots are serious about getting Chandler Jones some help to ensure that they don’t have such a wafer thin pass rush next season. Neither Freeney nor Abraham is a long term prospect but should still have enough left in the tank to help Jones whilst he develops into a more consistent performer.
08.15 I suppose it’s early in the morning but shouldn’t some team be overpaying massively for someone by now? That would be in keeping with the spirit of this unofficial holiday right?
08.00 Today should be the day where the Jake Long saga reaches it’s end. The Rams have made him an offer and the Dolphins are apparently making a run at him per Mr Schefter. You’d hope that whatever happens Long is fully healthy, because the guy we’ve seen the past two years hasn’t been a shadow of the guy who was as good as any tackle between 2008 and 2010.
07.45 VISIT! We’ve questioned some of the moves the Chiefs have made, but we like the sound of this one. Geoff Schwartz is heading into town for a visit where it’s widely expected the versatile lineman will sign. We’ve always liked Schwartz since his breakout 2010 campaign where he played extremely well at both tackle and guard, but injuries have blighted him ever since. He was limited to a rotational role in Minnesota last year where the Vikings averaged 6.7 yards per carry with him at guard, and 4.8 when he was not. He’d likely challenge for the left guard spot.
07.35 SIGNING! And just like that we have our first signing in the Friday sunshine. Jeff Dickerson of ESPN is reporting that Nick Roach has signed a deal with the Oakland Raiders believed to be in the region of 3-4 years at around $1m per annum. It’s a nice move for an Oakland team that is trying to fill out it’s roster with value signings as opposed to big names, with Roach capable of playing the strongside or middle linebacker roles. He was on the field for 710 snaps last year and earned a -2.5 grade.
07.30 VISIT! Adam Schefter tried to get some sleep but his ringing phone kept waking him up. His loss (of sleep) is our gain as we learn the Giants, who look likely to lose Domenik Hixon, are bringing in the underwhelming Louis Murphy for a visit. The former Raider spent last year with the Panthers but averaged a paltry 0.86 yards per route run, the third lowest amount of any wide receiver. He just wasn’t on the same page with Cam Newton.
07.00 While you wait for us to react to some news busy yourself with a look at our free agent tracker to see who’s still left.
06.30 Fear not for we’re still here. Sniffing around all the reports to see’s what is going on, and then doing our best to make sense of the moves. We’re good like that. The NFL Network’s Akbar Gbajabiamila is reporting that the 49ers are close to adding Nnamdi Asomugha and Charles Woodson. For a team that returned all their defensive starters change might be a worry for a 49ers outfit that made the Super Bowl, and given that both players have seen better days you have to wonder if these moves make them more, or less likely to go one step further than last year.
05:00 Per some early morning tweeting by Adam Schefter, it seems a pair of extended visits and seemingly done deals may not end up bearing fruit. He notes that Miami is still making a push for Jake Long and that Baltimore could still bring back Ed Reed as him landing in Houston is just “50-50” at this point. A few more moments in the limelight for each as theirs will be a pair of deals that many onlookers are waiting to see.
0:29 The 49ers have announced the signing of former Bengals linebacker Dan Skuta as they’ve inked him to a two-year deal. He graded at -4.2 last season on 108 defensive snaps, however his true value is as a special-teamer where he picked up 15 tackles, tied for third in the league. He performed well on kickoffs where his +3.5 grade ranked second among special team players.