2013 Free Agency Live Blog: Day 9
We churn further into Week 2 of free agency and await the next wave of deals. With the results so far not being what was expected for many positions, there’s certainly a fair amount of re-thinking and re-positioning going on right now but it has to break at some point — there’s just too much talent still out there for them to hang around too long. Perhaps Day 9 will bring kickstart the next batch.
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 make sure you’re caught up on what’s gone before by clicking on the past days’ entries for our takes:
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.
Check in with us throughout the day for Day 9 highlights and PFF thoughts on each new deal.
(Updates will be hourly today.)
Day 9 Recap
With Day 9 coming to a close, it appears that the biggest news of the day is the Texans’ signing of Ed Reed and the Bears release of Brian Urlacher as two of the biggest defensive names of the last 10 years will have new homes in 2013. Reed will look to anchor a Texans secondary that faltered down the stretch last season while Urlacher re-groups and looks for a team that still believes he’s worth bringing in for a 13th season.
As always, PFF will continue our round-the-clock coverage of free agency so be sure to check in regularly for our analysis on all of the happenings around the NFL.
We’re still tuned into the latest free agent developments, but it’s been a rather slow hour of news. For now, you can take a look at Five Great Free Agent Moves and if you think you have what it takes to join the PFF team, be sure to read the qualifications and send us an email.
According to Jason La Canfora, OLB Victor Butler will visit the Saints on Thursday as he continues his search for a starting role. He recently met with the Steelers as he could be a possible replacement for OLB James Harrison. Butler has always produced in his limited opportunites with the Cowboys including a +7.2 overall grade last season. The Saints are in need of edge rushers for their pending switch to a 3-4 scheme and Butler could be a perfect fit.
SIGNING! Just two hours ago we mentioned Captain Munnerlyn was getting an offer from Chicago and that Carolina was ready to match it. It looks like the Panthers were able to match it which led to Munneryln reporting on his twitter account that he is staying with the Panthers. It should turn out to be an interesting training camp battle with Josh Norman, Josh Thomas and Munnerlyn all seeing significant time last year and returning, and now with free agent additions Drayton Florence and D.J. Moore getting thrown into the mix. Outside of a rough four game stretch in the middle of the season, Munnerlyn had a +6.4 coverage rating so chances are he should see the field in 2013 as well.
The big-name edge rusher-go-round spins on: Elvis Dumervil, John Abraham, Dwight Freeney, and Osi Umenyiora all have visits scheduled for the coming days and are likely keeping a close eye on each other. The Broncos, Ravens, Falcons, Dolphins, Titans, and Patriots have been mentioned as interested parties in one or more of them at one time or another in the past few days. The quartet, of course, are directly competing – part of that in serving as leverage against each other with some visits whispered to be more about positioning than actual desire for a deal from the teams’ end of things. It’s all certainly one of this free agency period’s most interesting dances.
Pair of big ones here that couldn’t wait until the next hour’s update…
The Chicago Bears and Brian Urlacher have decided to go their separate ways after not being able to come to an agreement for a new contract. Chicago’s offer, per Bear beat writer Vaughn McClure’s chat with Urlacher, was for one year and $2 million. The long-time Bear’s run defense tailed off last season and he logged a -13.6 grade in that area – the worst he’s earned since a rough 2008 season. Where Urlacher goes from here is unknown… does he retire or will he find a new home to wrap up his career and show he still has something to give?
SIGNING! Jason LaCanfora broke the news that safety Ed Reed has added to the defensive exodus in Baltimore and has landed in Houston with a two-year contract. After an extended courtship during this past week, the Texans bring in a free safety who, despite not being the player he once was (his PFF coverage grade of +4.5 in 2012 ranked 17th among safeties) of course offers a future HOF-er’s experience to a team hopeful of challenging for a title. The Ravens, in turn, will host former Raider FS Michael Huff next week according to Adam Schefter.
RUMOR! Joe Person let it be known that the Bears have reportedly offered cornerback Captain Munnerlyn a one-year deal, but word is the Panthers may be moving to match the offer in an attempt to retain his services. If a shift to Chicago were in the cards, Munnerlyn would be headed for slot-CB duties, a role he performed for 397 snaps last season. While in the slot, he allowed a passer rating of 83.7 compared to that of DJ Moore, the man he would be replacing, 101.8. Moore recently signed in Carolina, putting Munnerlyn’s future there in question.
SIGNING! In other Panther DB news, again thanks to Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweeted that safety Mike Mitchell, formerly of the Raiders, “says he’s agreed to terms on a 1-year deal with the Panthers”. Despite only acting as a situational strong safety for Oakland, Mitchell displayed his aggressive style. The former second-round pick generated a sack, six QB hits, and a pair of hurries on 27 pass rush attempts in 2012 and performed well against the run as an in-the-box safety with six of his eight tackles (on 52 run snaps) going for defensive stops. He’ll have a shot at a starting gig in Carolina.
SIGNING! Adam Caplan reports that Brian Hoyer signed his restricted free agent tender today. It was very surprising when he was given a second round tender offer from the Cardinals. No one wanted him during the 2012 season until the Cardinals picked him up, and then he completed only 57.8% of his passes when he wasn’t under pressure, when you expect a quarterback to be much better when the offensive line does it’s job. Clearly no one would want to spend a second round pick to get him, so signing his tender was the best choice for Hoyer.
VISIT! While some of the big name pass rushers available are visiting Denver today, Mike Garafolo reports that Osi Umenyiora made his first visit to Atlanta. The Falcons are in desperate need of some pass rush help. If the season started today, their defensive end rotation would consist of Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews and Jonathan Massaquoi. Biermann is a solid run defender but his 7.4 Pass Rushing Productivity was below average for an outside pass rusher. Matthews and Massaquoi combined for zero sacks, zero hits and ten hurries in their 100 pass rushes.
VISIT! There are no more long snappers in the unrestricted free agent market and the kicker market is drying up, which leaves punters. The biggest name is Shane Lechler who according to John McClain is visiting the Texans tomorrow. While Lechler is the most well known punter available, by any mark in 2012 he was just an average punter. This made him by far the most Overvalued Punter in 2012 by Performance Based Value. It would not be at all surprising if a team over paid Lechler this off season due to his history.
SIGNING! In an hour full of special teams signings, we start with the New England Patriots who are bringing back cornerback Marquice Cole. Cole had eight special teams tackles which was fourth most on the team in 2012. He also played in 232 defensive snaps which included significant time in the playoff loss to the Ravens where he allowed five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
SIGNING! The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are bringing back both long snapper Andrew Economos and linebacker Jacob Cutrera. Cutrera was involved in just one defensive snap, and had a special teams tackle and assist. The signing of Economos proves that long snapper might be the most secure position in the NFL, as outside of restricted free agent Clint Gresham of the Seahawks who has yet to sign his restricted tender, every single long snapper has re-signed with their 2012 team.
VISIT! While there have been rumors linking offensive tackles to the Dolphins, Miami has also started looking for help at the interior of their offensive line. Mike Garafolo reports that Brandon Moore is visiting today. Moore is one of the best free agents remaining as he has consistently been one of the better guards in the league for the Jets. His run block rating was fifth most for all guards in 2012, and has incredibly allowed just five sacks over his last 86 games.
According to Adam Schefter, the Denver Broncos are looking at basically any free agent pass rusher with at least 60 career sacks. To be more specific, they have an offer to Elvis Dumervil, and are also having both John Abraham and Dwight Freeney in for a visit. While we have heard plenty of news over the past week about where these older pass rushers may end up, we have still yet to see any of these bigger names sign on the dotted line for any team. Assuming the Broncos sign someone, they will make a formidable pass rushing duo with Von Miller pass rushing from the other side of the field.
Jason La Canfora reports that Ed Reed is expected to make a decision today. Signs are pointing in the direction of the Texans as it looks like Reed is asking for more money than the Ravens are willing to pay. It would not be at all surprising if things change though, as Reed has flirted with retirement in the past and then has changed his mind, so it’s not past Reed to do something unexpected. While he might not be the same player he was once, his five interceptions and seven passes defended last year shows that he is still capable of making big plays for a defense.
SIGNING! Will the Bears be bringing back Israel Idonije? Or have they found a much cheaper (and less talented replacement). That’s the question we ask ourselves with the news they’ve signed former second-round pick Turk McBride per Jeff Dickerson. It’s naturally just a one-year deal, with McBride failing to ever deliver on his lofty draft status. In his spells with Detroit and New Orleans he’s never graded out positively, and is coming off a year where he earned a -4.0 grade for his 141 snaps worth of action.
Most of the news at this hour is about the rule changes that have passed, including the helmet rule passing, the tuck rule being eliminated, plays still being challenged even when a team accidentally challenges a play that by rule is already being challenged and tight ends being able to have numbers between 40-49. In more player related news, earlier today Tom Pelissero reports that the Vikings have no plans to try Joe Webb out at different positions. After Webb completed just 11 of 30 passes in his playoff loss to the Packers, it’s no surprise the Vikings added some quarterback depth with Matt Cassel. It doesn’t look like Webb will have much more of a chance at quarterback, or at any other position, which seems to be a waste of his talents. Webb’s best chance to see the field might be with another team, but it looks like the Vikings want Webb to compete for the third quarterback role.
SIGNING! Jenna Laine is reporting that Washington has come to terms with former Tampa Bay cornerback E.J. Biggers. He was our No. 34 cornerback last season at +3.8 and his +6.2 coverage grade ranked 20th. However, in 2011, Biggers ranked last out of 66 qualifiers with 2.00 Yards/Cover Snap and quarterbacks had a 119.2 QB Rating while throwing into his coverage. In 2012, he improved to 1.26 Yards/Cover Snap and a QB Rating of 93.1. 2012 represented Biggers’ first positive grade since being drafted in the seventh round in 2009, so the Redskins are rolling the dice that last year was a sign of improvement rather than an anomaly.
SIGNING! Multiple sources are reporting that OT Khalif Barnes has re-signed with the Raiders. He graded at -8.2 last season on 571 snaps, all at right tackle. The eight-year pro has yet to pull a positive grade during the PFF era, and he’ll likely be in the mix for the starting right tackle job along with Willie Smith who struggled on his way to a -19.3 overall grade last season.
A lot of news coming out regarding the Kansas City Chiefs today as we get an idea of what Andy Reid is thinking. Jon Baldwin fans may be disappointed as Reid describes him as someone who needs to “continue to develop”. Given they’ve re-signed Dwayne Bowe, brought in Donnie Avery, and have Dexter McCluster on the roster that may not bode all that well for a guy who has run just 565 routes since entering the league, and picked up just 579 yards. Reid also says Dunta Robinson was brought into play cornerback, and with the signing of Sean Smith that would indicate using him as a slot cornerback. He spent just 48 coverage snaps in the slot last year, giving up a terrible 148 yards into his primary coverage.
Could we be about to see the end of an era? The Lions are yet to offer veteran kicker Jason Hanson a new deal per the Dave Birkett. It may just be posturing on their part as they lower his price as much as possible, but it would be kind of a big deal to see someone other than Hanson as the Lions kicker after 21 years doing the job. In terms of his field goal kicking he was still our fifth ranked kicker, going 32-from-36 and finishing the year hitting 88.9% of his kicks.
VISIT! Adam Schefter is back bringing us the news and that news is that Eric Winston is visiting with the Dolphins today. It’s a move that makes a lot of sense when you think how the team has a hole at tackle after the departure of Jake Long, are moving to a zone blocking scheme that Winston is well versed in, and that Winston has family (his brother is a scout) in the organization. He was our 26th rated tackle last year and would immediately upgrade the right tackle spot. Meaning the Miami faithful would be counting on Jonathan Martin taking a big step up in 2013.
RUMOR! In case you missed it the Dolphins have been concentrating a portion of their efforts recently trying to ascertain whether Osi Umenyiora is the guy for them, according to the Miami Herald. He’d represent a cheaper alternative than Elvis Dumervil for sure, with the team apparently ruling out John Abraham. Despite working as a backup and situational player in 2012 the now former Giant still picked up 45 combined sacks, hits and hurries. It’s unclear how a possible move would alter what the Dolphins do defensively and whether they view Umenyiora as a potential starter.
Today we’re going to be unveiling some first down numbers for tight ends, including just how many of their routes and targets they converted into chain movers and touchdowns. Stay tuned!
It’s quietened down a fair bit recently but thee was still a lot that went down yesterday. Whether it was signings or visits we were there to bring you reaction to it on the hour and we’ll be here all day doing the same.
While we’re waiting for the day’s action to get underway, stop over and check out the PFF Deal Grader where our analysts have already assigned ratings to over 50 of this FA period’s most significant deals.
As to be expected at this hour, there isn’t much in the way of breaking news, but a peek at the PFF Free Agent Tracker shows just how much work is left to be done. Tons of headline-worthy deals are still to come as intriguing free agents like Brandon Moore, Andre Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw, Fred Davis, Kevin Kolb, Elvis Dumervil, Brent Grimes, Antoine Winfield, John Abraham, and Kerry Rhodes (and many, many more) are still out there looking for a place to land. We’ll keep up on the visits and rumors as well as the done deals and will continue offering the PFF look as they come in.