2014 Free Agency Live Blog
It’s here. We’ve all heard the rumors, but now it gets serious. Hearsay can make way for new contracts signed and sealed and, as ever, we’re going to be letting you know just exactly what we think of them.
Indeed, Pro Football Focus’ unique stats and our grading system that has helped a number of NFL teams with their preparation for free agency (as well as other things) you can expect all sorts of information on what follows.
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For Day 2’s action, click here.
23.55 SIGNING! Ian Rapoport reports that the San Diego Chargers signed HB Donald Brown to a 3-year, $10.5 million contract. This is basically the same deal that Toby Gerhart received with the Jaguars just hours ago. After a number of mediocre years in Indianapolis, he had a career year last year splitting time with Trent Richardson. On average Brown had a defender miss a tackle on him on 1 in every 4.6 carries, which was third best in the league behind Marshawn Lynch and Ben Tate. He will join a crowded backfield in San Diego where he could potentially cut into Ryan Mathews carries. At worst he is a good insurance policy in case Mathews gets injured.
23.30 SIGNING! Adam Schefter reports that the Broncos have signed CB Aqib Talib to a 6-year, $57 million contract, including $26 million guaranteed. This is a major move in the AFC as Talib moves on from the Patriots and joins fellow free agent T.J. Ward in the Denver secondary. When healthy, Talib played a major role on the Patriots during his year-and-a-half, even allowing head coach Bill Belichick to use him to match up against opposing receivers, something Belichick had been reluctant to do for years.
Talib was one of the best cornerbacks in football early in 2013, matching up with receivers such as Julio Jones, Vincent Jackson, A.J. Green, and Jimmy Graham, and coming away with a +8.2 grade during that time. Yet another injury forced Talib to miss three games in the middle of the season, and he wasn’t the same, grading at -8.5 over his last seven games.
23.20 While you’re here, are you interested in working for PFF? Find out if you’re right for the job.
23.05: The Saints’ addition of Jairus Byrd to the secondary could give them one of the best safety duos in the league. After a slow start last year, rookie Kenny Vaccaro came on strong before going down to injury in Week 16. He finished the season at +1.9 overall while playing a variety of roles on the Saints’ defense. Vaccaro lined up at free safety on 30 percent of his snaps, strong safety on 33 percent of his snaps and in the slot 34 percent of the time. On running downs, Vaccaro played in the box 70.6 percent of the time, the second-highest total in the league.
Byrd, on the other hand, played in the box on only 12.1 percent of his snaps, the so roles appear to be clearly defined in New Orleans. With Vaccaro moving around and Byrd manning his center field role, the Saints secondary has chance to take a big step forward in 2014.
22.30: RE-SIGNING! The Bengals have re-signed SS Taylor Mays. He’ll likely continue in his role as their third safety behind starters Reggie Nelson and George Iloka. Mays played a lot of dime linebacker last season, grading at +0.5 overall including +3.2 in coverage. He played only 203 snaps before going down to a shoulder injury in Week 8 against the Jets.
22.20: TRADE! The Jonathan Martin saga continues as he gets sent to San Francisco in exchange for a conditional draft pick. There have been questions as to whether or not Martin would even play in the league again, but this should open the door for his return, particularly as he gets reunited with his college coach, Jim Harbaugh. Martin has struggled in his first two years in the league, posting a -22.0 overall grade at right tackle in 2012 and followed it up with a -6.9 effort last season before leaving the team after Week 8. With the 49ers already set at the both tackle spots, Martin has a chance to compete to become their swing tackle.
21.45: SIGNING! Things are heating up again with a signing from Jacksonville this time. Ryan O’Halloran reports that the Jaguars have signed running back Toby Gerhart to a three year, $10.5million deal. The move bolsters the position after the team has released Justin Forsett earlier in the afternoon, and with Maurice Jones-Drew now a free agent. Gerhart ran the ball reasonable well on limited carries in 2013, and forced a whopping nine missed tackles in the snow filled game in Baltimore against he Ravens in Week 14.
21.40: SIGNINGS! Just as things had quietened down we have some big deals in the NFC South. Ian Rapoport reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed a deal with corner Alterraun Verner, adding to the position before the expected departure of Revis. Verner has impressed throughout his career and was our 12th highest graded cornerback in 2013.
21.40: SIGNING! Rapaport also reports that the New Orleans Saints have signed safety Jairus Byrd to a six-year deal. Byrd has been one of the best safeties in the league in recent years, and Sam Monson broke down his play in this player profile earlier this week.
21.00: The Jets might be bracing themselves for losing Austin Howard as they’ve expressed an interest in Zach Strief. The team has been extremely quiet so far in free agency as they wait for the bargains to fall to them. Strief was our top ranked right tackle last year, faring extremely well in pass protection and even holding up when the team asked him to start at left tackle. He isn’t the splashiest player out there but the veteran has been an extremely consistent performer.
20.30: Interesting one this as the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks are hosting one of the top free agents out there in Jason Hatcher. The rest of the NFL groans at the thought. Hatcher isn’t the youngest defender out there but his relatively low snap count earlier in his career coupled with his +26.9 pass rushing grade (fourth highest of all defensive tackles) makes him an extremely enticing candidate. He’d represent an upgrade on Clinton McDonald in their subpackage defense while being able to contribute in their base package if needs be.
20.15: RE-SIGNING! Another under the radar free signing on day one sees the Chiefs bring back versatile safety and sometimes slot defender Husain Abdullah. The majority of his 349 snaps came in the slot and around the box with 155 at strong safety. 130 of his snaps came in the Week 17 and Wildcard defeats including a strong performance and a +3.1 overall grade (3/7 completions allowed, 2 INT) in the playoff defeat to Indianapolis.
20.00: RELEASE! In a move that will surprise nobody, the Chicago Bears have announced they’ve parted ways with Julius Peppers. In the early years of his deal the former Panther lived up to his deal, proving the naysayers wrong with the kind of every down effort that made him one of the top defensive ends in the game. But age appeared to catch up with him this year, finishing a lowly 36th out of 52 in our 4-3 defensive end gradings as he struggled to make anything of a consistent impact. The Bears signing of Lamarr Houston all but confirmed this with Peppers failing to grade positively in any area of the game last year. If he wants to continue playing it will have to be for considerably less money than he would have been hoping to collect from the Bears.
19.45: OFFER SHEET! The Bengals left a few of their restricted free agents open to offers with low tenders and a division rival is looking to take advantage. The Browns have extended an offer sheet to Andrew Hawkins for a four year deal for the former Toledo Rocket. A pre-season injury limited Hawkins to 175 snaps this season but showed flashes in more extensive work in 2011 and 2012. If the Bengals do not choose to match Hawkins would offer a clear upgrade over the now departed Davone Bess for the Browns.
19.15: RE-SIGNING! Signing for his boyhood team last season Eric Wright’s 1st season in San Francisco only yielded 120 snaps over the final seven weeks of the regular season. Signing for a second go round with the 49ers, Wright will look to re-discover the sort of form we haven’t seen from him since 2008 (+3.6 coverage) and 2009 (+7.3 run defense) in Cleveland. The release of Carlos Rogers opens a role for Wright to fill but performances in Detroit (-12.3) and Tampa Bay (-1.8) offer scant hope of him matching even Rogers’ declining level of play.
19.05: RE-SIGNING! Free agency isn’t always about headline names and headline figures as the Vikings prove by taking care of depth on their interior offensive line. Bringing experience at guard and center Joe Berger offers value across the entire interior and at this point would be an option to start at left guard with Charlie Johnson now a free agent though obviously there is a long time left this off-season for Minnesota to add further options.
18.55: SIGNING! Per his own tweet suggesting he’s putting a signature on paper, Rashad Jennings has parlayed his 2013 stint in Oakland into a deal with the Giants. Jennings took over the Raiders’ starting RB duties midway through the 2013 season (his first significant time as a starter in his five-year career) and posted a very effective 2.8 average yards after contact on 163 carries. His +6.0 overall grade was the end point for a record that included something of a late-season slide. Stepping into a wide-open New York backfield, he’ll have the chance to back up his 2013 efforts.
18.45: SIGNING! The Giants have needed to upgrade their offensive line for some time and they made another step towards doing that by signing Geoff Schwartz. Finally getting a chance at extended playing time with the Chiefs, Schwartz proved adept as a run blocker (+9.0) and pass protector (+6.0) at guard this season. In spite of playing less than 500 snaps at guard in the regular season Schwartz was still a top ten graded guard ahead of the likes of Ben Grubbs. It’s reward for a player who broke out with a fine season in Carolina back in 2010, but has struggled for playing time buried on depth charts and suffering injuries.
18.40: SIGNING! One from earlier. Renewing their interest from last off-season the Dolphins have plugged one of their many holes in the trenches by signing Branden Albert. Though not a strong run blocker Albert is one of the league’s best and most consistent pass protecting tackles +14.0 or above in pass protection each of the last three seasons. Albert has only allowed multiple sacks and hits in a game five times in the last three seasons.
18.35: SIGNING! Brad Biggs is reporting this one and it’s that much sought after safety Mike Mitchell has signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It marks something of a change for the Steelers to operate so quickly in free agency, especially after a player who was generating plenty of interest. He’ll replace Ryan Clark as the deep safety and flashed some playmaking ability in coverage, despite his tendency to miss tackles (18 of them). It’s a much needed injection of youth.
18.30: SIGNING! Already boasting one of the league’s best slot receivers in the shape of Kendall Wright the Titans will look to draw on Dexter McCluster’s versatility to get maximum return from their new signing. Running nearly 80% of his routes (9th most in the league) from the slot last season McCluster can also play from the backfield in obvious passing situations and was a PFF 2nd team All-Pro punt returner this season adding value in the third phase of the game.
18.25: RE-SIGNING! Re-uniting their early season backfield the Indianapolis Colts have re-signed Ahmad Bradshaw to a one-year deal. A strong all-round back injuries have plagued Bradshaw’s career and struck again in 2013 limiting the former Giant to three games. If healthy Bradshaw will push Trent Richardson to develop and hold down the starting job but both will need stronger performances from the Colts’ offensive line in 2014.
18.00: RE-SIGNING! Bringing back one of their own the Jaguars have re-signed CB Will Blackmon for another two seasons. As part of an inconsistent start to the season Blackmon recorded five pass defenses and an interception in the first five weeks of the season while also letting up three touchdowns (two in one games against the Rams). In coverage his 124.4 NFL passer rating allowed was the 6th worst mark in the league but his +5.1 run defense grade was 2nd best behind only Prince Amukamara.
17.45: SIGNING! Chicago have been busy to open free agency and have looked to add competition to force a starting safety pairing that combined to miss 33 tackles last season. After one season with the Giants former Steeler Ryan Mundy is headed for the Windy City off the back of a solid season where he played 667 snaps and missed only five tackles. 75% of Mundy’s snaps last season came in the first 7 weeks losing out when Will Hill returned to the lineup.
17.40: RE-SIGNING! Giving it another go, the Raiders have re-signed RB Darren McFadden to a one-year, $4m deal per Scott Bair of CSN. McFadden’s inability to stay on the field has been his career hallmark and even when he returned to playing last season McFadden’s dwindling production continued and he found himself slotting in behind Rashad Jennings. Jennings, though, has just moved on to New York, leaving Oakland with Jeremy Stewart, 2013 draftee Latavius Murray, and recent addition from Canada Kory Sheets to go with the fullback-ish Marcel Reece as suppliers for their run game. McFadden’s -9.8 overall grade in 2013 was second-worst, ahead of only Ray Rice.
17.25: SIGNING! Alex Marvez of Fox Sports reports that the Vikings have signed DT Linval Joseph. This marks the second big move for the Vikings this week as they re-signed DE Everson Griffen on Sunday. Coming off a strong season grading at +9.9 overall and +8.0 against the run, Joseph will likely play Minnesota’s 1-technique nost tackle role. If Griffen lives up to his big contract and DT Sharrif Floyd lives up to his first-round billing, the Vikings have a lot of potential in their defensive front.
17.20: SIGNING! Mike Jones of the Washington Post passed along that former Browns guard Shawn Lauvao has been signed by Washington. In four years with Cleveland, Lauvao put in a pair of 1000-snap efforts before missing time in 2013 after ankle surgery. Never an impressive run blocker and trending down in that department, his 11 starts last season produced a career-low -12.9 run blocking grade … a step behind what both Chris Chester (+0.5) and Kory Lichtensteiger (-5.5) managed.
17.15: SIGNING! Our #2 free agent safety T.J. Ward is moving to the Mile High City according to Adam Schefter where he will be relied upon to bring some physicality to the Denver secondary. Ward led all safeties with 45 stops (eight clear of next best Eric Berry) and graded positively in run defense in 11 out of his 16 starts. A little less consistent in pass coverage Ward still had big games against the NFC North with a +3.3 coverage grade in Minnesota and a +4.0 at home to Chicago in Week 15. This move does not bode well for Duke Ihenaco.
17.10: TRADE! Adam Schefter reports that the Jaguars have traded QB Blaine Gabbert to the 49ers for a sixth round draft pick. Gabbert never materialized as the starting quarterback in Jacksonville, finishing at -49.2 his rookie season before following it up with a -4.3 in 10 games in 2012. He only saw action in three games a year ago, and his -11.1 all but sealed his fate with the Jaguars. The 49ers will give the former first round pick a chance to re-claim his career in a backup role.
17.05: SIGNING! The Eagles needed a safety and have got one in the early hours of free agency, putting pen to paper with Malcolm Jenkins per John Keim. Having just jettisoned Patrick Chung the Eagles have picked up another player who failed to meet expectations at his first stop in the NFL. Tackling has been a consistent problem for Jenkins with double digit missed tackles in each of his four seasons as a starter, 63 total. As a converted corner and versatile safety the Eagles will hope to get similar returns that the Giants got from Antrel Rolle this season.
17.00: SIGNING! The Jaguars have signed OG Zane Beadles to a 5-year, $30 million deal. He had the lowest grade on a strong Devner offensive line a year ago, finishing at -5.7 including -7.6 as a pass blocker and -3.4 in the running game. He did have a strong year in 2012, finishing at +10.1 overall, but it’s the only year he finished with a positive grade since being drafted in the second round in 2010. It’s a gamble the Jaguars need to pay off, but if nothing else he offers a big upgrade on Will Rackley.
16.55: SIGNING! The Giants have acted quickly to add more depth to their linebacking corps by adding former Seahawk and Cardinal O’Brien Schofield. Playing 171 snaps for the Super Bowl champions last season he only played 57 after Week 7 and recorded all 12 of his pressures in the first seven weeks of the 2013 season.
16.50: SIGNING! Another one for Atlanta as Jason La Canfora reports that the Falcons have signed OG Jon Asamoah. Finishing the 2013 regular season with a grade of +7.9, he helps an offensive line that was in need of an upgrade. Adding to the signings on the defensive line, they’ve made focussed on both right out of the gates in free agency. He’ll be an immediate boost to a spot that fielded names such as Garrett Reynolds, Harland Gunn and Peter Konz last year.
16.45: SIGNINGS! Adam Schefter reports that the Falcons have signed DT Paul Soliai while Ian Rapoport has them signing DE Tyson Jackson. Both moves should improve the Falcons’ run defense as both players graded at +7.9 and +15.5 respectively against the run. With more 3-4 fronts possibly in their future, Soliai is a good fit at nost tackle while Jackson will assume a similar role that he played with the Chiefs at 3-4 DE (5-technique). Atlanta still has some work to do to improve their pass rush.
16.40: RE-SIGNING! After seeing the other tackles fly off the board in the opening minutes of free agency the Ravens have struck to retain Eugene Monroe who they acquired mid-season from the Jaguars. In 11 games with the Ravens, Monroe only graded negatively in pass protection once surrendering just 24 total pressures (4 Sk, 3 Ht, 17 Hu).
16.35: SIGNING! Former Seahawks DT Clinton McDonald signs with the Bucs for 4 years and $12 million. He showed well as a subpackage pass rusher a year ago, finishing at +7.3 overall including +8.9 as a pass rusher. If he fills a similar role with the Bucs, he’ll line up next to the league’s top DT in Gerald McCoy to form a potentially strong interior pass rushing duo.
16.30: SIGNING! A big move for the Browns as they bring Donte Whitner home. The former 49er was once laughed at for his woeful coverage that had him give up on more touchdowns than any other safety. But the now former 49er worked on the kinks of his game andrebouned with an incredibly strong 2013 season that saw him get a +10.7 grade in coverage. He’s worth the $7m annually he’ll be getting over the next four years according to Adam Schefter.
16.25: SIGNING! From his own twitter account long time Colts safety Antoine Bethea has confirmed he’s signed on to be the San Francisco 49ers replacement for Donte Whitner. Bethea has long floated around the average grade of 0.0 during his career, never playing well enough (despite the tackle numbers) to blow you away but never so badly that you’d think he shouldn’t be a starter in the league. He should benefit from playing in the 49ers system that tends to make life a little easier on their backend defenders with the amount of talent they have up front.
16.20: SIGNING! Aaron Wilson reports that Lamarr Houston has signed a 5-year/$35 million deal with the Chicago Bears. The Bears featured one of the league’s worst defenses a year ago, and as expected, they’re early players in this free agency period. Houston ranked 11th among 4-3 defensive ends a year ago, grading at +11.4, including +14.9 against the run. His -1.6 pass rush grade doesn’t jump off the page, but he may be better suited to see more snaps rushing from the interior as opposed to staying on the edge as he did with the Raiders.
16.15: SIGNING! Big deal in Oakland as they wave goodbye to Jared Veldheer and say hello to Rodger Saffold. Only it’s not to replace Veldheer because the team has confirmed he will play at guard. Obviously the six starts he’s had at guard in this league were enough to convince him. In fairness he did score a +9.4 in this regard, but when you consider he’s getting $8.5m per year that’s a huge gamble. That’s not the move Raider nation were looking for.
16.10: SIGNING! Adam Schefter is reporting that Jared Veldheer is the first of the OT dominos to fall, signing in Arizona and providing a much-needed answer to their problematic left tackle spot. Veldheer is three years younger than Branden Albert and had put together back to back strong seasons of play for Oakland before injury torpedoed his 2013 season. He is getting a reported $7m per season in Arizona and in his last healthy year in Oakland surrendered 33 total pressuresin almost 700 pass blocking snaps. That’s very good and we can imagine Carson Palmer having a big smile on his face.
16.05: VISIT! According to multiple sources, former Bears quarterback Josh McCown will visit the Bucs, followed by the Texans and Jets. The Bucs are looking to bring in some competition for second-year QB Mike Glennon, while the Jets are of similar mind with second-year Geno Smith coming off an up-and-down rookie season. Houston is rumored to be looking for a quarterback with the top overall pick, but signing McCown could buy them some time to perhaps wait a round or two before committing to a signal-caller. McCown is coming off a career-year as he filled in admirably for starter Jay Cutler, finishing at +16.6 overall. He led the league with an accuracy percentage of 77.0% while under pressure.
16.00: SIGNING! And Schefter again who confirms what we thought we already knew earlier in the day, that Indianapolis have signed Arthur Jones for around $6m per year. No figures on the guaranteed money. Jones is an interesting pick-up given the team invested in Ricky Jean Francois this time last year, and yet he was outplayed by incumbent Cory Redding. Will he be replacing Redding or as some speculated will they consider using him at nose tackle? He only managed a handful of snaps at nose tackle last year and most of those were in subpackage so it could be a case of Redding being a soon to be value get for another team looking for a versatile veteran out there.
15.55: RELEASE: This one comes from Adam Schefter (you should probably bookmark his twitter page) who reports that Thomas Decoud is about to be released. The safety earned his contract but then proceeded to earn his release with two seasons not befitting a man of his talents. He was our fourth lowest ranked safety last year, and has missed 31 tackles the past two years. He’ll find a home but if he doesn’t get back to his best then it might be short lived.
15.50: RELEASE! Clarence Hill is reporting a big one and it’s that after along and successful career as a Cowboy Demarcus Ware has been released. It’s mildly shocking but Dallas couldn’t afford him, and it really spices things up on the edge rusher market. Ware is capable of playing in any defensive alignment and even though he missed time last year still finished the season our 8th ranked defensive end. Assuming offseason surgery sees him healthy, he’ll be quite the pickup with his agent likely to be fielding numerous inquiries over the coming hours and possibly days. He’ll move to the top of the free agent market for edge rushers.
15.45: Manish Mehta has reported that despite the best attempts of the Jets, right tackle Austin Howard is going to hit the open market. After the disastrous attempt to replace the ever excellent Damien Woody with Wayne Hunter, Howard has stabilized the right tackle spot for Gang Green earning a -1.0 grade for his efforts. His run blocking wasn’t great but his work in the passing game will ensure a solid market.
15.30: RE-SIGNING! It’s fair to say the Falcons offensive line was something of a mess last year. The good news? It looked better when Joe Hawley replaced the woeful Peter Konz. Well according to Adam Caplan he’s been re-signed to a two-year deal. Yay say the Falcons fans. His -0.6 overall score didn’t blow anyone away but when the alternative is a former second round pick who scored a -15.1 (and that is just looking at his snaps at center) it’s a win for the team.
15:18 RE-SIGNING! Pro Football Talk reports that the Broncos have re-signed WR Andre Caldwell to a 2-year deal with a max salary of $3.45 million. With Eric Decker expected to sign elsewhere in free agency, Caldwell could see even more playing time after seeing the field for 264 snaps in 2013. He finished with 18 receptions for 226 yards, three touchdowns and three dropped passes. His +1.9 overall grade fit right in with the rest of the positives on the Broncos’ WR corps.
15.10: RELEASE! According to the Bengals Twitter account, center Kyle Cook has been released. He finished at -4.8 overall in 2013 including a –4.3 grade in the running game. This could open the door for Mike Pollak to slide over from guard to center after grading at +4.9 on 374 snaps a year ago. Also in the mix is second-year center Trevor Robinson who saw some time filling in for Cook as a rookie in 2012 grading at -1.8 on 457 snaps before seeing the field for only 78 snaps a year ago (-3.6).
15.00: All signs continue to point toward Karlos Dansby signing in Cleveland. He reportedly will sign for four years at $24 million, including $14 million guaranteed and $10 million in Year 1. He should be an upgrade over former Brown D’Qwell Jackson who recently signed with the Colts for a similar 4 years at $22 million with $11 million guaranteed. Dansby graded at +13.3 overall a year ago while Jackson came in at -11.6.
14.40: RE-SIGNING! Courtesy of Bob Condotta we’ve learned that Anthony McCoy will be returning to the Seahawks on a one-year deal. McCoy missed all of the 2013 campaign where, in case you forget, the Seahawks actually triumphed in the Super Bowl. His career -23.2 grade is that of a player who was terrible in 2011 but did take a step forward in 2012 before his injury. Still you wouldn’t want to count on him to be any more than a second tight end, hoping he delivers on some of his physical upside.
14.25: We’re binging on the news now. The Adam Schefter cannot be stopped by twitter. He’s reporting the Patriots and Julian Edelman couldn’t hammer out a deal as many expected meaning the former quarterback who became a receiver who also played cornerback before settling at wideout will test the open market. 2013 was a breakout year for Edelman who finished the year with a +10.6 receiving grade (good for 18th in the league). By way of comparison Wes Welker scored a +9.8 in 2012 so expect him to be seeking that kind of APY. He’s not quite the slot receiver but can line up outside so is a viable number two option in a market that will appreciate, if not overpay, for his skill set.
14.20: RE-SIGNING! We miss you twitter. But the show must go on, so the question is. What did we do before twitter? How did we gather news then? In any case tweets are crawling in so we expect a plethora of news to catch up on. How exciting. One of these pieces of news? Phil Dawson has tweeted that he’s re-signing with the 49ers. We don’t know any details but so what, eh? Twitter is back and all is right with the world. Dawson was our ninth ranked field goal kicker last year with four misses on the year.
14.15: RE-SIGNING! Courtesy of his own twitter account Stevie Brown has informed the world (well those who caught it before twitter got overloaded) that he’s re-signed with the Giants. No details are yet announced but you’d imagine it would be a one-year deal as he looks to bounce back from a torn ACL. Back in 2012 he was our 26th ranked safety with strong marks for his coverage (not surprising when he picked off eight balls). He’ll have a fight to get his starting spot back but with the issues Will Hill has had off field, it may prove easier than it might seem right now.
14.00: TENDERING! Before 2013 Jamari Lattimore had managed just 38 snaps with the Packers. After a mediocre effort in preseason (-2.5 grade on 88 snaps) he did well to stay on the team, but when injuries thrust him into the starting lineup he did well, picking up a solid -0.1 grade on 272 snaps. Enough to at least keep him round for a camp competition. The team tendered the former undrafted free agent so that any team can negotiate with him and wouldn’t have to give up a pick for him, but the Packers could match an offer. You’d expect him to be in a camp battle next year.
13.50: The Browns appear to be ready to say so long to T.J. Ward, with multiple reports suggesting they plan on bringing in Donte Whitner to become the team’s strong safety. While they both might play the same position, they are two different players. Ward is a stronger presence in the box, while you get more range from Whitner who upped his game in coverage considerably this year. By way of comparison Ward spent 65.7% of run snaps in the box this year while Whitner was at 21.4%.
13.45: The big news right now relates to Darrelle Revis. The soon to be former Buccaneer is already a rich man (he earned $16m this year you know) and he might be about to get richer even if Tampa Bay ends their one-year relationship. That’s because, according to Vic Tafur, he’s got two potential suitors in the Oakland Raiders and Cleveland Browns who are both flush in cap space and on the right side of desperation for any potential free agent. Revis, who clearly wasn’t at 100% in 2013, remains one of the top corners in the game and finished fourth overall in our coverage grades at the position. The prospect of him and Joe Haden forming a dynamic duo at cornerback gets you drooling just a little bit.
13.30: Rumor time and it’s Ian Rapoport telling us that excellent linebacker Karlos Dansby is leaning towards the Cleveland Browns as his next destination. This time last year he was let go by Miami (oh how they should regret that now) but he didn’t pout. Oh no, he showed the world he has more than a little something left and finished fifth overall in our linebackers rankings with a positive grade in every area. A true every down player, both the Cardinals and Titans were rumored to have strong interest in him as well. Given some of the free agent linebacker deals (I’m looking at you D’Qwell Jackson) it will be interesting to see what money he got.
13.15: RE-SIGNING! Expect the market to go crazy in a little under three hours. For now the only official news comes when teams re-sign their own such as the Falcons have done in bringing back Jonathan Babineaux per Adam Schefter. Babineaux earned a +5.8 grade in 2013 despite spending a significant portion of time lined up at defensive end in the Falcons hybrid defense. He’s always been at his best penetrating through gaps and getting up field. The question is though if he can still do that and impact quarterbacks with you having to go back to 2011 for his last truly impactful season from the spot. Still it’s a big re-sign for Atlanta given their lack of depth at the position.
13.00: One player who does appear to have something of a hot market is the one time workout warrior, another time draft bust, and more recently redeemed defensive end, Tyson Jackson. The man drafted number three by KC has never lived up to what was expected out of him but he has turned his career around, especially against the run. He had a +15.5 grade in that area last year that was higher than fellow free agent (and the man many see as the Colts next big spend) Arthur Jones.
12.45: RE-SIGNING! Per Adam Caplan the Lions aren’t just leaving Joique Bell out on the market where he can be had for a second round pick. Oh no, they’ve locked him down for three years for a max of $9m with $4.3m guaranteed. If you know us then you know we love what Bell can do both as a runner and a receiver where he actually finished ninth overall in our running back rankings in 2013. That was chiefly down to his work catching the ball but it gives the Lions the one-two punch they want at running back with him and Reggie Bush. Now can they get both men on the field together more?
12.30: Is this the calm before the storm? Even so it’s not that calm with twitter (you can and should be following us here) abuzz trying to predict where free agents are going to end up. One of the more interesting rumors sees our top ranked DT on the market, and our 7th ranked overall one in 2013, Randy Starks being courted/ courting the Seattle Seahawks. There comes a point where it’s not even fair any more and adding a more versatile interior lineman like Starks (who can play the run and rush the passer) might be that point.
12.15: RETIREMENT! It won’t be the biggest news of the day but the Panthers have lost another offensive lineman to retirement. His loss won’t be felt as much as that of Jordan Gross but Geoff Hangartner was the utlity linemen who could fill in at a number of spots (despite what his 33 snaps in 2013 would tell you). It’s another hole for a team up against the cap to fill which won’t get any better if Travelle Wharton hangs up his pads.
12.05: RELEASE! Expect a lot to go down today. There are already reports of Michael Johnson agreeing to terms with the Buccaneers, Andre Roberts linking up with the Redskins and much, much more. All that has gone before we’ll assume you know, but all that we learn now will get a response. Such as the Texans saying goodbye to long time tight end Owen Daniels per John McClain. The former fourth round pick has battled injuries over the year and now, as a player who will turn 32 during the season will have a lot of teams questioning what he has left. Last year he managed 362 snaps and just 1.21 yards per route run. That was his lowest ever figure and good for only 32 out of 41 qualifying tight ends in 2013.
12.00: If you’re new to PFF then welcome. If not, well you know the drill. We’re commenting on all the signings, cuts and rumors for the next week at regular intervals. Free agency kicks off in four hours but deals are getting done in all but signature right now and we’re going to be commenting on them. Starting with perhaps the biggest news of the day, that Darrelle Revis is likely to be cut if the Buccaneers can’t find a trade partner for him. There are those doubting Revis given the Bucs are prepared to say Au Revoir to him, but the truth is that even as he worked his way back from his 2012 ACL he was still at the top of our cornerback rankings with his coverage grade fourth highest of all starting cornerbacks. If and when he does get released expect a bidding war to begin.
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