2014 Free Agency Live Blog, Day 4
We made it to Friday! In truth it’s seemed like one long day since this thing started Tuesday afternoon — likely because we haven’t stepped away from it. But who could blame us? There’s been a steady flow of free agent fun and we’d be crazy to leave when we’ve got all of these thoughts to share.
As the news of signings come in, we’ll be with you around the clock to share our unique stats and the grades that have helped a number of NFL teams with their preparation for free agency (as well as other things).
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Head over to our Day 5 reaction blog to keep up to date with the weekends going on.
23.10 SIGNING! AP’s John Wawrow says the Buffalo Bills have now got the deal done with inside linebacker Brandon Spikes and per Adam Schefter it’ll go on the books for one year at $3.25m. Sliding into the middle of the Bills’ D that may or may not end up leaning even more toward a 4-3 look with Jim Schwartz now at the helm, Spikes’ top-notch run-stopping skills will give balance to the young Kiko Alonso’s work in coverage. Spikes is the reigning run D champ among the league’s middle/inside linebackers, notching the top grade in that department in both 2012 and 2013.
22.35 UPDATE! The Cowboys are reportedly showing interest in Julius Peppers. The Cowboys are very much in need of some new linemen on the defense. Dallas went through 20 different defensive linemen in 2013 while plenty of teams don’t reach the double digits over a season. Currently the Cowboys projected starting lineup on the defensive line consists of George Selvie, Frank Kearse, Nick Hayden and Jeremy Mincey. While Peppers has been on the decline recently with a below average Run Stop Percentage (4.9%) and Pass Rushing Productivity (7.2), but he can still be an upgrade in the Cowboys rotation at the right price.
21.50 SIGNING! The Buffalo Bills have a new player in their backfield in Anthony Dixon. He reported it on his twitter account this evening. In 2013 with the 49ers he played the role of goal line running back, backup fullback, backup kick returner, and general special teamer. On 30 carries he averaged just 1.9 yards per carry which in large part was due to his role, and he had three touchdowns. With C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and other fullbacks on the roster, it’s unlikely Dixon will see too much playing time on offense unless there are injuries.
21.30 While a few of the free agent bargains have signed new contracts, there are still a number of players available that could be added at a cheap price. You can learn more about some of these players here.
21.00 While there is nothing to report in the past half hour around the league, it’s as good a time as any to say thank you to all of our subscribers, readers and twitter followers over the past few days. It’s been a fun week for the PFF team and we’ve all enjoyed the interactions on twitter. Looking forward to bringing you all plenty more unique content over the coming months as we head towards the 2014 season.
20.30 UPDATE! Things are looking good as far as the Pittsburgh Steelers adding defensive lineman Alex Carrington to their roster go. According to Ian Rapoport things have gone well on his visit, and he’s already passed a physical, with talks planned to continue tomorrow. He’d be a smart signing for a Steelers defense that has made the cost sensible signing of Cam Thomas on the defensive line. It wasn’t long ago that defensive line was manned by Brett Keisel, Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith, signing Carrington would likely result in the door being closed on a potential return for Keisel, ending an era in Pittsburgh.
20.00: It’s been a pretty quiet day but that was some hour. The Raiders, laughed at for much of free agency, have come out swinging as they makeover their defense while the Colts landed a potential big weapon at wide receiver. Something tells us that’s not the end of the free agency fun this Friday …
19.45: SIGNING! And another move for the Raiders. They’ve added to their pass rush this season with both Lamarr Woodley and Justin Tuck, but now they’ve brought in someone to get some penetration up the middle. That man is Antonio Smith (per ProFootballTalk), a versatile lineman who will likely occupy a number of roles for the team depending on the defensive package they have on the field. He was our fifth ranked pass rushing 3-4 defensive end last year and while his work against the run is hit and miss (emphasis on miss) you can’t deny he makes life a lot harder for quarterbacks. He’s averaged 48 quarterback disruptions over the past three years.
19.30: SIGNING! Somewhat out of the blue, the Raiders have landed former 49er cornerback Tarell Brown on a 1-year $3.5m deal per Adam Schefter. Oakland is in need of help at the position after their annual CB turnover had left them with just 2013 top draft pick D.J. Hayden plugged in. Out for a few games in 2013 with a rib injury, Brown returned to post a pair of strong efforts in the playoffs and had put up solid coverage grades before, most notably a +12.8 that had him in the league’s Top 5 CBs for 2012. He’s been locked in on San Francisco’s right side in the past, so it’ll be worth watching to see how the 29-year-old fits with Hayden also based on that side in his rookie year.
19.25: SIGNING! This one was reported early before being retracted, but now Josina Anderson confirms that Vance Walker has signed a three-year deal with the Chiefs with a max value of $13m and $3.75m guaranteed. Walker was forced to take a prove it type deal with the Raiders last year and responded with another useful effort. Chiefly a two down player capable of lining up at a variety of techniques his +4.0 grade was down on the +8.9 he managed in Atlanta but good enough to get him the longer term deal with guaranteed money he wanted. With Tyson Jackson out of town Walker will get a chance to fight for a starting spot in the teams base defense while serving as backup in their early downs dime package.
19.20: SIGNING! 15 minutes ago word was spreading that the Colts were close to landing Hakeem Nicks and now Albert Breer has confirmed it on a one-year deal. Nicks will have to prove his worth to the market in a way he failed to this year. The good news for him and Indy fans is he has the talent. In 2011 his work (including post season) earned him a +22.2 grade on the year. Can he get back to that level?
19.15: SIGNING! It seemed like this move was long on the cards and Brandon Browner has confirmed to Josina Anderson that he’s signed to play with New England for three years (minus of course a little league mandated suspension). Numbers from Schefter suggesting he’ll earn a ridiculous $17m max assuming he’s see it out. Browner is one of these cornerbacks you rarely don’t notice. He’s either making plays on the ball (29 pass break ups and 10 picks over three years) or getting played (28 penalties and 9 TDs allowed over that period). Buckle yourself in Patriots fans.
19.05: That man Rapoport is at it again. He’s earning some positive grades for his reporting this free agency that is for sure. He’s saying that it’s Indianapolis that is in pole position for the services of the once amazing Hakeem Nicks. Since winning a Super Bowl in 2011 (where his postseason play earned him a spot on our All Post Season team) things haven’t quite worked out for Nicks who had the look of a man this year who couldn’t wait for the season to end. Supremely talented, he’d add another dimension to the Colts offense if the last two years were the exception and not the rule. Despite his struggles he still ended the season with a healthy 1.7 yards per route run. That was more than Torrey Smith, Steve Smith and Wes Welker to name but a few.
19.00: Per Ian Rapoport the Redskins are likely to be hosting Donald Penn next (presuming he gets out of Oakland without a deal). It’s an interesting move with the Trent Williams (our top ranked tackle in 2013) in no danger of losing his job, but the team is clearly looking to get some power up front. Tyler Polumbus improved his play this year but his worth is in a zone blocking scheme that the team appears to be moving on from. Penn appeared to lose a bit last year in pass protection but had a fine year with his run blocking that saw him earn a +4.4 grade. It’s always risky switching a player from one side of the line to the other but you can’t question how aggressive Washington are being in changing their offensive identity.
18.40: SIGNING! Earlier today we relayed that Michael Oher was visiting with the Titans. Well fresh in the wake of releasing David Stewart the team has snapped him up according to Adam Schefter. That’s a four-year deal worth $20m to a player few Raven fans will be sad to see the back off after he ended the season our lowest ranked tackle in the run blocking department. Oher is a frustrating player because he’s clearly talented, but after his impressive rookie year it really has been all downhill for him after the team switched him from right to left and then back to right. On the plus side he’s a useful enough pass blocker that Jake Locker needn’t fear about immediate pressure coming his way. His pass blocking efficiency score placed him 46th out of 72 tackles.
18.35: If you’re in New York visiting the Jets, why not kill two birds with one stone and visit the Giants as well. Or at least say you will so you force Gang Green into making a decision. According to NY.com Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is planning to meet with the Giants after his visit with the Jets. Interesting, DRC is the top corner on the market and, as we documented earlier, if he has his head in the right place is the kind of talent that can repay a huge contract with some huge performances. He ended last year our third ranked starting cornerback in coverage.
18.15: An odd one from Todd Archer over at ESPN here. He reports the Cowboys are showing interest in Brandon Weeden, the former first round pick. Obviously they aren’t looking at him as anything more than a possible clipboard holder but given his age (30) and past performance (-36.8 in two years) even that would seem generous. Of course with the team unsure as to whether Kyle Orton will return perhaps they’re just running the rule over any potential backup quarterbacks on the market.
17.55: SIGNING! Schefter is breaking news again as the Dolphins make their second move in as many hours. They’ve snapped up guard Shelley Smith on a two-year, $5m contract. Smith was one of our bargain gets in free agency, doing a surprisingly effective job when filling in at guard this year for the Rams. He managed 371 snaps and earned a fantastic +12.3 grade with his run blocking. The downside? His pass blocking left you a little embarrassed at times, with a pass blocking efficiency score that was seventh worst of all guards. There’s upside and he helps the Dolphins remodel an offensive line in desperate need of a makeover.
17.45: Jim Wyatt has been talking to David Stewart and those hoping they might see their team land him as their right tackle may look away. Wyatt quotes Stewart as saying “it’s time to move on”. Stewart has certainly battled injuries the past two years, so much so that you understand his decision even if he was still holding up well enough in pass protection that he might have something left to offer. If this is the end for him he should be remembered for some fantastic seasons that truly never got the credit they deserved, like his 2011 season where he was our top ranked pass blocking right tackle, or in 2009 where he finished third overall at his position.
17.30: SIGNING! The 49ers have been looking for cornerback help with Carlos Rogers cut and Tarrell Brown still on the open market. Well they’ve found some in the shape of Chris Cook according to Matt Barrows, with the former Viking defensive back signing a one year deal. Cook has had some off the field issues and looked a poor fit for the Vikings coverage scheme, but as a big corner he was always likely to latch on somewhere. In 2013 he played 753 snaps and earned an underwhelming -7.3 coverage grade as his play down the stretch nose dived. He’s likely insurance depending on how Chris Culliver recovers after a season on injured reserve.
17.10: SIGNING! It’s been an afternoon for the cornerbacks, but they’re not having it all their own way. One day after the Panthers terminated his contract Adam Schefter reports that the Baltimore Ravens have signed Steve Smith. This seemed somewhat inevitable the moment he was released, with Joe Flacco in desperate need of a reliable go to receiver who can complement speedster Torrey Smith. While Smith will be 35 years of age by the end of the year he still put together an impressive enough 2013, earning a +8.3 grade (including the postseason). There comes a time when you question the Ravens policy of bringing in the more mature players, but this should represent a win for them.
16.55: SIGNING! You’ve seen three linemen retire, lost your face of the franchise receiver and lost two defensive starters in your secondary. But don’t you worry Panthers fans because you’ve just replaced the excellent blocking tight end Ben Hartsock with (drum roll please) … Mike McNeil. According to Steve Reed he’s joined with the team after a two-year stint with the Rams, playing 34 snaps last year and 155 the year before. In that limited action he’s never stood out on the field (which isn’t the worst thing in the world given how some tight ends look primarily blocking) but this isn’t going to stop kids crying about Steve Smith being fired.
16.45: CLAIMED! The Bengals aren’t going to give up on you yet Dontay Moch. Their former third round pick who they ditched at the end of preseason latched on with the Cardinals but failed to make any real impression before being cut this week. Well he gets a chance to show the team he’s worth a second chance but even with the team losing Michael Johnson and releasing James Harrison he’ll have to do a lot more than he did last year to claim a roster spot.
16.40: RE-SIGNING! Sean Jensen is the first man on the scene to let us know that Charles Tillman has re-signed in Chicago for a season. One of the better cornerbacks of his generation and with an incredible knack for forcing fumbles, it wasn’t so long ago he was our third ranked cornerback and one of the only men capable of slowing down Calvin Johnson. But that was 2012 and in 2013 he just couldn’t get healthy managing only 438 snaps that resulted in a -6.5 grade. Peanut turned 33 last month so he’s at that age now where there are a lot of questions being asked about. It’s a solid move for Chicago though who keep a veteran presence without being saddled with anything resembling a long term deal.
16.30: RELEASE! He was going to struggle for playing time in Philadelphia anyways but the team has announced they’ve parted ways with Joseph Anderson. He was with Chicago for most of the season seeing 13 snaps on offense and contributing on special teams. He had a bigger role in preseason with 73 snaps turning into a +1.2 grade as he caught 6-of-7 balls thrown his way for 91 yards and a touchdown. He’ll be fighting for his future if he can latch onto a camp this offseason.
16.20: SIGNING! After signing Anthony Collins to man the left tackle spot and releasing Donald Penn yesterday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have made another move on their offensive line today, agreeing to a four year, $14.25m deal with former Green Bay Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith per Ian Rapoport. He was our eighth highest graded center in 2013, his first full year as a starter. Grading positively both as a run blocker and in pass protection, it was perhaps his lack of experience which scared some teams off. It’s a solid deal for Tampa Bay though, who upgrade at a position on the offensive line for the second time this week.
16.00: SIGNING! It’s not quite official yet but Albert Breer is reporting that the Dolphins are finalizing a 2-year deal with … Cortland Finnegan. It’s a gamble because after striking it rich in 2012 Finnegan has struggled to get his play anywhere close to the excellent 2011 season he had where his +17.4 grade saw him finish behind only Darrelle Revis in our grading. Since then he endured a tough first year in St Louis where his -2.0 coverage grade was far less than the team was hoping for, before an even worse 2013 where a thigh injury left him extremely exposed. Miami will be hoping he’s healthy and young enough to find his swagger, because if he is then he’s a guy who can play the slot and do a job outside.
15.55: VISIT! He turned down a mega offer to remain a Bronco and now the enigmatic Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is heading over to New York to see if terms can be agreed on him replacing his cousin Antonio Cromartie. DRC has had an interesting career to say the least, looking primed to break out as an elite cornerback way back in 2009 only to mail in his last year in Arizona. He then rebuilt his image in Philadelphia but not so much any team was prepared to take anything more than a flier on him. Finally seeming to get it he then delivered his best year as a pro finishing the year our fourth ranked cornerback in coverage for the regular season. Still he didn’t help himself suggesting he’d consider retiring and with a lot of money handed out can he get the type of deal he wants? If they do agree to terms he’ll be a big get for the Jets who are suddenly cornerback needy after ditching their top CB each of the past two years.
15.50: RELEASE! This one has been coming since the signing of Charlie Whitehurst last night but it’s official now. The Tennessee Titans have released quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, with a 500k roster bonus that’s due soon prompting their decision and leaving them with just one heavily bearded backup quarterback on the roster. Fitzpatrick started nine games for the Titans in 2013 and had some solid games, finishing the year with a +0.4 grade. The problem was that when it went wrong for him, it went really wrong with a -4.9 and -5.3 grade in Weeks 6 and 13 bringing his grade down. With his experience, and sporadic success, it’s hard to imagine him being without a team for too long.
15.30: RE-SIGNING! This one has been coming since the lead up to free agency, but Tom Silverstein has reported that B.J. Raji has accepted the Green Bay Packers one year offer to stay in Green Bay. Raji turned down a long term deal with the team a year ago and it’s a move that he’s likely regretting now after not finding the same money on the open market. His PFF grade has been like a yo-yo throughout his five year career in the NFL with his best season (+10.4) coming in 2012. The Packers will be hoping he can regain that form in 2014 and, if he can, he’ll surely find more teams interested this time next year.
15.05: UN-SIGNING! This is becoming something of a habit this free agency, but once again we have an un-signing to report. After we were all lead to believe a one year deal had been struck last night, Todd Archer reports that the Dallas Cowboys and linebacker Will Herring have mutually agreed to walk away, parting before they even had time to be officially together. Hopefully there weren’t any special teams aficionados in Dallas who rushed out to buy a jersey last night, but it does leave a very good special teamer available for teams to pick up once again.
14.45: RE-SIGNING! It’s been a slow day but we’ve got another signing to talk about! Aaron Wilson has reported that the Minnesota Vikings have brought Jerome Simpson back for another go around. The seventh year receiver, who racked up 726 yards last season, has been known for making highlight reel plays. Sadly he has yet to be able to live up to the hype of those plays on a consistent basis, but in the very least he’s a solid complementary receiver for the Vikings and, cost permitting, is a smart re-signing by them.
14.00: SIGNING! Yep that’s right we’ve got an actual signing. Dave Canter has let the world know that his client Cam Thomas has signed a two-year deal with the Steelers. Pittsburgh has lost Al Woods and Ziggy Hood this offseason whilst it’s unlikely Brett Keisel returns, so are a little short on depth on their defensive line. Thomas started for San Diego at nose tackle last year, picking up 485 snaps and earning a -1.2 grade. He has history though of lining up at defensive end and will flash the occasional moments of brilliance. Just flash mind you. It’s a solid signing assuming the numbers aren’t too lofty.
13.55: Since the Bears kicked Julius Peppers to the curb there’s been very little chatter as to where he might end up. Well Todd Archer is reporting that the Cowboys and Peppers have a mutual interest in each other that might at least go some way towards helping the Dallas faithful forget about DeMarcus Ware. Peppers didn’t exactly enjoy the best year of his career in 2013 finishing the season with a substandard -4.4 grade and a pass rushing productivity grade that was bettered by 41 other 4-3 defensive ends. The question Dallas will need to answer is how much of that was down to Father Time and how much of it was down to Peppers needing new surroundings.
13.30: EXTENSION! It’s very quiet but Mr Schefter reports the Eagles love Darren Sproles so much they’ve already offered him a two-year extension. What’s more he’s only gone and signed on the dotted line. Sproles was our top ranked receiving back and promises to be the kind of weapon Chip Kelly won’t hesitate to make full use out of.
13.10: It’s a bit quiet but we’ve been keeping ourselves busy updating our Deal Grader and Top 75 Available Free Agents pieces. While you wait for the next breaking deal you should see how we rate the moves that have been made and speculate as to the best guys left out there.
12.50: VISIT! It’s, unsurprisingly, been a quiet few days for Kenny Britt as the teams hold off on seeing what he’s been up to this offseason. But he’s got a visit scheduled with his former Head Coach Jeff Fischer and the Rams as they look to assess not just what he’s got in him, but where his head is at. An incredibly talented player Britt is coming off the kind of year a receiver like him should never have. There were drops, there were penalties and there were not a lot of reasons to be happy. Coupled with his injury history and run ins with the law there’s not many red flags he doesn’t own. But just imagine if you could get that talent out of him. Plenty of NFL teams will be …
12.30: VISIT! He’s not the only one visiting Buffalo. Anthony Dixon is in town as well as the team look to get bigger in the backfield. Once seen as a bruising back Dixon has spent much of his recent 49ers career leading the way as a full back, though given they’ve put defensive linemen in that position it tells you how much faith they had in him in that regard. Instead he’s a more regular contributor on special teams where he earned a +0.5 grade and ended the year with three tackles.
12.15: VISIT! After the break up comes the rebound, but who will Brandon Spikes settle down with? Well he could be staying in the same neighbourhood if all goes well with a visit to Buffalo he has lined up. Everyone knows the deal with Spikes. There are some red flags and he’s something of a liability in coverage but there are few linebackers who can shoot gaps at the line of scrimmage like him. It’s why out of all 4-3 inside linebackers he had the highest grade in run defense and finished with the second best run stop percentage of his peers. He might only be good at one thing but he is oh so very good at it.
12.05: VISIT! Per Jim Thomas, former Texans DE Antonio Smith is going to be visiting the Rams on Saturday. Smith has always been a good interior pass rusher and 2013 was no different as he finished with eight sacks, nine hits, and 29 hurries on 445 pass rushes, good for a +18.8 rush grade. With St.Louis getting little pass rush from the interior last year, Smith would be a nice addition to complement the strong edge rushing duo of Robert Quinn and Chris Long, particularly in their sub package defense. The question is how would he be used in their base package as his last appearance in a 4-3 defense with Arizona saw him used at defensive end. Would he be prepared to backup Quinn and Long, or would he expect a more prominent early downs role?
11.30: RE-SIGNING! Per Adam Schefter, the Ravens have re-signed LB Daryl Smith to a four-year, $16.1 million contract. Smith played in Baltimore last season under a one-year deal that we quite liked at the time, as he’s always been one of the league’s most underrated linebackers. Smith finished 2013 at +0.2 overall based on stellar work in the passing game with a +8.8 grade in coverage and +4.9 effort as a pass rusher. He had an uncharacteristically poor season against the run, however, finishing at -13.1.
11.15: While the news slows down a bit, feel free to send in an application if you’re interested in joining the PFF team.
10.40: SIGNING! After 2012 Wesley Woodyard was on something of an upward curve. Though he would only finish the year our 14th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker, his +9.9 coverage was the best of all his peers. Fast forward a year and a switch to the middle and some lackluster work in the run game saw him benched from starting duties for Paris Lenon. In any era of football that isn’t a good thing. He’s best suited to more of a nickel linebacker role where he can put his skill to good use, but he may be required to do more. Per Josina Anderson he’s signed with the Tennessee Titans who are likely switching to a 3-4 defense. They’re not short on linebackers so he faces a battle for a job but with reported interest in him from numerous other teams, he must feel he has a good chance of getting more than the 765 snaps he managed in Denver last year. Even more so when you consider the deal is for four years with a max value of $16m.
10.25: RE-SINGING! Yesterday the Saints lost one special teamer in the shape of Will Herring. Well they’re ensuring that lightening won’t strike twice by re-signing Ramon Humber to a one-year deal the team announced. The former Colt got on the field for the defense for 158 snaps (as part of their multiple fronts defense) and earned a solid +0.5 grade to highlight his worth to the team. If he makes the final roster we’d expect him to drop a little lower down the depth chart as the team sees what Kevin Riddick is capable of, but with a +3.5 special team rating that may not matter.
10.20: RELEASE! Last year we thought the Redskins line did a pretty good job. Their zone blocking scheme paved the way for another big year for Alfred Morris while they more than held up in pass protection (sacks aren’t just the fault of offensive linemen). But there’s a new Head Coach in town and guys who were fit for the Shanahan offense won’t necessarily be fits for Jay Gruden. As such starting center Will Montgomery has been released per Mike Jones. Montgomery had a decent enough 2013, grading out as our 15th ranked center with positive marks for his run blocking. But he’s purely a fit in a zone blocking scheme and not capable of playing in the kind of varied rushing attack that Gruden is likely to implement. The league isn’t short on teams that use the kind of stretch plays that Shanahan loved so we’d expect to see him resurface as solid interior depth on one of those.
10.10: VISIT! It’s been a quiet couple of days for those looking for Michael Oher news as the former Ravens right tackle hits the open market for the first time. Well now we’re hearing that he’s visiting the Tennessee Titans, a team who just cut their start starting right tackle David Stewart. Oher initially impressed as a rookie, but after flip flopping between left and right tackle (eventually settling on the right) his play has declined. Last year Oher finished our fifth lowest ranked right tackle with his run blocking particularly atrocious. Nobody had a worse grade in that regard. On the plus side his -0.2 pass blocking grade would represent an upgrade for a lot of teams.
10.00: RE-SIGNING! The Chargers are short on talented cornerbacks. Heck the Chargers are short on any cornerbacks. So they’ve brought back one their familiar with according to Ian Rapoport, re-signing Richard Marshall to a one-year deal. Marshall can man the slot and play outside (in a push he can even play safety) but didn’t exactly light things up last year. His -11.7 coverage grade was an indication of how bad he’s played and a sign of how desperate the Chargers are for bodies right now. Depending on what they do in the draft he may struggle to make the roster next year.
09.00: The advantage of the quiet morning so far is that it’s allowed us to get caught up with the deal grader, updating it with all the deals we have seen the details for. What do we make of your team’s new signing? Which teams do we think got themselves something of a bargain, and which do we think could have spent their money better elsewhere? Take a look here.
08.30: VISIT! Finally some more news! Josina Anderson reports that former Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton is on way way for to visit the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks lost Clinton McDonald at the position earlier this week and, while Melton struggled early in the year before going down with a season ending injury, he was very good in 2012. That included some of the best games by an interior pass rusher we saw all year, a role that McDonald played well for Seattle last year.
07.50: So who’s going to be the next player to sign? Browner’s agent seems to think it won’t be him, while we’ve got Steve Smith continuing his visit in Baltimore today, though he’s also apparently in no rush to sign either. Donald Penn seems like the Raiders best option available at left tackle and, given the negatively surrounded the Roger Saffold failed physical, you wonder if they’ll try to get a deal done quickly there.
07:20: It’s been a slow morning so far, with the Pettigrew signing the only update on note in the past few hours. Still, we know that is likely to change as we move into the afternoon if yesterday is anything to go by, with the deals coming thick and fast. We’ll take any update we can get just now and Adam Schefter reports that Brandon Browner, who we thought had signed for the New England Patriots last night, plans to visit with Washington and New Orleans, while his agent will continue to talk with New England and Oakland.
06.30: The Lions have made some solid moves but this isn’t one we can get behind. According to ProFootballTalk the team are bringing back former first round pick Brandon Pettigrew. Touted as a sure thing when he was drafted, Pettigrew has become more famous for his failings than his impact plays, specializing in drawing flags and dropping balls. He earned our 10th lowest grade of any tight end last year and is regularly amongst our lowest ranked run blocking tight ends (though Detroit do ask more out of him than most). It would be a surprise to him top his 925 snaps last year, with the team likely reducing his role going forward (especially in passing situations).
04.30: The night crew are sleeping, bless their little cotton socks. But the morning crew is up nice and early and ready to deliver more reaction to all the events that break down today. Let’s do this.
02.45: Despite already landing Linval Joseph to plug in next to Sharrif Floyd inside of Everson Griffen and Brian Robison, ESPN’s Ben Goessling stated earlier that the Vikings have DT Henry Melton in town overnight as well. Perhaps most interesting in that Minnesota can use help in other areas, but stacking the interior D-line is never a bad idea if a team can afford to do it. Melton missed most of 2013 with a torn ACL, but was a Top-10-graded pass rush threat among NT/DTs in each of the two seasons prior. Putting him in the mix with Joseph’s run-stopping and watching to see if Floyd blossoms – not to mention the return of reserve Fred Evans – would make for an interesting new-look middle for the Vikings.
02.00: The curiosity that is Bruce Campbell lives on. A practically invisible four-year career led to a one-year free agent agreement with Washington yesterday, but that quickly fell through due to a failed physical. He’s since had a visit with the Giants (as noted by Aaron Wilson), but it’s getting to be tougher and tougher to see where he fits in. The physical freak hasn’t pushed for playing time with either of his previous employers — Oakland and Carolina, logging a total of 54 snaps since entering the league — and now he’s got to convince a team that he’s not an injury concern. Would be great to actually see what he could do on the field, but signs are pointing in the wrong direction.
01.15: Your favorite free agent edge rusher off the board? Wondering which corners are still available? Team needs a receiver but which FA had the higher grade last season? It’s all updated over at the PFF Free Agency Tracker. Stop in and update your wishlist ahead of the Day 4 moves.
00.40: VISITS! Not done with work to do on their lines, the Raiders are bringing in a couple more for visits on Friday per a tweet from the SF Chronicle’s Vic Tafur. Tampa’s recent release of Donald Penn has freed him to tour LT-needy teams and former Texan Antonio Smith is coming in as well as Oakland pours on the pass rush push. Smith ended 2013 with the fifth-best pass rush grade among 3-4 DEs and Penn was in with the Top 15 left tackles… as a run blocker.
00.15: Turning things over to Day 4, we open with a lull, but that means it’s a great time to have a look back through the long list of action we’ve seen so far this week. As noted in the opener above, you can see all of our Live Blog notes, thoughts, and stats here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.
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