PFF Live Free Agency Reaction Blog: Day 7, 03/19/12
PFF Live Free Agency Reaction Blog: Day 7, 03/19/12
And on the seventh day … well, in this case, Day 6 was apparently the NFL’s day of rest and Day 7 is a “Back to Work” Monday. Check out our Top 75 Available Free Agents for a peek at the talent still on the market as NFL teams go to work looking at the second wave of free agency.
You can catch up on our analysis from earlier in the week here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6. We’re here around the clock and will continue to sprinkle some PFF flavor on all of the important happenings as they happen, so bookmark it and keep the auto-refresh working all day.
Get in touch with us on twitter and keep up to date with free agency moves by following our Free Agent Tracker . If you want more, click here for one stop shop for all things free agency including team needs and rankings.
01:22 SIGNING! Adam Schefter is reporting via Twitter that cornerback Aaron Ross has agreed to a three-year deal with Jacksonville. An area of need that was wiped out by injury in 2011, the Jaguars had already brought back aging corner Rashean Mathis in an effort to keep hold on some form of depth. Ross is a boom-or-bust defender, but adds experience to a corps otherwise manned by the young (and improving) duo of Derek Cox (+3.1 coverage) and William Middleton (+4.7 coverage). Ross allowed 63 catches for 871 yards and six touchdowns in 2011, while intercepting four passes, picking up 11 PD’s, and finishing with a PFF coverage grade of -3.7.
23:42 While we’ve reported a few names of players that will visit the Tennessee Titans, we have another to add to the list. This time it’s Kamerion Wimbley. According to Adam Caplan, he is staying the night in Nashville, and is currently working on a five year deal with the team. The team is in desperate need of a pass rusher, and that’s what they’ll be looking for with Wimbley. He had 62 overall pressures on the season even though he slowed down as the season went on. That is more than double any individual member of the Titans last year. Negotiations will continue in the morning, so there is a chance this is the next signing that is reported.
23:21 There has been talk throughout the day that the Robert Gallery signing by the Patriots didn’t make a lot of sense. The team has Brian Waters who played surprisingly well this past year as well as Logan Mankins, which leaves Gallery on the bench. However Mike Reiss reports that Mankins was playing with a torn ACL without realizing it. While he needs time to recover which explains having Gallery just in case, it could also explain his PFF grade in 2011. He allowed 28 overall pressures in 2011 compared to just eight in his ten games in 2010. He also had a +2.2 run block rating in all of 2011, where he had that rating in over half of his individual games in 2010. If he gets a full recovery, we can hopefully see a return of Mankins to being one of the best guards in the league.
22:45 RE-SIGNING! The Broncos had a plan of attack in free agency. It started with Manning, and they’ve kept the ball rolling with the re-signing of Wesley Woodyard to a two year deal according to his agent. He spent most of the season taking the passing downs at middle linebacker from recently re-signed Joe Mays. He allowed a very high percentage of passes thrown his way to be caught at 83.6%, but did have two passes defended. On the 74 times he rushed the quarterback, he had just two pressures. He played just four snaps in the two playoff games, so he might just be added for depth rather than having significant playing time.
21:58 Now that the Seahawks added a new quarterback, their looking at improvements for other positions as well. Both Jacob Tamme and Corey Graham visited Seattle today according to Aaron Wilson. While the Indianapolis Colts offense struggled in general last year, Tamme still caught 68% of passes thrown his way and didn’t have a drop on the 28 times he was thrown at as their backup tight end. Cornerback Corey Graham is best known for his special teams play, where he had 13 tackles which was tied for the most for the Chicago Bears. He also got to see some time as the slot cornerback in a few games late in the season, and showed potential. He had three interceptions compared to just seven receptions allowed.
21:13 RE-SIGNING! While all the big news in Denver is the signing of Manning and who they might get now, they also decided to bring back guard Manuel Ramirez. He has yet to see an offensive snap while being a backup for the Broncos, and was last seen as the Detroit Lions starting left guard in 2009. While he didn’t allow a sack, he did allow ten hits and 21 pressures. He was equally bad in run blocking. The starting five linemen from last year are all under contract, so chances are Ramirez remains a backup.
20:55 Now that Tennessee knows they aren’t getting Peyton Manning, they are bringing every other good free agent in for a visit. Added to the list is cornerback William Gay according to Jim Wyatt. In Pittsburgh he had some great numbers last year, allowing just 52.8% of passes thrown his way to be caught, just 10.8 yards per catch allowed, and 9 passes defended. He never allowed a pass longer than 30 yards. It would not be surprising at all for the Titans to make one or two signings tomorrow
20:40 SIGNING! Jay Glazer let us all know that the Dolphins have turned to David Garrard as their new potential quarterback. Earlier today it sounded like Alex Smith to the Dolphins was a serious possibility even though we suggested that Matt Moore was the better option. While some might question the signing, we have always been a fan of Garrard who was our third rated quarterback in 2008 when we began. Most recently in 2010 Garrard showed he can be excellent without any pressure with a QB rating of 101.6 when the pressure isn’t on. That bolds well as Jake Long would be protecting his blind side if he were to end up starting. This also means that Alex Smith will likely be heading back to the 49ers as there might not be any other teams interested in him.
20:29 The Vikings took a tight end from Seattle a few days ago, and now the Seahawks are looking to exchange the favor. Adam Schefter reported that the Seahawks had a visit with Visanthe Shiancoe. While he was close to as bad as a tight end can get at run blocking, he still showed some ability in the pass game. He did have five dropped passes which is a little bit of a concern. If he went to Seattle, he would fight with Zach Miller for playing time, and possibly be catching passes from former teammate Tarvaris Jackson if he can win the starting job.
20:14 Free agent tight end Joel Dreessen is getting a lot of attention these past few days, and he will be visiting the Tennessee Titans according to Jim Wyatt. The Titans used Jared Cook, Craig Stevens and Daniel Graham at the position last year. All three were below average in run blocking, while Dresseen had the third highest rating in terms of run blocking while playing with the division rival Houston Texans. Dreessen also had a better pass rating than the trio thanks to a 77.8% catch rate and six touchdowns. Dreessen has previously visited the Saints and Bengals.
20:03 Jason La Canfora is reporting that Tracy Porter is visiting Tennessee, and that St. Louis also has interest. While the Titans have two solid cornerbacks in Jason McCourty and Alterraun Verner, they lost Cortland Finnegan and could use the competition for the starting job as well as the depth. The Rams are the team that added Finnegan, but the position was decimated by injury last year and projected starter Bradley Fletcher looked below average when healthy. Last year Porter allowed one of the highest catch rates at 71.3%, but also had seven passes defended.
19:27 SIGNING! According to Adam Caplan the San Diego Chargers have just announced a one year deal with TE Dante Rosario marking Rosario’s third team in as many seasons. After failing to impress in an expanded role for the Panthers in 2009 he was limited to under 200 snaps in Denver last season and will have a fight on his hands to play more this season. Rosario should have good memories of Qualcomm Stadium, he caught a game winning score as time expired there in a memorable win for the Panthers over the Chargers. If he is to have similar memorable moments for the Chargers he will either need to beat out veteran back up Randy McMichael for playing time or take advantage of any time that Antonio Gates misses through injury, something that is not unusual over the course of a 16 game season.
19:23 RE-SIGNING! Just a matter of days after releasing him for cap reasons the Raiders have doubled back and re-signed G Cooper Carlisle today. Cutting Carlisle was a smart move both financially and on performance grounds for the Raiders so it is somewhat surprising to see him brought back unless someone is brought in to beat him out. Carlisle was equally poor in run blocking and pass protection with the best thing about his 2011 season being that he was only penalised on three occasions. His game in Houston was comfortably his worst of the season dragging his overall grade down but he only graded above +1.0 three times all season. Raiders fans will be hoping for some competition at the guard spot, new signing Mike Brisiel should fill one spot with second year player Stefen Wisniewski potentially moving to center. Even pressed hard against the cap the Raiders should be looking for someone to compete with or start ahead of Carlisle at the other guard spot.
19:13 RELEASE! According to Adam Schefter the Miami Dolphins plan to release S Yeremiah Bell. After solid seasons in 2008 and 2009 we graded Bell as one of the league’s better in the box safeties in 2010 but this nosedived in 2011 as teams exposed his coverage more effectively and his efficiency on blitzes dropped markedly from the previous season. Bell still graded positively as a run defender though and with Bell entering the final year of his contract, due $4.3 million, this could well be a cap move. With Bell still able to provide solid play against the run it would not be surprising to see him re-signed by Miami or see a market for teams looking for an in the box, run support safety.
19:07 According to the Buffalo Bills own website they have extended an offer to free agent LT Demetrius Bell. The Bills have not received any response to this offer as Bell has also drawn interest from Washington and Arizona. Bell showed glimpses of a breakout year last season playing well when healthy but being limited to a frustratingly low 401 snap season. Bell has struggled in his career until this season showing glimpses of improvement each year before this season. Even so in a tackle starved free agent market Bell is drawing interest and may be out of Buffalo’s price range if teams involved get pitted against each other in a bidding war. If Bell were to land in Arizona this would surely see Levi Brown switch back to right tackle forming “that” right side pairing with Adam Snyder.
18:49 Bad news from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this evening as they report that RB Rashard Mendenhall may not play during the 2012 season. Ed Bouchette reports that the knee injury sustained by Mendenhall against the Browns on January 1st may have been more serious than was initially let on. Sources tell Bouchette that the Steelers are not counting on Mendenhall being able to return to form until the 2013 season. This would be devastating for both Mendenhall and the Steelers. Pittsburgh would lose their #1 tailback whilst Mendenhall would be at best limited during the season, both in terms of snaps and effectiveness, that is the final one on his rookie contract. If the Steelers do not feel that Isaac Redman and John Clay can split the load they may be forced into looking for another starting caliber back before they are sure of Mendenhall’s long term prognosis.
17:48 A busy day in Cincinnati as they reportedly host four different free agents today. Along with former one of Mike Zimmer’s former DB’s Terence Newman the Bengals also hosted TE Joel Dreessen, RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis and DE Derrick Harvey. What Newman has left at this point we’re not sure, he was awful this season in Dallas giving up 16.3 yards per catch which only seven other CBs topped. Dreessen is used to playing the second tight end role to a primarily receiving tight end and would provide an excellent foil to Jermaine Gresham, as an all round player Dreessen may be better. Green-Ellis is reportedly taking his free agent tour on the understanding that he will give the Patriots an opportunity to counter offer but moving to Cincinnati would allow Green-Ellis to try to prove himself in a more under center, run oriented offense. Meanwhile Harvey, a player who never lived up to his draft hype, is trying to get another chance after failing to land a role in Denver. Harvey saw only 92 snaps in Denver last season recording only three pressures, no hits and no sacks, on 68 pass rushes.
17:40 With reports swirling that Alex Smith is “very serious” about the Dolphins, Jason La Canfora reports that he does at least have a fall back option in the shape of his former team the San Francisco 49ers. La Canfora reports that Smith has a standing offer from San Francisco worth $24 million over three years, an offer that is probably better than market value for a player like Smith who has taken so long to prove himself. Clearly Smith is upset about the 49ers advances towards Peyton Manning but as our own Khaled Elsayed explored in article today, Smith may not be an upgrade on what the Dolphins already have in Matt Moore. It is probably best for all three parties involved if the Smith and the 49ers swallow their collective pride and re-unite a partnership that worked so well in 2011.
17:35 SIGNING! Having been cut last week by the 49ers CB Shawntae Spencer has moved across the bay to Oakland signing a one year deal with the Raiders. This move keeps Spencer around the same area whilst also putting an extra body on a Raiders roster that is short in the cornerback department. Spencer has proven in the past, notably in 2009 that he can be a solid corner in the NFL grading +5.4 for that season. However that season is now three years ago so whether he can regain that form in Oakland will be intriguing to see.
17:31 We mused at 12:08 that having signed Peyton Manning the Broncos may look to bring in some of his offensive team-mates from Indianapolis and it would seem that we were not far wide of the mark. Jason La Canfora reports that the Broncos will host C Jeff Saturday for a visit though no date has been given. Saturday reported has, or perhaps had, visits lined up with the Packers and the Titans but the opportunity to re-unite with his former QB for one last run may just be too good to pass up.
17:28 SIGNING! A back and forth of signing players that has been rumbling on for a number of seasons just claimed another scalp as the Patriots have signed former Jets’ DB/ST Marquice Cole. Whilst he only registered 51 snaps on defense last season Cole registered 8 special teams tackles for the Jets but did concede 3 penalties.
17:22 Having lost Richard Marshall to the Dolphins the Arizona Cardinals are hosting a pair of visits to try to fill that void left by the versatile defensive back. According to reports the Cardinals will host William Gay and Jarrett Bush today with a view to filling the nickel role. Both have played inside and outside snaps but neither has played the snaps at slot and wide corner but combined the two played only 25 snaps at safety last season. Marshall played 235 snaps at free safety for the Cardinals last year.
17:09 SIGNING! The Lions have brought back punter Ben Graham on a one year deal. Graham took over from Ryan Donahue and Robert Malone in Week 11 and was the Lions’ highest graded punter. That said Graham was still amongst the worst six punters in the league along with the Lions’ other three punters. Some competition to either push Graham forwards or beat him out in training camp would not be in the least bit surprising.
15:27 SIGNING! A busy day in the AFC east continues as Adam Schefter reports that the Patriots have added further to their receiver corps by signing WR Donte’ Stallworth to a one year deal. Stallworth had minimal impact on both special teams and offense for the Redskins last season after also failing to impress with Baltimore the year before. Stallworth did however grab four catches for 96 yards against the Patriots in Week 14 and teams do like picking up players who played well against them. Stallworth adds speed to the outside for the Patriots but that speed hasn’t paid dividends on his last two stops and he will need to take a big step forwards in 2012 if this is to prove to be a successful bargain pick up for the Patriots.
15:22 SIGNING! The second update from Lombardi tells us that the Jets have agreed to a deal with S Laron Landry with Adam Schefter reporting that the deal is worth $4 million for one year. Question marks over Landry’s health may limit the impact of this signing but if Landry can stay healthy the Jets have a real thumper of a safety to come up into the box. Prior to his injury Landry recorded 22 stops (a tackle which results in an offensive failure) no Redskin defensive back topped that for 16 games and only 13 safeties league wide topped that.
15:09 SIGNING! The first of two updates courtesy of Michael Lombardi who reports first that the Patriots have secured the signing of former #2 overall pick G Robert Gallery. Gallery was cut last week by the Seahawks after a disappointing, to say the least, first season in Seattle. This is now two poor seasons on the belt end from Gallery who hasn’t looked the same since a 2009 season disrupted by injury. Gallery only had two games graded above average all of last season and those games were only very marginal. Against the Eagles during Week 13 Derek Landri gave Gallery the run around to a tune of a -5.2 grade for Gallery.
13:49 TENDER SIGNING! We don’t normally chat about tenders signing, but we’re such big fans of the work Michael Bennett did in 2011 that we’ll give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers a thumbs up for getting his services on the cheap next year. Bennett was one of the leagues’ premier defensive ends in the run game, and didn’t neglect his responsibilities rushing the passer, as he finished 8th overall in our DE rankings. We just needed a breather from thinking about the Broncos for a second.
13:29 According to Chris Mortensen the fallout from the Peyton Manning will not lead to a long process of the Broncos shopping Tim Tebow. Mortensen reports that the Broncos will put Tebow on the block immediately that they complete the signing of Manning and will not hold out for a significant offer. Mortensen also reports that the Broncos will cut Tebow if they fail to find a trade partner. If this is the case and other teams are aware then this could stunt what could already be a potentially limited market for Tebow. Clearly the Broncos are ready to move on from Tebow quickly, not entering into any possibility of keeping Tebow to learn from Peyton Manning. It will be interesting to see which teams, if any emerge as trading partners for the Broncos. Will any owners foist Tebow upon their head coaches, do any coaching staffs buy into Tebow’s potential enough to give draft picks back to the Broncos having seen his passing?
13:20 SIGNING! According to Jonathan Tamari of the Philadelphia Inquirer the Eagles have continued to shop on the interior offensive line. On top of their signing of Mike Gibson that was reported last week and the crucial re-signing of Evan Mathis the Eagles have also brought in ex-Cleveland and Seattle G/C Steve Vallos. The Eagles look serious about bringing in competition to drive on young starters Jason Kelce at center and Danny Watkins at right guard as well as adding depth behind them. Vallos has not seen any snaps in the last two seasons but opened up the 2009 season with an astonishing +5.1 grade at center against the Rams but finished his 2009 season with a -4.5 grade at left guard against the Cardinals. Throughout his time in Seattle Vallos played better at center than guard but does at least offer versatility across both positions.
13:00 An area the Broncos really need to upgrade now with the Manning is the offensive line. We’ve spoken about one player they could pursue in the shape of Jeff Saturday. Recently our own Sam Monson looked into why the Broncos’ offensive line was over-rated last season and some of the problems they have, read it here.
12:41 As an add on to the Domino Effect on Denver, Colts’ punter Pat McAfee brings some insight on the potential of Dallas Clark heading for the Mile High City. McAfee claims he just received this text having asked Clark if he would join Manning in Denver, “I’ve always loved the mountains. We’ll see what happens”. Clark doesn’t really reveal much, though you can read into the first sentence that he will, but Clark saw a big drop off in production during another injury ravaged season. Clark snagged only five more yards on three fewer catches despite running 76 more pass routes in 2011 without Manning. The whole league has seen what Manning and Clark do together and the understanding they have of each other so it would not be a great surprise to see Clark follow “his” quarterback to Denver if the Broncos have any interest.
12:34 Whilst the rest of the football world continues to buzz about the Manning signing, and my twitter feed rolls on as if it’s found some jet fuel for power, it would seem that Tennessee has already moved on and is concentrating on improving their roster. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports the the Titans are hosting a visit from free agent DE/LB/rush specialist Kamerion Wimbley. Tennessee’s cumulative pass rush grade from us last season was -50.2, only the New Orleans Saints had a lower grade as a team. Karl Klug was the Titans highest graded pass rusher at +5.8 and no edge rusher graded higher than William Hayes’ -2.5 on 186 pass rushes. Even though Wimbley put together his season last year largely on the back of a handful of big games, that alone would be a serious upgrade to a Titan pass rush that fell off a cliff in terms of production in 2011.
12:08 Domino Effect – DENVER! Assuming there are no unexpected snags in the contract signing the Broncos will have some interesting options in free agency now that they have Manning. There was always the theory that some of Manning’s buddies from Indy would follow him to his new team, though some have already signed there are two names out there that would be interesting and potentially valuable signings for the Broncos. At center the Broncos desperately need to upgrade on J.D. Walton and Manning’s long time center Jeff Saturday is still on the market with a schedule reportedly scheduled for Green Bay. Manning and Saturday know each other’s games inside out and there would be a clear fit between the two as well as offering the Broncos a massive upgrade at center even with Saturday’s age. The other name to watch for is Dallas Clark who would offer a receiving threat at TE that the Broncos simply do not have right now. Neither is certain to happen but if the theory of players following Manning is there then these are the two players to watch out for.
12:03 Domino Effect – TIM TEBOW! So after a fortnight of Manning-mania are we now about to enter into a new definition of Tebow-time? According to Adam Schefter the Broncos will now seek to trade the man who led them to a playoff victory, Tim Tebow. It is a little difficult to project a market for Tebow in terms of both who would be interested and what they would pay. As a conventional QB Tebow is simply not a good player and no team would be interested in giving up anything but a pittance for him and as a genuine question, how many teams would take the radical approach the Broncos took with Tebow to install the option for him and go completely away from an “NFL style” offense? As a winner and a leader Tebow provides an interesting prospect to someone and it will be interesting to see whether another team around the league is truly “in love” with what Tebow did this year or whether everyone else in the league sees it as a fad that will fade very quickly.
11:59 Domino Effect – SAN FRANCISCO! Unlike in Tennessee the 49ers have a safer fall back in terms of the entire roster. The 49ers are deep and strong on defense, running game and along the offensive line with their only loss so far being Adam Snyder which should end up as addition by subtraction at right guard. For the 49ers though the big issue comes at quarterback where reportedly their last starting QB and current free agent Alex Smith is distinctly unhappy with the 49ers overtures for Manning. If this is just on Smith’s part it would not be surprising to see Smith sign back with the 49ers within a matter of days if not sooner. If however Smith’s displeasure is genuine and not just a plea to be loved then the 49ers have a decision to make at quarterback. Are they sold on Colin Kaepernick‘s ability to start this season? Will HC Jim Harbaugh pursue his former starting QB from his days at the University of San Diego and sign free agent QB Josh Johnson? Instability at the QB position can derail good teams and the 49ers will surely have a fallback plan to go for, entering the Manning sweepstakes with no sure second option would have been short sighted in the extreme.
11:55 Domino Effect – TENNESSEE! Both the 49ers and Titans have made plays for Manning making it to the final hurdle before falling but of the two Tennessee may have the clearer fall back plan at quarterback. For Tennessee they simply continue with the plan of attack before Bud Adams’ directive to his front office to get in the hunt for Manning. The Titans will presumably continue with Matt Hasselbeck and Jake Locker under center with Locker no longer looking like being stranded from the field whilst Manning takes the snaps in Tennessee. The domino effect for Tennessee comes in the effort expended to try to get Manning that has limited their efforts in getting other free agents in. They have upgraded their interior offensive line by signing Steve Hutchinson but have lost out on upgrades on the defensive line as well as losing Jason Jones to Seattle. With the turmoil in Houston over the salary cap the Titans have a chance to catch up in the AFC South but must now work hard and fast on a back up plan to move forwards.
11:51 THE SIGNING! ESPN’s Chris Mortensen has broken the news that we were all waiting for and presumably twitter and the entire internet is now about to blow up. Mortensen reports that Peyton Manning has chosen the Denver Broncos and according to his ESPN colleague Adam Schefter, Manning will be the starting QB in Denver this season barring an unexpected snag in the contract talks. Manning gets to hook up with some underused wideouts in Denver with Eric Decker having a skill set that could match well with Manning whilst if the Broncos can get more consistent play from DeMaryius Thomas, they could be extremely well set. This is huge news for the Broncos but potentially devastating news for the two teams who have lost out at the final hurdle, Tennessee and San Francisco.
11:26 According to Greg Bedard the Patriots hosted former Charger DL Luis Castillo on Saturday. The Patriots approach to free agency on the defensive line has been described by Ian Rapoport as “add good players, figure out how they fit later”. Castillo only managed 31 snaps in the 2011 season opener before he broke his leg and was lost for the season. Outside of a pair of big games in 2008 we have never seen Castillo live up to his rep as a quality 3-4 defensive end. In 2009 and 2010 Castillo graded as our 36th ranked defensive end in each season.
11:21 SIGNING! The signings are really starting to roll in now, maybe. The Carolina Panthers have, according to Jason La Canfora amongst others, signed free agent RB Mike Tolbert to a four year deal. With DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart already on the roster this raises questions over Stewart’s long term future with the team and the role that Tolbert will have should they carry all three players this season. Tolbert had a rushing grade of +4.5 this season and broke 14 tackles running the ball, better than once every ten carries.
11:01 RE-SIGNING! The Bills have brought back Derek Hagan at wide receiver according to Aaron Wilson. Hagan only played 337 snaps last year across ten games including three starts for the Raiders and Bills. After landing with the Bills Hagan was targeted 22 times in the final four games of the season, snagging 13 catches and only dropping one. Hagan’s longest reception of the last four seasons came in Week 17 of the 2011 season against the Patriots and has only score 1 touchdown in each of the last three seasons.
10:53 Another slow day of free agency to open up the week but we have updated our top 75 free agents, our deal grader and our free agent tracker is updated every day as well. Maybe Peyton Manning will sign today and spark some activity from that…
08:00 SIGNING! According to Ian Rapoport the New England Patriots have agreed to a deal to sign journeyman TE Daniel Fells, most recently of the Denver Broncos. The Patriots had a clear void to fill at tight end and went out and got a quality player to fill that hole… Being a little more serious for a moment this move is a little surprising, we don’t need to tell you who the Patriots already have at tight end and it’s hard to see what Fells offers though there are reports that he will be used as an actual third TE, with the Patriots’ limiting their use of extra tackles. Fells recorded 1051 snaps with the Broncos last season but would have been displaced on a team with more quality and depth. Fells only has 8 drops in the last four seasons but his -12.4 run blocking grade in the 2011 regular season was only beaten by three other tight ends.
06:46 It’s a new day, so maybe after Sunday was a day of rest we might get ourselves a few deals? We can but dare to dream. Let’s get this thing going.