PFF’s live free-agency news tracker

Check back regularly as the PFF team provides updates and reactions on every NFL free-agent signing.

| 9 months ago
(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

(AP Photo/Tom Gannam)

PFF’s live free-agency news tracker


Throughout free agency, the PFF team will be commenting on the biggest signings, news, and rumors from around the league. Be sure to check back regularly for the latest free agency updates.

(Editor’s note: Grades and analysis for this article may be updated as further details of the deal are reported.)

 

Packers re-sign running back James Starks

9:20 a.m. ET, Fri., March 18

One of Green Bay’s bigger offensive issues the second half of 2015 was a lack of production in the run game, but at least for now the names in the backfield will remain the same. According to Adam Caplan of ESPN, the Packers have re-signed James Starks, who played the most snaps of his career in 2015 (614). While starter Eddie Lacy struggled throughout the season with poor fitness and a lack of production, Starks also failed to impress, especially during the last eight games of the regular season (-6.1 rushing grade). Despite Starks and Lacy now both being under contract again, the Packers should still look to upgrade the position through the draft. –Josh Liskiewicz

 

Broncos add former Seahawks OT Russell Okung

8:30 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 17

The Broncos have announced the signing of former Seattle offensive tackle Russell Okung. Okung’s deal is for one year and $5 million, with a four-year option worth another potential $48 million. He has never played a full 16-game regular season during his six-year career, and has a -10.3 cumulative pass-blocking grade over the past three seasons. 2015 was his worst season from a pressure standpoint — in 15 games (which includes Seattle’s two playoff games) he yielded five sacks, seven hits and 24 hurries, all career-highs.

 

Saints sign LB James Laurinaitis

11:07 p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

Per Rand Getlin, linebacker James Laurinaitis is joining the Saints after the team dropped David Hawthorne earlier in the offseason. Laurinaitis was a mainstay on the Rams’ defense, playing 99.7 percent of the team’s defensive snaps over seven seasons. He heads to New Orleans after a rough final season in St. Louis, however; he finished 2015 as PFF’s lowest-graded linebacker against the run, and 83rd overall (39.3 player grade). This should be an upgrade in coverage, however, where the Saints, and Hawthorne in particular, struggled. Laurinaitis has graded above-average against the pass in six-of-seven seasons, although 2015 was the seventh. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Patriots add a second tight end in Martellus Bennett

11:02 p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

For the last few years, the Patriots have tried to find a second tight end to pair with Rob Gronkowski, and they may have found it with Martellus Bennett (72.0). Bennett had a down year, partially thanks to two fumbles and a low 8.3 yards per catch. However, in 2013, he forced 23 missed tackles, and in 2014, he increased that to 25. The only other tight end to have more than 20 since 2007 is former Partiot Aaron Hernandez. Throughout his career, Bennett has graded average-to-great in run-blocking, so New England can use two tight end sets in both run and pass situations. For Chicago, this means Zach Miller (81.0) will be the clear every-down starter at tight end. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Cardinals agree with Evan Mathis on a one-year contract

4:24 p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

So this was the Cardinals’ plan when they traded away Jonathan Cooper yesterday. It’s an unquestioned upgrade, even if Mathis will turn 35 during the 2016 season. Mathis has been our highest-graded guard by far over the past five seasons, and even after a slow start in Denver, he showed no sign of slowing down a year ago. From Week 3 and on, no guard in the NFL graded higher than the former Bronco. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Eagles add deep-threat WR Chris Givens

4:21 p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

The Eagles reunited Sam Bradford with former Rams WR Chris Givens. The two struck up a strong rapport in their rookie seasons back in 2012, but Givens has struggled since. He’s dropped 15-of-122 catchable passes in his career, including 4-of-23 last season with the Ravens. The Eagles’ receivers struggled holding onto the football in 2015, and Givens is unlikely to improve the situation. He’s most effective downfield (nearly a quarter of his receptions have come on passes 20+ yards from the line of scrimmage), fulfilling the need for speed Eagles GM Howie Roseman recently discussed. Wide receiver remains a key area of need for Philadelphia, despite the addition of Givens. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Rams add edge defender Quinton Coples

2:45 p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

Quinton Coples has signed with the Los Angeles Rams on a two-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport. Coples played for the Jets and Dolphins in 2015, showing decent production on both teams. After less than a week with the Dolphins, Coples logged his best game against his former team, registering three pressures on just nine pass rush snaps. A former first-round pick who has never lived up to that billing in the Jets’ 3-4 defense, the Rams hope his brief bump in production in the Dolphins’ 4-3 defense will continue. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Browns to release linebacker Karlos Dansby

2:20 p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

Pat McManamon reports that the Cleveland Browns have informed linebacker Karlos Dansby that they intend to release him. The move comes just hours after the Browns signed former New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis. Dansby was our 25th-ranked linebacker in 2015, with a grade of 87.6 in coverage, but just 36.2 against the run. That being said, Davis was all the way down at 77th, grading slightly better against the run at 39.0, but much worse in coverage at 48.1. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Josh LeRibeus provides depth and continuity for Washington’s offensive line

1:10p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

Washington will return five starters on their offensive line after re-signing the versatile Josh LeRibeus to a contract extension. LeRibeus struggled when first forced into the lineup, recording six negatively graded games in a row, but improved as the season went on. He graded positively over his final seven outings, suggesting LeRibeus is a competent backup at the very least. Considering Kory Lichtensteiger’s struggles early in the year, it would be no surprise to see him win the starting job in 2016. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Jets replace Damon Harrison with former Steeler Steve McLendon

1:06 p.m. ET, Wed., March 16

Former Steelers DT Steve McLendon has signed with the New York Jets on a three-year deal worth $12 million, with $4 million guaranteed, according to Richard Kopelman of KLAAS Sports. McLendon played the most snaps of his career in 2015 (419), and was utilized in the Steelers’ base defense as their nose-tackle. A solid run-stuffer, McLendon has graded positively against the run every year of his career. An obvious replacement after the Jets lost Damon Harrison to the New York Giants, McLendon will help fill the void at a much cheaper price tag. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Demario Davis headed to Cleveland on two-year deal

10:22 a.m. ET, Wed., March 16

As first reported by Manish Mehta, the Cleveland Browns have signed Demario Davis to a two-year, $8 million deal, with $4 million guaranteed. The ex-Jet ILB had only one positively-graded game during the first 11 weeks of the 2015 season (Week 4 against Miami); he was consequently demoted and saw his reps lowered significantly for the remainder of the season. While he doesn’t own a positive career grade for any phase of his defensive play, it’s is coverage skills that have been particularly lacking. In his four years with the Jets, he yielded nine touchdowns, compared to just one interception and four pass breakups, and opposing QBs enjoyed an NFL passer rating of 112.9 against him. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Bengals re-sign backup defensive lineman Pat Sims

10:09 a.m. ET, Wed., March 16

The Cincinnati Bengals have announced that they have re-signed DT Pat Sims. The DT only managed 218 snaps for the Bengals in 2015, as Brandon Thompson served as the primary backup to Domata Peko, but with Thompson a free agent himself (and on the mend from a late-season ACL tear), DT was a clear position of need this offseason. In 640 pass-rush snaps the past three seasons (played with Oakland in 2013 and 2014), Sims managed four sacks, 12 hurries, and 23 hits. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

Raiders re-sign left tackle Donald Penn

9:25 a.m. ET, Wed., March 16

Over the last two years, Donald Penn (84.5 overall grade in 2015) has had a career resurgence in Oakland, and that will continue when he re-signs with the team today. Last season, Penn recorded a pass-blocking efficiency of 96.0, 14th-best among tackles. In every season that we’ve graded him, he’s earned an above-average rating against the run. The move means high-paid free agent Kelechi Osemele will likely play guard rather than tackle in his first year in Oakland. The Raiders become the only team with five offensive linemen who posted PFF grades of 79.0 or better in 2015—no other team has more three. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

Click for full article.

 

Washington now loaded at outside linebacker

11:05 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

Per John Keim of ESPN, Junior Galette has agreed to a one-year deal (with an apparent max value of $4 million) to stay in Washington. Galette tore his Achilles during August training camp and missed the 2015 season, but was our No. 2 pass-rushing 4-3 DE in 2014 when with New Orleans. He was allowed to serve his two-game suspension due to a domestic violence arrest during last season. If he can return to his 2014 form, Washington will have one of the deepest group of pass-rushers in the NFL, as last year’s defense finished ninth in the league in pass-rush grade even without Galette’s services.

 

Chris Long signing a risk worth taking for Patriots

10:59 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

After trading away Chandler Jones earlier in the day, the Patriots took a step in trying to replace Jones by signing former Rams defensive end Chris Long to a one-year deal. Long was an extremely productive pass-rusher for a four-year stretch starting in 2010, but he’s dealt with injuries of late and has been considerably less effective. Long has played a combined 729 snaps over the past two seasons, a figure Jones has surpassed in each of his four years alone. Long also doesn’t replace Jones’ versatility to play several different techniques along the defensive line, as Long has been almost exclusively an edge defender. Long’s biggest weakness is in run defense — an area where he has has graded below-average in each of his eight seasons. No matter what, replacing Jones is a tough task, but Long’s signing is low risk. If he can get healthy and get closer to the level of play from a few years ago, he could be a good addition as a pass-rusher.

 

Kelvin Beachum’s deal with Jags puts pressure on Luke Joeckel

5:48 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

Spending big when the free-agent market opened, the Jacksonville Jaguars brought a close to the first week of free agency by signing former Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum. Coming off of a torn ACL this season, Beachum’s market has been slower than it might have been with a full season to build on his impressive 2014 campaign. Beachum was our fifth-highest graded tackle in 2014, surrendering only 19 pressures during the entire regular season. On exactly 500 fewer career snaps, Luke Joeckel (the Jaguars’ current left tackle) has allowed 30 more pressures (112 for Joeckel, 82 for Beachum) and earned a negative pass-protection grade in each season. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Broncos match offer from Miami for C.J. Anderson

3:37 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

Adam Schefter is reporting that Denver has decided to match the four-year, $18 million contract the Dolphins offered to restricted free agent RB C.J. Anderson. The Broncos gave Anderson an original round tender, and considering he went undrafted in 2013, Denver was in danger of losing him without compensation. Anderson had a breakout year in 2014, when he was our fourth-highest graded RB, but was inconsistent in 2015 while in a timeshare with Ronnie Hillman. Last season, he forced 34 missed tackles on 206 rushes, compared to 49 missed tackles on 197 carries in 2014. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Baltimore adds another speedy receiver with Mike Wallace signing

3:27 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

The Ravens have signed WR Mike Wallace to a two-year, $11.5 million deal, per Adam Schefter. Wallace has never really lived up to his big free-agent deal from 2013, and will be with his fourth team in five years. Two of his three lowest season grades have come since leaving Pittsburgh, including a 55.4 overall grade last season that ranked 96th out of 119 qualifying wide receivers. Wallace is another speedy deep threat that can stretch the field along with Breshad Perriman, but Wallace’s production on deep passes has dropped considerably of late. On passes targeted 20+ yards downfield last year, Wallace had just two catches for 56 yards and no touchdowns—all career lows. Will a pairing with Joe Flacco make a difference? Possibly. However, Flacco and Vikings’ QB Teddy Bridgewater were almost identical in accuracy percentage on deep passes last season, at 37 percent. Flacco’s accuracy percentage on deep passes has ranked in the bottom third of quarterbacks in two of the last three seasons. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Patriots trade Chandler Jones for Cardinals’ Jonathan Cooper, second-round pick

3:19 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

This trade, reported by ESPN Adam’s Schefter and Dianna Russini, gives Arizona a pass-rusher opposite Markus Golden. Chandler Jones (79.2 overall grade) recorded 62 pressures last year, which is more than any Cardinals’ edge rusher has had since John Abraham in 2013. The move does leave another hole in their offensive line, however, as Bobbie Massie recently signed with Chicago, Bradley Sowell with Seattle, and Ted Larsen and Lyle Sendlein remain unsigned.

The Patriots gain a guard in Jonathan Cooper (61.6) who should be able to fight for a starting job, but based on his play last year, might not be better than what New England already has. Cooper allowed a pass-blocking efficiency of 95.0, which was 62nd-best of 82 qualifying guards. The Patriots hope he can live up to his early first-round draft pick buzz, rather than playing at the same level he’s been at the past two years. Losing Jones doesn’t hurt their defense too much, since it means more playing time for Jabaal Sheard. His pass-rushing productivity of 14.1 was the best for 4-3 defensive ends last year. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

Click for full article.

 

CB Terence Newman back with Vikings for another season

2:58 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

Per Tom Pelissero, the Vikings have re-signed another one of their UFAs, this time bringing back corner Terence Newman on a one-year deal. Newman turns 38 in September, but still logged more than 1,000 snaps last season, finishing the year as PFF’s 39th-ranked corner. Even at that age, he’s still among the better corners in run defense, with a top-10 mark there and positive grades for five straight years. And although his play in coverage has dropped off slightly from his peak, Newman still graded around average against the pass in 2015, surrendering 56 catches and an 86.0 passer rating (40th-best of 118 corners) in 93 regular season targets. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Raiders re-sign WR Andre Holmes on one-year deal

1:01 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

According to the NFL Network, WR Andre Holmes is re-signing with the Oakland Raiders on a one-year deal worth up to $3 million, with $1 million guaranteed. Active for all 16 games in 2015, Holmes saw his snap total drop by almost 50 percent from 2014. Holmes ranked fourth among WRs on the team with just 1.00 yards per route run and 29 targets. His drop rate of 26.32 was third-worst in the NFL (five drops on 19 catchable passes), among receivers thrown a minimum of 10 catchable passes. The Raiders hope for his production to get back to his 2014 level, when he averaged 1.46 yards per route run and a more respectable 9.62 drop rate. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Eagles retain CB Nolan Carroll on one-year deal

11:08 a.m. ET, Tues., March 15

After jettisoning Byron Maxwell to the Dolphins, the Eagles needed to add to their depth at the cornerback position. Eric Rowe and JaCorey Shepherd have potential, but could use a few more years to develop. Retaining Carroll allows the Eagles to be patient. Carroll, along with Leodis McKelvin, gives Philadelphia a pair of veteran corners capable of starting. The former Dolphin was far from outstanding in 2015 (74.3 coverage grade), but held his own on the outside before going down with a broken ankle. He allowed a completion percentage of 65 percent for 612 yards, four touchdowns, two picks, and six pass deflections. With the versatility to play in the slot or as a safety in the box, retaining Carroll was a smart piece of business by the Eagles. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Falcons sign ex-Redskins backup OT Tom Compton

10:22 a.m. ET, Tues., March 15

With the talent level improving on Atlanta’s offensive line (they signed C Alex Mack last week), the Falcons are now looking to bolster the unit’s depth. Rand Getlin reported this morning that the club will be signing Tom Compton, who has 10 starts the past two seasons (primarily at RT) with Washington. In 911 snaps between his 2014 and 2015 campaigns, Compton posted a cumulative overall grade of -18.8 while yielding six sacks, 11 hits, and 23 hurries. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Rams add Coty Sensabaugh to defensive backfield

8:59 p.m. ET, Tues., March 15

Tom Pelissero reports that the Rams have signed cornerback Coty Sensabaugh to a three-year contract worth up to $19 million. That’s an awful lot of money to pay for a cornerback who has graded positively just once in his four seasons in the league, and one who allowed 765 yards and seven touchdowns in coverage in 2015. In fact, with an overall grade of just 46.1, he ranked 88th out of the 111 cornerbacks to plays at least 100 snaps in 2015. You could point to his versatility as a selling point, with the former Tennessee Titans defensive back seeing time on the outside, in the slot, and in the box, but is it really a selling point when he hasn’t played particularly well at any of those spots? It’s not the worst signing in the world, but the dollar amount is higher than his play would suggest he’s worth. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Zach Miller back with Chicago after strong second half

7:23 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

With rumors swirling that the Bears are actively shopping TE Martellus Bennett, it comes as no surprise they announced the re-signing of Zach Miller this evening (two-year deal with a max value of $8 million). Over the last eight weeks of the season, Miller earned the second-highest receiving grade in the league among tight ends, behind only Carolina’s Greg Olsen. Miller had last played in the league in 2011, which makes his production over the second half of 2015 even more impressive.

 

Phil Dawson returning to 49ers on one-year deal

5:09 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

Kicker Phil Dawson is returning to San Francisco, according to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez, on a one-year deal worth north of $3.1 million. Dawson is 41 years old and doesn’t seem to be slowing down in the accuracy department, after connecting on 88.9 percent of his tries in 2015. While one would assume his leg is getting weaker, Dawson was perfect on three tries from 50+ yards, and has missed just six from that range since 2010. One of the most accurate place-kickers in NFL history, Dawson brings back stability at the position for the 49ers. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Buccaneers sign CB Josh Robinson

4:58 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

The Bucs have made another move to address what was the worst-graded coverage unit in the NFL last season, adding 25-year-old Josh Robinson on a one-year deal alongside Brent Grimes and re-signed Chris Conte (the team’s highest-graded defender in coverage). The former third-rounder is a decent run defender (+4.3 cumulative career run grade) who brings experience playing both outside and in the slot, although his best season (2014) came exclusively at LCB. But coverage is where Tampa needs the most help, and this is the least-impactful move the team has made there. At his best, Robinson has been average against the pass, but he’s more often been below that level (-19.7 cumulative career coverage grade), and additionally missed significant time last season, playing just 12 snaps total with a negative grade. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Washington re-signs veteran CB Will Blackmon

4:58 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

Despite significant struggles in coverage down the stretch last season (-7.2 cumulative grade the final three games, including the playoff game), Washington will be bringing back CB Will Blackmon. Since his breakout year in 2013 (22nd-ranked CB that season), Blackmon’s play has trended in the wrong direction, finishing 2015 as PFF’s 84th overall cornerback. He also yielded seven touchdowns last season, and opposing QBs have a career rating of 107.1 on throws targeting him. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Rob Housler’s return to Chicago bad news for Martellus Bennett

2:37 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

The Bears added another depth player by re-signing TE Rob Housler to a one-year deal. Housler only played 35 snaps in 2015 for a combination of Cleveland and Chicago, but did take 23 snaps in the Bears’ season finale against the Lions. He currently sits atop the depth chart with Martellus Bennett on the trade block and Zach Miller still on the free-agent market, but Housler is unlikely to retain that role. He’s never flashed starting talent, grading negatively in each of his five seasons. Bennett, meanwhile, is frustratingly inconsistent. After recording the lowest grade of his eight seasons, it seems another franchise is desperate to move on from him. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Former Packers NT B.J. Raji taking a ‘haitus’ from NFL play

2:05 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji is set to retire, according to The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood. Raji, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, has suffered from injuries during his career, and has never played up to his top-10 draft status. Raji missed all of 2014 and started 2015 strong, grading positively in three of his first four games. However, in the final 12 games, he posted positive marks just twice more. Raji recorded just one sack in 2015, his first since 2011. Struggling as a run-defender throughout his career, Raji’s best season came in 2010, when he notched eight sacks, seven hits, and 36 hurries. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Eric Weddle joins Will Hill in Ravens’ secondary

1:41 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

The Baltimore Ravens are creating one of the league’s best safety tandems by pairing Will Hill with one of the marquee free agents on the market, Eric Weddle. The former Charger has led the league’s safeties in overall PFF grade in two of the past four seasons, and has been in the top-10 six out of the last seven years. Weddle is a complete safety that can play deep with range or in the box and make tackles against both the run and pass. 2015 was not his best year, and marked the lowest overall grade he has received since 2008, but he remains a quality player and could prove to be a steal this late in the process. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

Click for full article.

 

Lions re-sign tight end Tim Wright

12:52 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

The Detroit Lions’ official website has announced the team’s re-signing of TE Tim Wright. Wright was used sparingly in 2015 (190 offensive snaps), and in his only three appearances with more than 15 snaps played, he had significant struggles both as a blocker and receiver (-7.7 combine overall grade; 0.0 is considered average). He played in New England in 2014, thus both new general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Jim Caldwell have worked with Wright on their rosters. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Best of the rest: Top 10 free agents still on the market

12:52 p.m. ET, Mon., March 14

Entering the second week of free agency, there is still plenty of unsigned talent available for purchase on the free-agent market. Chargers safety Eric Weddle tops Mike Renner’s list of the best free agents still available, while a number of offensive linemen (Evan Mathis, Kelvin Beachum, and Donald Penn) could provide teams with help in pass protection. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

Click for full list.

 

Chicago retains solid part-time contributors in Marc Mariani, Mitch Unrein

10:16 a.m. ET, Mon., March 14

The Bears haven’t handed out any major deals this offseason, but are intelligently going about their business. After overhauling their linebacker corps, they retained of pair of solid depth players in DE Mitch Unrein and WR/KR Marc Mariani. John Fox is well acquainted with Unrein from their time together in Denver. The Bears’ head coach brought him over because of his experience in the 3-4 scheme, and he responded with a solid season (67.5 overall grade). Mariani, meanwhile, was forced into the No. 2 receiver role because of injuries. He responded with solid production (74.0 overall grade), but is ideal as a backup and special teamer, where he recorded the sixth-highest kick return grade in the league. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Bears boost defensive line with Akiem Hicks

9:10 a.m. ET, Mon., March 14

Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the interest last week, and ESPN’s Adam Schefter confirmed the news last night, with the Bears adding Akiem Hicks to a defensive line that struggled in 2015. Rookie Eddie Goldman was the only player to earn a positive grade as a starter on the line in 2015, while Hicks grading positively against the run and as a pass-rusher for New England last season. With three sacks, four hits, and 18 hurries on 278 pass-rushing snaps, he’s a welcome addition on a Chicago defense that has already made some smart moves in the front-seven this offseason. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Chris Conte re-signs with Buccaneers on one-year deal

4:28 p.m. ET, Sun., March 13

FS Chris Conte is re-signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a one-year deal, according to Rand Getlin. Conte was our 32nd-ranked safety in 2015, as he played almost 79 percent of his snaps in a high-safety position. Conte had his best season in Lovie Smith’s Tampa-2 defense, especially in coverage, where he allowed a passer rating of just 52.5 when targeted to go along with 0.21 yards per cover snap allowed—fifth-best in the NFL. Conte also allowed just 50 percent of targets in his coverage to be completed, a career-best for him. c

 

Cardinals re-sign Jermaine Gresham for another year

4:22 p.m. ET, Sun., March 13

Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Arizona Cardinals have re-signed tight end Jermaine Gresham for another year. Gresham, the 21st overall selection in the 2010 NFL draft, has never quite lived up to his lofty draft status, but did have a solid year in 2015. He caught just 18 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown over the course of the year, but was our eight-highest graded run-blocker at the position. It’s not a huge signing by Arizona, but after a solid 2015, it’s smart to keep him around. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Chargers upgrade their secondary with CB Casey Hayward

4:17 p.m. ET, Sun., March 13

One of the Chargers’ biggest strengths last year was their cornerback play, led by Jason Verrett (86.8 overall grade). The unit is stronger now with the addition of cornerback Casey Hayward (82.7). Hayward had 22 pass-stops last year, which was tied for second-most among cornerbacks. While Hayward saw some playing time as an outside cornerback in 2015, he has spent most of his time in the NFL playing in the slot. Last year, Patrick Robinson (79.4) had a career resurgence playing in the slot for San Diego. He is a free agent who is still available, so this means either Robinson will be playing in a new city in 2016, or he will re-sign and either Robinson or Hayward will be used exclusively on the outside. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Pats re-sign key special-teamer Nate Ebner

7:02 p.m. ET, Sat., March 12

Sean Stellato of SES reported this evening that New England has inked his client, reserve safety and valued special-teams player Nate Ebner, to a new two-year contract. It remains to be seen as to whether he’ll pick up more snaps on defense this season (just 49 in 2015) with Tavon Wilson leaving the Patriots for Detroit, but the team was certainly pleased with his performance on special teams (+4.5 grade on punt units, +1.5 on kickoffs last year; 0.0 is considered average). – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Punter Tress Way re-signs with Redskins

6:47 p.m. ET, Sat., March 12

PFF’s eighth-highest-graded punter, Tress Way, re-signed with the Washington Redskins today, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The extension is for four years, $9.4 million, with $2.95 million guaranteed and a $1.25 million signing bonus. Way averaged 40.4 yards per punt last season, good 14th-best in the league. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

 

Bears add former Colts LB Jerrell Freeman

3:21 p.m. ET, Sat., March 12

The Bears have clearly identified the middle of the defense as a priority this offseason, first signing LB Danny Trevathan from the Broncos, and now adding Jerrell Freeman on a three-year deal. Our fourth-highest-graded linebacker last season (and PFF’s No. 1 free-agent linebacker), the former Colt further strengthens a unit that saw starters Christian Jones and Shea McClellin both grade below the 50th percentile at the position. His work in run-defense was particularly outstanding, with a position-high grade there, and top-five rankings in both run-stop percentage and tackling efficiency (five missed tackles). The one concern with Freeman, however, is that last year’s play against the run was a staggering improvement from previous seasons, coming in a contract year. It will be interesting to see whether he can maintain that level of play. At minimum, Freeman should provide an upgrade in coverage, where he’s graded consistently above average for his career. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Broncos, DeMarcus Ware restructure contract

2:48 p.m. ET, Sat., March 12

The Denver Broncos and outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware have agreed to a restructured contract, according to ESPN’s Jeff Legwold. Last season, Ware was PFF’s 17th-ranked edge defender and owned the 10th-best pass-rush grade among 3-4 OLBs. He finished the Super-Bowl-championship season with 11 sacks, 17 QB hits, and 38 QB hurries (playoffs included). At age 33, Ware doesn’t appear to be slowing down. According to The Denver Post, the former Cowboy was set to make $7 million in salary next season, and was due a $3 million roster bonus on Sunday. Under his restructured contract, he will now have a reduced salary, but will still receive a $2 million bonus. He will also have the opportunity to earn more in the future. The Broncos’ defense ranked No. 1 overall in PFF grades last season, as well as No. 1 in pass-rush grades, with Ware a key part to that success. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

 

Chiefs sign former Raider WR Rod Streater to one-year deal

1:52 p.m. ET, Sat., March 12

WR Rod Streater had a promising sophomore campaign in 2013 with Oakland, put a broken foot derailed his 2014 season after just 90 snaps, and he only managed 10 snaps last year while buried on the depth chart. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he’ll have a chance to resurrect his career with the Chiefs in 2016, as he has signed a one-year contract worth up to $4.8 million with incentives. Jeremy Maclin was the only Kansas City WR to grade positively last season, thus the Raiders’ divisional rival was a natural landing spot for Streater. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Titans retain NT Al Woods at reasonable price

1:13 p.m. ET, Sat., March 12

After adding a couple of offensive pieces in DeMarco Murray and Rishard Matthews, the Titans retained one of their own by re-signing NT Al Woods to a three-year deal. Woods fits perfectly as a two-down run defender, averaging about 30 percent of snaps in each of the past two seasons. He’s ideal occupying blockers over the nose, recording a 74.3 grade in that facet of play. Woods is not the most consistent player at this stage of his career, and offers virtually nothing as a pass-rusher (47.9 grade), but a three-year deal for only $10 million with only $5 million guaranteed is a good price for a 3-4 NT who comes off the field in the nickel. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Safety Rafael Bush heading to Detroit

12:45 p.m. ET, Sat., March 12

Former Saints safety Rafael Bush inked a one-year deal with the Lions, a contract that could be worth up to $2.4 million, according to Ian Rapoport. Bush’s season was cut extremely short in 2015 after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in Week 1, an injury that would keep him out the rest of the year. Bush’s career-high-point was 2013, where he played 15 games for the Saints (two postseason games included), ranking 27th among NFL safeties in overall grade. Over his four-year professional career, he has one interception (2012) and four passes defensed (two in 2013 and 2014). Bush joins a Lions’ secondary that ranked 19th in pass coverage last season. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

 

Former Packers backup QB Scott Tolzien signs with Colts

6:50 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

According to ESPN’s Adam Caplan, former Wisconsin QB Scott Tolzien is headed to Indianapolis to back up Andrew Luck. Tolzien saw just 10 snaps in 2015 for the Packers, and last saw significant time during a three-game stretch in 2013, where he graded positively overall (+1.6 in that timespan; 0.0 is considered average). Indianapolis will be Tolzien’s fourth NFL team since entering the league in 2011. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

 

Jets pick up DL Jarvis Jenkins

6:25 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

After the departure of Damon Harrison, and with Stephen Bowen left unsigned, the Jets have added another defensive lineman, as Jarvis Jenkins moves from Chicago to New York on a three-year deal. Last season, the former second-rounder was our 104th-ranked interior defender overall (60.3), although he was a serviceable pass-rusher, with 37 combined pressures and a pass-rush productivity rating that ranked in the top 20 of 3-4 DEs. However, Jenkins won’t do much to fill the void left by Harrison in run defense, with below-average grades there for his career, and a particularly rough 2015 season, where his run-grade ranked 124th of 129 interior defensive linemen. He at least provides another body on the defensive line, but the expectations won’t be high given his recent play. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Cowboys TE James Hanna returning on three-year deal

6:15 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

Tight end James Hanna inked a three-year, $8.25 million deal (according to Adam Caplan) to remain in Dallas. The former Oklahoma standout saw limited snaps in 2015, and dropped two of the 11 catchable passes thrown his direction. 2014 was the highest-graded season of his career thus far, with his major contribution coming in run-blocking that year (again in limited snaps). – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

 

OL Alvin Bailey and LB Justin Tuggle sign with Browns

5:53 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

The Cleveland Browns are now breaking into the free-agent market, announcing that they’ve signed OL Alvin Bailey and LB Justin Tuggle. Bailey comes from Seattle, where he played significant snaps in six games, grading positively in just one. He played mostly at tackle, but struggled mightily, allowing 17 total pressures on 140 pass block snaps (90.4 pass blocking efficiency). Tuggle played in eight games in 2015 as a backup and special-teams player. He fared better in 2015 than 2014, but saw a big decrease in usage (275 snaps in 2014 to 109 snap in 2015). Tuggle did grade positively on special teams. Both players look to provide depth and competition to the roster. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Buccaneers add PFF top-10 free agent Robert Ayers

5:35 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

The Buccaneers have desperately needed another pass-rusher to go along with Gerald McCoy, and now they’ve found their man. Former Giant Robert Ayers (88.5 overall grade in 2015) was the eighth-highest-graded edge defender in 2015, thanks to great play against the pass and good play against the run. He had 23 combined sacks and hits, seventh-best among 4-3 defensive ends. While he played end in run situations and tackle in pass, Ayers will likely stay at defensive end with Tampa Bay, due to their depth at tackle and lack of depth at end. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Jaguars upgrade secondary with Prince Amukamara

5:27 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

The Jaguars have two solid cornerbacks in Aaron Colvin and Davon House, but now have someone who should rise to the top of the depth charts. Former first-round pick Prince Amukamara (78.9 overall grade in 2015) has consistently graded out as an above-average starting cornerback since becoming a full-time starter in 2012. He has not allowed more than 100 receiving yards in a game since his rookie year. He should start on the outside opposite House, with Colvin playing in the slot. While he only has seven interceptions over the course of his career, he’s also averaged fewer than two touchdowns allowed per season. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Morris Claiborne re-signs with Cowboys on one-year deal

5:24 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

Former first-round draft pick CB Morris Claiborne has re-signed with the Dallas Cowboys on a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport. Outside of Claiborne’s rookie year, he has not graded positively in pass coverage—actually regressing each year. Claiborne has allowed a 65 percent catch rate and over 100.0 passer rating when targeted in three of his first four seasons. In 2015, Claiborne didn’t record a single interception, but only allowed two touchdowns. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

OL Mackenzy Bernadeau headed to Jacksonville

5:15 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

The Jaguars have taken another player off of the market, this time adding lineman Mackenzy Bernadeau. It’s a two-year deal for the former Cowboy, who posted a +12.3 cumulative overall grade in 2013 (696 snaps), ranking 16th in run-blocking that year. However, over the last two seasons, he’s seen just 171 combined regular-season snaps, grading slightly above-average in pass-protection, but negative as a run-blocker. Bernadeau comes with experience at center and both guard spots, and his recent play would be an upgrade in pass protection, where the Jaguars have struggled on the interior. If he can also return to his 2013 form in the run game, this could be a valuable pickup for Jacksonville. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Seahawks re-sign punter Jon Ryan

3:08 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

After making moves on both offense and defense, the Seahawks have addressed their special teams unit by bringing back punter Jon Ryan on a four-year deal. The 34-year-old has earned positive grades for five straight seasons in Seattle, and he ended 2015 with the 12th-highest grade among starting punters, despite a low net average (37.6 yards per punt, the fourth-lowest). – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Backup O-lineman Charles Brown returning to Dallas

2:42 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

Rob Phillips reports that Dallas has re-signed swing-tackle Charles Brown. In 2013, Brown posted a -18.4 cumulative pass-block grade as the starting left tackle in New Orleans, and has spent the last two seasons as a backup for the Giants (2014) and Cowboys (83 combined snaps for both clubs). He played 21 snaps for the Cowboys’ line last season, which finished the year as PFF’s No. 1 offensive line. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Denver acquires QB Mark Sanchez in trade with Philadelphia

1:40 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

Who needs Brock Osweiler? The Denver Broncos have relieved the Eagles of some dead weight at quarterback by bringing in former Jets’ first-round pick Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has had one of the more interesting careers since entering the league in 2009, and is coming off a year where he earned his highest-ever PFF grade. But before you read too much into that, note that it owes more to his lack of playing time in 2015 and failings in previous years than any drastic improvement on his part. In New York, Sanchez was the thing holding back an ultra-talented team, and he didn’t provide a spark on the field when starting for the Eagles. The move for him by Denver is about getting a more experienced quarterback than Trevor Siemian on the roster, as opposed to finding a starter.  – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Brent Grimes signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

1:26 p.m. ET, Fri., March 11

CB Brent Grimes didn’t take long to find a new team, as he stays in the Sunshine State, signing a two-year deal worth $16.5 million, according to Rand Getlin. He will be the oldest rostered cornerback in the NFL at the age of 33. His performance has slipped the last two years, so his age is certainly a concern. From 2010 to 2013, Grimes was one of the most consistent CBs in the league. After allowing seven total TDs in his peak years, he has allowed 13 the past two while almost matching yards allowed when targeted. In 2015, he allowed a passer rating of 103.2 and a catch percentage of 67.1. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Browns release Johnny Manziel

11:53 a.m. ET, Fri., March 11

After being unable to find a trade partner, the Browns have released Johnny Manziel (50.7 overall grade in 2015). Until Manziel’s off-field concerns are lessened, it might be awhile before a team takes a chance on putting “Johnny Football” on their roster. Along with the off-field concerns, his on-field production hasn’t matched that of a first-round pick. Last year, even when he wasn’t under pressure, he only had an NFL passer rating of 86.6. Cleveland can now turn their attention to finding a quarterback to compete with Josh McCown (64.3). They currently have the second pick in the draft, so they can make their pick among the draft-eligible quarterbacks—or re-sign one of the other free-agent QBs still remaining. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Former Charger Kendall Reyes lands with Redskins

10:35 a.m. ET, Fri., March 11

Washington has agreed to a one-year deal with Kendall Reyes. The former second-round pick played as a 3-4 defensive end in San Diego, and will likely play in the same role as a reserve for his new team. Reyes has struggled to live up to his draft status thus far in his career. After an average rookie year, his overall grade has ranked last or second-to-last at his position in each of the last three years. He has graded negatively in run defense in every year in the league, but he did have one good season as a pass-rusher in 2012, when his 8.1 pass-rushing productivity ranked fourth among 3-4 DEs. Expectations won’t be high in Washington, though it is possible that a fresh start with a new team and coaching staff can help turn him around. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Falcons re-sign linebacker Sean Weatherspoon

11:20 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

LB Sean Weatherspoon is returning to Atlanta after a one-year hiatus in Arizona, according to Ian Rapoport. Weatherspoon will try to resurrect his career with the team that drafted him 19th-overall in 2010, where he was inconsistent. He was one of the best LBs in the NFL in 2011, but that season is an aberration at this point, as it was his only season grading remotely positive. Weatherspoon played just 159 snaps with the Cardinals in 2015, recording just three stops and 11 total tackles. While the details of the contract are yet to be reported, it seems to be a one-year “prove-it” type deal. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Saints re-sign QB Luke McCown

8:55 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

McCown heads back to New Orleans on a two-year deal as insurance behind Drew Brees, alongside the team’s 2015 third-rounder, Garrett Grayson. There are certainly worse options on the QB-market should Brees go down, and the 34-year-old McCown posted a solid +1.2 passing grade in his only playing time last season, a Week 3 start at Carolina. He’s also graded well in preseason play over the last three years, making it an easy choice for the Saints to re-sign him. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Dolphins add OT-depth with Jermon Bushrod

8:50 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

Last year, the Dolphins’ backup offensive tackle was Jason Fox (31.6), and due to injuries to Branden Albert (75.1) early in the year and Ja’Wuan James (70.5) late, Fox ended up playing the second-most snaps for a Miami offensive linemen. Their solution to upgrade Fox is Jermon Bushrod (65.4). Bushrod spent four years as the starting left tackle for the Saints, followed by two with the Bears. Last year, he began the year as the starter, got hurt, and didn’t get his job back once he was healthy. Throughout his career, he’s been a below-average pass-blocker, but solid run-blocker. The Dolphins still desperately need help at guard, but they are now better prepared if Albert or James gets hurt. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Seahawks re-sign Jermaine Kearse; three-year, $13.5 million deal

8:41 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

After testing the free-agent market, Jermaine Kearse has re-signed with Seattle for three more years. Kearse was our sixth-ranked available free agent receiver, but outside of Marvin Jones, none were remarkably better than Kearse, who already has a chemistry with Russell Wilson. Kearse has proven to be productive, even if not heavily utilized. Wilson had a 126.1 passer rating when targeting Kearse last season, the fourth-highest rate in the league last year. Tyler Lockett could very well surpass Kearse in playing time and production, but his re-signing keeps three reliable receivers for Wilson in Seattle. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Packers re-sign former first-round pick Nick Perry

7:42 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

Tom Silverstein is reporting that the Packers have re-signed their 2012 first-round draft pick, Nick Perry, to a one-year, $5 million deal. Perry has not lived up to his draft status during his four years in Green Bay, and hasn’t played more than 433 snaps in a season, yet the Packers could do much worse at edge defender. Perry has been slow to develop, but he has gotten better as a run defender the last couple years. At this point, it is unlikely he’ll develop into they type of player expected out of a first-rounder. However, he can continue to be a decent edge defender for the Packers’ defense, and his role might expand if fellow free agent Mike Neal is not also re-signed. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Giants sign LB Keenan Robinson, recently cut by Redskins

6:43 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

After throwing money at defensive free agents yesterday, the New York Giants made a more modest transaction by adding ILB Keenan Robinson. Robinson was recently cut by Washington after a disappointing season, in which he recorded the lowest grade of all linebackers against the run (20.1). He was more effective in coverage, allowing a QB rating of only 91.8, but still only amassed a 59.4 grade in that facet of play. Assumedly GM Jerry Reese isn’t looking at Robinson as a solution, because he’s ranked in the bottom 15 amongst linebackers the past two seasons. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Cowboys poach Cedric Thornton from Eagles

5:55 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

The Eagles’ change of defensive scheme was always likely to see Cedric Thornton depart in free agency, and Philadelphia’s loss has proven to be Dallas’ gain, as he joins the Cowboys on a four-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport. A run-defense specialist, Thornton has earned positive grades in each of the last three seasons against the run for the Eagles, with his best season coming in 2013. Thornton finished seventh among 3-4 defensive ends that season with 36 defensive stops, which he followed up with 28 the year after. The former Eagle should provide a much-needed boost to the Cowboys’ run defense, whose best defensive tackle against the run last year (Terrell McClain) played only 45 snaps. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Dolphins offer four years, $18 million to Broncos RB C.J. Anderson

5:11 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

When the Broncos gave restricted free agent C.J. Anderson an original-round tender, they knew he’d be getting offers from other teams — and today he received one from Miami, as the Dolphins look to replace Lamar Miller, who will be playing for Houston next season. Anderson burst onto the scene in the second half of 2014, breaking 41 tackles and leading the NFL in yards over that span. He took a bit of a step back last season, but still had the fifth-best yards after contact average among starting running backs (2.9). New Miami head coach Adam Gase was the offensive coordinator in Denver for Anderson’s best season in 2014, and the scheme fit couldn’t be better. –Mike Renner

 

Falcons turn to Mohamed Sanu as Julio Jones’ supporting cast

3:27 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

After jettisoning Roddy White, the Atlanta Falcons wrapped up a new No. 2 wide receiver this afternoon in the shape of Mohamed Sanu on a five-year deal worth $32.5 million, with $14 million guaranteed. Sanu played in excess of 700 snaps each of the last three seasons with the Bengals, but only held down a full-time starting role in Marvin Jones’ absence in 2014. That year, he racked up 821 receiving yards and a career-high five touchdown receptions. His 15 dropped passes that season are the concern, but Atlanta will hope he can reproduce the big games he had against the Ravens, Panthers, Jaguars, and Falcons themselves in an expanded role opposite Julio Jones this fall. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Best fit for Colin Kaepernick: Broncos, Browns, or Jets?

1:02 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

With trade talks heating up, Adam Schefter is reporting that three teams are interested in the 49ers QB. Senior Analyst Steve Palazzolo takes a look at each possible trade destination—Denver, New York, and Cleveland—to deem which franchise is best-suited to make a move for Colin Kaepernick.

Click for full article.

 

Jets re-sign Bilal Powell, add Khiry Robinson to backfield

1:02 p.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

After signing the 30-year-old Matt Forte to a three-year deal, the Jets needed some complementary pieces to ease his load. So, they went out and re-signed their 2012 fourth-round pick, Bilal Powell, and robbed the Saints of Khiry Robinson. Powell hasn’t shown much starting ability in his five years in the league, but Robinson has routinely put up big grades in limited snaps. He has a career +9.7 rushing grade on only 207 carries—a very solid grade for almost a full season’s worth of touches. He may be coming off a career-low season grade, but Robinson’s upside is similar to that of former Jets RB Chris Ivory. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Vincent Rey re-signs with Bengals

11:42 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

Ian Rapoport reports that LB Vincent Rey is re-signing with the Bengals. Rey topped all Cincinnati linebackers with 744 snaps in 2015, but finished with the second-lowest grade of 43.8. He ranked 74th of all LBs (ILB and 4-3 OLB), struggling mostly in coverage, where he allowed 590 yards, the seventh-worst in the NFL. Rey missed eight tackles on the season, for a tackling efficiency of 9.5. The Bengals should hope to see Rey’s 2013 form, when he graded as the league’s 17th-best LB on just 348 snaps. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Restricted free agent RB C.J. Anderson visiting Dolphins

10:43 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

The Broncos’ decision to tender running back C.J. Anderson at the lowest level may have back-fired. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Anderson is on his way to Miami for a visit with an organization looking for a replacement for Lamar Miller. Anderson didn’t have his best season last year, but finished as our fourth-highest graded running back in 2014. He was No. 1 in terms of production per snap, recording a +14.5 cumulative grade on just 179 carries (0.0 is considered average). The Broncos can ill-afford to lose their best rusher after the QB they spent four years developing will now suit up as a Texan. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Sean Smith heads to Oakland

7:50 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

It’s not even 8 a.m. but we’ve got our first big news of the morning thanks to NFL Network’s Rand Getlin. Smith is a fantastic pickup for the Raiders, who got the most out of David Amerson in 2015 and now add our top free agent cornerback on the market. Smith had two interceptions and eight pass breakups in 2015 and, while it helps the Raiders improve in the secondary, it also weakens a divisional rival with the Chiefs now searching for a starting cornerback. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Jets, Fitzpatrick not close to agreement

5:35 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

We saw Brock Osweiler sign a monster deal yesterday, but there hasn’t been much movement for another starting quarterback. Many expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to stay in New York with the Jets, but Adam Schefter reports that they are “nowhere close to an agreement”. Will that prompt another team to come in for him? Fitzpatrick was 30th among quarterbacks in player grades last year, and the Jets would likely turn back to Geno Smith should they not be able to bring him back. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Chiefs release Ben Grubbs

3:15 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

A move also broken by Aaron Wilson, the Chiefs have released left guard Ben Grubbs with a failed physical designation. Grubbs spent the second half of 2015 on injured reserve after a neck injury after grading positively as a run blocker in the first seven games of the season. The injury will obviously be key to anyone interesting in signing him, but Grubbs was at least playing at a solid level before the injury, so if he can recover he would be a good fit for a lot of guard needy teams. Entering the league in 2007, Grubbs has finished every season of his career with a positive PFF grade. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Saints release Brandon Browner

3:10 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

It’s a move that has been hinted at throughout the week, but Aaron Wilson reports that the Saints have made it official and released cornerback Brandon Browner. He was our lowest graded cornerback in 2015, and by some distance, committing 23 penalties throughout the year. He also gave up 964 yards and seven touchdowns through the air, a number which undoubtedly would have been even worse had it not been for the high number of penalites. He did grade positively in coverage between 2011 and 2013, but how much he struggled last year will be a big concern for anyone considering signing him. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Sortable list of every free agent available now

2:35 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

We’ve reached the quiet point in the night, with little news filtering through. That’s all sure to change in the morning though, so  be sure you have PFF’s free-agency tracker bookmarked to keep up to date with everything. The table, which lists every NFL free agent, is sortable by PFF grade, age, 2015 snap count, and 2015 team.

Click here to view tracker.

 

Bears interested in Akiem Hicks?

12:40 a.m. ET, Thurs., March 10

Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Bears are interested in free agent defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Hicks spent most of 2015 in New England with the Patriots after arriving from the New Orleans Saints via trade during the season. Grading positively against the run and as a pass rusher, he produced three sacks, four hits and 18 hurries on 278 pass rushing snaps. A solid interior defensive lineman, he would be a step up for a Bears defensive line that saw rookie Eddie Goldman be the only starter to post a positive grade over the course of the season. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Dolphins add OT Sam Young

10:30 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Tackle Sam Young moves from Jacksonville to Miami, signing a one-year, $910,000 deal with the Dolphins. The former sixth-rounder allowed 12 combined pressures last season, with three starts and 234 snaps on the year. In the run game, Young was around average, although he graded poorly at the point of attack in 2014. There’s not much risk at this price, and Young has at times played decently in both facets, although he’s been below-average overall for his career. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Rishard Matthews headed to Tennessee

10:26 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Former Dolphins WR Rishard Matthews has signed with the Tennessee Titans to a three-year deal, as reported by Paul Kuharsky. Matthews was PFF’s 35th-ranked WR in 2015, as he was fairly productive on a per-snap basis, leading the Dolphins with 2.08 yards per route run. Quarterbacks had a passer rating of 125.1 when targeting Matthews—fifth best in the NFL. We pegged him as the 48th best FA for 2016 and second-best FA WR. Depending on the details of the contract, the Titans are getting a great value.

 

Falcons re-sign pass-rushing defensive lineman Adrian Clayborn

10:19 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Earlier in the day, the Falcons improved their pass-rush by adding defensive end Derrick Shelby, and now they’ve improved it even more by bringing back Adrian Clayborn (74.0). The Falcons only used Clayborn in their nickel and dime defense. For most of the season, he was at defensive right tackle, with some time at defensive right end late in the season. He was held to just three sacks on the season, but was constantly able to get hits and hurries, with 15 total hits and 26 total hurries. Clayborn will continue to play in the nickel and dime defense, with his position depending on who the Falcons feel like their four best pass-rushers are. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Cornerback Jeremy Lane re-signs with Seahawks

9:02 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Corner Jeremy Lane re-signed with the Seahawks, getting a four-year deal to stay in Seattle. Lane has a career +6.8 cumulative coverage grade, although he hasn’t had a huge role, with 1,019 snaps played over four seasons (356 in 2015). That role figures to increase going forward, given that Lane will be just 26 when the season starts, and has experience both outside and in the slot. The Seahawks are also getting back a valuable special-teams player who has posted 23 career tackles in that phase. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Chiefs re-sign another front-seven defender, Jaye Howard

8:43 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

After re-signing Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson, Kansas City has made another move to keep their front-seven intact. Jaye Howard agreed to a two-year, $12 million deal with $8.3 million guaranteed. In his first year as a starter, Howard had the best season of his short career. He emerged as a very good run defender, with an 84.4 run-defense grade that ranked 22nd among interior defenders. Howard’s pressure numbers also increased, but that was due largely to the increase in playing time. It was a good move to re-sign the young player, who looks like he’s still ascending. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Falcons steal emerging DE Derrick Shelby from Miami

8:36 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

With Kroy Biermann slowly aging, the Falcons were thirsting for some edge-rushing ability on the strong side across from Vic Beasley. Shelby burst onto the scene after Cameron Wake went down, and showed the ability to do just that. He graded out equally well against both run and pass, en route to being our 23rd-highest-graded edge defender last season (82.9 overall grade in 2015). It was his first season in his career with more than 500 snaps, and he has significant upside for the money. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Chargers backup QB Kellen Clemens returning to team

8:17 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

According to the Chargers’ Twitter account, Kellen Clemens is returning to the team on a one-year deal. In each of the last two seasons with the Chargers, he saw 15 regular-season snaps, typically in garbage time. He last saw significant regular-season action in the second half of the 2013 season as the Rams’ starting quarterback. During his time, he graded out as an average NFL starter. He took too many sacks on 21.2 percent of his pressured dropbacks, which would be too high if he needed to start for the Chargers. As long as the offensive line did its job, Clemens would be an adequate replacement if Rivers were to get hurt. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Kansas City re-signs special-teamer Frank Zombo

7:50 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Tom Pelissero is reporting that Kansas City will be bringing back reserve linebacker and special-teams player Frank Zombo with a three-year, $3.6 million deal. He has graded out positively on special teams each of the last three seasons (+13.0 combined grade), but other than a strong year of run-defense in 2013 (+8.4 cumulative run grade), Zombo has not made a serious impression at linebacker – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Chiefs retain ILB Derrick Johnson on three-year, $21 million deal

7:50 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

He may be 33 years old and a year removed from an Achilles injury, but Derrick Johnson hasn’t lost a step. He was still a top-10 graded linebacker in 2015, and has been for the majority of his career. The Chiefs had no semblance of a replacement for Johnson’s production, and his impact versus both the run and pass is a steal for what they’re paying him. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Saints sign Fleener as latest TE target for Brees

7:20 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

After losing Ben Watson in free agency, the Saints have signed former-Colt Coby Fleener to a five-year, $36 million deal. Fleener has been a pretty good at times, although he is coming off his lowest production year as a receiver since his rookie year. The production the Saints got out of Watson last year was similar to Fleener’s career-highs with Andrew Luck. The pairing with Brees should allow him to put up some big numbers, but they may have overpaid at over $7 million per year. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Jaguars retain long-serving TE Mercedes Lewis

7:18 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Mercedes Lewis may have lost some explosion at this stage of his career, but he still has some value for the Jaguars. He recorded a career-low 16 receptions for 226 yards and failed to score in 2015, highlighting the limited threat he poses in the passing game. With Julius Thomas more suited to the role of pass-catcher, however, Lewis can function as the primary blocker. He recorded the third-highest pass-protection grade amongst tight ends last season, allowing just a pair of hits and three hurries from 132 dropbacks. Lewis isn’t as effective in the ground game, where he registered a 53.6 run-blocking grade, but remains a serviceable backup tight end. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Adam Jones returns to Bengals on three-year deal

7:14 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

He hit the open market, but Adam Jones quickly re-signed with the Bengals today, inking a three-year deal to extend his stay in Cincinnati. While the Bengals have former first-round pick Darqueze Dennard waiting in the wings to join the starting lineup it’s tough to move on from Jones’ level of performance just to give a player a chance. Jones finished the regular season as our 15th-highest graded cornerback (83.3) and conceded a passer rating of 60.7, fifth-best in the league. Jones hasn’t surrendered more than 75 yards in a single game since Week 10 of the 2014 season. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Jaguars lock down S Tashaun Gipson for five years, $35.5 million

7:00 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Gipson’s calling-card is his instinct in the deep-middle of the field, and he uses that role as much as anyone in the NFL. He had the seventh-highest coverage grade among safeties back in 2014, to go along with six interceptions. In 2015, however, Gipson—along with the rest of the Browns’ secondary—looked completely lost, with tons of coverage busts. The potential is there, though, and could pay off big down the road for Jacksonville. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

G Michael Harris signs with Minnesota

6:52 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Vikings have been busy today working the second tier of the free agent market. After bringing in Alex Boone earlier, they’ve added some offensive line depth that will leave them with some difficult  decisions to make when trimming their roster, with the latest move being them re-signing Michael Harris. The former Charger burst onto the scene at tackle, where he was routinely exposed, but a position-switch to guard brought out the best of him, and he proved a more-than-capable starter (23rd-ranked guard in 2015). He’ll now likely battle for playing time with Boone, Brandon Fusco, and either Joe Berger or John Sullivan. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Vikings sign long-time Titan Michael Griffin after missing out on Iloka

6:48 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Vikings clearly prioritized upgrading the starting safety position opposite Harrison Smith today, as Ian Rapoport reported they had spoken with both Bengals’ free agent safeties (George Iloka and Reggie Griffin), but instead settled on Michael Griffin. Griffin’s nine-year career in Tennessee ended with two disappointing seasons (-20.3 combined overall grade), highlighted by 30 missed tackles. Minnesota is certainly hoping their defense’s depth and talent at all three levels will help Griffin return to the form he played at in 2013. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

49ers sign QB Thad Lewis, re-joins Chip Kelly

6:08 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

After spending last season on the Eagles’ roster, quarterback Thad Lewis is joining Chip Kelly in San Francisco on a one-year deal, per Rand Getlin. Lewis last saw regular season snaps 2013 with the Bills, where he finished with a -0.3 cumulative passing grade in 184 drop backs. His recent preseason performance has been less than great, with a combined -10.5 passing grade over the last two preseasons. The familiarity with Kelly’s offense should help, but it’s unlikely Lewis will compete for more than the team’s backup job. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Rams re-sign WR Brian Quick

6:08 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Brian Quick will be following the Rams to Los Angeles, as he’s signed a one-year, $3.75 million deal. Quick missed the beginning of the 2015 season, but still finished with nearly the same amount of offensive snaps as the previous two years. He finished with just 10 catches for 102 yards, both career lows. Quick’s 50.2 player grade ranked 108th out of 121 qualifying wide receivers last season. 2014 was his best season, when he caught 25 balls for 375 yards and three touchdowns—all career highs. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Bucs accept downgrade from Logan Mankins, add J.R. Sweezy at guard

6:08 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Needing to replace one of the best guards of the last decade, the Buccaneers have acted quickly by signing J.R. Sweezy to replace Logan Mankins. Unsurprisingly, Sweezy is not up to Mankins’ level in terms of consistency, but he will produce some of the best run-blocks of any guard in the league, in isolation. A converted college defensive tackle, the hope will be that Sweezy is still developing and growing as an offensive lineman—but his career progression is trending down at present, not up from his high point in 2013. Sweezy joins Ali Marpet at guard for the Buccaneers, who impressed as a first-year starter out of a D-III school, improving as the season went on and impressing as a run-blocker. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Bears re-sign Tracy Porter

6:08 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Tracy Porter is re-signing with the Chicago Bears on a three-year, $16.5 million deal, per Ian Rapoport. This is steep money for a player that has five straight negatively-graded seasons. Porter graded out as our 78th-best cornerback in 2015, allowing seven touchdowns and 687 yards in his coverage. His 1.40 yards per cover snap allowed ranked in the bottom quarter of the league. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Chargers sign DT Brandon Mebane to a three-year deal

6:03 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The San Diego Chargers have taken the first step towards addressing their defensive line problems with the addition of DT Brandon Mebane. Only one of the Chargers defensive linemen graded positively against the run in 2015, and that is where Mebane should make the biggest impact. Mebane’s career has been marked by inconsistency; his outstanding 2013 season (when earned the third-highest grade among DTs, and second-best run defense grade) was bookended by average years. That inconsistency will be a concern, but Mebane should immediately upgrade the Chargers’ suspect run defense. – Kevin Connaghan, @PFF_Kev

 

RT Mitchell Schwartz headed to Kansas City

5:24 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

One of the league’s premier right tackles is departing Cleveland for greener pastures. Mitchell Schwartz, fresh off a PFF second-team All-Pro nod, is making the move to Kansas City. Schwartz was much maligned during his time as a Brown, and unfairly so for the most part, as he started off his career strong and rarely let up. He earned a positive grade in pass protection every season with the Browns, and immediately provides an upgrade the Chiefs’ right side. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Giants continue defensive spree by adding Olivier Vernon

5:24 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Giants are going all in on their defense this free-agency period, with the acquisition of Olivier Vernon from the Dolphins being their third big-money signing of the day. Freed from the transition tag by the Dolphins before 4 p.m., the Giants wasted little time in adding Olivier Vernon to what looks like an incredibly aggressive defense being formed by Jerry Reese. Vernon exploded in the second half of the 2015 season, racking up 64 pressures after Cameron Wake went down in Week 8 against the Panthers. If this was Vernon’s emergence as an elite defensive player ,they have paid the right price for him; if not, the Giants have just overpaid for one of the biggest contract-season anomalies in history. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

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Bears sign former Arizona tackle Bobby Massie

5:07 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Kyle Long had an inconsistent 2015 season at right tackle for the Bears, so finding a replacement that allows him to kick back inside to his natural right guard position makes sense. This being said, Bobby Massie should not be viewed as a top-end starter. He has been an above-average run-blocker during his four-year career, but in 2,084 career pass-blocking snaps, his cumulative grade is -38.3 (0.0 is average). Chicago’s move was first reported by Bleacher Report’s Jason Cole. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Titans sign QB Matt Cassel

5:07 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Tennessee Titans have added depth at quarterback in the form of veteran Matt Cassel, as reported by John Glennon. Cassel earned a career-low passing grade in eight games for the Cowboys in 2015, struggling while standing in for the injured Tony Romo. Cassel earned average grades in three of his four seasons with Kansas City, but has only twice recorded positive passing grades, as demonstrated in this chart posted by PFF Analyst Ben Stockwell. The Titans have their starter in Marcus Mariota, so Cassel will compete with Zach Mettenberger for the backup spot. – Kevin Connaghan, @PFF_Kev

 

Rams re-sign center Tim Barnes

4:54 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

According to Sam Farmer, the Rams are bringing back starting center Tim Barnes (45.6 overall grade in 2015). In his first year as a starter, he played in all but five snaps over the course of the season, but graded below average in both pass-blocking and run-blocking. Barnes did have two games against the Seahawks and Lions where he looked like one of the better centers in the league, but in more games than not, he wasn’t helping the team. Outside of right tackle Rob Havenstein (76.3), the Rams’ offensive line is a weak point for the team, and bringing back Barnes isn’t going to help their situation. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Dolphins sign Isa Abdul-Quddus to three-year, $12.75 million contract

4:54 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Miami had no real backup plan after Louis Delmas was lost for the season a year ago. They won’t be caught unprepared this season, though, after inking former Lions safety Isa Abdul-Quddus to a starter-level contract. Abdul-Quddus may have only 1,668 snaps to his name over his career (since 2011), but he’s been very effective in those snaps, with a +9.9 cumulative coverage grade over that span. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Vikings pick up LB Emmanuel Lamur

4:54 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Per Chris Tomasson, the Viking are signing former Bengals LB Emmanuel Lamur, who posted a solid +3.5 cumulative grade in his rookie season (2012) under coach Mike Zimmer. His most recent play has been below average, however, as Lamur graded negatively in all facets over the last two seasons, finishing 2015 as our 82nd-ranked linebacker. It will be interesting to see if rejoining Zimmer in Minnesota will get Lamur back to his rookie form—at the very least, the Vikings should get value on special teams, where the former UDFA compiled seven tackles last season. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

QB Matt Schaub returns to Atlanta

4:45 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Full-circle time for Matt Schaub. Long after Schaub was drafted by the Falcons (2004), the quarterback is returning to Atlanta to back up Matt Ryan. Schaub will likely compete with Sean Renfree for the right to hold clipboards on the sideline, but it’s by no means a given that he will win that battle. After an impressive spell in Houston (positive grades in each of his first six years), Schaub has seen his play fall off a cliff since 2013, with his name more synonymous with pick-sixes than touchdowns. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Patriots LB Dane Fletcher to retire

4:37 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

New England Patriots LB Dane Fletcher is to retire, according to Christopher Price, after sitting out the 2015 season on the reserve/PUP list while recovering from an ACL injury. An undrafted free agent, out of Montana State, Fletcher signed with the Patriots in 2010, playing 704 snaps in four seasons, and grading positively in that span. A year-long stint with the Buccaneers in 2014 was less successful, with Fletcher ranking 88th from 99 qualifying LBs, but he fared much better on special teams. Fletcher finishes his career with 37 stops on defense, and 31 special teams tackles. – Kevin Connaghan, @PFF_Kev

 

Bears sign linebacker Danny Trevathan

4:32 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

PFF’s No. 6 overall free agent this year, Trevathan had a very good all-around year, totaling 53 defensive stops in the regular season. He was our 10th-highest graded linebacker in coverage, though he struggled in that respect in the AFC championship game. He moves to Chicago, where starting inside linebackers Christian Jones and Shea McClellin finished 2015 as PFF’s 58th and 75th graded linebackers, respectively. After boosting their pass-rush with Pernell McPhee last year, the Bears have made another big splash in free agency. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Former Patriots S Tavon Wilson headed to Lions

4:25 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Fresh off a year that featured just 73 snaps on defense, Tavon Wilson is leaving New England for the bright lights of Detroit. The former second-round pick has always graded well (in four years, he turned 820 snaps into a +13.0 cumulative grade) but just hasn’t been able to get more playing time on the back end of a strong Patriots’ defense. Indeed, he’s featured on just 24.8 percent of defensive snaps since being drafted. He could represent an under-the-radar signing for a Detroit team that has some question marks at safety. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Mark Barron’s versatility too much for Rams to part ways with

4:10 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

According to Ian Rapoport, the Rams gave linebacker Mark Barron a five-year deal worth $45 million. It’s amazing to think that only two years after the Rams tossed pennies to the Bucs (fourth- and sixth-round picks) for Barron, they’re making him one of the highest-paid linebackers in the NFL. The safety/linebacker hybrid is currently the “trendy” position in the NFL, and Barron fills the role admirably. The issue is that his deficiencies in coverage that forced his move from safety didn’t just disappear at linebacker—they were just less costly, as he graded out right around average in coverage. He’ll obviously improve with more experience at the position, but right now, all the Rams are paying for is potential. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Rams re-signing key defender in William Hayes

4:07 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

With DE Chris Long cut and DT Nick Fairley on the free-agent market, the Rams have come to terms on a new three-year deal with DE William Hayes (first reported by Mike Garafolo), with a maximum value of $21 million. Hayes was our No. 13 edge defender in 2015, and has graded very well the past four years, despite never officially being a full-time starter. In 652 pass-rush snaps the past two seasons, Hayes has racked up 10 sacks and 72 combined hits and pressures. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Texans land free-agent HB Lamar Miller

4:03 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Per Adam Schefter, the Texans are signing former Dolphin Lamar Miller to a four-year, $26 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. Miller has been productive, despite running behind a poor Miami offensive line, though never really getting a full workload. Miller had just one game with 20-plus rush attempts over the past two years, and six games with fewer than 10 attempts in 2015. Yet Miller was still able to earn rushing grades among the top-six running backs in the last two years. Miller’s skill-set will fit well with the Texans’ zone-heavy scheme, and will be an upgrade from Alfred Blue as Houston moves on from Arian Foster. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Brandon Brooks headed to Philadelphia

3:51 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The deal is $40 million over five years, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, and is a smart move if Brooks can regain his 2013 and 2014 form, when he was our eighth- and seventh-highest-graded guard. He’s graded positively as a pass-blocker every year since entering the league, and while $8 million per year is not cheap, it’s not bad for a player who is a top-10 guard when at his best. The Eagles struggled on the interior of the offensive line, with neither Allen Barbre nor Matt Tobin playing at a high level.– Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Jeff Allen likely headed to Houston

3:48 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Rick Smith is busy spending Bob McNair’s money today, and while it won’t garner as much attention as the moves the Texans have made for Brock Osweiler and Lamar Miller, they are replenishing an offensive line that has lost some talent the past couple of days. Indeed, moments after Brandon Brooks moved to Philadelphia, Ian Rapoport reports the Texans are close to tying up a deal for Jeff Allen. Like many a contract-year guard before him, Allen turned on his best play with free agency approaching, earning a positive grade for the first time in his career on his way to the 10th-highest grade of all of guards in 2015. The question now is can the versatile lineman keep his level of play up in new surroundings? – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Haloti Ngata remains in Detroit after late-season surge

3:44 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

After arriving from Baltimore last offseason, Haloti Ngata took his time to find his form in Detroit, but a late-season surge in form has earned him another two years with the Lions, according to his agent Mike McCartney. After Ngata’s form picked up in Week 11, he was PFF’s 13th-highest-graded defensive tackle, earning positive grades as both a run-defender and pass-rusher in that spell. Ngata racked up 15 pressures in the final seven weeks of the season, and earned a positive grade in five straight games to end the year. The Lions will hope Ngata starts the 2016 season as he finished 2015. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Texans land QB Brock Osweiler for $72 million over four years

3:40 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

What should we make of Brock Osweiler’s 521 snaps in 2015? The former second-round pick had three games graded above +2.0 (0.0 being average), while two other games fell below -3.0. He obviously flashed enough ability to make the Texans think he could start, but his inconsistent accuracy—especially downfield, where he had the second-worst deep accuracy percentage in the league—is worrisome. Osweiler’s overall grade was lower than Brian Hoyer’s in 2015. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Giants bolster defensive line, snag Damon Harrison from Jets

3:32 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Giants struggled against the run last season, with Johnathan Hankins limited to 423 snaps and no other defensive tackle earning a positive grade against the run in his absence. By signing Damon Harrison from the Jets, they have made about as emphatic a move as possible to reverse their fortunes. Harrison led all defensive tackles with 49 stops against the run last season, notching a run-stop percentage of 18.1 percent, which was the highest mark for any defensive tackle since 2007 (Sione Po’uha, 21.7 percent). – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

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Jets cut TE Jeff Cumberland, free up $1.9 million in cap room

3:30 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The New York Jets gained a little cap relief ahead of free agency by cutting TE Jeff Cumberland. The move, which was announced by Cumberland via Instagram, is no great shock, as his role had diminished, with just five catches for 77 yards last season. Cumberland featured on 70.8 percent of the Jets’ offensive snaps from 2012 to 2014, but was on the field for just 10.6 percent of the snaps for the final six games of the 2015 season. Having earned positive grades for the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Cumberland regressed badly in 2014, finishing the year with the second-worst grade among tight ends. – Kevin Connaghan, @PFF_Kev

 

Jets to sign Matt Forte after losing Chris Ivory

3:17 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Coming into free agency, the Jets had the top three running backs on their depth chart as unrestricted free agents. Yesterday it was announced that Chris Ivory would be going to the Jaguars, so to counteract this, the Jets are going to sign Matt Forte (81.9 overall grade in 2015). From Week 12 on, no running back had a higher run grade than Forte. He isn’t the long-term solution for the Jets, and is a step down from Ivory, but he has proven he can handle playing the majority of snaps. The Jets will still likely add another running back, either in free agency or the draft, to compliment the former Chicago Bear. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Buccaneers re-sign RB Doug Martin to five-year deal

3:03 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Tampa Bay will be keeping their backfield intact by re-signing Doug Martin to a five-year, $35.75 million deal. Martin was hands-down the best rusher in the league last season, earning a 89.2 rushing grade. He led the league in many categories, including most yards after contact (906), missed tackles forced (57), and yards on breakaway runs (590). It’s a high price for Martin, who will likely be among the top-five HBs in average salary per year, but he has shown to be an excellent runner who should be worth the investment—providing he can stay healthy. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

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Jags extend free-agent spending to special teams, add P Brad Nortman to list

2:11 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

It seems that pre-emptive spending in free agency isn’t limited to big names at big positions, with Rich Eisen reporting that the Jaguars will sign former Panther Brad Nortman to a four-year deal when the window opens in a couple of hours. Jacksonville infamously spent a third-round pick on Bryan Anger five picks before the Seahawks took Russell Wilson, and it would seem they’re moving on from the former Cal punter. A sixth-round pick of the Panthers in that same draft, Nortman has earned positive grades every season with Carolina, with his best season coming in 2013 (net average of 41.5 yards per punt that season). – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Alex Mack to sign with Falcons; PFF’s seventh-overall free agent

1:42 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Atlanta’s offensive line will receive a big boost with the signing of Alex Mack in a deal that will average $9.5 million a year, according to MMQB’s Peter King. In his first year back from a significant injury, Mack was only average in 2015, which represents a huge improvement from the players that replaced him in Cleveland in 2014. Mack gave up four sacks and 36 total pressures this past season, but it was by far the worst grade of his career, and yet was around the league-average for centers. His career baseline is far closer to the best players in the league at his position, especially when it comes to run-blocking. Atlanta’s Mike Person struggled in that regard in 2015, and was PFF’s 23rd-ranked center, 10 spots behind Mack in his worst year in the league. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

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Vikings re-sign DT Kenrick Ellis

1:19 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

It was reported several days ago by Tom Pelissero, but it has now been confirmed that the Minnesota Vikings have brought back defensive tackle Kenrick Ellis on a one-year deal. Ellis played just 89 snaps last year, and has never played more than 239 snaps in a single season. He has, however, flashed serious ability as a run-stopper before, including 17 tackles resulting in a defensive stop in 2013. It’s not a big signing by any means, but he’s, at minimum, a very solid rotational player. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Rodney McLeod reportedly headed to Philadelphia

1:09 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Philadelphia Eagles are reportedly landing Rams FS Rodney McLeod to a five-year, $37 million deal, per Ian Rapoport. McLeod is PFF’s fourth-best FA safety and 20th-overall FA, as he graded as the 10th best safety in 2015. McLeod played over 90 percent of his snaps from the deep safety spot in 2015, as he has been solid in pass coverage the past two seasons, allowing just three touchdowns to go along with three interceptions. It is yet to be seen how this shakes up the Eagles’ defensive backfield, but presumably this means Walter Thurmond is on his way out of the City of Brotherly Love. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

TE Ladarius Green likely to sign with Steelers

12:56 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Going into free agency, one of the Steelers’ biggest weaknesses on offense was tight end, with Heath Miller retiring. Their solution was bringing in Ladarius Green (74.3 overall grade in 2015), who according to Adam Schefter, is expected to sign today. As recently as 2013, Green had the second-highest yards per route run for a tight end behind Rob Gronkowski, at 2.67. Green will share playing time with run-blocking tight end Matt Spaeth and second-year tight end Jesse James, who saw just 183 snaps as a rookie. If the Steelers’ offensive players can stay healthy, they should have a special offense in 2016. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Former 49ers standout Alex Boone headed to Vikings

12:29 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, San Francisco free agent offensive guard Alex Boone plans to sign with the Vikings today. He showed some flaws this past season (-5.4 cumulative run-blocking grade, the lowest of his career), but is not expected to be hampered by the torn MCL he suffered in Week 14 that ended his year early. This move leaves John Sullivan’s status in Minnesota up in the air, as he is trying to return to the lineup after missing all of 2015 with a back injury, but is unlikely to win back the starting center job over Joe Berger. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Former Chiefs backup QB Chase Daniel to join Doug Pederson in Philly

12:02 p.m. ET, Wed., March 9

To quote PFF’s own John Breitenbach, Doug Pederson has just signed his own Doug Pederson. Indeed, per Adam Schefter, the Eagles, fresh off dumping last offseason’s free-agent spree, are bringing in Chase Daniel to fill in for Sam Bradford when his inevitable injury bug surfaces in 2016. Daniel has turned his seven-year career since going undrafted out of Missouri into 256 NFL snaps, but is more famous for flashing in the preseason, where he has been a constant presence; in 2015, he had the sixth-highest passer grade of all quarterbacks in the preseason. Maybe this is the year we see him in extended regular season action. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Chargers bring back Antonio Gates, will likely lose Ladarius Green

11:58 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Chargers have re-signed their long-time tight end Antonio Gates (82.5 overall grade in 2015) to a new two-year contract. While Gates isn’t the same receiver he was in his prime, he was still among the top-10 for receivers in most statistical categories, including being our seventh-highest graded tight end in 2015. By bringing back Gates, this likely closes the door on a potential Ladarius Green (74.3) return. Green is also an unrestricted free agent, and will be the tight end of the future for some team, but he is likely commanding more money on the open market than the Chargers are willing to pay. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

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Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso trade to Miami now back on

11:56 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

After reports earlier that the Philadelphia/Miami trade was on the rocks because of Byron Maxwell’s shoulder, it now looks as if that trade is back on, and according to Maxwell’s agent, he has been cleared by the Dolphins’ medical team and is good to go. The Dolphins could certainly make use of both Maxwell and a heathy Kiko Alonso, but it costs them five places in the first round to make it happen, not to mention taking over Maxwell’s bloated contract. On the face of it, this is an expensive deal with a lot of potential downside for Miami, but there is at least the potential that they upgraded at two spots. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

 

Panthers re-sign FB Mike Tolbert

11:47 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Fox’s Peter Schrager reports that the Carolina Panthers are bringing back fullback Mike Tolbert on a two-year deal. Tolbert had his lowest run blocking grade since his rookie season in 2008, but he’s never really been that type of fullback, with the focus more on his ability to do damage as a runner and a receiver. A tough player to bring down, Tolbert forced seven missed tackles on just 18 receptions in the 2015 regular season. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Chargers expected to land former Browns WR Travis Benjamin

11:25 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The legal tampering period is setting us up for an avalanche of confirmed signings at 4 p.m. this afternoon, with Rand Getlin reporting that Travis Benjamin is expected to become a Charger when the new league year kicks off. Benjamin played more snaps for the Browns this season (875) than he did in his first three years in the league (852) as a fourth-round pick out of Miami, and parlayed that into a near 1,000 yard season, in spite of the Browns’ subpar quarterback play. Benjamin finished 16th among wide receivers last season, with 363 receiving yards (and four touchdowns) on deep passes. Now-retired Malcom Floyd was the best-placed Charger with 328, and no other San Diego wide receiver was targeted downfield more than seven times; Benjamin figures to add a downfield element to San Diego’s offense in 2016. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Donald Stephenson to sign with Denver, $10 million guaranteed

10:58 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The Achilles heel of the Chiefs last year was the offensive line, and Donald Stephenson was a huge part of the problem. His overall grade of just 34.5 (on 1–100 scale) last year left him ranked 69th out of 77 offensive tackles in the league. We suspect the reason Denver was willing to offer him so much money (the total value of the deal, as reported by Alex Marvez, is three years and $14 million) is likely because of how he performed against them in Week 2 this year, when he had his best run-blocking game of the seaseon. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

S George Iloka returning to Cincinnati

10:52 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

One of the top free agent safeties will not be hitting the open market. Per Ian Rapoport, the Bengals are bringing back starter George Iloka. Our 15th-ranked safety in 2015, the former fifth-rounder graded positively in both run defense and coverage over the last two seasons. In 2014, opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 18.4 when targeting Iloka—the third-lowest mark at the position. A solid move for the Bengals, given that he’ll be 26 when the season starts, and has the size (6-foot-4) to match opposing tight ends, although he hasn’t often been used in that role in Cincinnati. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Rolando McClain to remain in Dallas

10:34 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Rolando McClain was a disappointment in Oakland, failing to live up to his status as the eighth-overall pick. However, a year in retirement changed his fortunes. McClain proved a perfect fit for the Cowboys, ending 2014 as our 12th-overall linebacker. Suspension slowed his start to last season, but McClain bounced back, finishing with six positively-graded games from his final seven. He was particularly effective in coverage, allowing 18 receptions on 26 targets for 106 yards, no touchdowns, one pick, and one pass deflection. If Sean Lee can stay healthy, the Cowboys could have one of the better linebacker duos in the league. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

3 teams that should target Olivier Vernon today

10:21 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

With Olivier Vernon now set to hit the open market as PFF’s No. 1 overall free agent, Sam Monson names three teams that should target the defensive end—including the Jaguars, who have already been busy this week.

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Lions to sign PFF’s top free-agent WR, Marvin Jones

10:21 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

With Calvin Johnson retiring, the Lions have the difficult task of replacing him and have reportedly signed Marvin Jones, the top wide receiver available on the market. Jones had a breakout season in 2013, and the Bengals had a 119.2 passer rating when targeting Jones, the fifth-highest rating in the league that year. After missing the entire 2014 season due to injury, Jones returned last year to earn the 32nd-best receiving grade among wide receivers. He also ranked in the top 20 in missed tackles in both 2013 and 2015. Jones is not Calvin Johnson—no one is—but the Lions have made the best move available to them. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

QB Matt Hasselbeck to retire

10:21 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Former Colts QB Matt Hasselbeck announced his retirement this morning after 18 seasons. While his last four seasons have come primarily as a backup, he played well in spot starts. His only season grading negatively as a passer came in 2009 with the Seahawks, due to poor play in the final four games. In 2015, Hasselbeck showed solid deep ball accuracy, ranking 12th at 42.9 percent, but struggled under pressure with 54.1 accuracy percentage that ranked 34th-of-37 qualifying QBs. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Olivier Vernon to hit market, now PFF’s No. 1 free-agent target

9:40 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

The news that was coming the moment Miami and Mario Williams reached an agreement: The Dolphins have removed the transition tag from free-agent edge rusher Olivier Vernon, allowing him to hit the open market and seek his riches elsewhere. Vernon is likely to be one of the best-paid free agents this season, but the Dolphins had to have been wary of the price, given his production is really based on an otherworldly eight-game stretch to close out the season. Vernon notched 57 total pressures in the final eight games of the season alone, and showed a truly elite ceiling to his play. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

 

Patriots re-sign OT LaAdrian Waddle

9:02 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Mike Reiss gives Patriots fans the news they’ve been waiting for: the Waddle is coming back! Indeed, former Detroit Lion LaAdrian Waddle has signed a two-year deal with $250,000 guaranteed after getting on the field for 38 snaps for New England last year against the Jets in Week 16. Prior to that, Waddle was abysmal for Detroit, earning a grade that saw him rank 77th out of 77 in terms of offensive tackles in 2015. Not good at all. The upside is in the upside, with Waddle playing much better his first two years in the league, where he graded positively. The move is likely more for insurance than designed to bolster the starting unit, but it could spell the end for Patriots’ draft picks like Marcus Cannon who just haven’t made the leap.– Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Chris Clark staying in Houston

7.54 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

According to Rand Getlin of NFL Network, the Houston Texans have re-signed OT Chris Clark to a two-year, $6 million deal. Clark’s best season came in 2013 when he graded at +12.0 overall, including a +9.0 mark in the run game, though playing in front of QB Peyton Manning certainly helped his cause. He wasn’t as good in 2014 on 500 snaps (-6.5), and he played 506 snaps at both left and right tackle last season for the Texans, finishing at -2.7 overall. Clark is a valuable swing tackle, capable of stepping in on either side of the line, though a disastrous -11.3 outing against the Miami Dolphins in week seven was one of the worst by an offense tackle in recent years.

 

Eagles-Dolphins trade in trouble?

7.40 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

According to Ed Werder of ESPN the trade between the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins sending a pair of Eagles defenders to South Beach may be off because of concern over Byron Maxwell’s shoulder injury.  Maxwell played the first 14 games of the season in 2015 before being placed on IR with the shoulder injury that is apparently now causing problems. He was a coveted free agent a year ago but looked out of his depth for the Eagles as a number one corner, surrendering 787 receiving yards and 51 catches across his 14 games. Whoever ends up with Maxwell next season needs to think about dialing back what is asked of him.

 

Mohamed Sanu garnering interest

7.38 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

With news that the Chargers are leading the chase for Cleveland’s Travis Benjamin, another AFC North wide receiver is apparently receiving a lot of attention. Jeff Howe reports that the Patriots are one of a number of teams interested in Sanu, and that it could take $5 million per year to sign him. Sanu has never had more than 59 receptions in a season, but has shown the versatility to be used on tricks plays, and saw a handful of snaps out of the backfield in 2015. He’s even shown the ability to get the ball downfield on a wide receiver reverse pass before, so it’s understandable that several teams are intrigued.

 

Chargers leading the chase for Travis Benjamin?

7.30 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

It’s an intriguing group of wide receivers set to hit the open market, and Ian Rapoport is reporting that the San Diego Chargers are emerging as the leaders in the chase for Travis Benjamin. Benjamin showcased his ability as a big play threat in 2015, catching all eight of the catchable passes thrown his way 20 yards or further downfield. Racking up 363 yards and four touchdowns on those deep passes, he would fit nicely as a downfield threat for Philip Rivers in San Diego. Rivers saw four of his 21 passes of 20 yards or more downfield dropped by his receivers last year, so Benjamin’s ability to haul those in could be huge.

 

Janoris Jenkins to the New York Giants

6.55 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

With the Rams tagging Trumaine Johnson it was always likely that Janoris Jenkins wouldn’t be making the move with them to Los Angeles. Well so it proved as according to Adam Schefter he’s going to sign a deal with the New York Giants who continue retooling their secondary. Jenkins has been something of a polarizing player since entering the league. Capable of the sublime and the ridiculous, he’s coming off his most solid year which saw him post his best touchdown allowed to interception differential (five to three) while breaking up a further 10 passes. The money he gets will be worth watching as it could set the market for guys like Sean Smith. Jenkins was our 26th ranked corner in 2015.

 

Ian Williams to stay in San Francisco

6.50 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

According to Ian Rapoport one of the more intriguing interior defenders set to hit free agency is not going to make it to the open market. Nose tackle Ian Williams is re-signing with the San Francisco 49ers on a 5-year deal after his big, breakout 2015. Williams had the seventh highest run defense grade of all interior defenders as he started all 16 games for the first time in his career. Free of injury (he was limited to 272 snaps his first four years in the league) he compiled the third most defensive stops of any interior defender in 2015. We await numbers for the early down run stuffer.

 

McCoy to re-sign in Washington

6.45 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Colt McCoy will return to Washington to serve as Kirk Cousins’ backup. McCoy has played sparingly throughout his career, but has finished every season with a negative grade as a passer, with the exception of his 461 snap 2014 rookie season. Washington had appeared to make bringing him back a priority, and while they keep the continuity by re-signing McCoy, they’ll likely struggle if starter Kirk Cousins goes down.

 

Sortable list of every free agent available now

5.25 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

It’s been a quiet night for news and rumors, but in just a few short hours the madness will begin again. Be sure you have PFF’s free-agency tracker bookmarked before things kick off. The table, which lists every NFL free agent, is sortable by PFF grade, age, 2015 snap count, and 2015 team.

Click here to view tracker.

 

Dolphins to release Brent Grimes

4.20 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

It’s been widely reported since new of the Byron Maxwell trade, but NFL.com’s Rand Getlin says that he expects the Dolphins to officially release cornerback Brent Grimes before the new league year officially begins at 4 p.m. ET today. Grimes play was up and down throughout the year, giving up 810 yards in coverage, and it’s been two years since his last really good showing in coverage, however he still played at a solid level in 2015. The fact that he’ll have been released means that signing him won’t count against compensatory draft picks next spring, something which could help his value to some teams and should help him find a new home.

 

Where will Brock Osweiler wind up?

2.30 a.m. ET, Wed., March 9

We’ve reached the quiet part of free agency with not much being reported through the night. One of the more interesting developments to watch over the coming days will be where Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler signs. NFL Network’s James Palmer reports that discussions have broken down since the Broncos reportedly offered him a three-year, $45 million offer on Saturday. With Adam Schefter reporting that the Houston Texans would be in play should he reach free agency, PFF’s Sam Monson had a look at which destination whether it would be a better bit for Osweiler to stay in Denver, or move on to Houston.

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Jaguars to sign Chris Ivory, release Toby Gerhart

10:37 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

The Jaguars continue to be active prior to the start of free agency; they will be signing HB Chris Ivory and releasing Toby Gerhart. Ivory has not really offered much in the passing game, but he has earned positive rushing grades in each of his six seasons in the league. Since joining the Jets in 2013, Ivory graded among the top eight rushers in two of his three seasons and forced 136 missed tackles. Now, Jacksonville did spend a second-round pick on T.J. Yeldon last draft, who had the ninth-best rush grade in 2015. But the addition of Ivory will give the offense a powerful runner and a great one-two punch that Toby Gerhart has not offered.

As for Gerhart, he will become a free agent after a pair of disappointing seasons that featured just one 15-plus yard run. He averaged just 3.0 yards per carry and 2.0 yards after contact with Jacksonville, far from the production during his final year with Minnesota. As a 29-year-old running back who hasn’t offered much in the passing game or on special teams, it may be difficult to find suitors this offseason. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Ramon Foster to remain in the Steel City

10:21 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

NFL Network’s Rand Getlin is reporting Ramon Foster will re-sign with Pittsburgh. He has been a key starter for the Steelers since 2010, and played every snap (1,234) at left guard in 2015. Foster finished 2015 as PFF’s 16th-ranked guard overall. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

LB Bruce Irvin headed to Oakland

10:15 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

In a move that most did not see coming, the Oakland Raiders will be signing former Seahawk Bruce Irvin when free agency starts tomorrow afternoon. Irvin will likely play on the edge opposite of All-Pro Khalil Mack. Irvin started his career as primarily a situational pass-rusher, but his role evolved over the years with Seattle as he became a full-time player. As he has been asked to do more in coverage the last few years, his pass-rush grade has gradually declined from a +7.9 cumulative grade in his rookie year, to a -2.4 this past season. Still, with his athleticism, he has shown to be good in coverage and as a run defender when given more responsibility. The Raiders will be getting a versatile defender who should be a good compliment to Mack. Contract details have not yet been released, but Irvin is an intriguing signing, particularly if the Raiders can get Irvin back to the pass rusher he was early in his career. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

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Center Ben Jones set to sign with Titans

9:02 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

As first reported by Aaron Wilson, former Texans center Ben Jones will be a Titan when the NFL free agency period officially begins tomorrow. While Jones is an upgrade over Tennessee’s 2015 starters, Brian Schwenke and Andy Gallik (-33.1 combined overall grade), Jones finished 18th in our center rankings. He does have experience playing all three interior line positions, and last year led the league in snaps under center (1,210). – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Panthers retain DE Charles Johnson on bargain deal

8:58 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

After cutting Charles Johnson last week to save money, the Carolina Panthers have managed to re-sign the defensive end to a hometown discount. Per Joe Person, it’s a one-year deal worth $3 million, and Johnson turned down more money from other teams. Johnson dealt with a hamstring injury for a large portion of last season that prevented him from having a big contract-year. Still, his +6.7 cumulative run defense grade was the highest of his career. There was a significant drop in his per-snap pass-rushing productivity, but he still finished with an above-average pass-rush grade, and had his best performance when it mattered most—the Super Bowl. Over the previous three seasons, Johnson ranked among the top-11 4-3 defensive ends in pass-rush grade, including as high as second in 2012. Getting Johnson back for one more year is best for both parties; it will give Johnson another shot to have a big contract year as he turns age 30, while the Panthers can keep one of their best defensive lineman for another season. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Colts extend kicker Adam Vinatieri’s contract

7:41 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Adam Vinatieri will return for his 21st season in the NFL after reaching a two-year, $6 million contract extension with the Indianapolis Colts. It will be his 11th season with the team, and make his tenure in Indy longer than that with New England. Vinatieri got off to a rocky start last year, missing his first two field goal attempts of the year, which included one from 29 yards. However, he was perfect on his 25 field goals the rest of the season. Vinatieri also missed two extra points in the first year of the new rule change, but still has been among the most accurate kickers over the last few seasons. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Buccaneers re-sign Keith Tandy, release Bruce Carter

5:37 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

According to Aaron Wilson, the Bucs re-signed defensive back Keith Tandy (72.1 overall grade in 2015) and let linebacker Bruce Carter (49.1) go. Tandy saw significant playing time late in the season, both at safety as well as at slot cornerback. Despite just 813 career snaps, he has graded well each of the last three years, and has earned a shot at more playing time. In his one year with the Buccaneers, Bruce Carter couldn’t crack the starting lineup until Kwon Alexander’s suspension. He graded poorly in his starts. Tampa Bay’s preference towards Alexander meant Carter no longer had a purpose on the roster. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Sortable list of every free agent available now

4:44 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

As the NFL free-agency period is now less than 24 hours away, be sure you have PFF’s free-agency tracker bookmarked before things kick off. The table, which lists every NFL free agent, is sortable by PFF grade, age, 2015 snap count, and 2015 team.

Click here to view tracker.

 

49ers re-sign Ray-Ray Armstrong to one-year deal

4:35 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Ray-Ray Armstrong has signed a one-year deal to stay with the San Francisco 49ers. Armstrong was waived by the Raiders in November before being claimed by the 49ers. He played exclusively on the special teams unit. With the Raiders, he didn’t make much of an impact, registering just one run stop on 43 run snaps, and just one sack on 88 pass rushing snaps. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Vikings release veteran WR Mike Wallace

3:43 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Per Tom Pelissero, Mike Wallace is now a free agent, which should not be a surprise to anyone, considering his poor fit with Teddy Bridgewater’s horizontal passing game. Wallace has been a flop in Minnesota, as he ranked 96th out of 121 qualifying WRs in 2015. His release frees up a whopping $11.5 million in cap space for the Vikings. While he has only graded positively once since 2011, teams looking for a true deep threat could be enticed to gamble on him. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Eagles to sign Leodis McKelvin to two-year, $6 million contract

3:43 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

This is the amount of money you want to spend when you’re signing an average cornerback. McKelvin is only two seasons removed from being the eighth-highest-graded cover corner in football. He’s been plagued by injury the last two seasons, however, and limited to only 955 snaps, but at full health, Philadelphia got a fantastic deal. – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike

 

Panthers re-sign backup QB Joe Webb to two-year deal

3:39 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Carolina has re-signed backup quarterback Joe Webb to a two-year deal, per his agent. Webb lined up at QB for just one snap last season, while seeing the field for just 19 total offensive snaps. He was also a contributor on special teams, having played 372 total snaps among various units. He may not make a huge impact, but having a backup quarterback capable of playing receiver and special teams gives the Panthers an advantage when filling the 53-man roster. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Former Saints TE Ben Watson set to sign with Ravens

3:28 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Can we expect a lot of two- and three- tight end sets from the Ravens? In something of a surprising move, the Ravens have reached an agreement with Ben Watson, per Jeff Zrebiec. Watson had an eye-catching year for the Saints, where the departure of Jimmy Graham saw him become a much bigger part of the offense, with his six touchdowns (seventh-most among all tight ends). The surprising thing with Watson in 2015 was his struggle with run-blocking, which for so long was his calling-card. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Broncos release TE Owen Daniels

3:03 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

This was a cost-cutting move in releasing the veteran tight end, especially with Virgil Green and Jeff Heuerman behind him. Green finished the regular season with the 17th-ranked receiving grade at the position after re-signing with Denver last offseason, while Heuerman spent his entire rookie season on IR. The 33-year-old Daniels was still an above-average receiver last season, but saw a steep drop-off in the run game, where his grade ranked 61st of 73 tight ends in run-blocking. If he’s limited there going forward, he should still be able to help teams in the passing game. – Thomas Maney, @PFF_Tom

 

Colts release OLB Bjoern Werner

2:55 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

In 2013, the Colts spent their first-round pick on outside linebacker Bjoern Werner (57.7 overall grade in 2015), and three years later, they elected to release him. He was entering the last year of his rookie contract, and the move only saves $1.5 million, so this was likely a decision based on play rather than money. After just 12 combined sacks and hits over his first two years in the league, Werner was restricted to just 152 snaps in 2015, where he had no sacks or hits, and just four hurries. After Trent Cole took a pay cut earlier in the day, it looks like they will use Erik Walden, Robert Mathis, and Cole in a rotation at outside linebacker for 2016. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Bills retain left side of line by re-signing Richie Incognito

2:17 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

After placing the franchise tag on left tackle Cordy Glenn last week, the Bills took the second step in keeping their powerful left side of the offensive line intact Tuesday by re-signing left guard Richie Incognito, as the player himself revealed on Twitter. Coming off of the best season of his career, during which Incognito finished the season as PFF’s second-highest-graded guard, Incognito’s powerful run blocking blends perfectly with the Bills’ run-heavy attack. Always a blocker capable of dominant blocks, Incognito had by far his most consistent season in 2015, earning a positive grade as a run blocker in every game until Week 17 against the Jets. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Tamba Hali heading back to Kansas City

2:02 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Kansas City’s decision on Tamba Hali was complicated by offseason knee surgery. Ultimately, however, they decided against allowing one of the league’s better pass rushers to hit the open market. Hali finished ninth amongst edge defenders, with a pass-rush grade of 84.8. He generated seven sacks, 10 hits, and 55 hurries. Only Khalil Mack recorded more hurries than Hali in the regular season. Although he struggled through injury toward the end of the year and in the playoffs, the Chiefs’ long-serving pass rusher finished fifth-overall amongst outside linebackers. Hali may be 32 years old, but he’s still got plenty left in the tank. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Broncos release RG Louis Vasquez

2:00 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

The Super Bowl champs are moving on from right guard Louis Vasquez to save $6.75 million, per Ian Rapoport. Vasquez was signed in 2013 after four solid seasons with division-rival San Diego. In his first year with the Broncos, he earned a +36.6 cumulative overall grade (including the postseason), which was the third-highest grade among all guards. His play has dropped in the two seasons since then. He was still good in pass protection last year, but his run-blocking performance was near the bottom among all guards, as he seemingly struggled with more outside zone schemes in head coach Gary Kubiak’s new system. Vasquez is still only 28 years old, and if he goes to a system that better suits his strengths, we could still see him get back to consistently being an above-average guard. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Jason Pierre Paul re-signs in New York for one-year

1:43 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

This is a great move for the Giants. JPP notoriously notched just one solitary sack after returning from an injury sustained in a fireworks accident last year—forcing him to play with an awkward cast on his hand—but he also notched 41 total pressures and was one of the league’s more productive edge rushers over the final half of the season. The Giants’ pass-rush looked anaemic without him, and with Robert Ayers also slated to hit free agency, getting one of those guys back in place was big. Chances are Pierre-Paul improves as he learns how to play with his hand in the state it is in, and gets a chance to showcase his skills for a big pay-day in a year’s time. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

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Malik Jackson set to sign with Jags, adds interior pass-rush

1:24 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Jacksonville has taken big swings at major free agents along the defensive line each of the past two seasons, and whiffed big on both. They were either on the downside of their career (Chris Clemons), or not worth the money in the first place (Jared Odrick). Neither of those apply to Jackson, though, who has been top-10 interior pass-rusher each of the past two seasons, and is only 26 years old. Jackson’s 60 total pressures a year ago were almost double the team-leader for the Jaguars in 2015 (Clemons with 34). – Mike Renner, @PFF_Mike 

 

Steelers re-sign CB William Gay

12:43 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

In a move broken by Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Mark Kaboly, the Pittsburgh Steelers have re-signed cornerback William Gay. While the Steelers did have issues in the secondary, Gay bounced back after some early season struggles to have a solid 2015 season. Over the course of the season, and including the playoffs, Gay didn’t allow a single touchdown pass, and came away with two interceptions and six pass breakups from the 94 passes thrown into his coverage. It might not be the type of move that sends ripples throughout the league, but it’s a smart move to keep him around. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Abry Jones Signs his RFA tender, back with the Jags

12:38 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

The Jaguars retained some of their defensive line depth today in the shape of Abry Jones, who signed his restricted-free agent tender. Jones played 373 snaps this season, showing marked-improvement as a run-defender over his sophomore season in 2014. Jones’ 30 defensive stops in the last two seasons are the fourth-most on the Jags’ defensive line on the seventh most snaps. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Saints re-sign tight end Michael Hoomanawanui

12:30 p.m ET, Tues., March 8

In the middle of last season, the Saints traded for TE Michael Hoomanawanui (51.4 overall 2015 grade), and now they’ve elected to bring him back for an additional three years according to Alex Marvez. He was used primarily as a blocker, but his run-blocking was below average, and his pass-blocking efficiency of 90.3 was fourth-worst among tight ends. He’s never had more than 15 catches in a season, although the Saints did give him red zone opportunities, which led to three touchdowns. It’s unlikely Hoomanawanui’s role will grow much from what it was in 2015. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Lane Taylor re-signs with Packers

12:21 p.m. ET, Tues., March 8

G Lane Taylor has re-signed with the Green Bay Packers, per Ian Rapoport. A two-year deal worth $4.15 million is steep change for the 26-year-old backup that played just 155 snaps (two starts) in 2015. With two of the best in the business (T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton) starting in front of Taylor, the money spent to keep Taylor is a bit of a head scratcher. In his two starts, Taylor allowed seven hurries and one sack, but did show well in the run game. John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Better fit for Brock Osweiler: Texans or Broncos?

11:33 a.m. ET, Tues., March 8

The Brock Osweiler sweepstakes looks like it is coming down to a head-to-head battle between the Denver Broncos and Houston Texans, now that each has a clear vacancy at the position. How would the free-agent quarterback fit with each team? We dive into both scenarios. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

Click here for full article.

 

Mario Williams likely to sign with Dolphins

10:58 a.m. ET, Tues., March 8

The tampering period is really starting to take off now, and this one doesn’t involve any actual tampering. After being cut by the Bills, defensive end Mario Williams is free to sign on with whomever he wants. Right now, that’s looking like the Miami Dolphins. After restructuring numerous deals, Miami looks to have found the room to cave into the demands of Williams (expected to be around $10 million per year), and will no doubt be hoping he can put his disastrous 2015 behind him. Last season, he had the lowest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender, and looked like he was phoning it in all year as he struggled to acclimatize to new head coach Rex Ryan. Williams has pedigree, but it’s a risky move, especially when it could lead to a parting of the ways with proven Miami commodities in either Cameron Wake or Olivier Vernon. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Kelechi Osemele reportedly set to sign with Raiders tomorrow

10:40 a.m. ET, Tues., March 8

Per Rand Getlin, former Ravens guard Kelechi Osemele and Oakland have agreed to the principle framework of a deal that cannot be signed until the opening of free agency tomorrow at 4 p.m. ET. Getlin projected earlier that a bidding war between the Raiders and Vikings was driving Osemele’s asking price up to $11 million per year. Considering the highest-paid guards in the league (Kevin Zeitler and David DeCastro) make just north of $8 million per year, this implies the Raiders see Osemele—PFF’s No. 2 overall free agent—as their future left tackle. Osemele has consistently been one of the highest-graded guards in the league since 2013, but when injuries forced him to play left tackle this past December for the Ravens, he struggled at times (-4.1 cumulative overall grade), in particular taking four penalties. – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Vikings re-sign LB Audie Cole

9:43 a.m. ET, Tues., March 8

The Vikings bring back LB Audie Cole, whose career is only 467 snaps old and features only seven starts. That being said, Cole has flashed some huge potential in the games that he has seen significant playing time in, including the final game of the 2014 season, in which he posted a beastly +7.1 game grade, which was the best mark a Vikings’ linebacker earned that season in any one game. 2015 saw him perform poorly across just 38 snaps before injury ended his season, but Cole is a player that certainly has the potential to be more than just a body on the depth chart. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

 

Miami restructures TE Jordan Cameron’s contract

9:26 a.m. ET, Tues., March 8

After not living up to his potential, the Dolphins have decided to restructure TE Jordan Cameron’s (65.7 overall grade in 2015) contract rather than release him, according to Armando Salguero. After a strong start to the season with 73 yards and 62 yards in his first two games with Miami, respectively, he failed to top 35 yards in a game the rest of the season. It was known that his run-blocking was a liability coming into the season, and that continued to be true in Miami. The restructure likely helps the Dolphins’ cap situation, while ensuring Cameron will have a second chance to shine in Miami. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Colts OLB Trent Cole accepts a pay cut to stay in Indianapolis

9:16 a.m. ET, Tues. March 8

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Trent Cole (79.3 overall grade in 2015) reduced his base salary from $4.25 million to $2 million. He was part of a five-man rotation at edge rusher, which included lining up as an inside rusher in some pass situations. He was limited to just three sacks on the year, but was the most effective of the Colts’ outside linebackers at getting pressure, with a pass-rushing productivity of 9.2. Barring major changes in free agency and the draft, Cole should remain a part of a rotation with Erik Walden, Robert Mathis, and Bjoern Werner. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Seahawks extend run-defender Ahtyba Rubin

11:07 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

After signing him to a one-year contract last offseason, the Seahawks have decided to continue using Ahtyba Rubin (68.4) on the defensive line by extending his contract another three years. Seattle used him at defensive tackle in their base defense the entire season. His run stop percentage of 9.8 percent was 10th best for defensive tackles in 2015, but he was too often blocked, which led to a below-average run defense grade on the season. Rubin likely has a strong end of the season to partially thank for his new deal. Three of his five highest-graded games against the run in 2015 came in his last three games, including the two playoff games. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Chargers set to finalize four-year deal with RT Joe Barksdale

9:56 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Per Michael Gehlken, the Chargers will finalize a deal tomorrow to bring back their starting right tackle, Joe Barksdale (79.3 overall grade in 2015). The Chargers have invested a lot in the offensive line in recent seasons, but Barksdale was the only linemen on the Chargers’ roster to end with a PFF grade above 50. He was also the only one to start all 16 games. Over his career, Barksdale has been a slightly above-average right tackle in both pass protection and run blocking. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Colts re-sign TE Dwayne Allen to four-year deal

8:06 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Per Pro Football Talk, the Colts are bringing Dwayne Allen (50.2) back on a four-year, $29.4 million deal. It’s a steep price for someone with just 16 catches last year and the third-lowest run blocking grade among tight ends. However, in both 2012 and 2014, Allen was among the top 10 tight ends in the league; so at his best, Allen is worth the money, but at his 2015 play, he’s nowhere close. With Colts tight end Coby Fleener as a free agent, it’s possible Allen could see more playing time than he’s seen in the past. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Eagles trade RB DeMarco Murray to Titans

7:28 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

The Eagles continue to unload underperforming players who were acquired last offseason in big-money deals by former head coach Chip Kelly. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that Philadelphia has agreed to a trade that would send running back DeMarco Murray (48.6 PFF grade this season — No. 67 of 69 qualifying running backs) to the Titans. For Philadelphia, this marks the second big move of the day, after agreeing to send cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to Miami in a separate trade. It also makes Ryan Mathews (67.6 grade, 47th in the NFL) the lead back for the Eagles (although rumors of his possible departure circulated Monday as well), after averaging 5.1 yards per carry compared to Murray’s 3.6. Tennessee hopes to get the 2014 version of Murray, who forced 67 missed tackles in 2014 while finished second behind only Marshawn Lynch in PFF rushing grade. The Titans have several needs along the offensive line, and will need to fill some of those needs in order to get Murray’s full potential.

 

Saints re-sign former first-round CB Kyle Wilson

5:23 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

According to Rand Getlin, the Saints and slot CB Kyle Wilson have agreed to a one-year deal. While Wilson has never lived up to his draft status, he’s been a decent cover corner, allowing 0.85 yards per cover snap from the slot in 2015. Wilson allowed three TDs from the slot (four total), and was our 47th–ranked cornerback in 2015 with a 74.0 grade. Not a splash re-signing, but necessary with the disaster of a season Brandon Browner had in 2015. – John Kosko, @PFF_JohnKosko

 

Panthers tender free agent RT Mike Remmers

5:04 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

As we pass the 48-hour mark until the start of free agency, Carolina has given a second-round tender to restricted free agent Mike Remmers. The right tackle’s stock surely took a hit after the Super Bowl, where he had a career-low -7.7 overall game grade and allowed 10 total pressures. While he has been inconsistent week-to-week, for the most part he has been a competent lineman whose overall grade during the regular season ranked 41st out of 76 tackles. Remmers also has not missed a single snap since being inserted into the starting lineup in late 2014. If the Panthers cannot negotiate a contract extension, then the tender will cost the team a relatively reasonable $2.55 million, and the second-round pick should be enough to discourage other teams from making an offer. – Matt Claassen, @PFF_Matt

 

Jeron Johnson release indicative of Washington’s secondary overhaul

4:41 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Washington’s safeties will be concerned every time the phone rings this evening after Jeron Johnson followed Dashon Goldson out the door. Johnson adds to the growing list of former Seattle defensive backs who look much better under Pete Carroll’s tutelage than anywhere else. He played a career-high 195 snaps this year, giving up a perfect QB rating (158.3). Johnson allowed all six targets to be caught for 96 yards and two scores in his limited reps. He’ll have his work cut out to make a roster in 2016. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

PFF’s top free agents by position

3:54 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

The Pro Football Focus team breaks down the top potential free-agent signees at each positional group; Doug Martin takes the top spot among running backs, while Ryan Fitzpatrick sits at No. 1 on the QB list. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

Click for full list for each position.

 

Eagles trade Kiko Alonso and Byron Maxwell to Dolphins

3:38 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

In a move that sees two of the players brought in under Chip Kelly out of Philadelphia, the Eagles are reportedly trying to finalize a trade with the Miami Dolphins to send cornerback Byron Maxwell and linebacker Kiko Alonso to Miami in exchange for draft picks. Maxwell signed as a big-money free agent, but struggled in 2015, giving up 787 receiving yards on passes into his coverage. Alonso had an impressive rookie season in coverage for the Buffalo Bills, but after returning from injury in 2015, he struggled both against the run and in coverage for Philadelphia.– Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

Falcons make moves on their restricted free agents

3:31 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

We got an idea of what players mean to the Atlanta Falcons today as they dealt with some of their restricted free agents. The most notable was the team all but ensuring that Ryan Schraeder will be in Atlanta next year, as they assigned the towering right tackle with a second-round tender. The former undrafted free agent has taken advantage of injuries to establish himself as one of the best right tackles in the league, and is coming off a career-year where he missed just 11 snaps on offense and posted the highest grade (87.0) of all right tackles. Joining him with a second-round tag is Paul Worrilow, the starting middle linebacker. This is something of a surprise, with the team expected to get faster at linebacker, and Worrilow owning a 40.1 grade that saw him finish 80th out of 97 in our linebacker grades. No word yet on Nathan Stupar, with the linebacker and special team stud now looking likely to hit the open market. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

James Develin’s return to New England add yet another wrinkle to Pats’ offense

3:09 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

In 2014, Develin finished the season as our fifth-highest-graded fullback in the NFL, a quality lead-blocker in a league that doesn’t highlight the position anymore. Develin missed the 2015 season after breaking his leg against the Panthers in the preseason, and in his absence, only six teams had a lead-blocker on a run play less often than the Patriots all season long. Develin’s return just adds another wrinkle to the Patriots’ already diverse offense. – Ben Stockwell, @PFF_Ben

 

Steelers re-sign Darrius Heyward-Bey, testament to his special-teams contributions

2:34 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Heyward-Bey’s new contract will likely come as a surprise to many Steelers’ fans who remember how little he produced on offense despite playing 406 snaps in 2015, but it’s his special-teams play that likely enticed Pittsburgh to bring him back. He had his best year overall on special teams last season (+3.0 overall grade), and has graded positively in the punting game three-straight years.  This signing is also likely an indictment as to where Pittsburgh feels Sammie Coates’ game is as he heads into his second NFL season(just 37 snaps his rookie year). – Josh Liskiewitz, @PFF_Josh

 

Dashon Goldson may not see field as starter again after release

2:31 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Washington continued their veteran purge with the release of safety Dashon Goldson. Unlike Hatcher, Goldson was a liability. He has been fortunate to receive multiple starting opportunities, but has only graded positively once over a season as a full-time starter. After receiving a mega-deal on the back of an average season with the 49ers in 2012, Goldson proceeded to rank among the bottom five amongst safeties each year. He was dead last in 2015, 88th out of 88. Surely Goldson’s run as an NFL starter is over. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

PFF’s top 75 free agents of 2016

1:32 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

After much deliberation, the Pro Football Focus team has assembled its list of the best 75 free agents set to hit the market on Wednesday. Jason Pierre-Paul takes the top spot, with Kelechi Osemele and Malik Jackson sitting at Nos. 2 and 3, respectively.– Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

Click to see full list.

 

RG III at No. 3 in PFF’s list of top free-agent QBs

1:08 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Recently released by the Redskins today, Robert Griffin III now sits behind Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brock Osweiler on Steve Palazzolo’s list of the top eight quarterback set to hit the free agent market. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

Click to see full list.

 

Denver places original tender on running back C.J. Anderson

1:05 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Something of a surprise in Denver, where after tendering Brandon Marshall with just a second rounder, they’ve now only put an original tender on running back C.J. Anderson. With Anderson being a guy who went undrafted, that means teams can make moves for him without offering any compensation, and while the running back position isn’t as valued as it once was, that’s bound to pique the interest of more than a few teams. Anderson battled injuries and inconsistency in 2015, but you need only look at his breakout 2014 (+17.7 cumulative grade, fourth-highest of all running backs) to know what he can do carrying the load. For the Broncos, there’s the very real possibility that their entire backfield (Peyton Manning retiring, Ronnie Hillman also a free agent) has a completely new look to it come the season opener. – Khaled Elsayed, @PFF_Khaled

 

Why RG III could fit in Chip Kelly’s system

12:12 p.m. ET, Mon., March 7

For RG III to approach the potential that he showed in 2012, his legs have to be a big part of his game, and like most mobile quarterbacks, he’ll get linked to the San Francisco 49ers and Chip Kelly. While Kelly’s only mobile quarterback in his three-year NFL stint (Michael Vick) was the least-successful of his four options, his offense is one of the few in the NFL that can take advantage of a skill-set like RG III’s. Griffin’s athleticism does make him an option to pull the ball and run, but add in his deep passing that saw him peak with an accuracy percentage of 50.0 percent in 2012 (fifth in the league), that upside may just be a perfect fit for Kelly’s offense that threw more deep passes than any in the league in 2013 and 2014. – Steve Palazzolo, @PFF_Steve

Click here for full article.

 

Jason Hatcher released, could be valuable nickel-rusher pickup 

11:53 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

The NFL franchise with the fifth-lowest cap space was forced into a pair of roster transactions on the dawn of free agency. While RG III will garner the headlines, the release of Jason Hatcher will have a more significant impact on Washington on the field. Hatcher has been terrorizing QBs in the NFC East for close to a decade, and is far from finished. Starting might be beyond the former Cowboy at this stage of his career, but he remains a dominant interior pass rusher. Don’t be fooled by the low sack numbers. Hatcher finished with the 13th-highest pass rushing grade amongst interior defensive lineman in 2015 (84.5 grade), recording two sacks, 12 hits, and 36 pressures. His 50 hurries from 348 snaps gave Hatcher a pass rush productivity of 10.9, which was good for third amongst 3-4 DEs. The 50.9 run defense grade—on the back of seven missed tackles from just 21 attempted—highlight the weaknesses in his game, but there are few better nickel rushers. – John Breitenbach, @PFF_John

 

Steelers re-sign S Robert Golden, likely starter next to Mitchell

11:33 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

The Steelers locked up safety Robert Golden (72.3 overall 2015 grade) for the next three seasons. 2015 was his first year with significant playing time on defense, as he saw a few starts due to an injury to Will Allen (73.4), and later played in the dime defense. Allen is a free agent and will be 34 by next season, so for the moment, Golden is penciled in as the starter next to Mike Mitchell (79.5). – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Ravens re-sign CB Shareece Wright to three-year deal

11:28 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

After struggling heavily in 2013 and 2014, Wright posted a slightly-positive grade in coverage for the Ravens after joining the team during the 2015 season. He had his ups and downs for Baltimore, including giving up just three receptions from 12 targets against Cleveland in Week 12, and allowing eight receptions and two touchdowns against Seattle in Week 14. Over the course of the year, he allowed 61.5 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage to be caught, totaling 32 receptions and five touchdowns allowed. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

 

TE Scott Chandler to visit Colts today

10:50 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

The Colts have an interesting situation at tight end heading into free agency, with both Coby Fleener (74.8 overall 2015 grade) and Dwayne Allen (50.2) as free agents. In preparation for one or both leaving, Indianapolis is bringing in Scott Chandler (70.7) for a visit. Chandler was recently released by the Patriots. His strength in recent seasons has been run-blocking, so he would be an upgrade to what the Colts have had in that area. They would still need to bring back Fleener or someone else to take the tight end snaps in passing situations. – Nathan Jahnke, @PFF_NateJahnke

 

Logan Makins to retire, adds need to Bucs’ offseason list

10:30 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

Peyton Manning isn’t the only player walking off into the sunset this Monday, with Logan Mankins also calling it a career. At his best, Mankins was the best run-blocking guard in football, and even in 2015—firmly on the downslope of his career—he still posted impressive positive run blocking grades. In fact, Mankins finished his career with positive grades as both a run-blocker and in pass protection in every single season PFF has been grading. He was clearly some way short of his dominant best in Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers have lost a fine player and now need to think about replacing him along that line. – Sam Monson, @PFF_Sam

 

Next steps for Broncos with Peyton Manning set to retire

8:30 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

With Peyton Manning likely to announce his retirement on Monday, what’s next for the Broncos? PFF Senior Analyst Sam Monson takes a look at the next moves for the Denver, who has a number of key free agents still unsigned, including QB Brock Osweiler and defensive end Malik Jackson. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

Click here for full article.

 

Top 9 free agent running backs

7 a.m. ET, Mon., March 7

The running back position in the NFL, perhaps more so than any other in the league, sees its value fluctuate yearly. It can be a position where players burn out quickly after a lot of carries, and obviously the quality of players in the NFL draft varies from year to year. This year, the draft doesn’t look to be as strong as it will be in future years, but thankfully, there are some solid players headed for free agency who will be attractive options for teams around the league, both in the long- and short-term. Here are PFF’s top nine free agent running backs about to hit the market, starting with Doug Martin and Lamar Miller at Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. – Gordon McGuinness, @PFF_Gordon

Click for full list.

 

6 free agents likely to be overpaid this week

9:03 a.m. ET, Sun., March 6

With a free-agent class of wide receivers leaving a lot to be desired, as well as some bigger names whose production hasn’t quite lived up to the hype, there are sure to be some free agents getting inflated paychecks this week. Analyst Mike Renner takes a look at six such players, including Bengals WR Marvin Jones and Broncos QB Brock Osweiler. – Chase Howell, @ChaseHowellPFF

Click for full list.

  • Lane Trujillo

    The link to the top 9 free agent running backs links to the 6 free agents about to be overpaid. I can’t seem to find the RB story. care to fix it?

    • SeattleSteve

      Sounds about right to me, I hope the Packers spend a ton on a 30 year old washed up Forte.

  • Tyler Hayes

    JPP is #1 on your list? With all the quality players available, that’s mind-blowing.

  • Mike J.

    I wonder if the Bucs might re-sign Bruce Carter to a lower salary?? They did not tender the 2015 starting sam, Danny Lansanah, leaving a gaping hole in the depth chart. Carter was another of what is getting to be quite a list of free agent misses by GM Licht in Tampa.