Draft Notes: Landry, Reilly, Thomas, Hoffman

With 18 days until the 2014 NFL Draft kicks off at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, draft-eligible prospects are flying all over the country to meet with teams, and vice-versa. Here are the latest notes and rumors with regard to the upcoming NFL Players Selection Meeting, as it is officially called:

  • LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry will visit the Jets and Falcons this week, per Rand Getlin of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter). Landry has previously worked out for the Patriots, Panthers and 49ers.
  • The Jaguars and Panthers have met with Utah outside linebacker Trevor Reilly, writes Aaron Wilson of National Football Post. Reilly, a first-team All-Pac-12 selection, underwent knee surgery in January but healed up well enough to run a 4.66 second 40-yard dash at his pro day March 19.
  • Rich Tander of CSN Washington looks at the potential fit between the Redskins and Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas.
  • Finding starters every spring in the NFL Draft is the key for teams hoping to be competitive each season, writes Mark Kaboly of The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  • A scouting report of BYU wide receiver Cody Hoffman and his potential fit with the Bears, by the staff at CSN Chicago.
  • A poll by the Minneapolis Star Tribune asking which quarterback is the best in the NFL draft.
  • Looking at size, accuracy, arm strength, mobility, decision making, leadership, level of competition and experience, Ryan O’Halloran of The Florida Times-Union breaks down Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr.
  • Also by the Times-Union, a mock draft of the first two rounds.

AFC Notes: Beckham, Dolphins, Chiefs

A source confirmed to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herland today that the Dolphins will host LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham, using one one of the team’s 30 allotted non-local visits.

Beckham caught 59 passes for 1,152 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013 for the Tigers and is projected as a first-round pick.

Does Beckham’s visit mean Miami is souring on Mike Wallace just one year into his contract? That’s the logic argued by Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith, noting that Wallace wasn’t signed by current GM Dennis Hickey and that Hickey “probably” doesn’t have any intentions with Wallace beyond this season. Or, the Dolphins are just doing their due diligence and trying to find out as much about as many worthy draft-eligible prospects as possible.

More news and notes from the American Football Conference…

  • A position-by-position look at the Chiefs‘ cap situation by Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star, as well as each player’s base salary, cap number, Pro Football Focus grade and contract expiration date.
  • The Chiefs may need to be prepared to draft a quarterback with the No. 23 pick, Paylor writes.
  • Four PatriotsBrandon Browner, Rob Gronkowski, Logan Mankins and Jerod Meyo — have an offseason workout bonus of $250K, and the team begins its offseason workouts on Monday, writes Field Yates of ESPNBoston.com. 15 players are eligible to receive offseason workout bonuses if they participate in at least 80-90% of the workouts with a total possible payout of $1.74MM.

Vikings Beat Analyzes Draft’s Top QBs

With just two quarterbacks currently under contract, the Minnesota Vikings most likely will come away from the 2014 NFL Draft with at least one new signal caller. Matt Cassel recently signed a two-year deal with the club, and Christian Ponder is under club control for at least one more season, but neither are franchise quarterbacks. In separate pieces for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Matt Vensel and Mark Craig break down the potential fits of the consensus top-three throwers: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.

Vensel separates his thorough profile of Manziel into sections, analyzing Johnny Football’s dazzling play-making ability, his smallish stature, the rock star persona and other potential choices at the position Minnesota may make. Thanks to Michael Vick and other mobile quarterbacks who have had success in the league, Vensel contends that general manager Rick Spielman will have to reconsider the future of the position, which in the past has relied upon the tall, statuesque passers.

Craig looks in depth at Bortles and Bridgewater, speaking to David Gibbs, the University of Houston defensive coordinator who faced the two quarterbacks in consecutive weeks last season.

“I think they’re both going to be good NFL quarterbacks. How good? I’m not a quarterback guru,” Gibbs said. “But neither one of them is going to be a bust. They’re safe picks. In my opinion, because of the way they’ve been trained and coached, you’re not going to get a Ryan Leaf. You’re not going to get JaMarcus Russell. You’re not going to get a guy who just can’t play.”

Gibbs likes Bortles upside, but said he’s more prone to force a throw, whereas Bridgewater is content to check down on third-and-20 rather then turn the ball over.

For Manziel, Gibbs is reticent to give his full endorsement: “I do see him as a risk. And I don’t know him personally. I’m just watching him. He’s doing all of this stuff in college. What’s he going to do when he gets to pro football? You know the lifestyle changes. He’s saying all the right things now, and he should. He’s smart. But I don’t know about him.”

North Notes: Lions, Haden, Bears

Let’s round up a handful of Saturday afternoon updates out of the NFL’s two North divisions….

  • The Lions, who have been eyeing draft prospects likely to be off the board by No. 10, will host another one this week, according to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who says Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack will visit the club. When we asked earlier in the week about the likelihood of the Lions trading up, more than half of you expected the team to do so, though you were split on exactly how far up.
  • According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports (via Twitter), the upcoming contract negotiations between the Browns and cornerback Joe Haden will be of particular interest to other teams and players around the NFL. If Haden gets less than $12MM per year, it will be harder for players like Richard Sherman and Patrick Peterson to make a case for more.
  • Finding a safety next month in the draft looks like the Bears‘ top priority, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. It’s possible that one or both of the top safeties in this year’s class – Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor – will still be on the board when Chicago picks 14th overall.

Largest Free Agent Contracts Of 2014

No NFL free agent signed a contract this offseason with a larger overall value than Aqib Talib‘s $57MM deal with the Broncos, which would keep the cornerback under contract through 2019 if he played out the entire pact. Of course, the odds of that are extremely slim. Talib’s deal includes just $11.5MM in guaranteed money, about 20% of the total value, so it’s a sort of pay-as-you-go arrangement for the Broncos, who could easily cut bait after a couple seasons without owing Talib anywhere near $57MM.

As Talib’s case exhibits, total overall value isn’t necessarily the best way to evaluate which free agent contracts were the most lucrative signed in a given offseason. But if we combine it with other factors and variables, it can help provide a more complete picture.

So rather than just looking at the 2014 free agent contracts with the largest overall value, let’s break down the deals with the most fully guaranteed money and the highest per-year value as well. With the help of OverTheCap.com’s free agent tracker, here are the top 10 contracts in each category signed by the members of the 2014 free agent class (not including deals signed prior to free agency):

Largest contracts by overall base value:

  1. Aqib Talib (CB, Broncos): $57MM, six years
  2. Jairus Byrd (S, Saints): $54MM, six years
  3. Branden Albert (OT, Dolphins): $47MM, five years
  4. Michael Johnson (DE, Buccaneers): $43.75MM, five years
  5. Everson Griffen (DE, Vikings): $42.5MM, five years
  6. Alex Mack (C, Browns): $42MM, five years
  7. Eugene Monroe (OT, Ravens): $37.5MM, five years
  8. Eric Decker (WR, Jets): $36.25MM, five years
  9. Vontae Davis (CB, Colts): $36MM, four years
  10. (tie) Jared Veldheer (OT, Cardinals), Lamarr Houston (DE, Bears), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB, Giants): $35MM, five years

Largest contracts by per-year average:

  1. Darrelle Revis (CB, Patriots): $16MM
  2. DeMarcus Ware (DE, Broncos): $10MM
  3. Aqib Talib (CB, Broncos): $9.5MM
  4. Branden Albert (OT, Dolphins): $9.4MM
  5. (tie) Jairus Byrd (S, Saints), Vontae Davis (CB, Colts): $9MM
  6. Michael Johnson (DE, Buccaneers): $8.75MM
  7. Julius Peppers (DE, Packers): $8.667MM
  8. Everson Griffen (DE, Vikings): $8.5MM
  9. Alex Mack (C, Browns): $8.4MM
  10. (tie) DeSean Jackson (WR, Redskins), Jared Allen (DE, Bears): $8MM

Largest contracts by fully guaranteed money:

  1. Branden Albert (OT, Dolphins): $20MM
  2. Everson Griffen (DE, Vikings): $19.8MM
  3. Eugene Monroe (OT, Ravens): $19MM
  4. Jairus Byrd (S, Saints): $18.3MM
  5. Alex Mack (C, Browns): $18MM
  6. DeMarcus Ware (DE, Broncos): $16.5MM
  7. (tie) Michael Johnson (DE, Buccaneers), DeSean Jackson (WR, Redskins): $16MM
  8. Jared Allen (DE, Bears): $15.5MM
  9. (tie) Vontae Davis (CB, Colts), Eric Decker (WR, Jets): $15MM
  10. Linval Joseph (DT, Vikings): $12.5MM

Cardinals To Exercise Peterson’s Option

APRIL 19: Peterson’s option is expected to officially picked up on Monday, tweets Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports.

MARCH 26: The Cardinals plan to discuss a contract extension for Patrick Peterson this offseason, but they are under no time constraints in reaching an agreement. The team plans to exercise an option before then to keep the cornerback under contract through 2015, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Arizona has until May 3rd to officially exercise the option.

The Cards can use that option thanks to a provision in the collective bargaining agreement that will benefit clubs as they seek to retain players from the 2011 draft. That draft class, the first under the current CBA, came into the NFL under a new set of contract rules, meaning that first-round picks like Peterson were required to sign four-year deals that included a club option for year five. Top ten picks such as Peterson (No. 5) receive a salary worth the average of the ten highest paid players at their position this season. In Peterson’s case, that means a $10MM salary.

The Cardinals’ decision to pick up the option was expected, because it allows them to keep an elite player under contract and gives the team leverage in negotiations for an extension. With two years remaining on his rookie deal, and the possibility of a franchise tag, the Cardinals could retain Peterson’s rights through 2016.

Latest On Potential Bills Sale

The estate of late Bills owner Ralph Wilson has yet to appoint an investment banking firm to put an updated value on the franchise and oversee negotiations for the sale of the club, meaning the formal bidding process has yet to get underway. However, that doesn’t mean that potential bidders aren’t lining up to make a run at the Bills.

As John Wawrow of The Associated Press writes, the Bills were valued at $870MM by Forbes last year, but the sale price figures to be even higher, given the number of interested parties. Erie County deputy executive Richard Tobe said he has been approached by about 10 prospective ownership groups, which he has told to contact the team. Here’s a few updates from Wawrow on investors interested in making a bid on the Bills:

  • We’ve heard about Donald Trump‘s interest in buying the Bills, and Michael Cohen, Trump’s executive vice president, reiterated that the billionaire is serious about getting involved: “There’s nobody more serious than Donald Trump. Donald Trump has made it crystal clear that the Bills will remain in Buffalo.”
  • Bills legend and former quarterback Jim Kelly is expected to pursue an ownership role with the team as well, according to his brother – and the vice president of Jim Kelly Inc. – Dan Kelly. Despite undergoing treatment for a recurrence of sinus cancer, the former Bills signal-caller “will be an active participant in it moving forward,” says his brother.
  • Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is another potential bidder for the Bills, according to Wawrow. Jacobs has yet to publicly announce his intentions, but a source tells Wawrow that the Jacobs family “is definitely a player.” The NFL doesn’t allow owners to control major sports franchise in separate markets, so Jacobs Sr. would have to sell the Bruins to own a stake in the Bills, which he has said he doesn’t intend to do. However, that doesn’t preclude his sons, Jeremy Jr., Lou and Charlie, from getting involved with the Bills.
  • As previously reported, rock star Jon Bon Jovi, who has a strong connection to Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (the owner of the NHL’s Maple Leafs and NBA’s Raptors), has interest in owning an NFL team and may make a play for the Bills.

Pro Football Rumors On Facebook/Twitter

Not many notable free agents are still on the board, but the 2014 NFL draft is less than three weeks away, and there’s still no consensus on who will be picked in the top 10, the top five, or even at No. 1. There will be plenty of notable stories to track on Pro Football Rumors throughout the spring, and you don’t necessarily have to keep refreshing our site to keep tabs on them. There are a handful of different ways you can follow us to get the latest updates on NFL news and rumors all year.

You can like us on Facebook, and receive headlines and links for all our posts via your Facebook account. You can also follow us on Twitter to have all our posts and updates sent directly to your Twitter feed. Meanwhile, our Google+ page is located here, and if you’d like to follow us using your RSS reader of choice, you can find our RSS feed right here.

If you prefer to receive updates only on roster moves such as signings, cuts, and trades, you can follow our transactions-only feeds via RSS and Twitter.

AFC Notes: Pryor, Hill, Bills

The Raiders will cut Terrelle Pryor if they can’t find a trade partner by Monday, reports Fox Sports’ Alex Marvez (via Twitter). The news portends an inevitable conclusion to Pryor’s time in Oakland, as the writing has been on the wall since the team traded for Matt Schaub and declared confidence in Matt McGloin as the backup.

Here’s a handful more AFC notes:

  • The Broncos are nearing decision time on Von Miller, who is eligible for a fifth-year option, and ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold details the figures, options and factors involved. Even if the team decides against the fifth-year option in the short-term, franchising Miller next year is a realistic possibility assuming he returns healthy from his ACL injury and gets back to his impact form (30 sacks between 2011 and 2012).
  • In a mailbag, ESPNNewYork.com’s Jane McManus shares her opinion that, in theory, the Jets “have already moved on” from 2012 second-rounder Stephen Hill, who has been a bust through two seasons.
  • The Bills are set at one safety spot with Aaron Williams, who is locked up until 2018. However, despite an uninspiring trio of competitors for the other starting position (Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams and Jonathan Meeks), the team does not seem motivated to pluck one of the top-rated safety prospects, writes Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. Rodak speculates the Bills likely won’t address safety in the draft until the middle or late rounds if at all, saying, “They could also wait another year, see what they have in those two second-year players, and re-assess the position after this season.”

Draft Notes: Manziel, Clowney, Easley

Texas A&M quarterback prospect Johnny Manziel, who will visit with Cleveland brass this week, is working out for Browns officials in College Station today, per ESPN insider Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

Here’s several more draft news and notes:

  • Speaking of high-profile, scrutinized prospects, South Carolina’s Jadaveon Clowney has drawn heavy criticism, but Bleacher Report columnist Mike Freeman is skeptical about how much of it is legitimate and how much of it is draft propaganda. Meanwhile, Freeman thinks Clowney could set a precedent for how elite prospects handle (dictate?) the pre-draft process in the coming years.
  • “The biggest difference under [Chiefs] general manager John Dorsey is that the requirements for players seem to be a lot less rigid,” says ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher in response to a mailbag question asking about the difference between the team’s current draft philosophy and that of the previous regime. “Where former GM Scott Pioli wanted players to fit into a certain system and tried to fit the players to the system, now the Chiefs are more just looking for good players. They will mold the system around the abilities of the players.”
  • Chargers GM Tom Telesco and Jaguars GM David Caldwell have a good relationship, having known each other since high school, played together in college and worked together in Indianapolis. Accordingly, ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams speculates the two could work together on a draft-day trade that would enable the Jags to reenter the first round and grab a quarterback, perhaps Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, who is rumored to be sliding.
  • Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley, reportedly 80% recovered from a torn ACL and meniscus, is embarking on busy pre-draft schedule, writes Aaron Wilson of National Football Post. Easley will visit with the Patriots and Cowboys after having worked out for 17 teams on Thursday, including the Bears, who had three representatives present. Though undersized, Easley shows the type of explosiveness and disruptive ability desired of a three-technique.
  • Clemson receiver Martavis Bryant, who possesses intriguing measurables, has 22 combined visits and private workouts, according to Wilson via the Baltimore Sun.
  • Georgia Tech pass rusher Jeremiah Attaochu, Southern Miss defensive tackle Khyri Thornton, Montana linebacker Jordan Tripp were among prospects who helped themselves with strong pro day efforts, according to NFL.com’s College Football 24/7 writer Bryan Fischer, who highlights defensive prospect risers.
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