Letroy Guion, Packers Agree To Deal

The Packers and defensive tackle Letroy Guion have agreed to terms on a one-year contract that will keep Guion in Green Bay, reports Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Per Demovsky, the deal is expected to be officially finalized and signed tomorrow.

Guion, 27, had an effective first season with the Packers in 2014, starting all 16 games for the team and racking up 41 tackles to go along with 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. However, he ran into some off-field trouble earlier this offseason, when he was pulled over for erratic driving — police found 357 grams of marijuana, $190K+ in cash, and an unloaded gun in his truck. Guion reached a plea deal last week and avoided prosecution.

Following the conclusion of his legal case, Guion reportedly visited the Seahawks on Friday. As I noted at the time, while many teams won’t let free agents leave the building without a contract, Seattle has a track record of bringing in players for visits and not signing them. That appears to be the case this time, as Guion will return to a Green Bay team that lost to the Seahawks in January’s NFC Championship game.

Guion’s previous one-year contract with the Packers was worth just under $1MM, and I’d expect his new deal to exceed that figure, even after his off-field incident. Financial terms of the deal aren’t yet known, however.

Hakeem Nicks To Visit 49ers

As the 49ers continue to weigh their options at wide receiver, they’ll host a veteran free agent for a visit, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Anderson reports that former Giant and Colt Hakeem Nicks is paying a visit to San Francisco to meet with the Niners.

While fellow 2009 first-round wideout Jeremy Maclin parlayed a one-year, prove-it deal in 2014 into a huge, long-term contract, Nicks was unable to do the same in Indianapolis. After receiving 100 or more targets in each of his previous four seasons in New York, Nicks saw a career-low 68 passes thrown his way in 2014, as Andrew Luck and the Colts relied more on T.Y. Hilton, Reggie Wayne, and Cody Fleener in the passing game. Nicks finished the season with 405 yards and three touchdowns on 38 receptions.

The Niners made a big splash in free agency when they landed Torrey Smith on a lucrative five-year contract, and the ex-Raven should be a nice complement for former teammate Anquan Boldin. However, San Francisco has seen a number of receivers depart this offseason, with Michael Crabtree and Brandon Lloyd hitting the free agent market, while Steve Johnson was released. As such, the team is in need of some additional depth at the position.

San Francisco will be the first team Nicks has visited this offseason. The former 29th overall pick just turned 27 in June and has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his résumé, but doesn’t seem to be generating a ton of interest on the open market this year after posting pedestrian numbers for the Colts.

Extra Points: Winston, Panthers, Texans, LA

While certainly nothing is definite at this stage in the draft process, the Buccaneers are overwhelmingly likely to select Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with the first overall pick, according to Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune (Twitter link), who says the Bucs are “locked in” on Winston. A poor Pro Day showing by Winston won’t affect his draft stock, at least from Tampa’s perspective, adds Kaufman.

Here’s more from around the league…

North Notes: Browns, J. Smith, J. Allen, Lions

While the Browns are content to use Josh McCown as their starting quarterback in 2015, Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer believes the club will continue to search for other options at the position. Cabot thinks Cleveland will attempt to trade up in the draft for Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, and also doesn’t rule out the Browns making another run at Sam Bradford on draft day.

Here’s more from the North divisions:

  • Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is perhaps the best 2016 free agent CB, writes ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley, who argues that Baltimore will either sign Smith to an extension, or use the franchise tag on him. Hensley adds that the starting point for negotiations on a long-term deal would probably be the contract between the Eagles and Byron Maxwell (six years, $63MM).
  • In an interesting discussion with Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune, Jared Allen discusses the Bears’ dismal 2014 season, his hopes for an improved 2015, and his transition to 3-4 linebacker. Perhaps most notably, Allen reveals that the Broncos were on his shortlist of intriguing teams when he hit free agency last offseason in large part due to John Fox, who of course is now in Chicago.
  • The Lions lost one of the league’s best players in Ndamukong Suh to free agency, but improvement by younger defenders such as linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive end Larry Webster could keep Detroit’s defense among the NFL’s top units, opines Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Joe Barksdale

As we head into April, there are just four remaining unsigned free agents that were listed among Pro Football Rumors’ Top 50 FAs. Our 29th overall free agent, receiver Michael Crabtree, had a down year in 2014, and PFR’s Rory Parks look at wJoe Barksdalehy he remains on the open market. Linebacker Rolando McClain, our No. 35 FA, has already retired twice during his young career, and is facing a fine after failing a third drug test, as documented by PFR’s Luke Adams. And our 39th-ranked free agent, center Stefen Wisniewski, is recovering from offseason shoulder injury, which could explain his lack of a market.

But perhaps the most puzzling member of the unsigned free agents club is offensive tackle Joe Barksdale, who ranked 36th on our Top 50 list. The 27-year-old Barksdale has spent the past three seasons with the Rams, and has started 29 games over the past two years. Without a strong crop of right tackles available in free agency, Barksdale seemingly should have been in line for a multi-year pact that paid him in the neighborhood of $6MM annually, comparable to the deals signed by Andre Smith and Anthony Collins in recent years.

The few free agent right tackles who did hit the market were handsomely rewarded, making it even more confusing that Barksdale hasn’t been able to find a home. The top RT available, Bryan Bulaga, re-signed with the Packers for almost $34MM, and while he’ll average just $6.75MM per year, it’s assumed that he took less money to stay in Green Bay. Jermey Parnell, largely unproven after starting just seven games over three seasons for the Cowboys, secured a five-year, $32.5MM deal from the Jaguars, while Doug Free will earn a $5MM AAV after re-signing with Dallas.

A glance at Pro Football Focus’ (subscription required) offensive tackle grades could offer some explanation as to why Barskdale remains available — while Bulaga, Parnell, and Free all ranked within the top 21 tackles, Barksdale placed just 48th. His run-blocking grade (arguably the more important mark for a right tackle) was impressive, however, as he ranked as the league’s 11th-best T in the run game. Still, based on PFF’s ratings, Barksdale might not be in the same class as those top three tackles, so if he’s asking for $5-6MM per year, clubs could be looking elsewhere.

Indeed, Barksdale hasn’t drawn much known interest from around the league, as he’s only been linked to the Rams and the Titans. Tennessee’s interest seems to be lukewarm, as reports indicated that the club would “consider” Barksdale after losing Michael Roos and Michael Oher earlier this year. Based on reports, it appears that a reunion between Barskdale and St. Louis is the most likely scenario — the Rams initially thought that the tackle was overestimating his market, and now that that seems to have been the case, head Jeff Fisher confirmed the two sides were talking.

Even after a dreadful season, Oher was able to garner a $3.5MM AAV from the Panthers, and I’d be very surprised if Barksdale has to settle for less than that. Something in the $4-4.5MM range (at the level of Zach Strief and Breno Giacomini) would make sense for both Barksdale and the Rams. For its part, St. Louis can use all the help it can get along the offensive line, where Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold are the only returning starters. With only about $2.6MM needed to sign its draft class, the Rams have approximately $6.4MM in effective cap space, so they should easily be able to fit a Barksdale-level contract on their books.

Seahawks Re-Sign Demarcus Dobbs

The Seahawks have re-signed defensive end Demarcus Dobbs, tweets his agent Wesley Spencer (h/t to Mike Wilkening of Pro Football Talk). According to Spencer, Dobbs’ new deal is for one year.

Seattle claimed Dobbs, 27, off waivers from the 49ers in early November, and while he went on to appear in four games for the Seahawks, he played on just 39 defensive snaps. His role increased during Seattle’s playoff run, however, as he saw action on about 43% of postseason snaps. All told, Dobbs racked up five tackles in 2014, bringing his career stop total to 24.

Dobbs, who can also slide to defensive tackle, doesn’t have much of an NFL track record, meaning his 2015 salary will probably be close to league minimum. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll indicated last week that the club planned to retain both Dobbs and center Stephen Schilling, so with Dobbs taken care of, re-signing Schilling could be up next.

Stefen Wisniewski Had Shoulder Surgery

Given that we’re almost three weeks removed from the start of free agency, it’s more than surprising that the consensus No. 2 free agent center — Stefen Wisniewski — is still unsigned. There appears to be a reason for his cold market, however, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports that Wisniewski is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery after he played the 2014 season with a torn larbrum.

Obviously, any sort of injury or surgery is going to make clubs wary, as evidenced by the fact that tight Jermaine Gresham still hasn’t found a home after it was revealed he was set to undergo a back operation. But Wisniewski’s injury situation might not be the only factor scaring clubs, as Biggs adds that the center is looking for a $4MM per year salary. Such a demand doesn’t sound extravagant, as that AAV wouldn’t even place Wisniewski inside the top 10 among centers. Per Biggs, however, no team has been willing to pay that price, and it’s possible that Wisniewski will have to ultimately sign a one- or two-year “prove-it” contract.

Wisniewski’s former club, the Raiders, have already replaced him, signing top FA center Rodney Hudson to a five-year, $44.5MM deal, and Oakland has no plans to re-sign Wisniewski to play guard. But he has drawn interest from a number of teams, including the Rams and Chiefs, and he met with the Buccaneers and Seahawks. According to Biggs, it would also “be a mistake to rule out the Bears” signing Wisniewski.

The 26-year-old Wisniewski didn’t fare too well in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), which rated him as the league’s 22nd-best center. Of course, his injury could have played a role in his decreased production, as PFF has assigned him a higher grade in years past. The Penn State alum was PFR’s No. 39 free agent.

NFC East Notes: Moss, RG3, Gregory, Giants

Although Washington head coach Jay Gruden said last week that the club would be open to re-signing receiver Santana Moss, Zac Boyer of the Washington Times writes that the team won’t bring back the veteran until mid-summer at the earliest. As Boyer adds, offseason workouts end in mid-June — if Washington decides it could use a reliable slot receiver at the point, Moss would probably be brought into the fold. The 35-year-old Moss said last December that he wouldn’t hesitate to retire if the right opportunity didn’t present itself.

Here’s more from the nation’s capital and the rest of the NFC East:

  • Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Washington executive Doug Williams said the club still has high hopes for quarterback Robert Griffin III. “This is a young guy that’s got some talent,” said Williams, via Chase Hughes of CSNWashington.com. “There are adjustments that he has to make if think given time, and I think that’s one of the reasons why nobody has given up on him. With the talent that he does have, you’re hoping that the last couple of years with the injuries and everything is out of the way, that he will develop into the guy that we all hope for him to be. I think it’s fair to give him that opportunity.”
  • Though the Giants are rumored to have interest in Nebraska edge rusher Randy Gregory, Jordan Raanan of NJ.com isn’t so sure New York would pull the trigger come draft day, noting the club’s aversion to smaller defenders (Gregory weighed in at 235 pounds at the combine). Gregory, who failed a drug test at the combine, won’t be an option for the Giants at pick No. 9, writes Raanan, but he could be NY’s choice if he falls to the second round.
  • In his most recent mailbag at ESPN.com, John Keim lists free safety and right tackle as Washington‘s most glaring needs. Right tackle, adds Keim, could be turned over to 2014 draftee Morgan Moses, but health questions have made his availability uncertain.

PFR Originals: 3/22/15 – 3/29/15

The original content produced by the PFR staff during the past week:

  • Now that this year’s compensatory picks have been announced, Luke Adams was able to provide the complete 2015 NFL draft order (also available on a team-by-team basis).
  • Luke also posted the list of 2015 NFL trades, which will updated as the season progresses.
  • Rory Parks examined the free agent stock of receiver Michael Crabtree, one of the top FAs still available.
  • Also in our FA stock watch series, Luke took a look at linebacker Rolando McClain, who is still sitting on the market.
  • The NFL is expected to vote on changing the extra point rules in May, and Luke asked how PFR readers thought the rules should be altered. The majority of voters (about 41%) believe that the extra point should remain unchanged. Thanks for voting!

Week In Review: 3/22/15 – 3/29/15

The headlines from the past week at PFR:

Key News:

Signed/Re-Signed:

Waivers:

Contract Restructured: