2015 Free Agents

Broncos To Re-Sign Lil’Jordan Humphrey

Playing a bigger-than-expected role with the Broncos last season, Lil’Jordan Humphrey is part of the team’s changing 2024 receiver plan. Denver is bringing back the ex-Sean Payton New Orleans charge.

Humphrey will re-sign with the Broncos on a one-year deal, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter tweets. The Broncos traded Jerry Jeudy to the Browns over the weekend and owe Courtland Sutton a roster bonus this coming weekend. As changes come about in a Denver receiving corps that had stayed mostly the same since 2020, Humphrey will attempt to carve out a role once again.

Down Tim Patrick for a second full season, Denver opted to use Humphrey as an eight-game starter. While this run did not lead to impressive stats (13 catches, 162 yards), Patrick played all 17 games and caught three TD passes. In addition to a Week 1 score, the 6-foot-4 pass catcher reeled off an impressive catch-and-run TD during Jarrett Stidham‘s first start four months later.

In five seasons, Humphrey has crossed 100 receiving yards only twice. He did play for Payton for three years in New Orleans, bringing system familiarity on a team that could be making a significant transition. Perennial trade candidates, Jeudy and Sutton were teammates for four seasons. Although the Broncos are bringing Patrick back, Sutton is due a $2MM salary guarantee on Sunday. The six-year veteran is attached to a nonguaranteed $13MM base salary for 2024. With the Broncos in cost-cutting mode, it is not beyond the realm of possibility they separate from Jeudy and Sutton this offseason.

Patriots Re-Sign WR Jalen Reagor

Jalen Reagor has played for three different teams in as many years, but he will find short-term stability in 2024. The former first-round wideout has re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network notes the pact is worth almost $1.3MM and includes $443K in guaranteed money.

While Reagor will likely be tied to Justin Jefferson for the rest of his career, the 2020 draftee does have a chance to play a fifth NFL season. The TCU product has not panned out as a wide receiver, but multiple teams — the Vikings and Patriots — have brought him in to help in the return game.

Reagor joined the Patriots practice squad at the end of the 2023 preseason and ended up getting into 11 games for the big-league squad. He returned seven kickoffs during his time in New England (including a 98-yard touchdown), but he also got into 308 offensive snaps. That didn’t necessarily translate into production; while Reagor garnered 23 targets, he turned that into only seven catches for 138 yards.

The former first-round pick started his career with the Eagles, with Philly selecting him one pick ahead of his future All-Pro teammate in Jefferson. Reagor hauled in 64 catches through his two seasons with the Eagles before he was traded to Minnesota in 2022. During his lone season with the Vikings, the receiver hauled in eight catches while serving as the team’s primary punt returner.

The Patriots could have some open reps at WR next season. The team moved on from DeVante Parker and is looking to ditch JuJu Smith-Schuster, meaning the team could have a spot open for a reclamation project like Reagor.

Players On One-Year RFA Contracts

Dozens of players with exactly three years of NFL experience were eligible for restricted free agency this offseason, but not all of those players received RFA tenders from their respective clubs. Any player eligible for restricted free agency who was non-tendered became an unrestricted free agent instead, free to sign with any team.

Of those players who did receive RFA tenders, some ultimately signed longer-term contracts with their clubs, and a couple – George Johnson and Sean Richardson – even inked offer sheets with rival suitors. Johnson’s offer sheet with the Buccaneers went unmatched by the Lions, who worked out an agreement to let the defensive end go to Tampa Bay, while the Packers matched Richardson’s offer sheet from the Raiders, bringing the safety back to Green Bay.

2015’s remaining restricted free agents ultimately signed their one-year tenders from their teams, though some players did so faster than others. Browns safety Tashaun Gipson became the last RFA to formally put pen to paper on his tender earlier this month, just days before the team gained the ability to reduce the amount of his one-year offer.

In total, by our count, 30 restricted free agents signed one-year tenders and will play out the 2015 season on those contracts, unless they reach longer-term deals at some point before the end of the year. These 30 players will subsequently be eligible for unrestricted free agency in March of 2016, assuming they’re not franchised or extended before then.

Here’s the complete list of RFAs who are currently set to play the season on one-year contracts and potentially become UFAs in 2016:

First-round tenders:

Any player who received a first-round tender, worth $3.354MM, would have cost a rival suitor a first-round pick had that team signed him away from his current club. However, no players were assigned this level of tender. Gipson may have been the best candidate — his brief holdout was reportedly due at least in part to his displeasure at receiving a second-round tender instead of a first-round offer.

Second-round tenders:

These offers function in the same way that first-round tenders do, as any team wanting to poach one of these players from his current club would have had to part with a second-round pick to do so. That steep price explains why we didn’t see anyone from this group attracting much outside interest in free agency. Players receiving second-round tenders will earn salaries of $2.356MM for 2015.

Original-round/ROFR tenders:

Most players eligible for restricted free agency were at one point undrafted free agents, since players selected in the draft sign four-year contracts, whereas RFAs only have three years of NFL service time. So while the lowest level of RFA tender, worth $1.542MM for 2015, is often referred to as an “original-round” tender, it usually just gives a team the right of first refusal on an offer sheet.

If a player was at one point a fifth-round pick, for instance, a suitor signing the player to an offer sheet would have to part with a fifth-rounder to land him. For undrafted players though, no draft pick compensation is required. Johnson and Richardson both received ROFR tenders, opening the door for the Bucs and Raiders to put together offer sheets.

2015 NFL Draft Breakdown: Offensive Line

With the NFL draft fast approaching, we’ll be taking a closer look this month at the notable prospects for each position. We’ve already examined quarterbacks, running backs, and receivers, so today we’ll look at the top offensive linemen.

First-Round Tackles:

  • Andrus Peat, Stanford
  • Ereck Flowers, Miami
  • D.J. Humphries, Florida
  • T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh

When teams look for offensive linemen in round one, they’re typically chasing cornerstone left tackles to protect their quarterback’s blind side. While the 2015 NFL draft class doesn’t feature the sort of highly-touted prospects that come off the board in the first 12 picks and slide right into the starting lineup, there are a number of high-upside players who could impact a team this coming season.Ereck Flowers (Featured)

That list starts with Peat and Flowers. Both were highly sought after recruits coming out of high school. Peat was regarded as the top high school player in his class, and grew to become the 6’7″, 313-pound stalwart expected to be a first-round pick. Flowers wasn’t quite as highly regarded, but still committed to Miami as a four-star recruit. Standing at 6’6″ and weighing in at 329 pounds, his stock is very similar to Peat’s.

Both players are very solid in both the running game and the passing game. I saw the ability to force defensive lineman inside and drive them down the field, and both players showed they’re capable of coming off the first block to target a second player down the field on longer runs. That ability to recognize when a block is made and to continue the play is an important skill — it’s one that Vikings’ 2012 fourth overall pick Matt Kalil didn’t show on film, which should have been a red flag at the time, despite his consensus status as a top pick. As Kalil has struggled to recognize blocking schemes and finish plays in the NFL, that inability and/or unwillingness to get to the second level is something teams should carefully study in their evaluations.

Both Peat and Flowers also hold up in pass protection, with Peat particularly kicking out of his stance quickly off the snap. Each player is able to get wide and force pass rushers to take long routes to the quarterback, where it is easy for an offensive tackle to remain in punching distance to push them around the back of the passer who should have room to step up and avoid any pressure in the pocket.

Humphries and Clemmings represent slightly different packages. No sane human would refer to them as small, and Flowers and Peat aren’t considerably bigger, but these two have a reputation for being athletic marvels who are less polished and less solid at their positions. Humphries got the job done at Florida, but he could be found reaching at times in the run game rather than using the force of his body to move defensive linemen. This issue is exacerbated by the shortness of his arms, and puts his body in position where he is unable to draw strength from his legs.

Clemmings played right tackle at Pittsburgh, which is unusual for a player with an eye on moving over to the left side as a pro. Left to right is the usual progression for players transitioning from college to the NFL, though all of these tackles will likely have the opportunity to start their NFL careers on the right side if their new teams think they’ll need that time to adjust. Clemmings is a favorite of some scouts for his extreme athleticism, and the former basketball player can certainly move. He’s raw, but he has the footwork, frame, and arm length to develop into a top left tackle in the right situation.

First-Round Interior Linemen:

  • Brandon Scherff, Iowa
  • La’el Collins, LSU
  • Cameron Erving, Florida State

This group is made up of nominally interior linemen for draft purposes, but actually all three players spent most or all of their college careers at left tackle. There is a chance all three stick at tackle in the NFL, but most have them valued more realistically at guard or center.

Guards don’t get the same respect as tackles when it comes notoriety or contracts, and they’re especially discounted on draft day. However, there is some consensus that Scherff will be the first lineman off the board, and he’s worthy of that honor. While the group of left tackles is best described as solid, Scherff is spectacular. In the running game, he’s as dangerous as they come, finishing every block to the ground and then diving on the poor defensive end or linebacker he just victimized. His Youtube highlight tape is the most entertaining and fun to watch of any player in the draft, an honor usually reserved for receivers, running backs, quarterbacks, or maybe a hard hitting defensive player. His arms are short for tackle, and he got fooled with a finesse pass rush occasionally, so I understand the feeling that he will have to be moved to guard. That being said, like Zack Martin, if Scherff is the best offensive lineman in the draft, then it makes sense to pick him and figure out later where he’ll play.

Collins has similar issues with arm length, though he held up very well at left tackle in the SEC. He’s a strong player and a good run blocker, even if he isn’t as fun to watch as Scherff. Pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr., the presumed favorite of the Jaguars selecting at three, was haunted by Collins in college. “My sophomore year, we went to Baton Rouge and played against LSU, and I’m not going to lie, I got my butt whooped,” Fowler told Jenny Vrentas of MMQB.SI.com. “That was one of my worst games just because of how I got tossed around.

Fowler continued to say he was motivated by the “butt whooping” and came back harder in 2014. I rewatched that game; you wouldn’t even notice he was on the field for the most part. Collins isn’t the brute that Scherff is, nor does he have the sheer athleticism and technique of Peat, but he is a really solid player who can do a lot of different things for a football team.

Erving is a little different. He started his career at left tackle, and would have drawn some second-round interest if he had declared for the draft a year ago. Instead, he returned to Florida State, where he struggled at times. Players were able to blow by him, and his play made you question whether his stock would drop by the time the draft came around. One of his best games at left tackle came against Clemson and pass rusher Vic Beasley. Beasley torments with athleticism, but Erving held him at bay for most of the game, allowing him to pressure the quarterback only a few times. Specifically, Erving was beat with speed off the edge for Beasley’s two sacks. However, Beasley was pushed around in the running game, which Florida State leaned on during some big moments late in the fourth quarter and especially in overtime.

Erving moved to center for the Miami game, and didn’t look great at first — he was very inconsistent with his snaps, moving slowly out of his stance while focused on looking through his legs at his target in the shotgun behind him. However, the Hurricanes were shockingly unable to take advantage of his lack of confidence. Only a few short weeks later against Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game, Erving looked as if he had been playing center his whole life, and I think that would be a great spot for him to stay in the NFL.

Day Two:

  • Jake Fisher, Oregon
  • Hroniss Grasu, Oregon
  • A.J. Cann, South Carolina
  • Ty Sambrailo, Colorado State
  • Laken Tomlinson, Duke
  • Tre’ Jackson, Florida State
  • Reese Dismukes, Auburn
  • Ali Marpet, Hobart
  • Arie Kouandijo, Alabama
  • Daryl Williams, Oklahoma
  • John Miller, Louisville
  • Cedric Ogbuehi, Texas A&M
  • Rob Havenstein, Wisconsin

Fisher is in the discussion at the end of the first round, and Cann may be too, depending on how desperately teams need help at the position and how many offensive linemen are off the board ahead of them. Fisher isn’t a far cry from the likes of Humphries or Clemmings, but there’s likely a sense that he’s less of a known commodity coming out of Oregon’s up-tempo spread. He was rarely asked to sit in pass protection to allow Marcus Mariota time to progress through reads on deeper drops. Oregon did move him around, playing him at both tackle spots and even bumping him inside, which should add to his value. His teammate Grasu will be easier to project — while playing tackle in that offense might relieve some of the physical pressures of the position, Grasu had to be both strong and smart to keep the offensive line together.

Grasu is part of a pretty strong group of interior linemen with a good chance at being taken on day two of the draft. Cann and Jackson were standouts at guard and have both the size and strength to handle interior defenders. Cann’s strength and mobility were on display, as he can often be found running up to the second level to deliver punishing blows on would-be tacklers. Jackson lined up next to Erving often in Florida State’s scheme, and the pair combined to be a force in the running game, springing Seminole runners for huge gains through the teeth of opposing defenses.

Tomlinson, Marpet, and Miller are a trio of players who have risen up draft boards to present secondary options at guard. If Cann, Jackson, and Grasu live up to their status as early second-round picks and come off the board fairly early, teams like the Bills and Seahawks could still hope to fill a tremendous need when they come to the podium for the first time in round two. Both teams are looking to plug holes in the interior of their offensive lines, and I expect they’d like to see as many players in this group as possible still available for them in round two. The Seahawks have a number of draft picks, and I wouldn’t think it’s out of the question for them to go up and get one of these guys if their man is still on the board in the middle of the second round.

Also in this group are three very different but very interesting offensive tackles, in Sambrailo, Ogbuehi, and Havenstein. Ogbuehi has drawn some first and second-round grades, and is a big, strong prototypical left tackle who had success at Texas A&M, following the mold of Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. Ogbuehi presents good quickness and has some strength that should translate to the NFL, but was often caught out of position blocking both against the run and the pass. He was frequently able to get away with this poor technique in college based off his athleticism, working his way into good position or overpowering defensive linemen, but it’d be difficult to imagine that trend continuing in the NFL.

Sambrailo is regarded much differently. There aren’t as many concerns about technique, athleticism, or strength — the main question is essentially whether or not he is a good football player at this stage. He misses on blocks and fails to recognize blitzers often enough that it’s a problem, and while he’s a brute in the running game, he does get beat across his face and sometimes over-pursues his block. Some evaluators have him as a possible late first/early second-round pick , while others seem him slipping into the third day of the draft.

Havenstein is a player who is thought of as solid to a fault. He tested poorly at the combine, and went from a strong stalwart to an underwhelming physical talent. NFL.com describes him as a “Three-year starter who doesn’t look the part in his uniform,” but the 6’7″ tackle was the anchor on an offensive line that sprung Melvin Gordon for 2,500 yards, 29 touchdowns, and a first-round grade. Fans of Wisconsin and Big Ten defensive ends are probably surprised he has been pegged as a third-round pick by many draft expert. For a team in need of a right tackle who fires off the ball, Havenstein could be just the mauler they are looking for.

It’s a strange time for offensive linemen in the draft, as in recent years top picks such as Joeckel, Kalil, Eric Fisher, Chance Warmack, and Jonathan Cooper have all failed to provide stability to their teams’ offensive lines. If Scherff drops past the Giants and Rams, we could see an NFL draft without an offensive lineman as a top-10 pick for the first time since 2005. Maybe this is a referendum only on the quality of prospects in this draft, or possibly the needs of the teams picking in the top 10. But it does seem like teams may be less likely to regard highly-rated offensive linemen as safe picks, as clubs are being more cautious about selecting them over more dynamic players at other positions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Dwight Freeney

Using the 2015 franchise tag figures as a gauge, it’s evident that edge defenders are considered, and compensated as, one of the most important position on the field, second only to quarterbacks. While the QB franchise number for the upcoming season is set at $18.544MM, the figure for pass rushers (which I determined by averaging the franchise salaries for defensive ends and liDwight Freeneynebackers) will be $13.854MM.

The need for high-quality edge defenders was borne out in free agency, where the best available rushers garnered top-end contracts. Jerry Hughes signed a five-year, $45MM pact to stay with the Bills, the Bears handed Pernell McPhee $38.75MM to lure him away from Baltimore, and Brandon Graham was retain by the Eagles on a four-year, $26MM deal. The market for rushers (and defenders as a whole) is mostly picked over now that we’re a month removed from the beginning of free agency, but there are a few options still remaining, one of whom is veteran LB/DE Dwight Freeney.

Entering his age-35 season, Freeney obviously isn’t the player he once was during his prime when the Colts, with whom he averaged 10 sacks per year from 2002-12 (including a league-leading 16 in 2004). But the Syracuse alum still has a lot to offer on the football field, including the ability to stand up and play outside linebacker, the position he manned during the past two seasons in San Diego. Freeney didn’t rack up the same gaudy sacks totals with the Chargers that he did with Indianapolis — he posted just four total sacks from 2013-14 — but a deeper look his statistics shows that he’s still capable of affecting an opposing club’s passing attack.

Freeney played on approximately 55% of San Diego’s defensive snaps last year, rushing the passer or defending the run on nearly every play (he saw just 14 coverage snaps). While he accrued just 3.5 sacks, he placed third among qualifying 3-4 OLBs with 40 quarterback hurries, and 14th with nine QB hits — as such, he graded as the sixth-best at his position in terms of pass-rush productivity, an all-encompassing metric from Pro Football Focus (subscription required) that seeks to measure a defender’s total pressure output. Subscribing to Josh Norris of Rotoworld’s theory that “disruption is production” — in other words, sack totals aren’t the only way to judge a pass rusher — it’s clear that Freeney has quite a bit left to offer.

Unlike the other edge rushers mentioned above, Freeney shouldn’t require a multi-year deal or any significant amount of guaranteed money. That might seem like an odd statement given his production last season, but given his advanced age, and the fact that he’s yet to draw any known interest since announcing his intention to play this season on March 2, it seems like Freeney will have to end up accepting a one-year deal with minimal risk attached for the team.

Freeney, a three-time All Pro, is coming off a contract that paid him nearly $4.5MM annually (though he eventually accepted a pay cut from the Chargers), but he probably won’t be able to match that figure again. Fellow OLB Sean Weatherspoon recently signed a one-year, $3.875MM pact with the Cardinals, and while Weatherspoon does have a lengthy injury history to account for, he’s also eight years younger than Freeney. As such, I’d guess that something like $3MM over one year, perhaps with some incentives available, would be a fair deal for Freeney.

There a quite a few teams that could use a situational rusher like Freeney, and because he has experience both with his hand in the ground and standing up, I wouldn’t think he’d be limited to one scheme. That versatility could prove handy, especially for clubs that like to mix up their defensive fronts. One such team, the Patriots, always seem to be able to coax out the last bit of production from veteran players, so Freeney could be a fit in New England. Elsewhere, the Falcons, Packers, Bengals, Bears, and Chiefs all finished among the bottom-10 in adjusted sack rate, and might be interested in adding edge talent. For his part, Peter King of TheMMQB.com opined last month that the Buccaneers could also be a possible fit, while I recently suggested another NFC South club, the Panthers, could find a bargain in Freeney.

One club that won’t be signing Freeney is the Chargers, as general manager Tom Telesco told Freeney in March that San Diego wouldn’t be retaining him. Personally, I find that a bit surprising, as San Diego’s pass rush was nothing special last season — the team finished 29th in sacks and 20th in adjusted sack rate. Following the retirement of Jarret Johnson, the Chargers don’t have much depth at outside linebacker, so unless they’re especially high on 2013 sixth-round pick Tourek Williams (the projected starter at LOLB), I’m confused as to why San Diego wouldn’t welcome Freeney back.

One reason that could help explain why Freeney remains unsigned is that free agent contracts are still tied compensatory draft picks for another month. In the past, the cutoff date for draft pick compensation was June 1, but the league recently moved that deadline up to May 12. Based on Zack Moore of Over the Cap’s calculations, Miles Austin‘s $2.3MM deal with the Browns is currently the least-expensive contract tied to a compensatory pick. So if Freeney is asking for the ~$3MM that I estimated for him, interested clubs might be wary of possibly forfeiting the chance at a comp pick to sign him (even if that pick will only be a sixth- or seventh-rounder). As such, we’ll probably have to wait until after that May 12 date so see Freeney (and other veterans like him) find new homes.

Like I noted when I profiled fellow free agent Brandon Spikes, I think NFL teams are wise to focus on what a player can do, instead of what he can’t do. Spikes is out of his element in pass coverage, but he’s an effective run defender when given the chance. Freeney is 35 years old and needs to have his playing time monitored, but as a part-time pass rusher who sees 35 snaps per game, he can still be highly productive. A club could do much worse than to hand Freeney $3MM or so and insert him into it’s edge defender rotation.

Free Agent Stock Watch: Brandon Spikes

Last March, coming off a five-year stretch with the Patriots, inside linebacker Brandon Spikes had to settle for a one-year deal with the division-rival Bills that netted him just $3.25MM. That contract, while likely below Spikes’ salary target, was signed within days of the start of the free agent period. This year, however, we’re nearly a month separated from the beginning of free agBrandon Spikesency, and Spikes is still unsigned.

There are a myriad of reasons that could help explain why Spikes is still on the market, but chief among them is probably the devaluation of the inside linebacker position. Not only are ILBs not (for the most part) getting paid in free agency, but two-down run-stopping specialists, such as Spikes, are rapidly falling out of favor in today’s NFL.

The advanced metrics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) actually paint a relatively positive picture of Spikes’ pass-coverage abilities, as he ranked fourth-best at his position in yards per coverage snap and coverage snaps per reception. Each of those statistics, however, are dependent on a player’s total coverage snaps, of which Spikes had few. The 27-year-old saw just 222 snaps in coverage, the 16th-fewest among qualifying inside linebackers. Small sample size is obviously an issue here, as the consensus among most observers is that Spikes isn’t cut out for three-down duty.

But for a club looking for a force against the run, there are certainly worse options than Spikes. Overall, he graded as PFF’s 13th-best inside linebacker in the league last season, and his total ranking was buoyed in large part by his run-stopping acumen, as he placed ninth in that department. Spikes’ 2014 run-defense numbers are no fluke, as he ranked No. 1 against the run in both 2012 and 2013.

Of course, Spikes’ on-the-field limitations and/or strengths might not be the only factors playing into his current availability. Clubs also take into account soft factors, and Spikes has a history of (relatively minor) off-the-field incidents. He’s been called a “headhunter” by other players (and has been fined heavily for certain hits), posted offensive material on social media, and been lambasted by former teammates. Perhaps most seriously, Spikes was suspended for four games in 2010 for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. On their own, none of the above episodes are overly consequential, but taken together, they paint Spikes as a player who could be more of a distraction than he’s worth.

But yet, as Steve Palazzolo noted on a recent PFF Podcast, in a league where 31-year-old David Harris is worth $21.5MM over three years, it’s possible that Spikes is being undervalued. Yes, two-down linebackers are increasingly less important, but as Palazzolo added, a team could sign Spikes, draft a coverage linebacker, and replicate the production of a Harris-type linebacker for half the cost.

One potential path for Spikes could be returning to Buffalo, which still had interest in re-signing its free agent linebacker as recently as March 27. Back in February, however, Bills general manager Doug Whaley said that Spikes would only return as a two-down linebacker, adding that if Spikes wanted a larger role he would have to look elsewhere. Of course, at this point, an early-down role looks like the only route for Spikes, regardless of team, but overall, Buffalo doesn’t seem overly invested in retaining Spikes.

Other clubs have expressed their interest in Spikes, including the 49ers (reeling from the loss of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland) and the Vikings. Minnesota, though, proceeded to sign fellow ILB Casey Matthews, which reportedly signaled the end of the team’s interest in Spikes. The Dolphins were also mentioned as a potential suitor, but it sounds like Koa Misi will man the middle in Miami.

So now that the dust has settled on free agency, where could Spikes fit? I’d think the Browns could make a play for him, as he’d act as a good complement to Craig Robertson, who is a solid coverage linebacker. Elsewhere, the Titans, Cardinals, Packers, Chiefs and Texans all currently list at least one inexperienced player atop their inside linebacker depth charts, so Spikes could add something of a veteran presence to each of those 3-4 schemes. Among clubs who play a 4-3 front, the Falcons could look for an upgrade over the smallish Paul Worrilow, and Spikes (at 6’2″, 255 pounds) could be an improvement.

Spikes will probably have to settle for another one-year deal, and because he’s still unsigned into April, he might have to take even less than he received in 2014. A.J. Hawk, by any measure a less-talented linebacker, will earn a $1.625MM AAV with the Bengals, a figure that should act as a floor for Spikes. Nate Irving, a good comparison for Spikes, will garner a shade less than $2.5MM per year per his deal with the Colts, so I’d guess that Spikes will earn something in that range. A team willing to play to Spikes’ strengths, and perhaps pair him with a coverage-centric linebacker, could end up finding a bargain.

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.

NFC Links: White, Wallace, Seahawks

Corey White will head to Dallas after the Saints waived him Friday, reports ESPN’s Todd Archer. White had less than four years’ experience, which sent him to the waiver process where the Cowboys picked up the cornerback’s contract.

The soon-to-be 25-year-old White, a fifth-round Saints pick in 2012, started 19 games with New Orleans the past three seasons, including nine last year. The Cowboys, who did not place a tender on then-restricted free agent corner Sterling Moore last weekend, also have interest in bringing in ex-Saints corner Patrick Robinson, Archer added.

Moore rated 22nd among cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus (subscription required) last year, while the site ranked White as its third-worst corner.

White’s cap number more than doubles entering his fourth year, going from $614K to $1.6MM, per OverTheCap.

Elsewhere in free agency’s first official weekend …

  • New Vikings No. 1 receiver Mike Wallace did not agree to renegotiate his contract, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Wallace’s Dolphins deal signed in 2013 calls for him to count $9.9MM against the Vikings’ salary cap, which could be the highest figure on the team, depending on what happens with Adrian Peterson ($15.4MM).”I was traded as is, with my contract. We didn’t even discuss anything like that,” Wallace said, via Tomasson.
  • Currently the Seahawks‘ No. 2 quarterback behind Russell Wilson, B.J. Daniels figures to get competition here and may have his role expanded to non-quarterback responsibilities, reports Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. The third-stringer behind Wilson and current unrestricted free agent Tarvaris Jackson, Daniels was signed to a futures contract after the 2013 season. Pete Carroll told Condotta the athletic QB could be in line to have a role at wide receiver along with time as a return man. Daniels, a 49ers seventh-round pick in 2013, rushed for more than 2,000 yards in college at South Florida.
  • Five cornerbacks on the 2013 Super Bowl champion Seahawks signed for a sum of $126.25MM this week, notes Condotta. Although only Byron Maxwell (six years, $63MM, Eagles) and Walter Thurmond (one year, $3.25MM, Eagles) played for the team in Super Bowl XLVIII, Brandon Browner (three years, $15MM, Saints), Perrish Cox (three years, $15MM, Titans) and Ron Parker (five years, $30MM, Chiefs) were on the roster at various points that season or in training camp.
  • OverTheCap provided an analysis of what kind of compensatory draft picks this year’s free agent class can net their former teams. It tabbed Ndamukong Suh, Darrelle Revis, Maxwell and Julius Thomas to result in picks at the end of the 2016 draft’s third round for the Lions, Patriots, Seahawks and Broncos. This year’s compensatory selections are set to be announced later this month.

NFC Notes: Housler, Barksdale, Wright

Former Cardinals tight end Rob Housler visited the Falcons, ESPN Falcons reporter Vaughn McClure pointed out on Twitter. Although benched in favor of 2014 free agent acquisition John Carlson, Housler, with a 4.46 40-yard dash to his credit, was serviceable as a part-time starter in 2012 and 2013 and could be an upgrade in Atlanta.

The former Florida Atlantic talent would join a corps fronted by Levine Toilolo, who Pro Football Focus rated as its fourth-worst tight end last season (subscription required) in his bid to replace Tony Gonzalez.

In other news as the second wave of free agency persists …

  • Bruce Arians told radio station 97.5 TheFanatic he’s excited to venture into draft preparations without any actual needs, per a tweet from ESPN Cardinals reporter Josh Weinfuss. Most notably, the Cardinals fortified their offensive front with premier guard Mike Iupati and underrated center A.Q. Shipley and brought in second-level defensive help in linebackers Sean Weatherspoon and LaMarr Woodley.
  • The Rams‘ push to retain Joe Barksdale remains pertinent with some teams calling him the best right tackle left, ESPN’s Adam Caplan tweets. Of course, the LSU product’s decision may linger with his wedding set for tomorrow, relays ESPN Rams beat man Adam Wagoner via Twitter.
  • Lance Kendricks‘ decision to sign a second contract with the Rams, a four-year, $18.5MM accord, featured a Falcons bid reportedly higher, adds Wagoner on Twitter. This could be good news for Housler.
  • After losing Chris Culliver to Washington earlier today, the 49ers are hosting Shareece Wright on a visit with “lots of mutual interest,” notes NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter. A soon-to-be 28-year-old corner coming off two seasons as a starter for the Chargers, Wright has interest from three other teams, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Michael Gehlken reported on Twitter.
  • The Texans‘ acquisition of ex-Broncos free safety Rahim Moore didn’t come without a fight from the Vikings, ESPN1500 Twin Cities reporter Darren Wolfson notes (Twitter link). Moore requested more money from the Vikings than the Texans had to bid, and Minnesota wouldn’t oblige.

Raiders Sign Malcolm Smith

WEDNESDAY, 7:35pm: The contract is a two-year deal worth $7MM, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

5:46pm: The Raiders announced on Twitter that the deal is official.

TUESDAY, 3:48pm: Flush with salary cap space, the Raiders are starting to bring in some more talent after missing on some key targets during “soft free agency” this weekend. Former Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith will join the Raiders’ strong young linebacking corps, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted.

Terms of the impending deal have not been disclosed, but it appears the four-year veteran will join Khalil Mack and Sio Moore on the Raiders’ second level.

Most known for his game-breaking interception of Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLVIII last February, Smith was not a regular starter with the Seahawks. A 2011 seventh-round pick, Smith started five games last year and played just 286 snaps, receiving a poor assessment from Pro Football Focus in the process (subscription required). Smith did grade far better in 2013, however, in more than 600 snaps.

Smith does offer value in having experience at all three positions in a 4-3 defense at linebacker, although the former USC product primarily played weakside backer for the loaded Seattle corps the past two seasons.