Armed with over $70MM in cap space and in need of defensive upgrades, the Jaguars have emerged as early contenders for soon-to-be free agent linebacker Bruce Irvin, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
Irvin, who has spent the first four years of his career in Seattle, is familiar with Jags head coach Gus Bradley – formerly the Seahawks‘ defensive coordinator. Bradley helped Irvin to a career-high eight sacks in the defender’s rookie year, 2012, before leaving for Jacksonville. Irvin has since added 14 more sacks over the last three years. When PFR’s Luke Adams previewed the Jaguars’ offseason three weeks ago, he listed Irvin as a logical fit for the Jags.
Here’s the latest on some other players looking for new contracts as free agency nears:
- Thirty-year-old running back Matt Forte will have a difficult time eclipsing $3MM per annum on his next deal, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. The five-time thousand-yard rusher racked up 1,287 total yards (898 rushing, 389 receiving) and seven touchdowns last season, and is poised to join his second franchise after spending the first eight years of his career in Chicago.
- Free agent defensive end Chris Long is generating interest and will start visiting teams after his first child is born (due date Wednesday), tweets Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Long, 30, has 54.5 sacks in his first eight seasons, all of which were spent in St. Louis. The Rams released Long earlier this month after injuries limited his effectiveness the previous two years.
- Safety Tashaun Gipson expects his Browns tenure to end after four years, per teammate Donte Whitner. “I don’t think he’s too hopeful he’s going to be back,” said Whitner (Twitter link via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com). We learned over the weekend that Gipson could parlay his ball-hawking prowess (14 career interceptions) into a big contract.
- Chiefs defensive lineman Jaye Howard is looking for $8MM to $9MM per year, Biggs reports. Howard, 27, set career highs in starts (14), tackles (57) and sacks (5.5) during the 2015-16 season, and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) graded him a solid 24th among 123 qualifying interior D-linemen.
- The Dolphins could pursue Bears tight end Zach Miller in free agency, writes Biggs. Miller played under new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase when the latter was the Bears’ offensive coordinator last season and totaled career bests in all notable categories. If Chicago loses Miller, it could replace him with one of the Colts‘ free agent tight ends, Dwayne Allen or Coby Fleener, per Biggs.