Cole’s Latest: Harrison, Vernon, Mack, Ayers

With the NFL’s legal tampering period underway for 2016, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report has passed along several noteworthy free agent rumors. Let’s round up the highlights…

  • While plenty of teams will have interest, the Titans appear to be the club most willing to meet Damon Harrison‘s asking price, according to Cole (video link). The Jets would love to retain their standout nose tackle, but given all the suitors expected to be in play, the price will be high. That may be an issue for the Jets, who have already committed $15MM+ to Muhammad Wilkerson.
  • The Dolphins may ultimately decide to pull the transition tag they placed on defensive end Olivier Vernon last week, says Cole (video link). As Cole explains, if the Dolphins decide not to match an offer sheet for Vernon, the pass rusher wouldn’t factor into the compensatory pick formula for 2017, since only departing unrestricted free agents can earn teams extra picks. So if Miami senses the bidding on Vernon will be too high, the team may surrender its right to match an offer, in order to regain the $12MM+ in cap room and line itself up for a mid-round 2017 comp pick.
  • Free agent center Alex Mack has generated “extensive interest” from the Falcons, per Cole (video link). Cole says the Jaguars, who signed Mack to an offer sheet in 2014, don’t have as much interest this time around, and adds that the Rams have expressed some interest, but aren’t expected to be serious contenders.
  • The “rumor late last week” was that defensive end Robert Ayers was looking for $10MM per year from the Giants, tweets Cole. While it’s possible that was Ayers’ starting point in negotiations, it seems extremely unlikely that he’d actually land that kind of salary. Ayers had a strong year in 2015, but it’s the first time he had more than 5.5 sacks in a season, and he’ll be turning 31 this year.
  • Cole confirms (video link) that the Raiders and 49ers will both be in the mix for the top cornerbacks on the free agent market, including Sean Smith and Janoris Jenkins.
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