Month: August 2017

Pauline’s Latest: Vikings, Redskins, Eagles

Now that Adrian Peterson‘s Vikings tenure could be over, the club is in dire need of a solution at running back. With that in mind, the Vikings have been showing interest in impending free agent Latavius Murray, reports Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. The 27-year-old Murray, whom the Raiders won’t stop from hitting free agency, has averaged a so-so 4.0 yards per carry in each of the past two seasons, but that’s significantly better than the paltry 3.2 team mean the Vikes put up in 2016 en route to a last-place NFL ranking. Murray also found the end zone 12 times last year, whereas Minnesota’s contingent of backs only combined for nine scores.

More pre-free agency buzz from Pauline:

  • The Redskins will prioritize re-upping defensive end Chris Baker during the upcoming scouting combine, when the team will begin ramping up attempts to keep its unsigned players. Baker stands as the Redskins’ best soon-to-be free agent on the defensive side, having just finished the first 16-start year of his career and added 4.5 sacks – giving him 10.5 since 2015. In terms of overall performance, the 29-year-old Baker ranked as Pro Football Focus 18th-best interior D-lineman among 127 qualifiers in 2016.
  • It’s no secret that one of Washington’s other impending free agents, DeSean Jackson, wouldn’t mind returning to Philadelphia, where he spent the first six years of his career. But the Eagles would be “content” to sign a different Redskins wideout, Pierre Garcon, if they’re unable to reel in Jackson, per Pauline. The 30-year-old Garcon, who has amassed 564 catches and 37 touchdowns in nine seasons, could garner $9MM-plus per year on his next contract.
  • Free agent guards Kevin Zeitler (Bengals) and Larry Warford (Lions) are likely to land mega-deals. Zeitler figures to sign for around $10MM per year, which might be too pricey for the Bengals, while Warford could come in around $9MM per annum. Each ranked among PFF’s top guards last year, with Zeitler at No. 7 and Warford 20th.

Chris Johnson To Test Free Agency

Running back Chris Johnson told Alex Marvez of Sporting News and SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that he and the Cardinals “definitely interested” in renewing their relationship for a third year, but the impending free agent wants to test the open market before making a decision.

Chris Johnson[RELATED: Where Johnson Ranks Among Top Offensive FAs]

“I think I want to go out there and see what options I have first,” said Johnson, who dipped into the free agent waters last offseason before re-signing with the Cardinals on a deal worth up to $3MM.

The 31-year-old Johnson has taken a backseat to David Johnson in the Arizona backfield over the past season-plus. Before going on injured reserve with a groin ailment last October, Chris Johnson accrued just 25 carries in four games. Going forward, it doesn’t seem such a limited workload is going to suffice for the nine-year veteran, who has six 1,000-yard seasons – including a 2,000-yard campaign – and three Pro Bowl nods on his resume.

“I need to be involved,” the speedster declared. “At this point in my career, I don’t want to sit on the sideline. I want to get in the game.”

Johnson was far more involved in his first year in Arizona, 2015, when he tallied 196 carries, 814 yards and three scores in 11 games (nine starts). But that season also ended early for Johnson, who fractured his tibia, thus opening the door for David Johnson to burst on the scene and become one of the NFL’s premier players.

Given that teammate and fellow back Andre Ellington is also set for free agency, it’s possible Chris Johnson will return to the Cardinals as David Johnson’s top backup. Otherwise the former Titan and Jet will look to join the fourth NFL team.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Bills, Pats, Bolts, Jets, Chiefs

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk speculated over the weekend that the Bills could cut running back LeSean McCoy, but the five-time Pro Bowler’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, shot down that possibility Tuesday. Rosenhaus told PFT that he hasn’t had any discussions with the Bills about moving on from McCoy. Moreover, he expects the two-year Bill to remain in Buffalo for “many years to come” (via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com). McCoy is coming off one of his best campaigns – 1,623 total yards, 5.4 yards per carry, 14 touchdowns and 50 receptions – and is due to count $8.875MM against the cap in 2017, his age-29 season.

More from the AFC:

  • As a result of his 120-day jail sentence for Extreme DUI, Patriots wide receiver Michael Floyd won’t be able to leave the state of Arizona until at least June 17. Thus, it’s unlikely the impending free agent will sign anywhere until the summer, writes Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com. Although he was a healthy scratch for Super Bowl LI and could face a suspension to begin next season, the Pats have interest in re-signing Floyd.
  • The Chargers are adding LaDainian Tomlinson to their front office, Fred Roggin of NBC Los Angeles tweets. It’s unclear what Tomlinson will do in his new position, but he was resoundingly success in his previous job with the Chargers, of course. The longtime running back is among the greatest Bolts (and players) of all-time, having made five Pro Bowls and taken home an MVP as a member of the club from 2001-09. Tomlinson only rushed for fewer than 1,100 yards in one of those seasons, and he combined for 169 touchdowns as a runner, receiver and passer.
  • The Jets have hired longtime NFL defensive lineman La’Roi Glover as their assistant D-line coach, per Kimberley A. Martin of Newsday. Glover, 42, spent the past seven years as the director of player engagement with the Rams. Previously, as a member of the Raiders, Saints, Cowboys and Rams from 1996-2008, he combined for 83.5 sacks, six Pro Bowl appearances and four first-team All-Pro nods.
  • C.J. Spiller‘s deal with the Chiefs is a one-year, $980K pact, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. He’ll earn a $55K bonus if he’s on the 53-man roster in Week 1.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Saints To Release Jairus Byrd

The Saints will release safety Jairus Byrd on the first day of the league year, March 9, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). If it doesn’t designate Byrd as a post-June 1 cut, New Orleans will save $3.2MM in 2017 by moving on from Byrd, but it’ll also be on the hook for $8MM in dead money. Should the Saints use the June designation, though, it would free up $7.8MM in space for this year.

Jairus Byrd (Vertical)

Byrd joined the Saints as a free agent in 2014, when he inked a six-year, $56MM deal featuring $28MM in guarantees. The gamble didn’t go according to plan for the Saints, as Byrd was unable to consistently flash the star-caliber ability he often showed in Buffalo from 2009-13. Byrd made three Pro Bowls and intercepted a whopping 22 passes in 73 games during his five-year stretch with the Bills. However, he totaled just three picks in three years in New Orleans, where he appeared in 33 games and made 32 starts.

To his credit, the 30-year-old Byrd is coming off his first 16-start season since 2012. He picked up 82 tackles and two interceptions in the process, and his performance ranked a middle-of-the-pack 46th among Pro Football Focus‘ 89 qualified safeties. He’ll now head back to the open market as one of the most established safeties available in a class of free agents that could also include the likes of Tony Jefferson, Duron Harmon and Barry Church, among others.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jets To Release Darrelle Revis

The Jets are releasing cornerback and franchise icon Darrelle Revis, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post (Twitter link). Team owner Woody Johnson issued a statement Tuesday praising Revis for his work with the Jets.

Darrelle Revis (vertical)

Darrelle Revis is one of the greatest players to ever wear a Jets uniform. His combination of talent, preparation and instincts is rare and helped him become one of the most dominant players of his generation. I appreciate Darrelle’s contributions to this organization and, wherever his career takes him, his home will always be here with the Jets.”

General manager Mike Maccagnan called the move “extremely hard to make,” meanwhile, and it comes when Revis is dealing with off-field legal troubles. The 31-year-old is facing four felony charges stemming from an altercation in Pittsburgh earlier this month and could receive punishment from both the legal system and the NFL. Revis won’t attend a hearing relating to those charges until March 15, five days after his $2MM roster bonus would have been due. The Jets will now avoid paying that bonus, and they’ll save $9.3MM in cap space, but they’ll still owe Revis $6MM in fully guaranteed base salary in 2017.

Despite his current troubles, Revis undoubtedly ranks among the Jets’ all-time greatest players. He first joined the Jets via the 2007 draft, in which he went 14th overall out of Pitt, and went to four Pro Bowls and picked up three first-team All-Pro nods before they traded him to the Buccaneers for a first-round pick in 2013. New York used that selection wisely, on defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, and got Revis back two years later in free agency. Revis was a Super Bowl champion by then, having won a title the previous season with the AFC East rival Patriots, and re-upping him cost the Jets $39MM in guarantees on a five-year, $70MM pact.

The two sides ultimately saw just 40 percent of Revis’ lucrative pact through, and while he once again earned Pro Bowl honors in Year 1 of the deal, things went awry in 2016. Revis took until the fourth quarter of Week 17 to intercept a pass and, per James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link), yielded the highest quarterback rating among cornerbacks who were targeted 75-plus times. Further, his overall performance ranked a mediocre 66th among Pro Football Focus’ 112 qualified corners.

In his two stints with the Jets, Revis combined for 108 appearances and starts to go with 29 interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. Now set to search for a fourth NFL employer, Revis has hired an agent, Zach Hiller, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Revis previously stated he’d represent himself, but offensive tackle Russell Okung tried that last year to poor results.

As for the Jets, the club has now opened up roughly $37MM in cap space in moving on from six veterans since last week. Prior to letting Revis go, Gang Green jettisoned offensive tackles Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini, kicker Nick Folk, linebacker Erin Henderson and center Nick Mangold in cap-cutting moves. Like Revis, Mangold is a franchise great.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 2/28/17

The latest minor moves from around the NFL:

  • The Redskins tendered contracts to exclusive rights free agent offensive tackles Ty Nsekhe and Vinston Painter. The 31-year-old Nsekhe tallied career highs in appearances (16) and starts (four) last season. Painter, 27, also logged a personal high in appearances (five) in 2016, though he didn’t record any starts.

Bills Won’t Franchise Stephon Gilmore

Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore said in January that he “wouldn’t want” the franchise tag, and with Wednesday’s deadline looming, he’s going to get his wish. There’s “no chance” the Bills will place the estimated $14.297MM tag on Gilmore, a league source told Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. Barring a long-term agreement between the Bills and Gilmore by March 9, the 26-year-old will soon become one of the most sought-after players on this year’s open market.

Stephon Gilmore (vertical)

With the Rams likely to tag Trumaine Johnson, Gilmore should join the Texans’ A.J. Bouye and the Patriots’ Logan Ryan as the top three corners available in the 2017 free agent class. Gilmore, who will turn 27 in September, is a five-year pro who started in each of his appearances (15) for the third straight season and notched a career-high five interceptions in 2016. However, after ranking as one of Pro Football Focus’ 10 best corners in 2015, Gilmore dropped to 61st (among 112 qualifiers) last season.

Since entering the NFL as a first-round pick in 2012, Gilmore has amassed 68 appearances, 66 starts and 14 picks. Gilmore’s track record should be enough to make him one of the league’s highest-paid corners, and with only around $21MM in cap space, the Bills will have difficulty retaining him. For his part, Gilmore seems open to staying in Buffalo, as he indicated last month that whether he will is “all up to” the Bills.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Trying To Re-Sign Lorenzo Alexander

As of earlier this month, impending free agent linebacker Lorenzo Alexander seemed eager to test the open market beginning March 9, but the Bills will first make an attempt to re-sign the 33-year-old off a breakout season. Alexander’s agent, Peter Schaffer, will meet with the club Saturday, reports Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News.

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After serving as primarily a special teamer with the Redskins, Cardinals and Raiders from 2007-15, Alexander stunningly emerged as a top pass-rushing option last season in Buffalo. Alexander racked up 76 tackles, 12.5 sacks – 3.5 more than he totaled over the first nine years of his career – three forced fumbles and an interception across 16 starts en route to second-team All-Pro honors. Thanks to that, and the franchise tags given to Chandler Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul and Melvin Ingram, Alexander stands as PFR’s sixth-ranked unsigned edge defender.

Schaffer posited earlier this month that Alexander, who was a minimum salary benefit player in 2016, could garner anywhere from $5MM to $10MM per year on his next contract. In addition to considering the Bills’ offer – if they make one – Alexander will have to mull how he’d fit in their new defensive system in 2017. Alexander’s success last year came under then-head coach Rex Ryan, whom the Bills replaced with another defensive mind, Sean McDermott, in January.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Shopping Davon House

Just two years after signing cornerback Davon House to a big-money deal in free agency, the Jaguars are ready to go in another direction. Jacksonville is shopping House in hopes of trading him, and it’s likely to cut the 27-year-old if it’s unable to find a taker, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Davon House

House is halfway through the four-year, $25MM deal (including $10MM in guarantees) he secured with the Jaguars in 2015. Now, by ridding themselves of House, the Jags would save his entire $6MM cap hit for 2017. House, who spent the initial four seasons of his career in Green Bay, filled the stat sheet in his first year as a Jaguar. In addition to logging 16 starts in 2015, House notched career highs in tackles (60) and interceptions (four).

Unfortunately for the Jags and House, his play took sizable steps backward last season. House appeared in 16 games again, but he only started four and finished with just 16 tackles and no picks. Overall, House’s performance received a grade of 43.6 from Pro Football Focus, which would have placed him among the league’s worst corners had he registered enough snaps to qualify.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants, JPP Far Apart In Contract Talks

The Giants have been working to re-sign franchise-tagged defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, but the two sides are “nowhere near a deal,’’ agent Doug Hendrickson told Paul Schwartz of the New York Post on Monday. As a result, the Giants had to tag Pierre-Paul to keep him from hitting the open market March 9, and Schwartz expects the decision to “infuriate” the seven-year veteran.

Jason Pierre-Paul

While Pierre-Paul will rake in $16.955MM via the tag in 2017 if he and the Giants don’t agree to a long-term deal by the July deadline, he likely expected to end up with a similar annual value on a multiyear contract in free agency. Pierre-Paul would’ve been one of the most accomplished defenders available, having tallied 50 sacks and 11 forced fumbles to this stage, and proven pass rushers command premium prices on the open market. Exhibit A: The five-year, $85.5MM deal featuring $52MM in guarantees that the Giants handed Olivier Vernon a year ago.

Even though Pierre-Paul, 28, is both two years older and far less durable than Vernon, he had been targeting a similar payday as of late January. When asked Monday if that’s still the case, Hendrickson said, “I don’t want to get into that.” He also lamented the fact that Pierre-Paul won’t get to measure his worth in free agency.

“He’s earned the right to see what’s out there,” opined Hendrickson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.