Two of the top wide receivers expected to be available on this year’s UFA market may not be locks to leave their previous teams. The Jaguars and Rams face decisions on Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins, respectively, and Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com expects both wideouts to be franchise-tagged by the March deadline. The Jags have both Robinson and Marqise Lee as free agent WRs, and Robinson has posted the best season of any wideout in this UFA class. But the 24-year-old pass-catcher’s 2015 campaign (80 receptions, 1,400 yards, 14 touchdown catches) thus far serves as the outlier, and Robinson didn’t have a chance to rebound from a lesser 2016 slate (73/883/6) — albeit with a worse Blake Bortles showing that year — on it after going down in Week 1.
Watkins being tagged would be notable since the Rams also have Lamarcus Joyner as a tag candidate. Joyner may be the best safety on the market, if he reaches free agency. The Rams also have an Aaron Donald contract to prepare for, so it’s a complicated offseason for the reigning NFC West champs. The receiver tag is expected to come in at $16.2MM, and Watkins’ L.A. work thus far would not justify that price. That could also complicate matters for the Jags, who have Bortles’ fifth-year number of $19MM set to vest come March. A Robinson tag would add a considerable figure to the Jacksonville payroll.
As teams continue to prepare for the Combine and free agency, here’s the latest from around the league.
- Derrick Johnson confirmed on Instagram he will not be back with the Chiefs next season. This news emerged earlier this week and will conclude a 13-season run for Johnson, who will end his Kansas City career as one of the franchise’s best defenders. However, Johnson wants to play a 14th season. The 35-year-old linebacker may have regressed a bit but could be an interesting fit for a linebacker-needy team on a one-year deal.
- The 49ers spoke to Reuben Foster in person and by phone this week, Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports. The linebacker is being investigated for an alleged domestic violence incident, leading to his second arrest of the offseason, that occurred last weekend.
- Despite his Raiders contract having expired, T.J. Carrie met with the new Silver and Black coaching staff this week, Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Carrie functioned as a full-time starter with Oakland last season. The Raiders released David Amerson earlier this month and could well move on from Sean Smith free of charge soon. Pro Football Focus’ No. 22 corner in 2017, Carrie is coming off his best season and would be an interesting name to on the market. But the former seventh-round pick told Kawahara he would like to stay with the Raiders. “I’m a hometown kid. I’m a Bay Area kid. I couldn’t see myself being anywhere else than Oakland,” Carrie said. “… I’ve loved and I’ve dreamed of playing for the Raiders for such a long time. And now that I’ve had the opportunity to play there for four years, I want to finish there.”
- The Lions hired Erik Kunttu to run their video operations department, Kyle Meinke of MLive.com notes. This hire proves interesting because it adds to an unusual pipeline. Counting Matt Patricia, there are now seven members of the 2018 Lions’ staff who were on the 2001 Syracuse staff, per Meinke. Patricia spent three seasons serving as an offensive graduate assistant at the then-Big East program, and then-Syracuse head coach Paul Pasqualoni will join Patricia in guiding the Detroit defense.