A.Q. Shipley

NFC Rumors: Cowboys, Cardinals, Easley

Tyrone Crawford spent his 2017 season at defensive end, but the veteran Cowboys lineman’s been known to move around. The team is asking him to do so again. The Cowboys are shifting Crawford back to defensive tackle, a role he mostly played from 2014-15 before being largely stationed at end the past two seasons. Injuries to inside players, David Irving‘s suspension and the team having amassed more depth at end prompted the move, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes. Crawford’s working as a starter alongside nose tackle Antwaun Woods.

This move has opened the door for an interesting setup at end. Hill adds Randy Gregory is now working with the first team across from DeMarcus Lawrence. Recently fully reinstated, Gregory has never started an NFL game and has only played in two contests since the 2015 season. Taco Charlton and Dorance Armstrong are serving as Dallas’ backup ends presently, per Hill. While it’s not a lock Gregory will be a starter in Week 1, it could well be headed that way. Irving’s return from suspension would give the Cowboys the kind of depth they haven’t possessed up front in years.

Here’s the latest from Dallas, along with a couple of other NFC cities as these teams prepare for their dress-rehearsal preseason games.

  • The most likely scenario for Travis Frederick is a stay on injured reserve to start the season, David Moore of the Dallas Morning News writes. He would then be eligible to return for the final eight games of the season, in the event he’s able to do so. The Cowboys are not ready to concede that their All-Pro center will be IR-bound yet, and Moore adds they’re likely unwilling to face the reality Frederick likely won’t be at his best if/when he does return in 2018. Joe Looney is now Dallas’ starting center, and the Cowboys will need to determine soon if they are going to look for outside help at the position. There isn’t much center help of note available, however.
  • A defensive lineman throughout his career, Dominique Easley is now working as a standup outside linebacker for the Rams. Wade Phillips confirmed the move, one made shortly after the team activated the fifth-year defender off the PUP list Monday. This doesn’t look to be an experiment, either. “I think this gives him a little more freedom to utilize his abilities. We even played Mario Williams at outside ‘backer,” Phillips said, via Rams.com, of his former Houston pupil. “(Easley is) is a real strong player can play that position and, again, not have as much wear and tear.” Easley’s suffered three ACL tears, the most recent shelving him last season. The former first-round pick’s move to outside linebacker also adds a higher-profile player to a Rams position group that doesn’t feature many big names.
  • A.Q. Shipley‘s Cardinals extension won’t include much new money. The veteran center can make $2MM in 2019, including incentives, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Shipley’s making $1.5MM in base salary this season. These figures are fairly modest for a player who’s started all 32 Cards games since the beginning of the 2016 season, but Shipley will be 33 next year and just tore an ACL.

Cardinals Extend C A.Q. Shipley Through 2019

The Cardinals have signed center A.Q. Shipley to a one-year extension through the 2019 season, the club announced today. Shipley is currently on injured reserve and will miss the upcoming campaign after tearing his ACL earlier this month.

Arizona’s decision to extend Shipley while he’s injury may seem curious at first glance, but the deal likely doesn’t contain much — if any — guaranteed money, so there’s probably little risk for general manager Steve Keim & Co. Shipley originally re-signed with the Cardinals on a two-year pact in March 2017, and that contract will pay him a base salary of $1.5MM in 2018.

With Shipley sidelined, the Cardinals plan to use third-round rookie Mason Cole at center. If Cole establishes himself at the pivot in 2018, Shipley would likely return next season as a reserve at all three interior line spots. But if Cole doesn’t play well in his first NFL go-round, Shipley could conceivably compete to start again next year.

Shipley, 32, has been with Arizona since 2015 but didn’t become the team’s full-time starter until 2016. He started all 32 games over the past two season, and Pro Football Focus graded him as the league’s No. 14 center in 2017.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Lose A.Q. Shipley For Season

Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley has a torn ACL, head coach Steve Wilks told reporters on Monday. The Cardinals placed Shipley on season-ending IR on Tuesday, allowing them to add another player in his stead. 

Shipley, 32, has been with the Cardinals since 2015 and has started in every game for them over the past two seasons. The injury may lead the team to push rookie interior lineman Mason Cole into the starting job, or consider roster hopefuls Evan Boehm or Josh Allen. Alternatively, they may explore the open market, but there aren’t a ton of established centers left out there.

Shipley re-signed with Arizona on a two-year, $3.5MM deal in March of last year, meaning that he will be a free agent in the spring of 2019. Advanced metrics are a bit tricky when it comes to centers, but for what it’s worth, he graded as the league’s No. 14 center in 2016 and placed 28th last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Maclin, Chiefs, 49ers, Cards

The news of Jeremy Maclin‘s release on Friday surprised much of the NFL world, and Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith was among those blindsided by the decision, as he tells Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star“Shocked,” Smith said of Maclin’s departure. “Jeremy is a really good friend, an amazing teammate, so still kind of just processing that he’s not going to be in there with us, a guy that’s done a lot for us the last two years, a guy I’ve grown really close to.” Maclin, 29, averaged 66 receptions, 812 yards, and five touchdowns in two seasons catching passes from Smith.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Now that Maclin is a free agent, he could be a consideration for the 49ers, as Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com writes. San Francisco invested in one experienced wideout (Pierre Garcon) this offseason, but the rest of their receiving corps is relatively uninspiring. Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Bruce Ellington, Aldrick Robinson, and rookie Trent Taylor are among the 49ers’ other options at receiver. From a talent standpoint, Maclin would represent a clear upgrade, but it’s unclear if he prefers to sign on with a contending team. In the midst of a rebuild, San Francisco doesn’t figure to be overly competitive in 2017, meaning Maclin could look to latch on with a club closer to earning a postseason berth.
  • Cardinals center A.Q. Shipley underwent core muscle surgery three weeks ago, and while he figures to miss organized team activities, Shipley will be ready for training camp, reports Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. The 31-year-old Shipley, who re-signed with Arizona on a two-year, $3.5MM deal in March, graded as the league’s No. 14 center in 2016, per Pro Football Focus. Reserve interior lineman Cole Toner is currently working as the Cardinals’ center in Shipley’s absence, per Somers.
  • Former Villanova linebacker Austin Calitro worked out for the Falcons and Chiefs this week, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Calitro, who went undrafted earlier this year, signed with the Jets in May but lasted only 10 days on their roster. During his senior collegiate season, Calitro registered 85 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and three passes defensed.

West Notes: Cardinals, Joeckel, Raiders

Let’s take a quick swing around the league’s west divisions:

  • We learned earlier today that Tony Jefferson‘s new deal with the Ravens will pay him up to $37MM over four years. We also heard reports in recent days that the Browns and possibly the Jets offered him slightly more money, but that he spurned those offers to sign with Baltimore. As Andy Benoit of TheMMQB writes in a detailed piece on Jefferson’s free agent journey, Jefferson’s former team, the Cardinals, made him an initial “low-ball” offer of three years, $12MM, before upping their proposal to four years and $24MM, still well short of the winning bid.
  • Mike Jurecki of FoxSports910 passes along some contract details on two of the Cardinals‘ recent signings (Twitter links). Jurecki reports that safety Antoine Bethea‘s new three-year deal will pay him yearly base salaries of $2MM, $3MM, and $3MM, while A.Q. Shipley‘s new two-year pact is worth a total of $3.5MM with base salaries of $775K and $1.5MM, $725K in guarantees, and $250K in roster bonuses for 2017 and 2018.
  • Luke Joeckel‘s new one-year deal with the Seahawks will pay him a fully-guaranteed $7MM, with an additional $1MM available in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets that Robbie Gould‘s new two-year pact with the 49ers is worth a total of $4MM, with $1MM fully guaranteed.
  • The Raiders will likely not have a lease agreement for a proposed Las Vegas stadium in place before the league owners meet later this month, a meeting during which they could approve the team’s relocation bid. However, as noted in a piece from the Associated Press, the absence of a finalized lease agreement does not mean the league owners will be precluded from voting on the relocation proposal. Instead, they could conditionally approve the relocation as long as the lease adequately addresses issues that are important to the league.
  • The Raiders have made a few changes to their coaching staff, as Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com writes. Last season’s assistant secondary coach, Rod Woodson, will coach cornerbacks, as he did previously, and Brent Vieselmeyer, who was assistant linebackers coach last year, will coach the safeties in 2017. Meanwhile, Travis Smith has been promoted from quality control to outside linebackers coach, and Nick Holz is now the assistant receivers coach. Nate Tice, son of offensive line coach Mike Tice, is the offensive quality control coach.
  • We learned earlier today that the Broncos and OT Donald Stephenson have agreed to a restructured deal.

Cardinals Re-Sign A.Q. Shipley

The Cardinals announced that they’ve re-signed center A.Q. Shipley to a two-year deal.A.Q. Shipley (Vertical)

Shipley, 30, is coming off another two-year contract that paid him less than $800K per season, but he could be in for a raise after a 2016 campaign that saw him grade as the league’s No. 14 center, per Pro Football Focus. Shipley isn’t big-bodied like most offensive lineman — he’s officially listed at 5’11” — and while Arizona has expressed interest in replacing him in the past, the former seventh-round pick keeps producing consistent results.

Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians said last week he hoped his club would retain Shipley, who earned an honorable mention on PFR’s list of the top free agent interior lineman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

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NFC Rumors: Bucs, Glennon, Graham

Buccaneers GM Jason Licht expects quarterback Mike Glennon to test the open market, but the door is not closed to a return, as Alex Marvez of the Sporting News tweets. Licht added that the team offered Glennon a contract extension “quite a while ago.”

In a weak crop of free agent quarterbacks, Glennon stands as one of the best available options. Glennon hasn’t seen the field much since the Bucs drafted Jameis Winston in 2015, but talent evaluators are still bullish on the 6’7″ signal caller. The 27-year-old could wind up as someone’s starter in 2017. At worst, he should command a handsome payday as a backup.

With tons of news coming out of the Combine today, here’s a look at all things NFC:

  • General manager John Schneider says there is no question that Jimmy Graham will be part of Seahawks next season, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. The Seahawks could have opened up $10MM in spending room with no dead money by releasing the tight end.
  • Bears GM Ryan Pace used the term “fluid” describe Jay Cutler’s situation and said keeping him is an option (Twitter link via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times). Personally, I don’t think the Bears will seriously entertain another season with Cutler.
  • The Buccaneers are not expected to aggressively pursue Adrian Peterson at this point, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Things can change, but the team still has “loose plans” for Doug Martin, Fowler adds.
  • The Cardinals are scheduled to meet with Calais Campbell’s agent this week in Indy, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets. Campbell is slated to be an unrestricted free agent March 9 and Arizona has at least some interest in finding out what it would cost to bring him back. I have Campbell ranked as the most talented edge defender on the market this year, so I would not be surprised to see the Cardinals get outbid for him.
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians says the team would like to have Chris Johnson back next year (Twitter link via Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com). Last month, we ranked Johnson as one of the 15 best running backs in free agency.
  • Arians says the Cardinals wants to re-sign cornerback Marcus Cooper, but his price be too high (Twitter link via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com). When asked about Cooper and other potential defensive losses, Arians said, “hopefully we’re prepared.”
  • Cardinals coach Bruce Arians hopes the team will retain center A.Q. Shipley (Twitter link via Weinfuss).

Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

[UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TOP 2017 NFL FREE AGENTS BY POSITION]

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account. Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Mike Glennon
  3. Nick Foles
  4. Brian Hoyer
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  6. Case Keenum
  7. Matt McGloin
  8. Mark Sanchez
  9. Geno Smith
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Josh McCown
  12. Christian Ponder
  13. Blaine Gabbert
  14. Matt Schaub
  15. Ryan Nassib

Honorable mention: Shaun Hill

As of this writing, Kirk Cousins is far and away the best potential free agent quarterback in this year’s crop. By the time March gets here, we’re fully expecting Cousins to be spoken for. Ultimately, the Redskins could franchise tag him, work out a long-term deal with him, or swing some type of trade that nets them a massive haul of talent and picks. That will leave a crop of retread quarterbacks that would probably best serve as transitional options for QB-needy teams. Kirk Cousins

Mike Glennon hasn’t done much in his 18 career starts, but talent evaluators are still in love with his size and potential. The 6’7″ quarterback will get more money this spring than you might expect, particularly since there are no surefire QBs in this year’s draft.

Teams looking for stopgap QBs will find a plethora of experienced, though perhaps uninspiring, signal callers. Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have their best football behind them, but they could hold down the fort for a team in 2017 and maybe even find some success if the defense is strong enough. Of course, the ideal role for those guys would probably be as a backup to a better, younger quarterback.

Running back:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Jacquizz Rodgers
  7. Rashad Jennings
  8. Danny Woodhead
  9. Rex Burkhead
  10. Tim Hightower
  11. DeAngelo Williams
  12. Andre Ellington
  13. Chris Johnson
  14. Christine Michael
  15. Robert Turbin

Consider Le’Veon Bell‘s name written in Etch-A-Sketch, because he is very unlikely to get near the open market. That could leave Eddie Lacy as the best tailback available in March. Lacy has struggled with weight issues in recent years and he lost much of the 2016 season to injury. Still, he is a bruising back that could nicely complement a quicker ball carrier. Before he was shut down for the year, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry in five games for Green Bay.

LeGarrette Blount (vertical)In the last two years, LeGarrette Blount seems to have put his off-the-field troubles behind him. Whether that’s a sign of his maturity or a product of the Patriots’ culture remains to be seen. Teams can ignore his past indiscretions, but they will be wary of his age. Blount turns 31 in December.

Latavius Murray has shown glimpses of being a special running back, but he has been inconsistent and his 4.0 yards-per-carry average of the last two years isn’t overly impressive. Darren McFadden ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, but 2016 was pretty much a lost year for him. Jacquizz Rodgers seemed to break out last year, but he wound up succumbing to the same injury bug that took down a host of other Buccaneers running backs. Speaking of injuries, Rashad Jennings was initially brought to the Giants to be a workhorse back, but two of his three years in New York were marred by ailments. Everyone in this tier has the potential to make a difference, but none should be counted on as anyone’s main guy in 2017.

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Extra Points: Chancellor, Cardinals, Draft, Jets

Four-time Pro Bowl Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor hasn’t been shy about voicing his disenchantment with his current contract, going so far as to sit out all of last summer and then the first two games of the season in an effort to land a better one. Though that gambit backfired, he’s in no hurry to leave Seattle. Chancellor took to Instagram on Wednesday and posted a picture with the message: “I’m not going anywhere.” The 27-year-old also wrote, “Seattle is my Second home. I don’t plan on going anywhere unless some higher power places me elsewhere.” Chancellor has two years remaining on his deal.

More from around the NFL as we wrap up Wednesday…

  • The right side of the Cardinals’ offensive line will consist of newly signed Evan Mathis (guard) and D.J. Humphries (tackle), while A.Q. Shipley is the current starter at center, according to general manager Steve Keim (Twitter link via Darren Urban of the team’s website).
  • On the other side of the ball, newly acquired pass rusher Chandler Jones will shift from defensive end – where he played in New England – to outside linebacker for the Cardinals, per Keim. The deal to land Jones took about three days to execute, the GM added (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). It’s worth mentioning that defensive ends cost more to franchise tag than linebackers ($15.701MM to $14.129MM this year), which could impact Jones – who will be a free agent next offseason.
  • Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple has lined up visits with more than 16 teams, including the Rams, Buccaneers, Dolphins and Jaguars, per Rand Getlin of NFL.com (on Twitter).
  • Baylor defensive tackle Andrew Billings has met with the Buccaneers, Steelers, 49ers and Lions, he told James Palmer of NFL Network (Twitter link).
  • Receiver/returner Jordan Norwood will join linebacker Courtney Upshaw in visiting the Jets on Thursday, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Norwood, 29, has played sporadically with three different teams since entering the league in 2009. He spent last season with the champion Broncos, amassing 22 receptions and 11 returns, and set the record for the longest Super Bowl punt return (61 yards).