Ahmad Brooks

Extra Points: Browns, Saints, Packers, Eagles

Now playing in his contract season, Browns running back Isaiah Crowell indicated he thinks about a new deal “during the game, after the game, before the game, right now, all the time,” as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com tweets. A restricted free agent, Crowell is earning $2.746MM after Cleveland tendered him at the second-round level. The Browns reportedly discussed an extension with the 24-year-old back during the summer, but no pact was ever signed. Thus far in 2017, Crowell is averaging just 2.6 yards per carry on 27 rushes.

  • Saints cornerback Sterling Moore suffered a pectoral injury against the Patriots on Sunday, a source tells Nick Underhill of the Adovcate, but it’s not a season-ending issue, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who adds Moore should miss “just a few weeks.” Moore, who re-signed with New Orelans this spring on a one-year, $900K pact, played 36 defensive snaps as the Saints’ nickel corner in Week 2. Perhaps with Moore’s injury in mind, the Saints worked out two cornerbacks on Tuesday and signed another — defensive back Bradley Sylve — to their practice squad.
  • Ahmad Brooks will have to post an excellent season in order to collect the entirety of his $1.5MM incentive-based pay attached to his one-year Packers contract, as Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports the veteran linebacker must reach 11 sacks to earn that total. However, Brooks can also bring in money for 6.5 sacks ($250K), 7.5 sacks ($500K), 8.5 sacks ($750K), 9.5 sacks ($1MM), or 10.5 sacks ($1.25MM). For what it’s worth, Brooks has never recorded an 11-sack season, and he managed only six quarterback takedowns a season ago.
  • Offensive lineman Jah Reid‘s one-year deal with the Texans is worth the veteran’s minimum of $775K, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). While the contract doesn’t qualify as a minimum salary benefit deal, Houston will only owe Reid a 14-game prorated portion of the minimum salary (~$684K). Reid should be able to immediately help a ramshackle Texans offensive line that is missing stalwart left tackle Duane Brown and ranks dead last in adjusted sack rate.
  • The Eagles attempted to sign defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson off the Bears‘ practice squad, but Chicago promoted Houston-Carson to its active roster instead, reports Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Houston-Carson, 24, appeared in eight games for the Bears a season ago, but rarely played on defense (just eight snaps). Instead, he spent most of his time on special teams, where he played on a quarter of Chicago’s snaps.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Packers

When asked if edge rusher Pernell McPhee will ever be the player he was when the Bears originally signed him in 2015, Chicago defensive Vic Fangio gave a simple answer: “Probably not” (Twitter link via Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly). McPhee, who was surprisingly removed from the physically unable to perform list and placed on Chicago’s initial 53-man roster, has injured both knees during his time with the Bears. While he’s missed nine games over the past two seasons, McPhee has still been relatively effective when on the field, but may need his snaps limited going forward.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • The Vikings surprisingly released offensive guard Alex Boone last week, and former Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway hears that Boone had reported to camp out of shape and “wasn’t really prepared for the season,” as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Even so, the the Vikings decision to cut ties with Boone means they spent roughly $10MM on one season of production. Boone has since landed with the Cardinals, where he’ll initially serve as a backup.
  • Ahmad Brooks‘ one-year deal with the Packers has a base value of $3.5MM and includes a $1.75MM signing bonus and a $1MM base salary, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The veteran pass rusher can also earn $750K in gameday active roster bonuses, plus $1.5MM in sack-based incentives, although those are considered not-likely-to-be-earned, tweets Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That means the sack threshold Brooks must reach is greater than six, the total he hit in 2017. Now 33 years old, Brooks will serve in a rotational edge defender capacity for Green Bay.
  • Another 49ers castoff — defensive lineman Quinton Dial — also recently agreed to a one-year pact with the Packers, and his deal will pay him one dollar more than the veteran’s minimum ($775,001), reports Silverstein (Twitter link). By adding that single dollar, Green Bay has kept open the possibility of extending Dial in-season. Had Dial simply signed for the minimum, the Packers wouldn’t have had the right to give him a new contract until after the new league year opens in the spring.
  • The Bears and defender Lamarr Houston agreed to a two-week injury settlement that precipitated his release, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Technically, Chicago could re-sign Houston in five weeks (time of the settlement plus a three-week waiting period), but that seems highly unlikely. But the two-week timetable means Houston should be healthy soon, meaning he could quickly latch on with another club.

Packers To Sign Ahmad Brooks

The Packers have agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal with linebacker Ahmad Brooks, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). The pact could be worth up to $5MM. Brooks visited with the Pack shortly after the 49ers released him Aug. 25.

Ahmad Brooks (Vertical)

Green Bay will be the third NFL destination for Brooks, who spent the first two years of his career in Cincinnati before joining San Francisco in 2009. He became one of the most accomplished pass rushers in 49ers history during his eight-year tenure in San Fran, where he racked up 51.5 sacks and never finished with fewer than five in an individual season. Brooks was also quite durable as a member of the 49ers, with whom he appeared in at least 13 games in each year.

Most recently, Brooks totaled six sacks during a 16-game, 15-start slate last season, indicating that the 33-year-old still has plenty to offer. While Pro Football Focus wasn’t enamored of Brooks’ work, ranking him just 87th in performance among 110 qualified edge rushers, he still figures to help a Green Bay defense that lost prolific rusher Julius Peppers to Carolina in free agency. Brooks’ presence on the outside could lead the Packers to move Clay Matthews inside, where he’d potentially be an upgrade over Jake Ryan and/or Blake Martinez in nickel packages, as PFR’s Dallas Robinson noted this week. Regardless, Brooks adds a third proven edge rusher behind the Matthews-Nick Perry duo, giving the Packers a trio that combined for 22 sacks in 2016.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers To Host LB Ahmad Brooks

The Packers will meet with free agent linebacker Ahmad Brooks on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), who reports the Broncos also have interest in the former 49er.Ahmad Brooks (Vertical)

While Green Bay is theoretically set at outside linebacker with Nick Perry and Clay Matthews Jr., signing an edge rusher like Brooks would allow the Packers to move Matthews inside, where he’d likely be an upgrade over Jake Ryan and/or Blake Martinez in nickel packages. Entering his age-33 campaign, Brooks could also be a candidate to play a Julius Peppers-esque role for Green Bay: in such a capacity, Brooks would serve in a rotational basis (Peppers played about a third of the Packers’ snaps in 2016) and focus on pass rushing.

Denver, meanwhile, is in need of depth on the edge given that Shane Ray is doubtful to play in Week 1 due to a wrist injury. Fellow outside ‘backer Shaquil Barrett could hypothetically return from a hip issue in time to play in the Broncos’ season opener, but his availability isn’t a given. While Von Miller clearly locks up one side of the Denver defense, the club would turn to Kasim Edebali, Danny Mason, or Vontarrius Dora, or potentially use second-round rookie DeMarcus Walker in a stand-up role, if Ray/Barrett can’t play Week 1.

Brooks, who was released by San Francisco last week, has 10 years of NFL experience and 98 starts under his belt. Last season, Brooks played the most defensive snaps of any 49ers linebacker (981) and posted 53 tackles, six sacks, and a forced fumble. However, he graded as just the 87th-best edge rusher in the NFL out of 110 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus, has not ranked among the top-20 at his position since 2012.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Kap, Eagles, Aguayo, Brooks

With Nick Foles battling an elbow injury that has kept him out of preseason action and Matt McGloin having such a subpar summer that he’s likely to lose his roster spot, the Eagles may have a backup quarterback problem. They could potentially solve it by signing free agent Colin Kaepernick, Mike Sielski of Philly.com contends. Kaepernick remains unemployed in part because owners don’t want to deal with the backlash that would accompany signing the political activist, but that shouldn’t be a problem for the Eagles. After all, owner Jeffrey Lurie signed Mike Vick as a backup QB in 2009, after he served an 18-month prison sentence for his role in a dogfighting ring. While it’s up for debate whether Kaepernick is in the right, Vick’s actions were undeniably revolting. And yet he was able to land a second chance in Philadelphia.

More from Philly and two other NFC cities:

  • Second-year kicker Roberto Aguayo‘s struggles have transferred from Tampa Bay to Chicago, Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com writes. Aguayo, whom the Bears claimed off waivers from the Buccaneers on Aug. 13, missed a 49-yard field goal in his preseason debut with Chicago last week and, according to head coach John Fox, had a rough practice Friday. “I think our kicker had a little bit of a struggle today in some of his field goals, but it was something we knew about Roberto,” Fox said. “He’s got a very strong leg; he needs to work on his accuracy. That’s why we’re out here practicing.” Fox added that the Bears will spend the next week-plus working to help Aguayo turn around his fortunes. Otherwise, given that he’s competing with Connor Barth, Aguayo could find himself on waivers again. That would be a stunning turn of events for a kicker who was not only a second-round pick in 2016, but someone the Buccaneers also surrendered a third- and fourth-rounder for when they traded up to select the ex-Florida State standout.
  • It appeared Eagles defensive lineman Beau Allen would miss the first few weeks of the regular season when he suffered a chest injury in April. That won’t be the case, though, as Allen passed a physical Friday and came off the active/PUP list, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The three-year veteran is now in position to keep his iron man streak alive, as he has never missed a game during his career. The return of Allen will further bolster a strong D-line and give the Eagles a player who was on the field for 554 snaps last year (412 on defense, 142 on special teams).
  • The 49ers released linebacker Ahmad Brooks on Friday rather than closer to the Sept. 2 deadline because they wanted to give him a better chance to hook on elsewhere before the season opens, head coach Kyle Shanahan told reporters (via Mike Florio Pro Football Talk). “Doing it right now is more just in the best interest for Ahmad,” Shanahan said. “It’s a real tough decision. [General Manager] John [Lynch] and I had gone back and forth with it the last few days. Once we really came to the conclusion he wasn’t going to be a part of our final 53, we weren’t going to keep him around just to let him know [eight] days from now. So, we know there’s a lot of teams that will be interested in him. So we gave him that opportunity to go out and find them.” Brooks should indeed draw interest in free agency, having posted no fewer than five sacks in any of his eight seasons with the 49ers. He also missed just eight games during that span.

49ers Release Ahmad Brooks

San Francisco is parting ways with its longest tenured defensive player. The 49ers formally announced that they have released outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. The team initially tried to trade Brooks, but they were unable to find a suitable deal. NFL: San Francisco 49ers-OTA

We would like to thank Ahmad for his nine years of service and contributions to the 49ers,” said 49ers general manager John Lynch. “In that time, he played a significant role on some formidable defensive units that helped this team achieve great success. We feel good about the depth and competition along our defensive front and believe that by making this decision now it will give Ahmad a head start on exploring his options with other teams. We wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

The 33-year-old was in the midst of a battle with Eli Harold for the starting strongside linebacker job. Apparently, he lost his footing on the gig as Harold started against the Broncos in the team’s most recent preseason game. Harold is ten years Brooks’ junior and comes at a fraction of the price. Free agent addition Dekoda Watson and rookie Pita Taumoepenu are also expected to contribute at SLB.

Brooks has either led or tied the team in sacks every season since 2013. In 2016, Brooks registered 6.0 sacks and 53 total tackles. Across his eight years with the team, he amassed 51.5 sacks and never had less than 6.0 in any given season. He also played through injury and missed only five regular season games during that span.

Brooks is still putting up numbers, but he has slowed down a little with age. Last year, he graded out as just the 87th best edge rusher in the NFL out of 110 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus. In each of the last three years, Brooks has finished near the bottom of PFF’s edge defender rankings and has not graded out as a top-20 type since 2012. He’ll draw interest on the open market, but he won’t command the kind of salary he was getting in SF.

Brooks was slated to carry a $6.1MM+ cap hit for the coming season. Instead of keeping the veteran and having him take up roughly 3.5% of the salary cap, the SF will save $5.3MM while eating $848K in dead money.

News of Brooks’ release was first reported by Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Cowboys, Brooks, J. Reed, Suggs

After parting ways with the Falcons in January, Lionel Vital – Atlanta’s former director of player personnel – is joining the Cowboys‘ front office. As first reported by Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link), Dallas is hiring Vital as a senior personnel executive. He’ll report to Cowboys assistant director of player personnel Will McClay, a source tells David Moore of the Dallas Morning News (Twitter link).

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NFL:

  • All indications are that Ahmad Brooks‘ spot on the 49ers‘ roster remains safe for at least another season, writes Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. The Niners don’t have an in-house replacement lined up at Brooks’ position, and his $8MM cap hit isn’t exorbitant now that San Francisco is carrying a league-high $58MM+ in cap room, per OverTheCap.com.
  • Washington tight end Jordan Reed has completed his agent change, signing with Joel Segal for representation, per Mike Jones and Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Reed is extension-eligible, and based on the deals recently signed by Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, he appears to be in good position to cash in.
  • Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was charged with two misdemeanors related to a car accident earlier this month, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). TMZ first reported the news. Depending on how the case plays out, Suggs could eventually face NFL discipline.
  • The NFL formally announced the performance-based pay bonuses for 2015 this week, and Broncos center Matt Paradis received the most additional pay (nearly $392K). The PBP bonuses are primarily distributed to players whose playing time was significant and whose salaries were not. The figures don’t affect teams’ salary caps.

West Notes: Von Miller, Cardinals, 49ers

If Von Miller were to reach the open market, he would likely be looking to become the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link), who points to Ndamukong Suh‘s six-year, $114MM deal with the Dolphins as the one Miller would like to match or exceed. As Cole notes, there would be plenty of teams with interest in the outside linebacker if he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

However, the odds of Miller hitting the open market look pretty slim. Even though the Broncos have other key free agents that could be candidates for the franchise tag, including Brock Osweiler and Malik Jackson, Denver is expected to use that tag on its star pass rusher, says Cole. That doesn’t mean Miller won’t sign a long-term deal this offseason, but it would have to be either with the Broncos or with a team willing to give up two first-round picks to land him, so his leverage will be limited.

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

  • The Cardinals‘ top priority this offseason will be improving their pass rush, and GM Bruce Arians said on Arizona Sports 98.7 that he doesn’t expect to make an impact addition in free agency, says Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. That means that the team will likely target a pass rusher early on in the draft.
  • Within his article, Urban notes that if a player like Miller were to avoid the franchise tag and reach free agency, it could change the Cardinals‘ stance. While that’s unlikely to happen, I wonder if Arizona might be willing to consider an offer sheet for the Broncos pass rusher even if he gets franchised — parting with two first-round selections wouldn’t be as significant a blow for a team like the Cardinals, whose first-rounders won’t be particularly high picks. Teams are typically hesitant to pursue other teams’ franchised players, not wanting to part with those picks, and I doubt the Cardinals would seriously go after Miller if he’s franchised. For a pass rusher of his caliber though, it’s at least worth considering.
  • While the 49ers have the cap space and low payroll necessary to be very aggressive in free agency, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap doesn’t expect the team to splurge in March. Within his preview of San Francisco’s offseason, Fitzgerald suggests it would make sense for the Niners to lock up defensive lineman Ian Williams to a three-year contract and cut linebacker Ahmad Brooks.

NFC Notes: Panthers, Brooks, Parkey

Although defensive end Charles Johnson is expected to miss multiple games due to a hamstring injury, the Panthers aren’t considering placing him on the injured reserve list with the designation to return, tweets Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Carolina acquired Jared Allen this week to help boost the pass rush in Johnson’s absence, and according to agent Ken Harris, the Panthers were one of five teams that he and his client identified as potential landing spots (link via David Newton of ESPN.com). Carolina was “by far” their No. 1 choice, per Harris.

Let’s round up several more items from across the NFC….

  • 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks wasn’t present in court today, but his lawyer put in a plea of “not guilty” for his client on a misdemeanor sexual battery charge, reports Damian Trujillo of NBC Bay Area (Twitter link). Brooks seems likely to face discipline from the NFL sometime after the legal process plays out.
  • Cody Parkey‘s groin injury is more serious than it initially sounded, with the Eagles kicker telling reporters today that he tore three muscles in his groin. While he landed on the IR today, Parkey fully expects to be kicking again for the Eagles again in 2016 (Twitter links via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer).
  • The Bears may not be done making trades this season, but the Cowboys haven’t discussed the possibility of acquiring a player like Matt Forte or Alshon Jeffery, says Ed Werder of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • No outside free agent got a larger contract from the Saints than the $16MM deal C.J. Spiller signed this offseason, and head coach Sean Payton admits that he needs to get the running back more involved in the offense, according to Christopher Dabe of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
  • Packers wide receiver Davante Adams, who was taken out of Monday night’s game against the Chiefs, re-aggravated his high ankle sprain, a source told Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Adams is expected to miss some time, though it’s too early for an exact timetable. As for tight end Andrew Quarless, he has a sprained MCL, and is expected to be sidelined for four to six weeks, per Rapoport (Twitter link).

Extra Points: Forte, Chip, Norman, Ivory, 49ers

The Bears’ 26-0 loss in Seattle on Sunday was their second straight blowout defeat – one that dropped them to 0-3 for the season. They’ve been outscored 105-46 this year and longtime Bears running back Matt Forte seemed to question his teammates’ commitment after their latest loss.

“It’s a question right now if everybody’s all in,” Forte said, according to Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link).

For his part, it looks as though Forte is “all in” this season, a rare bright spot on a lousy team. The 29-year-old added 74 rushing yards Sunday, giving him 202 on a terrific 5.2 per-carry average.

More from around the NFL:

  • Eagles football czar and head coach Chip Kelly garnered plenty of criticism for his roster construction methods during the offseason and has continued to draw ire during the team’s 1-2 start, but he has a fan in Jeffrey Lurie. The Eagles’ owner referred to Kelly’s tenure as “very good,” per ESPN.
  • Jets running back Chris Ivory dressed for Sunday’s 24-17 loss to Kelly’s Eagles, but he had a quad injury and never got into the game. Head coach Todd Bowles elected to keep Ivory on the sideline in order to get him healthy, though Ivory felt he could have played.“I’m not sure how the decision was made,” said Ivory, per Newsday’s Kimberley A. Martin. “I felt comfortable enough to play [after warm-ups], but I just didn’t want it to be nothing that would linger around.”
  • Prior to the season, Panthers cornerback Josh Norman turned down a contract extension worth upward of $7MM per year, according to Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer. Norman’s decision to gamble on himself is proving smart, Person writes, as the fourth-year man has turned into a shutdown defender. Norman sealed Carolina’s 27-22 win over New Orleans on Sunday with an interception, his second of the year.
  • The 49ers dealt with a number of significant offseason departures and now they’re reeling at 1-2, their latest defeat being a humiliating 47-7 loss to NFC West rival Arizona. After the game, linebacker Ahmad Brooks acknowledged their weakened roster, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). “This is our team. We’ve got to make the best out of who we have,” said Brooks.
  • Adding to the 49ers’ anguish, Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu offered a less-than-glowing assessment of their offense Sunday, according to Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. “Their passing game has just simplified so much, it was easy for us to anticipate routes, get some good breaks on the ball,” said Mathieu. With Mathieu’s help, the Cardinals held the 49ers to an embarrassing 67 aerial yards and intercepted four passes.
  • The 0-3 Ravens aren’t a good team and the secondary is their most glaring weakness, writes Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun. After containing Peyton Manning in Week 1, the Ravens allowed over 700 combined passing yards to Andy Dalton and Derek Carr.