Al Woods

NFC West Notes: Goff, Seahawks, 49ers

While the Eagles and Carson Wentz are negotiating an extension that is expected to be finalized before the season, the Rams and Jared Goff have not made similar progress. It is not clear if they have begun re-up talks. But the notion the team is toying with the idea of using the two-time Pro Bowler during his rookie deal and moving in is not rooted in reality, Vincent Bonsignore of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The Rams are committed to building a roster around a franchise-level Goff contract, per Bonsignore. Goff stands to make more than $20MM in 2020 on his fifth-year option but is tethered to merely an $8.89MM cap number this season. Sean McVay has not said if the Rams plan to extend Goff this year, mentioning the possibility of a deal being tabled until 2020.

Shifting to another quarterback’s contract, here is the latest from the NFC West:

  • Geno Smith landed with a fourth team in four years recently, linking up with the Seahawks. His one-year deal is for the minimum salary, according to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). He’ll receive just $25K guaranteed on the $895K deal as he competes with Paxton Lynch to serve as Russell Wilson‘s backup. Lynch is making $645K this year. Neither is a lock to be on Seattle’s roster when the regular season begins. Despite these two high picks’ struggles as NFLers, each profiles as a bigger name than the Seahawks have employed behind Russell Wilson over the past two seasons.
  • More Seahawks details: Al Woodsdeal points to the veteran defensive tackle having a slightly better chance to make the 53-man roster. But the 10th-year lineman’s pact is worth slightly less than originally reported, as is often the case. Woods can earn up to $2.25MM, but the base value of this pact is $1.25MM, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. A five-team veteran who played two games with 2011 Seahawks, Woods received $400K guaranteed. The deal will count $2.215MM against Seattle’s cap. This deal is similar to those given to Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen last year. Both made the team, though Johnson was cut midway through the season.
  • Ahkello Witherspoon‘s 2018 season did not go well. The young cornerback graded as, by far, the worst full-time corner in the view of Pro Football Focus. But the 49ers signing Jason Verrett does not mean he will be the starter. Witherspoon will still be the man to beat at right cornerback, Matt Barrows of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Verrett is unlikely to be ready to go until training camp, Barrows adds.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Seahawks Sign Al Woods

The Seahawks are making a late free agency move. The team has signed defensive tackle Al Woods, his representatives announced in a tweet.

Tom Pelissero followed up with a tweet, reporting that it’s a one-year, $2.25MM pact. It’s a solid chunk of change for Woods to land this late in the process. Woods met with the Seahawks last month, but it took a while for things to materialize. In all likelihood, the Seahawks were waiting for the deadline for signings to count toward the compensatory pick formula to pass.

He also met with the Lions back in March. Woods originally entered the league as a fourth round pick of the Saints back in 2010, and has bounced around the league ever since. The journeyman has been a member of six different teams, and finally settled in Indianapolis on a two-year, $4MM deal he signed in March of 2017. He played around 36% of the defensive snaps for the Colts last year, and started eight games. A run-stuffer primarily, he finished with 24 tackles and one pass defended.

Woods had a brief stint in Seattle back in 2011, so there’s some familiarity here. He’s also been with the Steelers, Buccaneers, and Titans during his time in the league. He turned 32 in March, and the Seahawks will likely use him in a situational role on running downs. He ended last year on injured reserve with a foot injury, but there’s no indication that it’s still bothering him.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Meeting With Liuget, Woods

Two more veteran defensive linemen are visiting the Seahawks. In addition to Allen Bailey heading to Seattle for a meeting, Corey Liuget and Al Woods will follow suit, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets.

This marks Liuget’s second meeting of the offseason, with the longtime Chargers interior defender having met with the Giants recently. The Chargers released Liuget earlier this offseason. While the Bolts were believed to be open about re-signing Liuget at a reduced rate, no rumors of a reunion have surfaced since.

Liuget signed a lucrative Chargers deal in 2015 but did not live up to it. A suspension and pay cut ensued, and the Bolts cut bait prior to that contract’s final season. The 29-year-old Liuget played in six games last season, starting three. The former first-round pick started 103 games for the Bolts but only recorded three sacks over the past three seasons.

The Lions brought in Woods for a visit last month. The 32-year-old nose tackle has played for five teams, including the Seahawks (for two games in 2011), in his nine-year career. Woods started 24 games for the Colts over the past two seasons.

Pete Carroll mentioned earlier this offseason the Seahawks would like to further fortify their defensive tackle corps, so one of the Bailey-Liuget-Woods trio may be set to sign. Bailey and Liuget have been used mostly as 3-4 defensive ends during their careers, while Woods has played almost exclusively inside. Both Woods and Liuget graded better as run-stoppers last season, per Pro Football Focus, though Bailey saw far more action (959 snaps).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Hill, Chiefs, Lions

Tyreek Hill‘s status with the Chiefs is very much in doubt. The embattled receiver is under investigation for allegedly abusing his child, and it’s unclear how that situation will resolve and whether or not he’ll be able to stay on the roster. But even without this scandal, Hill apparently wasn’t a lock to remain with the Chiefs. “Even if none of this happened, there were questions in Kansas City about whether they could re-sign” Hill, according to Jay Glazer of The Athletic.

Glazer “heard some rumblings at the start of free agency that his name was being thrown about in trade talks.” That’s surprising to hear, but Glazer is usually pretty plugged in and was right about the Giants trading Odell Beckham Jr. Hill was reportedly negotiating an extension with the Chiefs before this latest news broke, and it sounds like Hill was making some lofty demands. Hill is heading into the final year of his rookie deal.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • The Lions hosted defensive tackle Al Woods for a workout, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Woods was a fourth round pick of the Saints back in 2010. He’s bounced around since then, and has spent time with six different teams. He was with the Colts for the last two seasons. He played around 36% of the defensive snaps for Indianapolis last year, starting eight games. A run-stuffer who eats up blocks, he finished with 24 tackles and one pass defended. His last deal with the Colts was for two years and $4MM.
  • Adam Jones‘ latest legal issue has been resolved. The cornerback, who has frequently been involved in off-field incidents, reached a plea agreement with prosecutors in his latest case, according to Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. It’s unclear exactly what he plead down to, but Jones had been accused of cheating at a casino game, and then threatening an official who tried to confront him. Jones appeared in seven games for the Broncos last season, but hasn’t drawn any known interest on the open market yet this offseason.
  • East Carolina defensive end Nate Harvey has been ruled ineligible to return to school next season, according to Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. Harvey had been planning on returning to school for one more year, but will now pursue a career in the pros. The NCAA decided to count some brief playing time in his freshman year at the Georgia Military College as a year of eligibility used, throwing a wrench into his plans. David Smith writes that it’s “unclear whether the NFL will make Harvey eligible for the regular draft or whether he will have to wait for the supplemental draft.” Harvery had 14.5 sacks last year and was named the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year.

FA Rumors: Colts, Ajayi, Giants, Lions, Chiefs

Although the Colts met with free agent running back Jay Ajayi this week, there’s no deal imminent between the two parties, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). However, Indianapolis does plan to continue talking with Ajayi, which suggests it could look to sign the ex-Eagle down the line. Ajayi, 25, is arguably the best back still available on the open market after Le’Veon Bell, Tevin Coleman, and Mark Ingram came off the board during the first week of free agency. The Colts don’t necessarily need another running back given their depth chart already includes Marlon Mack, Jordan Wilkins, and Nyheim Hines, but Ajayi could give the club another dimension in the backfield.

Here’s more from the free agent rumor mill:

  • The Giants had interest in defensive end Vinny Curry before he signed with the division-rival Eagles, and in fact offered Curry more money than Philadelphia, reports Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Aside from last season, Curry had spent his entire career with the Eagles, and it sounds like he simply preferred to return to Philadelphia rather than consider other destinations. Indeed, Curry only landed a one-year deal with a base value of $2.25MM from the Eagles, although the pact does contain $1.25MM in incentives. Before landing with the Eagles, Curry also took a visit with the Bengals.
  • Free agent Jake Fisher will work out as a tight end for the Bills on Thursday, tweets John Keim of ESPN.com. A second-round pick of the Bengals as an offensive tackle in 2015, Fisher is now attempting to convert to a skill position, and is reportedly down to 285 pounds. Fisher, who played tight end in high school, has been limited by injuries and ineffectiveness throughout his career, and has started just 12 games in four years. He’s also auditioned for the Texans and Redskins.
  • The Lions hosted defensive tackle Al Woods on Wednesday, according to NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter link). Woods is now entering his age-32 season and didn’t perform well in 2018 (bottom-20 DT among 112 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus), so he likely won’t command much guaranteed money. Detroit is already well-stocked in the middle of its defensive line with Damon Harrison, A’Shawn Robinson, and Da’Shawn Hand in tow.
  • Although he recently announced his retirement and took a collegiate coaching position, former Buccaneers tight end/fullback Alan Cross took a visit with the Chiefs this week, tweets Greg Auman of The Athletic. Cross, who posted 13 receptions over three seasons in Tampa Bay, would give Kansas City an option as they seek to replace former No. 2 tight end Demetrius Harris. The Chiefs also met with former Jets tight end Neal Sterling this week.

Colts Sign J.J. Wilcox

The Colts signed free agent safety J.J. Wilcox, according to a team announcement. In related moves, the club placed linebacker Skai Moore (neck) and defensive lineman Al Woods (foot) on injured reserve. 

Wilcox, 6’0″, 212-pound veteran, has 75 career games to his credit with the Jets (2018), Steelers (2017) and Cowboys (2013-16). He didn’t do much for the Jets in his five games this season, but he’ll look to rebuild his stock for a Colts team that is pushing to make the playoffs.

Woods, 31, left the Titans in March of 2017 to sign with their divisional rival. This is the final year of his two-year, $5MM deal, so it’s possible that he has played his final game for Indianapolis. Before the foot injury, Woods appeared in all 14 games (eight starts) for the Colts and tallied 24 tackles, a tackle for loss, and one pass defensed.

If the Colts can top the Giants and Titans in the next two weeks, they’re nearly guaranteed a spot in the postseason. These injuries may thin out their defense a bit, but they’re still one of the hottest teams in the league at this juncture.

Colts Sign DT Al Woods

Al Woods is going from the Titans to a division rival. The Colts are signing the defensive tackle, according to his agents at SportsTrust (on Twitter). It’s a two-year contract worth $5MM in total, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.Al Woods

Woods was released by the Titans earlier this month before a $1.25MM portion of his base salary would have become fully guaranteed. By dumping Woods, the Titans saved a little over $2MM against the cap versus $1.5MM in dead money. Now, they’ll have to face him multiple times in 2017.

Woods was a part-time starter for the Titans in his three years there. Before that, he spent time with the Bucs, Seahawks, and Steelers. Last year, he was limited to just 245 snaps thanks to a calf injury. This year, if he stays healthy, he should see considerably more playing time for the Colts in a similar role to what Zach Kerr filled in 2016. Kerr was not tendered an offer and left to sign with Denver earlier this week. He appeared in nearly a third of Indy’s defensive snaps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These 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, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

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

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Titans Release Al Woods

The Titans created more cap room going into free agency by releasing defensive tackle Al Woods, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Tennessee makes this move before a $1.25MM portion of his 2017 base salary would have become fully guaranteed on Monday, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

This cut will create just more than $2MM in cap savings for the Titans, who now stand to possess more than $63MM in available funds as free agency looms in just more than 24 hours. Woods had two years left on his Tennessee deal, one he signed just last year, and will eat up $1.5MM in dead money as a result.

Woods served as a part-time starter for the Titans during his three-season tenure in Nashville. The former Saints fourth-round draft pick played with three different teams — the Buccaneers, Seahawks and Steelers — before joining the Titans in 2014. The 29-year-old nose tackle made 18 tackles last season. He played just 245 snaps in 2016, a season limited by a calf injury Woods suffered early in the campaign.

AFC Notes: Siemian, Watt, Cutler, Bengals

The Broncos tabbed Trevor Siemian as their emergency quarterback after he left Sunday’s game. Denver’s first-year starter suffered what an AC joint sprain on his non-throwing shoulder, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Siemian will undergo additional tests before the team determines the course of action.

Gary Kubiak categorized Siemian as day-to-day, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (via Twitter). The Broncos, who received 170 passing yards and one touchdown from Paxton Lynch in relief, host the Falcons in Week 5.

Here’s more from the AFC as its signature game of Week 4 continues its one-sided course.

  • J.J. Watt underwent surgery on the same disk he injured during the spring, Rapoport reports. The Texans defensive end herniated the disk again this season despite passing the tests needed to play. Per Rapoport, Watt felt like he’d regressed back to where he was before the first back surgery this summer. He will stay in Los Angeles to rehab and be able to resume training in two months. However, the 27-year-old perennial All-Pro will still be out for the season despite the call to resume workouts during it. Rapoport adds the Texans don’t have any long-term concerns about Watt.
  • While Ryan Tannehill hasn’t impressed in Adam Gase‘s system, the last quarterback who did is not a target for the Dolphins. Any Jay Cutler-to-Miami talk “has never come up,” with a source close familiar with the Dolphins’ thinking telling Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald that scenario is “never happening.”
  • Former Dolphins DC Kevin Coyle did not draw rave reviews from his Bengals secondary charges, according to a report earlier this week. However, the Bengals — who beat the Dolphins 22-7 on Thursday night — refute the report the new Cincinnati defensive backs coach is unpopular among his players, per Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Bengals “blew off” that contention, instead pointing to the usual adjustment period associated with new coaches. The Dolphins fired Coyle midway through last season.
  • Titans nose tackle Al Woods will miss at least a month of action after pulling his calf muscle on Sunday, Mike Mularkey told media, including Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com. Woods is in his third season with the Titans but the first of a three-year, $10.5MM deal he signed to stay in Tennessee this offseason.