Alterraun Verner

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Bills, Hackenberg

The Dolphins told Jarvis Landry’s representation that there is no truth whatsoever to reports of the team being willing to “seriously listen” to trade offers for him, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears. And, on Monday, coach Adam Gase told reporters that Landry isn’t going anywhere.

I did talk to him and told him there’s no chance that he’s going to be traded,” Gase said (via James Walker of ESPN.com). “And if something that’s not true comes out like that, then I’m going to deal with it. I’m going to approach the player. … I just let him know that there’s no chance I’m going to trade you.”

Landry is in the final year of a contract that will pay him roughly $894K. The team has yet to offer him a multiyear extension, fueling speculation that might not be long for Miami. The Dolphins re-signed Kenny Stills this offseason at $8MM per year but have DeVante Parker on a rookie deal for as many as three more seasons.

Here’s more out of Miami as well as the latest from some of the Dolphins’ top rivals facilities.

  • Byron Maxwell is not locked into Miami’s starting lineup. The well-paid cornerback is competing with Alterraun Verner for a job opposite Xavien Howard, who is entrenched with the Fins’ first unit, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Maxwell has no guaranteed money remaining on his six-year deal after this season. He’s set to count $8.5MM against Miami’s cap this year, while Verner is attached to the veteran minimum. A timeshare scenario is in play for the Dolphins, Salguero writes, or a possible benching if Maxwell cannot re-establish consistency.
  • Previous comments from Bills GM Brandon Beane indicated Reggie Ragland‘s standing on the updated Buffalo depth chart wasn’t to be taken as gospel, but it now appears the former Alabama stalwart was not a fit for Sean McDermott‘s 4-3 scheme, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com writes. After trading Ragland to the Chiefs, the Bills are placing their trust in Preston Brown to play the Luke Kuechly role in McDermott’s defense. The 2014 third-round pick has started all but two games during his Bills tenure and hasn’t missed a game. Entering his contract year, Brown has plenty riding on 2017. But it looks like McDermott believed Brown, who began his career as 4-3 middle linebacker before working in Rex Ryan‘s 3-4 for two years, could fill that job better than Ragland.
  • Despite his second-round draft status, Christian Hackenberg finished third in the race to become the Jets‘ starting quarterback job, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com notes. The developmental player will remain as such for now, with Josh McCown having won the job. But Cimini writes Hackenberg figures to be given playing time this season in order for the Jets to evaluate him in advance of a 2018 draft expected to be flush with quarterback talent.
  • Arrested on a firearms charge in July, Bills defensive tackle Adolphus Washington was found not guilty of possessing a concealed weapon, an Ohio judge ruled Monday (via WIVB.com). A second-year player, Washington was arrested for allegedly pulling out a firearm at a water park July 9 in Sharonville, Ohio. The 2016 third-round pick started 11 games for Buffalo last season.

Zach Links contributed to this report.

AFC Notes: Broncos, Bolts, Fins, Ravens

Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly will likely spend his rookie season on injured reserve, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link), who indicates 2017 will be something of a redshirt campaign for Kelly. This year’s Mr. Irrelevant, Kelly is currently on the non-football injury list after undergoing wrist surgery in April. With Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch set to act as Denver’s top two quarterbacks, Kelly wouldn’t have played a role this season anyway, so the Broncos would rather not waste a roster spot. Denver will have to wait until final cutdowns to move Kelly to IR, or else risk losing him to waivers.

More from the AFC:

  • Chargers first-round wide receiver Mike Williams said last weekend that he expects to avoid surgery on his ailing back. The Bolts are also optimistic that will be the case, according to Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com, who notes that Mike Williams will likely begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. That wouldn’t necessarily rule out the ex-Clemson star for regular-season action, however, as the team’s hope is that he’ll be able to return during camp to work his way back in time for Week 1. General manager Tom Telesco revealed that the wideout has “been responding well” to treatment.
  • Alterraun Verner‘s one-year deal with the Dolphins is a minimum salary benefit pact and doesn’t contain any guaranteed money, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. As such, Verner will earn $900K if earns a spot on Miami’s roster, but will only count for $615K against the club’s salary cap. The veteran defensive back is expected to be given “every opportunity” to displace Bobby McCain as the Dolphins’ slot corner, per Jackson, but it’s also possible that Verner will fail to make the squad at all. In 2016, Verner appeared in all 16 games for Tampa Bay but played on only 22.8% of the team’s defensive snaps.
  • Even after signing veteran Bobby Rainey earlier this week, the Ravens may not be done adding running back help, opines Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Baltimore’s running game was already among the league’s worst in 2016, ranking 24th in DVOA and 25th in yards, and is now without Kenneth Dixon, who will miss the season after undergoing meniscus surgery. Terrance West, Danny Woodhead, Lorenzo Taliaferro, and Rainey are still on the roster, but the Ravens could consider free agent signings or trades as search for another back, per Hensley, who tosses out Ryan Mathews, Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, and Carlos Hyde as potential options.
  • Texans receiver Deante’ Gray has suffered a torn ACL, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. It has been a short but injury-marred career for Gray, an undrafted rookie who suffered a torn hamstring in the spring. Although he’s a Houston native, the ex-TCU Horned Frog was already facing long odds of making the Texans’ roster before his injury issues arose, given that he joined the team on a paltry $2K bonus.

Connor Byrne contributed to this post.

Dolphins Sign Verner, Put Misi On IR

Well, that didn’t take long. Hours after auditioning him, the Dolphins have signed cornerback Alterraun Verner to a one-year deal, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). In a related move, linebacker Koa Misi has been placed on injured reserve. "<strong

Misi underwent spinal fusion surgery late last year and the hope was that he would be ready to go for the season opener. Apparently, he’s going to need more time before he can think about getting back on the field.

Misi, 30, managed only 127 defensive snaps in 2016 before going down with injury. In 2015, Misi’s last predominantly healthy season, he totaled 78 tackles and had one pass defensed. Though he’s never had huge sack totals, he did have 12 sacks from 2010 through 2014. Pro Football Focus, for the most part, has always been high on the former second-round pick. In 2014 and 2015, he had scores of 81.5 and 80.8, painting him as a top-30 linebacker in the league. Earlier this year, Misi accepted a pay cut for the second consecutive year, as he agreed to slash his salary by ~$3MM.

The good news is that the Dolphins were not necessarily counting on Misi’s health. The Dolphins signed former Steelers ‘backer Lawrence Timmons to a two-year, $12MM deal in March and used a second-round pick on Ohio State product Raekwon McMillan. Timmons and McMillan project to start along with Kiko Alonso while Mike Hull, Neville Hewitt, Trevor Reilly, and others will come on in support.

Verner did not live up to his big money deal in Tampa Bay, but the Dolphins are not expecting him to be a shutdown corner in 2017. They’ll likely look at Verner as a slot option who could potentially take the job from 2015 fifth-round pick Bobby McCain.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Work Out CB Alterraun Verner

The Dolphins are working out veteran cornerbacks on Tuesday, including former Bucs star Alterraun Verner, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Tony Carter, best known for his time with the Broncos, is also among those auditioning. "<strong

Verner worked out for the Jaguars back in May, but the Jags passed in part because of his poor conditioning. Months later, one would hope that Verner is back in football shape. Verner was regarded as one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL a few years back when he signed a four-year, $25.5MM deal with the Bucs in 2014. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old never lived up to that big money contract while in Tampa Bay.

Verner and Carter can both play the slot and Miami may see them as potential alternatives to Bobby McCain. Overall, cornerback is one of the Dolphins’ thinnest areas. The Dolphins project to start Byron Maxwell and rising sophomore Xavien Howard with converted wide receiver Tony Lippett, third-round pick Cordrea Tankersley, and McCain in support.

It was expected that Miami would look into cornerbacks before the start of training camp, but one has to wonder if the Dolphins will also kick the tires on some backup defensive tackle options. It has been said that rookie defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Vincent Taylor are too raw right now to be counted upon as rotation players. The Dolphins took a look at Roy Miller last week, but they did not sign him after the workout.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Alterraun Verner Has Visit Next Week

Free agent cornerback Alterraun Verner has a workout with an unidentified team scheduled for next week, according to ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Twitter). Verner most recently worked out for the Jaguars back in May, but apparently that audition did not go well, as Verner was a little out of shape. However, reports at the time indicated that the two sides could reconvene later on, so perhaps this latest workout will again be with Jacksonville.

Alterraun Verner (Vertical)

The Buc released Verner in February, and immediately thereafter, Verner himself said that four or five teams had reached out to him. Before the Jaguars visit, however, we did not know of any specific teams with interest. The UCLA product has been quite durable during his seven-year career, but he saw his playing time wane dramatically over the past two seasons. He started just three games in 2016, tying a career low, and only appeared in 22.8% of Tampa Bay’s defensive plays. Still just 28, Verner will not command anywhere close to the same type of money he did when he inked a four-year, $25.5MM pact with the Bucs in 2014, but he never seemed to play to his potential in Tampa Bay, and it’s possible that a change of scenery could reinvigorate him.

Verner was selected by the Titans in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, and he parlayed an excellent 2013 campaign into that multi-year free agent pact with Tampa. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 2013 and was a second-team All-Pro. He intercepted a career-best five passes that season, and although the fact that he showed up to his Jaguars workout out of shape is disappointing, he makes plenty of sense as a rotational piece, with the upside to be more.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars Worked Out CB Alterraun Verner

The Jaguars worked out veteran cornerback Alterraun Verner last week, a source tells Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Verner’s audition apparently didn’t go well, per O’Halloran. “He was a little out of shape,” the source said. “Word is they will do a do-over.”Alterraun Verner (Vertical)

[RELATED: Checking In On The Cornerback Market]

Jacksonville is set to field one of the league’s better cornerback tandems, as free agent signee A.J. Bouye will pair with 2016 first-round pick on the outside. After that duo, however, the club’s depth is questionable. Aaron Colvin is projected to start in the slot, but only played 10 games last year thanks to a four-game suspension and an ankle injury. Josh Johnson, Tracy Howard, and Jalen Myrick comprise the remainder of the Jaguars’ cornerback depth chart.

Verner, 28, could compete with Colvin to serve as Jacksonville’s nickelback and also offer depth at outside corner. Released by the Buccaneers in February, Verner reportedly drew immediate interest as soon as being cut loose, but still has yet to land a contract. Originally signed to be a starter for Tampa Bay, Verner’s playing time had dwindled over the past two campaigns, and he saw action on less than a quarter of the Bucs’ defensive snaps a season ago.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Checking In On The Cornerback Market

As the league has grown increasingly pass-happy, and as the rules have evolved in a way that favors quarterbacks and wideouts, the importance of the cornerback position has never been higher. Over the course of the offseason, we ranked the best available free agents at each position, and five of our top ten corners remain unsigned. Of course, after the initial wave of free agency is over, teams generally turn their attention to the draft and will circle back to the free agent pool if necessary over the summer months.

Darrelle Revis

The group of cornerbacks still available is headlined by Darrelle Revis, whose performance fell off a cliff last season and who was released by the Jets earlier this year. Almost three weeks ago, we heard that two unidentified teams were interested in Revis, but neither club was willing to pay him more than the $6MM he’s earning from the Jets. Because Revis’ deal with New York contained offset language, if he signs for $6MM or less, his new club would essentially be getting his services for free, which certainly would not sit well with the prideful Revis. The two teams that expressed interest in Revis were not optimistic that they would sign him, but it’s difficult to imagine Revis sitting out 2017 entirely. He’s bound to get a job somewhere, and perhaps he will ultimately return to the Patriots, as was speculated back in March.

The next player on our list, Brandon Flowers, was let go by the Chargers several days before the start of free agency in a cost-cutting move. Flowers, 31, signed a four-year deal with the Bolts prior to the 2015 season, a deal that included $20.5MM in guaranteed money. That contract was a reward for his strong 2014 campaign in San Diego, when he collected 52 tackles, 10 passes defended, and three interceptions. He did not reach that level of play in the following two seasons, though he played in only six games last year due to a concussion. He has always been a fundamentally-sound corner, so even if he has lost a step or two, he could still be a useful part of someone’s DB rotation. The Steelers checked in on him soon after his release, and the two sides could reconvene in the coming months.

Like all of the players in this post, Alterraun Verner did not reach the end of his last contract before becoming a free agent. The Bucs released Verner in February, and immediately thereafter, Verner himself said that four or five teams had reached out to him. That may be true, but there have been no independent reports of interest in Verner since his release. The UCLA product has been quite durable during his seven-year career, but he saw his playing time wane dramatically over the past two seasons. He started just three games in 2016, tying a career low, and only appeared in 22.8% of Tampa Bay’s defensive plays. Still just 28, Verner will not command the same type of money he did when he inked a four-year, $25.5MM pact with the Bucs in 2014, but he never seemed to play to his potential in Tampa Bay, and it’s possible that a change of scenery could reinvigorate him.

Alterraun Verner (Vertical)

There have been no reports of interest in former Packer Sam Shields since he was released by Green Bay earlier this year. Sadly, Shields suffered his second concussion in a nine-month span during the Packers’ Week 1 contest in 2016, and he never made it back to the field last season. He is only 29 and is immensely talented, but it does not appear as if the league has much confidence in his ability to rebound from his concussion issues. He previously stated that he has no intention of retiring, so hopefully he can convince someone to take a chance on his upside, even if it’s on a one-year pact for the veteran minimum.

Tramon Williams is the oldest of this group of corners, and at age 34, it’s fair to wonder what he has left in the tank He played in only 12 games (seven starts) for the Browns last season, and he finished 2016 with 36 tackles, five passes defended, and one interception – his lowest totals since 2007. Plus, Pro Football Focus’ metrics graded him as just the 73rd-best corner out of 111 qualified players. He was very good for a very long time for the Packers, but while he may be able to hang on for another year or two, his playing career appears just about over.

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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PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday 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. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

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 franchised players 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 this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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