Anthony Sherman

Chiefs To Re-Sign FB Anthony Sherman

The Chiefs have agreed to a new deal with fullback Anthony Sherman, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The news was first reported by the Pardon My Take podcast (Twitter link).

The veteran fullback is now slated to return for a sixth season with the Chiefs. Terms of the deal are not yet known.
Sherman was rated as PFR’s top fullback eligible for free agency, ahead of Zach Line, Mike Tolbert, John Kuhn, and Derrick Coleman. Sherman had only six catches last year and his 14 rushing attempts all came in Week 17, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 5 fullback in the NFL thanks to his run blocking acumen. His 183 snaps were good for ninth amongst all players at the position.

In other Chiefs news, the team is set to meet with free agent defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, 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. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

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 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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Bengals’ Vontaze Burfict Facing Suspension

Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is facing a five-game suspension for an illegal hit against a Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman in the preseason, sources tell ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Burfict is appealing and he’ll have his hearing next week. Vontaze Burfict (vertical)

Upon learning of the league’s decision, the Bengals offered support for the veteran in a statement:

The Bengals are aware of the NFL’s letter to Vontaze regarding a play in last weekend’s game. The film shows that the hit was legal, that Vontaze engaged his opponent from the front, and that contact was shoulder-to-chest. The Club will support Vontaze in the appeal process.”

Video of the hit shows Burfict driving his shoulder into Sherman’s head/neck area roughly four or five yards from the line of scrimmage. Sherman is not Alex Smith‘s targeted receiver, but Burfict’s reps may argue that he was first thrown off by a pump fake from the quarterback, leading him to a tackle on the fullback. Burfict will probably argue that the placement of the hit was also accidental.

Of course, this is not Burfict’s first rodeo when it comes to violating league safety rules. Over his five-year career, Burfict has racked up nearly $800K in fines and been flagged 16 times for unnecessary roughness, personal fouls or roughing the passer. Last year, Burfict was sidelines for the first three weeks of the season due to an illegal hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown in the 2015 playoffs.

The Bengals are now slated to be without Burfict for games against the Ravens, Texans, Packers, Browns, and Bills. Because the Bengals have a Week 6 bye, Burfict would not return to the field until Week 7 against the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson Accepts Paycut

The Chiefs have worked out contract restructures with linebacker Derrick Johnson and fullback Anthony Sherman, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com.Derrick Johnson

Johnson, 34, was previously scheduled to earn $4.75MM in 2017 base salary and could have made an additional $1MM in per-game roster bonuses. Instead, he’s agreed to reduce his base salary to a fully guaranteed $1MM, and will also earn a $1MM signing bonus. In sum, the cap-strapped Chiefs were able to use leverage against Johnson — who tore his Achilles last season — in order to create roughly $4.25MM in cap space.

Sherman, meanwhile, will see his base salary drop from $1.55MM to a fully guaranteed $1MM, per Yates. Additionally, his previous per-game roster bonuses of $12,500 have been slashed in half, and are now worth only $6,250 per contest. In total, the move creates about $550K in cap space for the Chiefs.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs Sign Anthony Sherman To Extension

1:23pm: Sherman’s new contract with the Chiefs is for three years and can be worth up to $7MM, a source tells Dave Skretta of The Associated Press (Twitter link). It’s not clear yet how much of the deal is guaranteed, or what the base value is.

11:28am: The Chiefs have locked up one of their offensive players who was headed for free agency at season’s end, announcing today in a press release that fullback Anthony Sherman has signed an extension. Terms of the new contract weren’t disclosed, but Sherman had been earning the minimum salary this season, so he’s unlikely to be in line for a significant raise.

“It was important for us to keep Anthony here in Kansas City,” Chiefs GM John Dorsey said in a statement. “He brings a lot to our football team with not only his play, but his work ethic, leadership and character. He doesn’t get a lot of recognition at his position, but he has been a key component to our success as a team.”

The lead blocker for Jamaal Charles in Kansas City’s offense, Sherman currently ranks as the No. 1 fullback in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required). Per PFF’s data, in 145 offensive snaps, Sherman has ranked among the league’s best fullbacks as both as a pass catcher and a run blocker.

AFC Mailbags: Chiefs, Jaguars, Titans

We took a look at ESPN’s NFC mailbags earlier this morning. Let’s check out some notes from the AFC…

  • Adam Teicher writes that it’s possible for the Chiefs to retain Tamba Hali and Justin Houston longterm, but they have to be clever with their cap manipulation.
  • Teicher adds that the Chiefs will certainly look to re-sign upcoming free agents Houston, Allen Bailey, Rodney Hudson and Anthony Sherman, but they proved last offseason that they won’t overspend to keep their own players.
  • Looking forward to free agency, Michael DiRocco says the Jaguars biggest needs are a “pass rusher, speed at linebacker, tight end and more depth along the offensive line.”
  • It wasn’t that long ago that Vince Young was the Titans starting quarterback, and Paul Kuharsky believes that the team may be wary of a player like Jameis Winston. He later notes that the team needs an edge rusher “more than anything.”

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Flowers, Sherman, Chargers, Raiders

While the focus is on Von Miller and Chris Harris rehabbing ACL injuries, denverbroncos.com’s Andrew Mason takes a look at other defenders coming off injury who could strengthen the Broncos’ defense, including free safety Quinton Carter and pass rusher Quanterus Smith.

Carter, who has missed most of the last two seasons because of knee and hamstring problems, looked promising as a rookie in 2011, but has since been passed on the depth chart by Rahim Moore. With Moore and T.J. Ward holding down starting spots and Duke Ihenacho and special teams captain David Bruton providing depth, Omar Bolden could be on the bubble. A healthy Carter could create an interesting storyline if he’s able to push Moore, as both are free agents at year’s end.

In the case of Smith, he was one of the most productive pass rushers in college football in 2012 before a late-season torn ACL knocked him down to the fifth round. After a “redshirt” 2013, the 6-5, 255-pounder is poised to earn reps in passing situations. Said defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio: “On tape coming out, we liked [Smith’s] athleticism, his length, his ability to bend and his ability to rush the quarterback. So those are things we’re looking forward to seeing from him.”

Here’s a few more AFC West notes:

  • In a Chiefs mailbag, ESPN’s Adam Teicher said third-round cornerback Phillip Gainesis insurance in 2015 for Brandon Flowers, who is also expensive and may not be a good fit for what the Chiefs are doing on defense.” Flowers has three years remaining on a six-year, $49.35MM deal ($22MM guaranteed), though he struggled adapting to defensive coordinator’s Bob Sutton’s press-man responsibilities (his -9.8 pass coverage rating was the worst on the team, according to Pro Football Focus), and his name surfaced in trade rumors around draft time.
  • Chiefs Rookie quarterback Aaron Murray, drafted in the fifth round after tearing his ACL in November, could be stashed on IR, says Teicher. Behind starter Alex Smith, the Chiefs have veteran backup Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Murray, though Teicher doesn’t see keeping all three or utilizing a practice squad spot as viable options.
  • Fullback Anthony Sherman has flourished in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense, writes Pro Football Focus’ Matt Claassen. According to PFF, Sherman had an outstanding season as a run blocker, was an opportunistic as a receiver and served as a productive, core special teams player.
  • Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com provides a projected starting lineup for the Chargers. In his accompanying thoughts, Rosenthal calls tight end Ladarius Green a potential breakout player. Meanwhile, in a fan chat for the team’s website, GM Tom Telesco explained why less than ideal measurables didn’t prevent them from drafting cornerback Jason Verrett — who is expected to start from Day One — and nose tackle Ryan Carrethers.
  • In a review of the Raiders’ offseason, ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez praises GM Reggie McKenzie for not overthinking and letting the draft come to him, particularly with top picks Khalil Mack and Derek Carr. Gutierrez also credits McKenzie for not overpaying for veteran free agents while creating a “strong enough locker room to withstand a wild card or two,” i.e. the addition of Greg Little.
  • Accordingly, Rosenthal says, “No team had a more dramatic overhaul this offseason,” as he projects the Raiders’ starting lineup. In his supplemental notes, Rosenthal calls free agent offensive tackle Donald Penn a boom-or-bust signing and says there’s reason to worry about the secondary, particularly if 2013 first-rounder D.J. Hayden doesn’t elevate his game.