Antwon Blake

Giants Sign CB Valentino Blake

The Giants have signed cornerback Valentino Blake, the team announced. Blake will provide the Giants with cornerback depth after Coty Sensabaugh signed with the Steelers on Monday. Antwon Valentino Blake (vertical)

Since entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Texas-El Paso in 2012, Blake has appeared in all but two possible regular season games. After spending his first year with the Jaguars, he found his way to the Steelers and ascended to a starting role in 2015. Last year, he hooked on with the Titans and reverted to a reserve job.

In 16 games with Tennessee, he totaled 38 tackles and five passes defensed. Blake was ranked by Pro Football Focus as the No. 80 cornerback in the NFL last season out of 112 qualified players. His 62.5 score wasn’t great, but it was far ahead of Sensabaugh’s 48.4 posting. Blake is now projected to serve as the Giants’ No. 4 cornerback behind Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Eli Apple.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Contract Details: Okung, Penn, Pacman

Here are several of the latest contract details on deals which were agreed upon or signed within the last week. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated.

AFC West:

  • Russell Okung, T (Broncos): Five years, $53MM. No guaranteed money. Option after year one. $2MM base salary, $1MM workout bonus, and $2MM Week 1 roster bonus for 2016. Up to $3MM in incentives available in 2016 ($1.5MM for 80% of snaps, $3MM for 90% of snaps). Option must be exercised between fifth day after Super Bowl and first day of 2017 league year. If option is exercised, $2MM salary for 2017 and $9.5MM salary for 2018 become fully guaranteed, and an $8MM roster bonus is paid out (links via Pro Football Talk, ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Tom Pelissero of USA Today, and Wilson)
  • Donald Penn, T (Raiders): Two years, $11.9MM, $5.5MM guaranteed. $2MM roster bonus due 20th day of 2016 league year. $300K in annual weigh bonuses (six weigh-ins worth $50K each). Up to $750K in annual playing-time, Pro Bowl, and playoff incentives (Twitter links).
  • Andre Holmes, WR (Raiders): One year, $2MM. $750K guaranteed. $500K signing bonus. $250K of $1.25MM base salary guaranteed. $250K workout bonus. Up to $1MM in catch, yardage incentives (Twitter links).

AFC North:

  • Adam Jones, CB (Bengals): Three years, $22MM. $6MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus. $4MM roster bonus due March 18. $500K in annual per-game active roster bonuses. $500K playing-time escalator for 2017. $750K playing-time escalator for 2018. $200K punt return average incentive for 2018. 2018 option to be exercised by last day of 2017 league year. (Twitter links).
  • Demario Davis, LB (Browns): Two years, $8MM. $4.1MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus. Annual $100K workout bonus (Twitter link).
  • Ryan Harris, T (Steelers): Two years, $3.9MM. $675K signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Pat Sims, DT (Bengals): Two years, $2.3MM. $250K guaranteed roster bonus due March 18. $200K in annual playing-time incentives. $200K playing-time escalator for 2017 (Twitter links via Wilson and Pelissero).

AFC East:

  • Andre Branch, DE (Dolphins): One year, $2.75MM. $2.5MM guaranteed base salary. $250K in per-game active roster bonuses. Up to $250K in incentives (Twitter link).
  • Nate Ebner, S (Patriots): Two years, $2.4MM. $500K guaranteed. $125K in annual per-game roster bonuses. $250K first-day camp reporting bonus. Up to $500K in playing-time, Pro Bowl incentives (Twitter links via Wilson and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).
  • Frank Kearse, DT (Patriots): One year, minimum salary benefit. $30K signing bonus. $30K first-day camp reporting bonus. $20K in per-game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Robert Blanton, S (Bills): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).

AFC South:

  • Antwon Blake, CB (Titans): One year, $1.5MM. $200K signing bonus. Up to $750K in playing-time incentives (Twitter link).

FA Rumors: N. Robinson, Blanton, Bills, 49ers

Veteran NBA guard Nate Robinson raised some eyebrows last week when he suggested that he intended to try his hand at earning a spot on an NFL roster. It seemed that Robinson’s NFL dream may have fallen by the wayside several days later, when he signed to play basketball in Israel, but apparently the 31-year-old hasn’t given up quite yet on the idea of making a move to football.

“After I get back from playing [in Israel], I’m going to go get ready to train, and get ready to go to the NFL,” Robinson told basketball reporter David Pick (Twitter link).

Despite the fact that Robinson originally attended the University of Washington on a football scholarship, his age and his lack of football experience over the past decade makes him a long shot to realize his NFL dream, but it could be a fun story to follow if he commits to making it happen.

Here’s more from around the NFL as free agency continues:

  • Free agent safety Robert Blanton is paying a visit to the Bills on Friday, marking the first time this month that Buffalo has hosted a defensive free agent, the team announced in a press release. Although Blanton made 13 starts for the Vikings in 2014, he has primarily been a special-teamer and a part-time defensive player during his four NFL seasons.
  • Before he agreed to re-sign with the Packers, running back James Starks drew interest from the Dolphins, tweets Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. According to Jackson, the team and Starks’ agent had “multiple conversations” in recent days. Having also missed out on Lamar Miller, C.J. Anderson, and Chris Johnson, the Dolphins continue to search for running back help.
  • Free agent cornerback Antwon Blake ultimately agreed to sign with the Titans, but he had no shortage of potential suitors when he was on the market. Terry McCormick of TitanInsider.com tweets that Blake garnered interest from the Steelers, Patriots, Jets, Lions, and Giants.
  • Head coach Chip Kelly is perfectly fine with the 49ers not venturing much into free agency this offseason, suggesting that the team doesn’t want to pay solid players like superstars. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle has the details and the quotes from Kelly.

Titans To Sign Antwon Blake

The Titans have agreed to sign cornerback Antwon Blake, according to Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com.

Blake started 16 games for the Steelers in 2015 and recorded a career-high 76 tackles, one sack, two interceptions, and a defensive touchdown. Blake also snagged an interception in Pittsburgh’s postseason win over the Bengals. The 25-year-old also drew interest from the Patriots and his agent recently stated that he was in talks with four other teams besides the Titans and Pats.

In other Titans news, the team also re-signed offensive lineman Byron Bell on Thursday.

Free Agent Rumors: Raji, Packers, Pats

The latest free agent rumors:

  • Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel (on Twitter) heard that Packers lineman B.J. Raji had “five legit offers,” though as Silverstein notes, “legit” is in the eye of the beholder. Raji, he hears, had to weigh those offers versus wanting to spend time with his family plus his own health concerns.
  • Free agent receiver Nate Washington met with the Patriots on Monday, according to FOX 26’s Mark Berman (via Twitter). Washington was ranked as Pro Football Rumors’ No. 13 free agent wide receiver in early March.
  • Browns free agent linebacker Craig Robertson is on his way to visit the Saints, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Robertson just got done visiting with Seattle. As Schefter notes, the Browns have already lost five unrestricted free agents this month and they could be on their way to losing free agent No. 6 if Robertson signs elsewhere.
  • Cornerback Antwon Blake will visit the Patriots on Tuesday, Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. Blake visited the Titans today and also has a visit scheduled with the Lions on Wednesday.
  • The Giants are looking for cornerbacks, particularly corners that can play in the slot, Jordan Raanan of the Star-Ledger tweets. He adds that Patrick Robinson and Jerraud Powers are two players to keep an eye on. The Eagles, Dolphins, and Bears have also been connected to Robinson.
  • Free agent defensive end Chris Clemons completed his visit with the Dolphins, as Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets.

FA Visits: Seahawks, Lions, Chiefs, Pats, Titans

After being released recently by the Jaguars, veteran edge defender Chris Clemons is expected to pay a visit to the Seahawks soon, and could sign with the team during that visit, according to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (via Twitter). In fact, Condotta suspects that Clemons will sign.

If it happens, it would be a reunion for the two sides, as Clemons enjoyed the best years of his NFL career in Seattle. Although he was slowed down by injuries during his final year with the team in 2013, he recorded at least 11 sacks as a 16-game starter in each season from 2010 to 2012. At age 34, Clemons is unlikely to reach those totals again, but he could be a solid situational pass rusher if he rejoins the Seahawks.

Here’s more on potential free agent visits:

  • While the Patriots would like to bring back defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, the veteran free agent is exploring his options, and those options include a pair of NFC North teams. In addition to making a previously-reported visit to the Bears, Hicks is planning to visit the Lions over the weekend, tweets Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
  • Defensive tackle Al Woods is visiting the Seahawks, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Seattle is bringing in both Woods and – as previously reportedCam Thomas, as the team explore possible replacements for Brandon Mebane.
  • The Chiefs may still get a chance to meet with wide receiver Rod Streater, tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Streater, who met with the Patriots on Thursday, is planning to head to Kansas City after visiting the Jets.
  • Free agent cornerback Antwon Blake is scheduled to visit the Patriots and Titans this weekend, per Ralph N. Paulk of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). Blake’s agent is also negotiating with four other teams, says Paulk. The 25-year-old has spent the last three seasons with the Steelers.

AFC Notes: Bills, P. Thomas, Browns, Ajayi

Addressing a report that suggested he left several members of the Bills‘ front office and coaching staff out of the loop when he decided to cut Fred Jackson, general manager Doug Whaley said on Thursday night that he consulted several others before making the move official, writes Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News. According to Whaley, head coach Rex Ryan was with him when he informed Jackson of the decision.

“So he was in there with me when we told him together,” Whaley said. “Talked to the running backs coach (Anthony Lynn). So it wasn’t just me waking up one day and deciding, ‘Hey, I want to do this.'”

Whaley added multiple times that he informed Bills ownership of the move, which the original report didn’t dispute. For his part, Jackson suggested Whaley was behind the decision, adding that the GM “wasn’t honest with me the entire time that I’ve known him.”

Here’s more from across the AFC:

  • Having turned down a minimum-salary offer from the Texans last month, veteran running back Pierre Thomas is seeking a salary around $1.3MM or $1.4MM, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. It appears the Texans have moved on from Thomas, though perhaps Houston or another club could revisit the free agent back after Week 1.
  • According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap and ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter links), the Browns won’t be on the hook for Phil Taylor‘s full $5.477MM salary after all, after releasing the defensive tackle. When he asked for his release, Taylor accepted a three-week injury settlement, which works out to a $966,529 payment.
  • As the Dolphins prepare to cut down their roster to 53 players, an injury to Jay Ajayi could complicate the team’s plans, according to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, who says the rookie running back cracked a rib on Thursday. Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post writes that Ajayi is expected to remain on Miami’s active roster.
  • Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wonders if the Steelers might part ways with one – or all – of the three players who received restricted free agent tenders from the club earlier this year — Pittsburgh could clear about $3.3MM in cap space by cutting fullback Will Johnson, cornerback Antwon Blake, and safety Robert Golden.

Minor Moves: Wednesday

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the NFL:

  • We learned yesterday that the Raiders have officially secured all five of their restricted free agents, and Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets today that the team has locked up its exclusive rights free agents as well. Rival clubs couldn’t make a play for those ERFAs, so there wasn’t much suspense about whether or not they’d be returning to Oakland. Defensive end Denico Autry, tight end Brian Leonhardt, tackle Matt McCants, fullback Jamize Olawale, and cornerback Neiko Thorpe are now under contract.
  • Cornerback Antwon Blake, who received the low-end RFA tender from the Steelers last month, has officially signed that tender, according to Wilson (via Twitter). Blake will return to Pittsburgh on a one-year deal for 2015 worth $1.542MM.
  • Former Texans and Bears defensive lineman Amobi Okoye has been released by the Cowboys, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Okoye appeared in 87 games between 2007 and 2012 before he was sidelined by a medical issue, and had been attempting to make it back to the NFL — if he intends to continue his comeback attempt, it looks like it’ll have to happen with another team.
  • The Packers have cut tackle Aaron Adams with a failed physical designation, per Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette (Twitter link). The former Kentucky lineman tore his ACL and MCL during training camp last year and missed the entire 2014 season.

Minor Moves: Monday

Today’s minor moves around the NFL:

  • The Packers have informed running back DuJuan Harris they will not extend him an exclusive rights tender, Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel tweets.
  • The Ravens are expected to assign an exclusive-rights free agent tender to running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun tweets.
  • The Steelers have offered one-year deals to restricted free agents Antwon Blake, Will Johnson, and Robert Golden, Scott Brown of ESPN tweets. All three will get the lower tender, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (on Twitter).
  • The Cardinals announced they’ve re-signed Alameda Ta’amu to a one-year contract, as Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports tweets. The Cards decided not to tender him but they have retained him at a lower salary.
  • The 49ers will restructure their deal with safety Craig Dahl, according to Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). It’s now a one-year, $1.3MM deal with a $200K signing bonus, a $175K roster bonus, and a $50K workout bonus.
  • The Buccaneers announced that they have re-signed defensive ends Larry English and Lawrence Sidbury, tight end Luke Stocker and linebacker Jason Williams.
  • The Ravens have assigned a $510K exclusive rights tender to offensive lineman Ryan Jensen, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). Wilson (link) also hears that the Ravens have given wide receiver Kamar Aiken a $585K exclusive rights tender.
  • The Ravens gave cornerback Tramain Jacobs a $510K tender, per Wilson (link).

Earlier updates:

  • The Bills announced that they have extended the contract of kicker Jordan Gay, according to ESPN.com’s Mike Rodak (via Twitter).
  • The Browns announced that they have tendered qualifying offers to four of their restricted free agents: free safety Tashaun Gipson, defensive back Johnson Bademosi, defensive lineman Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, and linebacker Craig Robertson, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal tweets. It’s a second-round tender for Robertson, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer (on Twitter). Gipson also gets the second-round tender, according to Ulrich (link).
  • The Ravens have sent a second-round restricted tender $2.356MM to Pro Bowl kicker Justin Tucker, a source tells Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter).
  • The Steelers announced that they have agreed to terms with veteran tight end Matt Spaeth on a two-year deal. The 31-year-old appeared in 15 regular-season games in 2014 (eight starts) and caught three passes for 46 yards and a touchdown, and also started the Steelers’ playoff game against Baltimore.
  • The Buccaneers are not expected to tender an offer to fullback Jorvorskie Lane, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. They could bring Lane, an ERFA, back on a different deal later, however. Lane had a tough year in 2014. He was hit with a two-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing substances in October and his season ended in November after he underwent surgery on his injured right leg.
  • The Broncos have placed the low-level contract tender on restricted free agent defensive back Tony Carter, extending him a one-year offer worth $1.542MM, per Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The move gives Denver the right to match any offer sheet Carter signs with another team, and according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link), there may be strong outside interest.
  • The Cowboys have placed one-year tenders of $1.542MM each on restricted free agent punter Chris Jones and restricted free agent running back Lance Dunbar, sources tell Brandon George of The Dallas Morning News. Dunbar is the Cowboys’ third running back and tendering him gives Dallas some insurance if DeMarco Murray signs with another team in free agency. He also gives them a reserve back in the event that they have to cut ties with Joseph Randle.
  • The Browns announced that they have re-signed offensive lineman Ryan Seymour. Seymour, 25, appeared in 11 games during the 2014 season, starting three at center. Nick McDonald was originally the team’s choice at center after Alex Mack went down with a broken leg, but Seymour eventually got his chance at the job.
  • The Panthers have re-signed wide receiver/kick returner Brenton Bersin to a one-year deal, a source tells Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (via Twitter). Bersin was an exclusive rights free agent.
  • The Panthers announced that they re-signed Fozzy Whittaker on a two-year deal, according to Person (on Twitter). The tailback had 32 carries for 145 yards last season and also contributed on kick returns. Linebacker Ben Jacobs and center Brian Folkerts got one-year deals to remain in Carolina (link). Tackle Kevin Hughes is the only Panthers ERFA who wasn’t tendered an offer (link).

AFC Notes: Shorts, Cameron, Patriots

In addition to having a delightful name, Jaguars‘ receiver Cecil Shorts has been one of the few bright spots on the club over the past couple of seasons. Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times Union examines the recent extension that Doug Baldwin signed with the Seahawks, and wonders if a similar contract would make sense for Shorts, who will become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season.

O’Halloran concludes that if Jacksonville were to offer Shorts a contract resembling the one that Baldwin received–the Seahawks added two years to Baldwin’s contract to create a three-year, $13MM with $8MM guaranteed–Shorts should jump at the opportunity. Both players have put up similar numbers during their three years in the league, but considering that the Jaguars drafted highly-touted receivers Allen Robinson and Marqise Lee last month, and given that rookie quarterback Blake Bortles will probably find himself under center at some point this season, Shorts’ stats may take a hit. This is not to mention the fact that Shorts has frequently been able to bolster his numbers in garbage time, when the Jaguars were forced to throw the football and opposing teams were willing to let them eat up big but meaningless chunks of yardage. If the Jaguars are more competitive this season, as they expect to be, those opportunities would decrease.

On the other hand, Shorts is doubtlessly a talented and sometimes electric playmaker, so he certainly could eclipse the 1,000-yard mark and drive up his price, particularly if he is able to stay healthy. As such, both sides would do well to consider an extension, and we will see if they enter into talks as we move closer to training camp.

Now a quick look at the AFC: