Avery Williamson

AFC Notes: Condo, Colts, Jets, Kendricks

Long snapper Jon Condo spent 12 years with the Raiders, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods along the way. However, the organization moved on from the 36-year-old this offseason, opting to roll with a younger alternative in Andrew DePaola.

While Condo may have 176 games under his belt, he isn’t planning on hanging up his cleats any time soon.

“I’m a free agent right now,” Condo told Mike Boytim of the Altoona Mirror“My first year was 2005, so I’ve been in the league for 13 years. I’m happy with where I’m at, but I’m also hungry to get back out on the field. If a team comes calling, I’m definitely staying available and keeping in shape. I want to make myself ready for the opportunity.”

While Condo had a visit with the Texans earlier this offseason, he understands that his opportunities have essentially dried up. However, he’s still optimistic that a job could open up during the preseason.

“There’s definitely teams interested,” Condo said. “But with me being 36 years old, they want to give the reps to the younger guys. They know what I can do. If they want to see me, they can put on 12 years of film. I’ve spoken with my agent, and he told me a lot of teams are interested in me, but right now it’s a matter of someone getting hurt or a team losing confidence in their guy.”

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the AFC…

  • While Titans undrafted rookie wideout Deontay Burnett is talented, Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com believes fellow undrafted receivers Jordan Veasy and Devin Ross were more impressive during OTAs. When asked which other undrafted rookies could crack Tennessee’s 53-man roster, Wyatt pointed to running back Akrum Wadley and linebacker Sharif Finch.
  • The Colts have a number of talented offensive and defensive linemen on their roster, and Kevin Bowen of 1070TheFan.com writes that the team will have to cut bait with some notable names. For instance, offensive lineman Le’Raven Clark and Jeremy Vujnovich could end up being on the chopping block, while defensive linemen Margus Hunt, Chris McCain, Hassan Ridgeway, and Rakeem Nunez-Roches are all fighting for limited roster spots.
  • The Jets signed linebacker Avery Williamson to a three-year, $22.5MM contract back in March, but Brian Costello of the New York Post writes that there’s no certainty he’ll be a three-down player. His former team, the Titans, would take Williamson out of the game during passing downs, but Jets head coach Todd Bowles has expressed optimism that the linebacker will remain on the field in all scenarios. While Costello doesn’t sound all too bullish on that sentiment, he does believe Williamson will end up being a primary pass rusher for his new team.
  • Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com lists Mychal Kendricks as the Browns‘ “key linebacker.” The 27-year-old sat out minicamp as he recovered from offseason ankle surgery, but it shouldn’t take long for him to fit in with his new team, as he has the versatility to play any of the linebacker spots. Cabot writes that Kendricks will initially contribute as the “Will” linebacker, although that means he’s behind Christian Kirksey on the depth chart. “Being more in the box, run front, blitzing, covering backs and tight ends from the Will is what he’s done,” said linebackers coach Blake Williams“That’s where he’ll definitely start out from the get-go to make sure that it’s as seamless a transition as possible. As he can take more, we can move him around more, but we want him to have confidence and success to start out with.”

AFC Contract Details: Crabtree, Williamson

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

Jets To Sign LB Avery Williamson

The Jets are expected to sign linebacker Avery Williamson, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Williamson will earn $22.5MM over three years with $16MM guaranteed, per Rapoport (Twitter link).

Gang Green will continue its spending spree on the eve of the free agent period, as the club has already arguably the premier defensive player on the board — cornerback Trumaine Johnson — plus two quarterbacks in Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater. Given that New York ranked in the top-five in available cap space heading into this week, it should come as no surprise that general manager Mike Maccagnan is flexing financial muscle.

The Jets were first linked to Williamson, who spent the first four years of his career with the Titans, on Tuesday. Williamson reportedly turned down a four-year, $12MM deal to remain in Tennessee. In New York, he’ll stick in a 3-4 scheme and play alongside former first-round pick Darron Lee. The Jets’ signing of Williamson should prevent the return of fellow linebacker Demario Davis, who started all 16 games for New York a season ago.

Williamson, 26, has been an extremely durable player since entering the league as fifth-round pick in 2015, as he’s missed only a single contest during that time. Last season, Williamson started all 16 games for the Titans while racking up 52 tackles, three sacks, and graded as the NFL’s No. 10 linebacker, per Pro Football Focus.

PFR ranked Williamson as the eighth-best free agent linebacker, but among those we listed above him, only Anthony Hitchens has landed a new deal, while Paul Posluszny announced his retirement.

[RELATED: Jets Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Avery Williamson Drawing Interest From Dolphins And Jets

Linebacker Avery Williamson is drawing interest from the Jets and Dolphins after turning down a four-year, $12MM deal to return to the Titans, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini (on Twitter). It was reported Sunday by ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe that there was mutual interest in Williamson returning to the Titans.

Williamson was clear, though, that he was only going to return to the Titans at the right price. Williamson also said that he was surprised by the Titans’ decision to fire head coach Mike Mularkey and hire Mike Vrabel but that wouldn’t be a deterrent in his decision to come back.

Williams, 26, who’s a Tennessee native, is one of the top 3-4 inside linebackers set to hit the open market this offseason. Wolfe pointed to inside linebackers like Kevin Minter and Zach Brown, who have had to settle for one-year deals over the past few offseasons, and players such as the Broncos’ Brandon Marshall (four-year, $32MM) and the Browns’ Christian Kirksey (four-year, $38MM) as inside linebackers who have cashed in on multi-year deals of late.

The Jets currently hold the most cap space of any team in the NFL at over $92MM, topping the Browns after their flurry of weekend moves. Jets inside linebackers Demario Davis, Bruce Carter and Julian Stanford are set to become unrestricted free agents. The Dolphins alleviated some cap issues Monday morning with the reported new that they’ll be cutting Ndamukong Suh. The team is also expected to part ways with linebacker Lawrence Timmons and Koa Misi is due to become a free agent this offseason.

The Titans made Williamson a fifth-round pick in 2014 and he’s started all 16 games in each of the last two seasons. He tallied a career-high 73 tackles in 2016 and racked up 52 tackles last season to go with three sacks.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Pats, Shelton

The Jets, armed with $90MM of salary cap space, are of course prepared to make a major push for this year’s Holy Grail of free agents, Kirk Cousins. But Gang Green has plenty of needs to fill outside of quarterback, and GM Mike Maccagnan is making no bones about his team’s anticipated activity level when free agency opens this week. Maccagnan said at the scouting combine, “Obviously we’ll be very active on the first day [of free agency] in terms of the higher profile guys. Everybody is well aware we have quite a bit of cap space to work with. There are quite a few players we’re interested in” (via Brian Costello of the New York Post).

Per Costello, the Jets are poised to re-sign Josh McCown if they fall short in their pursuit of Cousins. The team also needs upgrades at running back, center, and cornerback. Wide receiver and inside linebacker could also be positions that New York targets.

Now let’s take a look at a few more notes from the AFC East:

  • Dion Lewis‘ abilities as a runner and receiver allowed the Patriots to run all sorts of formations in 2017, but it is widely believed that he will not be back in New England in 2018. Fellow free agent Jerick McKinnon, who has thrived in a similar role in Minnesota, could be a logical replacement, per Phil Perry of NBCSports.com. However, even though McKinnon will not break the bank, Perry thinks it is more likely that the Pats re-sign Rex Burkhead and address their RB needs in the draft.
  • Ben Volin of the Boston Globe tweets that the newly-acquired Danny Shelton will count for $2.03MM against the Patriots‘ cap in 2018 (which matches his base salary). As we learned yesterday, New England will have to decide whether to exercise Shelton’s fifth-year option, which has a projected value of roughly $7MM, by early May. The Browns, meanwhile, will be saddled with about $1.7MM in dead money as a result of the trade, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com says the 2018 fifth-round pick the Patriots received in the Shelton swap is expected to be Cleveland’s lower pick in the round, No. 159 overall. Reiss adds that New England, which shipped a 2019 third-rounder to the Browns, could recoup a third-round pick in next year’s draft through the compensatory system.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says the Patriots will not stray from their usual financial discipline in their efforts to re-sign Danny Amendola, but given Amendola’s impressive 2017 campaign, he says other teams may view him as a pure No. 3 wideout instead of the No. 3/4 option with a limited workload that he has been with the Pats (and those teams could offer to pay him accordingly). As such, Amendola — who has taken pay cuts to remain with New England in the past — could have a harder-than-expected decision to make this month.
  • Reiss also sees Titans LB Avery Williamson as a “sleeper” target for the Patriots when free agency opens in a couple of days. Williamson is in his prime and gives New England the type of off-the-line LB it is looking for.
  • We learned earlier today that the Dolphins continue to contemplate moving on from Ndamukong Suh, though it makes more sense for the team to either retain him — perhaps with a restructured contract — or trade him than it does to simply cut him.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

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. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

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 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Issues Performance-Based Bonuses

The NFL has announced and issued its performance-based pay bonuses for the 2014 season, according to a press release from the league. The bonuses, which are based on a player’s playing time relative to his salary level, come from a pool of $3.633MM per team. Here are the top performance-based pay amounts for the past season:

  1. Seantrel Henderson, T (Bills): $373,671
  2. Corey Linsley, C (Packers): $339,566
  3. Russell Bodine, C (Bengals): $318,612
  4. Avery Williamson, LB (Titans): $315,120
  5. E.J. Gaines, DB (Rams): $308,338
  6. Zach Fulton, G (Chiefs): $303,352
  7. Kelvin Beachum, T (Steelers): $297,687
  8. Preston Brown, LB (Bills): $293,179
  9. Michael Wilhoite, LB (49ers): $292,406
  10. Paul Worrilow, LB (Falcons): $287,413

Draft Signings: Titans, Raiders, Jaguars, 49ers

We’re dedicating individual posts to draft pick signings from the first two rounds while rounding up the deals from rounds 3-7 in bulleted posts. To keep tabs on all of this year’s draft pick signings to date, be sure to check out our tracker. Here are Tuesday’s latest draft signings from the later rounds:

  • The Titans announced that they have agreed to terms with sixth-round quarterback Zach Mettenberger and fifth-round linebacker Avery Williamson, writes Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean. Mettenberger, whose deal we heard about earlier today, fell in the draft partially due to a torn ACL suffered at the end of his final season.
  • Three seventh-rounders have inked their deals with the Raiders, the team announced today in a press release. Cornerback Travis Carrie, defensive end Shelby Harris, and safety Jonathan Dowling are now officially members of the club, and they’ll receive respective signing bonuses of about $67K, $54K, and $46K, according to Jason Fitzgerald’s figures at OverTheCap.com.
  • Former UCF standout Storm Johnson has signed his rookie deal with the Jaguars, the team announced via Twitter. The 6’0″, 209-pound tailback, who was selected with the seventh pick in the seventh round, has shown quick feet for a player of his size.
  • The 49ers announced that they have signed seventh-round fullback Trey Millard, tweets Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com.

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

AFC Notes: Jets, Steelers, Dalton, Dolphins

New York head coach Rex Ryan indicated today that the Jets aren’t done adding players at wide receiver. However, as Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post tweets, that doesn’t necessarily mean the club will add another impact player.

“[It] might be a sixth-round pick and not the move you want, but we’re not done,” Ryan said.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • The Steelers, who have been linked to Maurice Jones-Drew and LeGarrette Blount, will likely have a deal with an experienced running back by the end of the week, tweets Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Head coach Mike Tomlin said this morning in Orlando that the team expected to add running back depth in the not-so-distant future.
  • Asked multiple times this morning about Andy Dalton, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was unequivocal in his support of the quarterback, suggesting he’d like to see Dalton locked up sooner rather than later, writes Paul Dehner Jr. of Cincinnati.com. In Lewis’ view, leaving the situation hanging over Dalton when camp opens could create an unnecessary distraction.
  • Speaking to reporters, including James Walker of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Dolphins GM Dennis Hickey said today that Miami has spoken to the agent for free agent tight end Dustin Keller.
  • The Broncos haven’t closed the door on the possibility of bringing back running back Knowshon Moreno or defensive end Shaun Phillips, according to GM John Elway (link via Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com).
  • Jaguars owner Shad Khan supported his club’s decision to spread out its free agent spending among multiple positions and players this offseason rather than focusing on a couple significant expenditures. Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union has the details and quotes from Khan.
  • Linebacker remains an area of focus for the Titans, according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, who says (via Twitter) the team is conducting a private workout with Louisville’s Preston Brown today. Kentucky linebacker Avery Williamson is also scheduled to have a pre-draft visit with the Titans, tweets Wyatt.