B.W. Webb

Texans Audition LB Jonathan Freeny

The Texans worked out free agent linebacker Jonathan Freeny on Tuesday, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.Jonathan Freeny

Freeny, a five-year NFL veteran, started his career as a special teams player in Miami, but his most notable time came with the Patriots from 2015-16. During that time, Freeny appeared in 18 games and started 11 contests before going down with a shoulder injury last October.

Despite agreeing to a two-year extension prior to last season, Freeny was released during final cutdowns earlier this month. He’s generated interest around the NFL, however, as the Giants and Bears have also worked out Freeny over the past several weeks.

On the hunt for linebacker depth following Brian Cushing‘s 10-game PED suspension, the Texans also auditioned former Vikings linebacker Audie Cole today. Houston is currently starting Benardrick McKinney and second-round rookie Zach Cunningham at inside linebacker, while Brian Peters and undrafted rookie Dylan Cole are the club’s backups.

The Texans also took at look at linebacker Josh Mauga and cornerbacks Johnthan Banks, Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Josh Thornton, Corey White, and B.W. Webb, as Wilson writes in a separate piece.

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Bills Work Out John Greco

The Bills worked out a handful of notable names as they gear up for Week 2. Their audition included guards John Greco and Tim Lelito, cornerback B.W. Webb, and wide receivers James Wright and Stephen Hill, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). John Greco (vertical)

Greco’s six-year tenure with the Browns came to an end prior to this year’s 53-man deadline. After entering the league as a third-round pick of the Rams in 2008, he became a regular for Cleveland in 2011. He started in 66 of 85 appearances with the Browns and finished out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 18 ranked guard last year. Unfortunately, he was not on the field for the Browns’ sole win of 2016 – he was shut down in November due to injury.

Lelito graded out as the No. 49 guard in the league last season for his work with the Saints, according to Pro Football Focus. PFF gave him a solid mark for his pass blocking with a less impressive score on running plays. He hooked on with the Titans in March, but he was let go after a disappointing preseason.

Hill, 26, was a bust for the Jets after being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft. He has not seen live action since the 2013 season.

Workout Notes: Patriots, Jets, Bills

The Patriots auditioned some players of note this week, including linebacker Akeem Ayers, quarterback Thad Lewis, and wide receiver Jeremy Ross (Twitter link via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com).

Ayers has some history with New England after playing on their 2014 Super Bowl championship team. Last year, Ayers appeared in all 16 games for Indianapolis and recorded two sacks.

Linebackers Nicholas Grigsby and Antwione Williams also showed their stuff for the Pats.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s other workouts from around the NFL:

Bears Make Cuts, Reach 53

The Bears took time to announce their 53-man roster, but they got it done before the deadline. Here’s how:

Released:

Officially Placed On IR:

Waived:

Waived/Injured:

Bears Sign B.W. Webb

The Bears have agreed to sign free agent cornerback B.W. Webb, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The club has since confirmed the transaction, and added that it’s a one-year deal.B.W. Webb (featured)

Webb, 27, met with Chicago, Buffalo, and Cleveland this week, and has opted to sign on in the Windy City. General manager Ryan Pace & Co. have been aggressive in attempting to fix a poor pass defense this offseason, and the club had already added defensive backs Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, and Quintin Demps over the past month. Webb now joins a secondary that also includes former first-round pick Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter, Cre’Von LeBlanc, and others.

Webb has bounced around during his NFL career, spending time with the Cowboys, Steelers, Titans, and Saints. He’s appeared in 49 games during that span, but didn’t start his first contest until last year. In 13 games (seven starts), Webb played on 56% of New Orleans’ defensive snaps, and racked up one interception, 11 passes defensed, and 27 tackles.

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B.W. Webb To Visit Browns, Bears

B.W. Webb spent his first four NFL seasons with four different teams, so the cornerback is accustomed to visiting different parts of the country. He’s continuing this trend this week as a UFA.

After paying a visit to Buffalo today to meet with Bills brass, Webb is scheduled to make trips to meet with the Browns and Bears, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Webb’s set to be in Cleveland on Tuesday and Chicago on Wednesday, barring an earlier deal changing the itinerary.

Webb has suited up for the Cowboys, Steelers, Titans and Saints the past four seasons, with his most significant usage coming in New Orleans. He started seven games last season on a Saints team stricken with cornerback maladies.

The Bears have retooled at corner this offseason in signing Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. They still have Kyle Fuller, Tracy Porter and Cre’Von LeBlanc as well. Cleveland does not have the same depth outside. Jamar Taylor did well to rebound after a shaky stretch in Miami and was rewarded with an extension. He and Joe Haden remain the Browns’ top two corners. Behind them, though, are second-year player Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Trey Caldwell.

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Bills Host CB B.W. Webb On Visit

The Bills are hosting free-agent cornerback B.W. Webb on a visit today, the team announced. Webb could provide depth in a cornerback group that sorely needs it. B.W. Webb (featured)

[RELATED: Redskins To Sign Former Bills LB Zach Brown]

If the season started today (fortunately for most of the NFL, it does not), the Bills’ starting corners would be Kevon Seymore and Ronald Darby. The Bills lost their ace corner when Stephon Gilmore signed with the Patriots and their decision to bounce slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman did not help matters.

Webb, 27 in May, could be called upon to provide support, even if he’s not used as a starter. Last season, he appeared in 14 games for the Saints and made seven starts, but he did not necessarily play like a first-stringer. Webb finished out the year as Pro Football Focus’ No. 76 cornerback in the NFL, placing him in the middle of the pack in a group of 111 qualified players at his position.

With many of the bigger names already off the board, Webb is our No. 8 ranked free agent cornerback.

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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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Saints To Sign CB B.W. Webb

After losing Delvin Breaux for several weeks, the Saints had to go out and sign a cornerback. They did that today as they have agreed to terms with B.W. Webb on a one-year deal, according to agent Sunny Shah (on Twitter). B.W. Webb (vertical)

Webb was a part of a massive audition by New Orleans last Tuesday. The Saints auditioned receivers, offensive linemen, long snappers, and tight ends in the event of an injury and after Breaux suffered a broken fibula, they’re glad they did.

Webb, 26, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Cowboys in 2013. Things didn’t go as planned in Dallas, however, and he wound up hooking on with the Steelers the following year. Last season, he found his way to the Titans and appeared in nine games as both a cornerback and a strong safety. With Tennessee, he totaled 22 tackles, two pass deflections, and one interception.

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Saints Audition Rueben Randle, Others

The Saints auditioned a small army’s worth of players today. Among the notable players to work out for New Orleans were wide receivers Rueben Randle, Greg Little, and Andre Caldwell (Twitter links via Nick Underhill of The Advocate). Rueben Randle

Offensive lineman Khalif Barnes, long snapper Aaron Brewer, long snapper Andrew East, long snapper Thomas Gafford, offensive tackle Bryce Harris, tight end Nic Jacobs, tight end Jake Stoneburner, guard/center Mike Liedtke, cornerback Sterling Moore, cornerback Darrin Walls, cornerback B.W. Webb, and wide receiver Nate Washington also auditioned for the Saints. Liedtke’s visit “went well” and “there’s a good chance something may happen soon,” according to agent Brett Tessler (Twitter link).

Randle, 25, joined the Eagles this offseason after averaging 56 receptions, 782 yards, and six touchdowns over the past three seasons with the Giants. However, he was cut loose before the 75-man deadline. Randle is known to be a talented receiver but there were serious questions about his work ethic while he was in East Rutherford.

Caldwell, 31, appeared in 14 games for the Broncos last season, catching 10 passes (22 targets) for 72 yards. While he wasn’t one of the primary targets in Denver, he did also have two touchdowns on the year. In the spring he signed on with Detroit and before he was cut by the Lions in August, it was said that he suffered a “season-ending” hand injury. It seems that Caldwell’s injury might not be as bad as once feared.

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