Ben Jones

Titans Sign C Ben Jones

THURSDAY, 1:02pm: The Titans have officially signed Jones to his new contract, the team announced today (via Twitter). The financial details on the deal can be found right here.

TUESDAY, 7:14pm: The Titans have poached a free agent from a division rival, as the club has agreed to sign center Ben Jones away from the Texans, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Per Wilson, Jones and Tennessee have agreed to a four-year deal.Ben Jones (Vertical)

Jones, 26, has been with the Texans since 2012, when he entered the league as a fourth-round pick out of Georgia. He became Houston’s full-time starter in 2014, and he’s started all 32 games since. Jones posted solid marks from Pro Football Focus, which ranked him as the No. 18 center in the league last season, noting that he was better in the pass game than as a run-blocker.

In Tennesee, Jones will take over at center for Brian Schwenke and Andy Gallik, both of whom saw starts last year. Offensive line was expected to be an area of focus for the Titans this offseason, and the club could still look to add help at tackle, potentially by selecting Ole Miss prospect Laremy Tunsil with the first overall pick.

It’s been a whirlwind few days for new Titans GM Jon Robinson, who in addition to agreeing to terms with Jones, also struck a deal to bring running back DeMarco Murray to Tennessee.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Contract Details: Osemele, Irvin, M. Jackson

Here are the latest updates on many recently agreed-upon or signed contracts from around the AFC:

AFC West:

  • Kelechi Osemele, G/T (Raiders): Five years, $58.5MM. $25.4MM fully guaranteed. Max value of $60MM via Pro Bowl incentives. Guaranteed base salaries of $6.7MM in 2016 and 2017. $6MM roster bonuses in 2016 and 2017 (Twitter links via Tom Pelissero of USA Today and Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post).
  • Bruce Irvin, OLB (Raiders): Four years, $37MM. $14.5MM fully guaranteed. $19MM total guarantee. $6MM roster bonus in 2016, $2.25MM roster bonus in 2017 (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Joe Barksdale, T (Chargers): Four years, $22MM. $10.5MM fully guaranteed. $4MM signing bonus. Fully guaranteed $3.5MM salary in 2016. $3MM of $4.5MM salary in 2017 fully guaranteed (Twitter links via Wilson).

AFC South:

  • Malik Jackson, DL (Jaguars): Six years, $85.5MM. $31.5MM fully guaranteed. $42MM total guarantee. $10.5MM of $13.5MM base salary for 2018 becomes fully guaranteed in March 2018 (Twitter links via Pelissero).
  • Dwayne Allen, TE (Colts): Four years, $29.4MM. $4MM signing bonus. $16MM total guarantee (including injury guarantee). $5.5MM roster bonus in 2016. $2MM roster bonus on fifth day of 2017 league year (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Ben Jones, C/G (Titans): Four years, $17.5MM. $3.5MM signing bonus. $7.5MM guaranteed. $2.5MM of $3.5MM salary for 2017 is fully guaranteed. $500K roster bonus due in March 2016 (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Chris Clark, T (Texans): Two years, $6MM. $1MM signing bonus. $750K roster bonus due on March 16 (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Adam Vinatieri, K (Colts): Two years, $6MM. $1MM of $3.25MM salary for 2016 is guaranteed. Can earn $500K in field-goal percentage incentives each year (Twitter link via Wilson).

AFC North:

  • Shareece Wright, CB (Ravens): Three years, $13MM. $4MM signing bonus. Up to $1MM annually in playing-time incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • William Gay, CB (Steelers): Three years, $7.5MM. $1.9MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Ben Watson, TE (Ravens): Two years, $7MM. $2MM signing bonus. $3MM fully guaranteed. $1MM roster bonus due April 1, 2016. $1MM escalator for 2017 (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Tank Carder, LB (Browns): Two years, $2.5MM. $300K signing bonus (Twitter link via Wilson).

AFC East:

  • Mario Williams, DE (Dolphins): Two years, $17MM. $4MM signing bonus. Fully guaranteed $4.485MM salary for 2016. $3.5MM of $8.45MM salary for 2017 guaranteed for injury; becomes fully guaranteed on fifth day of 2017 league year. Deal includes incentives for sacks, playing time, Pro Bowls (all Twitter links via Wilson).
  • LaAdrian Waddle, T (Patriots): Two years, $2.35MM. $250K signing bonus. $200K annually in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter links via Wilson and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press).

Free Agent Rumors: Kearse, Brooks, Dolphins

Jermaine Kearse does not plan to re-sign with the Seahawks and is looking forward to finding a new home, ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter reports (on Twitter).

The 26-year-old Lakeland, Wash., native would be one the rare instances of an actual hometown discount occurring in the NFL, only Kearse isn’t interested in taking one to remain with the Seahawks.

Seattle has much of its money tied up on its stellar defense, with three of the four Legion of Boom starters on second contracts, along with several members of its front seven.

Kearse, meanwhile, will be one of the top receivers on a market that’s not loaded with No. 1-caliber wideouts. Marvin Jones, Rishard Matthews and Rueben Randle are the other top young targets in free agency after the Bears franchise-tagged Alshon Jeffery.

Kearse has started 36 games since joining the Seahawks as an undrafted free agent and likely stands to be pursued by several teams in need of pass-catching help.

Here’s some more on the Seahawks and other teams as they plan to navigate free agency.

  • Bruce Irvin and Russell Okung are “almost certainly” going to join Kearse on their way out of the Pacific Northwest, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times tweets. Okung probably resides as the left tackle market’s top option now that Cordy Glenn‘s been franchised, and the self-represented blocker will take the best offer, per Condotta (on Twitter). Irvin’s market as well could escalate beyond Seattle’s means, with the interest in pass-rushers being only surpassed by quarterbacks. We heard Wednesday that multiple teams would be thrilled to tab Irvin at $9.5MM AAV, and Condotta doesn’t envision the Seahawks surpassing eight figures annually to keep Irvin (Twitter link).
  • The Texans are actively trying to lock down a deal for Brandon Brooks, but no such accord is imminent for the fifth-year guard, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports. Brooks’ representatives and Houston have been in contact since the Combine. Brooks rated as Pro Football Focus’ 37th-ranked guard in 2015, and he joins a crowded guard class fronted by Kelechi Osemele. The Texans re-signed right tackle Derek Newton last offseason and have $42MM+ worth of cap space this year.
  • Houston’s also trying to keep center Ben Jones, according to Wilson. The Houston reporter doesn’t expect Jones to be as pricey. The fourth-round pick in 2012’s started 43 games for the Texans.
  • Adam Jones expects interest from the Dolphins, who hired former Bengals secondary coach Vance Joseph as their DC. Talks between the Bengals and Jones broke down last season, but the maligned 32-year-old corner hasn’t closed the book on a Cincinnati return, according to Mike Garafolo of FoxSports.com. “I would think V.J. would be interested,” Jones told Garafolo. “He’s taught me a lot and he knows I know everything in the system. He knows I’m a football guy. If I’m a betting man, I would think he’d try to bring me in there.” 
  • The Dolphins plan to move on from Matt Moore as their backup quarterback, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald tweets. Moore’s been with the Dolphins for five seasons, including his lone stint as a starter during which he went 6-6 and completed 61% of his passes. He’s thrown 30 passes total in the past four years as Ryan Tannehill‘s backup. Miami re-signed Moore to a one-year deal worth $2.6MM last year but may look to allocate less money to the spot. The 31-year-old Moore should have a market for a backup job elsewhere.
  • The Patriots don’t plan to tender defensive lineman Sealver Siliga, making him a free agent once the market opens, Rand Getlin of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). Siliga’s played with the Patriots for the past three seasons, starting 13 regular-season games during that span.
  • Joel Corry expects Von Miller to sign a six-year, $120MM deal with the Broncos that includes $65MM in guaranteed money, the former agent writes for CBSSports.com. This would eclipse Ndamukong Suh‘s pact in both total and guaranteed dollars. Corry anticipates Washington paying $100MM over five years for Kirk Cousins, the Bears going five years and $75MM for Jeffery — in a deal that would eclipse those signed by Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas last summer as tagged receivers — and Muhammad Wilkerson signing for $100MM over six years.

Free Agent Rumors: Schwartz, Gipson, Texans, Fleener

The latest free agency rumors from around the NFL:

  • There’s a belief at the combine that offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz will end up with a contract in the $8MM-per-year range, writes Tony Pauline of WalterFootball.com. That would make Schwartz the second-richest right tackle in the league in terms of annual salary. The Eagles’ Lane Johnson ranks first at $11.25MM, though he’s expected to eventually shift to left tackle (normally the more lucrative position). Since the Browns took Schwartz in the second round of the 2012 draft, he has appeared in and started 64 straight games. For his work last season, the 26-year-old ranked sixth out of 77 qualifying tackles by Pro Football Focus’ standards (subscription required).
  • Safety Tashaun Gipson, who has also been with the Browns since 2012, will garner plenty of interest on the market and should cash in, according to Pauline. Gipson has amassed 14 interceptions during his four seasons, including league-leading totals in both 2013 and ’14, and gone to one Pro Bowl. As of earlier this week, Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown was hoping to lock up Gipson.
  • The Texans have two important offensive linemen scheduled for free agency in center Ben Jones and guard Brandon Brooks, and they’re trying to re-sign both, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. The team has met with both players’ agents at the combine, per Wilson. Jones has logged 16 starts in back-to-back years, while Brooks has combined for 44 over the last three seasons.
  • The Colts aren’t in any rush to re-sign tight end Coby Fleener, per Pauline. Fleener is coming off his third straight 50-reception season, but his yards per catch dropped precipitously compared to 2014 (15.2 to 9.1), as did his touchdown total (eight to three).

Sunday Roundup: Wood, Burfict, Koetter

As the Vikings and Seahawks do battle in frigid Minneapolis, let’s take a look at some links from around the league:

  • New Lions president Rod Wood admits to not having any football experience, but no one was especially concerned about that, as Wood is expected to handle the business side of the club while new GM Bob Quinn will handle the football side. But as Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes, Detroit’s press release announcing Quinn’s hire noted that Quinn would report to team ownership and to Wood, which suggests that Wood could be wielding more power than initially believed.
  • Unsurprisingly, Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict is facing a suspension for his hit on Antonio Brown last night, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).
  • ESPN’s Ed Werder believes it is “unlikely” that the Bengals will part ways with head coach Marvin Lewis (Twitter link), and Mark Maske of the Washington Post lays out the reasons for his belief that Lewis should stay.
  • Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel believes the Packers‘ efforts this season have been hampered by GM Ted Thompson‘s lack of in-season roster moves to address the team’s weaknesses. Since 2010, Green Bay has been awarded just two players on waivers, and Thompson has gone to the practice squad 70% of the time to fill vacancies on the 53-man roster.
  • Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune tweets that Dirk Koetter is still the leading candidate for the Buccaneers‘ head coaching job, though Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that Koetter “really impressed” the 49ers during his interview with San Francisco yesterday. Tampa Bay also interviewed Panthers DC Sean McDermott yesterday.
  • Gus Bradley is taking his time with the Jaguars‘ search for a new defensive coordinator and has yet to establish a deadline for the decision, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida-Times Union.
  • Texans unrestricted free agents Ben Jones and Jared Crick both expressed their desire to remain in Houston, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Meanwhile, two notable players have declared that they will enter the NFL draft: Arkansas RB Alex Collins (Twitter link via ESPN’s Joe Schad) and Utah State LB Nick Vigil (Twitter link via Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net).

2015 Proven Performance Escalator Raises

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 in said snaps for the duration of his first three years in the league. If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s restricted free agent qualifying offer — that figure was $1.431MM last year, and will inflate commensurate with the salary cap increase. 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 2015 salary rise due to the PPE, courtesy of Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap.

Bengals: George Iloka, S; Mohamed Sanu, WR

Bills: Nigel Bradham, LB

Broncos: Malik Jackson, DL; Danny Trevathan, LB;

Browns: Billy Winn, DL

Cardinals: Bobby Massie, T

Chargers: Johnnie Troutman, G

Colts: Dwayne Allen, TE; T.Y. Hilton, WR

Dolphins: Lamar Miller, RB; Olivier Vernon, DE

Eagles: Brandon Boykin, CB; Nick Foles; QB

Falcons: Lamar Holmes, T

Jets: Demario Davis, LB; Antonio Allen, DB

Packers: Mike Daniels, DL

Panthers: Josh Norman, CB

Patriots: Alfonzo Dennard, CB

Raiders: Miles Burris, LB

Rams: Chris Givens, WR; Trumaine Johnson, CB

Ravens: Gino Gradkowski, C

Saints: Akiem Hicks, DT; Corey White, CB

Seahawks: J.R. Sweezy, G; Russell Wilson, QB

Steelers: Kelvin Beachum, T

Texans: Brandon Brooks, G; Jared Crick, DL; Ben Jones, G

Titans: Coty Sensabaugh, CB

Vikings: Robert Blanton, S: Rhett Ellison, TE; Josh Robinson, CB; Jarius Wright, WR

Washington: Alfred Morris, RB