Brandon Carr

Ravens Exercise Brandon Carr’s Option

The Ravens have exercised cornerback Brandon Carr‘s 2019 option, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). 2019 will be the third year in Baltimore for the remarkably durable Carr, who has never missed a game or a start in his 11-year career.

Carr signed what was officially a four-year pact with the Ravens in March 2017, but it was really a one-year deal with a series of options. He has been rumored as a cap casualty to some degree in each of the past two offseasons, but his overall solid play and durability have made him quite valuable to Baltimore’s secondary.

He is by no means a superstar, but he graded out as an above average corner in 2018 per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, and he has secured six interceptions over the past two seasons. He serves as a strong complement to Jimmy Smith and rising star Marlon Humphrey.

Smith has been rumored as a cap casualty himself, but given the way the Ravens’ secondary has been depleted by injury prior in recent years (2018 excluded), it would be somewhat surprising if he were released, though he may be asked to take a pay cut. Carr, Smith, and Humphrey form one of the best CB trios in football, and rumor has it that they may soon be joined by a big-name safety like Tyrann Mathieu.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Brown, Ravens, Johnson

The Steelers‘ plan remains to trade Antonio Brown. But Kevin Colbert reiterated they will not pull the trigger if they do not believe the compensation is appropriate.

We will only make a trade if it benefits the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Colbert said, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com. “He knows that. His representation knows that. That’s been clearly explained, and we’re willing to take a look. If there’s something that can be done to benefit both sides, great. If not, then we’ll deal with that when we get to it.”

Pittsburgh still wants to trade Brown to the NFC, but Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets the organization is prioritizing compensation over a preferred destination. Colbert said an intra-division trade is not ideal but did not put the Bengals, Browns or Ravens as non-starter suitors, saying “we haven’t eliminated anybody” from the trade picture. Colbert added more teams have reached out, which makes sense with all 32 teams in Indianapolis for the Combine. The Steelers would seemingly prefer to deal Brown before March 17, when his $2.5MM bonus is due, but Colbert said (via Pro Football Talk, on Twitter) the team is open to paying him the bonus and trading him later.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • New Ravens GM Eric DeCosta has said the team wants C.J. Mosley back, and a report indicated they also want to re-sign Terrell Suggs for a 17th season. DeCosta on Wednesday said he expects Brandon Carr to stay put. However, the new front office boss was not as certain on Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle joining Carr in the 2019 Baltimore secondary, Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic tweets. Carr, who will be 33 in May, is due $7MM. Weddle, 34, has one season left on his four-year deal. It would save the Ravens $7.5MM by cutting him. After indicating he would want to retire if the Ravens didn’t want him back, Weddle recently changed his tune. Smith is just 30, and a release would cost the Ravens more than $6MM. But they could save $9MM-plus by making him a cap casualty. Baltimore currently holds barely $20MM in cap space.
  • With Kareem Hunt now in the fold, the Browns‘ backfield is crowded. Nick Chubb will likely be the Cleveland starter for much of this season, with Hunt in line for a suspension that could comprise more than half of the 2019 season. Duke Johnson remains, too, and although he has done his best work in the passing game, Freddie Kitchens said (via cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, on Twitter) the team is not planning to move its passing-down back to wide receiver.
  • The Bengals refuted a report that they are trying to deal 2017 first-rounder John Ross.

Extra Points: Bell, Gregory, Raiders, Carr

With just less than four weeks remaining until the trade deadline, Le’Veon Bell-to-the-Eagles has surfaced on the rumor circuit. The Eagles are reportedly giving serious consideration to making a run at the likely rental running back. But SI.com’s Albert Breer isn’t so sure that’s going to happen. The Eagles don’t see running back as a spot to sink major resources into, per Breer. Bell’s approximately $10MM salary would qualify as a major investment, although that’s dropping by the week because of this unusual holdout. Philadelphia has just less than $5MM in cap room, and Breer notes the improving health of its running backs should help them steer clear of these interesting Bell sweepstakes. Corey Clement and Darren Sproles have yet to return to practice, and Jay Ajayi is playing with a back fracture. The Eagles traded a fourth-rounder for Ajayi before the 2017 trade deadline. Bell as of now plans to report to the Steelers during their Week 7 bye.

Here’s the latest from around the league as Week 5’s first game continues:

  • Randy Gregory‘s reinstatement conditions caused him to miss the Cowboys‘ Thursday practice. The defensive end was in Chicago meeting with medical director of the NFL’s substance-abuse program, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports (on Twitter). He most recently attended this type of summit during the preseason. The NFL reinstated Gregory this summer after his extensive substance-abuse-induced hiatus. His status for Week 5 doesn’t appear to be in question. Gregory’s played 64 snaps this season.
  • Jimmy Smith‘s return to action this week doesn’t appear to mean Brandon Carr will be bumped from first-string duties. The 11th-year cornerback has started 164 straight games (and every game he’s played as an NFLer), and Ravens DC Wink Martindale doesn’t plan on stopping that run, Ryan Mink of BaltimoreRavens.com notes. Smith is eligible to return after a four-game suspension. Carr, Marlon Humphrey and slot man Tavon Young have worked as Baltimore’s top three corners this season. Smith was thriving prior to his season-ending injury last year, so it should be expected he’ll play a big role soon, even if he doesn’t start immediately. Carr’s 164-game start streak resides as the longest among defensive players by 28 games.
  • While Jon Gruden wanted to take Derwin James in the first round, Vic Tafur of The Athletic writes (subscription required) the Raiders weren’t doing anything except taking a tackle in Round 1. However, if Kolton Miller was gone at No. 15 — where the Raiders dropped to after dealing the No. 10 selection to the Cardinals — Tafur notes they were going to take James or trade down further.
  • The Dolphins were projected to be among the teams examining the crop of potential first-round quarterbacks, but their 3-1 start could change that. Early in the mock process, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has the Dolphins taking Clemson cornerback Trayvon Mullen, a player whom multiple area scouts have rising into the first round after a strong start to the season. As for where Miller projects the QBs to fall in Round 1, he has the Giants taking Oregon’s Justin Herbert and No. 5, the Patriots grabbing Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham at No. 17 (though, that draft slot seems certain to drop) and the Bengals selecting Missouri’s Drew Lock at 28.

Ravens Exercise CB Brandon Carr’s Option

The Ravens are picking up cornerback Brandon Carr‘s option, a source tells Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). Carr signed a four-year deal with the Ravens last offseason, but really it’s a contract with a series of options. The Ravens had the choice to hit the eject button this offseason, but declined.

Carr, 31, is now scheduled to earn a base salary of $4.5MM and a roster bonus of $1.5MM in 2018. All told, he’ll count for $7MM against the Ravens’ salary cap. Had Baltimore declined Carr’s option, it would have created $4MM in cap space.

In his first campaign with the Ravens, Carr started all 16 games for the tenth consecutive season. An extremely durable player, Carr ranked as the No. 69 cornerback among 121 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Meanwhile, Carr finished a respectable 34th in Football Outsiders’ success rate while posting four interceptions, the latter of which tied a career-high.

While Carr is sticking around, the Ravens have parted ways with running back Danny Woodhead and offensive tackle Austin Howard earlier today.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Brady, Maclin, Bowman, Jets

Tom Brady suffered a “painful” thumb injury during a practice that took place at the beginning of the week, reports Tom Curran of NBC Sports Boston. According to Curran, the 40-year-old quarterback cut his thumb badly when a running back smashed it while the team was running a play at practice. However, Curran notes that Brady can throw, but doesn’t know exactly just how much it will affect the Patriots gameplan this Sunday.

As always, Curran notes that the team is not letting much information out to the press or public at this time. It’s highly unlikely that Brady will not play in the AFC Championship game, but it is a story that people should keep track of as the game time approaches over the weekend. Perhaps the biggest development that Curran has to offer is that Brady is “not taking snaps from under center”.

The team has listed Brady as questionable on the most recent injury report, but the impact of the injury could have a major effect on Bill Belichick‘s gameplan even though nobody expects the five-time Super Bowl winner to miss such a big game.

Here are more stories coming out of the AFC:

  • The Ravens have a few players that could be cut in order to create some more cap space for potential offseason moves. Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun listed some of the veterans that could be on their way out. These names included: Lardarius Webb, Danny Woodhead, Brandon Carr, Austin Howard, Breshad Perriman and Albert McClellan. However, the most interesting player on his list could be wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The Ravens thought Maclin would be a key addition after he has cut by the Chiefs last offseason, but it was mostly a pedestrian year for 29-year-old pass catcher. Baltimore needs a makeover at the receiver position and could make room for new targets for Joe Flacco by cutting Maclin and letting the likes of Mike Wallace and Michael Campanaro walk in free agency.
  • While the addition of NaVorro Bowman could not stop the bleeding of a disappointing 2017 Raiders season, that doesn’t necessarily mean that new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther doesn’t want the veteran linebacker back in the fold in 2018, reports Scott Bair of NBC Sports“NaVorro is a prototype middle linebacker, really,” said Guenther. “The thing that impressed me most with NaVorro is that they got him here midseason and by the end of the year, it appeared to me that he was kind of the leader of the unit, making a lot of calls. You can see that on tape. It looks like he is a smart guy that understands the game. I love smart guys that love playing football. Hopefully we can get him back in the fold and keep him a Raider.”
  • Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson was arrested on a number of charges earlier this morning. Connor Hughes of NJ.com has more details about what occurred to bring this type of discipline. According to a police report that NJ.com obtained, Hughes reports that Anderson”rapidly accelerated” past cops at 105 mph after he saw them on the side of the road. As the cops followed behind Anderson, the report states that Anderson was “all over the road”, and seemingly “failed to maintain a single lane on numerous occasions.” Anderson did eventually stop the car and was arrested, but not until make a number of threats to the police officer’s wife. These details spell more bad news for Anderson who already was arrested back in May while he was at a festival in Miami. The wideout may face discipline from the NFL, but the league still must do their due diligence investigating the incidents until any punishments will be handed down to the 24-year-old.

AFC North Notes: Shazier, Britt, McCarron

Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier underwent spinal stabilization surgery Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports that Shazier continues to show gradual improvement, though he remains hospitalized. Per Schefter, doctors are controlling and limiting Shazier’s movement as they wait for the swelling and bruising in his back to subside, and it is of course too soon to determine if he will be able to play again. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports adds that Shazier is expected to remain in the hospital for a few more days, but that his prognosis is “optimistic.”

Now let’s take a swing around the rest of the AFC North:

  • Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun writes that, before Jimmy Smith‘s season-ending Achilles tear last week, there was talk that the Ravens could release Brandon Carr to create cap space and rely on Smith and the team’s cadre of young and talented corners. Zrebiec, though, thought that was a bad idea before the Smith injury, and he believes it’s even worse now. Carr has played reasonably well, and Smith’s latest injury is just further proof that Baltimore cannot count on him for a full season (he may not even be ready for the start of 2018). Zrebiec thinks the Ravens should not only retain Carr, but they should also continue to bolster their CB corps.
  • It does not sound as if the Browns will face any discipline for their alleged violation of the Rooney Rule in their hiring of John Dorsey. La Canfora reports that he spoke last night with John Wooten, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, and Wooten indicated that his concerns with Cleveland’s GM search have been addressed. Wooten added that he has no issue with the hiring of the highly-qualified Dorsey (Twitter links).
  • The waiver period for claiming the contract of former Browns wide receiver Kenny Britt ends tomorrow at 4pm, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes. While Cleveland would love for someone to claim Britt off waivers, thereby absolving the Browns of the balance of his salary, that seems unlikely at this point. Florio writes that Britt wants to sign with a playoff contender if he clears waivers, and that the Patriots could be a team to watch in that scenario.
  • A ruling on A.J. McCarron‘s grievance will be made in February, as La Canfora reports. The Bengals‘ backup QB has argued that he should be an unrestricted free agent when the 2018 league year opens, while the league feels he should be a restricted free agent. In any event, the matter will be resolved before free agency gets underway.

Contract Details: Foles, Carr, Poe, Cowboys

Here’s a fun fact from Albert Breer of The MMQB (Twitter links): Of the 155 free-agent contracts that have been filed since March 9, only 23 have more than $3MM fully guaranteed in post-2017 money. In essence, that means 85.2% of the contracts done over the last ten days are one-year deals with team options.

Now for the latest contract details:

  • Cornerback Brandon Carr‘s four-year, $23MM Ravens contract comes with $6MM in 2017 – most of which is by way of a $4MM signing bonus – and then the Ravens will have a 2018 team option, reports Breer (on Twitter).
  • Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe‘s one-year, $8MM accord features a $500K signing bonus and incentives for playing time, sacks and a Pro Bowl appearance (Twitter link via Breer).
  • Quarterback Nick Folespreviously reported two-year, $11MM deal with the Eagles is actually a five-year, $27.5MM pact, according to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. However, the final three years of the contract will void if Foles is still on Philadelphia’s roster 23 days before the start of the 2019 league year. The arrangement comes with $5MM in incentives and an esclator for 2018 worth as much as $6MM (Twitter links).
  • Panthers defensive tackle Kyle Love‘s two-year contract is worth $2.2MM and features a few bonuses – $200K for signing, $25K for workouts and $10K per game active – as well as $500K in annual incentives, tweets Wilson.
  • Cowboys running back Darren McFadden‘s one-year contract is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $980K (a salary of $900K and an $80K signing bonus). Guard Jonathan Cooper‘s single-year accord is worth $2MM and has a $31,250 bonus per game active, $500K in incentives and a $100K workout base de-esclator (Twitter links via Wilson).
  • Cardinals running back/wide receiver Andre Ellington will earn a $775K base salary on his one-year agreement, tweets Mike Jurecki of FOX Sports 910.
  • Redskins defensive tackle Ziggy Hood’s two-year, $2.7MM deal includes a $300K signing bonus, per-game active bonuses of $15,625 each, $600K in incentives and a $600K escalator. Meanwhile, the Redskins gave linebacker Chris Carter a minimum salary benefit deal worth $855K, including $775K in salary and a signing bonus of $80K, relays Wilson (Twitter links).
  • Saints running back Travaris Cadet also got a minimum salary benefit contract for 2017, says Wilson (Twitter link). It’s worth $855K ($775K in salary and an $80K signing bonus).

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Ravens Sign CB Brandon Carr

Brandon Carr is off the board. The Ravens have signed the former Cowboys cornerback to a four-year deal, according to a team announcement. Brandon Carr

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. It’s really a one-year deal with series of options to make it a four-year, $24MM, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It will likely turn out to be a two-year, $12MM deal when all is said and done, he adds. Soon, we’ll probably know the full breakdown of the contract.

The Ravens have been heavily connected to Morris Claiborne, but they’ve instead signed Dallas’ other notable free agent cornerback. Carr, 31 in May, has started in every single regular season game for Dallas since joining the club in 2012. In fact, his ironman streak goes back further than that. He also made every single possible start for the Chiefs from 2008-2011.

Carr first came to Dallas on a five-year, $50.1MM pact in 2012. He never lived up to that deal – and had to take a hefty pay cut in 2016 to stay with the Cowboys as a result – but he has still be a serviceable player. In 2016, Carr graded out as the leagues No. 52 cornerback among 114 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. He appeared in 96% of Dallas’ defensive snaps.

Carr was ranked as our No. 2 cornerback left in free agency heading into today. Claiborne, Nickell Robey-Coleman, Darrelle Revis, and Brandon Flowers are among the notables that remain.

The Jets were once linked to Carr, but their level of interest was unclear.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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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Jets Interested In Brandon Carr

The Jets have expressed interest in free agent cornerback Brandon Carr, as Connor Hughes of NJ.com writes. Carr, who spent the last five years in Dallas and who will turn 31 in May, contemplated retirement after the Cowboys’ 2016 season came to an end, but he ultimately decided to continue his playing career and test the free agent market.

Brandon Carr

He took a significant paycut last offseason, agreeing to lower his base salary from $9.1MM to $4.25MM in the final year of the five-year, $50.1MM pact he signed with the Cowboys prior to the 2012 season. He never quite lived up to that contract, but he is still a serviceable player. In 2016, Carr played 96% of Dallas’ defensive snaps, posted one interception, and graded as the NFL’s No. 52 cornerback among 114 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. He is also durable, having never missed a game in his nine-year career.

The Jets, of course, had one of the worst pass defenses in the league last season, and they recently parted ways with franchise icon Darrelle Revis (though Revis was obviously part of the problem). As Hughes observes, the Jets allowed 52 pass plays of 20-plus yards (14th most in NFL) and 13 of 40-plus (3rd most). They allowed 30 passing touchdowns (6th most) and intercepted just eight passes (second fewest).

Carr, a physical man-coverage defender, would immediately step into the club’s starting lineup, which would allow Gang Green to let Marcus Williams, Darryl Roberts, and Juston Burris compete for the other outside spot.

The Jets have not yet scheduled a visit with Carr, who received an honorable mention in PFR’s list of top 2017 free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.