Brent Grimes

NFC Injury Notes: Rodgers, Falcons, Eagles

Aaron Rodgers will enter Sunday with a questionable designation on the Packers‘ injury report. The two-time MVP can improve his chances of playing, obviously, by practicing Saturday — when the Packers do more than the typical walkthrough — but not doing so won’t prevent him from playing. Mike McCarthy said he’d have no issues deploying Rodgers even if he doesn’t practice all week, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The 13th-year Green Bay coach said his quarterback feels better than he did at the beginning of the week. Despite Rodgers’ performance on Sunday against the Bears and his history of playing through left knee pain, he’s not a lock to face the Vikings.

Here’s the latest from the NFC’s injury situations.

  • Another key Falcons cog won’t be available Sunday. After the losses of Keanu Neal and Deion Jones, Atlanta won’t have the services of starting running back Devonta Freeman. He’s been declared out due to the knee injury he suffered against the Eagles. Tevin Coleman will start. The Falcons have rookie Ito Smith and recently signed Brian Hill in place as backups.
  • Once again, the Giants won’t have their top pass rusher available. While the Giants are hoping to have Olivier Vernon in Week 3, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter), his high ankle sprain will keep him out against the Cowboys.
  • Trai Turner‘s stay in Panthers concussion protocol will result in him missing this week’s game against the Falcons. He’s been declared out, putting Carolina down three starting offensive linemen — Turner and tackles Matt Kalil and Daryl Williams, both of whom residing on IR — going into its NFC South opener.
  • The already-banged-up Eagles didn’t come out of Week 1 unscathed. Darren Sproles will miss Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers. The 34-year-old passing-down back sustained a hamstring injury against the Falcons. He’ll join Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery among Philadelphia’s high-profile Week 2 absences.
  • Already without IR-stationed cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, the Bucs won’t have Brent Grimes available to cover Eagle wideouts, either. Tampa Bay used two second-round picks on corners, Carlton Davis and M.J. Stewart, and could see an extended glimpse of the rookies’ development to this point in their careers.
  • The Lions49ers game will see the visitors without top guard T.J. Lang and the hosts missing deep threat Marquise Goodwin. Both players have been declared out. Kyle Shanahan said (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, on Twitter) Dante Pettis will start in place of Goodwin.

Contract Details: CBs, McDougald, Ellis

Let’s take a look at the details from the latest contracts signed in the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless otherwise noted:

Bucs To Re-Sign Brent Grimes

Despite going into his age-35 season, Brent Grimes continues to command high-value contracts. The Buccaneers are re-signing him, Michael Silver of NFL.com reports ( Twitter link).

This will be a one-year deal worth up to $10MM, per Silver. While it might not be worth that much without incentives, Grimes appears to have done well for himself for 2018.

Grimes entered Monday as a UFA. He’s been a full-time starter throughout the 2010s, earning four Pro Bowl bids for his work. At age 34, he graded well in the view of Pro Football Focus, which tabbed him as far and away the Bucs’ No. 1 cornerback by bestowing a top-40 grade upon him.

The former Falcons and Dolphins starter will enter the 2018 season with 33 career interceptions. He also registered a career-high 24 pass deflections in 2016. The Bucs now have their No. 1 corner locked up for another season, and while they may need to find Vernon Hargreaves a long-term counterpart soon, the team looks in decent shape as of now.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Sherman, Lions, Redskins, Bucs

Richard Sherman‘s contract with the 49ers is not yet official, reports Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area (via Twitter). The reporter doesn’t anticipate any issues with the deal, but since Sherman is acting as his own agent, Maiocco expects the NFLPA “to spend a lot of time” going over the details of the contract.

Meanwhile, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com believes that details of the reported three-year, $39MM deal are a “mirage.” Most of the incentives and specifics of the contract were reported yesterday, but Florio is under the impression that the deal will ultimately come in at a much lower total. The writer notes that Sherman can only make $13MM next season if he “dresses for all 16 regular-season games, achieves the total playing-time threshold, and make it to the NFC Pro Bowl team (or, possibly, the AP All-Pro team).”

Let’s take a look at some other notes out of the NFC…

  • If a top-tier quarterback were to fall to the second round, ESPN.com’s John Keim is uncertain if the Redskins would use a pick on a future starter. The writer notes that the team is set to have Alex Smith under contract for at least three seasons, and Colt McCoy will still be around in 2018. Generally, head coach Jay Gruden has preferred to keep only two signal-callers on his roster. However, if someone like Lamar Jackson were to fall to pick number-44, Keim could see the Redskins trying to convince the quarterback to develop into a multi-purpose weapon for the time being.
  • If the Lions don’t envision tight end Eric Ebron being in their future plans, ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein believes it makes sense for the organization to get something for the player via trade. However, if the team plans to trade Ebron and replace him with someone like Jimmy Graham, Rothstein doesn’t understand the logic. The two tight ends put up similar numbers in 2017, and Graham is seven years older than Ebron. Ultimately, the writer doesn’t believe a player like Graham would provide a massive upgrade over Ebron.
  • The Lions do need an early-down running back, but Rothstein doesn’t believe veteran DeMarco Murray would be a good fit. The running back’s age and declining numbers make the writer wary, and he anticipates the Pro Bowler would earn more than his fellow free agents. Plus, Rothstein points out that there are younger, more intriguing options available via free agency.
  • With $28MM in cap space and six key contributors heading to free agency, the Lions will look the revamp their defense this offseason, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Detroit could conceivably be eyeing holes on every unit of their defense, including defensive line, linebacker, and defensive back. “From a needs standpoint, we’re going to make sure obviously we have enough competition in all the situations and you want to have good competition, the best competition you can possibly get,” head coach Matt Patricia said of his team’s offseason approach. “So you’re never going to really try to pass up an opportunity for a good player on your team, and whether that puts someone else that’s maybe a good player on your team in a hard spot or a competitive situation, then that’s probably good for you. So that’s what we’re going to do as we go through.” The Lions are apparently already looking to make some moves, as the team is set to meet with cornerback DeShawn Shead this week.
  • The Buccaneers want Brent Grimes back next season, reports Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (via Twitter). Of course, as the reporter notes, the veteran’s return will depend on the offer. The 34-year-old spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, compiling seven interceptions in 29 games.

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

Bucs’ Brent Grimes Pondering Retirement

Brent Grimes is still playing football at a high level, but he’s not sure if he’ll continue in 2018. The Buccaneers cornerback says he’ll consider retirement in the offseason. Brent Grimes (vertical)

I haven’t thought about it. When the season’s over, I will,” said Grimes (via ESPN.com’s Jenna Laine). “I’m playing right now. I’m thinking about the Falcons and then who we’ve got after that — the Panthers, I think, I’ll be thinking about them. And then [the Saints]. When it’s over, I’ll be thinking about stuff like that.”

Grimes has been slowed by a shoulder injury this year, but he has still managed three interceptions and a top-60 ranking from Pro Football Focus among qualified cornerbacks. Last year, he led the league with 17 pass breakups. The 34-year-old might not be a No. 1 CB type anymore, but he’s still starting caliber.

After eleven years in the league, Grimes won’t be hurting for money if he walks away. Then again, the allure of winning his first ever Super Bowl ring could bring him back to the field.

Grimes’ two-year deal expires at the end of the year, meaning that he is scheduled to reach free agency in March.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Dolphins, Grimes, Gordon, Hali, Ford, Stanley, Pats Injuries

The Dolphins season has taken a dive in recent weeks. After starting the year 4-2, the team has lost control of the final AFC Wild Card spot, losing their past three games by a combined 67 points, thanks to blowout defeats at the hands of the Ravens and Panthers. However, while their reliance on Jay Cutler and midseason trade of Jay Ajayi have’t helped, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald opines that the secondary has been one of the major reasons why the Dolphins are not in position to be playoff contenders, particularly in regards to loss of Brent Grimes when the franchise opted to cut him before the 2016 season.

Beasley explains that the front office decided to move on from the veteran cornerback because his age, salary, 2015 performance and even his wife’s antics, but in hindsight the team misses Grimes’ steady contributions. The 34 year-old corner will face his former team for the first time since they let him walk this Sunday. Since his release, the Dolphins have failed to rectify the position with the likes of Byron Maxwell, Tony Lippett, Xavien Howard and Cordrea Tankersley. While Howard and Tankersley are still young, both aren’t guys you can lean on during a playoff run. In comparison, Grimes has played more like a middle of the pack corner this season , grading out as the 60th best corner in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. Still, in Beasley’s opinion the way the team has handled their defensive back situation has been a dud all around over the past few years.

  • Josh Gordon is back at the Browns practice facility and he has made a positive impression on head coach Hue Jackson, according to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal (Twitter link). Ulrich passes along that the second-year Cleveland head coach has stated that the wideout has been “involved” and is a “pleasure to be around”. The Browns reporter also states that Jackson expects the talented reciever to be back on the practice field on November 20. Still just 26 years old, Gordon last played for the team in 2014, and has since been suspended from the league for multiple drug violations. The former high supplemental draft pick will be a restricted free agent in 2018, so he needs to make the most of every opportunity to impress the coaching staff if he wants a real chance to continue his playing career.
  • The Chiefs will be without two key pass rushers when they travel to New Jersey to take on the Giants this Sunday. Both Dee Ford and Tamba Hali have been ruled out for the contest, according to Adam Teicher of ESPN.com (Twitter link). This is particularly interesting development in the case of Hali because the team took the cautious approach to resting him by putting him on the PUP before the start of the regular season. However, he remains on the sideline despite being placed back on the active roster. Kansas City will lean on Frank Zombo with these pass rush specialists unavailable. Getting to the quarterback has been an issue for the team, as the Chiefs currently rank in the bottom half of the league in terms of sacks, racking up just a combined 19.0 through ten weeks.
  • The Ravens have already lost their best offensive lineman for the year in Marshal Yanda and have another troubling injury situation unfolding regarding left tackle Ronnie Stanley. Even after a bye, the second-year lineman is doubtful to play with a concussion, tweets Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Obviously, all concussions should be taken seriously, but his absence should be a concern considering that Baltimore has really had to shakeup their protection for Joe Flacco with the injuries to Yanda and second-year guard Alex Lewis. James Hurst would likely get the start in place of Stanley, which is a significant downgrade for a team that is looking to gain momentum in securing the final AFC wild card spot over the last seven weeks of the regular season.
  • The Patriots will be without two starting offensive lineman of their own when they travel to Mexico City to take on the Raiders on Sunday afternoon. Both center David Andrews (illness) and right tackle Marcus Cannon (ankle) have been ruled out, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Backup lineman Ted Karras got some snaps at center during last week’s blowout of the Broncos and the team has reserve tackles in Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle who could fill in at right tackle. Bill Belichick and co. will also be without Chris Hogan and special teams ace Matt Slater, so the team has to overcome more than just new surroundings to get out of Mexico with their eighth win of the year.

 

AFC Rumors: Dolphins, Steelers, Jets

The Dolphins released cornerback Brent Grimes in March 2016, which his wife, Miko Grimes, took credit for at the time and again in an interview this week with Jack Dickey of SI.com. “People say I got him cut with my mouth,” said Miko Grimes. “Duh! That was the goal!” While Miko Grimes has taken to Twitter in the past to make anti-Semitic comments about Dolphins brass and attack quarterback Ryan Tannehill, her obnoxious behavior did not spur Brent Grimes’ release, reports Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Rather, the Dolphins cut the now-Buccaneer “because of his size, his age, and the magnitude of his contract,” writes Florio, who adds that they first tried to trade him.

More from a couple other AFC cities:

  • If the Steelers and franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell are going to reach a multiyear agreement by Monday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline, it probably won’t come until the 11th hour, according to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. There hasn’t been any movement toward a deal Friday, per Fittipaldo, so it continues to look as if Bell will play the season for $12.12MM.
  • There could still be major changes to the Jets’ defensive line by Week 1, suggests Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. The Jets have shopped Sheldon Richardson in recent months, and if a team comes along this summer willing to trade a third-round pick for him, Gang Green should take it, opines Cimini. Steve McLendon, one of Richardson’s prominent line mates, also might not be a lock to remain a Jet into the regular season. New York would like to see second-year nose tackle Deon Simon emerge this summer, and if that happens, it may make McLendon expendable, notes Cimini.
  • Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said earlier this summer that receiver Martavis Bryant will have to “win back everybody’s trust” as he returns from a yearlong suspension. Bryant took exception to that, telling Dan Graziano of ESPN.com on Thursday that he and Roethlisberger “should have a man-to-man. Because some of the things he put out there about me, I kind of didn’t agree with how he did it.” Nevertheless, Bryant added that “everything’s great” between him and the QB at the moment.

Cole’s Latest: Bucs, Grimes, Dolphins, Rams

This week, the wife of Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes made waves when she slammed the Dolphins in a controversial rant and characterized executive Mike Tannenbaum and owner Stephen Ross as “jew buddies.” Will Miko Grimes’ words affect the two-time Pro Bowler? Officially, the Bucs have no comment on the matter, but, privately, the Glazer family views her comments as anti-semitic, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). With that in mind, it’s fair to wonder if those comments could impact the veteran’s status with the team.

Here’s more from Cole:

  • It’s looking “less and less likely” that Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson, Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, and Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson will get long term deals done by Friday (video link). This offseason, Johnson watched former secondary partner Janoris Jenkins land a mega-deal from the Giants in free agency, securing a $12.5MM annual salary and $28.8MM in guarantees. It doesn’t sound like Los Angeles is willing to match or exceed those numbers, so a deal is probably unlikely to be struck this week.
  • The Southern Nevada Tourism Infrastructure Committee has extended its deadline to make a recommendation on a Raiders stadium in Las Vegas for the Raiders until August (video link). Ultimately, Cole hears from sources that the Raiders plan will get the OK by the time that new deadline rolls around. After that, the final decision will be made by the governor of Nevada.

Buccaneers Sign Brent Grimes

4:14pm: The Buccaneers have formally announced their deal with Grimes.

12:25pm: Grimes’ two-year deal has a base value of $13.5MM, and can be worth up to $16.5MM with playing-time and Pro Bowl incentives, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

11:51am: Brent Grimes will head over to the NFC for the 2016 season, but he’ll be staying in Florida. According to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (via Twitter), Grimes has agreed to terms with the Buccaneers on a two-year deal worth $16.5MM.Brent Grimes

Grimes, 32, is coming off his third straight Pro Bowl season, having picked off at least four passes in each of his three years in Miami. In 2015, he intercepted four passes to go along with 49 tackles, and was ranked 41st out of 111 qualified cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus.

Despite his solid performance in Miami, the Dolphins decided to move on from him earlier this week, releasing him with two years left on his contract after acquiring Byron Maxwell from the Eagles. If Grimes plays out his new deal, he should earn more over the next two seasons than he would have had he stayed with the Fins.

The veteran corner had been on track to earn $15MM in salary in 2016 and 2017 in Miami. Of course, that money was non-guaranteed, and he’ll presumably get a decent portion of his new deal guaranteed, so he’s in better financial shape going forward.

By joining the Buccaneers, Grimes will reunite with his old head coach — he played under Mike Smith, Tampa Bay’s new defensive coordinator, during his years as a Falcon. With Tampa Bay corners Sterling Moore and Mike Jenkins eligible for free agency, and Moore not expected back, the Bucs had been in the market for some help at the position.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.