Chandler Catanzaro

Buccaneers Cut K Chandler Catanzaro

The Buccaneers have cut kicker Chandler Catanzaro, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The move comes one day after Catanzaro missed two of his three field goal attempts in a loss to the Redskins. 

I’m trying to find (the reason for the misses),” Catanzaro said after sending two of his tries wide right in the 16-3 loss. “The ball is just not going through the yellow poles right now. It’s got to do that. I’m not sure (what’s wrong). I just try to take it one kick at a time. … Something’s wrong, and I’ve done my best to fix it, and up until now, it hasn’t been fixed.”

Mired in a three-game losing streak, the Bucs were not interested in waiting for Catanzaro to fix the problem. Catanzaro’s rough day against Washington left him with a subpar 73.3% conversion rate on field goal tries and his previous four misses extra point attempts surely did not help matters.

The Bucs do not have a kicker on the practice squad, so they’ll have to sign someone new before Sunday’s game against the Giants.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Buccaneers Audition Three Kickers

The Buccaneers brought Nick Rose in for a workout, but he’s not the only kicker on their radar. The Bucs are also auditioning Joey Slye and Drew Brown on Friday, according to Greg Auman and Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter links).

[RELATED: Buccaneers Work Out Nick Rose]

The good news for Chandler Catanzaro is that the workouts are not tied to his two missed field goals on Thursday night, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears. The Bucs actually scheduled the workouts earlier this week, after the team waived No. 2 kicker Trevor Moore. In theory, one kicker from this trio may have a shot at the job, but it sounds like they would be brought in as camp competition more than anything.

Slye, a Virginia Tech product, was invited to join the Bucs for their rookie minicamp this year, but opted to go to attend other minicamps instead. Brown, who played at Nebraska, is the younger brother of former NFL kicker Kris Brown, who had a 12-year career with the Steelers, Texans and Chargers.

Catanzaro’s three-year deal includes $3.75MM in guarantees, so it would take a heck of a performance from another kicker plus a serious cold streak from Catanzaro for the Bucs to make a change.

Bucs To Work Out Nick Rose

The Buccaneers will work out kicker Nick Rose on Friday, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Rose could be competition for Chandler Catanzaro, who had an iffy night on Thursday. 

In the Bucs’ preseason opener against the Dolphins, Catanzaro missed an extra point attempt and a 53-yard field goal try. That may have been cause for concern for the Bucs after they signed him to a three-year, $9.75MM deal this offseason.

Rose sank 10-of-11 field goals and 18-of-20 extra points in eight games for the Redskins last year before he was dropped for the returning Dustin Hopkins. Later, Rose hooked on with the Chargers, where he went 1-for-3 on field goal tries and made 5-of-6 extra points in two games. In total, Rose made 78.6% of his field goal attempts. Catanzaro, meanwhile, converted 25-of-30 field goal tries (83.3%) and converted on all of his XPs for the Jets.

The decision to try out Rose after one so-so preseason game from Catanzaro may seem like an overreaction, but the Bucs are paying special attention to the place kicker position because of their history. Over the last two years, Roberto AguayoNick Folk, and Patrick Murray all struggled to hold down the role. Football Outsiders ranked the Bucs 30th in the NFL last year with -13.2 points created on field goals and extra points.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Dolphins, Patriots

Kicker Chandler Catanzaro chose not to re-sign with the Jets because he didn’t want to play in the cold, Manish Mehta of the Daily News hears. Instead of braving the elements, Catanzaro opted to join the Buccaneers this offseason on a three-year, $9.75MM deal with $3.75MM guaranteed.

It would be easy to chide Catanzaro for his weather preferences, but it’s hard to blame him for his choice after a brutal winter in the tri-state area. He also came away with a solid deal from the Buccaneers that puts him just outside of the top ten on an average annual basis at his position.

Catanzaro will look to stabilize the Bucs’ kicking after two years of struggles with Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk, and Patrick Murray. Meanwhile,the Jets will pit newcomer Taylor Bertolet against veterans Cairo Santos and Nick Rose for their vacancy.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Buccaneers Sign K Chandler Catanzaro

The Buccaneers are signing kicker Chandler Catanzaro, a source tells Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). He’ll fly south after one year with the Jets. It’s a three-year deal for the veteran worth $9.75MM ($3.75MM guaranteed), according to Garafolo (Twitter link).

Catanzaro, a long time fantasy football hero, will step into a role that the Bucs have worked hard to fill. Over the last two years, Roberto AguayoNick Folk, and Patrick Murray have all struggled as the club’s place kicker. Football Outsiders ranked the Bucs 30th in the NFL with -13.2 points created on field goals and extra points.

Catanzaro, who converted 83.3% of his field goals in 2017, will try to do better.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Texans, Watson, Titans, Bucs

Given that he tore his ACL in early November, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is expected to be available for organized team activities, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link). While losing a dynamic talent like Watson clearly cratered Houston’s 2017 campaign, the fact that he went down relatively early in the season does have a silver lining, as he’ll now be ready for offseason work. The Texans don’t have a first- or second-round pick in 2018, so they’ll rely on free agency and Watson returning to his excellent form in order to compete next year.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • Although the Titans spoke with Erik Walden‘s agent at the scouting combine, the veteran edge defender is expected to test the open market, tweets Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com. Earlier this offseason, I noted that finding a young pass rusher should be at top priority for Tennessee, so the 32-year-old Walden may not be a fit. Walden managed four sacks as a rotational rusher during his first season with the Titans, but he posted 11 sacks as recently as 2016. Entering the free agent period, PFR ranked Walden as the 15th-best free agent edge defender.
  • The Buccaneers are targeting free agent kicker Chandler Catanzaro, reports Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Tampa Bay has been atrocious at kicker for the better part of two years, as Roberto Aguayo, Nick Folk, and Patrick Murray have all struggled as the club’s primary kicker. Indeed, Football Outsiders ranked the Bucs 30th in the NFL with -13.2 points created on field goals and extra points. Catanzaro, who converted 83.3% of his field goals in 2017, isn’t the only kicker Tampa Bay is looking at, as the Redskins’ Dustin Hopkins is also on the team’s radar.
  • Buccaneers free agent guard Kevin Pamphile is drawing interest from eight-to-ten teams, per Laine. Pamphile, 27, has been a full-time starter over the past two seasons, and last season played 70% of Tampa Bay’s offensive snaps, third among Bucs offensive linemen. Additionally, while Pamphile is typically a guard, he does offer the ability to play all five positions along the offensive line. That versatility could be attractive to a number of clubs, as Pamphile could fill in at tackle or center if a need arises.

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

East Notes: Jets, Blount, Cowboys

It has been assumed for some time that Josh McCown would at least open the 2017 season as the Jets‘ starting quarterback, but the team needs to give Christian Hackenberg a look this year in order to see what they have in him, and to that end, Hackenberg got a surprise start in last night’s preseason matchup against the Lions.

It did not go well. Hackenberg took a big step backward from his solid outing last week, going 2-for-6 for 14 yards. He was sacked twice, he fumbled once, and four of his five drives were three-and-outs. Although head coach Todd Bowles attempted to take some of the heat off Hackenberg by pointing out that the offensive line did not give him much of a chance, Brian Costello of the New York Post believes McCown won the team’s starting job last night, and he didn’t even have to take a snap to do it.

Now for more from the league’s east divisions, starting with more from Gang Green:

  • McCown was initially supposed to take more snaps in last night’s game than he did in the Jets‘ first preseason contest, but Bowles said he changed his mind on Thursday night, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Bowles said McCown “has played in a million preseason games” and therefore elected to give Hackenberg a shot. However, Mehta reports that McCown was told by a media relations advisor to not speak with reporters after the game, even though McCown was apparently open to talking. It is unclear what the team’s motivation in “censoring” McCown would be, but it is an interesting move just the same.
  • Unlike Hackenberg, Jets No. 3 signal-caller Bryce Petty performed fairly well last night, going 15-for-24 for 160 yards and leading two field goal drives. Per Mehta, Petty has secured a roster spot unless he suffers a complete meltdown over the next several weeks.
  • Mehta also observes that Ross Martin, who made a pair of short field goals last night to go along with a miss from 56 yards, remains the front-runner to win the Jets‘ kicking job over Chandler Catanzaro, who missed a 55-yarder in the preseason opener but did not get an attempt last night.
  • Eagles running back LeGarrette Blount is coming off one of his best seasons, but he struggled to find a new home in free agency this offseason, and the short-yardage specialist may be on the roster bubble in Philly, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (citing Matt Lombardo of NJ.com) writes. Although Blount does not really fit the Eagles’ offense, it may not be wise to cut him, as Wendell Smallwood has had difficulty staying healthy, Darren Sproles is 34, and Donnel Pumphrey is a fourth-round rookie.
  • Cowboys No. 2 QB Kellen Moore turned in another poor performance during last night’s contest against the Colts, and while the team continues to publicly support him, an unnamed source tells Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Moore will be the subject of conversation at personnel meetings this week. It is unclear what that means at this point, because the team will certainly not promote undrafted rookie Cooper Rush to the backup job, no matter how well he has played, and the Cowboys have not yet considered adding a proven free agent to compete with Moore.
  • It was a different story for Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, who finally played in a football game last night after 596 days on the sidelines. Smith, who suffered a gruesome knee injury during the final game of his collegiate career on January 1, 2016, saw his draft stock plummet as a result and was ultimately scooped up by Dallas in the second round of the 2016 draft (he was originally considered a top-10, or even top-5, talent). The Cowboys knew 2016 would essentially be a medical redshirt year for Smith, but they also knew that, if Smith could overcome the injury, they could have something special on their hands. The nerve in Smith’s leg continues to regenerate, and as Brandon George of the Dallas Morning News writes, Smith looked solid in last night’s preseason game. He was in for 12 snaps, he moved well, and he was quick to the ball, further solidifying the team;s belief that he will be a significant contributor this year.

Jets Sign Chandler Catanzaro

The Jets have announced the signing of free agent kicker Chandler Catanzaro. He’s in line to take over for Nick Folk, whom the Jets released in February.Chandler Catanzaro (Vertical)

The 26-year-old Catanzaro spent the first three years of his career in Arizona, where he enjoyed quality 2014 and ’15 campaigns before his performance dropped off in 2016. Catanzaro converted just 75 percent of his 28 field goal attempts last season and missed four of his 47 extra point tries. All told, he hit on a respectable 84.8 percent of 92 field goals as a Cardinal. Catanzaro has also made 96 of 105 PATs since the NFL lengthened the extra point in 2015.

The Jets ranked 31st in special teams DVOA last year, though most of that lackluster production admittedly came in the punting game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/9/17

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents. All RFA tenders listed are original round/right of first refusal (worth $1.797MM), and all links go to Twitter:

RFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

ERFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: