Chris Chester

Chris Chester Retires

Free agent guard Chris Chester won’t be coming back for a 12th season. The 34-year-old has decided to retire, reports Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons

Chester entered the NFL as a Ravens second-round pick in 2006 and eventually established himself as one of the league’s most durable linemen. The former Oklahoma Sooner last missed a game in 2010, meaning he logged six straight 16-start seasons to conclude his career. Chester spent the previous two years in Atlanta, where he was part of an NFC championship-winning squad last season, but the team wasn’t interested in re-signing the 6-foot-3, 300-pounder and expected him to retire.

Between his five-year Baltimore stint and his pair of campaigns with the Falcons, Chester spent four seasons with the Redskins. All told, he picked up 169 appearances and 143 starts in his career.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Manziel, Falcons

Saints head coach Sean Payton had breakfast with free agent quarterback Johnny Manziel last week, but New Orleans has no plans to sign Manziel, a team source tells Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (Twitter link). Indeed, Payton says his meeting with Manziel was focused on getting to know the young signal-caller, as Mike Triplett of ESPN.com writes. In early March, there was word that Manziel was drawing “real” NFL interest, and Manziel says he is sober and focusing on his comeback.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Falcons hope to come to an extension agreement with cornerback Desmond Trufant “very soon,” Atlanta general manager Thomas Dimitroff tells Alex Marvez of the Sporting News. Earlier this month, a report indicated the Falcons and Trufant were nearing a “lucrative” long-term deal, but no announcement has since been made by the club. Atlanta is also planning to get a contract with running back Devonta Freeman “wrapped up,” per Dimitroff. In January, Freeman was said to be seeking “elite” running back money, but he and his agent have since walked those comments back.
  • Veteran guard Chris Chester isn’t in the Falcons‘ plans for 2017, and the team ultimately expects him to retire, according to Marvez. Chester, entering his age-34 season, was the weak link on a solid Atlanta offensive line in 2016. PFR pointed to right guard as an area of need when assessing the Falcons’ offseason strategy, and while the club has only added Hugh Thornton in free agency, they could still address the interior offensive line in the draft.
  • Jonathan Stewart‘s extension with the Panthers is for one year, but the new deal affects both his 2017 and 2018 cap charges, as Field Yates of ESPN.com reports. Stewart accepted a slight paycut in 2017 in exchange for an effective guarantee of $3.6MM, while the base values of his next two seasons are $4.25MM and $3.75MM. The veteran running back can also earn up to $750K annually via rushing yards incentives.
  • Saints general manager Mickey Loomis considers cornerback and defensive “must” additions this offseason, according to Larry Holder of NOLA.com (Twitter link). So far, New Orleans has addressed those area with bit acquisitions, although the team is considering a big swing as they negotiate with Patriots restricted free agent corner Malcolm Butler.

FA Rumors: Pats, Jefferson, Jags, Falcons

Free agency officially opens on March 9, so let’s round up a few FA-related notes and rumors from around the league:

  • Although it is difficult, as usual, to pin down the Patriots‘ free agency plans, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe does his best, writing that the club is “taking a long look” at the tight end position but that Martellus Bennett could certainly be back, that the team is in the defensive end market now that Chris Long is gone and Jabaal Sheard appears unlikely to return, and that Logan Ryan is likely to price himself out of the Patriots’ price range. Volin names the Jaguars and Raiders as two teams with serious interest in Bennett.
  • Speaking of the Jaguars, the club is expected to let Tyson Alualu hit the open market, as Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes.
  • In a separate piece, O’Halloran lists the Jaguars‘ most pressing needs in free agency and examines how they could address those needs with an aggressive approach or with a more disciplined approach. He predicts that the Jags will land this year’s top FA cornerback, A.J. Bouye, if Bouye does not re-sign with Houston.
  • Jason Cole of Bleacher Report, citing an agent who represents a FA safety, says that the CardinalsTony Jefferson can expect to land a contract that will pay him $7MM per year (Twitter link). Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, though, tweets that Jefferson is likely to get paid closer to $10MM per year.
  • D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that the Falcons, who are moving towards an extension for Desmond Trufant, want to re-sign tight end Levine Toilolo, safety/linebacker Kemal Ishmael, and fullback Patrick DiMarco before free agency opens. The team is expected to let Jacob Tamme hit free agency and to wait until after the draft to make a decision on Dwight Freeney. Atlanta is also waiting to hear back from guard Chris Chester, who is contemplating retirement.
  • The Falcons plan to upgrade their defensive front in free agency and the draft, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes. The club is expected to re-sign Courtney Upshaw, and McClure names Cowboys’ DT Terrell McClain as one potential target for Atlanta.
  • Mike Klis of 9News.com writes that the Broncos are seeking help on both the offensive and defensive line in free agency, but he observes that the club may be operating with two budgets: one that includes Tony Romo, and one that doesn’t. Even if Denver does not land the long-time Cowboys signal-caller, Klis says the Broncos will have to manage the cap creatively, as they have a number of housekeeping moves to make that will eat into their $35MM of cap room, and offensive and defensive linemen do not come cheap on the open market.

Contract Details: Norman, Chester, Zuerlein

All eyes in the NFL world this week are on Thursday’s draft, but a handful of free agents recently signed contracts with teams, and we’ve got some specific details on those deals, courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Let’s dive in…

  • Josh Norman, CB (Washington): Five years, $75MM. $15MM signing bonus. Salaries of $5MM (2016), $16.5MM (2017), $13.5MM (2018), $11MM (2019), and $12MM (2020). 2016 and 2017 salaries fully guaranteed. 2018 salary guaranteed for injury only (fully guaranteed if on roster fifth day of 2018 league year). $500K annually in workout bonuses from 2017 to 2020. Annual $200K workout base de-escalator (Twitter links).
  • Chris Chester, G (Falcons): One year, $2.35MM. $1.1MM base salary. $250K signing bonus. $1MM in total roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Greg Zuerlein, K (Rams): One year, $1.25MM. $850K base salary ($250K guaranted). $400K signing bonus. Up to $2.05MM in incentives for field goal percentage, 50-yard field goals (Twitter link).
  • Don Barclay, T (Packers): One year, $700K. $675K base salary. $25K workout bonus (Twitter link).

Falcons Re-Sign Chris Chester

3:51pm: Chester’s one-year deal will be worth a maximum of $2.5MM, per ESPN’s Adam Caplan.

2:06pm: The Falcons have brought back one of the starts from their 2015 offensive line, announcing today in a press release that they’ve re-signed veteran guard Chris Chester. Terms of Chester’s new deal have not yet been reported.Falcons Helmet (Featured)

Chester, who signed a one-year deal with the Falcons last May, started all 16 games for the fifth straight season, serving as Atlanta’s full-time right guard. Since entering the league in 2006, the 33-year-old has spent time in Baltimore, Washington, and now Atlanta, starting 127 of his 153 total regular-season games, with eight playoff contests under his belt as well.

A report earlier this month indicated that Chester underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in the offseason, suggesting he may not be healthy until June. However, the Falcons were apparently confident enough that he’ll make a full recovery that they didn’t want to wait until then to lock him up.

In 2015, Chester ranked as the 24th-best guard out of 81 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus’ grades. PFF assigned the veteran lineman a somewhat mediocre pass-blocking grade, but he scored very well as a run blocker.

Chester currently projects as the Falcons’ starter at right guard again in 2016, though the team could add some competition via the draft.

FA Rumors: Dolphins, Broncos, Hillman, Bills

The Dolphins haven’t been linked to cornerback Leon Hall since the league year opened, despite the fact that defensive coordinator Vance Joseph coached Hall in Cincinnati. Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald explains that Hall’s asking price has precluded the Dolphins from getting involved so far, but if that price tag eventually comes down, the veteran corner should see his market heat up, and Miami could get involved.

Here are a few more free agency updates from around the NFL:

  • The Broncos have reached out and expressed interest in bringing back free agent running back Ronnie Hillman, writes Mike Klis of 9NEWS. However, according to Klis, Denver is one of a few teams showing interest, and Hillman’s other suitors have more cap room than the Broncos.
  • The Bills continue to weigh their options on defense, bringing in a pair of defensive free agents for visits today. The club announced (via Twitter) that linebacker Zach Brown and defensive back Corey White arrived at One Bills Drive on Monday morning to meet with the team. Brown, who started 33 games for the Titans over the last four years and had 77 tackles in 2015, is one of the more intriguing free agents still available.
  • Tim Lelito, who received a low-end RFA tender from the Saints, garnered some interest from the Cowboys but opted not to sign an offer sheet with Dallas and sounds prepared to return to New Orleans for 2016, as Lyons Yellin of WWL outlines. Lelito technically remains a free agent until he formally signs his one-year, $1.671MM RFA tender.
  • Veteran guard Chris Chester, who underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, likely won’t be ready to go until sometime in June, which is why he remains unsigned, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The free agent lineman, who spent last season in Atlanta, has a decent chance to start somewhere once he eventually gets healthy and signs.
  • Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune provides the details on a handful of recently-signed Bears contracts, reporting that offensive lineman Manny Ramirez, linebacker Sam Acho, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, and safety Chris Prosinski all received one-year, minimum salary benefit deals, with $80K signing bonuses.

NFC East Notes: Chester, Eagles, Pot Roast

Earlier today, the Eagles shocked the football world when they parted ways with veteran guard Evan Mathis. Things had gotten ugly between the 33-year-old and Chip Kelly, but most expected that Mathis would at least be traded to a team in need of offensive line help. As the Eagles figure out what’s next, here’s a look at the rest of the NFC East..

  • The Eagles, who had interest in Chris Chester before he signed with the Falcons, intended to add a guard even if Evan Mathis was on the roster, so they’re still in the market for one, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com.
  • Surprisingly, Terrance Knighton wound up having to settle for a one-year prove-it deal with Washington rather than getting the big bucks many envisioned. Pot Roast says that he’s motivated to show the league what he can do and get paid in his next go ’round through free agency, Don Banks of Sports Illustrated writes. “Yeah, I was [the biggest steal],” Knighton said. “But I’ve always bet on myself. I consider myself a premier player in this league, and I’ve got a lot of football left. This will be my seventh season, so when I hit the table again, there won’t be any excuses next time.”
  • NFL network analyst Brian Baldinger believes that one moment late in the 2014 season shaped Kelly’s view of LeSean McCoy, leading to him getting traded from the Eagles. “I think of the Seattle game,” Baldinger said, according to Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News. “He had the biggest hole he saw all year. The biggest hole. He should have hit his head on the goal post. But he saw Earl Thomas coming on a dead sprint to blow him up. And he curled up and fell down. It’s a 10-point game, anybody’s game. And it was a game that really swung everything in December. But I think Chip saw that. And between that, taking him off the field on third down, taking him off the field on goal line . . . [Kelly was saying] ‘He’s just not tough enough or what I want.’

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Flowers, Chester, Crowder

When a player enters the NFL out of college, an agent can be invaluable when it comes to preparing that prospect for the combine, negotiating marketing or endorsement agreements, and providing a credit line of income before the player earns his actual NFL income. However, as Andrew Brandt of TheMMQB.com notes, rookie contracts have become so predetermined that an agent isn’t all that necessary for negotiations.

In fact, one first-rounder, offensive lineman Ereck Flowers, negotiated his own rookie contract with the Giants, writes Brandt. Had Flowers hired an agent and been charged the maximum allowable 3% fee on his $14.4MM guaranteed contract, the fee would have worked out to $432K.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Before veteran guard Chris Chester signed a one-year contract with the Falcons, he received a two-year offer from the Eagles, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). As Caplan notes, Chester will have a better chance of starting in Atlanta, with one or two interior line positions up for grabs.
  • After a post appeared on Jamison Crowder‘s Instagram account this week accusing him of domestic violence, Washington and the NFL are looking into the situation. However, as John Keim of NFL.com details, Crowder’s agent, Tory Dandy, says the allegation is false: “His account was hacked. Jamison hasn’t hit anybody.”
  • Cam Newton got a $22.5MM signing bonus on his new contract extension with the Panthers, but he won’t get that entire amount up front. Joel Corry of CBSSports.com tweets that $7MM of the bonus money is deferred until April 1, 2016, while the other $15.5MM is payable within a week of Newton’s signing.

Contract Details: Jordan, Chester, Harris

A handful of salary and bonus details for recently-signed contracts have been reported so far today, so let’s round up the highlights. Deals whose details have been reported but aren’t noted here, such as Jerrell Powe‘s with Washington or Trindon Holliday‘s with the Raiders, are one-year, minimum salary pacts with no guaranteed money.

  • Cameron Jordan, DE (Saints): Six years, $61.969MM (five years, $55MM in new money). $16MM signing bonus. $6MM roster bonus on fifth day of 2016 league year. Salary cap figures of $4.169MM (2015), $12.8MM (2016), $10.3MM (2017), $12.5MM (2018), $12.3MM (2019), and $9.9MM (2020) (link via Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post).
  • Chris Chester, G/C (Falcons): One year, $2.8MM. $550K signing bonus. $1.55MM base salary. $700K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Ryan Harris, T (Broncos): One year, $920K base value. $50K signing bonus. $870K base salary. Up to $500K in incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Michael Buchanan, DE/OLB (Bills): Two years, $1.285MM. $25K roster bonus in 2016. No guaranteed money (Twitter link via Wilson).

Falcons To Sign Chris Chester

SATURDAY, 11:50am: The Falcons have officially announced the signing.

FRIDAY, 9:33pm: Chester will get a one-year, $2.8MM deal from the Falcons, tweets McClure.

8:29pm: Released two days ago by Washington, veteran guard Chris Chester didn’t last long on the free agent market. According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Chester is signing with the Falcons after paying a visit to the team today.

Chester, 32, started at right guard for Washington last season, but with 2014 third-rounder Spencer Long ready to take over that role and Chester’s cap number approaching $5MM, the veteran became expendable. Still, while Spencer, a former second-round pick, may not have been in Washington’s long-term plans, he can still be a positive contributor.

In 2014, Chester played the eighth-most offensive snaps among guards (1,091), and ranked 33rd among 78 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required). With a +6.4 grade as a pass blocker, Chester was better in that aspect of the game than he was as a run blocker, though that’s not necessarily consistent with his career performance.

Earlier today, we heard that Chester was set to visit Atlanta and Philadelphia, but it appears head coach Dan Quinn and the Falcons didn’t let him leave to meet with the Eagles. As I noted this afternoon, the Falcons have Harland Gunn, who has made one career start, penciled in as a potential starter at one of their guard spots following the departure of Justin Blalock, so bringing in a veteran like Chester makes sense.

When he officially joins the Falcons, Chester will reunite with Kyle Shanahan, the Falcons’ new offensive coordinator who previously held the same position in Washington.