Colton Schmidt

Minor NFL Transactions: 3/8/17

Today’s minor moves:

  • Shiloh Keo will re-sign with a team for the second straight offseason. This year, the Saints made a move to re-up the safety, Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets. A former Texans draft pick, Keo caught on with the eventual 2015 Super Bowl champion Broncos late that season and re-signed in Denver in the subsequent offseason. The Broncos cut Keo while he was serving a two-game suspension for a personal conduct violation, leading to the Saints adding him. The 29-year-old defender played in 10 games for the Broncos and Saints in 2016 and recovered three fumbles while failing to record a tackle.
  • The Patriots are planning to re-sign tight end Michael Williams, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald tweets. Williams saw action for the 2015 Patriots but missed their latest Super Bowl season because of a torn ACL.
  • The Bills did not offer an RFA tender to punter Colton Schmidt but instead reached an agreement to re-sign him, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com reports. Rodak estimates Schmidt will be brought back at a lower cost instead of at the RFA low-round tender rate of nearly $2MM. A fourth-year player, Schmidt made $600K last season.
  • Another Bills transaction involves the team parting ways with a long-tenured wide receiver. Buffalo cut Marcus Easley, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. Affiliated with the Bills since they drafted him in the fourth round in 2010, Easley missed the entire 2016 season after suffering a severe knee injury late in the 2015 campaign. He spent several seasons as one of Buffalo’s top special-teamers. Buffalo announced the move as a post-June 1 release.
  • The Chargers have agreed to a four-year, $4.41MM extension with long snapper Mike Windt, tweets Michael Gehlken. Windt, who has appeared in 100 games with the Chargers, received a $600K signing bonus.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/7/17

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:

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday 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. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

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 franchised players 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 this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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Minor NFL Transactions: 1/9/16

Here are today’s minor moves.

  • The Bills agreed to one-year deals with running back Mike Gillislee, cornerback Mario Butler and punter Colton Schmidt, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. The trio will be restricted free agents after the 2016 season. A 2013 fifth-round pick, Gillislee figures to be an intriguing part of the LeSean McCoy-led Buffalo backfield after he averaged 5.7 yards per carry in five games down the stretch, doing so following two nondescript seasons with the Dolphins.

Bills Sign Greg Salas To Contract Extension

The Bills announced that they have signed wide receiver Greg Salas to a contract extension. In addition to Salas, cornerback Mario Butler, running back Mike Gillislee, and punter Colton Schmidt have all been given new deals.

A fourth-round pick in 2011, Salas has spent time with several teams, recording a total of 46 regular-season receptions for the Rams, Jets, and Bills. Salas joined the Bills in late December and apparently made enough of an impression on team brass to get a second look for 2016. In two games for the Bills, Salas drew five targets and three receptions, good for 41 total yards. Salas was a fourth-round pick of the Rams in 2011 after he enjoyed a 1,889-yard, 14-touchdown campaign in his final collegiate season. He is still looking to make an impact of a similar magnitude at the NFL level.

Bills Sign Colton Schmidt, Cut T.J. Graham, Others

The Bills have signed punter Colton Schmidt, reports Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Schmidt, a California-Davis product, has also spent time with the 49ers. Additionally, the team announced it has trimmed its roster to 53 by cutting the following 10 players:

West Notes: Hill, Farwell, Hayden

Let’s look at a few notes from the league’s west divisions to wrap up this Monday evening:

  • Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes that Rams head coach Jeff Fisher, in the wake of Sam Bradford‘s season-ending injury, has reiterated that St. Louis has not engaged other teams in talks regarding a potential quarterback trade.
  • On a related note, Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com writes that Fisher emphasized that Shaun Hill will be the Rams‘ starting quarterback going forward.
  • Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun tweets that Colton Schmidt, who was waived by the 49ers earlier today, could draw interest from other clubs looking to make an upgrade at punter. Schmidt led all punters in net yards this preseason.
  • Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times writes that Seahawks backup middle linebacker and special teams captain Heath Farwell will likely need surgery to repair the extensive groin damage that he suffered in Friday’s preseason game against Chicago. Farwell’s injury essentially locks up a roster spot for undrafted free agent Brock Coyle.
  • Kevin Acee of U-T San Diego reports that Chargers‘ guard Jeromey Clary will begin the season on the PUP list, thereby forcing him to miss at least the first six games of the regular season.
  • Bill Williamson of ESPN.com writes that the Raiders may have found a diamond in the rough in defensive back Neiko Thorpe, who was signed to a futures contract in January.
  • Citing head coach Dennis Allen, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Raiders corner D.J. Hayden, who is recovering from foot surgery, looked a lot better today working with trainers on the sidelines. The team will not make a decision regarding whether Hayden should go on the PUP list until Saturday’s deadline.

49ers Roster Moves, Martin Update

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that 49ers rookie center Marcus Martin is expected to miss eight weeks of the regular season with a kneecap injury.

Also, Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News writes that the 49ers have trimmed their roster to 75 players after making the following series of moves:

Waived

Released

Released off Injured Reserve

Reserve/PUP List

Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List

  • RB Marcus Lattimore
  • FB Trey Millard
  • CB Keith Reaser
  • G Brandon Thomas

The players on the PUP and NFI lists are eligible to return to practice after the first six weeks of the regular season or otherwise be placed on a season-ending reserve list. That means, of course, that Bowman and Lattimore will officially miss the first six weeks of the season.

As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweets, all seven players that were waived are eligible to be placed on the team’s practice squad.