Corey Graham

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Foles, Cowboys

The Eagles reworked backup quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles‘ contract earlier this year, adding incentives to the deal while also tacking on a mutual option for the 2019 season. Initial reports indicated Foles will collect $250K per start and an additional $250K per win if he serves as Philadelphia’s starting quarterback, but he can earn even more than that during the postseason, according to Tim McManus of ESPN.com. For every playoff game in which Foles plays 33% of the Eagles’ offensive snaps, he’ll take home $500K. If the Eagles win a postseason contest with Foles under center, another $500K goes in his pocket.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • While the terms of Foles’ deal could allow him to collect extra cash in 2018, Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams‘ contract language might enable Dallas to escape his pact with no financial penalty, as Clarence Hill of the Star-Telegram writes. Williams, of course, was arrested last week for public intoxication and leaving the scene of an accident, charges which Williams disputes. Nevertheless, if Williams is convicted for any sort of alcohol-related offense, he’ll almost certainly face a league-imposed suspension, and “all” Cowboys players have void provisions in their contracts related to bans, per Williams. At present, Williams is scheduled to earn a fully guaranteed $3.5MM base salary in 2018, and Dallas would take on $7.25MM in dead money by releasing him.
  • Head coach Doug Pederson would like the Eagles to re-sign safety Corey Graham “if it works out,” per Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Graham will be 33 years old when the 2018 campaign gets underway, but PFR ranked him as one of the 10 best available safeties before the free agent market opened in March. Although Graham has yet to garner any known interest over the past several months, the safety market has been infamously slow to develop, so the lack of Graham suitors is perhaps unsurprising. Graham played 367 snaps in 2017 as Philadelphia’s third safety behind starters Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins.
  • The Eagles have announced a series of hirings and promotions within their front office. Of note, Jake Rosenberg was named vice president of football administration, Jon Ferrari was named director of football operations, Andy Weidl was named director of player personnel. Meanwhile, Trey Brown — whom you may remember from recent Microsoft Surface commercials and last year interviewed for the Bills’ general manager position — is no longer listed among Philadelphia’s front office roster, as Geoff Mosher of 97.5 The Fanatic tweets.

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

NFC Notes: Cowboys, 49ers, Eagles, Panthers

Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones has made it clear on several occasions that the team would like to extend three-time Pro Bowl guard Zack Martin, who’s entering the penultimate year of his rookie contract. Jones addressed Martin’s contract situation again Tuesday, telling Kate Hairopoulos of the Dallas Morning News: “We’re making our rounds there, it takes time, that’s usually how these things work. There’s a whole lot of zero progress and then all of a sudden you start to make some. And then you get to where you can get a deal done. It’s too early for me to speculate.” Jones added that while negotiations haven’t been easy, Martin wants to stay in Dallas and hasn’t set a deadline on contract talks.

More from the NFC:

  • Rookie 49ers linebacker Donavin Newsom left practice in an ambulance Tuesday after suffering what looked like a severe neck injury, causing head coach Kyle Shanahan to end practice early. But Newsom dodged a worst-case scenario, fortunately, as the 49ers announced (via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area) that the undrafted rookie from Missouri didn’t suffer any cervical spine fractures. Doctors at Stanford Medical Center did diagnose Newsom with a concussion, though, and he remains under their observation.
  • Safety Corey Graham‘s one-year deal with the Eagles features a guaranteed $1MM base salary, a $400K signing bonus, $200K in per-game bonuses and $200K in incentives, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.
  • One of Graham’s teammates, 37-year-old punter Donnie Jones, would like to stay on the Eagles’ roster into his 40s, writes Paul Domowitch of Philly.com. “This is the only place I want to play,’’ said Jones, Philly’s oldest player. “I want to finish my career here. My goal is to play into my 40s. I’m getting closer. We’ll see.’’ Thanks to the three-year extension he signed last November, Jones is under contract through his age-39 season. In 2016, his fourth year as an Eagle, Jones finished 11th in average net yardage (40.7) and, in Football Outsiders’ view, was at the helm of the league’s 14th-best punting game.
  • The Panthers waived safety Dean Marlowe on Tuesday because he’s dealing with a torn hamstring, per Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer (Twitter link). Marlowe, who appeared in five Panthers games from 2015-16, will go on injured reserve if no one claims him on waivers.

East Notes: Dolphins, Glenn, Reed, Eagles

The DolphinsJay Cutler addition easily became the NFL story of the week, and more specifics on the agreement are emerging. Cutler’s $5MM base salary will be augmented by $5MM in bonuses and $3MM in incentives, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Between Cutler, Ryan Tannehill and Matt Moore, the Dolphins are spending more than $32MM on quarterback salaries this season. This salary will represent Cutler’s lowest in a season since 2013, prior to his second Bears pact.

Rapoport (video link) didn’t rule out the possibility of a multiyear Dolphins/Cutler union, but said as of now the plan is just for this season. He cites Cutler’s desire to play, noting the interest he had in the Texans’ job, and possible success with Adam Gase as a reason the door is slightly ajar for the 34-year-old passer to have a beyond-2017 future with the Dolphins.

Here’s the latest from the Eastern divisions.

  • Of course, Tannehill is under contract through the 2020 season. But Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com notes (via Twitter) the Dolphins can escape from Tannehill’s contract after this season, if they choose. No fully guaranteed money remains on Tannehill’s deal, although a $5.25MM injury guarantee for 2018 is in place. Breer categorizes the 2018-20 portion of Tannehill’s contract as team options. The Dolphins, though, don’t have another long-term solution lined up beyond the suddenly injury-prone Tannehill.
  • This Cutler signing will make a Jarvis Landry extension more difficult, James Walker of ESPN.com offers. The Dolphins entered Sunday with $17MM-plus in cap space, with just $3MM projected to be available in 2018. While the latter figure doesn’t mean a ton yet due to roster moves that could me made to increase it, the Dolphins lost some possible carryover money due to the Cutler signing, one Walker calls a mistake. Gase’s Bears campaign produced the 23rd-ranked passing offense in 2015 and a 6-10 record. Although, the Bears were playing without some skill-position talent that season. But Cutler has only led one team, the ’10 Bears, to the postseason and is coming off an injury-marred season. As for Landry, not much has developed on that front.
  • Cordy Glenn has struggled with lower-leg and foot problems since last season, and the Bills‘ franchise left tackle still has some uncertainty surrounding his status. That said, Glenn returned to practice on Sunday after seeing a foot specialist, Rapoport reports (on Twitter). Glenn recently received a second opinion on his foot from foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson, Vic Carucci of the Buffalo News reports. Sean McDermott called the veteran blocker day-to-day.
  • Jay Gruden is optimistic Jordan Reed will be able to shake his toe injury and be ready to go by the time the Redskins take the field in Week 1. “From every indication I’ve received from the doctors and trainers and from Jordan, I feel he’ll be ready for the season,” Gruden said, via John Keim of ESPN.com. “But you never know, so we’ll still have to wait and see. Things are odd from time to time, but I have total faith that he’ll be ready.” Reed is on the Active/PUP list and struggled with the toe malady throughout last season. Reed also visited with Dr. Anderson last week but has ramped up his work since.
  • Corey Graham has experience at both secondary positions, but Jim Schwartz plans to use his former Bills charge at safety despite the Eagles being weaker at corner, Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com notes, adding that Malcolm Jenkins could shift into the slot on sub-packages. Graham has played most of his career at corner but moved to safety full-time in 2015.

NFC Notes: Freeman, Panthers, Vikes

An extension for Falcons running back Devonta Freeman doesn’t appear imminent, but an agreement should come together by early September, writes Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. The Falcons and Freeman’s agent, Kristin Campbell, are engaging in daily conversations, and both sides are motivated to reach a deal, adds Graziano. Atlanta regards the 25-year-old as a cornerstone player after witnessing him pile up 1,000-plus rushing yards in each of the previous two campaigns, to go with 27 touchdowns (22 on the ground, five as a receiver) and 127 catches. Freeman provided that production while making a relative pittance, and he’ll earn another low base salary this year ($1.797MM) if talks with the Falcons fall through. It doesn’t appear that will happen, however.

More from the NFC:

  • Corey Graham visited the Panthers last week, but the two sides could not agree on money, reports Adam Caplan of ESPN (on Twitter). The safety signed with the Eagles on Thursday.
  • Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodesfive-year, $70MM extension features $32.8 million in guaranteed money (excluding the $8.026MM he’ll make this season as a fifth-year option player), writes Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune. The accord also comes with $500K in per-game roster bonuses from 2018-22 and annual workout bonuses of $100K.
  • Quarterback Luke McCown‘s one-year pact with the Cowboys includes a $1MM base salary, $170K guaranteed and an $80K signing bonus, per Field Yates of ESPN (Twitter link).
  • The Redskins worked out rookie safety Alex Gray on Thursday, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Gray previously spent time with the Buccaneers, who signed him as an undrafted free agent from Appalachian State.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Eagles Sign S Corey Graham

The Eagles have agreed to terms with safety Corey Graham on a one-year contract, the team announced. "<strong

Graham has been on the market since being released by the Bills back in March. He initially joined the team on a four-year, $16MM deal in 2014 and even though he restructured his pact in 2015, he wasn’t allowed to finish out the deal.

Graham didn’t fit into the Bills’ plans, but he has shown that he is still productive. The veteran didn’t miss a game during his three years in Buffalo, and he started 16 games in each of the past two seasons. Last year, he turned in another solid campaign, compiling 62 tackles, one sack, and nine passes defended.

Graham won’t start in Philly, but he can offer veteran support for starters Rodney McLeod and Malcolm Jenkins. He can also be expected to contribute on special teams.

The veteran has history with defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz thanks to their time together in 2014.

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.

Read more

Bills Release Corey Graham

The Bills announced that they have released safety Corey Graham. Cutting the veteran defensive back will save them team $4.05MM against the cap, and they Corey Grahamavoided a $500K roster bonus by cutting him prior to Monday’s deadline.

Graham originally joined the Bills on a four-year, $16MM deal in 2014, and he restrucutured that deal last offseason. The veteran didn’t miss a game during his three years in Buffalo, and he started 16 games in each of the past two seasons. 2016 was another solid season for the former Pro Bowler, compiling 62 tackles, one sack, and nine passes defended.

Following the move, the Bills have three safeties on their roster in Jordan Poyer, Colt Anderson, and Shamiel Gary.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Corey Graham Restructures Contract

SATURDAY, 10:05am: ESPN’s Mike Rodak tweets that Graham’s new cap number is worth $4.775MM, resulting in a $600K savings for the franchise. Reversely, after having converted the defensive back’s $500K roster bonus and $700,000 in incentives, the team increased Graham’s 2017 cap hold by $600K (via Rodak). The length and base salary of the new deal remains unchanged.

THURSDAY, 5:04pm: Versatile Bills defensive back Corey Graham agreed to restructure his deal, the team announced on its Twitter account.

Terms of the safety’s adjusted contract have not been disclosed. Graham was owed $6.35MM in base salaries over the final two seasons of his four-year, $16.3MM deal he signed with Buffalo in 2014.

Graham, who moved from cornerback to safety and led the Bills with 122 tackles in 2015, was scheduled to have a $5.375MM cap hold. He’s the latest player to restructure as the 2015 league year winds down. Graham is entering his age-31 season.

Charles Clay did so late last month despite going into only his second year with the team.

The Bills need to carve out at least $13.706MM of their cap after placing the franchise tag on left tackle Cordy Glenn. Buffalo also has resurgent guard Richie Incognito looming as an unrestricted free agent.

The Bills began moving their way toward that figure and then some earlier this week by axing Mario Williams, Anthony Dixon and Kraig Urbik.

AFC East Rumors: Bills, Dolphins, Jets

Three of the AFC East’s four teams are in the news. Here’s the latest:

  • As free agency approaches, the Bills are working to retain their two best offensive linemen – left tackle Cordy Glenn and left guard Richie Incognitowrites CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora. We learned this afternoon that the Bills intend to place the franchise tag on Glenn if he hasn’t agreed to a long-term deal by the March 1 deadline. Contrary to a report from earlier this week, the Bills aren’t currently looking to extend contract-year quarterback Tyrod Taylor, per La Canfora, who adds that they’re instead focusing on locking up cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Moreover, they’ll release defensive end Mario Williams and running back Anthony Dixon, and could restructure the contracts of safety Corey Graham, corner Leodis McKelvin, and possibly defensive lineman Kyle Williams. With some of the cap space those moves would create, La Canfora expects the Bills to pursue free agent-to-be Bilal Powell. The 27-year-old running back played under Bills head coach Rex Ryan as a member of the Jets from 2011-14. Powell averaged a career-high 4.5 yards per carry on 70 attempts last season and added a personal-best 47 receptions.
  • The Dolphins want to rework the contract of defensive end Cameron Wake, according to La Canfora. The problem, he notes, is that Wake would likely match or exceed the $8.4MM he’s scheduled to make as a Dolphin next season if they release him and he reaches the open market. Thus, the 34-year-old lacks incentive to take a pay cut. Not surprisingly, then, talks between the Dolphins and Wake’s agent made no progress at the combine.
  • With two ex-Jets bigwigs in Buffalo (Ryan) and Miami (executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum), representatives of pending Jets free agents said at the combine that the Bills and Dolphins could be landing spots for their clients, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. That seems to corroborate La Canfora’s report that the Bills will try to reel in Powell in free agency. Further, the Bills and Dolphins could go after Jets run-stuffing defensive tackle Damon Harrison if he hits the market, per Costello, though he notes that the teams’ lack of cap space might serve as roadblocks. Even so, Harrison could use those clubs as leverage to scare the Jets into meeting his demands.