Dee Ford

Colts Sign Justin Houston

The Colts have reached agreement on a deal with former Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It’s a two-year, $24MM deal, Schefter adds (Twitter link). 

The deal includes $18.5MM in total guarantees, according to Stephen Holder of the Indy Star (on Twitter). That’s a larger-than-expected guarantee for Houston, who did not have a ton of suitors following his release from Kansas City.

The Chiefs tried to trade Houston this offseason, but no club was willing to take on his $15.25MM base salary. On March 10, they released him outright. By cutting Houston, the Chiefs saved $14MM in cap space while absorbing $7.1MM in dead money.

Houston led the NFL with 22 sacks in 2014, but his free agent market has been eerily quiet over the last couple of weeks. Now, he’ll join the Colts as he enters his age-30 campaign.

The Colts recently explored a trade for Dee Ford, Schefter notes (on Twitter), but they ultimately held on to their draft picks and landed his former Chiefs teammate.

Houston can still be an effective player, as evidenced by his 18.5 sacks over the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus graded him as the NFL’s 14th-best edge defender last year, and his presence should go a long way towards bolstering the Colts’ lackluster pass rush. And, while a 4-3 scheme might not be a perfect fit for Houston, he can still be a disruptor in Matt Eberflus‘ system.

The addition of Houston may also alter the Colts’ draft plans. The Colts may still look for a young edge rusher in April, but having Houston on the roster may allow them to stand pat at No. 26 rather than trading up for an upper-echelon prospect.

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Contract Details: Ford, Mosley, Crowder

Some assorted contract details from around the NFL:

49ers, Chiefs Agree To Dee Ford Trade

The Chiefs will send Dee Ford to San Francisco. The 49ers have agreed to send their 2020 second-round pick to the Chiefs for the franchise-tagged pass rusher, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. We heard earlier tonight that the two sides were discussing a trade.

The teams have agreed on compensation, and it sounds like the 49ers and Ford have agreed to an extension. ESPN’s Josina Anderson tweets that Ford has signed a five-year, $87.5MM deal with his new squad. Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo tweets that the deal contains around $45MM in guaranteed money.

The 49ers are in need of edge-rushing talent, and Ford would certainly fit the bill. Ford registered a career-high 13 sacks last season, making his first Pro Bowl. Ford played in a 4-3 at Auburn and, interestingly, would be a full-time end in the 49ers’ 4-3. Beyond Ford, the Chiefs have 2018 second-round pick Breeland Speaks and 2017 second-rounder Tanoh Kpassagnon. Those two have combined for 3.5 sacks in three seasons.

The Chiefs had reportedly been shopping Ford even they slapped him with a franchise tag that will pay him up a bit more than $15MM. The front office had reportedly been seeking a second-rounder in exchange for Ford, but there were some pundits who believed that organization may have to settle for a third-rounder plus another asset. Ultimately, it sounds like San Francisco was willing to meet Kansas City’s asking price.

The Chiefs pass-rushing corps will look a whole lot different next season. The team recently released Justin Houston, leaving the team with few edge defenders on the roster.

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Chiefs, 49ers In Advanced Dee Ford Talks

The Chiefs and 49ers are deep in talks about a Dee Ford trade, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding this deal could end up being finalized on Tuesday night.

This would be a major move for a Chiefs franchise that just released Justin Houston. The Chiefs put out trade feelers for both Houston and Ford, but speculation persisted about the team being prepared to jettison only one of its edge starters. But now? The 2019 Chiefs’ pass rush may look quite different from the most recent corps.

Should this trade come to pass, the Chiefs may not be likely to obtain one of the 49ers’ top two draft picks. They were targeting a Round 2 choice for Ford, but Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller tweets a third-rounder and an additional asset may end being the return. This would be similar to Kansas City’s 2018 Alex Smith trade, which brought back a third-round pick and Kendall Fuller.

San Francisco was one of the destinations mentioned for Ford. The 49ers are in need of edge-rushing talent and have been linked to that spot with their No. 2 draft pick. They may soon be in position to work out a new contract with Ford, on whom the Chiefs placed their franchise tag. That component will be key in this process, per Rapoport.

Ford, who is set for his age-28 season, was given the linebacker franchise tag — worth just more than $15MM.

This would leave the Chiefs with no proven edge rushers. But the tag-and-trade scenario would free up more than $15MM in cap space, whereas the team had to eat some dead money in its Houston release.

Ford registered a career-high 13 sacks last season, making his first Pro Bowl. While he has not been especially reliable in his career, he is by far the Chiefs’ best in-house edge rusher. But with K.C. moving to a 4-3 defense, new DC Steve Spagnuolo appears to be willing to rock the boat to find better fits.

Ford played in a 4-3 at Auburn and, interestingly, would be a full-time end in the 49ers’ 4-3. Beyond Ford, the Chiefs have 2018 second-round pick Breeland Speaks and 2017 second-rounder Tanoh Kpassagnon. Those two have combined for 3.5 sacks in three seasons.

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North Notes: Rudolph, Browns, Packers

Kyle Rudolph isn’t going anywhere. We heard earlier today that the Vikings had asked Rudolph to take a pay-cut, but his management team is pushing back forcefully on those rumors. Rudolph’s agent, Brian Murphy, released a statement saying “despite rumors, Vikings are not in negotiations with Kyle Rudolph, have not asked him to take a pay reduction and have told us explicitly that Rudy will not only be on the team this year, but hopefully for years to come,” via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link).

It’s a strong statement, and it doesn’t leave much room for doubt. Rudolph is scheduled to make $7.275MM next season and the Vikings have almost no salary cap space, but they’ll apparently have to create room somewhere else. Rudolph has spent the last eight seasons in Minnesota after the Vikings took him in the second round of the 2011 draft. He hasn’t been in the top-tier of tight ends, but he’s been a solid and consistent player, and he made the Pro Bowl in 2017. Rudolph has also been very durable recently, appearing in all 16 games in four straight years.

Here’s more from around the league’s northern divisions:

  • Greg Robinson signed a one-year deal to return to the Browns a couple of weeks ago, and now we have the details on the contract. Interestingly, his new pact includes $500K in weigh-in bonuses, according to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Robinson will have weigh-ins around once a month starting in April all the way through the regular season, which suggests Cleveland wasn’t too happy with the weight he played at last year. Robinson’s deal has a base salary of $5.5MM with a $500K signing bonus, $400K in per-game roster bonuses, and a $100K workout bonus. He could face competition from a rookie, but right now the former second overall pick projects as the team’s starting left tackle.
  • Speaking of the Browns, the status of receiver Breshad Perriman is still up in the air. The former first round pick and draft bust with the Ravens revitalized his career in Cleveland last year, but is now set to be an unrestricted free agent. The “two sides aren’t close” on a deal, but Perriman “wants to be back, and realizes that Baker Mayfield helped him resuscitate his career,” according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. Kay Cabot writes that Perriman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, “wants to let the market” set the price for the 25-year-old receiver. After joining the Browns mid-season, Perriman had 233 yards and two touchdowns the final four weeks of the year.
  • The Packers have reportedly expressed interest in Chiefs pass-rusher Dee Ford. But trading for Ford, who has been franchise-tagged by Kansas City, may prove difficult for Green Bay. Any team that trades for Ford is likely to try and sign him to a longterm deal, but the Packers don’t usually like longterm deals with a ton of guaranteed money and prefer to structure deals with large signing bonuses instead, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter link). That could be a problem because as Rapoport points out, Ford has the same agent as Le’Veon Bell, and the agent takes a very strong stance on the need for more guaranteed money in deals. None of this means the Packers won’t be able to trade for Ford, but it’s an interesting note nonetheless, and it could force them to turn their focus elsewhere as they look for pass-rushing help.

Packers, 49ers Have Expressed Interest In Dee Ford

The Chiefs have some suitors for Dee Ford. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the organization has a “market” for the pass rusher, with the Packers and 49ers among the teams that have expressed interest in a trade.

Kansas City slapped Ford with the franchise tag earlier this week, and subsequent reports indicated that they were shopping the Pro Bowler. The Chiefs are reportedly seeking a second-rounder for the 27-year-old, who finished last season with 55 tackles, 13 sacks, and seven forced fumbles.

While the asking price isn’t particularly high, an acquiring team would be required to pay Ford’s $15.433MM salary for next season. This number has the chance to increase; as our own Dallas Robinson pointed out, Ford is likely to file a grievance arguing that he’s a defensive end, and that would boost his franchise value to $17.128MM in 2019.

The Packers have been seeking an edge rusher, and Ford would be an easy replacement for free agent linebacker Clay Matthews. Meanwhile, the 49ers defensive line showed some intrigue in 2018, and adding a player of Ford’s caliber would surely boost the defense’s ceiling in 2019.

Chiefs Want Second-Round Pick For Dee Ford?

After deploying the franchise tag on edge rusher Dee Ford, the Chiefs may be willing to trade the veteran linebacker/defensive end, and the price might not be all that steep. Kansas City is looking for a second-round pick in exchange for Ford, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

Fresh off a career year in 2018, Ford will be expensive next season. The linebacker franchise tag will cost $15.433MM, but there’s a chance Ford could push to earn even more. Ford is likely to file a grievance arguing that he’s a defensive end, and being tagged at that position would enable him to collect $17.128MM in 2019. That’s a hefty total, especially for a Chiefs team that only has roughly $10MM in cap space after accounting for Ford’s salary.

In addition to his cost, Ford’s role in new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 scheme has been questioned. Ford played defensive end in college, however, and the Chiefs faced three-plus wide receivers more than 80% of the time in 2018, per Warren Sharp. That means Kansas City was in nickel formations with Ford lined up as a pass-rusher. Indeed, Pro Football Focus charts Ford with only 107 coverage snaps all season, meaning concerns about a role change are likely overblown.

Ford, 27, hasn’t always been a star since entering the league as a first-round pick in 2014. He was relatively quiet in his first two pro campaigns before erupting for 10 sacks in 2016. An injury wiped out most of Ford’s 2017 season, but also forced the Chiefs to retain him via his injury-guaranteed fifth-year option. Ford subsequently posted the best results of his career, putting up 10 sacks and 48.5 pressures (second in the NFL) while grading as PFF’s 11th-best edge defender.

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Extra Points: Tags, Haskins, Jets, Bucs

Both the Chiefs and Texans may be in for grievances. Both teams used their franchise tags on edge defenders — Dee Ford and Jadeveon Clowney, respectively — and each team officially classified its tag recipient as a linebacker. The linebacker tag comes at a $15.443MM price. Both players have cases to be tagged as defensive ends, with Clowney frequently lining up as a lineman for Houston and Ford set to play end in Kansas City’s new 4-3 scheme. The defensive end price: $17.128MM — the second-highest tag figure. Clowney already received just more than $1MM from the Texans to resolve a dispute about what position he was categorized as in regards to his fifth-year option. That may go toward preempting a grievance here, but it’s not certain. A Ford grievance seems likely. He spends more time rushing from the defensive end position in the Chiefs’ sub-packages. Terrell Suggs filed a grievance about a linebacker tag in 2008, and an arbitrator ruled the parties to split the difference between the linebacker and end tags. But this is a case-by-case process.

Here is the latest from the pre-free agency news cycle:

  • While Janoris Jenkins is set to avoid cap-casualty status, another member of the Giants‘ 2016 free agency defender splurge may not. Whether Olivier Vernon is traded or cut, the veteran edge rusher is a near-certainty to be jettisoned from the Giants’ defense, Tom Rock of Newsday notes. As is the case with Landon Collins‘ exit, a Vernon departure would create a massive need on a New York defense that has several need areas.
  • Dwayne Haskins has been a popular mock pick for the Giants, and Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes Big Blue indeed has been “all over” the Ohio State-developed quarterback, researching his viability as Eli Manning‘s successor. Dave Gettleman does not plan to turn the keys over to a later-round pick, with Vacchiano adding the heir apparent will be a first-round choice. So if the Giants balk at a passer with another top-10 pick, they may be willing to roll the dice one more time and wait until 2020.
  • Mike Maccagnan has said the Jets will be aggressive in free agency, which would make sense given the team’s plethora of needs and $100MM-plus in cap space. Gang Green will attempt to find a center and a guard in free agency, per Vacchiano. This comes after the Jets cut 2018 center Spencer Long. There are some interesting center options, with Matt Paradis and Mitch Morse set to hit the market. At guard, there aren’t as many younger free agents; the top options are deeper into their careers.
  • Donovan Smith‘s 2019 cap figure will still be hefty, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com, who notes the Buccaneers‘ left tackle will carry a $12.5MM figure next season. Although it is not the $14.1MM figure Smith was briefly attached to via the franchise tag, that is still a large number for a team that does not have much cap space. Smith’s 2020 and ’21 base salaries will be $14.5MM and $14.25MM, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • Former Bears head coach Mark Trestman will return to coach in the States. He’s been hired as HC of the XFL’s Tampa Bay team. He joins Bob Stoops, Jim Zorn and Pep Hamilton as coaches to have signed on with the rebooting league. An acclaimed CFL coach prior to his two-season Bears stay, Trestman went back to Canada and was the Toronto Argonauts’ HC for the past two seasons.

Chiefs Use Franchise Tag On Dee Ford

Another franchise tag is official. The Chiefs placed theirs on Dee Ford, as has been long expected.

Kansas City’s pass rusher situation is far from certain, as free agency approaches. Both Ford and Justin Houston, who is still a Chief for now, have been dangled in trade talks. But the younger player appears likely to stay for the 2019 season.

The expectation now is Houston will be released before free agency commences. This would place a greater internal value on Ford, who has not been a consistent pass rusher but is nevertheless coming off his best season. Ford forced seven fumbles in 2018 and registered 13 sacks, finally delivering on the promise the Chiefs envisioned when they used their 2014 first-round pick on him.

Ford sticking around for 2019 would mean a switch to defensive end, with new DC Steve Spagnuolo converting the Chiefs to a 4-3 team. Ford, 28, may be set for a fight about his position distinction, with the Chiefs potentially arguing he should be tagged as a linebacker — since he played five years in their old 3-4 scheme. However, Ford’s camp will certainly counter he should be classified as an end, since that’s where he will play in 2019. The linebacker tag is $15.443MM; tagged ends receive $17.128MM.

Chiefs To Tag Dee Ford, Plan To Listen To Trade Offers

The Chiefs are set to place their franchise tag on Dee Ford, as expected. The unexpected news: they are going to listen to trade offers for the sixth-year pass rusher, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

Kansas City is shifting to a 4-3 defense under new DC Steve Spagnuolo, and although Ford played defensive end at Auburn, the Chiefs are evidently willing to explore trading one or both of their edge defenders. Justin Houston trade rumors emerged this week as well.

This would change the pass rusher market, which is set to see its top prizes, per usual, receive franchise designations. DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney and Frank Clark are set to be tagged by Tuesday’s deadline. None of the other three have been mentioned as tag-and-trade candidates. Ford is the first to officially be tagged, and Schefter adds the Chiefs do plan to use him as an end this season. This may be contingent on the franchise not being blown away with a trade offer in the meantime.

Ford has not enjoyed a consistent career, failing to see the field much as a rookie and being an injury replacement for Houston for a period during his second season. In 2016, Ford broke out with 10 sacks, and the Chiefs picked up his fifth-year option. However, an injury ended Ford’s 2017 season early, and that option vested because he was not healthy enough to pass a physical last year.

The soon-to-be 28-year-old pass rusher, though, delivered his best season in his contract year, registering 13 sacks and forcing seven fumbles. He is now in line for a $17MM payment, once he signs his franchise tender, and when healthy has produced more than the pass rushers likely to hit the market.

It seems unlikely both Ford and Houston would be traded, with the Chiefs — who already have major questions on defense — not having surefire replacements on a Super Bowl-contending roster.

The duo played well together as 3-4 outside linebackers last season, their first extensive run as a starting tandem. Both were key components of the Chiefs’ run to the AFC championship game. While Ford’s neutral-zone infraction allowed the Patriots to escape with a victory, denying the Chiefs their first Super Bowl berth in 49 years and placing the Pats in position to claim another Super Bowl title, he earned his first Pro Bowl berth during the regular season.

Houston is two years older than Ford and has a $15.25MM salary in 2019. He has enjoyed the better statistical career, but injuries have limited him since he signed that six-year, $101MM contract. Two years remain on that deal.

Neither Chief comes with too much certainty, but both figure to draw extensive interest on the trade block. Kansas City also has significant contracts to authorize soon, in Chris Jones and Tyreek Hill. And Patrick Mahomes is on track for an NFL-record deal come 2020. It appears unlikely the Ford-Houston tandem will be in place by then, and it might be broken up in the coming weeks.

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