Dion Sims

Bears To Activate Adam Shaheen, Send Dion Sims To IR

Trey Burton will have a different backup tight end Sunday. The Bears will sub out Dion Sims for Adam Shaheen on their 53-man roster, activating the second-year tight end from IR and sending the 2017 free agent signing to the injured list, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).

Chicago designated Shaheen for an IR return last week and had three weeks to activate him. He will likely make his season debut Sunday night against the Vikings.

A concussion will send Sims to IR. The former Dolphins tight end played in eight Bears games during his second season with the franchise but only caught two passes, with first-year Bear Burton becoming the starter this season.

Shaheen came out of Division II Ashland as an athletic marvel but has yet to contribute much as a pro. Preseason ankle and foot injuries sidetracked the 6-foot-5, 270-pound target’s development. He caught 12 passes for 127 yards and three touchdowns last season and poses as an interesting weapon for Mitch Trubisky down the stretch.

Sims did well for himself in free agency last year, signing a three-year, $18MM deal. The $6MM-AAV pact handed to the former Miami backup was more than Austin Seferian-Jenkins or Jared Cook received from their respective teams. Sims, though, has 17 receptions as a Bear in his two-year Windy City run. Considering a 2019 cut would save the Bears $6MM, and with Burton and Shaheen under contract long-term, Sims will surely be a release candidate as the next league year approaches.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Lions, Ngata, Giants

Here’s a quick look at the NFC:

  • Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata inked a one-year, $2.6MM fully guaranteed deal ($3MM maximum value) with the Eagles this week, but he had the same offer on the table from the Lions, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (video link). He chose the Eagles because he felt they were a better scheme fit for him. In Philadelphia’s two-gap system, Ngata is hoping to get back to his old form as he backs up Fletcher Cox and Timmy Jernigan.
  • The Giants restructured linebacker Alec Ogletree‘s contract to prorate the $7MM roster bonus he was due over the remaining four years of his contract, a source tells Dan Duggan of The Athletic (on Twitter). His cap hit will be reduced from $10MM to $4.75MM in 2018, according to ESPN.com’s Jordan Raanan (on Twitter).
  • Bears tight end Dion Sims remained on the team’s roster today and now has $4MM of his $6MM base salary fully guaranteed for 2018, as Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter) notes.

Extra Points: Eagles, Pumphrey, Jets

The Eagles have a loaded backfield with LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement. That is expected to grow in 2018 with the return of fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Paul Domowitch writes.

A fourth-round selection in 2017, Pumphrey was expected to serve a large role in the team’s offense as Darren Sproles-like pass catcher out of the backfield. That didn’t happen, however, with the San Diego State star tearing his hamstring in the preseason and sitting out the rest of the season on IR.

Pumphrey has been working out for some time now and has upped his weight from 177 out of college to around 185 or 190 pounds now. With the added bulk, the record-breaking college back might be able to withstand a full season in the pros. He will have some work to do to make the roster with those proved backs ahead of him on the depth chart.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Sticking with the Eagles, NJ.com’s Eliot Shorr-Parks ranked the Eagles top offseason needs for the Super Bowl champions. He listed linebackers as the No. 1 overall need, citing injury concerns (Jordan Hicks) and free agency (Nigel Bradham).
  • The Jets are expected to release Muhammad Wilkerson before March 16 when his $16.75 MM salary would be guaranteed for 2018, ESPN’s Rich Cimini writes.
  • The Bears are likely to release TE Dion Sims, the Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs writes. He notes: “It’s important to note that $4 million of that $10 million guarantee does not kick in until March 16, the third day of the league year. Sims has a base salary of $6 million for 2018 and two-thirds of that becomes fully guaranteed then. So a decision on Sims needs to be made in the next five weeks or so and it’s possible, I don’t know how likely, he winds up walking away with only $6 million from the 2017 season.”

AFC Notes: Pats, Bengals, Mixon, Fins, Aiken

Defensive lineman Lawrence Guy has completed his visit with the Patriots and will continue taking meetings with other clubs, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). The Ravens, meanwhile, would still like to re-sign Guy, but their overall level of interest is unclear. PFR ranked Guy as the No. 12 interior defender heading into the free agent period.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • The Bengals will host controversial Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon on a private visit, reports Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com. Cincinnati was one of four clubs — including Cleveland, Detroit, and New Orleans — that met with Dixon last week. Because Mixon was not invited to the combine, the Bengals want the opportunity to speak “extensively” with Mixon about his character, per Terrell.
  • Although the Dolphins made a “late attempt” to retain tight end Dion Sims, they offered roughly $2MM less per season than the Bears, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Chicago ultimately signed Sims to a three-year, $18MM deal that features $6MM in guarantees. Miami has since signed veteran Anthony Fasano to fill the void at tight end.
  • Three teams are interested in free agent wide receiver Kamar Aiken, tweets La Canfora (although he doesn’t identify the clubs). Aiken, 27, managed only 29 receptions for the Ravens in 2016 after putting up 75 catches the year prior.

NFC Contract Details: Fairley, Peppers, Reiff

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFC contracts:

  • Nick Fairley, DL (Saints): Four years, $28MM. $14MM guaranteed. $8MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $1MM, $4.25MM, $5.95MM, $5.95MM (Twitter link via Wilson). $500K available yearly in sack incentives (link via Mike Triplett of ESPN.com).
  • Captain Munnerlyn, CB (Panthers): Four years, $17MM. $8MM guaranteed. $6MM signing bonus. $1MM available via incentives (Twitter link via Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune).
  • Julius Peppers, DL (Panthers): One year, $3.5MM. $750K available via incentives (Twitter link via Josina Anderson of ESPN.com).
  • Riley Reiff, T (Vikings): Five years, $58.75MM. $26.3MM guaranteed. $11MM signing bonus (Twitter links via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com). Annual $500K Pro Bowl escalator clause (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Mike Remmers, T (Vikings): Five years, $30MM. $10.5MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune).
  • Dion Sims, TE (Bears): Three years, $18MM. $6MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Stefen Wisniewski, OL (Eagles): Three years, $9MM. $3.25MM guaranteed. $1.75MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer)

Bears To Sign Dion Sims

The Bears have agreed to a deal with tight end Dion Sims, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com. It’s a three-year, $18MM pact featuring $10MM in guarantees, Garafolo adds (Twitter links).Dion Sims (Vertical)

In Chicago, Sims will likely play an in-line tight end role, allowing Zach Miller to flex out from time to time. The Bears were also linked to other tight ends during the free agent process, and clearly wanted to upgrade the position. Miller is nearing 33 years old and missed six games in 2016 due to injury, so Chicago had tight end depth on its mind as a primary offseason goal.

Sims, 26, has never topped 30 receptions or 300 yards receiving during his four-year career, but the Dolphins reportedly wanted to retain him ever after acquiring Julius Thomas from the Jaguars. Not only is Sims a solid blocker (whereas Thomas is not), he would have provided the Dolphins with another tight end option in the event Thomas falls victim to injury, something he’s done multiple times during his NFL career.

Sims graded as PFR’s No. 6 free agent tight end.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

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Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

[UPDATE: CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST EDITION OF THE TOP 2017 NFL FREE AGENTS BY POSITION]

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, 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. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they 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 are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Mike Glennon
  3. Nick Foles
  4. Brian Hoyer
  5. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  6. Case Keenum
  7. Matt McGloin
  8. Mark Sanchez
  9. Geno Smith
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Josh McCown
  12. Christian Ponder
  13. Blaine Gabbert
  14. Matt Schaub
  15. Ryan Nassib

Honorable mention: Shaun Hill

As of this writing, Kirk Cousins is far and away the best potential free agent quarterback in this year’s crop. By the time March gets here, we’re fully expecting Cousins to be spoken for. Ultimately, the Redskins could franchise tag him, work out a long-term deal with him, or swing some type of trade that nets them a massive haul of talent and picks. That will leave a crop of retread quarterbacks that would probably best serve as transitional options for QB-needy teams. Kirk Cousins

Mike Glennon hasn’t done much in his 18 career starts, but talent evaluators are still in love with his size and potential. The 6’7″ quarterback will get more money this spring than you might expect, particularly since there are no surefire QBs in this year’s draft.

Teams looking for stopgap QBs will find a plethora of experienced, though perhaps uninspiring, signal callers. Nick Foles, Brian Hoyer, and Ryan Fitzpatrick all have their best football behind them, but they could hold down the fort for a team in 2017 and maybe even find some success if the defense is strong enough. Of course, the ideal role for those guys would probably be as a backup to a better, younger quarterback.

Running back:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Eddie Lacy
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Darren McFadden
  6. Jacquizz Rodgers
  7. Rashad Jennings
  8. Danny Woodhead
  9. Rex Burkhead
  10. Tim Hightower
  11. DeAngelo Williams
  12. Andre Ellington
  13. Chris Johnson
  14. Christine Michael
  15. Robert Turbin

Consider Le’Veon Bell‘s name written in Etch-A-Sketch, because he is very unlikely to get near the open market. That could leave Eddie Lacy as the best tailback available in March. Lacy has struggled with weight issues in recent years and he lost much of the 2016 season to injury. Still, he is a bruising back that could nicely complement a quicker ball carrier. Before he was shut down for the year, Lacy was averaging 5.07 yards per carry in five games for Green Bay.

LeGarrette Blount (vertical)In the last two years, LeGarrette Blount seems to have put his off-the-field troubles behind him. Whether that’s a sign of his maturity or a product of the Patriots’ culture remains to be seen. Teams can ignore his past indiscretions, but they will be wary of his age. Blount turns 31 in December.

Latavius Murray has shown glimpses of being a special running back, but he has been inconsistent and his 4.0 yards-per-carry average of the last two years isn’t overly impressive. Darren McFadden ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2015, but 2016 was pretty much a lost year for him. Jacquizz Rodgers seemed to break out last year, but he wound up succumbing to the same injury bug that took down a host of other Buccaneers running backs. Speaking of injuries, Rashad Jennings was initially brought to the Giants to be a workhorse back, but two of his three years in New York were marred by ailments. Everyone in this tier has the potential to make a difference, but none should be counted on as anyone’s main guy in 2017.

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Fins Still Interested In Re-Signing Dion Sims

Although the Dolphins have agreed to acquire Julius Thomas from the Jaguars, Miami still has interest in re-signing fellow tight end Dion Sims, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald."<strong

[RELATED: Dolphins Could Be Active In Free Agency]

Sims, 26, has never topped 30 receptions or 300 yards receiving during his four-year career, but Dolphins head coach Adam Gase has reportedly told Sims he views the former Michigan State Spartan as an integral part of the team going forward. Moreover, Miami believes Sims’ skill-set contrasts well with that of Thomas, per Jackson. Not only is Sims a solid blocker (whereas Thomas is not), he would provide the Dolphins with another tight end option in the event Thomas falls victim to injury, something he’s done multiple times during his NFL career.

Although he’s not expected to be a free agent priority like wide receiver Kenny Stills or defensive end Andre Branch, Sims is clearly in the Dolphins’ 2017 plans. Even if the Thomas trade goes through, Miami’s tight end depth would only consist of MarQueis Gray and Thomas Duarte, the latter of whom played all of two offensive snaps during his rookie campaign. Jordan Cameron, meanwhile, is an unrestricted free agent and is mulling retirement following a history of concussions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fins Prioritizing Kenny Stills, Andre Branch

Free agency is looming for wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Andre Branch, but the Dolphins are going to work hard to lock the two up before March. The club will meet with the representatives for both players at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week in an attempt to set “a baseline starting point in negotiations,” according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Kenny Stills[RELATED: Surgery For Ryan Tannehill?]

“We want to keep our own,” executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum said. “We’re never going to bat a thousand. The system just is not set up for it. We’ve been able to extend some players before I started — some like Mike Pouncey or Ryan Tannehill we were able to do — but candidly, you can’t keep them all. We understand that and acknowledge that.

Both Stills and Branch are coming off productive seasons, and each has professed a “love” for the Dolphins since the team’s season ended. In the first 16-start campaign of his four-year career, Stills, 24, averaged a club-high 17.3 yards per catch on 42 receptions and also led the Dolphins in touchdown grabs (nine). The 27-year-old Branch set a career high in starts (11) and posted 5.5 sacks – his second-best total since entering the NFL in 2012 – after inking a modest free agent deal to leave Jacksonville last March.

On Stills, who joined the Dolphins in a 2015 trade with the Saints, general manager Chris Grier stated: “It’s important for us to bring him back. We’d like to have him back. It’s his right to test the market and see what he can get, but we’d like to have him back.”

As with Stills and Branch, the Dolphins would like to re-sign soon-to-be free agent tight end Dion Sims, reports Salguero. Sims is less of a priority than Stills and Branch, however, and it’s unclear if his reps will meet with the Dolphins in Mobile. The 25-year-old logged personal bests in receptions (26) and TDs (four) during his 14-game 2016. He averaged under 10 yards per catch, though, leading to the possibility that the Dolphins could look for a better playmaking tight end this offseason.

In danger of losing each of Stills, Branch and Sims within the next couple months, the Dolphins aren’t yet focusing on extensions for wideout Jarvis Landry or safety Reshad Jones, per Salguero. Those two cornerstones are already under contract for next season, so there’s less urgency for Miami to determine their futures. While Salguero expects the Dolphins to ultimately ink Landry and Jones to new deals, talks haven’t yet begun. Indeed, Grier revealed Wednesday that “we’ll worry about the guys right now with the immediate free agents and then we’ll start working towards the guys that are still under contract.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.