Donte Moncrief

AFC Contract Details: Butler, Johnson, Bridgewater

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

AFC Contract Details: Crabtree, Williamson

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

Jaguars To Sign WR Donte Moncrief

Former Colts wide receiver Donte Moncrief is staying in the AFC South. Moncrief will sign with the Jaguars, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). He will earn a base salary of base salary of roughly $7MM, while incentives can bring the total value to $9.6MM, tweets Field Yates of ESPN.com.

The addition of the 24-year-old will help to offset the loss of Allen Robinson, who agreed to a deal with the Bears early this morning. Moncrief will pair with Marqise Lee, who has been retained on a new deal, atop the receiver depth chart. Jacksonville could conceivably look to move on from one of their wideout, as they’re rostering 10 players at the position, including Allen Hurns, Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook.

Word on Moncrief’s compensation is not yet in, but it’s likely to be a fat deal given the contracts given to wide receivers thus far in free agency. The 2014 third-round pick had a relatively quiet 2017 campaign, hauling in 26 catches for 391 yards and two scores in 12 games (eight starts). His best season came in 2015, when he collected 733 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

FA Rumors: Lewis, Moncrief, Jets, Fuller

Despite having surpassed the 100-touch mark just once in a season, Dion Lewis may well have surged to the point of being the top running back available. And the healthy market expected for the 27-year-old back shows no signs of slowing down. However, the Patriots are going to try to keep Lewis, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports. However, he notes Lewis’ price may “far outpace” what the Pats are willing to spend to keep him. The Colts, Titans and Jets look to be the early favorites for Lewis. The Titans being run by former Patriots exec Jon Robinson — who was in New England when the Pats acquired Lewis — and the fact Tennessee just released DeMarco Murray would make the AFC South team a logical suitor. The Jets have passing-down veteran Bilal Powell going into the final year of his contract, and the Colts are without a proven back now that Frank Gore is out of the picture.

New England still has James White and Brandon Bolden under contract. Here’s the latest from the market:

  • The Bears placing their transition tag on Kyle Fuller may not dissuade teams from inquiring about the corner. JLC hears from multiple execs the fifth-year cornerback could be in line to see an offer sheet. However, Chicago holds $50MM in cap space and would seemingly be an obvious threat to match an offer that comes Fuller’s way. La Canfora reports the Packers, Titans, Buccaneers and Texans are doing extensive work researching the cornerback market. With Fuller tagged, Trumaine Johnson and Malcolm Butler are the prizes currently unattached.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson will make his fourth visit on Monday, meeting with the Redskins, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter). One of the top defensive UFAs available, the eighth-year defensive lineman has already visited the Packers, Saints and Chiefs.
  • Donte Moncrief is likely to exit Indianapolis, and the Ravens are interested, La Canfora hears. The Ravens, as of now, possess less than $5MM in cap space. But with Moncrief perhaps in line for a one-year deal after an inconsistent Colts tenure, La Canfora writes Baltimore is in the mix for the athletic target.
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins and the Jets may be a bit out of sync as far as terms go, but the team remains intent on retaining the tight end, per JLC. Now armed with the most cap space in the league, the Jets would be able to meet ASJ’s reported $7MM-AAV asking price. But it’s uncertain if they will. La Canfora connects the Falcons and Seahawks as being interested in Seferian-Jenkins.
  • The Broncos are expected to have interest in Ja’Wuan James if the Dolphins are intent on gauging trade offers for their four-year right tackle, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Denver, which has started four different right tackles in its past four season openers, is again in need of a right tackle. Although John Elway said Menelik Watson will be back, it’s hard to believe the Broncos wouldn’t try to upgrade after their most recent right tackle signee did not fare well.

Colts To Let Donte Moncrief Walk?

The Colts aren’t likely to re-sign Donte Moncrief by the time the legal tampering period begins Monday, and Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star notes they probably will let the fifth-year wide receiver walk as a free agent.

Holder writes “all current indications” point to Moncrief departing as a first-time UFA. The current Colts regime appears to have cooled on the former third-round pick.

The inconsistency that’s been associated with Moncrief’s career has frustrated some in the Colts’ organization, and Holder writes Chris Ballard didn’t seem to express much desire to re-sign him.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reported the expectation was for a team to sign Moncrief to a one-year deal, which would make sense given his lack of steady production. While Moncrief showed a strong red zone rapport with Andrew Luck, he was effectively demoted last season. After a 64-reception, 733-yard 2015, Moncrief missed seven games in 2016. The talented athlete who still caught seven touchdown passes in 2016 managed just 26 catches last season and two scores on a much worse Colts offense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC North Notes: Bengals, Ravens, Steelers

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has missed 41 of 80 potential regular season games due to concussions, stingers, an elbow injury, a torn labrum, ankle surgery, disc repairs, and a knee issue. As he approaches free agency, he tells Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that “everything is fixed.” Teams, of course, will be taking a thorough medical look at Eifert before extending him any offers. The 27-year-old Eifert is arguably the most talented free agent tight end available, but his injury history will put a ceiling on his market. PFR’s Zach Links recently ranked Eifert as the third-best available tight end, behind Trey Burton and Jimmy Graham.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Pending Colts free agent wide receiver Donte Moncrief could be a fit for the Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Baltimore could certainly use help at wideout, as the club ranked 26th in passing DVOA a season ago and could be poised to lose several contributors over the coming weeks. Mike Wallace is scheduled to hit free agency next Wednesday, while fellow veteran pass-catcher Jeremy Maclin has been mentioned as a candidate for release. Moncrief, meanwhile, has been limited by injuries over the past two seasons, but is only 24 years old and managed a 64/733/6 line as recently as 2015. Per Rapoport, Moncrief is likely to sign a one-year deal, which makes sense given his limited record of recent production.
  • Speaking of the Ravens, center Ryan Jensen is expected to garner a “nice” deal in free agency, and it’s unclear if Baltimore will be able to re-sign him, as Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun writes. Jensen is one of the top free agent centers on the market, but he only has one full season of starting experience. Still, his youth (age 26) should allow him to land a multi-year pact in a free agent market short on interior lineman. Meanwhile, receiver Michael Campanaro has already generated interest around the NFL based on his route-running and special teams prowess, per Zrebiec.
  • Given that Le’Veon Bell doesn’t seem amenable to a long-term contract that pays less than $15MM annually, the Steelers are now forced to plan for life after Bell, opines Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Bell was assigned the franchise tag for the second consecutive season, but Pittsburgh should look at running backs in the 2018 draft as a hedge against Bell returning to Pittsburgh in 2019. Of course, the Steelers did use a third-round pick on running back James Conner in last year’s draft, but he handled only 32 carries on the season before going down with a knee injury.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

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. 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. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

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 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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AFC Notes: Watt, Browns, Ravens, Moncrief

J.J. Watt looks to have a more optimistic attitude about surmounting his latest severe injury than he did when he was battling through back problems a year ago. Despite this being the Texans defensive end’s second severe injury in the past two seasons, the three-time defensive player of the year did not seriously consider retirement like he did when he was going through back rehab. Watt made it back and was playing at an elite level prior to his leg injury — officially a tibial plateau fracture — but he’s confident he’ll be ready to go once the 2018 season begins.

Not yet; I know I’m not there yet,” Watt said on The Dan Patrick Show (via the Houston Chronicle) when asked if he was considering retirement. “… With my back, I was. But this time I wasn’t. This time I actually was never close. From day one I was always super-excited about this recovery. I was super-optimistic; I have a great attitude; I have a great attitude about it because the broken leg to me — the back was a little bit of an unknown — a broken leg I can understand. I feel great and I’m excited about the future.”

Now 28, Watt has four years remaining on the six-year, $100MM deal he signed in 2014.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on Super Bowl eve.

  • Donte Moncrief‘s inconsistency last season frustrated members of the Colts organization, Mike Wells of ESPN.com notes. Moncrief is now an unrestricted free agent and joins several other receivers whose career profiles aren’t beacons of stability — like Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, John Brown and Jordan Matthews. This uncertain market could prompt the Colts, who as of now have Andrew Luck on the right track to return next season, to offer Moncrief a short-team deal to determine his legitimacy. Moncrief has shown a rapport with Luck, catching 14 of his 18 career TDs from the cornerstone Colt, but last season was playing behind Kamar Aiken in Indianapolis’ rotation.
  • While the Browns will explore a Kirk Cousins contract, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com’s consensus after this whirlwind week is the team will eventually shift its focus to a bridge quarterback to pair with the signal-caller chosen at No. 1 overall. Given the near-$30MM-per-year requirement Cousins could come with, given a team like the Browns being likely forced to overpay in this scenario, she concludes the likely outcome will be the Browns pivoting to the likes of A.J. McCarron and whomever the Vikings don’t prioritize.
  • The Ravens will hire more senior scouts to work with the personnel department in the near future, owner Steve Bisciotti said (via Mike Preston of the Baltimore Sun). The team recently lost four scouts to the Eagles in Joe Douglas, Andy Weidl, Ian Cunningham and T.J. McCreight, with Preston writing they had a combined 55 years’ experience with Baltimore. Bisciotti made it clear the Ravens will be targeting experience when searching for scouting assistance. “I think that in retrospect, you can say you can’t lose those three scouts with 30 years of experience between the three of them and then hire 25-year-olds that are ready to give it the old try,” Bisciotti said, referencing some of the Ravens’ recent high draft picks that haven’t panned out. “I think that it shows that we have not done a very good job of filling in for senior people with senior people. So that’s something we’re going to address starting right now.”

Colts Discussing Donte Moncrief Trade

The Colts are open for business as the trade deadline approaches. The Colts have received calls on Donte Moncrief and they are listening, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Donte Moncrief (vertical)

The Andrew Luck-less Colts sank to 2-6 on Sunday with their 24-23 loss to the Bengals. It’s no surprise that they’re open to trading name players given their current position. Cornerback Vontae Davis, wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, running back Frank Gore, and offensive tackle Anthony Castonzo have also been mentioned in trade rumors. Teams that find the asking price for Hilton to be too rich may view Moncrief as a less thrilling yet less costly alternative.

Moncrief, 24, has 18 catches for 271 yards and one touchdown so far this season. He’s on pace for far less than the 64 catches for 733 yards and six TDs that he had in 2015, his last complete campaign.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.