Dre Kirkpatrick

Bengals To Place Dre Kirkpatrick On IR

The Bengals have placed Dre Kirkpatrick on injured reserve, per a club announcement. In related moves, the team promoted linebacker Hardy Nickerson and wide receiver Damion Willis to the active roster. 

Kirkpatrick, 30, is in the midst of a five-year, $52.5MM deal he inked back in 2017. He’ll remain on the books for 2020, when he’s due a base salary of $9.4MM. Before he season-ending hyperextended knee injury, Kirkpatrick tallied 33 stops, one sack, and one fumble recovery across six games.

Last year, Kirkpatrick allowed just 44.4% of the targets thrown his way to be caught, good for the second-best rate in the league. That was good for second amongst all NFL cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps.

The Bengals were hoping to get him back before the end of the season but, then again, they’re not playing for much at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Activate CB Darqueze Dennard

After a long hiatus, Darqueze Dennard is ready to return for the Bengals. The team, which re-signed the former first-round cornerback in March, activated him on Friday, Ben Baby of ESPN.com tweets.

Dennard will take Cordy Glenn‘s roster spot, with the Bengals having suspended their left tackle. This will provide a key cornerback reinforcement for the 0-6 team, especially with both Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson III out against the Jaguars.

Prior to re-upping with the Bengals, Dennard underwent a left knee surgery that was believed to be minor at the time. But he ended up missing the first six games of the season, due to the stay on Cincinnati’s PUP list.

The Bengals re-signed Dennard, their 2014 first-round pick, to a one-year deal worth $4.5MM. He will now have a chance to make an impression in another contract year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals’ Dre Kirkpatrick To Miss Time

Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick will miss amount a month with a hyperextended knee, sources tell NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The veteran may have a clearer picture after seeing a specialist on Tuesday, but it would be a shock if he plays in Week 7. 

Kirkpatrick was carted off the field during Sunday’s game against the Ravens. That marked the Bengals’ sixth loss of the year and they won’t have an easy time getting their first W against the Jaguars without one of their starting corners in action.

Kirkpatrick had an opportunity to leave in March of 2017, but the Bengals cuffed him with a five-year, $52MM deal. Kirkpatrick’s deal is something of a pay-as-you-go agreement from here on out, but the Bengals should have every reason to keep him, regardless of whether they enter a complete rebuild this offseason.

Last year, Kirkpatrick allowed just 44.4% of the targets thrown his way to be caught, good for the second-best rate in the league. That was good for second amongst all NFL cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

WR A.J. Green Likely Out On Sunday

A.J. Green is set to miss his third straight game. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the Bengals have listed their star wide receiver as doubtful for tomorrow’s game against the Browns.

Rapoport notes that Green believed that he might be able to play through his toe injury, but he was still kept out of practice all week. ESPN’s Josina Anderson echoes (via Twitter) that Green won’t end up playing tomorrow, but he’s aiming for a return next weekend against the Broncos. Anderson adds that Green tested the toe today and saw signs of improvement, and there’s optimism that he’ll soon return to the field.

The 30-year-old was having another productive season, as he hauled in 45 receptions for 687 yards and six touchdowns through eight games. While the Bengals have lost both of their games without Green, the team still has plenty of offensive depth. Tyler Boyd and John Ross will continue to lead the receiver corps, while running backs Giovani Bernard and Joe Mixon will also provide Andy Dalton with reliable targets.

Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com notes that the Bengals also downgraded cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick from questionable to doubtful for tomorrow’s game. The 29-year-old has been battling a shoulder injury throughout the week. Cincinnati will likely turn to some combination of Darqueze DennardTony McRae, and Darius Phillips with Kirkpatrick out of the lineup.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Bucs, Koetter, Bears, Parkey, Bengals, Kirkpatrick

After a promising start, the Buccaneers have spiraled downward. The team is now 3-6, they’ve shuffled between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick multiple times, and the offense is completely in the tank. The defense has been historically bad, and coach Dirk Koetter is firmly on the hot seat.

In a move seemingly made out of desperation, Koetter took back play-calling duties from offensive coordinator Todd Monken for the team’s loss to the Redskins, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Monken had been calling plays all season, and had been widely praised for the Bucs’ initial offensive success. Whatever Koetter was trying to accomplish clearly didn’t work, as the Buccaneers scored just three points today. A move might not be made until the end of the season, but it seems pretty clear Koetter’s time with the organization is coming to an end.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Bears kicker Cody Parkey missed two field goals and two extra points today against Detroit, but Chicago coach Matt Nagy ruled out replacing him after the game, according to ESPN.com. Parkey has now missed five field goals this season, but Nagy flat-out rejected the notion the team would look for a new kicker. Parkey missed a potential game-winner in overtime against the Dolphins a few weeks back.
  • The Bengals were demolished by the Saints at home today, and their already injury depleted defense got even more bad news. Starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was ruled out for the game with a concussion and is currently in the concussion protocol, according to Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com (Twitter link). The Bengals are already down multiple starters on defense, so they can’t afford to be without Kirkpatrick.
  • In case you missed it, the Steelers are expected to place the transition tag on Le’Veon Bell this offseason.

AFC Contract Details: Gilmore, Kirkpatrick

The latest contract details from the AFC (all Twitter links):

  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore‘s five-year, $65MM accord with the Patriots includes an $18MM signing bonus, reports Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. The arrangement comes with a fully guaranteed $31MM through 2018 and $9MM guaranteed for injury only in 2019. It contains up to $500K in per-game roster bonuses each year, as well (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe).
  • Fellow corner Dre Kirkpatrick‘s Bengals deal, worth $52.5MM over a five years, includes $15MM in 2017, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The contract features another $2.5MM in incentives. It’s essentially a pay-as-you agreement after 2018, notes CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who adds that Kirkpatrick got $7MM to sign, $12MM in guarantees, and will make $23.2MM during the first two years of the contract.
  • Guard Ronald Leary‘s pact with the Broncos is worth $36MM over four years and will receive $18.75MM guaranteed, writes Mike Klis of 9NEWS. Leary will collect a $3.5MM signing bonus.
  • Newly re-upped Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills landed a $7MM signing bonus, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
  • Fullback Patrick DiMarco‘s four-year deal with the Bills features $4.8MM in guarantees, more than the originally reported $4MM, per Wilson. It also comes with a $2MM bonus and an annual workout bonus worth $59K.
  • Safety Nate Allen‘s contract with the Dolphins is for one year and $3.4MM, relays Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
  • The Titans gave linebacker Nate Palmer $2.3MM over two years, writes Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. He also received a signing bonus worth $850K.
  • Tight end David Johnson‘s agreement with the Steelers is worth $2.05MM over two years, per Wilson. It includes a $235K signing bonus and a $915K roster bonus.

Bengals To Re-Sign Dre Kirkpatrick

One of the top cornerbacks on the UFA market won’t end up spending much time there. The Bengals agreed to a deal to retain sixth-year corner Dre Kirkpatrick, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The contract is for five years and nearly $52.5MM, reports Paul Dehner Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).Dre Kirkpatrick (Vertical)

This comes after the Bengals put together “strong money” in an offer to hold off the Steelers for Kirkpatrick. The former first-round pick drew interest from the Steelers and Titans but will stay in Cincinnati. The Bengals eased the former Alabama product into a role, developing him as an off-the-bench presence until inserting Kirkpatrick into the lineup in 2015. He’s been a full-time starter for the past two seasons and has nine career interceptions, three of the thefts coming last year.

This should help set the cornerback market, coming after Stephon Gilmore‘s agreement to join the Patriots. Several corners remain on the market, but the top targets are beginning to go. A.J. Bouye has just agreed to join the Jaguars, leaving players like Logan Ryan, Prince Amukamara and Morris Claiborne as the top outside cover men left.

The Kirkpatrick deal could become even more critical to the immediate future of the Bengals’ secondary depending on what happens with Adam Jones. His latest arrest has cast some doubt on another season in Cincinnati despite the Bengals re-signing Jones last year in free agency.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Pushing To Re-Sign Dre Kirkpatrick

The Bengals are attempting to re-sign free agent cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link), who adds Cincinnati has put “strong money” on the table in an attempt to retain its top defensive back.Dre Kirkpatrick (Vertical)

Kirkpatrick, a former first-round pick, has rounded into form over the past two seasons after barely playing during his first three NFL campaigns. After starting 29 games from 2015-16, Kirkpatrick has become the Bengals No. 1 corner, and losing him to free agency would represent a devastating blow to the club’s defense. Cincinnati has spent multiple first-round picks on corners in recent years, but neither Darqueze Dennard nor William Jackson has shown much yet. Veteran Adam Jones, meanwhile, could potentially be released following an offseason arrest.

Kirkpatrick, 27, won’t come cheap, as one report indicates his price tag could approach $11MM. The Titans and Steelers are also thought to be interested in his services, although Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes Pittsburgh probably won’t go above $10MM annually to steal away its division rival’s defender.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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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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