Duke Ihenacho

Minor NFL Transactions: 9/5/17

Today’s minor moves:

Atlanta Falcons

Chicago Bears

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Giants Reduce Roster To 80

The Giants have begun the process of getting their roster to the league-mandated maximum of 53 players. The club announced the following moves today:

Placed on IR:

Waived:

Giants To Sign Duke Ihenacho

The Giants have agreed to a deal with free agent safety Duke Ihenacho, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Duke Ihenacho

A five-year veteran, Ihenacho spent the previous three seasons as a member of one of the Giants’ NFC East rivals, the Redskins, with whom he appeared in 19 games and started 11. The majority of those appearances (15) and starts (10) came in 2016 for the 27-year-old Ihenacho, who amassed 60 tackles and ranked 78th in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 90 qualified safeties.

The Giants have one of the premier strong safeties in the NFL, Landon Collins, as well as a prospective starter at free safety in Darian Thompson. With Thompson on the shelf for the majority of 2016, his rookie year, on account of a Lisfranc injury, Andrew Adams started in 13 games and graded as PFF’s 39th-best safety. Now, he and Ihenacho figure to serve as the Giants’ top reserves at the back of their defense.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Bucs, Saints, Hankins

We heard earlier this month that the Buccaneers have “loose plans” for Doug Martin, which seemed to substantiate a prior report that the team was considering retaining their long-time running back. Martin, who will be suspended for the first three games of next season as part of a four-game ban he received in 2016 for violating the league’s PED policy, recently completed a voluntary rehab stint and met with head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht a week before the scouting combine. Koetter and Licht both had nice things to say about Martin, but they were still vague on his future with the club.

As Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times writes, there are a number of factors working against Martin’s return, including his injury history, the above-referenced suspension, and the fact that his salary is no longer guaranteed as a result of the suspension. Cummings believes the team would be wise to select a running back from the deep class of RBs in the 2017 draft, and if the Bucs land one of this year’s top prospects, that might spell the end of Martin’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

Now for more from the NFC. We took a swing around the AFC earlier today:

  • Roy Cummings of Florida Football Insiders says that the Buccaneersrecent signing of Nick Folk suggests that the team is prepared to move on from Roberto Aguayo, though Tampa Bay could carry two kickers next season if need be and have Aguayo serve as a kickoff specialist if he cannot beat out Folk for full-time duties. Folk recorded just 39 touchbacks in 2016, the third-worst mark in the league, though he and Aguayo averaged the same distance average on kickoffs.
  • The Saints need to bolster their pass rush in 2017, and after signing Alex Okafor earlier this week, they are now meeting with one of the better pass-rushing prospects in this year’s draft class. As Herbie Teope of The Times-Picayune writes, the club is meeting with Kansas State DE Jordan Willis today. Willis is considered a second- or third-round prospect, and New Orleans has been monitoring him in recent months.
  • Free agent safety Duke Ihenacho will apparently not return to the Redskins in 2017. As Peter Hailey of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes, Ihenacho fired off several cryptic tweets over the past couple of days indicating that his time with Washington is over. Given that the Redskins recently acquired D.J. Swearinger and plan to move Su’a Cravens back to safety, Ihenacho’s departure makes sense.
  • Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com believes there is currently a 50-50 chance that DT Johnathan Hankins returns to the Giants. He also hears that Big Blue wants to add a physical power back to complement Paul Perkins, and LeGarrette Blount could be an option in that regard.
  • Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press examines seven free agents still on the market that could benefit the Lions, including LB Zach Brown and DE Chris Long.

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.

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Washington Re-Signs Colt McCoy

8:19pm: It’s a three-year, $9MM deal for McCoy, with a $1.8MM signing bonus, per Master Tefatsion of the Washington Post (on Twitter).

3:33pm: Washington announced that it has re-signed safety Duke Ihenacho. The team also confirmed new deals for McCoy, Golston, and Mason Foster.

7:44am: Washington and quarterback Colt McCoy have agreed on a new deal, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). McCoy, of course, will serve as the backup to Kirk Cousins in 2016. McCoy’s deal is for three years, but can void to two, a source tells John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The new pact gives him a little more security than he had on his last deal."<strong

For his career, McCoy has appeared in 34 games while making 25 starts for the Browns, 49ers, and Washington. Over the last two years with Washington, the Texas product has taken the field six times and started four games, all of which came in 2014. Late last month, head coach Jay Gruden indicated that he wanted to keep McCoy, and Washington got it done today.

In other Washington news, the club has reached a new deal with nose tackle Kedric Golston, Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle tweets. The deal will be worth $1MM with a $985K base. He’ll get a $20K irst game roster bonus with up to $60K in incentives that are tied to playing time.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA Tender Signings & Decisions: 3/7/16

When teams assign first- or second-round tenders to their restricted free agents, or when those RFAs accept the tender, we’ll devote full news stories to those moves. For news concerning everyone else getting the lower tenders, we’ll round it up in the space below, with the latest updates added to the top of the list throughout the day….

  • Fullback James Develin announced that he is returning to the Patriots on a one-year deal, as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com tweets. The Patriots did not plan to tender Develin an offer at $1.6MM, so the two sides worked out a reduced one-year pact (link).
  • Defensive tackle Stefan Charles will not be tendered an offer by the Bills, per John Kryk of The Toronto Sun (on Twitter). Defensive tackle Corbin Bryant, wide receiver Chris Hogan, and tackle Jordan Mills were tendered offers, however. There could be some teams interested in Hogan, Tyler Dunne of The Buffalo News tweets, and that low tender might not ward of interested clubs.
  • Washington has tendered a qualifying offer to restricted free agent Duke Ihenacho, a source tells John Keim of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Fullback Jorvorskie Lane will not be getting a tender from the Buccaneers, Greg Auman of The Tampa Bay Times tweets.
  • The Panthers will not tender defensive end Frank Alexander an offer or re-sign him, a source tells Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer (on Twitter). Alexander must sit out until November thanks to his third drug suspension.

Washington Signs CB Will Blackmon

Washington has announced the signing of cornerback Will Blackmon, as Mike Jones of the Washington Post tweets. Blackmon will take the roster spot formerly held by safety Duke Ihenacho, who is being placed on IR.

The Jaguars released the 30-year-old in late February and he hooked on with the Seahawks in March. However, on September 5th, Seattle sent him packing too. Blackmon spent the last two seasons with the Jaguars and was one of the top three cornerbacks for the team during his time there, starting 12 of 23 games. His 2014 campaign was cut short by a broken finger, which landed him on the injured reserve list with about two months left in the season. In 2013, Blackmon graded out as the 22nd best cornerback in the league according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Ihenacho’s season ended early when he dislocated and fractured his left wrist in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.

NFC Notes: Ihenacho, Washington, Brinkley

Washington safety Duke Ihenacho has been watching NBA free agency going crazy, and took to Twitter to express his opinions about minimum contracts for NFL players. Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post captured his tweets, where Ihenacho writes that NFL players have the highest risk of injury and brain trauma, and that the NFL is the richest league, and therefore the minimum salary for players should be $1MM.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC:

  • Washington D.C. wants their NFL franchise to return to the District, but they are unlikely to get support from the Obama administration as long as the team still bears a racial epitaph for their name and logo, writes Jonathan O’Connell of the Washington Post. The National Park Service owns the land beneath Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, and they are unlikely to accommodate the construction of a new stadium, according to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.
  • Former Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley decided to sign a two-year deal with the Cowboys this offseason, and the top reason for choosing Dallas is the opportunity to play for defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, writes Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News“I played in Minnesota for five years and I remember when he was in Chicago, just thinking about those defenses and the guys with the takeaways, a lot of takeaways,” Brinkley said. “You think about Charles Tillman, you think about Brian Urlacher, you think about Lance Briggs, you think about Tim Jennings, all those guys.”
  • Even though Deone Bucannon was a first round pick of the Cardinals in 2014, Matt Miller of Bleacher Report (on Twitter) doesn’t see the Washington State product having a great career at safety. The draft expert feels that Bucannon should stay at linebacker, where he played the bulk of last season. In 16 games, the Washington State product racked up 86 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and three pass deflections.
  • Former Buccaneers linebacker Brandon Magee has been swinging the bat for the Boston Red Sox Class A affiliate, but he told Pro Football Talk that if an NFL team called him, he would give up baseball to try out, reports Mike Florio. Magee was released from the Buccaneers in March, and had also spent time with the Browns.
  • The Bears hired John Fox in the hope that he could quickly turn the organization around, writes Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The turnaround starts with the attitude of every player on the roster, and the veterans are already buying in. “You go out and get John Fox and Vic Fangio and Adam Gase — you’re sending a message to every player in that locker room that we’re not messing around,” said Jared Allen“We want to win. We want to win now. We certainly have the talent to win. So, get your heads right and let’s go play ball.”

East Notes: Eli, Washington, Dolphins

After a year in Ben McAdoo‘s offense, Eli Manning ditched the indecisiveness that plagued him at last June’s minicamp, writes the New York Post’s Paul Schwartz.

The 34-year-old Manning worked with baseball-based mechanics this offseason and has a more confident aura after a 2014 offseason — and some of the regular season — mired by inconsistency.

It is lively, very lively,’’ Giants coach Tom Coughlin noted to reporters on Manning’s throwing arm. “He has worked hard at that. You know Eli is feeling good about himself when he says ‘I feel like I got good juice on it.'”

Here are some other notes from the Eastern divisions on Saturday morning.

  • Planning on an extended absence from Will Beatty after the left tackle’s recent pectoral injury, the Giants may be in better shape on their interior. According to Schwartz, Big Blue has prized 2014 acquisition Geoff Schwartz back healthy after an injury-marred season and Weston Richburg at his natural center spot following a rookie slate playing guard alongside the woeful J.D. Walton. The Giants now have former first-round right tackle Justin Pugh at guard despite Beatty’s setback. At tackle, however, the team remains thin. With newly signed Ereck Flowers now on the left side with little room for a learning curve, sub-optimal swing man Marshall Newhouse is slotting at right tackle for the time being.
  • Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com expects Jeron Johnson to supplant Duke Ihenacho as Washington‘s starting strong safety despite Ihenacho’s frequent work with the first team during minicamp. While anticipating the fifth-year ex-Seahawks reserve to garner his first significant role after signing a two-year, $4MM deal in March, Tandler expects Washington’s incumbent at the position, Ihenacho, to safely make the team after previously envisioning the former undrafted Ssan Jose State cog on the roster bubble.
  • The Dolphins remain interested in Evan Mathis, but they haven’t made a push for the now-unretired John Moffitt, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. With solid performers at tackle and center but issues at guard, the Fins have yet to make an offer for Mathis. Although they figure to be on the front line in this rare June pursuit of an All-Pro talent.