Despite being released off a defense that ranked 29th last season, Earl Mitchell logged an extensive street free agency tour before signing with the 49ers. After a Broncos offer to Mitchell was reported last night, the new 49er said the Seahawks also made him an offer, per Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com (on Twitter), before he opted for the Bay Area. The Seahawks joined the Falcons as fellow NFC teams pursuing Mitchell, who played four seasons with the Texans and three with the Dolphins. This is his third four-year contract.
That pact came partially because of Mitchell’s history in Houston. New 49ers defensive line coach Jeff Zgonina coached Mitchell with the Texans, and DeMeco Ryans being hired as defensive quality control coach meant a former teammate was going to be on staff. Both hires helped sway Mitchell, per Wagoner (on Twitter). New GM John Lynch also called Mitchell “a priority for us to sign.”
Here’s more from some teams out west, beginning with one of the suitors Mitchell declined:
- The Broncos lost an assistant offensive line coach who was affiliated with the organization for less than a month when John Benton agreed to become the 49ers’ O-line instructor. They plan to fill his position by bringing in a college coach of their top lineman, with former Boise State and Washington offensive line coach Chris Strausser set to succeed Benton, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Strausser coached Broncos center Matt Paradis — and Bears left tackle Charles Leno — during his time in Idaho before spending the past three seasons with the Huskies. Strausser has coached in college for more than 25 years; this will be his first NFL job.
- Spotrac calculates Dontari Poe‘s market value as being just north of $12MM per year, putting the Chiefs defensive tackle on the Gerald McCoy/Michael Brockers plane. But someone like Nick Fairley on a shorter-term, lower-cost deal be more effective, Conor Orr of NFL.com writes. Poe hasn’t made the Pro Bowl since 2014 and only has 2.5 sacks since his six-sack slate that year. He stands to join Brandon Williams, Johnathan Hankins and Bennie Logan among free agent defensive tackles. The Chiefs are negotiating with Poe and Eric Berry, with the franchise tag almost certainly coming into play for one.
- Jason Pierre-Paul could also make it to free agency, although there’s a reasonable chance the Giants tag him. However, should he venture onto the market, Matt Mosley of the Dallas Morning News writes the Broncos or Raiders could be fits. Pass rush isn’t exactly high on the Broncos’ radar, with Von Miller and Shane Ray under contract, but it wasn’t two years ago when Denver drafted Ray in Round 1. However, the Broncos have plenty of greater needs and JPP could aim for Olivier Vernon-type money — which they don’t realistically possess. The Raiders play a 4-3 scheme but obviously have Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin employed, so that would be an interesting fit.