Frostee Rucker

Contract Details: Claiborne, Geno Smith

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

  • Morris Claiborne, CB (Jets): One year, $5MM. $2.5MM base salary. $2MM signing bonus. $31K per game bonus if on 46-man roster. (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the Daily News).
  • Lorenzo Alexander, LB (Bills): Two years, $5.95MM. Cap numbers of $2.55MM (2017) and $3.4MM (2018). $1.1MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $2MM (2017, fully guaranteed) and $2.45MM (2018; $300K fully guaranteed; $1MM guaranteed for injury only). $300K roster bonus due on third day of the 2018 league year and additional per-game roster bonuses of $6K+ in 2018. Incentives up to $850K (2017) and $1.25MM (2018) in playing time and Pro Bowl incentives. (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
  • Geno Smith, QB (Giants): One year, $775K base. $25K workout bonus. $800K in play time incentives. $12.5K per-game roster bonuses. Max value of $2MM. (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
  • EJ Manuel, QB (Raiders): One year, $800K. No guaranteed money. (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com).
  • Kellen Moore, QB (Cowboys): One year, $755K. $100K fully guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Tyson Alualu, DL (Steelers): Two years, $6MM. $1.75MM fully guaranteed. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Kevin Minter, LB (Bengals): One year, $4MM. $2.1MM guaranteed. (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).
  • Frostee Rucker, DE (Cardinals): One year, $1.08MM. $80K fully guaranteed. $500K+ available through incentives. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).

Cardinals Re-Sign DL Frostee Rucker

The Cardinals re-signed defensive lineman Frostee Rucker, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Rucker was ranked as one of the 15 best remaining free agent defensive tackles in our latest update of the rankings. Frostee Rucker (vertical)

Rucker, 34 in September, probably didn’t find much of a market this offseason. He started in 13 games for the Cardinals in 2015, but he was bumped down to a reserve role last season. In 13 games (one start), Rucker had 13 total tackles. In the previous year, he had three sacks, 28 total tackles, and one safety. In both seasons, Pro Football Focus gave him mediocre overall scores, though their advanced metrics weren’t high on him during his prime either.

The Cardinals have some more work to do on the defensive line after losing Calais Campbell to the Jaguars in free agency. Rucker won’t fill a starting position, but he could offer some reserve help at both end and tackle.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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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NFC Notes: Bears, Kaepernick, Cardinals

Rival clubs are “baffled” by some of the Bears‘ free agent signings, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Specifically, Chicago’s decisions to bring in Mike Glennon ($15MM per year), Prince Amukamara ($7.5MM), and Markus Wheaton (two years, $11MM) “raised some eyebrows,” per La Canfora. While the Bears did unsuccessfully target other free agents such as A.J. Bouye, the club made other surprisingly large commitments to cornerback Marcus Cooper and tight end Dion Sims.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • While a strategy is in place to market quarterback Colin Kaepernick to the “right” team, NFL clubs are pessimistic Kaepernick will be able to land a “decent” deal, per La Canfora. Kaepernick, 29, opted out of the final year of his 49ers contract, and San Francisco likely would have released him had he not made that decision. Having said that he’ll stand for the national anthem in 2017, Kaepernick ranked as PFR’s No. 6 free agent quarterback heading into the free agent period.
  • After agreeing to a new deal with the Cardinals, Andre Ellington may be playing more wide receiver than running back in 2017, per Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic (Twitter link). Ellington will spend time at both positions, according to Somers, but Arizona wants to see what the 28-year-old can do at wideout. While he posted 85 receptions during his first two years in the league, Ellington has only managed 27 catches from 2015-16.
  • Frostee Rucker may follow Ellington in re-signing with the Cardinals, as Somers tweets he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Rucker is the next player to land a new contract with Arizona. Rucker, 33, appeared in 13 games (one start) with the Cards in 2016, posting 13 tackles and grading as the league’s No. 96 interior player among 127 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. Rucker earned nearly $1.4MM last year under the terms of an extension he agreed to in 2015.

West Notes: Weddle, Rucker, Cards, Dawson

Longtime Chargers safety Eric Weddle “seems destined to depart San Diego as a free agent” when his contract expires after the 2015 season, says Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Acee, who reported on Monday that the team has told Weddle and agent David Canter that they won’t negotiate a new contract this year, says the bridge between the two sides may not be irreparable. However, head coach Mike McCoy is believed to be siding with management in Weddle’s contract dispute – reportedly rubbing some veteran players the wrong way in the process – and Canter describes the Chargers’ current stance as “disgusting.”

“It’s blatantly obvious after me asking the team time and again to extend us that Eric isn’t wanted,” Canter said. “So it’s time for Eric to move on [to] where he can win and is wanted.”

Weddle is still expected to play out the 2015 season in San Diego, and anything could happen between now and March, when he’s slated to hit the open market. But at this point, the two-time All-Pro appears to be preparing to play his last 16 games with the Chargers.

Here’s more from out of the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • Field Yates of ESPN.com has the details on Frostee Rucker‘s new deal with the Cardinals, tweeting that the extension includes $500K guaranteed, a $1MM base salary for 2016, and $2MM in total new money. Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post provides a few more specifics on Rucker’s contract, which includes bonuses and incentives as well.
  • Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians thinks his team is set at the quarterback position, but Bob McManamon of AZCentral.com makes a case for why the club should consider bringing in another veteran signal-caller.
  • $500K of Phil Dawson‘s $3.134MM base salary for 2015 became fully guaranteed this week, according to Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The veteran 49ers kicker is eligible for free agency after the coming season.
  • While Floyd Kephart is expected to propose a financing plan for a stadium in Oakland, the executive director of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority, Scott McKibben, says his group is prepared to move on to “other options” quickly if a deal with Kephart doesn’t happen, writes Bill Williamson of ESPN.com. “We need to get something done sooner than later,” McKibben said, addressing the possibility of the Raiders remaining in Oakland.

Cardinals Extend Frostee Rucker

The Cardinals have reached an agreement with defensive lineman Frostee Rucker on a one-year contract extension, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rucker’s deal had previously been set to expire after the 2015 season, so the extension will keep him locked up through 2016 instead.

Rucker, 31, re-signed with the Cardinals last March on a two-year, $2.1MM contract, and enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2014. Starting seven of his 15 games for the Cards, the former third-round pick recorded 28 tackles, five sacks, and two forced fumbles. According to Pro Football Focus’s grades (subscription required), Rucker was the 21st-ranked 3-4 defensive end out of 47 qualified players.

Rucker received more playing time in 2014 due in part to a handful of injuries to Cardinals defenders, including a season-ending ACL tear for Darnell Dockett. While Dockett is expected to be healthy for the coming season, he’ll be playing for Arizona’s division rivals in San Francisco, so Rucker currently appears to be penciled in for a regular role once again.

NFC West Notes: 49ers, Rams, Cardinals

Michael Bennett took to SiriusXM NFL Radio and talked to hosts Bruce Murray and Rich Gannon about his future with Seahawks, writes Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. The defensive end revealed that discussions “have been positive,” adding that the team wants him “to be a Seahawk for the rest of (his) career.”

While it certainly sounds like the Seahawks will bring back their defensive end, Bennett admitted that his brother, Martellus Bennett, is still trying to recruit him to come to the Bears. The Bears would have to “open up their wallet” for that to happen, Bennett said.

Let’s take a look at what else is happening around the NFC West…

  • The 49ers did not use their franchise tag on Monday, but could use it next season, Bill Williamson of ESPN.com says. Colin Kaepernick, Michael Crabtree and Aldon Smith are entering the final season of their contracts and could be tagged next offseason.
  • Considering the safety’s connection to St. Louis, Jairus Byrd could potentially be a target of the Rams, writes Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com. Byrd played high school football near St. Louis, and Wagoner believes the prospective free agent would be a great fit for the team. Still, the writer thinks it’s unlikely the Rams would dish out the kind of money that would be required for Byrd’s services.
  • Larry Fitzgerald acknowledged that the restructuring of his contract should allow the Cardinals to re-sign some key free agents, like Karlos Dansby and Patrick Peterson. One interesting name that the receiver also brought up was Frostee Rucker, Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com writes. Fitzgerald said, “Some guys have gaudy numbers. I know his numbers weren’t crazy high. In terms of locker room guy, you can’t ask for a better teammate.”