Jarret Johnson

AFC North Notes: Browns, Hartline, Johnson

While there are more notable wide receivers scheduled to hit free agency next week, former Dolphin Brian Hartline may be the best player currently available at the position. Hartline is getting a head start on the rest of the receiver market, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk, who writes that the veteran wideout is visiting the Browns today. Cleveland certainly makes sense as a fit for Hartline — he’s from Canton and played his college ball at Ohio State, while the Browns will be without Josh Gordon for the 2015 season, and have pass catchers like Miles Austin and Jordan Cameron facing free agency.

As we wait to see if anything comes of Hartline’s meeting with the Browns, let’s check in on a few more items from across the AFC North….

  • A league source tells Mary Kay Cabot of the Northeast Ohio Media Group that the Browns are comfortable heading into the season with Josh McCown as their bridge quarterback until they find their man of the future. For his part, McCown would not divulge what Cleveland told him about the club’s plans.
  • Even though they have $50MM+ in cap room at their disposal, the Browns aren’t expected to be major players in free agency this month, writes Tony Grossi of ESPNCleveland.com.
  • Veteran edge defender Jarret Johnson, who announced his retirement from the NFL last month, will officially do so as a Raven, after signing a one-day contract with the club, tweets Brett Hollander of WBAL Radio. Johnson, who was officially released by San Diego last week, spent the first nine years of his career with the Ravens before joining the Chargers in 2012.

Jarret Johnson Announces Retirement

WEDNESDAY, 4:28pm: The Chargers have officially cut the retired Johnson from their roster, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

TUESDAY, 3:45pm: Longtime edge defender Jarret Johnson has announced his retirement today via an Instagram post. A veteran of 12 NFL seasons, the 33-year-old Johnson spent the first nine years of his career with the Ravens before joining the Chargers in 2012. His statement reads:

“Today I am announcing my retirement from the game I love. I lived a dream which few can say but it’s time to move on. I want to thank the Chargers organization for giving me a home these past three years. I have nothing but respect for the players, coaches, front office staff and fans that were apart of me and my families lives. It’s been a great ride!! I also want to thank my Baltimore family. Where I leaned to be a pro and conduct yourself like a warrior on the field. Where I spent 9 of the best years of my life.”

Originally a fourth-round pick in the 2003 draft, Johnson eventually started 132 games in his career, racking up 349 tackles and 25.5 sacks. His best season came in 2009, when he started all 16 games, picking six sacks, two interceptions, and a forced fumble. Johnson displayed valuable versatility during his career, lining up at both outside linebacker and on the defensive line. And for what it’s worth, he was always regarded as a team leader in both Baltimore and San Diego.

Johnson was entering the final season of his contract. The Chargers will free up $5MM in cap space due to his retirement, but will carry $2.5MM in dead money. Johnson becomes the third notable Charger to retire this offseason, following offensive lineman Jeromey Clary and Nick Hardwick.

AFC Links: McCourty, Chargers, Titans

Ravens wideout Steve Smith will be facing off against the Patriots this weekend, and the veteran acknowledged that he was pursued by New England during the offseason.

“Yeah, I talked to [Bill Belichick] and it was a great opportunity as well,” Smith told Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun. “Anytime you have an opportunity to go to some teams, it’s always good. When your phone stops ringing, you need to start thinking about if I’m in the right profession.”

Let’s see what else is going on around the AFC…

Chargers Notes: Royal, Johnson, Freeney, Rivers

A win yesterday would have secured the Chargers the sixth seed in the AFC, but the team’s offense couldn’t get anything going against the Chiefs, losing the game and ceding that final playoff spot to the Ravens. That gives the Chargers an early and unwelcome head-start on their offseason. Here’s the latest out of San Diego:

  • Chargers wide receiver Eddie Royal earned a $250K bonus yesterday by surpassing 700 receiving yards on the season, per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune (via Twitter).
  • Jarret Johnson‘s cap hit will jump from $3.5MM this year to $7.5MM in 2015, which raises some questions about his future with the Chargers. Even if San Diego decides to hang onto him, Johnson isn’t sure whether or not he’ll continue his playing career — the 33-year old tells Gehlken, “If I hung it up, I’ll hang it up happy” (Twitter link).
  • Another Chargers linebacker, Dwight Freeney, also has an uncertain future, telling Gehlken that he’ll give it about a month before deciding on his next move (Twitter link). Freeney will turn 35 in February, and doesn’t have a contract yet for next season. If the veteran pass rusher decides to retire, he’ll have a future in television, says Gehlken.
  • Philip Rivers is headed into the final year of his contract, and San Diego is expected to try to extend him this offseason. However, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune says the Chargers shouldn’t even bother if they don’t intend to also invest heavily in protecting their franchise quarterback.

AFC Notes: Colts, Graham, Owusu, Guy

The Colts have worked out a number of safeties this week looking to improve their secondary. Among those they have considered are Chris Clemons, DeJon Gomes, M.D. Jennings, Jerron McMillian, Bacarri Rambo, Jamarca Sanford, reports Howard Balzer of LockerDome.com (via Twitter).

  • The Jets have brought in a few receivers as they attempt to add depth to the group. The lackluster group stands out even more when free agent addition Eric Decker is out with injury. The team has worked out former Bill T.J. Graham, reports Balzer (via Twitter).
  • The Jets also had former Charger and 49er Chris Owusu in for a visit, reports Balzer (via Twitter). However, Balzer notes that Owusu never had a tryout with the team.
  • The Ravens have recently added defensive linemen Lawrence Guy to the team, but they first sought a seal of approval from their former linebacker Jarret Johnson, reports Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. The Chargers recently waived Guy, and Johnson recommended him to the Ravens, who are dealing with injuries along the defensive line.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Pats, Chargers, Moreno

The Ravens’ free agent activity has been characterized by value signings, writes ESPN.com’s Jamison Hensley. The team was able to sign four starters and their top kick returner without breaking the bank. Additionally, the Ravens will actually be paying Steve Smith less ($4.5MM) than the Panthers ($5MM) are on the hook for this season.

Other AFC news and notes:

Jarret Johnson Agrees To Pay Cut

Chargers linebacker Jarret Johnson has agreed to take a pay cut, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (in an article by Eric Williams of ESPN.com). Johnson was scheduled to earn a base salary of $4MM in 2014. $2MM of that will now be converted into a signing bonus, and he will earn a $1MM base salary, saving the Chargers $2MM in total 2014 cap space, tweets Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego.

Johnson, 32, joined the Chargers on a four-year deal in 2012, after spending the first nine seasons of his career with the Ravens. In 2013, he started nine games, accruing 33 tackles and three sacks. Despite those pedestrian numbers, he was still able to rate as the 18th-best 3-4 outside linebacker, per Pro Football Focus.