Jeff Locke

Lions To Sign P Jeff Locke

The Lions’ third punting solution will be Jeff Locke, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News tweets. A new punter became necessary after Kasey Redfern tore his ACL and MCL during a botched punt-turned-scramble on Sunday.

Noting Locke’s ability to handle kickoff duties played a key role in this decision, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reported Monday night (via Twitter) the Lions were expected to sign Locke. The Lions worked out Locke on Monday. Locke will venture from one NFC North franchise, the Vikings, to another. The fifth-year punter played four seasons with the Vikings before signing with the Colts in March.

However, the Colts ended up cutting Locke in August. The Lions deployed Redfern only because usual punter Sam Martin suffered an injury over the summer that led to the Lions placing him on their NFI list. Martin is out until at least Week 6 as a result.

The Lions also placed tackle Corey Robinson on IR and signed tackle Emmett Cleary, per Rogers. The Cowboys cut Cleary just before the regular season. The ex-UDFA played in 13 games for Dallas last season and started one.

Colts Cut Punter Jeff Locke

Some people didn’t believe that the Colts were serious about having a punting competition. They ought to be believed now. The team announced on Monday morning that punter Jeff Locke has been released.

The 27-year-old Locke (28 in September) signed with the Colts as a free agent in March after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Vikings. He was given a two-year, $3.45MM deal to take over the for the retired Pat McAfee, but it will instead be undrafted rookie Rigoberto Sanchez handling that responsibility for Indianapolis.

McAfee was among the NFL’s top punters last year while Locke finished toward the bottom of the league in yards per punt and net average. Sanchez, meanwhile, averaged 44.8 yards per punt during his collegiate career at Hawaii.

To his credit, Locke ranked No. 5 in the league last year when it came to pinning opposing teams inside their 20-yard line.

Locke’s deal included $1.25MM in guaranteed cash, so he’ll have a nice chunk of change to hold him over until he finds his next gig.

Contract Details: Garcon, Baker, Klein, Jones

Let’s take a look at some details of the free agent contracts signed today:

  • Chris Baker, DL (Buccaneers): Three years, $15.75MM. $9MM guaranteed. $1MM in sack incentives each season (Twitter link via Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post).
  • Jack Crawford, DL (Falcons): Three years, $10.3MM. $3.75MM in 2017 (Twitter link via Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com).
  • Pierre Garcon, WR (49ers): Two years, $23MM. $17MM guaranteed. Options for 2019 ($6MM), 2020 ($8.9MM), and 2021 ($9.6MM) (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Landry Jones, QB (Steelers): Two years, $4.4MM. $600K signing bonus (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com).
  • A.J. Klein, LB (Saints): Four years, $24MM. $4MM signing bonus. $9.4MM guaranteed. 2020 season will void Klein is on Saints roster on last day of 2019 league year (via Nick Underhill of the Advocate).
  • Jeff Locke, P (Colts): Two years, $3.45MM. $1.25MM guaranteed (Twitter links via Ben Goessling of ESPN.com and Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star).
  • Ryan Mallett, QB (Ravens): One year, $2MM. $1MM signing bonus (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Akeem Spence, DL (Lions): Three years, $9MM. $3.5MM guaranteed. $1MM available via escalators (Twitter link via Peliserro).
  • D.J. Swearinger, S (Redskins): Three years, $13.5MM. $9MM guaranteed (Twitter link via Kinkhabwala).

Colts, Jeff Locke Agree To Deal

The Colts have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent punter Jeff Locke, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The 27-year-old Locke spent the first four seasons of his career with the Vikings, who had interest in re-signing him, according to Tomasson. He’ll instead take over for the retired Pat McAfee in Indianapolis. While McAfee was among the NFL top punters last year, Locke finished toward the bottom of the league in yards per punt and net average. However, he did rank fifth overall when it came to pinning opposing teams inside their 20-yard line.

PFR’s Dallas Robinson rated Locke as the top punter in a thin free agent class.

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.

Read more

Extra Points: Colts, Okung, Panthers, Ngata

Restricted free agent defensive tackle Zach Kerr has yet to be tendered an offer by the Colts and an NFL source tells Stephen Holder of the Indy Star that indications are he won’t be tendered at all. Kerr’s playing time vacillated last year but he still finished out with 2.5 sacks. Since joining the Colts as a UDFA in 2014, he has played nose tackle, defensive tackle, and defensive end. In related news, the Colts have decided against tendering an offer to linebacker Josh McNary.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, 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. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

[RELATED: Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense]

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. Chandler Jones
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Jason Pierre-Paul
  4. Nick Perry
  5. Jabaal Sheard
  6. James Harrison
  7. John Simon
  8. DeMarcus Ware
  9. Lorenzo Alexander
  10. Andre Branch
  11. Julius Peppers
  12. Charles Johnson
  13. Datone Jones
  14. Mario Addison
  15. Dwight Freeney

The Cardinals have already made it abundantly clear that Chandler Jones will see the franchise tag this offseason, and Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul are also candidates to be tagged by the Chargers and Giants, respectively. If the latter two are able to hit the open market unfettered, however, they both figure to break the bank. Ingram, Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 edge defender, could be a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, while JPP will be looking for a long-term commitment after signing consecutive one-year deals.Chandler Jones (vertical)

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 the players with youth still on their side, Packers edge defenders Nick Perry and Datone Jones figure to interest different clubs, as Perry is a better match for a 3-4 defense while Jones needs to restart his career as a 4-3 defensive end. 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. James Harrison and Charles Johnson, meanwhile, look like good bets to return to Steelers and Panthers, respectively, 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. Kawann Short
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Johnathan Hankins
  4. Brandon Williams
  5. Dontari Poe
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Bennie Logan
  8. Nick Fairley
  9. Alan Branch
  10. Jared Odrick
  11. Karl Klug
  12. Terrell McClain
  13. Lawrence Guy
  14. Earl Mitchell
  15. Stacy McGee

Unlike the edge defender market, the 2017 cadre of interior defensive lineman shouldn’t be overly affected by the franchise tender. Head coach Ron Rivera recently confessed the Panthers will “probably” have to use the tag on Kawann Short, but the rest of the defensive tackles listed here should be able to hit the open market. Of the remaining defenders, Campbell is the best overall player, but given that he’s entering his age-31 season, he may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

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, Earl Mitchell), and run stoppers (Karl Klug, 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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North Notes: Ravens, Lions, Browns, Vikings

The Ravens are relishing the presence of three-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle, whom they signed to a four-year, $26MM deal in March, as Clifton Brown of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes. “If he has anything to tell me I’m always listening,” said fellow safety Lardarius Webb. “He’s going to be big for this defense – for this team.” Webb added that Weddle is “being himself and were loving it,” also referring to the acquisition of the longtime Charger as a “great move.” Head coach John Harbaugh agrees, stating, “He fits in with how we do things around here perfectly. I give (general manager) Ozzie (Newsome) all the credit in the world. That was a great signing.”

More from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Still-unsigned linebacker Mike Neal visited the Lions in March, but they no longer have interest in the 28-year-old, reports Justin Rogers of MLive.com. As Rogers points out, the Lions picked up Wallace Gilberry in free agency and addressed both defensive end and outside linebacker via the draft, thereby lessening the need for Neal. The Lions are of course quite familiar with Neal, who has so far spent his entire career (2010-15) with the division-rival Packers. PFR’s Dallas Robinson rates Neal as the sixth-best defensive free agent remaining on the market.
  • Browns coach Hue Jackson says he’s not ready to name a starting quarterback coming out of OTAs, Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer tweets. Signs are pointing toward Robert Griffin III, though, per Tony Grossi of ESPN.com. Whether veteran Josh McCown makes the team will depend on how Griffin and third-round rookie Cody Kessler fare in the coming months, Grossi opines.
  • The Vikings haven’t ruled out adding another punter to compete with incumbent Jeff Locke, special teams coach Mike Priefer said Wednesday (link via Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune). Minnesota tried out a pair of rookie punters last month, and neither signed with the Vikings or any other team. That could change, however, according to Priefer. “We had two good, young rookie punters at minicamp who performed very, very well so we know those guys are out there if we need to go that route,” commented Priefer. As for Locke, 26, he’s entering a contract year after ranking dead last in yards per punt (41.6) and third from the bottom in net yardage (37.8) in 2015.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

NFC Notes: Locke, Seahawks, Cardinals, Bucs

A fifth-round pick in 2013, Jeff Locke looks to be set to face some competition to finish out his contract with the Vikings. Minnesota is expected to add rookie punter Taylor Symmank on Monday, Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The Vikings brought in Symmank and Nick O’Toole to compete at their rookie minicamp this weekend, but O’Toole left the Twin Cities on Sunday, while Symmank looks to be staying. Symmank averaged 46 yards per punt last season at Texas Tech. After Locke’s per-punt figure hovered at 44.2 yards in each of his first two seasons, it slunk to an NFL-worst 41.6 in 2015.

Symmank told Tomasson he’s been asked to take a physical with the Vikings, who currently have 89 players on their roster. Locke has a nonguaranteed $721K due this season.

Check out the latest from around the league as teams continue to assemble their 90-man rosters.

  • The Seahawks envision former Notre Dame running back/wide receiver C.J. Prosise becoming a potential replacement for Fred Jackson as the team’s third-down back, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times notes. Seattle initially placed the third-round pick with the running backs to start its rookie minicamp but shuttled him into receiver drills on Sunday. Converted to running back before the 2015 season, Prosise totaled 1,337 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns in 2015. “I’ve never had anyone that was a receiver that went to running back that could do both. You commit one way or the other,” Pete Carroll told media, including Condotta. “… It’s a real prize for us. I don’t really have a guy to compare him to at this point.”
  • Also from Condotta: Rees Odhiambo will compete with Mark Glowinski for the Seahawks‘ starting left guard position, and Carroll plans to use Jarran Reed at both nose tackle and 3-technique. “It’s just such a crucial pick for us,” Carroll said. “Jarran can really jump right in and give us the stout play, he’s just got a great savvy for the running game. He’ll play both spots, for sure.”
  • The Cardinals are planning to replace the still-unsigned Jerraud Powers with Justin Bethel, but given that third-round pick Brandon Williams has only played the position for one season after playing running back from 2011-14, Arizona could use a veteran corner to help lead Patrick Peterson‘s cadre of sidekicks, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic writes. Beyond Bethel and Peterson, no Cardinal cornerback has more than one year of NFL experience. Joining Powers among the top unattached corners right now are fellow former Cardinal Antonio Cromartie, Leon Hall and Phillip Adams.
  • Although Ryan Smith lined up at cornerback in 2015 for North Carolina Central, he’s expected to work at safety for the Buccaneers, Roy Cummings of Today’s Pigskin writes. The Bucs added Vernon Hargreaves III in the first round after signing Brent Grimes in an attempt to fortify a cornerback corps that helped yield 31 touchdown passes last season and allow the second-highest quarterback rating in the league. The 5-foot-11, 198-pound Smith arrived in Tampa as the No. 108 overall pick and will compete with the likes of Chris Conte and Keith Tandy for playing time on the Bucs’ back line. Cummings identifies Bradley McDougald as a starter at either the free or strong safety spots, with his complement undecided. Pro Football Focus graded Conte as the Bucs’ best safety last season and tabbed the now-27-year-old veteran as its No. 32 safety.

Rookie Notes: Jets, Lions, Vikings, Packers

Terron Beckham, the cousin of All-Pro wideout Odell Beckham Jr., got a workout with the Jets this past week. Despite having not played football since high school, Beckham believes he has the skill set to be an NFL running back. However, he’ll first have to overcome rumors of his steroid use.

“It’s tough because I work so hard. I worked that hard all my life. And you can’t just change people’s minds,” Beckham told Darryl Slater of NJ.com. “If they feel like, ‘What you look like or what you do, you can’t do that without having whatever substances.’ It’s crazy. All I have to say is that I’m here, and they’ve done their tests or whatever. I’m cool. I’ve never had to do anything, and I’m fine. I have great genetics. I work hard. And that’s all I have to say about that. I just kind of leave [those questions] alone now. I used to try to explain everything, but I’m like, ‘I’m just blessed and I work hard.’”

Let’s take a look at some more rookie notes from around the league…

  • Vikings punter Jeff Locke isn’t guaranteed to make the squad, as the organization brought in a pair of rookie punters to compete for the job. As Mark Craig of the Star Tribune writes, Texas Tech’s Taylor Symmank and West Virginia’s Nick O’Toole will first have to compete with each other. “Talking with [coach Mike Zimmer], he said Jeff has one more year on his contract and we’ll see what happens,” O’Toole said. “He said for me and Taylor to come in and compete and whoever is the better punter this weekend will be signed and that guy is going to compete with Jeff. And that guy could win the job or he could just have his name out there for other teams to see.”
  • Packers general manager Ted Thompson made the right choice by not drafting UCLA linebacker Myles Jack, writes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Injuries concerns led the Packers to select nose tackle Kenny Clark in the first round, while Jack fell to the second round.
  • Despite using a first-round pick on offensive lineman Taylor Decker, there’s uncertainty in the Lions organization regarding which position the Ohio State product will ultimately play. “Like most positions that we have, we want to really find out what they’re all about from a physical standpoint within our system,” said head coach Jim Caldwell (via ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein). “We certainly know outside of it, so we’ll work fundamentals, techniques. Most of those guys are guys that have some flexibility involved in what they do and how they do it, and you have to at that position. So, we want to see.”