John Brown

Bills To Sign WR John Brown

The Bills didn’t end up landing Antonio Brown, but they are bringing in a receiver. Buffalo is going to sign John Brown, a source told Peter Schrager of NFL Network (Twitter link). 

Adam Schefter of ESPN.com followed up with a tweet reporting that Brown will get $27MM over three years. Brown comes to the Bills from the Ravens, where he spent the 2018 season after inking a one year deal. Brown will provide an immediate upgrade to the Bills’ weak receiving corp, and will be a great asset for Josh Allen as he continues to develop as a passer. Buffalo’s leading receiver last year was Zay Jones, which wasn’t going to cut it moving forward.

Brown will provide a much-needed deep threat for Buffalo’s offense, and he’s still one of the fastest receivers in the league. Brown was always high on talent, and showed flashes during his years with the Cardinals. He broke out with 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns in 2015, but struggled with injuries and inconsistency the next couple of years.

He got off to a really hot start in Baltimore, and revitalized his career last year. He showed an instant connection with Joe Flacco, and had at least 85 yards in four of his first seven games. His production really dropped off the second half of the season, but only because Lamar Jackson took over at quarterback and the team stopped throwing deep as much. Brown is still only 28, and will immediately slide in as Buffalo’s best receiver.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

La Canfora’s Latest: Mathieu, Ravens, Bucs

While the Texans are attempting to retain Tyrann Mathieu, both the Ravens and Buccaneers have “serious interest” in the veteran defensive back, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Baltimore just released fellow safety Eric Weddle on Tuesday, while Tampa Bay has been in need of secondary help for years. Mathieu inked a one-year, $7MM deal with Houston last year, but he’s expected to receive a significant raise on his next contract. Per La Canfora, Mathieu should be able to collect $24MM over the first two years of a new deal.

Here’s more from JLC:

  • Overall, the safety market is not expected to be as depressed as it was a year ago, when Mathieu, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston, and others were forced to settle for one-year pacts. Earl Thomas will set the market and is asking for $13MM annually, per La Canfora. Meanwhile, former Giants safety Landon Collins — now on the market after New York declined to franchise him — will likely come in below Thomas, and Bears defender Adrian Amos is searching for $9-10MM per year.
  • While there aren’t any clear-cut, No. 1 wideouts available this offseason, slot receivers are aplenty, and they should get paid, says JLC. Golden Tate is looking for $13MM per season, while Adam Humphries may be targeting $10MM annually and has already been deemed too expensive to return to the Buccaneers. Cole Beasley could also get $10MM per year, while John Brown wants $8-9MM per season.
  • Offensive tackle Daryl Williams is expected to reach the open market, and La Canfora reports Williams’ price has already “soared” above where the Panthers are comfortable paying. Both the Bills and Giants are expected to target Williams, and both connections make sense. Buffalo employs former Carolina staffer Brandon Beane as its general manager, while ex-Panthers GM Dave Gettleman is in charge in New York.
  • The Raiders have already been mentioned as a potential suitor for Chargers receiver Tyrell Williams, and the Colts could also join the fray, per La Canfora. Williams is expected to earn more than $12MM per year on his new deal.

North Notes: Packers, LaFleur, Ravens, Brown

It’s a four-year deal with a fifth-year option for the Packers and Matt LaFleur, a source tells Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). LaFleur is a fast riser who is becoming a head coach for the very first time, but he appears to have solid job security in Green Bay. The financial terms of the deal are not yet known, but it would not be a surprise if he was on the lower end of the scale given his age and lack of experience at this level.

Here’s more from the North divisions:

  • Ravens wide receiver John Brown says he’d love to return in 2019, but he’s unlikely to accept a one-year deal this offseason (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic). Brown, 29 in April, had a bit of a resurgence in Baltimore with 42 catches for 715 yards and five touchdowns in 2018.
  • Ozzie Newsome is transitioning out of his role as the Ravens‘ GM, but he isn’t retiring, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic hears. Newsome will remain under contract with the Ravens for the next couple of years, though his title and duties are not yet known. Per the succession plan, longtime assistant Eric DeCosta will take over as GM from here.
  • The Lions parted ways with VP of football operations Matt Harriss, who was touted as a salary cap expert. To take his place, the Ravens have hired Mike Disner. Disner spent the last six seasons with the Cardinals and was directly involved in their cap planning, so he appears to be a natural replacement.

Extra Points: Meredith, Curry, Ravens, Vikes

Bears restricted free agent wide receiver Cameron Meredith took a visit with the Colts today, and he’s expected to meet with at least one more (unidentified) team, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Chicago somewhat surprisingly used an original round tender on Meredith, so it won’t receive any compensation if it decides not to match an offer sheet for the former undrafted free agent. Meredith, 25, is coming off a torn ACL, so the Colts (and the mystery club) likely want to check the condition of his affected knee. In 2016, Meredith posted 66 receptions and 888 yards in only 10 starts, so he could potentially be a bargain if he gets away from the Bears.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Defensive lineman Vinny Curry confirmed he had the chance to stick with the Eagles (almost assuredly at a reduced rate), but he ultimately secured interest from as many as seven teams before signing with the Buccaneers, according to SiriusXM NFL Radio (Twitter link). Curry joined fellow former Philadelphia defender Beau Allen in inking three-year deals with Tampa Bay, and their respective signings led the Bucs to cut ties with veteran defensive end Robert Ayers. The Eagles reportedly attempted both to trade Curry or lower his 2018 salary before releasing him, as his presence was made superfluous by Philadelphia’s acquisition of Michael Bennett.
  • New Ravens wide receiver John Brown was diagnosed with the sickle cell trait back in 2016, but he claims that’s not impacting his health. “I’m healthy. I’m feeling good,” said Brown, who signed a one-year, $5MM deal with Baltimore (link via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). “Sickle cell was never part of the problem.” Brown set career highs with 65 receptions for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns for Arizona in 2015, but has not reprised that performance in the last two years. Brown will team with fellow free agent addition Michael Crabtree to give Baltimore a new-look wide receiver corps in 2018.
  • The Broncos are still searching the free agent market for a tight end, per Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link), who suggests the recently-released Marcedes Lewis could get a look from John Elway & Co. Denver lost blocking tight end Virgil Green to the Chargers last week, and didn’t pursue any of the market’s top tight ends such as Jimmy Graham, Trey Burton, or Tyler Eifert. At present, the Broncos’ TE depth chart is topped by Jeff Heuerman and Jake Butt, but free agents that could speculatively be of interest may include Martellus Bennett, Antonio Gates, Luke Willson, or Brent Celek.
  • Kicker Kai Forbath became the first Vikings unrestricted free agent to re-sign with the club earlier today, and Minnesota still has interest in retaining a number of UFAs, tweets Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Cornerbacks Terence Newman and Marcus Sherels are on the Vikings’ radar, as are offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles and defensive lineman Shamar Stephen. Minnesota could have competition for the latter two, as Sirles has taken a visit with the Panthers, while Stephen was hosted by the division-rival Lions.

Ravens To Sign WR John Brown

The Ravens have agreed to terms with free agent wideout John Brown, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Baltimore was reportedly in advanced talks with Brown, a former Arizona Cardinal, as of earlier today.

Brown will receive a one-year deal, per Adam Caplan of SiriusXM (Twitter links). The base value of his new contract is $5MM, but he’ll have the chance to max out at $6.5MM via incentives.

Baltimore is in dire need of wide receivers, as Mike Wallace is a free agent while fellow veteran Jeremy Maclin has been mentioned as a candidate for release. With limited cap space, however, the Ravens were forced to sit and watch as top-tier pass-catchers such as Allen Robinson, Sammy Watkins, and Marqise Lee came off the board.

Brown is coming off the worst season of his NFL tenure, as injuries limited him to just ten games. During that time, Brown managed only 21 receptions for 299 yards and two scores. As recently as 2015, however, the now 27-year-old Brown put up 65 catches for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns, and he’s reportedly healthy.

Heading into free agency, PFR ranked Brown as the 10th-best available wide receiver. He reportedly generated interest from at least seven clubs before inking his pact with the Ravens.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens, WR John Brown In Talks

The Ravens may have found the speedy wide receiver they’ve been looking for. John Brown is “pretty far down the road” in negotiations with Baltimore, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). 

Brown is coming off the worst season of his NFL tenure, as injuries limited him to just ten games. During that time, Brown managed only 21 receptions for 299 yards and two scores. As recently as 2015, however, the now 27-year-old Brown put up 65 catches for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns, and he’s reportedly healthy.

The Ravens, at one point, were connected to Jarvis Landry. Brown represents a cheaper, though less accomplished option for the slot. One could argue that he’s also quicker out of the gate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, 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. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they 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 are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2018:

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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Latest On Cardinals’ Free Agent WRs

Two Cardinals free agent wide receivers are already drawing interest around the league: nine clubs are eyeing Jaron Brown, while seven teams have interest on John Brown, according to Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com (Twitter link).Jaron Brown (vertical)

A number of clubs consider Jaron Brown a potential No. 2 wide receiver who can also play special teams, per Jurecki. Brown, 28, posted the best season of his career in 2017 by registering 31 receptions for 477 yards and four touchdowns. He’d previously been a key special teams player for Arizona, but as his role in the Cardinals’ offense grew, his ST playtime decreased. Last year, Brown played on only a third of Arizona’s special teams snaps, a career low.

John Brown, meanwhile, is coming off the worst season of his NFL tenure, as injuries limited him to just 10 games in 2017. During that time, Brown managed only 21 receptions for 299 yards and two scores. As recently as 2015, however, the now 27-year-old Brown put up 65 catches for 1,003 yards and seven touchdowns, and he’s now finally healthy, per Jurecki, meaning it shouldn’t be a surprise if clubs see Brown as an upside play.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Vikes, Bills, Cardinals, Patriots

Although his house arrest doesn’t end for another month, newly-signed Vikings wide receiver Michael Floyd will report to Minnesota on Friday after having his confinement transferred from Arizona, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter links). Floyd was able to secure the transfer because of his change in employment status, but he’ll still need to return to his residence when he’s not training with the Vikings, reports Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. Floyd pleaded guilty to extreme DUI in February.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Bills have hired Malik Boyd as their new director of pro personnel, the club announced today. General manager Brandon Beane has worked quickly to revamp Buffalo’s front office, as he’s hired former Texans executive Brian Gaine and former Dolphins staffer Joe Schoen this week. Boyd, meanwhile, has worked for the Cardinals for the past 12 years, and spent the past three season as Arizona’s assistant director of pro scouting. He’s also spent time with the Colts, had a three-year career as an NFL defensive back.
  • In addition to carrying the sickle cell trait, Cardinals wide receiver John Brown was also dealing with a cyst on his spine in 2016, according to Josh Weinfuss of ESPN.com. Brown has since had the cyst drained, and now says he feels “normal” again, per Weinfuss. Brown, 27, posted the worst season of his three-year career in 2016, as he managed only 39 receptions for 517 yards and two touchdowns. With Floyd now out of the picture, Brown figures to slide into Arizona’s starting lineup full-time, and with his health concerns hopefully behind him, could come closer to his 2015 production (1,000+ yards receiving and seven scores). Brown is slated to earn $1.797MM in 2017 before becoming an unrestricted free agent next spring.
  • The Patriots worked out wide receiver Reggie Diggs on Wednesday, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Diggs, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Richmond in 2016, landed with Washington last year but spent the entirety of his rookie season on injured reserve. The Redskins waived Diggs earlier this month, and his visit with New England is the first known interest he’s drawn. The Patriots, of course, already have a well-stocked wide receiver depth chart, and auditioned veteran pass-catcher Andrew Hawkins earlier today.
  • The Saints signed former Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas on Monday, but Thomas probably won’t be under center in New Orleans, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. Thomas was listed as a defensive back on the Saints’ roster, and could also play wide receiver, per Triplett. At the Senior Bowl, Thomas played defensive back and kick returner, and worked out as a defensive back, wideout, return man, and quarterback at his Pro Day. Thomas, who stands 5’9″, 185 pounds, ran a 40-yard dash in the 4.3-4.4 second range, so he clearly has the speed required to make a position change.

2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.