Josh Bynes

Bills Host Josh Bynes, Stephone Anthony

Linebackers Josh Bynes and Stephone Anthony are visiting the Bills today, a source tells ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Both players profile as high-upside, yet low-risk, depth options. 

The Cardinals released Bynes in March to save just $667K against $1.87MM in dead money. That was a sharp turn from the previous year, when Bynes was being played ahead of both Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick.

Anthony seemed to have a great deal of promise when he entered the league as a first-round pick of the Saints in 2015. But, after starting in all 16 games as a rookie, he was moved from middle linebacker to strongside linebacker with poor results. The Dolphins acquired him for a fifth-round pick in 2017, but the change of scenery didn’t do much for him. Anthony had just seven tackles across 16 appearances last year and the Dolphins declined his fifth-year option, making him a free agent.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Release Josh Bynes

The Cardinals released veteran linebacker Josh Bynes, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. By releasing Bynes, Arizona will save only $667K against the cap versus a dead money charge of $1.871MM. 

Bynes, 30 in August, has been with the Cardinals for the last two seasons. He was elevated to the starting lineup in 2018 and posted 75 tackles and two sacks across eleven games. The Cardinals’ old regime had him playing ahead of both Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick, but the new regime wasn’t interested in keeping him on a deal that extended through the 2020 season.

This figures to be only one of many moves made by the Cardinals in March. After finishing with the worst record in the NFL last year, Arizona will look to overhaul the roster with roughly $38MM in cap space and a strong stash of draft picks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cardinals Cut Andre Smith, Bene Benwikere

The Cardinals made a host of moves Monday afternoon. Another of Patrick Peterson‘s top sidekicks is now out of the picture, with Arizona making the decision to waive cornerback Bene Benwikere.

Additionally, the Cards are cutting veteran tackle Andre Smith. They also placed Phil Dawson and linebacker Josh Bynes on IR and are elevating kicker Zane Gonzalez from the practice squad. The team announced the moves.

Smith’s inconsistency will end his Arizona tenure, per Steve Wilks (via ESPN.com’s Josh Weinfuss, on Twitter). He started eight games at right tackle for the Cardinals, including Sunday’s 45-10 loss to the Chargers, but has not played to the level he displayed during his earlier Bengals days. The 31-year-old edge blocker will head to the waiver wire, joining the less experienced Benwikere.

The Cards already parted ways with Jamar Taylor, acquired in hopes he could fill the Peterson-sidekick role the team has long had issues with, after Benwikere beat him out for that job. The young journeyman started eight Arizona games this season, intercepting one pass and making 51 tackles. Benwikere’s eight starts represent a career high in his five-season NFL run.

Dawson’s been dealing with a hip injury this season. It forced the 43-year-old kicker to miss a game earlier this month. The Cardinals’ kicker over the past two seasons, the 20-year veteran is a free agent after this season. He’s attempted a career-low eight field goals, making five. This will end Dawson’s least accurate season.

Previously going with rookie Matthew McCrane to fill in for Dawson, the Cardinals will now turn to Gonzalez. The Browns waived Gonzalez after a rough Week 2. The 2017 seventh-round pick has not kicked in a game since.

Despite being retained on a low-level deal, Bynes was playing ahead of both Deone Bucannon and Haason Reddick this season. He made 75 tackles, registered two sacks and returned a fumble for a touchdown in a standout season. Bynes is signed through the 2020 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Foster, Mack, Vea, Bynes

Reuben Foster is not eligible for the commissioner’s exempt list at this point, Jim Trotter of ESPN.com tweets, so the embattled linebacker would be able to be in attendance on the first day of the 49ers‘ offseason program come Monday. Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area expects Foster to be there (Twitter link), despite circumstances that could well have Foster bound for an ignominious departure after a standout rookie season. Foster will become eligible for the commissioner’s exempt list once the league concludes its investigation into his alleged act of domestic violence — an incident that prompted authorities to charge the 2017 first-round pick with three felonies. Foster could face up to 11 years in prison. Conversely, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (video link) would be surprised if Foster is with his teammates at 49ers headquarters next week, noting he will probably “stay away for a little bit.” Rapoport said he expects the 49ers to quickly waive Foster if, in fact, they learn the 24-year-old defender committed these crimes.

Here’s the latest from some other West-division cities.

  • Khalil Mack has not shown up for the first week of Jon Gruden‘s return to the Raiders, but Reggie McKenzie remains confident a contract agreement will come. “This is going to be a big contract and all sides are trying to make everything work,” McKenzie told NFL.com’s Steve Wyche (via NBC Sports Bay Area’s Scott Bair). “It’s about the end result. One thing I know is that we love Khalil Mack and we want to make him a Raider for life. We’ll get through all the other stuff. We understand the business part of it. Everybody is aware of everything and nobody is surprised. Everything, on all sides has been positive.” Wyche reports Mack and Gruden have spoken recently, despite the superstar defensive end’s absence, and McKenzie understands Mack may stay away from the team until a deal is completed.
  • Vita Vea is eligible to attend both the Seahawks‘ and 49ers’ local pro days, which do not count against teams’ top-30 visits, but he will instead meet with the Redskins next Wednesday, Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee tweets. The mammoth ex-Washington Huskies defensive tackle went to high school in the Bay Area. He’s visited several teams and is a surefire first-round pick.
  • Cardinals linebacker Josh Bynes received $1.25MM in guaranteed money via his latest deal with the team, Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic notes. Despite a new coaching staff coming in and the Cards set to turn to a 4-3 setup, Bynes signed to stay in Arizona on a three-year deal. The base value of that contract is $5.575MM, per OverTheCap, but it could max out at close to $10MM. Bynes started 19 games for the Lions between the 2015 and ’16 seasons and was a Cardinals starter in just one 2017 contest. But Steve Wilks sees the 28-year-old former UDFA as a viable candidate to start at middle linebacker.

LB Josh Bynes Re-Signs With Cardinals

It sounds like Josh Bynes is sticking around Arizona. ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss reports (via Twitter) that the linebacker is expected to re-sign with the Cardinals. It’s a three-year deal worth up to $10MM, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.

The 2011 undrafted free agent out of Auburn joined the Cardinals last offseason following stints with the Ravens and Lions. The 28-year-old proceeded to play in 14 games (one start) for Arizona, compiling 36 tackles, one sack, and two forced fumbles. After playing in 236 snaps, Bynes didn’t qualify for Pro Football Focus’ linebacker ratings, but he likely would have been ranked in the top-35 at his position.

Bynes is likely to play a top reserve role behind Chandler JonesScooby WrightDeone Bucannon, and Markus Golden. We previously heard that the organization wanted to retain Bynes, but it was expected that the organization would pursue additional reinforcement via the draft.

[RELATED: Cardinals Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Jerry Jones, Landry, Bruce Allen

Clarence E. Hill, Jr. of the Star-Telegram writes that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will testify before commissioner Roger Goodell and other owners at an appeal hearing tomorrow in Palm Beach, Florida. Jones is appealing the commissioner’s decision to assess him more than $2MM in legal fees stemming from the federal court case with Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Jones’ opposition to Goodell’s contract extension.

As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk observes, the fact that Jones is testifying before Goodell means that Goodell has not exercised his right to designate the appeal to someone else, even though not doing so creates obvious conflict of interest concerns. In Florio’s estimation, Jones has strong arguments against fee-shifting for his threat to sue the league with respect to Goodell’s extension, as he never actually followed through with the threat. His arguments against fee-shifting with respect to the Elliott matter is a different story, as the Cowboys clearly provided substantial assistance to Elliott in his battle with the league.

Florio says Goodell has final and binding power to resolve the amount of legal fees to be paid, but the resolution granting him that power does not expressly grant him the authority to also answer the threshold question of whether club behavior triggered a repayment obligation. Goodell presumably will take the position that he has final say in that regard, too.

As the Goodell v. Jones saga drags on, let’s take a look at several more notes from the NFC:

  • Although the Bears have interest in Dolphins wideout Jarvis Landry, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune does not believe the team should trade for him. Biggs says Landry does not give Chicago the dynamic, speedy playmaker that it needs, and given that, it would cost too much in both dollars and draft capital to land him.
  • Although most mock drafts have the Lions selecting a RB or DE with their first-round draft pick, Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com says the team could target an OLB like Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds to boost its pass rush. Rothstein says the Lions could indeed target a RB with its first draft choice, but it’s a deep class for RBs, and the better value might be found on Day 2.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com says it is unclear whether Redskins team president Bruce Allen is on the hot seat, though Keim believes he should be. Nonetheless, Keim thinks it would take a really bad season, and not just a mediocre one, for Allen to be shown the door.
  • Mike Jurecki of 98.7FM says the Cardinals would like to retain linebacker Josh Bynes as a depth option, but he believes the team will target a linebacker at some point in the draft and/or look to the UDFA market to grab an LB (Twitter link).
  • Earlier today, we took a look at potential QB plans for the Vikings and Giants.

Cardinals Sign LB Josh Bynes

The Cardinals have made several roster moves this morning, according to Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com (via Twitter). The team has signed linebackers Josh Bynes and Terence Waugh, released wideout Larry Clark, and waived/injured linebacker Gabe Martin.

Josh Bynes (Vertical)Bynes is the most experienced name on the list, as the veteran linebacker has appeared in 64 games (28 starts) since entering the league in 2011. The former undrafted free agent out of Auburn played the past three seasons in Detroit, including a 2015 campaign where he compiled career-highs in tackles (54), passes defended (five), and forced fumbles (one). The 27-year-old ranked 15th in PFR’s free agent positional rankings.

Waugh, an undrafted free agent out of Kent State, played 38 games during his four-year collegiate career. Over his final two seasons, the linebacker/defensive end averaged 36 tackles and 13.5 sacks per year. Waugh and Bynes will join a crowded linebackers corps that already includes seven backup candidates to starters Markus GoldenDeone BucannonKarlos Dansby, and Chandler Jones.

Martin, a 2015 undrafted free agent out of Bowling Green, appeared in eight games for the Cardinals last season, compiling four tackles. The linebacker had suffered through an Achilles injury during the first few days of training camp. Clark signed with the organization following rookie minicamp, with the undrafted free agent out of Colorado State-Pueblo impressing scouts with his size.

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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Lions Re-Sign LB Josh Bynes

The Lions didn’t waste any time in finding a new linebacker after trading Kyle Van Noy to the Patriots, as the club announce that they’ve re-signed veteran Josh Bynes. Bynes had been on the free agent market since being waived from Detroit’s injured reserve list earlier this year."<strong

[RELATED: Detroit Lions Depth Chart]

Bynes, 27, started 11 games for the Lions in 2015, racking up 54 tackles and five passes defensed. All told, Bynes has appeared in more than 50 games during his career with Detroit (and before that, Baltimore), acting mostly as a reserve and special teams option. He’ll join a Lions linebacking unit that boasts Tahir Whitehead and Armonty Bryant, and help cover for the absence of DeAndre Levy.

PFR reported last month that Bynes had reached a four-week injury settlement with the Lions. Under the NFL’s rules, a player must wait the duration of the settlement plus an additional three weeks before re-signing with the club that cut him. That period of time has now passed, so Bynes was free to rejoin Detroit.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Spiller, Vikings, Ajayi, Bynes

Former Saints running back C.J. Spiller told ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson that he was surprised by his release earlier today, but he insisted that he was leaving the organization on good terms.

“This organization really believed in me during free agency,” Spiller told Anderson (via Zac Jackson of ProFootballTalk.com). “They gave me another opportunity when my contract was up in Buffalo. I have nothing but good relationships that I have built here. It’s a first class organization that gives the players everything they need to be successful. So, I definitely don’t have any hard feelings.

“Now, I’m just going to wait for the next right opportunity. I still have a lot of football left in me. I’m pretty sure in the ext day or so, me and my agent will start getting in to it.”

Let’s check out some more notes from around the NFL…

  • Following the release of Spiller, the Saints now have $40MM of dead money on their 2016 salary cap, tweets ESPN’s Field Yates. Meanwhile, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes that Spiller’s contract included offset language, so the team “will get credit for the first $1.6 million he earns in 2016 salary elsewhere.”
  • Vikings coach Mike Zimmer acknowledged that quarterback Shaun Hill did well during Sunday’s win over the Titans, but he added (via Vikings.com) that the team is taking the quarterback situation “one week at a time.” It’s uncertain if the coaching staff is leaning towards Hill or Sam Bradford for this weekend’s game against the Packers.
  • After being inactive for the Dolphins‘ first game of the season, running back Jay Ajayi may have an opportunity to redeem himself. Coach Adam Gase said the second-year player is starting with a clean slate heading into the second week of the season. “We’re back to basically [where] he’s back in meetings, he’s back in the building,” Gase said (via ESPN.com’s James Walker). “We left him back. That was my decision and we’ve cleaned that up. We’ll move past that and basically this is a new day for him today.”
  • Linebacker Josh Bynes‘ injury settlement with the Lions is for four weeks, a source tells PFR (Twitter link). As such, Bynes wouldn’t be able to re-sign with Detroit until late October, given that he’s required to sit out for the duration of the settlement plus an additional three weeks. Those stipulations only apply to a potential reunion with the Lions, as Bynes an sign with another club at any time.

Zach Links contributed to this post.