Josh Kline

NFC Notes: Rosen, Cardinals, Draft, 49ers, Street, Vikings, Kline

It’s been a rollercoaster of an offseason for Josh Rosen. His first head coach was fired, and his new coach Kliff Kingsbury initially re-committed to him. But ever since then momentum has shifted toward the Cardinals using the first overall pick on Kyler Murray, and looking to trade Rosen. Arizona hasn’t done much to tamp down speculation, and the current conventional wisdom is that the Cards will take Murray. The draft isn’t until April 25th, but current Cardinals players are due to report for offseason workouts on April 8th. When those workouts take place, don’t be surprised if Rosen isn’t there, argues Bob McManaman of The Arizona Republic.

McManaman writes that both Rosen and the team might not want him to report, for several reasons. McManaman notes that the Cardinals were eligible to start workouts this coming week, but pushed back the start of their offseason program by a week. Kingsbury said it was for scheduling purposes, but McManaman speculates that it could’ve been to give them more time to work out a Rosen trade. McManaman also argues that the team won’t want to have the free-speaking Rosen shoved in front of a gaggle of reporters right now, and that there’s always the risk of an injury. If Rosen does decide to no-show the workouts, it’ll add a whole lot of fuel to the rumors that he isn’t long for the desert.

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Arizona’s division rival, the 49ers, also have an important draft ahead of them. The 49ers pick second overall, and the last we heard they were targeting Ohio State pass-rusher Nick Bosa. But the 49ers are also looking to add pass-catchers, and will soon host a pair of wideouts for visits. San Francisco will bring in South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel and Ole Miss receiver A.J. Brown, sources told Matt Barrows of The Athletic. It sounds like the 49ers are still leaning Bosa at number two, assuming the Cardinals pass on him, but are looking to bring in a new weapon for Jimmy Garoppolo with one of their next picks.
  • Speaking of the 49ers, we have an update on Kentavius Street. Street was a highly regarded prospect from NC State last year, but he tore his ACL at his pro day. San Francisco still thought highly enough of him to draft him in the fourth round, but he missed his entire rookie season. Street bulked up while he was sidelined with the injury, and coach Kyle Shanahan said from the owners meetings he’s been encouraged by his progress, according to Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports. Shanahan said he could see Street playing both inside and outside, and he’s a good bet to make an impact as a sophomore.
  • The Vikings signed guard Josh Kline last week to bolster their offensive line, and now we have details on the contract. The Vikings guaranteed Kline $7.25MM at signing, according to Ben Goessling of The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Goessling reports that the Vikings now have less than $3MM in cap space, and will now need to make some maneuvers in order to be able to sign their draft class next month. The Vikings’ offensive line was a weak spot last year, and they’ll be counting on Kline to give them a boost. Kline received average marks from Pro Football Focus last year, grading out as their 50th-best guard.

Vikings To Sign Josh Kline

The Vikings seem to have found their replacement for Nick Easton. On Wednesday, the team agreed to sign offensive lineman Josh Kline, according to a source who spoke with ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin (on Twitter). It’ll be a three-year, $15.75MM deal when all is said and done.

[RELATED: Vikings Re-Sign Dan Bailey]

Kline signed a four-year, $26MM deal ($12MM guaranteed) with the Titans last offseason, but the team moved on from him after he rejected a pay cut earlier this month. The lineman started all 16 games in 2018, although the advanced metrics imply that he took a step back from his previous seasons. After rating as a fringe top-20 guard in 2017, Pro Football Focus graded Kline 50th among 77 eligible guards in 2018.

The Vikings need some reinforcement on the offensive line, which is exactly what Kline can provide. At the moment, it appears that he’ll be in line to serve as the team’s starting right guard.

Interestingly, his new deal gives him a comparable average annual value to his previous deal, so he probably made the right call by rejecting the Titans’ push for a pay cut.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

OL Josh Kline Expected To Visit Vikings

Josh Kline is expected to meet with the Vikings. ESPN’s Ben Goessling reports (via Twitter) that the veteran offensive guard is currently “coordinating visits with different teams,” a grouping that will presumably include Minnesota.

We learned yesterday that the Vikings had interest in Kline, whom Tennessee released several days ago. In Minnesota, the 29-year-old would compete for Minnesota’s starting right guard job, which Mike Remmers had held down since the end of the 2017 campaign. The Vikings released Remmers last week.

Kline signed a four-year, $26MM deal ($12MM guaranteed) with the Titans last offseason, but the team ended up moving on from him after Kline rejected a pay cut. The lineman started all 16 games in 2018, although the advanced metrics imply that he took a step back from his previous seasons. After rating as a fringe top-20 guard in 2017, Pro Football Focus graded Kline 50th among 77 eligible guards in 2018.

The Vikings need some reinforcement on the offensive line, and the team reportedly made a push to keep Nick Easton in Minnesota. Ultimately, the lineman signed a four-year deal with the Saints.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Interested In Josh Kline

The Vikings are interested in former Titans right guard Josh Kline, per Darren Wolfson of KSTP.com (via Twitter). Kline, whom Tennessee released several days ago, would compete for Minnesota’s starting RG job, which Mike Remmers had held down since the end of the 2017 campaign. The Vikings released Remmers last week.

It is difficult to say, however, whether Kline would be a marked upgrade. He has been a full-time starter since 2015, his last season with the Patriots, and the advanced metrics appreciated his play in 2016 and 2017, his first two years with the Titans. However, he took a noticeable step back last season after signing a four-year, $26MM deal with Tennessee. Pro Football Focus graded Kline 50th among 77 eligible guards in 2018, while Remmers was graded 48th. Remmers, soon to be 30, is less than one year older than Kline.

Of course, advanced metrics don’t tell the whole story, and Kline has proven he is capable of more than what he showed last year. Minnesota’s biggest need entering free agency was the offensive line, and the club has still not made any moves to address that need.

But given the Vikings’ limited cap space, it was clear they would have to wait until the second wave of free agency anyway, and it appears they may be on the verge of two signings. In addition to its interest in Kline, Minnesota has made an offer to Nick Easton, who was expected to serve as the team’s left guard in 2018. Easton, though, suffered a herniated disc in training camp and missed the entire season as a result.

Easton has several offers in hand and is expected to make his decision by tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Release OL Josh Kline

Josh Kline‘s tenure in Tennessee has come to an end. The Titans are planning on releasing the offensive lineman, reports Titans reporter Paul Kuharsky (via Twitter).

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that the guard turned down a pay cut, which would have kept him on the team. Instead, he’s set to his free agency for a second-straight offseason.

Kline signed a four-year, $26MM deal ($12MM guaranteed) with the Titans last offseason. He proceeded to start all 16 games last season, although the advanced metrics imply that he took a step back in 2018. After rating as a fringe top-20 guard in 2017, Pro Football Focus graded Kline 50th among 77 eligible guards in 2018.

The Titans have already added one offensive guard in Rodger Saffold. If the Titans don’t make any additions to their offensive line, they could turn to Kevin PamphileCorey Levin, or Dennis Kelly to start opposite their free agent addition.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans To Re-Sign OL Josh Kline

The Titans have reached agreement with free agent guard Josh Kline, according to Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Its a four-year, $26MM deal which contains $12MM guaranteed and can max out at $27MM.

Tennessee claimed Kline off waivers prior to the 2016 campaign, and he proceeded to start 30 games for the club over the next two seasons. Kline, who spent the first three years of his career in New England, graded as the NFL’s No. 22 guard among 77 qualifiers in 2017, per Pro Football Focus.

In terms of annual salary, Kline’s $6.5MM won’t reset the market, but it does tie him for the 12th-highest-total among right guards. He’s now alongside the likes of J.R. Sweezy and just behind Jeff Allen — both players signed their free agent deals two offseasons ago.

As a unit, the Titans’ offensive line took a step backward last year, as they slipped from fifth to 23rd in adjusted line yards. Kline will now be re-signed, but fellow starting guard Quinton Spain is a restricted free agent. Tennessee used an original round tender on Spain, so it won’t reap any draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere on an un-matched offer sheet.

Kline had been scheduled to join a free agent guard class that also includes Andrew NorwellJosh SittonJack MewhortMatt SlausonZach Fulton, and Senio Kelemete, among others. PFR’s Zach Links recently ranked Kline as the fourth-best option among free agent interior lineman, behind Norwell (who has already landed a massive deal with the Jaguars), Sitton, and Mewhort.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans Expected To Re-Sign OL Josh Kline

The Titans are closing in on a new deal with free agent guard Josh Kline, and the pact should be signed before free agency opens on Wednesday, per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com (Twitter link). It’s a four-year, $26MM with $12MM guaranteed with the potential to make up to $27M (Twitter link).

Tennessee claimed Kline off waivers prior to the 2016 campaign, and he proceeded to start 30 games for the club over the next two seasons. Kline, who spent the first three years of his career in New England, graded as the NFL’s No. 22 guard among 77 qualifiers in 2017, per Pro Football Focus.

As a unit, the Titans’ offensive line took a step backward last year, as they slipped from fifth to 23rd in adjusted line yards. Kline will now be re-signed, but fellow starting guard Quinton Spain is a restricted free agent. Tennessee used an original round tender on Spain, so it won’t reap any draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere on an un-matched offer sheet.

Kline had been scheduled to join a free agent guard class that also includes Andrew NorwellJosh SittonJack MewhortMatt SlausonZach Fulton, and Senio Kelemete, among others. PFR’s Zach Links recently ranked Kline as the fourth-best option among free agent interior lineman, behind Norwell (who has already landed a massive deal with the Jaguars), Sitton, and Mewhort.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Titans, OL Josh Kline Discussing New Deal

The Titans have opened contract discussions with pending free agent guard Josh Kline, according to Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com.

Tennessee claimed Kline off waivers prior to the 2016 campaign, and he proceeded to start 30 games for the club over the next two seasons. Kline, who spent the first three years of his career in New England, graded as the NFL’s No. 22 guard among 77 qualifiers in 2017, per Pro Football Focus.

As a unit, the Titans’ offensive line took a step backward last year, as they slipped from fifth to 23rd in adjusted line yards. Kline could be in danger of leaving via free agency, while fellow starting guard Quinton Spain is a restricted free agent. Tennessee has until the start of the new league year — Wednesday, March 14 — to offer an RFA tender to Spain.

If Kline does reach the open market, he’ll join a free agent guard class that also includes Andrew Norwell, Josh Sitton, Jack Mewhort, Matt Slauson, Zach Fulton, and Senio Kelemete, among others. PFR’s Zach Links recently ranked Kline as the fourth-best option among free agent interior lineman, behind Norwell, Sitton, and Mewhort.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents For 2018 1.0

There will be tons of free agents available in March, but only a some of them can be real difference makers for your favorite team. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve assembled our early list of the Top 50 NFL Free Agents for 2018.

Our early version of the NFL’s top 50 free agents may include players who will be re-signed between now and March 14. When we update this list next week, a few of the big names will be spoken for while new high-profile names will join the fray as veterans become cap casualties.

Recently, we broke down the top free agents by position on both offense and defense, but our rankings below may not have each player listed in the same order. Those position lists took the short-term value of a player into account more heavily, meaning many players in their 30s received prominent placement. Our overall top 50 list favors longer-term value, and is more about forecasting which players will be in highest demand when it comes to years and dollars.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2018:

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins): At long last, Kirk Cousins is headed towards unrestricted free agency. You may or may not regard Cousins as a star, but he is the best quarterback in recent history to reach the open market and QB-needy teams will be rolling out the red carpet for him. The Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have been named as the top suitors for his services, but the NFL is full of surprises this time of year and we would not be surprised to see other teams get involved. The cash-flush Browns are reportedly keen on signing a lower-cost vet and drafting a QB early, but who’s to say they won’t change course and get in on the Cousins sweepstakes? The Bills, Giants, Dolphins, Bucs, and Colts could also consider kicking the tires here, but there are obstacles in that bunch ranging from established starters already in place (Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Andrew Luck) to financial constraints. No matter where he goes, it’s almost certain that Cousins will become the league’s highest-paid player of all-time. That is, until another top-tier QB signs a contract extension soon after.

2. Drew Brees (Saints): There are multiple possibilities for Cousins but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Brees actually leaves the Saints. Brees has already said that he does not plan on testing free agency, so he’ll likely put pen to paper before things begin on March 14. As far as we can tell, the only way Brees will think about leaving is if he is lowballed to an extreme degree by the Saints, but that seems improbable based on his history with the team

3. Case Keenum (Vikings): One year ago, no one ever would have expected Keenum to be one of 2018’s most sought-after free agents. The Vikings signed the former Rams signal caller to a one-year, $2MM deal in March with the idea that he would back up Sam Bradford and, eventually slide down to third on the depth chart when/if Teddy Bridgewater returned to full health. When Bradford went down in September, Keenum exceeded all expectations and put together the best season of his career. The 30-year-old graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked QB in 2017, putting him above the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor. With Keenum at the helm, the Vikings earned a first-round bye and beat the Saints in a playoff thriller before succumbing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Of course, after four seasons of mediocrity, teams are wondering whether this was an aberration or a real sign of things to come. Teams know that Keenum is not a lock, but he’s also the best Plan B for any team that loses out on Cousins or doesn’t have the means to sign him.

4. Andrew Norwell, G (Panthers): There was a time when tackles were the only offensive linemen to really cash in on the open market. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by the contracts of Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Osemele inked his free agent deal with the Raiders in 2016 and Zeitler signed his in the 2017 offseason. Given the cap increase and the natural progression of the market, Norwell figures to reset the market for interior linemen. Keenum figures to gross no less than $20MM/year on his next contract, so he’s slotted behind him, but an average annual value of $13-14MM is not out of the question for the former undrafted free agent.

5. Nate Solder, OT (Patriots): Solder isn’t coming off of his best season and he might be the least sexy name in the top ten. Still, there’s a dearth of tackles league-wide and Solder has been among the league’s best at his position for quite some time. The Patriots are bracing for Solder to leave as they fear he’ll garner offers of $12MM/year. No other tackle in this year’s free agent crop is even close to him in terms of ability, so we’re also buying into the hype. Injuries contributed to Solder’s up-and-down season, particularly early on, so teams will take that into account when evaluating him.

6. Allen Robinson, WR (Jaguars): The Jaguars opted against using the franchise tag on Robinson, which is understandable since they have limited cap space. Robinson missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear, but his 2015 season (and even his so-so 2016 campaign) gives teams reason to believe that he can be a quality WR1. Robinson is one of only two such players on the unrestricted market, so expect him to get paid. Robinson probably couldn’t do worse than Kenny Britt‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Browns from last season (and he should do a whole lot better), but if he is underwhelmed by the multi-year offers he receives, he could always go the Alshon Jeffery route. Jeffery inked a one-year, $9.5MM prove-it deal with the Eagles and that turned out to be a smashing success for both parties. Jeffery was rewarded with a four-year, $52MM extension in December, so Robinson’s camp will surely be open to a pillow contract if necessary. 

7. Sammy Watkins, WR (Rams): Some may view Robinson and Watkins as 1A and 1B in this year’s wide receiver class, particularly since Robinson missed all of 2017 and Watkins, despite his own injury history, played in all but one of the Rams’ games. Unfortunately, Watkins did not have the platform year he was hoping for as he caught just 39 passes for 593 yards. If we strike Robinson’s lost year and Watkins’ down year from the record, the breakdown favors the Jags receiver – Robinson averaged 77 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns per 16 games in that set versus Watkins’ 66 grabs for 1,063 yards and seven scores. These two should come pretty close in average annual value, but we give the edge to Robinson.

8. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams): Players often bemoan the franchise tag, but Johnson can’t really complain after receiving two consecutive tags from the Rams and earning more than $30MM between 2016 and 2017. The Rams, rightfully, did not consider a third consecutive tag for Johnson at a cost of ~$20MM and they already have his replacement in Marcus Peters. That’s one suitor down, but plenty of other teams will be eager to speak with Johnson, who profiles as the best cornerback in a deep class.

9. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson gave the Jets lots of headaches, but he also gave them high-end production. He didn’t quite match that production in Seattle, but Richardson is positioned for a massive payday anyway since impactful defensive linemen are at a premium. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will garner about $9MM/year, but I would say that is his floor. The top-end of free agency rarely yields team-friendly deals, so Richardson could easily creep into eight figures in AAV, particularly since he does not turn 28 until November.

10. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe thought he was in for a monster contract last offseason, but concerns about his lingering back issues forced him to take a one-year, $8MM deal with Atlanta. Teams may still worry about his back being a ticking time bomb, but perhaps they’ll view him in a different light now that he has played back-to-back 16 game seasons and has only missed two regular season contests over the course of his career.

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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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