Josh Kline

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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Titans Claim OL Josh Kline Off Waivers

The Titans have claimed offensive lineman Josh Kline off waivers from the Patriots, according to a Titans press release. In a related move, cornerback Cody Riggs was waived.Josh Kline (vertical)

Kline was originally supposed to go from the Pats to the Eagles in the recent Eric Rowe trade. Early reports indicated that the Eagles would flip the lineman to another team, but as it turns out, he was removed from the trade altogether. The Patriots, in turn, waived him.

Kline played in 14 games for New England last season and made 13 starts, splitting his time evenly between the two guard spots. He also started at left guard for both of the team’s playoff contests. The Titans are now adding him to the fold and they’ll have him under contract through 2017 at a reasonable rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Trade CB Eric Rowe To Patriots

WEDNESDAY, 1:34pm: The fourth-round pick sent from the Patriots to the Eagles will become a third-round choice if Rowe plays in 50% of the team’s snaps in either 2016 or 2017, a source tells Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter).

9:09am: The Eagles have confirmed the deal via press release.

TUESDAY, 6:06pm: As noted here, Kline will not be part of the return for Rowe, but it’s not due to a physical issue, tweets Tom Curran of CSNNE.com. The rest of the trade remains intact, so the Eagles will still receive a conditional fourth-round pick.

10:46am: The Eagles are trading cornerback Eric Rowe to the Patriots for offensive lineman Josh Kline and a draft pick, league sources tell Mike Reiss and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The pick going from the Pats to the Eagles is a conditional 2018 fourth-round pick that can become a third-round choice based on Rowe’s play time in 2016 or 2017, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Eric Rowe (vertical)

During his rookie campaign, Rowe appeared in all 16 games (starting five), and played on about 40% of the Philadelphia’s defense snaps. In that time, Rowe posted one interception, five passes defensed, and 24 tackles. He didn’t appear ticketed for a starting job this year under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, however, with Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin, and Ron Brooks on the depth chart as the Eagles’ top three defensive backs.

The Patriots paid a hefty price for Rowe, a player who found himself on the bubble in Philadelphia this summer. By giving up a valuable future draft choice for him, the Pats are signaling that they have big plans for Rowe or – at the very least – they are badly in need of reinforcements in the secondary. Rowe’s deal carries cap numbers of $1.1MM in 2016, $1.3MM in 2017, $1.5MM in 2018.

For weeks, the Eagles have been shopping Rowe and they found a deal today that will bring them some much-needed help on the offensive line. Kline, 26, joined the Patriots in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State. After getting four starts in his first two seasons, Kline became a full-time starter last year. In November, the Pats extended the guard through the 2017 season.

De facto GM Howie Roseman hasn’t been afraid to deal away players acquired by former head coach Chip Kelly, as he’s already shipped out Byron Maxwell, Kiko Alonso, and DeMarco Murray. Now, we can add Rowe to the list of Kelly guys jettisoned by the Eagles’ top exec.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Release Josh Kline

It has been a weird 24 hours for Josh Kline. On Tuesday, he was reportedly traded to the Eagles, only to have Philadelphia shop him immediately after acquiring him. Then, he was removed from the trade, but not for a physical issue. This morning, the Patriots released him, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Josh Kline (vertical)

Kline, 26, joined the Patriots in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State. After getting four starts in his first two seasons, Kline became a full-time starter last year. In November, the Pats extended the guard through the 2017 season. The deal carried a base value of $3.3MM with a ceiling of $4.9MM. For one reason or another, neither the Patriots nor the Eagles were interested in paying that out.

Last year, the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus ranked Kline No. 37 among all guards in the NFL out of 81 qualified players. PFF gave Kline a better grade for his run blocking ability (78.5) than his pass blocking (67.9), resulting in a 73.6 overall score. In 2015, PFF considered him roughly even in both areas.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Josh Kline No Longer Part Of Eric Rowe Trade

Offensive lineman Josh Kline was thought to be part of the Eagles’ return for cornerback Eric Rowe, but Kline will instead be sticking with the Patriots, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Rowe is still heading to New England, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link), and it’s possible that New England cuts Kline, per Schefter.Josh Kline (Vertical)

Kline, 26, joined the Patriots in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Kent State. After getting four starts in his first two seasons, Kline became a full-time starter last year. In November, the Pats extended the guard through the 2017 season, but he was beat out for a starting job this offseason by trade acquisition Jonathan Cooper and rookie Joe Thuney.

Had he gone to the Eagles, Kline would have been immediately shopped, as reports this morning indicated that Philadelphia was looking to trade the offensive line mere minutes after acquiring him. The Eagles were apparently in “deep discussions” about a trade that would have sent Kline elsewhere, but that clearly won’t happen now.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Shopping Josh Kline

Howie Roseman is wheelin’ and dealin’ this offseason. Offensive lineman Josh Kline, a member of the Eagles for all of 20 minutes, is already being shopped, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The Eagles are already in “deep discussions” about a trade that would send Kline elsewhere. "<strong

After the Eagles sent cornerback Eric Rowe to the Patriots for Kline and a future draft choice, many assumed that Philadelphia was targeting Kline for offensive line depth. Apparently, that’s not the case.

Kline is under contract for the next two years at a reasonable rate, so it shouldn’t be too tough for Philly to find a taker. It’s not clear what they could get in return, however. Stay tuned.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.