Josh Sitton

Dolphins G Josh Sitton Done For Season

Dolphins guard Josh Sitton will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a torn rotator cuff against the Titans on Sunday, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Miami has officially placed Sitton on injured reserve.

Miami isn’t sure at what point in the game Sutton suffered his shoulder injury, as the veteran offensive lineman may have originally felt a strain before another hit exacerbated the ailment. Once Sitton was told the nature of the injury, he asked if he could play through it for the rest of the year, per Salguero. However, the Dolphins’ medical staff told Sitton he’d be risking further health issues by playing: indeed, the tear could become so severe that surgery wouldn’t even help correct it, making it a career-ender.

Although guard has been a perennial problem in Miami, the Dolphins do have a capable Sitton replacement in veteran guard Ted Larsen. The 31-year-old has been a full-time starter at various points in his career, and offers 111 career games under his belt. Per Salguero, Larsen filed in for Sitton when the latter was sidelined during the summer, so he should have a familiarity with the rest of Miami’s front five.

If Larsen proves to be incapable of taking over for Sitton, however, the Dolphins could choose to look at the free agent guard market. While there are obviously no stars left available, competent options still remain unsigned. Oday Aboushi, John Jerry, Alex Boone, Jonathan Cooper, Luke Joeckel, and Jahri Evans (who’s only played right guard) could potentially interest Miami.

Sitton, 32, joined the Dolphins this spring on a two-year deal after being cut by the Bears. Although minor health issues had been a concern, Sitton was been outstanding in the Windy City. Just last season, Sitton ranked as the the fifth-best guard in the league, per Pro Football Focus, and his marks have remained steady throughout the duration of his career. Despite that production, Chicago opted to decline Sitton’s $8MM option for 2018.

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Dolphins To Sign Josh Sitton

The Dolphins have agreed to a two-year deal with free agent guard Josh Sitton, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Miami hosted Sitton on a visit on Wednesday.

Sitton’s contract will be worth $15MM in base value, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding that it could max out at $18MM. The veteran guard will receive $8MM in guarantees.

Guard has long been a problem in South Beach, but the Dolphins have now landed a former All-Pro in Sitton. The 31-year-old Sitton has experience at both left and right guard, and could conceivably slide into either spot for Miami. Whatever position he lands at, Sitton will be playing next to new Dolphins center, as the club released veteran Mike Pouncey earlier today.

Sitton originally joined the Bears in 2016 after surprisingly being released by the division rival Packers. Although minor health issues have been a concern, Sitton has been outstanding in the Windy City. Just last season, Sitton ranked as the the fifth-best guard in the league, per Pro Football Focus, and his marks have remained steady throughout the duration of his career. Despite that production, Chicago opted to decline Sitton’s $8MM option for 2018.

With Sitton off the market, the best free agent guards remaining include Jack Mewhort, Alex Boone, Matt Slauson, D.J. Fluker, and Joe Berger.

[RELATED: Dolphins Depth Chart]

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The Top 25 Remaining NFL Free Agents

Many of this year’s top free agents came off of the board during the legal tampering period, including Kirk Cousins, Trumaine Johnson, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Robinson. Still plenty of the names from our list of the Top 50 Free Agents remain, including some new additions. Here’s a rundown of the players to keep an eye on as free agency officially begins, ranked roughly by their expected contract value:

1. Ndamukong Suh, DT (Dolphins): The Dolphins bailed on Suh’s mega contract midway through, freeing him up to sign another high-priced contract. He won’t get anything close to a six-year, $114MM deal this time around, but he should settle in at an AAV that keeps him among the best compensated players at his position. Last year, Pro Football Focus ranked Suh fifth among 122 interior defenders. 

2. Tyrann Mathieu, S (Cardinals): The Cardinals worked feverishly to hammer out a new contract with the Honey Badger, but the two sides could not come to terms on a deal to lessen his 2018 cap hit. He has been released, allowing him to hit free agency as the best safety available. The Jets are not believed to be interested, despite his connection with head coach Todd Bowles. The other tenant of the Meadowlands, however, could have interest thanks to the presence of former Arizona DC James Bettcher.

3. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson may have lost some luster following the trade that sent him from the Jets to the Seahawks, but he among the best defensive tackles currently available. With plenty of cap space remaining, Richardson should find a lucrative deal, though it probably won’t come from Seattle. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will fetch about $9MM/year.

4. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe missed out on a big payday last year when teams shied away from him due to lingering back issues. After turning in his second consecutive 16-game season, things could be different this time. For the record – Poe has missed only two regular season games over the course of his career, so he boasts a better attendance record than a lot of other veterans on this list. He’s unlikely to circle back to Atlanta.

5. Josh Sitton, G (Bears): With Andrew Norwell off of the board, Sitton stands as the best guard on the market. He’s missed six games over the last two years, but he has four Pro Bowl appearances to his credit. He’s set to meet with the Dolphins.

6. A.J. McCarron, QB (Bengals): It’s difficult to peg McCarron’s value heading into free agency. Outside of some quality starts in 2015, there isn’t much film out there on McCarron, despite that fact that he has spent four years in the NFL. Hue Jackson was itching to reunite with McCarron, but the Browns no longer seem a likely destination for him after the acquisition of Tyrod Taylor. It’s also hard to see him landing with the QB-needy Jets after they re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater. McCarron will find a home, but it may not be as a starter. [UPDATE: McCarron has signed with the Bills]

7. E.J. Gaines, CB (Bills): Injuries in the fall limited Gaines to just 11 games last season, but he proved to be a quality return for the Bills in the Watkins trade, in addition to the second-round pick that came with him. Gaines graded out as the No. 13 cornerback in the league last year, per PFF, and he just turned 26 in February. Gaines missed all of ’15 due to injury and didn’t look all that sharp in ’16, but timing is everything in free agency. You can expect multiple teams to call on him and the Texans could still have interest, even after inking Aaron Colvin.

8. Eric Reid, S (49ers): Reid is just 26 and is undoubtedly a starting quality safety. He has both youth and versatility on his side, but it’s possible that his anthem protest participation could hurt him when it comes to some suitors. Injuries over the last two seasons will hurt his market as well.

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Dolphins To Meet With Josh Sitton

Former Bears and Packers guard Josh Sitton will be visiting tonight with the Dolphins, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Sitton stands (no pun intended) as one of the best free agents remaining on the board.

Sitton has missed six games over the last two years, but he has four Pro Bowl appearances to his credit. With Andrew Norwell already spoken for, he’s the best interior lineman a team can sign at this point.

That’s not to say Sitton, 32 in June, is a bad consolation prize. Just last season, Sitton ranked as the the fifth-best guard in the league, per Pro Football Focus, and his marks have remained steady throughout his career.

Sitton had been scheduled to collect $8MM cash in 2018 between his $7.4MM base salary, $500K roster bonus, and $100K workout bonus. The Bears are moving on from him, but Chicago’s trash could be Miami’s treasure.

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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Bears To Decline Option For Josh Sitton

The Bears will decline their 2018 option on guard Josh Sitton, meaning he’ll become a free agent next month, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (Twitter link).Josh Sitton (Vertical)

Sitton had been scheduled to collect $8MM cash in 2018: $7.4MM in base salary, $500K in roster bonus, and $100K in workout bonus. All told, Sitton would have counted for roughly $8.573MM on the Bears’ 2018 salary cap. By declining Sitton’s option, Chicago will create nearly $8MM in additional cap space.

The 31-year-old Sitton originally joined the Bears in 2016 after surprisingly being released by the division rival Packers. Although minor health issues have been a concern, Sitton has been outstanding in the Windy City. Just last season, Sitton ranked as the the fifth-best guard in the league, per Pro Football Focus, and his marks have remained steady throughout the duration of his career.

Going forward, the Bears will have a hole to fill at left guard without Sitton in tow. Chicago has the option of moving 2015 third-round pick Hroniss Grasu to guard, or shifting 2016 second-rounder Cody Whitehair back to guard and allowing Grasu to play the pivot. Alternatively, the Bears might look to replace Sitton with another free agent, or a draft pick who is not yet on the roster.

Although Sitton is over the age of 30, it’s hard to argue he’s not one of the best guards available on the open market. He likely won’t command the sort of years or dollars that Andrew Norwell will, but Sitton could make for a sensible veteran option for a number of clubs with issues along the interior.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Notes: Vikings, Patricia, Humphrey

New Vikings OC John DeFilippo is viewed as a rising star in the coaching world, and Minnesota is obviously high on the former Eagles quarterbacks coach, as it targeted DeFilippo as soon as former OC Pat Shurmur left for the Giants’ head coaching job. The Vikings were also willing to wait for Philadelphia’s season to be over before naming Shurmur’s replacement, which shows just how much they liked DeFilippo. Despite the hire, though, the Vikings denied the Giants’ request to interview Minnesota quarterbacks coach Kevin Stefanski for the New York OC gig, and Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio suggests that there are two reasons for that (Twitter link). Obviously, the Vikings value Stefanski and want him around in 2018, but the team also thinks there is a good chance DeFilippo could get his own head coaching opportunity in 2019, so Minnesota views Stefanski as a potential replacement (after all, the Vikes did interview Stefanski for the OC position this year before hiring DeFilippo). However, Marvez reports that Stefanski only has one year left on his current contract, so he could become a coaching free agent in 2019.

Now for more from the league’s North divisions:

  • The Bears‘ offensive line will be one of their biggest priorities this offseason, and Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune says the team could use one of its top two picks in this year’s draft on an O-lineman. Of course, Chicago will also have to decide what it wants to do with guard Josh Sitton, who has a club option worth $8MM for 2018 (the Bears have until March 9 to exercise that option, and if they do not, Sitton will become a UFA). It is a tough call; on the one hand, Sitton is an accomplished player whose departure will make the team’s O-line situation even more dire, but on the other hand, he is an aging veteran and, if the Bears decline the option, Sitton will count only $666K against the cap in 2018. Biggs does not give an indication as to which way Chicago is leaning at this point.
  • In a piece that is well worth a read, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press chronicles Matt Patricia‘s rise from a low-level assistant in New England to Lions head coach, a rise that was accelerated in 2012 when Detroit GM Bob Quinn — then the director of pro scouting with the Patriots — heard Patricia deliver a poignant speech to New England coaches and players about the recently-deceased Junior Seau.
  • Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey, whom the team selected in the first round of last year’s draft, was recently arrested for stealing a $15 phone charger, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com writes. Humphrey has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 1 in Tuscaloosa County District Court, at which time a judge will determine whether to dismiss the case or to proceed. Humphrey turned in a strong rookie campaign, and Baltimore will rely on him heavily in 2018.

Teams Calling On Bears G Josh Sitton

Teams are calling the Bears with interest in guard Josh Sitton, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).With a couple of hours to go until the trade deadline, the 3-5 Bears could be motivated to trade the lineman to a contending club. Josh Sitton (vertical)

Sitton, 31, carries a $6.8MM cap number this year before that jumps to $8.66MM in 2018. Sitton doesn’t come cheap, but he has been regarded as one of the league’s best guards for nearly a decade, so he is worth it for a team looking to win right now.

Sitton currently ranks as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-best guard, which is actually lower than where Sitton has been situation in previous years. Sitton, who has spent his entire career to date in the NFC North, is coming off of his fourth career Pro Bowl nod.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Beckham, Bears, Browns

Odell Beckham Jr. did not report to Day 1 of Giants OTAs, Dan Duggan of NJ.com reports. The reason for the absence is not known, per Duggan. These are voluntary workouts, so Beckham cannot be fined for missing them. The Giants will convene again Tuesday, and Thursday’s session will be the first featuring media availability. Duggan reports Beckham being absent for this part of Big Blue’s calendar isn’t new; the superstar wideout was not a consistent presence at last year’s OTAs. The three-time Pro Bowl receiver is attached to a $1.8MM salary in 2017, but New York predictably picked up his $8.5MM fifth-year option. Beckham is now eligible for an extension that would stand to be in line with the top receivers in football, and while he’s displayed some mercurial tendencies, he’s already shown himself to be historically dominant Giants playmaker.

Here’s the latest from around the league.

  • The Bears are in the process of moving Kyle Long to a third position, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports. He and Josh Sitton are set to swap spots, with Long shuttling to left guard and Sitton sliding over to the right side. Sitton has extensive experience at both guard slots, having played at least four years at each. Long, though, has never played left guard in the NFL. He played right tackle in 2015 but was relocated back to his customary right guard slot last season. Long did suit up at left guard while at Oregon. Long is still rehabbing from the ankle injury that ended his season after eight games, Biggs reports. Sitton started at right guard from 2009-12 for the Packers, who switched he and T.J. Lang in 2013 because of Lang’s more physical approach.
  • Justin Pugh signing an extension this offseason would come as a surprise to NJ.com’s James Kratch, who writes that it makes sense for neither side to rush this process. The Giants want to see Pugh make it through a season unscathed after he missed nine combined games between 2014-16. Pugh discussed being in a good spot regarding his second contract, seemingly content to reach free agency after noticing the guard deals of March.
  • Jason McCourty is a possible free safety candidate for the Browns, Pat McManamon of ESPN.com notes. Hue Jackson said the newly acquired defender, a career-long corner, would get a look at safety and the team would play the best four in the secondary. Ed Reynolds will start Cleveland’s OTA workouts at safety, per Jackson. Upon signing, McCourty said he’d be willing to play free safety. Twin brother Devin McCourty, of course, has been a standout back-line defender for the Patriots. It would certainly behoove the Browns to involve McCourty as much as possible, and they are light on experience at safety. They still have Jamar Taylor, who played better in Cleveland than he did in Miami, at corner and drafted Jabrill Peppers as a safety. But the latter doesn’t have much experience there.
  • The Browns will relocate inside linebacker Christian Kirksey to the weak side in Gregg Williams‘ 4-3 look, McManamon reports. Kirksey led the Browns by nearly 50 tackles last season by registering 148 stops.

Sitton Received Calls From “15 or 16” Teams

As Ryan Pace and John Fox met with Josh Sitton, 15 or 16 teams contacted the free agent guard, Sitton told Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune.

Probably 15 or 16 teams called. Of the ones that were truly serious, there were probably four or five,” Sitton said of the interest that accumulated during his visit with the Bears’ brass.

GMs and coaches contacted 30-year-old guard, along with Kyle Long. Per Wiederer, both Fox and Pace did not give the longtime Packers mainstay the hard sell, instead pitching him what a guard tandem of he and Long would look like. Long, though, did make a more aggressive sales pitch. “He wasn’t going to let up,” Sitton told Wiederer.

However, Chicago’s power structure did have to make their pitch quickly while seeing Sitton’s phone buzz constantly.

But Sitton also did not want to leave the meeting without a deal, having made the 175-mile drive from Green Bay to Chicago on Sunday after quickly retrieving his belongings from the Packers’ locker room following his Saturday release.

I’ve seen what John has done with every team he has been at. He comes in and [turns] the program around. So I wanted to feel that this was a team on the rise,” Sitton said of a meeting at a Chicago-area restaurant.

Sitton ended up signing for three years and $21.75MM and forms one of the league’s top guard tandems, along with the recently extended Long. The Saints were probably another of the serious teams that contacted Sitton, but he did not leave the Chicago summit without a deal.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.