Kai Forbath

NFL Workout Updates: 9/11/18

Today’s workout updates, with all links going to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer’s Twitter account unless otherwise noted:

Buffalo Bills

  • DT Du’Vonta Lumpkin (link)

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

New York Jets

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Redskins

Jets To Work Out K Kai Forbath

The Jets will work out kicker Kai Forbath on Wednesday, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

If New York signs Forbath, it will have a whopping four kickers on its active roster, meaning the club will need to trim its depth chart. Cairo Santos is still dealing with the effects of a chronic groin injury, and it’s fair to assume the Jets will eventually cut ties with him. Gang Green also has undrafted rookie Taylor Bertolet and veteran Jason Myersclaimed off waivers from the Seahawks earlier today — on its squad.

Forbath, 30, was released by the Vikings on Monday after losing out to rookie Daniel Carlson in Minnesota’s kicking competition. In 2017, Forbath converted 32-of-38 field goal attempts (including six-of-nine from 50+ yards), and his 84.2 accuracy percentage ranked 16th in the NFL. His field goals and extra points lost 3.1 point of field position for the Vikings, good for just 21st in the league, per Football Outsiders.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Release K Kai Forbath

The Vikings’ kicking competition is over. The club has released Kai Forbath, according to a team announcement. The Vikings will now turn to rookie Daniel Carlson as their kicker. 

The Vikings traded up into the fifth round to draft Carlson in the spring, an indicator that a kicking change was in the cards. After months of impressive performances, the Vikings feel that the youngster is ready for the job.

Last year, Forbath converted 32 of his 38 field goal attempts and he nailed 34 of his 39 extra point tries. He was re-signed in March, but it was a low-cost deal with little or no guaranteed money, so the release won’t have any real effect on the Vikings’ cap.

Carlson, an Auburn product, converted 92 of 114 field goal tries (80.7%) over the course of his four-year collegiate career. He also nailed all 198 of his extra point tries.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

North Rumors: Rodgers, Vikings, Browns

Amid a months-long negotiating process with the Packers, Aaron Rodgers confirmed several types of contracts have surfaced during these talks. The two-time MVP has been linked to wanting a deal structure that provides more freedom for him, and the Packers may not be on board with that just yet. But Rodgers remains intent on spending his entire career in Green Bay.

We’ve talked about a number of different types of deals. There’s obviously mutual interest on both sides in keeping me in Green Bay for the duration,” Rodgers said, via Albert Breer of SI.com.That’s definitely what you want as a player. You see the rarity of it in sports, and you think about guys like Kobe (Bryant), guys like Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, who spent entire career with one organization, Tommy (Brady) in New England. It’s very rare. That would be the goal.”

The 14th-year quarterback broached the subject of his contract being a trend-setting agreement.

As far as setting a trend or breaking down things, it’s great for the game and its players, for sure, when Kirk (Cousins) does a deal like he did,” Rodgers said of Cousins’ fully guaranteed Vikings deal. “The reality is, there’s not many teams that would do that, first of all. And there aren’t many teams that would do it for more than three years. So at some point, there are going to be contracts that will continue to extend that, and there’s been guys who’ve done it over the years, who’ve done monumental things, whether it’s Reggie White in free agency, that make a difference for the next generation. That’s something you can have as part of your legacy.”

  • Brian Gutekunst made a more concerted effort to bring in veterans to help the Rodgers-centered team win now, but Breer doesn’t get the sense the Packers believe time is running out to maximize this rare window. “I’d say this: He’s a young 34,” Mike McCarthy told Breer. “He had the first three years to sit behind Brett (Favre), and if you look at him physically, the last three, four years, he’s clearly in the best shape of his career.” Rodgers reiterated playing until he’s 40 is the “minimum” in terms of longevity he’s seeking, and he specified the baseline (as of now) he’d consider as his last year would be 2024 — when he’d turn 41 late that season.
  • Don’t expect the Vikings‘ kicker battle to end early. Minnesota will put incumbent Kai Forbath and fifth-round rookie Daniel Carlson in pressure situations during camp and will assess their standing during the early portion of preseason play, per Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter), before considering jettisoning one of them.
  • Giovani Bernard profiles as an under-the-radar extension candidate, Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. The Bengals already have their passing-down back signed through 2019 and drafted Joe Mixon in Round 2 last year, but Owczarski could see the Bengals approaching the 27-year-old Bernard with an extension proposal before the running back market reshapes after the Todd Gurley re-up.
  • The Browns worked out offensive lineman Jordan McCray over the weekend, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets. Jordan is the twin brother of Packers lineman Justin McCray.

Vikings Notes: Robison, Hughes, Carlson

Last month, it was announced that Vikings defensive end Brian Robison was taking a pay cut to stay with the team in the final year of his contract. The longtime Viking was scheduled to make $3.5MM initially, but his pay cut reduced his base salary to $1.015MM plus a $90K workout bonus.

Now Robison, who has been with the Vikings since being drafted by the team in the fourth round back in 2007, appears ready to hang up his cleats. He recently told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’ll “more than likely” retire after the 2018 season.

If the 2018 season is indeed Robison’s last in the NFL, it will be the end to an unusually long run with a single team for a role player. Normally only a star player would wind up playing for the same team for 12 seasons, but Robison has carved out a similar situational pass-rushing role with the Vikings year after year through multiple coaching staffs and front offices. He has 60 sacks, 19 passes defended, and 13 forced fumbles throughout his career, only missing three of a possible 176 games since entering the league.

Here’s more on the Vikings:

  • Vikings first-round cornerback Mike Hughes is “pretty close” to signing his rookie deal, Hughes told Tomasson. Hughes, the only Vikings draft pick yet to sign, was taken with the 30th overall pick in April’s draft out of Central Florida.
  • Tomasson reports that rookie kicker Daniel Carlson “has looked better than Kai Forbath in the battle to be Minnesota’s kicker.” Since the Vikings used a fifth-rounder on Carlson, they likely have every intention of having him be their kicker. Forbath, the incumbent, was underwhelming last year and appears likely to be cut.
  • Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Rudolph is working his way back from offseason ankle surgery, and recently returned to the field. Tomasson notes that Rudolph is ahead of schedule in his recovery and wasn’t supposed to get back to work for a few more weeks.

Contract Details: Burnett, Bodine, Williams

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts around the NFL:

AFC

NFC

Vikings Re-Sign K Kai Forbath

Kicker Kai Forbath is re-signing with the Vikings, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press tweets. Terms of the deal are not yet known. 

Forbath earned just $775K in 2017 and will see a pay bump on his new contract after turning in one of the best seasons of his career. Last year, he converted 32 of his 38 field goal attempts and he nailed 34 of his 39 extra point tries. In 2016, he made all 15 of his FG tries for Minnesota across seven games.

With Forbath back in the fold, the Dolphins are left as the only team in the NFL without a kicker.

In other Vikings news, Minnesota landed defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson last week. Richardson’s deal includes an $8MM base salary and $3MM more in available incentives.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings Notes: Cousins, Forbath, Johnson

Kirk Cousins appears to be atop the Vikings offseason wish list. Chris Tomasson of TwinCities.com writes that the organization will “go hard” after the free agent quarterback, adding that negotiations with their 13 unrestricted free agents and three restricted free agents are on hold until the front office understands how much they’ll need to commit to a signal-caller.

The 29-year-old Cousins finished last season having completed 64.3-percent of his passes for 4,093 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. If the Vikings fail in their pursuit of the former Pro Bowler, they can turn their focus to any of the other three quarterbacks they were rostering in 2017: Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater, or Sam Bradford.

Let’s take a look at some other notes out of Minnesota, all via Tomasson…

  • The Vikings want to re-sign kicker Kai Forbath, but the team has yet to make an offer to the veteran. The 30-year-old, who earned $775K last season, had one of the best seasons of his career with Minnesota in 2017. Forbath converted 32 of his 38 field goal attempts, and he made 34 of his 39 extra point tries.
  • The front office still hasn’t decided what tender they’ll place on restricted free agent offensive guard Nick Easton, but they want him back in 2018. A former undrafted free agent out of Harvard, the 25-year-old has started 17 of his 23 games over the past two seasons with the Vikings. Tomasson notes that the team is unlikely to tender restricted free agent running back Bishop Sankey or offensive lineman Jeremiah Sirles.
  • There’s no guarantee that defensive tackle Tom Johnson will be back with the team next season. Tomasson notes that Minnesota is willing to pay the 33-year-old, but his return will “depend on other offers he might get.” The writer also writes that Johnson asked for a one-year, $4MM extension last season, but the Vikings ultimately balked. Johnson started 15 of 16 games last season, compiling 32 tackles and two sacks.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

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. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

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 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

NFC Notes: Griffin, Stafford, Forbath, 49ers

The Seahawks defense continues to take hits on the injury front as the team has now learned that starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin has been ruled out for Sunday’s game vs. the 49ers with a concussion, according to Gregg Bell of The News Tribune (Twitter link). Bell adds that lineman Oday Aboushi will miss the matchup with a shoulder injury as well, so Seattle will once again have to expose backups to expansive playing time.

It would seem that cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Jeremy Lane will get the starts on the outside, with either rookie Ethan Pocic or third-year lineman Mark Glowinski filling in for Aboushi at right guard.

Seattle’s roster looks a whole lot different without the likes of Griffin, Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor in the starting lineup, which has contributed greatly to the Seahawks up-and-down sort of season. The team still has an outstanding defensive line and is right in the thick of the playoff race, but is currently facing a lot of adversity as it continues to lose quality players as the season wears on.

  • In what was a tremendous show of resiliency on Thanksgiving, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford actually finished the game after he suffered what looked to be a serious leg injury. However, even though the talented QB was able to return, you can clearly see that he is not 100% in a video posted to Instagram by Davie Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, depicting Stafford hobbling away after his postgame press conference. It remains to be seen whether Stafford can continue to play in the weeks to come, but we should learn more about the overall severity of the injury next week.
  • Vikings kicker Kai Forbath apparently cut his foot on the nullified block field goal, but should not miss any time moving forward, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter link). Forbath had been one of the best kickers in the league up until the last few weeks when he missed two field goals against the Rams and suffered the aforementioned blocked kick yesterday.
  • The 49ers are as expected not in playoff contention this year, but still await some key decisions on potential free agents at season’s end. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, looked at six impending free agents who could be on the way out after the 2017 season is over. Branch noted running back Carlos Hyde, safety Eric Reid, center Daniel Kilgore, defensive end Aaron Lynch, defensive lineman Tank Carradine and cornerback Dontae Johnson as all guys that seemed primed to test the open market. There are a variety of factors that go into these decisions, but it’s interesting to see how the team may approach these players in the final six weeks of the season given their impending free agency.