Bills linebacker Keenan Robinson has retired from the NFL. On Thursday, Robinson came to the conclusion that he no longer has what it takes to play in the NFL and said goodbye to his teammates, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter) hears. The Bills subsequently placed him on the reserve/retired list.
Robinson appeared in 58 games for the Giants and Redskins from 2012-2017. He was a 13-game starter in 2013, but his playing time has been reduced ever since and he missed ten games last year due to a quad injury.
As an experienced player with special teams abilities, Robinson had a real chance to make the Bills’ final cut when he joined the club in late July. After competing with fellow veteran linebackers Ramon Humber, Julian Stanford, and Deon Lacey for about a month, however, Robinson felt that he had lost a step.
The Bills have signed linebacker Keenan Robinson, according to a team announcement. The move fills the final spot on the Bills’ 90-man offseason roster.
Robinson has appeared in 58 games for the Giants and Redskins since 2012. He was a 13-game starter in 2013, but his playing time has been reduced ever since and he missed ten games last year due to a quad injury.
As an experienced player with special teams abilities, Robinson will make his case to make the Bills’ final cut. He’ll compete with fellow veteran linebackers Ramon Humber, Julian Stanford, and Deon Lacey for a place on the 53-man roster.
Robinson also drew interest from the Jaguars and Titans in the spring, but did not sign with either club.
Robinson, 28, would fill a Jacksonville void at linebacker that was created when Paul Posluszny retired earlier this year. The Jaguars never added a potential replacement for Posluszny, meaning 2017 fifth-rounder Blair Brown is currently projected to start in base packages.
A 13-game starter in 2013, Robinson has seen his playing time reduced since that campaign, and a quad injury limited him to only six contests last season. But he’s an experienced veteran with special teams capabilities, and would allow the Jaguars to keep Brown in a limited role, or — at the very least — allow him to grow into a starter. Robinson also drew interest from the division-rival Titans in March before Tennessee signed fellow linebacker William Compton.
Carter, meanwhile, spent the past two seasons with the Jets, but rarely played on defense — in fact, he saw only 10 defensive snaps a year ago. As such, he’d likely be added as a depth option and special-teamer in Jacksonville. Carter appeared on 61.4% of of New York’s special teams snaps in 2017, so he’d add experience to a Jaguars unit that ranked just 24th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA last year.
Robinson, 28, would fill a Tennessee void at linebacker that was created when former starter Avery Williamson signed with the Jets last week. A 13-game starter in 2013, Robinson has see his playing time reduced since that campaign, and a quad injury limited him to only six contests last season.
But he’s an experienced veteran with special teams capabilities, and would allow the Titans to bump 2017 fifth-rounder Jayon Brown into a reserve role. If signed, Robinson would join a Tennessee inside linebacker group that includes Brown, Wesley Woodyard, Nate Palmer, and Daren Bates.
November 14th, 2017 at 3:55pm CST by Zachary Links
The Giants announced that they have signed linebacker Akeem Ayers and guard John Greco. They also placed linebacker Keenan Robinson (quad) on injured reserve and elevated wide receiver Kalif Raymond from the practice squad. To make room, they cut defensive end Devin Taylor and waived wide receiver Ed Eagan.
Ayers auditioned for the Giants in September and again on Nov. 8. In the most recent workout, he apparently made a good impression on coaches. Ayers finished out last season with 18 tackles, two sacks, and one interception for the Colts. He graded out as the No. 54 edge defender in the NFL out of 110 qualified players, per Pro Football Focus’ metrics. He didn’t exactly set the world on fire last season, but he does offer experience as a starter from his time with the Titans (2011-2013) and Rams (2015). In 2014, he won a Super Bowl ring with the Patriots.
Greco, 32, joined the Saints in early October but was released without having played a down. Injuries forced him to miss six total games from 2015-16 for the Browns, but he was effective while healthy. Last year, he graded as the league’s No. 18 guard among 75 qualifiers last season, per PFF. All told, Greco offers 111 games — and 70 starts — worth of experience.
The Giants aren’t playing for much at this point, but they are curious to see if Ayers, Greco, and Raymond can be worthwhile players for 2018.
“Other teams offered multiple-year deals, but I’m still young,” said Robinson. “A one-year deal is fine. I’m still 27, so, like I said, right now I’m in a great situation. So I wanted to be a part of it. I was willing to make it work and be flexible as far as that goes.”
Robinson, who visited the Bengals and Bills prior to re-upping with New York, ultimately received $2.6MM ($1MM guaranteed) from Big Blue. Returning in a similar role, Robinson will likely serve as the Giants’ nickel linebacker in 2017, per Raanan — the fifth-pro played 70% of the team’s defensive snaps in that capacity last season.
Keenan Robinson paid visits to the Bengals and Bills this month, but his most recent NFL employer looks to have made a suitable offer. The Giants reached an agreement to re-sign the linebacker, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com reports (on Twitter).
Robinson spent one season with Big Blue, 2016, after playing three with the Redskins. He will continue to serve as a key component on the Giants’ second level, which has by far the least capital allocated to it on a team stacked with high-end defensive end and cornerback contracts. The Giants categorized Robinson as a lower-tier priority this offseason but engaged in talks with the UFA before free agency’s outset. After tending to bigger business, Big Blue agreed to retain the former fourth-round pick.
The Bengals signed Kevin Minter soon after Robinson’s Cincinnati summit, and the Bills used a second-round pick on Reggie Ragland last year. The Giants aren’t especially keen on paying linebackers big deals. That trend should continue, with Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul having $17MM-AAV contracts. Robinson’s deal will likely be a midlevel accord.
A former multiyear Redskins starter, the 27-year-old Robinson made 79 tackles and deflected a career-high seven passes. Pro Football Focus, though, assigned Robinson a grade that placed him among the 10 worst full-time ‘backers last season. Playing on 71 percent of the Giants’ defensive snaps, Robinson started six games and played in every contest for a defense that made immense strides after a putrid 2015 performance.
Keenan Robinson logged his second visit of the offseason by making a trip to Buffalo to meet with the Bills, per Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Last week, Robinson visited the Bengals, but Cincinnati ended up agreeing to a deal with higher-profile UFA linebacker Kevin Minter to help keep Robinson unattached.
The Giants had Robinson stationed as a player they wanted to re-sign, but Big Blue traditionally doesn’t spend much on linebackers and has several returning players. New York also re-signed Mark Herzlich today to add to their defensive second level.
PFR’s No. 11 remaining UFA linebacker, Robinson started six games and played in all of Big Blue’s contests last season, making 79 tackles and seven pass deflections. He started in 21 games for the Redskins in 2014 and ’15.
The Bills could well lose Zach Brown, who’s been a coveted commodity as a UFA after recording 149 stops last year. They still have Preston Brown and 2016 second-rounder Reggie Ragland, who missed all of last season due to injury. The Bills are transitioning back to a 4-3 look after two years in Rex Ryan’s 3-4. Robinson, though, has experience in both, with the Redskins using a 3-4 alignment and the Giants in their traditional 4-3.
The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.
Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:
The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.
Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).
Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.
The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.
While players at other defensive positions have flown off the board, there’s been almost no movement among off-ball linebackers. Only five of PFR’s original top-15 free agent linebackers have signed new contracts, a group that includes Dont’a Hightower, our previous No. 1 ‘backer who re-signed with the Patriots today. Zach Brown, who now holds that honor, broke out in his fifth NFL campaign and played especially well in coverage, a skill that should lead to a handsome reward. Brown, 27, met with the Raiders today, while the Dolphins also hope to schedule a visit.
The Bengals, specifically, are in the linebackermarket, as they’ve met with both Kevin Minter and Keenan Robinson in recent days. But the rest of the players on this list aren’t drawing much interest as of yet, a fact that speaks to the devaluation of the linebacker position. Teams will pay up for a three-down linebacker like Hightower, but if a player can be formation-ed off the field, he’s not going to land a hefty deal.
One linebacker who did prove he could stay on the field on third down was Perry Riley, who played 370 coverage snaps for the Raiders last season. Riley is still only 28 years old, but posted awful marks from Pro Football Focus during his previous campaigns with Washington. Whether it was Oakland’s scheme (including its talented pass rushers) that allowed Riley to flourish, or a true breakout coming in the middle of a career, Riley could help a number of clubs. The Raiders are reportedly working to bring him back.
The top two corners still on the open market are both former Cowboys, and Brandon Carr looks like the surer bet to return to Dallas at this point. Morris Claiborne, meanwhile, has drawn interest from the Ravens, and most opposing clubs believe he’ll end up signing with Baltimore. Clairborne, 27, appeared to be a prime overpay candidate heading into the offseason, but if the Ravens can land him on a short-term deal, they’d be making a wise investment.
Now that all charges have been dropped against Darrelle Revis, he’ll make for an interesting test case in free agency. Clearly, Revis is not the shutdown corner he once was, and may even be mulling a move to safety as he closes his career. But clubs in the market for secondary help could do worse than Revis, and he should be on a roster when the regular season rolls around.
Most of the safeties on this list are in-the-box types — that’s thanks to the fact that center field-esque safeties are more rare and thus more expensive. Recently-released veterans such as Jairus Byrd, Lardarius Webb, and Corey Graham, however, offer coverage ability and would make for decent signings on short pacts. T.J. McDonald and Bradley McDougald, on other hand, are big hitters that will patrol near the line of scrimmage. McDougald, specifically, will take a visit with the Seahawks this week.
Chris Prosinski is just a special teamer, but he’s a great special teamer. While he only played 173 defensive snaps in 2016, he saw time on more than 80% of the Bears’ special teams plays, and was listed as one of the season’s best special teams players by Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders ranked the Cardinals, Jets, and Texans as the bottom-three teams in special teams DVOA, and any of those clubs would benefit from adding Prosinski.
Demand is not high for placekickers at the moment, as only the Giants and Bengals stand out as clubs that immediately need a kicker. Injuries and ineffectiveness are sure to strike the position, however, at which point the specialists on this list will surely receive calls. Dan Carpenter and Mike Nugent missed a combined 11 extra points in 2016, and given that he topped both Carpenter and Nugent in field goal percentage, Nick Folk should be the first kicker on clubs’ emergency list.