Because McKelvin wasn’t on a roster at the conclusion of the 2017 season, he’s eligible to sign with a club immediately. McKelvin, 32, spent last year out of the NFL after being cut by the Eagles in February, but he did attract interest throughout the campaign, as he met with the Saints, Rams, and Falcons at various points during the season.
McKelvin wasn’t exactly a superstar the last time he was on the field, as Pro Football Focus graded him as the No. 71 cornerback among 112 qualifiers. In his first (and only) season with the Eagles, McKelvin appeared in 13 games (12 starts), managing 16 passes defensed and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Although McKelvin may no longer be the difference-maker he once was, the Browns have had success with seemingly aging defensive backs in the very recent past, as 30-year-old Jason McCourty posted one of the best seasons of his career with Cleveland in 2017.
The Falcons could be without Desmond Trufant this week as he navigates concussion protocol, and the defending NFC champions brought in Leodis McKelvin for possible insurance.
McKelvin worked out for the Falcons on Thursday, Field Yates of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). McKelvin has yet to play this season but has participated in multiple auditions for NFC teams.
Both the Rams and Saints brought McKelvin in for visits back in August, but each team moved on from the 32-year-old defender without an agreement. The Falcons, though, could be down their No. 1 corner. And key contributor Brian Poole is also dealing with a back injury. The Falcons, though, have six cornerbacks on their 53-man roster.
The Eagles released McKelvin in February after one season. The former first-round pick played eight seasons in Buffalo before moving to Philadelphia. Known additionally for his return skills, McKelvin started 12 games for the Eagles last season and has 72 career starts on his stat page.
Things have been quiet for McKelvin ever since being let go by the Eagles in February. He auditioned for the Saints late last week, but that was his first known workout of the offseason and he left New Orleans without a deal.
The Rams shook things up in a major way last week, acquiring Sammy Watkins in a surprising blockbuster trade with the Bills. Clearly, they are not shy about shaking up the roster here in August.
We haven’t heard McKelvin’s name mentioned much since he was released by the Eagles in February. In his lone campaign with Philly, McKelvin appeared in 13 games (12 starts), managing 16 passes defensed and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Even though he had the familiarity of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz’s scheme, McKelvin graded out as the league’s No. 71 ranked corner out of 112 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
Over the course of his career, McKelvin has not done much to justify his selection as the No. 11 overall pick in the 2008 draft. On the plus side, the 31-year-old managed to start 12 games last year, marking the second time that he has reached double-digit starts in the last five years. No one expects McKelvin to blossom into a shutdown corner at this stage of his career, but he’ll can find more success by staying healthy.
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.
McKelvin followed former Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to Philadelphia, inking a two-year, $6.2MM deal last offseason. The 31-year-old McKelvin was due a $1.2MM roster bonus later this offseason, a payment the Eagles clearly had no intention of paying. By releasing McKelvin now, Philadelphia clears $3.2MM in cap room, and incurs just $250K in dead money.
In his first (and only) season with the Eagles, McKelvin appeared in 13 games (12 starts), managing 16 passes defensed and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Even with the benefit of playing in a familiar scheme, McKelvin graded as just the league’s No. 71 corner among 112 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
September 26th, 2016 at 10:00pm CST by Sam Robinson
Jared Cook appears to have avoided a season-ending injury, but the rare Packers free agent looks to be out for at least a game and possibly more following Green Bay’s Week 4 bye, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com reports. It’s being determined whether Cook will be out through Week 5, or if the former Titans and Rams target will be forced to miss multiple full games.
Cook left Lambeau Field Sunday on crutches and remains in a walking boot. The Packers are off in Week 4 and host the Giants in Week 5, but they will likely do so without their starting tight end’s services. Richard Rodgers will be the next man up for Green Bay.
Here are some more injury-related notes from around the league.
Continuing the string of trouble at the tight end position this season, Jordan Cameron suffered a concussion against the Browns and won’t play on Thursday against the Bengals, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald reports. This makes four concussions in the past four years for Cameron, who is in his second season with the Dolphins.
Gase also labeled Arian Foster as unlikely to return this week, per Beasley. He remains out with a groin injury. Foster sustained a groin tear during his final Texans training camp last summer and underwent surgery for it at the time. Foster missed three games last season due to that malady before going down with the Achilles tear that ended his time in Houston.
Browns linebacker Nate Orchard has a high-ankle sprain, which he sustained on the final play of Cleveland’s overtime loss in Miami, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com reports (on Twitter). Orchard is expected to be out “a while.” Additionally, Tramon Williams suffered an AC joint sprain during the loss, Hue Jackson said Monday. It’s unclear how long the veteran corner will be out.
As long as Ryan Mathews is healthy, he will remain the Eagles‘ top running back, per Doug Pederson (via Zach Berman of Philly.com). The problem, as it’s been for much of the running back’s career, stems from the fact the second-year Eagle again might not be healthy. Mathews left Sunday’s game against the Steelers after playing just eight snaps due to a left ankle injury. Mathews struggled with left ankle trouble in training camp as well.
The Eagles expect Zach Ertz and Leodis McKelvin to return after the team’s Week 4 bye, Berman reports. Philadelphia’s starting tight end has missed the past two games with a displaced rib, and McKelvin has missed the same amount of time due to a hamstring ailment.
Safety Darian Thompson‘s foot injury is not serious and not “the end of the world,” a source tells Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter). Thompson will probably be out another week or two before suiting up for the Giants.
September 12th, 2016 at 11:33am CST by Zachary Links
We’re one game into the season and the Eagles are already a little bit banged up. Today, coach Doug Pederson told reporters that tight end Zach Ertz and cornerback Leodis McKelvin are both week-to-week after suffering injuries (Twitter link via Eagles’ team account). Ertz suffered an especially painful-sounding injury as one of his ribs has displaced itself under his collarbone. McKelvin, meanwhile, has a hamstring strain that could sideline him for multiple games.
Ertz, the 35th overall pick in the 2013 draft, is coming off a career year in which he caught 75 passes for 853 yards in 2015. This offseason, he was rewarded with a lucrative extension that should keep him in Philly through the 2021 season. On Sunday against the Browns, Ertz caught six of his seven targets for 58 yards. The Eagles have Brent Celek and Trey Burtonon the depth chart behind the 6’5″, 249 pound tight end.
In the case of McKelvin, the Eagles could simply promote from within by calling up C.J. Smith from the practice squad. Pederson acknowledge that as a possibility while also adding that the team will explore its options at cornerback if McKelvin has to miss significant time.
Trevor Siemian, the Broncos‘ presumptive No. 2 quarterback, was more consistent in many ways than presumptive starter Mark Sanchez during the team’s OTAs and minicamp, and given that head coach Gary Kubiak said in his offseason-ending press conference last week that Sanchez and Siemian are in a virtual tie for the starting job, there has been some speculation that Siemian could be under center when Week 1 rolls around. But Mike Klis of 9News.com, while acknowledging Siemian’s strong performance, agrees with the prevailing consensus that, unless Sanchez completely flops in the first two games of the preseason–which is a distinct possibility–his experience will force Kubiak’s hand and he will be named the starter prior to the all-important third preseason contest.
Now let’s take a look at some more links from around the league:
Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com says that a long-term deal between Von Miller and the Broncos remains the most likely outcome, but if the July 15 deadline for a new contract comes and goes, the two sides could work out an alternative one-year agreement that provides Miller with a little more incentive to sign. For instance, the team could promise to not use the tag on Miller again in 2017, which means that Miller, assuming he is willing to risk injury/ineffectiveness in 2016–while earning the full $14.129MM of the franchise tender in the process–would be guaranteed to hit the open market and get his big payday in 2017. If stubbornness prevails and there is no new deal by July 15, that currently unlikely scenario suddenly becomes more plausible.
Before coaching at yesterday’s University of Michigan Big Man camp, free agent left tackle Jake Long said that he is finally healthy. The former No. 1 overall pick added, “This is the healthiest and best I’ve felt in probably about five, six years. My knee’s back. I’ve just been working out, feeling good and ready for the opportunity when it comes along” (article via Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com). Long, of course, spent the first five years of his career with the Dolphins and was widely-regarded as one of the best left tackles in the league during that time, but he tore his ACL in each of his two subsequent seasons, which he spent with the Rams, and he appeared in only four games with the Falcons last year, starting none. If he is, in fact, completely healthy, he should be able to land a job as teams look to replace injured or underperforming players during training camp and the preseason.
Two of the Chiefs‘ best players, Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston, are recovering from torn ACLs, and the team is being cautious with both, as Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com writes (citing Adam Teicher of ESPN.com). Houston will not be ready for the start of training camp and may not suit up until sometime after the regular season begins, while Charles will be eased into camp and should be ready for Week 1. Neither player, though, will be on the field before they are completely healthy, as they are too important to the team’s plans to risk re-injury.
In the Eagles‘ crowded and confusing defensive backfield, it is too early to predict who will emerge as the regular contributors. But Mark Eckel of NJ.com writes that a source with knowledge of the way DC Jim Schwartz and DB coach Cory Undlin are thinking says that, if the season started today, the top of the cornerback depth chart would look like this: Leodis McKelvin, Nolan Carroll, Jalen Mills, Ron Brooks, and Eric Rowe.
Here are specific details on several of the latest agreed-upon and signed contracts from around the NFL. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated…
David Bruton, S (Washington): Three years, $9MM. $3.4MM guaranteed. $2.5MM signing bonus. $500K annual playing-time escalator in 2017 and 2018. $500K in incentives in 2018 (Twitterlinks via Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post).
Paul Soliai, DT (Panthers): Two years, $6.5MM. $3MM guaranteed. $2MM signing bonus. $740K in annual per-game active roster bonuses. $500K roster bonus due on the fifth day of the 2017 league year (Twitter link).
Leodis McKelvin, CB (Eagles): Two years, $6.2MM. $3MM guaranteed. $500K signing bonus. $1.2MM bonus due on fifth day of 2017 league year. $100K Pro Bowl incentive. $350K playing-time incentive (Twitter link).
Cory Harkey, TE (Rams): Three years, $5.7MM. $2.5MM guaranteed. $500K roster bonus due on 10th day of 2016 league year. $500K roster bonus due in 2017, guaranteed for skill and injury (Twitter link).
Rolando McClain, LB (Cowboys): One year, $4MM. $750K signing bonus. $1.25MM base salary. $2MM in per-game roster bonuses. Up to $1MM in playing-time and playoff incentives (Twitter link).
Rhett Ellison, TE (Vikings): One year, $1.75MM. $100K signing bonus. $790K in per-game active roster bonuses. Up to $500K in incentives (Twitter link).
Chris Givens, WR (Eagles): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K signing bonus. $100K of $760K base salary is guaranteed (Twitter link via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News).
Mike Wallace, WR (Ravens): Two years, $11.5MM. $4.5MM signing bonus. $1MM roster bonus due on fifth day of 2017 league year. Option for second year to be exercised/declined prior to end of 2016 league year (Twitterlinks).
Matt Moore, QB (Dolphins): Two years, $3.55MM. $2.25MM guaranteed. $750K signing bonus. $1.25MM in annual incentives (Twitter link).
Sean Spence, LB (Titans): One year, $2.5MM. $500K signing bonus. $500K in per-game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
Robert Turbin, RB (Colts): One year, minimum salary benefit. $80K in incentives for rushing yards (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).