Marques Colston

Latest On Marques Colston

Free agent receiver Marques Colston hasn’t drawn any known interest since being released by the Saints in February, and that could be by design. As Colston explains to Joel Erickson of the Advocate, he’s just about ready to hang up his cleats for good.Marques Colston (Vertical)

[RELATED: Saints Could Explore Brandin Cooks Trade]

“Nothing official, but I’m not actively looking to play right now,” Colston said. Although an August report indicated that Colston could begin looking for work after rehabbing a shoulder injury, the longtime Saints receiver tells Erickson that wasn’t his intention. “I was rehabbing the shoulder for a while,” Colston said. “I got to a point where I knew I wasn’t going to move forward, and really just having a lot of things lined up off the field made it an easy transition.”

Colston, 32, had been with the Saints since 2006, when he was selected in the seventh round of the draft, 252nd overall. The Hofstra product had been one of the most productive pass-catchers in the NFL – and the Saints’ all-time leading receiver — since then, racking up six 1,000-yard seasons and 9,759 overall receiving yards over the last decade.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Colston, Jaguars, Manziel, Tebow

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Free agent wideout Marques Colston is still rehabbing a shoulder injury, and the veteran is planning on exploring playing opportunities once he’s healthy. “Once I’m done with rehab, I’ll see what’s out there,” Colston told Aaron Kasinitz of PennLive.com. The Saints‘ all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns was released by the team earlier this offseason.
  • ESPN analyst (and former NFL general manager) Mark Dominik told SiriusXM’s Alex Marvez that the Jaguars could be looking to make a deal. The team is very deep at defensive line and tight end, and Dominik says the front office is hoping to trade some of their depth before the end of the preseason (Twitter link).
  • A source told Carlos Greer of the New York Post that Johnny Manziel is intending to clean up his act before pursuing another NFL opportunity in 2017. “He knows he’s hit rock bottom and he’s giving himself a year to get sober and get ready for football. He wants to play again,” said the source. “He really wants to turn things around and make people proud of him again. It’s not going to end this way. He really wants to make that effort. He knows what he’s gifted with … The spotlight got to him.”
  • Former major league catcher Chad Moeller can’t envision Tim Tebow spending more than two years in the minors. Rather, Moeller believes it’s more majors-or-bust for the former NFL quarterback. “Now, do I think a team is going to send him to rookie ball? No,” Moeller told Tom Pelissero of USA Today. “You’re taking a 28-year-old. You know what you’re getting. It’s either going to work or it’s not, and it’s going to have to be fast-tracked.”
  • Moeller also noted that Tebow needs to be wary of teams simply signing the former NFL player in order to sell tickets. Rather, the former catcher said Tebow is seeking an organization that would want him for his talents. “He knows he’s partially a sideshow to start with,” Moeller said. “But he does want a team that actually thinks this is for real and thinks this is someone that can help us.”

Best Available NFL Free Agents: Offense

The most high-profile free agent signings occurred more than two months ago, but as we near June there are still talented NFL free agents available on the open market. Most of these players (with a few exceptions) won’t command much guaranteed money, and given that we’ve passed the May 12 deadline, none will factor into the compensatory draft pick formula. Let’s take a look at the players who will try to find a home as training camp approaches:"<strong

1. Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB: The most obvious destination for Fitzpatrick remains the Jets, who don’t intend to play second-round pick Christian Hackenberg immediately but, as of the draft, hadn’t had meaningful talks with Fitz’s camp in awhile. The 33-year-old Fitzpatrick has apparently told people he’d “rather not play football” in 2016 than accept New York’s current offer, though that seems like a negotiating ploy to get the Jets to put more than $7-8MM on the table. Gang Green holds all the leverage in this scenario, as the only other club that might have still been searching for a quarterback — the Broncos — is thought to have ended their hunt for another signal-caller after drafting Paxton Lynch last month.

2. Anquan Boldin, WR: Even as he ages, Boldin continues to post solid production — he’s managed at least 65 receptions in each of the past four years, averaging nearly 1,000 yards and five touchdowns during that time. And while the 49ers have not asked him to return in 2016, Boldin could be an option for a number of wide receiver-needy teams, as the Bengals, Steelers, Colts, Chiefs, and Giants could all make varying levels of sense for the veteran pass-catcher, especially given that he’s indicated he’d prefer to play for a contender. Boldin has taken just one free agent visit this offseason, but that team — Washington — is unlikely to still have interest given that it selected TCU wideout Josh Doctson in the first round of the draft.

3. Arian Foster, RB: There’s no question that Foster offers the highest upside of any free agent on this list, as he’s topped 1,200 yards rushing in every season that he’s remained even remotely healthy. But health, of course, has remained a hindrance throughout Foster’s career — in 2015 alone, Foster was slowed by a groin injury during camp before suffering a torn Achilles in in Week 7. The Dolphins met with Foster earlier this offseason and could still be a landing spot, while the Raiders, Eagles, and Chargers (especially if Melvin Gordon‘s recovery from microfracture surgery doesn’t go well) could be options.

4. Jahri Evans, G: Knee and ankle injuries limited Evans to 11 games in 2015, but like Foster, Evans is a solid contributor when he’s on the field, as he graded as the league’s No. 27 guard among 81 qualifiers last year, per Pro Football Focus. Entering his age-33 season, Evans might have to be willing to engage in a camp battle for a starting role, or even wait until a club suffers an injury along its offensive interior. But a team like the Broncos, who are currently projected to start sixth-round rookie Connor McGovern at right guard, could express interest.

5. Louis Vasquez, G: Vasquez isn’t quite the guard that Evans is, but he offers a vast amount of experience, as he played over 1,000 snaps in 2015 with Denver, and has started 101 games since entering the league in 2009. Not yet 30 years old, Vasquez could help a number of clubs at either guard position — he met with the Titans earlier this offseason, and depending on its assessment of Jeremiah Poutasi, Tennessee may still be interested. The Chiefs, having failed to replace Jeff Allen, could also make sense as a destination."<strong

6. Andre Johnson, WR: After posting the worst full-season results of his career, Johnson was released by the Colts just one season into a three-year pact. Whether interested clubs will determine that Johnson was victimized by a lackluster 2015 Indianapolis (and largely Andrew Luck-less) offense — or instead conclude that Johnson is just about finished at age-34 — is an open question, but the 13-year veteran has indicated that he’d like to continue playing in 2016.

7. Will Beatty, T: Beatty is expected to be fully healthy this summer after missing the entire 2015 season with a torn pectoral muscle, but he reportedly won’t be returning to the Giants. It’s a little surprising that Beatty hasn’t yet found a home for 2016, but he shouldn’t have to wait much longer, as he’s clearly the best tackle available on the open market (his top competition is the likes of Jake Long and Mike Adams). I could see the Bears bringing in Beatty to compete with Charles Leno on the blindside, while the Cardinals could also be a feasible landing spot if they aren’t happy with D.J. Humphries — who didn’t play a single snap as a rookie — at right tackle.

8. James Jones, WR: Another season catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, another successful year for Jones, who returned to Green Bay after a year in Oakland to post 50 receptions for nearly 900 yards an eight touchdowns. Jones, now 32, has indicated that he’d like to play for awhile longer, though the Packers have reportedly moved on. After waiting until July of last year to sign with the Giants (and September to reunite with the Pack), Jones could again have to wait awhile to find a new team, but whoever signs him will be acquiring a big-play threat — in 2015, Jones ranked fourth in the league with 17.8 yards per reception.

9. Ryan Wendell, C/G: Perhaps the least recognizable name on this list, Wendell spent the last seven seasons as a utility interior lineman with the Patriots, and ended up starting 44 contests from 2012-2014. A knee injury prematurely ended Wendell’s 2015 season in November, and a March report stated that Wendell would wait until he returned to full health before signing with a new team. A return to New England can’t be ruled out, but a club like the Cardinals — who are currently projecting A.Q. Shipley to start at center — could also be on Wendell’s radar.

10. Owen Daniels, TE: Daniels has spent all ten of his NFL seasons under the tutelage of Gary Kubiak, following the coach from Houston to Baltimore and, finally, to Denver. That streak of loyalty is now in danger after the Broncos released Daniels earlier this year, though Kubiak did not rule out re-signing the veteran tight end (Denver has since signed fellow TE Garrett Graham, however). Even at age-33, Daniels performed in line with his career averages, posting 48 receptions for more than 500 yards and four touchdowns.

Honorable mention: Tarvaris Jackson, QB; Joique Bell, RB; Bryce Brown, RB; Marques Colston, WR; Brian Hartline, WR; Roddy White, WR; Khaled Holmes, C; Amini Silatolu, G.

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Release Marques Colston

3:45pm: The Saints have officially released Colston, per today’s transactions wire, tweets Evan Woodbery of NOLA.com. The veteran wideout received a failed physical designation, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link).

FEBRUARY 29, 3:37pm: Colston remains on New Orleans’ roster for now, and while it still seems likely that he’ll be released, head coach Sean Payton said today that the Saints have spent a long time talking about where they’re at with the wideout (Twitter link via Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com).

FEBRUARY 23, 1:55pm: The move isn’t official yet, but the Saints will indeed release Colston, says Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (Twitter link).

1:13pm: Shortly after parting ways with veteran guard Jahri Evans, the Saints appear poised to cut another one of their longtime offensive contributors. According to Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, who cites a league source, New Orleans will likely release wide receiver Marques Colston sometime in the coming days.Marques Colston (Vertical)

[RELATED: Saints cut Jahri Evans, David Hawthorne]

Colston, 32, has been with the Saints since 2006, when he was selected in the seventh round of the draft, 252nd overall. The Hofstra product has been one of the most productive receivers in the NFL – and the Saints’ all-time leading receivers since then, racking up six 1,000-yard seasons and 9,759 overall receiving yards over the last decade.

However, Colston had trouble staying healthy in 2015 and his production fell off as a result. For the season, the veteran wideout recorded career-worst marks in receptions (45), yards (520), and touchdowns (four), as he dealt with shoulder and chest injuries. Even prior to last season, Colston had seen his numbers slipping a little — he set new career lows in yards per game in both 2013 and 2014.

2016 is the final year of Colston’s contract with the Saints, and he had been scheduled to earn $3.2MM in salary and bonuses. By releasing him, New Orleans could trim his cap hit from $5.9MM to just $2.7MM, creating some additional flexibility for the team to handle its offseason business.

[RELATED: PFR previews the Saints’ offseason]

Until the move is official, there may still be a chance that the Saints reach some sort of agreement with Colston to keep him on the roster at a reduced rate, but it seems increasingly clear that he won’t return on his current contract. If the club cuts him, he’ll be immediately eligible to sign with a new team without having to pass through waivers, and as long as he’s on track to be healthy for the 2016 campaign, he should draw interest.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Restructure Dannell Ellerbe’s Contract

8:36am: According to Field Yates of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the Saints have made the following adjustments to Ellerbe’s contract for 2016:

  • Reduced base salary from $4.1MM to $1.7MM (fully guaranteed, per Aaron Wilson)
  • Reduced roster bonus from $1MM to $750K (guaranteed for skill and injury, per Wilson)
  • Reduced workout bonus from $100K to $50K
  • Added $700K in playing-time incentives

Taking into account Ellerbe’s $700K in prorated bonus money, it looks like New Orleans trimmed the linebacker’s cap hit for 2016 from $5.9MM to $3.2MM, as Wilson tweets. That number would increase if Ellerbe earns some of his incentives, but for now, it looks like those won’t count against the cap.

Ellerbe’s 2017 year will now feature the same contract terms as 2016, but that year could be voided if he plays 80% of the Saints’ defensive snaps this year, says Yates.

11:32am: The Saints won’t release linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, but have restructured his contract to reduce his 2016 cap hit, reports Mike Triplett of ESPN.com. The details of Ellerbe’s reworked deal aren’t yet known, but the veteran linebacker almost certainly agreed to a pay cut as part of the move.Dannell Ellerbe

[RELATED: Saints cut Jahri Evans, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber]

Ellerbe, who was acquired by New Orleans last March in the trade that sent Kenny Stills to the Dolphins, was limited to six games in his first season as a Saint due to nagging toe and hip injuries. The team apparently saw enough in those games to want him back for 2016, however, so Ellerbe didn’t meet the same fate as fellow linebackers David Hawthorne and Ramon Humber, who became cap casualties earlier this week.

Ellerbe had been set to count for $5.9MM against the cap in 2016, including a $4.1MM base salary. As Joel Corry of CBSSports.com details, that salary was initially guaranteed for injury only, but would have become fully guaranteed today if the Saints had kept the 30-year-old on their roster without adjusting his contract.

Here are a few more Saints-related notes for Wednesday:

  • Referring to the last time the Saints and Drew Brees negotiated a contract as a point of reference, Evan Woodbery of the New Orleans Times-Picayune says the quarterback will be a tough adversary this offseason, if and when the club enters contract talks with him.
  • In a separate Times-Picayune piece, Woodbery explores what a new (and potentially final) contract for Brees might look like, writing that it’s “hard to imagine Brees’ camp seeking anything lower than $20MM a year.” The fact that the veteran QB currently counts for $30MM against the 2016 cap gives him leverage, since a 2017 franchise tag would be unpalatable for the Saints.
  • In a piece focusing on the three NFL teams with the worst salary cap situations, Joel Corry of CBSSports.com discusses the Saints, referring to Brees’ $30MM cap charge as “the elephant in the room.” Corry suggests New Orleans ought to restructure Cameron Jordan‘s contract, and adds that it may be time for the club to part ways with longtime Saints Marques Colston and Zach Strief.

NFC Notes: Saints, McCoy, Ryan, Shanahan

As teams prepare for a December playoff push, a few of the more important NFC teams are dealing with disappointing seasons that have gone off the rails. The Saints and Falcons have both fallen squarely out of the postseason picture, while the Eagles are hanging on due to a terrible NFC East division.

Here are some notes from the Saints, Falcons, and Eagles:

  • Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan is playing for pride down the stretch in 2015, but most of his teammates are playing for something more important–their jobs, writes Larry Holder of NOLA.com. Holder notes that the team will have to make major decisions on some key players this offseason, including Drew Brees, Marques Colston, Zach Strief, Jahri Evans, and even Sean Payton.
  • During the Falcons hot start, both Matt Ryan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan looked like absolute superstars in Atlanta. Since then, both have really struggled to produce anything significant offensively. Despite those struggles and who is to blame, Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that neither is on the chopping block this season.
  • Much has been made of the feud between LeSean McCoy and Chip Kelly, especially since part of the reason for trading McCoy to the Bills was because of “fit” and “culture.” DeMarco Murray is averaging 3.5 yards per carry and has a reduced role in the Eagles’ offense, and has become a distraction, while McCoy is thriving in Buffalo, contradicting both reasons for the trade, writes Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s worth the read if only for the small note about McCoy getting a call from an unknown number this past Tuesday, and hanging up once he realized it was Kelly calling.

Extra Points: Freeney, Dolphins, Harbaugh

The Cardinals had interest in Dwight Freeney since late July, a source tells Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic (on Twitter). However, Freeney was looking for too much money. Needless to say, the price has come down. Arizona reportedly has agreed to sign Freeney, though head coach Bruce Arians claimed that there is no deal yet, as Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com tweets.

Here’s more from around the league..

  • The Dolphins won’t make another run at coach Jim Harbaugh, according to Peter King of The MMQB.com (via PFT). Harbaugh, now the head coach at Michigan, was a target for the Dolphins years ago, but the club apparently isn’t interested in circling back. There’s a connection between the ex-49ers coach and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross because Ross is a Michigan alum and has been a major booster for the school. However, for that exact reason, Ross might be hesitant to take the coach away from Ann Arbor.
  • Saints wide receiver Marques Colston suffered a separated shoulder on Sunday at the least, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). There could also be some structural damage for the veteran receiver.
  • By trading Gerald Hodges to the 49ers, the Vikings changed everything for their linebackers, Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes.

NFC South Notes: Colston, Dotson, Green

While longtime Saints like Jimmy Graham, Ben Grubbs, Curtis Lofton, and Pierre Thomas were traded or released by New Orleans this offseason, wide receiver Marques Colston was able to work out an agreement to stay with the team on a reworked contract. As Colston tells Mike Triplett of ESPN.com, staying with the Saints was more important than trying to max out his value.

“At this point in my career, it’s not necessarily about maximizing every penny of every contract,” Colston said. “For me it came down to, ‘What’s my priority?’ I probably could have went somewhere else and maybe got a little bit more money. But the priority for me was to come back to an organization that I really enjoy playing for. I enjoy coming to work every day and being in this locker room.”

Colston, who added that he didn’t want to leave a “Hall of Fame quarterback” in Drew Brees, is on track to earn $3.8MM in 2015 than the $7MM he was originally set to make. Here’s more from around the NFC South, as we check in with all four teams:

  • “I didn’t want to lose any money,” Demar Dotson answered simply, when asked why he chose to end his holdout and attend the Buccaneers‘ minicamp this week (link via the Tampa Tribune). The veteran right tackle had been seeking a new contract, but staying away from team activities didn’t appear to improve his leverage, since the Bucs broke off negotiations while he was absent.
  • Reserve offensive lineman Tyronne Green tore his Achilles tendon during a practice and will undergo surgery, sidelining him for the 2015 season, Panthers head coach Ron Rivera told the media today (Twitter link). Green wasn’t necessarily guaranteed a regular season roster spot, but his injury should open the door for another lineman to earn a place among Carolina’s final 53.
  • Wide receiver Carlton Mitchell, who played his college ball at South Carolina and spent time with the Browns after being selected in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, has a tryout today with the Falcons, tweets Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com.

Saints’ Colston, Hawthorne Take Pay Cuts

Saints veterans Marques Colston and David Hawthorne accepted pay cuts today in order to remain with the team. Colston’s base salary will drop from $6.9MM to $1.445MM in 2015 and from $7.7MM to $2.65MM in 2016, according to Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune (via Twitter). Hawthorne base salary was cut from $2MM to $1.19MM in 2015 and from $4MM to $1.75MM in 2016, according to Evan Woodbery of The Times-Picayune.

Colston’s new deal with the Saints will save the team $3.2MM this year, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com tweets. Meanwhile, he’ll receive $3.8MM in salary and bonuses this year. Word of Colston restructuring his deal first came in last week. Colston caught just 59 balls for 902 yards in 2014, the lowest totals of his career if you throw out an injury-plagued 2008 campaign.

Hawthorne was widely viewed as a possible cap casualty, but today’s news means he’ll stay in the fold for 2015 and possibly beyond.

 

Saints, Marques Colston Restructure Contract

After releasing Pierre Thomas and restructuring Jairus Byrd‘s deal earlier this week, the Saints continued to pare down their 2015 cap number today, according to Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports, who reports (via Twitter) that the team restructured the contract for Marques Colston. The veteran wideout had been viewed as a possible candidate to be cut, but he’ll be sticking around New Orleans on a reworked deal instead.

Colston, who has two years left on his deal with the Saints, had been set to earn a base salary of $6.9MM in 2015, with a cap hit of $9.7MM. A simple restructure of the contract would have helped New Orleans create immediate space, though it also would have pushed more dead money onto his 2016 cap hit. We’ll have to wait for the full details of the move to find out whether Colston accepted a pay reduction, or if the two sides merely converted some base salary into a signing bonus.

As our Zach Links wrote in his preview of New Orleans’ offseason, Drew Brees and the Saints love to spread the ball around, but Colston still sits atop the depth chart at wide receiver after all these years. Still, Colston – a Saint since 2006 – caught just 59 balls for 902 yards in 2014, the lowest totals of his career if you throw out an injury-plagued 2008 campaign. With the Saints needing to get under the cap, carrying the 31-year-old at a cost of $9.7MM wasn’t realistic.

The Saints figure to address a few more contract situations before Tuesday, in some form or other — Jahri Evans, Ben Grubbs, Junior Galette, and Curtis Lofton are among the candidates to be traded, cut, or restructured.