Morris Claiborne

New York Notes: Kearse, Claiborne, Pugh

The Jets entered Week 17 without much to play for, but the team’s players still had plenty to gain. One such player was Jermaine Kearse, who earned an extra $550,000 in incentives in the team’s loss to New England, ESPN’s Rich Cimini reports.

With his fifth and final catch of the day, Kearse brought his season total to 65 grabs which earned him an extra $300,000. He finished the season 810 receiving yards, helping him garner another $250,000. That’s not a bad haul for the veteran receiver, who was signed to a $2.2 MM base salary in 2017.

Kearse enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2017, posting career highs in receptions, yards and tying his personal best with five touchdowns. He will be back with the Jets in 2018 for the final year on his contract, which he is set to earn $5 MM in base salary.

Here is more from around New York:

  • Cornerback Morris Claiborne is hoping to return to the Jets in 2018, Cimini writes. The free agent said, “Why leave and pick up (and go) somewhere else if you’ve got everything here?” A first-round pick in 2012, Claiborne has just five interceptions during his six NFL seasons split between the Jets and Cowboys. After signing a one-year deal for $2.5MM in the offseason, Claiborne started all 15 games he played in.
  • Giants center Weston Richburg said he has been medically cleared from a concussion for about a month, Dan Duggan of NJ Advanced Media writes. Richburg said he wanted to return to the field but was unable to due to being placed on injured reserve. He suffered the concussion in Week 4 and missed the next three games before being placed on IR. Richburg is set to be a free agent in 2018.
  • Also a free agent in 2018, Giants guard Justin Pugh hopes it works out and he can return to the team, ESPN’s Jordan Ranaan writes. Pugh suffered a season-ending back injury in December but it is expected to be healed in a month without surgery.

 

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Garoppolo, Jets

A look at the AFC East:

  • Patriots owner Bob Kraft did not force Bill Belichick‘s hand in trading Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco, Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston (Twitter link) hears. However, Belichick “desperately wanted” to keep the young QB, which could be an indication that the team simply could not go far enough to sign him to an extension. Garoppolo looks like a star in the making with the Niners while the Pats came away with a 2018 second-round pick in the swap.
  • Cornerback Morris Claiborne wants to return to Jets next season, as Calvin Watkins of Newsday writes. “I hope to be back here,” Claiborne said. “That’s my plan, that’s what I want to do. I like it here. I like the coaching staff, the trainers, I like everything about the Jets organization, since I’ve been here. It’s been nothing but love. I would rather go nowhere else, I would rather stay here.” Claiborne joined the Jets on a cheap a one-year deal in the offseason worth $2.5MM with a $500K roster bonus. So far, he has 37 tackles, seven pass breakups, and one interception to his credit. Claiborne also says that he wants to see Todd Bowles return as head coach.
  • Could you imagine Eli Manning as the Jets‘ next quarterback? Bob Glauber of Newsday can. He hypothesizes that the Giants will take a QB at No. 2 overall in the draft, displacing Manning. The Jets, who are expected to look for a new signal caller this year, could have interest in Manning winds up on the open market. Meanwhile, Glauber expects Kirk Cousins to stay with the Redskins, meaning that he would not be an option for Gang Green.

AFC Notes: Jackson, Kizer, Claiborne, Hurns

It seemed for a few moments on Sunday that the Browns may in fact snap their eight-game losing streak, but it was not to be. One of the key turning points of the game came when the Browns ran a quarterback sneak deep in Lions territory with just seconds left and no time outs. QB DeShone Kizer was stuffed at the line and the clock ran out before Cleveland could get any points on the board. While it looks like the play may have been an audible from the rookie second round pick, head coach Hue Jackson told Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com and the rest of the media that the mistake fell squarely on him.

“Doesn’t matter (if he audibled),” said Jackson. “It’s on me. To go ’round and ’round about it, I’m not going to do that. Anything that happens with our offensive football team is my responsibility, so that’s on me.”

The second-year Browns head coach didn’t budge when describing what went wrong at the end of the half, continuing to put on the focus on him being the decision maker of the offense when his football team has the ball.

“It’s on me,” Jackson continued. “I’m mad at myself. Nobody else. period. I’m taking the fall on everything. We’re an 0-9 football team right now.”

  • Despite the negativity surrounding the now only winless team in the NFL, Kay Cabot did also pass along in another article that Jackson felt his young quarterback played his best game of his young professional career. Kizer himself also focused on how he’s improving as the year has gone on. “Yeah, every game so far I’ve felt pretty confident that I was getting better,” Kizer said. “I was able to play the whole game, wasn’t benched, wasn’t in a situation in which I was turning the ball over earlier in the game. Got a little rhythm going, so yeah, I think this was my best outing yet.” It’s encouraging to see Kizer put a solid game together, especially given the circumstances surrounding the franchise. He’ll likely have the keys to starting QB job for the rest of the season, so if the rookie can continue to build off his solid performance today, it may make the team think twice about whether they want to bring another young signal caller into the building next season.
  • Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne left today’s game vs. Tampa Bay in the first quarter because he aggravated a previous foot injury, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. The former sixth overall pick told Cimini that he wasn’t 100% going into the contest, but wanted to try and tough out the injury. “Wanted to give it a shot to see where it was, to see if I️ could make it through the game. But I also didn’t want to go out and put bad film out there and get beat where you lose the game.” We’ll just have to see how whether the Jets hold out their 27 year-old defensive back in practice this coming week. The team has the likes of Rashard Robinson and Darryl Roberts ready to go if this turns out to be a multi-week issue, the former was brought to the Jets in a trade from San Francisco last month.
  • The Jaguars could lose another wide receiver after Allen Hurns went down with a knee injury during today’s comeback win over the Chargers. The wideout was injured on his 26th birthday when he was hit directly on his knee and was forced to leave the game. The former starting receiver was seen on crunches in the locker room, unable to put any weight on his right leg and is set to undergo an MRI on Monday, according to Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com.

The 10 Best One-Year NFL Contracts Of 2017

Signing a one-year contract is almost never ideal from a player’s perspective — while a single-season pact can often mean a larger salary, it doesn’t come with the security or guarantees that a multi-year deal offers. From a team’s vantage point, however, there’s essentially no such thing as a poor one-year contract. The player doesn’t work out? No problem: he’s off the books in one season and doesn’t hinder the club’s long-term financials.

Not every player listed below was inked with the presumption that they’d become an integral piece of their respective team’s roster, but they’ve all made good on their one-year pacts. Here are the ten best one-year NFL contracts signed in 2017:

Case Keenum, QB (Vikings)

In Week 9 of the 2016 season, Keenum was appearing in his final game as the Rams’ starting quarterback, and had led the club to a 3-5 record while ranking 29th in both quarterback rating and adjusted net yards per pass attempt. Fast forward to the 2017 campaign, and Keenum is 16th in quarterback rating, 11th in ANY/A, and fronting a Vikings team that leads the NFC North at 6-2 — not bad for a one-year, $2MM deal. It’s unclear how long Keenum will remain Minnesota’s starter under center (Teddy Bridgewater is due back next week), but Keenum, who will be 30 years old when free agency opens next spring, has put himself in line to compete for a starting job in 2018, either with the Vikings or with another club.

Josh McCown, QB (Jets)

Although the Jets were thought to be tanking this season, they’ve posted a 4-5 record (a mark that includes close losses to the Dolphins and Falcons), and McCown has been a key driver of that success. Now 38 years old, McCown is posting his best statistics since 2013, and has completed 70.4% of his passes for 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He’s been especially productive in the deep passing game, ranking second in touchdowns and third in passer rating on throws of 20 yards or more, per Mike Castiglione of Pro Football Focus. Given his performance and his locker room presence, McCown shouldn’t have any trouble landing another job next offseason.

LeGarrette Blount, RB (Eagles)LeGarrette Blount (Vertical)

While trade acquisition Jay Ajayi figures to take over as the Eagles’ starting running back going forward, Philadelphia has already gotten value out of Blount and his one-year, $1.25MM pact. Blount has handled at least 12 carries in seven of nine games this season while posting a robust 4.6 yards per rush. While he’s scored only two touchdowns thus far, Blount ranks first among all running backs with more than 25 touches with a broken tackle per touch ratio of 39.4%, according to Football Outsiders. The Eagles are the best team in the league right now, meaning they’ll be favored in a majority of their remaining games. Even with Ajayi in tow, positive game scripts should ensure Blount still has a role in Philadelphia’s backfield.

Alshon Jeffery, WR (Eagles)

Following two consecutive down seasons in Chicago, Jeffery took a pillow contract with the Eagles — he’ll collect $9.5MM (and can earn $4.5MM via incentives) before searching for a long-term deal next spring. Jeffery is fresh off his best game of the season, as he posted six receptions for 84 yards and two touchdowns against the Broncos’ vaunted pass defense. While he’s still not creating separation — dead last in the league in yards of separation among qualified wideouts — Jeffery and his contested catch ability are nevertheless a large part of the Eagles’ offense. He’s accounted for 35.03% of his club’s air yards (10th in the NFL), per Next Gen Stats, giving quarterback and MVP candidate Carson Wentz a much-needed weapon on the outside.

Alex Okafor, DE (Saints)

After trying the likes of Bobby Richardson and Paul Kruger of the past two seasons, the Saints have finally found a counterpart to Cameron Jordan at defensive end in the form of Okafor, whom New Orleans lured away from Arizona with a $2MM contract. He’s since played more than three-quarters of the Saints’ defensive snaps, racking up 3.5 sacks in the process. Also excellent against the run, Okafor ranks second among 4-3 defensive ends with a 9.5% run stop percentage, per PFF. All told, Okafor has helped the Saints defense rebound to a No. 16 ranking in DVOA and No. 15 ranking in adjusted sack rate (and those numbers are prior to New Orleans’ five-sack performance against the Buccaneers on Sunday).

Julius Peppers, DE (Panthers)

Peppers is back in Carolina following a seven-year hiatus, and the former No. 1 overall pick is playing like it’s still 2008. He’s 37 years old now, so the Panthers are wisely limiting his snaps — he’s seen action on roughly half the club’s defensive plays through nine weeks. Peppers has racked up 7.5 sacks this season, a figure which ranks eighth among defenders this season and places him fourth all-time with 150.5 career sacks. If Carolina earns a postseason berth — FiveThirtyEight gives them a 52% chance to do so — it will be on the strength of the team’s defense, which currently ranks sixth in DVOA.

Zach Brown, LB (Redskins)

Coming off the best season of his career with the Bills in 2016, Brown was surprisingly forced to settle for a one-year, $2MM deal with the Redskins after initially searching for a $6MM/year contract. And that’s not due to lack of interest, as Oakland, Miami, Indianapolis, and Buffalo all expressed interest in the veteran linebacker before he landed with Washington. Several of those clubs (we’re looking at you, Raiders) would certainly love to have a defender of Brown’s caliber and price available right now. A playmaking machine who embodies a 21st-century linebacker, Brown should be able to land a multi-year pact next offseason, when he’ll still be only 28 years old.

Morris Claiborne, CB (Jets)Morris Claiborne (Vertical)

The Jets’ offseason was primarily dedicated to getting rid of veteran players, but general manager Mike Maccagnan‘s small-scale signings have worked out well, as Claiborne joins McCown as the second Gang Green addition on this list. Claiborne, 27, has always been an effective player when healthy, but injuries have often marred his performance. He’s never played an entire 16-game slate, and he’s managed more than 11 games just once during his five-plus year career. Like Brown, Claiborne can use 2017 as his platform season in order to secure a multi-year deal in 2018 — as long as stays healthy for the rest of this year, that is.

Nickell Robey-Coleman, CB (Rams)

A perfectly-named slot corner, Robey-Coleman was shockingly cut loose by the Bills earlier this year despite ranking as PFF’s No. 33 cornerback in 2016 and being on par to earn just $2.083MM in 2017. The Rams scooped him up on a one-year deal worth the minimum salary, and he’s been outstanding under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, helping Los Angeles to a No. 3 ranking in pass defense DVOA. Thus far, the 25-year-old Robey-Coleman ranks third among 64 qualified cornerbacks in success rate, per Football Outsiders.

Patrick Robinson, CB (Eagles)

While the Eagles certainly have leaned on their excellent young corps on the way to a 8-1 record, general manager Howie Roseman should be lauded for his one-year, cost-effective signings of Robinson, Jeffery, and Blount. Cast off by the Colts one year into a three-year deal, Robinson signed with Philadelphia for the minimum salary and has since become the Eagles’ best cornerback. Pro Football Focus ranks the former first-round pick as the No. 4 corner in the league, and Robinson is allowing only 56.3% of targets in his area to be caught. While Robinson may not be able to parlay his production into a hefty deal in 2018 given that he’ll be 31 years old when next season gets underway, he’s been a superb addition for the Eagles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Claiborne, Geno Smith

Let’s take a look at the details of some recently-signed contracts:

  • Morris Claiborne, CB (Jets): One year, $5MM. $2.5MM base salary. $2MM signing bonus. $31K per game bonus if on 46-man roster. (Twitter link via Manish Mehta of the Daily News).
  • Lorenzo Alexander, LB (Bills): Two years, $5.95MM. Cap numbers of $2.55MM (2017) and $3.4MM (2018). $1.1MM signing bonus. Base salaries of $2MM (2017, fully guaranteed) and $2.45MM (2018; $300K fully guaranteed; $1MM guaranteed for injury only). $300K roster bonus due on third day of the 2018 league year and additional per-game roster bonuses of $6K+ in 2018. Incentives up to $850K (2017) and $1.25MM (2018) in playing time and Pro Bowl incentives. (Twitter link via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
  • Geno Smith, QB (Giants): One year, $775K base. $25K workout bonus. $800K in play time incentives. $12.5K per-game roster bonuses. Max value of $2MM. (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com).
  • EJ Manuel, QB (Raiders): One year, $800K. No guaranteed money. (Twitter link via Mike Garafolo of NFL.com).
  • Kellen Moore, QB (Cowboys): One year, $755K. $100K fully guaranteed (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Tyson Alualu, DL (Steelers): Two years, $6MM. $1.75MM fully guaranteed. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).
  • Kevin Minter, LB (Bengals): One year, $4MM. $2.1MM guaranteed. (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com).
  • Frostee Rucker, DE (Cardinals): One year, $1.08MM. $80K fully guaranteed. $500K+ available through incentives. (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of ESPN.com).

Jets Sign CB Morris Claiborne

We could be in the midst of another run on cornerbacks. Moments after Brandon Carr signed a free agent deal with the Ravens, the Jets have reached agreement on a deal with cornerback Morris Claiborne, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a one-year deal worth $5MM, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Rapoport adds that the Jets have offered up more money than the Cowboys. The Jets announced the move.

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This marks the Jets’ first significant free agent signing of the offseason. Gang Green made a serious effort to lure Dont’a Hightower away from the Patriots, but that was ultimately fruitless. Hightower, as expected, re-signed with the Patriots on Wednesday, despite a better offer from the Jets.

The Jets’ cornerback group is now led by Claiborne, 2016 draft pick Juston Burris, and Buster Skrine. Skrine, who came to the Jets on an expensive free agent deal in 2015, could be on the chopping block.

Claiborne, 26, was widely labeled as a draft bust for underperforming ever since he was taken No. 6 overall in the 2012 draft. In 2016, he had his best season to date and was ranked as Pro Football Focus 12th-best corner last year year. Unfortunately, however, injuries forced Claiborne to miss more than half of the regular season, though he did return for the playoffs. If not for the injury, Claiborne could have gotten something closer to A.J. Bouye‘s monster deal with the Jaguars.

The Ravens appeared to be Claiborne’s most fervent suitor and they were offering roughly $5MM per year before turning their attention to Carr. Now, it will be interesting to see how Dallas fortifies their cornerback group after losing two playmakers in a matter of minutes.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Offering Morris Claiborne $5MM?

The Ravens are offering free agent cornerback Morris Claiborne roughly $5MM per year, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. At present, it’s unclear how many years Baltimore is proposing on a potential contract.Morris Claiborne

Claiborne was first linked to the Ravens last week, while a subsequent report indicated most clubs believe Claiborne will eventually end up in Baltimore. Claiborne would join Jimmy Smith in the Ravens’ starting lineup, allowing second-year pro Tavon Young to remain in the slot. Baltimore’s secondary also contains Kyle Arrington, Maurice Canady, and Sheldon Price, while Lardarius Webb — who is now a safety but can still play in the slot — may be re-signed after being cut loose last week.

Claiborne, 26, transformed himself from a former draft bust to a legitimate top corner in his fifth NFL season, ranking as Pro Football Focus 12th-best corner last year year. Re-signed to a one-year deal worth only $3MM in 2016, Claiborne played in seven and posted one interception. Injuries forced Claiborne to miss more than half of the regular season, though he did return for the postseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

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:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

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.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

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).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

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.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

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.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Ravens May Re-Sign Lardarius Webb

The Ravens are mulling a reunion with defensive back Lardarius Webb just days after releasing him, tweets Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com. Additionally, Baltimore may be closing in on agreement with free agent cornerback Morris Claiborne, as several teams with interest in Claiborne believe he’ll ultimately land with the Ravens, per La Canfora.Lardarius Webb (vertical)

Baltimore cut ties with Webb on Friday after agreeing to terms with fellow safety Tony Jefferson, a cost-saving move that saved the club $5.5MM in cap space. Presumably, a potential Webb return would come with a lower price attached. Webb had spent his entire eight-year career in Baltimore appearing in 111 total games with 82 starts. Last season, the 31-year-old finished with 73 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble in 16 games (all starts).

Claiborne, meanwhile, was first linked to the Ravens last week. The 26-year-old transformed himself from a former draft bust to a legitimate top corner in his fifth NFL season, ranking as Pro Football Focus 12th-best corner last year year. Re-signed to a one-year deal worth only $3MM in 2016, Claiborne played in seven and posted one interception. Injuries forced Claiborne to miss more than half of the regular season, though he did return for the postseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Ravens Interested In Morris Claiborne

The Ravens have expressed interest in free agent corner Morris Claiborne, tweets Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.Morris Claiborne

Claiborne, 26, transformed himself from a former draft bust to a legitimate top corner in his fifth NFL season, ranking as Pro Football Focus 12th-best corner last year year. Re-signed to a one-year deal worth only $3MM in 2016, Claiborne played in seven and posted one interception. Injuries forced Claiborne to miss more than half of the regular season, though he did return for the postseason.

Baltimore currently boasts Jimmy Smith, Tavon Young, Sheldon Price, Maurice Canaday, and Kyle Arrington at corner. The club made an addition to its secondary on Wednesday by signing safety Tony Jefferson, but cornerback help is still on the docket.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.