Nick Novak

Chargers Sign K Nick Novak

The Chargers are bringing Nick Novak back. He’ll replace Younghoe Koo, who has been waived.

Koo won the Bolts’ kicking competition over Josh Lambo this offseason. The undrafted rookie had some hiccups in Week 2, however, and the team didn’t test him much after he missed two of three tries against Miami. The Chargers, now 0-4, lost that game by two points.
Nick Novak (Vertical)

Novak was released by Houston when he was edged out by second-year pro Ka’imi Fairbairn for the kicking job. He re-upped with the Texans on a one-year, $1.15MM deal this offseason, but had to settle for just the $250K signing bonus in the contract.

In 2016, Novak nailed 85.4% of his attempts last season, a tick above his career average. He was the Chargers’ full-time kicker from 2011 to 2014, making 101 of his 117 field goal attempts (86.3%) during his time in San Diego, including 11 of 17 from 50+ yards.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Release Nick Novak

Despite reaching an agreement to re-sign Nick Novak in March, the Texans will move on from the veteran kicker. Houston released Novak on Saturday, Mark Berman of Fox 26 tweets.

Novak kicked for the Texans for both of their past two AFC South-winning teams, but it appears the franchise will opt for second-year specialist Ka’imi Fairbairn. The Texans signed Fairbairn as a UDFA out of UCLA in 2016, but Novak won last summer’s kicking competition. A year later, the 23-year-old Fairbairn looks to have prevailed in the rematch after spending a season on IR.

The 36-year-old Novak signed a one-year, $1.15MM deal with a $250K signing bonus. The former longtime Chargers kicker hit 85.4 percent of his attempts last season, a tick above his career average.

Novak figures to receive interest in free agency after being a regular kicker for the past six seasons.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Rumors: Stills, Siemian, Revis, Texans

Kenny Stills may have had another contract proposal from at least one other club before re-signing with the Dolphins, tweets Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. The Bears and Eagles were the two known teams with interest in Stills, but it’s entirely possible other clubs also pursued him. Ultimately, Stills re-upped with Miami at a cost of $32MM over four years.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • If the Broncos end up signing the recently-released Tony Romo, they could end up discussing a Trevor Siemian trade with the Jets, opines Tom Pelissero of USA Today (Twitter link). To be clear, this is only speculation on the part of Pelissero, but it’s an interesting thought experiment to imagine potential destinations for Siemian if Romo lands in Denver. Siemian isn’t the only semi-starting quarterback that could be affected by a Romo pursuit: if the Texans ink Romo, some executives think Houston will trade Tom Savage to the 49ers.
  • Former Pro Bowl cornerback Darrelle Revis showed evident signs of decline last season, and a developing legal issue led to the Jets ultimately cutting the veteran. One general manager recently told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News he wouldn’t pursue the veteran cornerback even if he was willing to play “for free.” Another executive told Mehta that “you respect the body of work throughout his career, but all good things come to an end.”
  • The Texans re-signed kicker Nick Novak last night, and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) has the details on the new pact. Novak’s one-year deal is worth $1.15MM and includes a $250K signing bonus.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Texans To Re-Sign Nick Novak, Shane Lechler

The Texans have agreed to lock up both of their specialists, as the club will re-sign kicker Nick Novak and punter Shane Lechler, tweets Mark Berman of FOX 26.Shane Lechler (vertical)

[RELATED: Texans Interested In Ricky Wagner]

Novak, 35, has spent the past two seasons with the Texans after four years with the Chargers. In 2016, Novak managed to hit 85.4% of his field goal attempts, a tick above his career rate of 82.8%. From 50+ yards, Novak was three-of-six, while Novak also missed three extra points. Novak earned a $885K base salary last year under the terms of a minimum salary benefit contract.

Now 40 years old, Lechler is a seven-time Pro Bowler, but the Texans lost 12.7 points of field position on punts last season. In fact, Houston’s special teams unit finished dead least in DVOA in 2016, earning poor marks in every area except punt returns. Still, the Texans will bring back Lechler — who ranked 16th in net yards per punt — and Novak.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday 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. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

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 franchised players 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 this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, 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, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

[RELATED: Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense]

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. Chandler Jones
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Jason Pierre-Paul
  4. Nick Perry
  5. Jabaal Sheard
  6. James Harrison
  7. John Simon
  8. DeMarcus Ware
  9. Lorenzo Alexander
  10. Andre Branch
  11. Julius Peppers
  12. Charles Johnson
  13. Datone Jones
  14. Mario Addison
  15. Dwight Freeney

The Cardinals have already made it abundantly clear that Chandler Jones will see the franchise tag this offseason, and Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul are also candidates to be tagged by the Chargers and Giants, respectively. If the latter two are able to hit the open market unfettered, however, they both figure to break the bank. Ingram, Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 edge defender, could be a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, while JPP will be looking for a long-term commitment after signing consecutive one-year deals.Chandler Jones (vertical)

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among the players with youth still on their side, Packers edge defenders Nick Perry and Datone Jones figure to interest different clubs, as Perry is a better match for a 3-4 defense while Jones needs to restart his career as a 4-3 defensive end. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. James Harrison and Charles Johnson, meanwhile, look like good bets to return to Steelers and Panthers, respectively, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Kawann Short
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Johnathan Hankins
  4. Brandon Williams
  5. Dontari Poe
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Bennie Logan
  8. Nick Fairley
  9. Alan Branch
  10. Jared Odrick
  11. Karl Klug
  12. Terrell McClain
  13. Lawrence Guy
  14. Earl Mitchell
  15. Stacy McGee

Unlike the edge defender market, the 2017 cadre of interior defensive lineman shouldn’t be overly affected by the franchise tender. Head coach Ron Rivera recently confessed the Panthers will “probably” have to use the tag on Kawann Short, but the rest of the defensive tackles listed here should be able to hit the open market. Of the remaining defenders, Campbell is the best overall player, but given that he’s entering his age-31 season, he may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Earl Mitchell), and run stoppers (Karl Klug, Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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Texans Notes: Novak, Hopkins, Bouye

Nick Novak had a career-year in 2016, and some members of the Texans organization believe he played a major role in the team clinching a playoff birth.

The 35-year-old played last season on a one-year, $965K contract, and the impending free agent would like to return to Houston for the 2017 campaign.

“I want to be back,” Novak told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “I’m really proud of what we’ve done and I’m excited to be back with the same guys. I really feel like I can help the Texans get to where they want to go. I leave it up to my agent and the personnel department to get a deal done.

“I don’t know what kind of progress is being made, but it’s all positive. I’ve heard some really good things from [general manager] Rick Smith, [coach] Bill O’Brien, [special teams coordinator] Larry Izzo. We’ll see what happens.”

Let’s check out some more notes coming out of Houston…

  • The Texans passing offense was among the worst in the league this past season, and Smith understands that the team needs more out of the quarterback position if they want to contend. “We’ve got to get better production from the quarterback position,” Smith told Wilson. “We’ve got to get better production from all across our football team. We’ve got to do a good job of analyzing our football team, and that’s what we’re doing now, trying to figure out where we’re strong, where we’re weak and how we can go about improving.” Of course, Smith did note that he still believes in starter Brock Osweiler, who is owed $16MM next season. Reports from earlier this week indicated that the organization would likely take a quarterback in the upcoming draft.
  • Despite having one of the worse seasons of his career, wideout DeAndre Hopkins is still to eager to stick around Houston. “I love this organization and what this team is doing,” Hopkins told Wilson. “It seems like we’re getting better and better every year, so why not?” We learned earlier this week that the Texans would like to extend Hopkins, who finished last season with 78 receptions for 954 yards and four touchdowns.
  • A.J. Bouye is in line for a well-deserved payday, writes Wilson. Instead of taking a less-lucrative, multi-year offer last offseason, the cornerback decided to opt for a one-year, $1.6MM contract with the Texans. The 25-year-old clearly made the right decision, as he’s projected to be the best free agent defensive back. Wilson expects that the Texans will have around $25MM in cap space, and he projects Bouye to receive an offer that pays around $13MM annually.

Contract Details: Freeman, Sims, Claiborne

Here are the latest contract details for players who have agreed to new deals and/or signed them in recent days. Unless otherwise specified, all links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle…

NFC:

  • Jerrell Freeman, LB (Bears): Three years, $12MM. Deal maxes out at $14.25MM with incentives/escalators. $6MM guaranteed at signing (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Eugene Sims, DE (Rams): Three years, $10MM. $3.75MM in guarantees. $2.25MM salary for 2016 guaranteed. $750K roster bonus due this week. $500K roster bonuses due on the fifth day of the 2017 and 2018 league years. $750K annual incentives for sacks and playoffs (Twitter links).
  • Jon Ryan, P (Seahawks): Four years, $10MM. $3.4MM guaranteed. $2.4MM signing bonus. $1MM salary in 2016 guaranteed. $100K incentives for Pro Bowl and playoffs (Twitter link).
  • James Hanna, TE (Cowboys): Three years, $8.25MM. $2.25MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Emmanuel Lamur, LB (Vikings): Two years, $5.5MM. $2MM guaranteed. $1MM roster bonus due Monday. $15,625 per-game active roster bonus in both seasons (Twitter link).
  • Gino Gradkowski, OL (Panthers): Three years, $3.15MM. $450K signing bonus. $25K annual workout bonus (Twitter link).
  • Morris Claiborne, CB (Cowboys): One year, $3MM. Deal maxes out at $3.375MM with incentives. $500K signing bonus. $1MM in per-game active bonuses (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Keenan Robinson, LB (Giants): One year, $2.6MM. $1MM roster bonus due on the 10th day of the 2016 league year. $21,500 per-game active bonus. Up to $900K in playing-time incentives (Twitter link).
  • Sean Weatherspoon, LB (Falcons): One year, $1.5MM. $500K in per-game active bonuses. $750K in playing-time incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Travaris Cadet, RB (Saints): One year, $840K. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link)

AFC:

  • Eddie Pleasant, S (Texans): Two years, $2.15MM. $311K roster bonus for 2016. $36K roster bonus for 2017 (link).
  • Matt Cassel, QB (Titans): One year, $2MM. $750K signing bonus. $500K in incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Shane Lechler, P (Texans): One year, $1.8MM. $500K signing bonus (link).
  • Nick Novak, K (Texans): One year, 965K. $80K roster bonus due Monday (link).

Contract Details: Kearse, Whitehead, Hali

Here are a few of the latest contract details for players who have agreed to new deals and/or signed them in recent days. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated…

NFC:

  • Jermaine Kearse, WR (Seahawks): Three years, $13.5MM. $6.3MM guaranteed. $5.5MM signing bonus. Up to $4.7MM in total incentives/escalators (Twitter links via Wilson and Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Tahir Whitehead, LB (Lions): Two years, $8MM. $4.75MM guaranteed. $3MM signing bonus. $500K in annual playing-time/Pro Bowl incentives. $200K in per-game active roster bonuses in 2017 (Twitter links).
  • Sherrick McManis, CB (Bears): Two years, $2.85MM. $600K signing bonus. $150K roster bonus due 10th day of 2016 league year. $50K annual workout bonus (Twitter link).
  • Senio Kelemete, OL (Saints): Two years, $2.7MM. $300K signing bonus. $50K roster bonus due third day of 2017 league year. Up to $600K in annual incentives (Twitter links).
  • Kenrick Ellis, DT (Vikings): One year, $810K. $25K workout bonus. $25K bonus for one game on 53-man roster (Twitter link via Pelissero).

AFC:

  • Tamba Hali, OLB (Chiefs): Three years, $21MM. $11.5MM fully guaranteed. $4.75MM signing bonus. $500K annually in weight bonuses (five weigh-ins worth $100K each). $500K annually in per-game active roster bonuses (Twitter links via Wilson and Pelissero).
  • Robert Golden, S (Steelers): Three years, $4.95MM. $1.25MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Eddie Pleasant, S (Texans): Two years, $2.15MM. $311K roster bonus in 2016. $36K roster bonus in 2017 (Twitter link).
  • Shane Lechler, P (Texans): One year, $1.8MM. $500K signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Khiry Robinson, RB (Jets): One year, $1.175MM. $80K signing bonus. $20K roster bonus for first game. $350K in per-game roster bonuses (Twitter link).
  • Nick Novak, K (Texans): One year, $965K. Minimum salary benefit. $80K roster bonus due March 14 (Twitter link).

Texans To Sign Nick Novak, Cut Randy Bullock

The Texans are the latest NFL team to make a change at the kicker position, having decided to part ways with Randy Bullock, according to Mark Berman of FOX 26 Houston (Twitter link). Berman reports that the Texans are signing former Chargers kicker Nick Novak to replace Bullock.

Bullock, 25, has been the Texans’ kicker since the 2013 season, making 74.3% of his field goals in his rookie year before bumping up that mark to 85.7% in 2014. However, he had been inconsistent through three weeks this season, missing a 43-yard field goal and a pair of extra points.

Novak, meanwhile, had been the Chargers’ full-time kicker from 2011 to 2014, making 101 of his 117 field goal attempts (86.3%) during his time in San Diego, including 11 of 17 from 50+ yards. However, the 34-year-old was beaten out in camp this year by the younger, cheaper Josh Lambo, and was released by the Chargers earlier this month.

Novak beat out Connor Barth, Kai Forbath, Chris Boswell, and Giorgio Tavecchio – who all auditioned this week for the Texans as well – for Houston’s kicking job. As for Bullock, he’ll have to pass through waivers before he reaches free agency.