Pernell McPhee

Contract Details: Mathieu, Pamphile, Watson, Weeden

Some details on recent free agent deals (all links via Twitter):

NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero also has signing bonus/guarantee details on players who signed one-year deals: TE Levine Toilolo $400K (Lions), LB Pernell McPhee $350K (Redskins), QB Brandon Weeden $90K (Texans), CB Leon Hall $45K (Raiders).

Redskins Sign LB Pernell McPhee

The Redskins have officially signed free agent edge rusher Pernell McPhee, the club announced today.

McPhee, 29, was released by the Bears earlier this offseason after a disappointing three-year run in the Windy City. Chicago inked McPhee to a five-year deal prior to the 2015 campaign, but he was only able to stay healthy for 36 games over the past three years. The former undrafted free agent still managed to post 12 sacks during his time with the Bears, and he was effective when able to stay on the field.

Despite his question marks, McPhee still ranked as the No. 4 edge rusher heading into the free agent period. While that ranking was due in part to McPhee’s talent, it also spoke to the lack of pass-rushing options on the free agent market. Among PFR’s top-15 edge rushers, only three — Kony Ealy, Connor Barwin, and Junior Galette — are still without a contract.

Washington won’t ask McPhee to serve as a starter, as he’ll instead provide rotational snaps behind Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan. McPhee has shown the ability to line up from several different areas of the field in the past, and keeping his playtime low could help stave off further injuries. The Redskins don’t intend to re-sign fellow veteran Junior Galette, so McPhee will immediately step into Galette’s role as the Redskins’ third pass-rusher.

Before signing with Washington, McPhee also took a meeting with the Falcons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Redskins Likely To Sign LB Pernell McPhee

Free-agent linebacker Pernell McPhee informed the Falcons, following a visit with them, that he intends to sign with the Redskins, sources told Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). ESPN’s John Keim also reported that a deal between McPhee and the Redskins is likely, though nothing is official yet (on Twitter).

The former Bears edge rusher had visited with the Redskins earlier in the week. We had McPhee ranked as the No. 4 edge rusher available in this year’s free-agent class and he was the top player still available at the position based on our rankings.

Washington had extra cap space thanks in part to trading for Alex Smith and letting Kirk Cousins walk in free agency. McPhee joins linebacker Zach Brown (three years, $21MM) and cornerback Orlando Scandrick (two years, $6.85MM) as the team’s free-agent signs on defense.

The Redskins were projected to go with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith at outside linebacker prior to the news of McPhee’s likely addition. Defensive tackle looks to be next up on the team’s offseason wishlist as they’ve hosted free agents Sylvester Williams and Bennie Logan for visits.

McPhee, 29, struggled to stay on the field in three seasons with the Bears, missing a total of 12 games in his time with the team. Last season, he appeared in 13 games and recorded four sacks. The Bears cut McPhee in late February after signing him to a five-year deal prior to the 2015 season.

McPhee was one of the most sought-after free agents in the 2015 offseason. He was coming off a career-best 7.5 sacks in 2014 with the Ravens and had missed just four games in his four-year tenure with Baltimore. The Ravens originally took McPhee in the fifth round of the 2011 draft out of Mississippi State.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Meet With Pernell McPhee

The Falcons are meeting with outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, according to an announcement from the team. McPhee met with the Redskins on Sunday night but left without signing a deal.

McPhee, 29, spent the past three seasons with the Bears. He tallied 14 sacks and 75 tackles for Chicago even as he was slowed by injuries. He probably has to be kept on a pitch count at this point, but he could thrive in a pass rush rotation.

The Falcons are on the look out for pass rushing help after Adrian Clayborn signed with the Patriots. The Falcons have yet to sign an outside linebacker or defensive end this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Pernell McPhee Visits Redskins

Former Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee has begun his first visit of free agency, meeting with the Redskins on Sunday night, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. The meeting will continue to Monday. 

Highly sought after as a free agent in 2015, McPhee, 29, struggled with injuries as a member of the Bears. The Bears signed him to a five-year, $38.75MM contract and he made $23.2MM. He was set to earn $7.5MM this season and his release cleared $7.1MM in cap space for Chicago. He contributed 14 sacks and 90 tackles while making 17 starts.

If he signed with the Redskins, Washington would assuredly hope for a return to his Baltimore days, when he logged 17 sacks in four years as a rotational pass rusher.

The Redskins have been busy on the defensive side of the ball early in free agency, re-signing linebacker Zach Brown and setting up meetings with cornerback Orlando Scandrick, defensive end Benson Mayowa and defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, 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 on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

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 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

Bears Cut Pernell McPhee, Quintin Demps

The Bears cut ties with two veteran defenders on Monday, releasing linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Quintin Demps.

Demps played merely a few games with the Bears, while McPhee suffered through an injury-plagued three-season stretch in Chicago. The Bears will save $7.1MM by cutting McPhee, who had two years remaining on his five-year deal, and will create $3.26MM in space by jettisoning Demps.

Knee problems limited McPhee during his time in Chicago, but the former Ravens defender was one of the most sought-after free agents in 2015. He did not live up to the contract he signed with the Bears, missing 12 games over the past three seasons and starting just five over the past two.

The 29-year-old defender came off the PUP list in September and finished last season on IR. McPhee registered 14 sacks for the Bears but will not play with the team outside of the John Fox era.

Demps started just three games before going on IR last season. He joined the Bears after some solid seasons with the Texans, including a six-interception contract year in 2016. The 10-year veteran will turn 33 before next season.

The Bears’ cap space will balloon north of $50MM because of these transactions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bears Place Pernell McPhee On IR

The Bears placed Pernell McPhee on injured reserve on Wednesday. It’s possible that he has played his last game for Chicago. Pernell McPhee (vertical)

McPhee signed a five-year deal, $38.8MM deal with the Bears in 2015, meaning that he has two more years under contract. However, the Bears can cut him this offseason and save $7.075MM while eating just $1MM in dead money. That would be the logical move given McPhee’s injury troubles in recent years.

Earlier this year, when asked if McPhee will ever be the player he was when the Bears originally signed him in 2015, Chicago defensive Vic Fangio gave a simple answer: “Probably not.” Thanks to injuries to both knees and his recent shoulder injury, McPhee has missed 12 games over the last three years.

McPhee could still have a football future elsewhere, but not at the salary he was earning in Chicago. The advanced metrics show that despite the injury, he has still been quietly effective. He currently rates as the league’s No. 40 ranked edge defender, per Pro Football Focus, with an overall score of 79.9.

In related moves, the Bears signed linebacker Jonathan Anderson to the active roster and signed receiver Mekale McKay to the practice squad.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC North Notes: Bears, Vikings, Packers

When asked if edge rusher Pernell McPhee will ever be the player he was when the Bears originally signed him in 2015, Chicago defensive Vic Fangio gave a simple answer: “Probably not” (Twitter link via Eric Edholm of Pro Football Weekly). McPhee, who was surprisingly removed from the physically unable to perform list and placed on Chicago’s initial 53-man roster, has injured both knees during his time with the Bears. While he’s missed nine games over the past two seasons, McPhee has still been relatively effective when on the field, but may need his snaps limited going forward.

Here’s more from the NFC North:

  • The Vikings surprisingly released offensive guard Alex Boone last week, and former Minnesota linebacker Chad Greenway hears that Boone had reported to camp out of shape and “wasn’t really prepared for the season,” as Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press writes. Even so, the the Vikings decision to cut ties with Boone means they spent roughly $10MM on one season of production. Boone has since landed with the Cardinals, where he’ll initially serve as a backup.
  • Ahmad Brooks‘ one-year deal with the Packers has a base value of $3.5MM and includes a $1.75MM signing bonus and a $1MM base salary, per Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com. The veteran pass rusher can also earn $750K in gameday active roster bonuses, plus $1.5MM in sack-based incentives, although those are considered not-likely-to-be-earned, tweets Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That means the sack threshold Brooks must reach is greater than six, the total he hit in 2017. Now 33 years old, Brooks will serve in a rotational edge defender capacity for Green Bay.
  • Another 49ers castoff — defensive lineman Quinton Dial — also recently agreed to a one-year pact with the Packers, and his deal will pay him one dollar more than the veteran’s minimum ($775,001), reports Silverstein (Twitter link). By adding that single dollar, Green Bay has kept open the possibility of extending Dial in-season. Had Dial simply signed for the minimum, the Packers wouldn’t have had the right to give him a new contract until after the new league year opens in the spring.
  • The Bears and defender Lamarr Houston agreed to a two-week injury settlement that precipitated his release, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Technically, Chicago could re-sign Houston in five weeks (time of the settlement plus a three-week waiting period), but that seems highly unlikely. But the two-week timetable means Houston should be healthy soon, meaning he could quickly latch on with another club.

Bears To Take LB Pernell McPhee Off PUP

The Bears will take linebacker Pernell McPhee off the physically unable to perform list to begin the season, reports Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).Pernell McPhee (vertical)

McPhee has dealt with injuries since joining the Bears prior to the 2015 campaign, and it’s a knee injury that’s kept him sidelined this time around. He’s missed nine games over the past two seasons, but he’s been effective when on the field. McPhee has posted 10 sacks since 2015 while earning positive marks from Pro Football Focus.

While McPhee will earn a place on the Bears’ roster and won’t be forced to miss the season’s first six games, that doesn’t mean he won’t need time to ramp up. Chicago will use 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd and veteran Willie Young at outside linebacker while McPhee adjusts, while the club also has depth options in reserve. However, the Bears are currently shopping ‘backers Dan Skuta and Sam Acho.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.