Pernell McPhee

Shane Ray On Ravens’ Roster Bubble?

Brought in along with Pernell McPhee after the draft, Shane Ray does not have a comfortable path to the Ravens’ 53-man roster. The former first-round pick is squarely on Baltimore’s bubble.

Ray is behind five other Raven edge defenders at present, with Jeff Zreibec of The Athletic noting (subscription required) the four-year Broncos cog will need a strong preseason to make the team.

The fifth-year pass rusher has flashed in practice, but Zreibec notes McPhee is ahead of him among the veteran contingent. So are 2017 second- and third-round picks Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams With the Ravens unlikely to keep six edge defenders, Ray has his work cut out for him entering the team’s preseason slate.

The Ravens added Ray shortly after May’s compensatory deadline and gave him a $1.2MM deal with $200K guaranteed. But vying with McPhee and recent Ravens Day 2 picks, with Matt Judon and rookie Jaylon Ferguson locks to make the team, made this an uncertain proposition from the start.

While he was a rotational presence on Denver’s Super Bowl champion team and registered eight sacks in 2016, Ray has not lived up to his first-round billing yet. He finished his Broncos tenure on a shaky note, being a healthy scratch at the conclusion of last season.

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Ravens Sign LB Pernell McPhee

The Ravens have agreed to sign linebacker Pernell McPhee, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). He’ll return to Baltimore on a one-year deal. 

The veteran spent the first four years of his career in Baltimore and owns 31 career sacks and six forced fumbles over the course of his eight years in the NFL. The 30-year-old (31 in December) hasn’t put up big numbers in a couple of years, but the Ravens believe that he’s still a capable disruptor.

McPhee was a 2011 fifth-round pick of the Ravens and was an oft-featured sub before moving on to the Bears in free agency. He entered and went out with a bang in Baltimore – McPhee notched six sacks as a rookie and tallied a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2014, his contract year. McPhee parlayed that success into a five-year deal, $38.8MM deal with Chicago, but injuries cost him 12 regular season games over a three-year stretch. Still, McPhee managed 14 sacks for the Bears.

The Ravens also met with Rams free agent Matt Longacre, but the McPhee signing may check the box for veteran edge rushers.

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Ravens Considering Pernell McPhee

The Ravens are considering a Pernell McPhee return, according to Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic (on Twitter). The Ravens have been on the hunt for veteran pass rush help and McPhee would offer familiarity with the club after spending the first four years of his career in Baltimore. 

The Ravens also met with Matt Longacre this week, but he left the facility without signing a deal. Longacre is less accomplished than McPhee, but he is three years younger and started in seven games last year, which is seven more than McPhee.

McPhee was a 2011 fifth-round pick of the Ravens and was an oft-featured sub before moving on to the Bears in free agency. He entered and went out with a bang in Baltimore – McPhee notched six sacks as a rookie and tallied a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2014, his contract year. McPhee parlayed that success into a five-year deal, $38.8MM deal with Chicago, but injuries cost him 12 regular season games over a three-year stretch. Still, McPhee managed 14 sacks for the Bears.

McPhee didn’t impress much in his reserve role with the Redskins last year, but he could view a Ravens return as an opportunity to get back on track.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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