David Long

Packers Add RB Kenyan Drake, Claim CB David Long

Enjoying a busy 2023 without seeing much game action, Kenyan Drake has secured an opportunity with a fourth NFL team this year. The Packers are signing Drake, ESPN.com’s Field Yates tweets. Drake posting a Packers logo provided a good indication he has found yet another gig this season.

After being one of the Ravens’ fill-ins during the second season to feature J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards injury trouble, Drake has since bounced from Indianapolis to Baltimore (once again) to Cleveland and now to Green Bay. This is a practice squad agreement. Drake will replace James Robinson on Green Bay’s taxi squad.

Drake, 29, joined the Colts during a training camp overshadowed by Jonathan Taylor‘s absence but did not end up on Indianapolis’ 53-man roster. After losing Dobbins in Week 1, the Ravens brought Drake back. His 2023 season (two games) came in a Ravens uniform. Drake’s Browns stint did not include game action.

In addition to the Drake move, the Packers will become the second team this season to prevent David Long from hitting free agency. Accompanying Drake as a 2023 nomad, the veteran cornerback will join a third team this year. Initially a Raiders free agency addition, Long received his walking papers last month. The Panthers scooped Long up on waivers, reuniting him with former Rams secondary coach Ejiro Evero. After the Panthers cut bait, Long will once again land in a familiar scheme. Packers DC Joe Barry spent four seasons on Sean McVay‘s staff, two of them overlapping with Long.

Long, 25, joins a Packers team that has played without Jaire Alexander for stretches and has seen Eric Stokes land on multiple injury lists. The 2021 first-rounder is again on his way back, but the Packers have not yet activated him from IR. The Pack also traded starter Rasul Douglas to the Bills on deadline day. A regular for the Super Bowl-winning Rams edition two seasons ago, Long has played in 11 games this season. He made one start apiece in Las Vegas and Charlotte, but both teams waived him. Long spent four seasons in Los Angeles, starting 10 games. He played 516 defensive snaps in 2021, when the Rams still employed both Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams.

As for Drake, he finished last season with 482 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Drake has two 800-plus-yard rushing seasons, with his most productive work coming in Arizona. The former transition tag recipient now profiles as a backup option, but the Packers have been without Aaron Jones for much of this season. After a hamstring injury shelved Green Bay’s starter early this year, he sustained an MCL sprain in November. Jones has missed five games this year. During his most recent absence, AJ Dillon and Patrick Taylor have operated as the Pack’s primary backs.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/4/23

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

  • Designated to return from IR: LB Malik Hamm

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

  • Claimed off waivers (from Panthers): DB David Long

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Promoted: TE Josh Pederson

New York Giants

While the Giants haven’t activated Tyrod Taylor, the veteran QB is expected to be back on the active roster next Monday. In preparation, the team has moved on from Matt Barkley, who has been serving as the backup to Tommy DeVito since Daniel Jones went down with an injury. Barkley hasn’t seen the field for a regular season game since 2020, when he got into five games with the Bills.

Minor NFL Transactions: 12/1/23

The first minor transactions of December:

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Long gets waived from the Panthers’ roster just a week after starting for them against the Titans. Long, who was claimed off of waivers about a month ago, has not been a regular starter in Carolina but was forced into action due to the injury absences of C.J. Henderson and Jaycee Horn. With both players nearing their return, and the recent waiver claim of Shaquill Griffin, the Panthers decided to bring up Strachan instead holding onto Long. The big-bodied receiver had one catch for 45 yards as a practice squad callup earlier this year.

Woods has received a six-game suspension for an incident that took place this summer in which he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy, per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Woods has already missed the entire season up until now on the reserve/non-football injury list after tearing his Achilles tendon back in April. While the Browns hoped for the possibility of a late-season return, this newest development guarantees that Woods will miss the entire 2023-24 season.

Panthers Claim CB David Long

The Panthers will take a flier on a cornerback that will bring considerable system familiarity to the team. A day after the Raiders waived David Long, the veteran cover man will land with the Panthers.

Long will have a good knowledge of Ejiro Evero‘s defensive system, with the fifth-year defender having overlapped with the first-year Carolina DC in Los Angeles for three years. Ejiro resided as a Rams assistant during much of Long’s rookie-contract stay with the Rams. New Panthers secondary coach Jonathan Cooley also overlapped with Long in Los Angeles.

Although unable to earn regular playing time with the Raiders, Long should have some allies in Charlotte. Ejiro spent five years on Sean McVay‘s staff and finished out that run as the team’s DBs coach during its Super Bowl-winning 2021 campaign. Evero spent the previous four years as the Rams’ safeties coach. Long started five games, including one playoff contest, during that memorable season. So far in 2023, however, Long has made one start.

The Raiders moved on from 2022 starters Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averett this offseason, starting over with a handful of flier-type additions. Long became one of those, signing a one-year, $1.5MM deal that included $625K guaranteed. But the Raiders went with fourth-round rookie Jakorian Bennett over Long as a starter. A former third-round Rams draftee back in 2019, Long played only 24% of the Raiders’ defensive snaps this season. The Raiders have also made significant changes this week, firing Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels. That will likely lead to more personnel adjustments as well.

With the Rams letting Darious Williams walk in free agency in 2022, they looked set to give more playing time to Long and Robert Rochell. But neither could carve out consistent roles as L.A. starters. Long started four games in 2022. The Michigan alum did, however, intercept a Kyler Murray pass and return it three yards for a touchdown in the Rams’ 2021 wild-card romp. Long also started in Super Bowl LVI, playing 82% of the Rams’ defensive snaps in the game.

Carolina dangled veteran Donte Jackson in trades but did not unload anyone at this week’s deadline. The team remains without Jaycee Horn, who is on IR with a significant hamstring injury sustained in Week 1. Jackson, C.J. Henderson and ex-Evero Rams charge Troy Hill are in place as Carolina’s starters for the time being.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/2/23

Today’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

  • Signed to active roster: OT Leroy Watson

Detroit Lions

  • Signed to active roster: LB Trevor Nowaske
  • Waived: RB Devine Ozigbo

Las Vegas Raiders

New England Patriots

Tennessee Titans

With the trade deadline behind us, all veterans are now subject to waivers, meaning some of the players cut today could land on new teams without even hitting free agency. David Long is probably the most intriguing of the bunch, with the cornerback having started 11 of his 60 appearances through five seasons in the NFL. The 25-year-old started one of his eight appearances for the Raiders this season, compiling 12 tackles.

Kevon Seymour is another potential target for those who need some help in the secondary or on special teams. After bouncing around the NFL to begin his career, Seymour found a home in Baltimore in recent years, seeing time in 30 games (two starts) across two-plus seasons with the organization. The former sixth-round pick has mostly played special teams over the past year-plus, collecting six total tackles.

AFC West Notes: Broncos, Raiders, Samuel

Although their interest in Dalvin Cook appeared to cool early in the long-running sweepstakes, the Broncos did keep tabs on the high-profile free agent. The team continued to look into Cook, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com said during a Rich Eisen Show appearance (video link). Cook has since signed a one-year, $7MM Jets deal. While Pelissero adds the Broncos may look to add another back to a group headlined by Javonte Williams and Samaje Perine, the team is sorting through some options behind the veterans. Second-year back Tyler Badie, rookie UDFA Jaleel McLaughlin and ex-Sean Payton Saints charge Tony Jones Jr. are vying for Denver’s RB3 job presently.

Here is the latest from the AFC West:

  • The Raiders took a few fliers at cornerback in free agency, signing Duke Shelley and David Long and reuniting with Brandon Facyson. None of the trio looks likely to start. Instead, fourth-round pick Jakorian Bennett looks to have leapfrogged them. Shelley and Long have fallen out of the mix to start, per The Athletic’s Vic Tafur and Tashaun Reed, who project Bennett to start alongside Marcus Peters and Nate Hobbs (subscription required). Both Long and Facyson have missed time due to injury in camp. The Raiders chose Bennett 104th overall, which would make a Week 1 starting assignment notable. But the Silver and Black, who let Rock Ya-Sin walk (to replace Peters in Baltimore), came into the offseason with major questions at corner.
  • Despite a three-interception wild-card performance, third-year Chargers corner Asante Samuel Jr. faced the prospect of being a backup to start this season. Ja’Sir Taylor, a sixth-round 2022 draftee, has competed with the multiyear starter for the slot job. But Samuel looks to have surged ahead, per The Athletic’s Daniel Popper. If J.C. Jackson completes his recovery from a torn patellar tendon in time, the Chargers are preparing to roll out a Jackson-Samuel-Michael Davis cornerback look. If Jackson needs more time, the Bolts would likely go with a Davis-Samuel-Taylor trio.
  • The Bolts are fairly set at receiver, with Quentin Johnston and Derius Davis‘ Fort Worth-to-Los Angeles treks giving the team five locks at the position. In addition to the TCU alums, Josh Palmer has made strides in his third training camp. This looked to put Jalen Guyton and John Hightower to a battle for the final spot, Popper adds. But both players are dealing with injuries. After a strong start to camp, Hightower — a 2020 Eagles draftee who has not caught a pass since his rookie year — suffered an injury and has not practiced in a week. Guyton, who suffered an ACL tear in Week 3 of last season, remains on the Bolts’ active/PUP list. Stashing the deep threat on the reserve/PUP list to start the season is looking likely, per Popper.
  • K’Waun Williams is expected to be the Broncos‘ slot corner for a second season, but an ankle injury has sidelined him for over a week. The veteran slot defender sought a second opinion on the injury recently, per 9News’ Mike Klis, who notes surgery is not on the docket at this point. A rest-and-rehab operation will be utilized to have Williams ready for Week 1, though this becomes a situation to monitor for a Broncos team that remains without third-round corner Riley Moss. Essang Bassey filled in for Williams as the top nickel in Denver’s preseason opener.
  • Davis Webb resides in the strange position of being a 28-year-old quarterbacks coach tasked with helping a decorated 34-year-old passer bounce back. But Russell Wilson‘s position coach has been on the coaching radar for a bit now, despite only retiring this year. After the Bills wanted him to be their QBs coach last year, Sean McDermott, Brian Daboll and Eli Manning endorsed Webb to Payton, Jori Epstein of Yahoo.com notes. Webb “blew away” Broncos brass in his interview, per GM George Paton. His final season — as a Giants third-stringer — involved scouting and coaching, Epstein adds, making this an easier transition than it would appear.

Raiders Expected To Sign CB David Long

A fifth-year cornerback who has played a part-time role with the Rams, David Long plans to sign with the Raiders. It is a one-year agreement, The Score’s Jordan Schultz tweets.

This comes more than a week after the Dolphins took the other David Long, a former Titans linebacker, off the market. While the NFL’s two-David Long free agency market did not generate the attention the league’s two available Connor McGoverns did coming into the league year, the Longs have edged the McGoverns in finding destinations. After the Bills signed the ex-Cowboys guard, the veteran center remains a free agent.

This David Long, a third-round Rams draftee in 2019, spent the past two seasons as a regular alongside Jalen Ramsey in Los Angeles. The Rams have now lost Long, Ramsey and Darious Williams from their Super Bowl LVI-winning team. Long, 25, played 47% of the Rams’ defensive snaps in 2021 and logged a 37% snap rate last season.

Although Long played only 288 defensive snaps last season (after a 516-snap 2021), he allowed a 75% completion rate and a 113.3 passer rating as the closest defender in coverage. The Michigan alum fared better in 2021, allowing just more than 60% of the passes thrown his way to be completed and limited QBs to a collective 84.9 rating. Long added a pick-six in the Rams’ wild-card rout of the Cardinals that season. The Raiders will take a flier on the 5-foot-11 defender.

Las Vegas showed interest in bringing back Rock Ya-Sin, but the 2022 trade acquisition remains on the market. The team entered free agency with a need at corner, and despite the addition of Long and reunion with Brandon Facyson, this almost definitely remains a need area for Josh McDaniels‘ team.

LB David Long To Sign With Dolphins

After providing new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio with a top-tier cornerback, via the Jalen Ramsey trade, the Dolphins are handing their highly paid DC one of the better free agent linebackers available.

David Long is signing a two-year deal with the Dolphins, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Long spent the past four seasons with the Titans, playing out his rookie contract. He is heading to Miami on an $11MM deal.

This could turn out to be a team-friendly move for the Dolphins, who are adding a player Pro Football Focus labeled as a top-20 linebacker from 2021-22. PFF also slotted Long, who became a regular in Tennessee’s defense in 2021, as a top-five run-defending linebacker last season.

The 26-year-old linebacker, however, likely came available at this price because of injuries. Long has missed 12 games over the past two seasons, leading to Mike Vrabel wondering about his durability at his end-of-season presser. Hamstring trouble, in particular, has interfered with Long’s ascent. Long still finished with a career-high 86 tackles (seven for loss) and two INTs last season; he also intercepted two passes in 2021.

Rather than bet on the former sixth-round find turning the corner on the health front, Titans are moving on from Long. Although they have a new GM running the show (Ran Carthon), continues a pattern for the team in recent years. The Titans also let Jayon Brown and former first-round pick Rashaan Evans walk, doing so years after allowing Zach Brown to depart following the expiration of his rookie deal. They also released Zach Cunningham this offseason. Considering this lower rate was what it took to pry Long away, it can be assumed Tennessee has other plans at this position.

Although Tremaine Edmunds cashed in with the Bears on a top-five off-ball linebacker deal, this position was one of this free agency class’ deepest. Edmunds’ $18MM-per-year pact has not resulted in others in this market moving near that price range. The second-tier linebackers in this market should not be pleased by what Long commanded in free agency.

2023 Top 50 NFL Free Agents

Super Bowl LVII provided the latest example of the value free agency can bring. The Chiefs revamped their receiving corps on last year’s market, while the Eagles acquired three defensive starters — including sack leader Haason Reddick. The Jaguars also used a March 2022 splurge to ignite their surprising surge to the divisional round.

Beginning with the legal tampering period, which starts at 3pm CT on Monday, and continuing with the official start to free agency (3pm Wednesday), the next several days represent a highlight on the NFL calendar. Which teams will change their 2023 outlooks for the better next week?

While the 2023 free agent class has absorbed its share of body blows and indeed lacks depth at certain spots, a few positions will bring waves of starter-level talent. Right tackle will invite some big-money decisions, and the safety and off-ball linebacker positions feature considerable depth. A few ascending talents and hidden gems appear in this class as well.

This list ranks free agents by earning potential. In terms of accomplishments, Bobby Wagner, Fletcher Cox and Lavonte David would lap most of the players included here. With each defender going into his age-33 season, however, the standouts’ ability to command big contracts is certainly not what it once was.

In terms of possible destinations, not every team is represented equally. Some teams will bring more needs and cap space into this year’s marketplace than others. With some help from Adam La Rose, here is this year’s PFR top 50 free agents list, along with potential landing spots for each player.

1. Orlando Brown Jr., T. Age in Week 1: 27

As the 49ers did two years ago with Trent Williams, the Chiefs will let Brown hit the market. This could end up benefiting the veteran tackle, who was offered a deal with an average annual value north of Williams’ tackle-record $23MM per year before last July’s franchise tag deadline. Citing insufficient guarantees, Brown turned it down. Kansas City’s offer did contain a bloated final year to bump up the AAV to $23.1MM, but will Brown – a quality left tackle but not a top-shelf option at the position – do as well this year? He will soon find out.

Brown has now made four Pro Bowls and carries positional versatility that would intrigue were he open to a return to right tackle, which by all accounts he is not. The 363-pound blocker can struggle against speed-rusher types, but he is set to be the rare accomplished left tackle in his prime to hit the market. The Chiefs sent a package including a first-round pick to the Ravens for Brown, whose bet on himself led to a $16.6MM tag and an open market. The bidding will run high, though it might not reach the places the Williams pursuit did in 2021.

The Chiefs’ exclusive negotiating rights with Brown end March 13; they have had nearly two years to complete a deal. The market will determine if the league views the sixth-year blocker as an elite-level left tackle or merely a good one. Then again, bidding wars drive up the prices for O-linemen on the market. O-line salary records have fallen four times (Williams, Corey Linsley, Joe Thuney, Brandon Scherff) in free agency since 2021. This foray could give Brown the guaranteed money he seeks, and it puts the Chiefs at risk of seeing their two-year left tackle depart. The Ravens also passed on this payment back in 2021, in part because they already had Ronnie Stanley on the payroll.

The defending champions have Brown and right tackle Andrew Wylie eligible for free agency; some of their leftover funds from the Tyreek Hill trade went to Brown’s tag. Although some among the Chiefs were frustrated Brown passed on last year’s offer, the team will be hurting at a premium position if he walks. Given the importance the blindside position carries, fewer teams are in need compared to right tackle. The Titans losing Taylor Lewan and continuing to clear cap space could point to a run at Brown, though the team has a few needs up front. The Jets likely have needs at both tackle spots. Would the Bears relocate Braxton Jones to the right side? Ryan Poles was with the Chiefs when they traded for Brown, and the Bears could outmuscle anyone for cap space.

Best fits: Titans, Chiefs, Commanders

2. Mike McGlinchey, T. Age in Week 1: 28

Teams in need of right tackles will participate in one of the more interesting markets in recent memory. Above-average-to-good offensive linemen do well in free agency annually, and this year will send three experienced right tackles in their prime to the market. A five-year starter in San Francisco and former top-10 pick, McGlinchey has a good case as the best of this lot. The five-year vet’s run-blocking craft eclipses his pass-protection chops exiting Year 5, but he will walk into a competitive market. The former Notre Dame left tackle should have a lucrative deal in place during next week’s legal tampering period.

Although mutual interest existed regarding a second 49ers-McGlinchey agreement, John Lynch acknowledged the only viable path for McGlinchey to stay in San Francisco would be his market underwhelming. That seems unlikely, so right tackle-seeking teams – and there are a handful – will jockey for the sixth-year veteran. McGlinchey turned 28 in January, making this his obvious window to cash in. He rated fifth in ESPN’s run block win rate stat last season, bouncing back from the quadriceps injury that ended his 2021 season.

There is no shortage of Kyle Shanahan– or Sean McVay-influenced schemes around the league. The Bears employ Luke Getsy as their play-caller; Getsy worked for Shanahan/McVay tree branch Matt LaFleur, and the Bears’ cap space dwarfs every other team’s. After fielding a shaky O-line (on a team full of substandard position groups), Chicago needs a better idea of Justin Fields’ trajectory. Outbidding the field for the top right tackle available is a good start. The Patriots want a right tackle – on a line without a big contract presently – and the Raiders might have a say here as well. In need at multiple O-line spots, Las Vegas will have cash as well if it passes on a big QB investment.

Best fits: Bears, Patriots, Raiders

3. Jawann Taylor, T. Age in Week 1: 26

As expected, the Jaguars took Evan Engram off the market via the franchise tag. The tight end tag being $7MM cheaper than the $18.2MM offensive lineman tag always pointed Taylor toward free agency, and after never missing a start in four Duval County seasons, Taylor will be tough for the Jags to retain. They already drafted Walker Little in the 2021 second round, and no team that is currently paying a left tackle top-10 money (Cam Robinson is seventh) has a top-10 right tackle contract on the books. Taylor is expected to land at least a top-10 right tackle deal, with a $17MM-AAV figure being floated. That would place the former Florida Gator in the top five at the position, depending on how McGlinchey fares next week.

Taylor resembles the genre of player that usually populates the top of a position’s free agency market: a dependable performer who checks in below the top tier at his job. Taylor enjoyed his strongest year in his platform campaign. The former second-round pick dropped his hold count from 11 in 2021 to two in 2022. While PFF charged Taylor with five sacks allowed, Football Outsiders measured his blown-block rate at a career-low 1.3%. Offering a disparate skillset compared to McGlinchey, Taylor has fared better as a pass protector than in the run game. PFF slotted him as a top-10 pass protector among right tackles but viewed him as a dismal run-blocker.

The Jags have presumably made Taylor an offer, but other teams will probably top it. The Dolphins gave Terron Armstead a five-year, $75MM deal in 2022 but have needed a right tackle ever since Ja’Wuan James’ 2019 exit. They were forced to start in-season pickup Brandon Shell for much of the year and have cleared more than $45MM in cap space over the past two days. The team just picked up Tua Tagovailoa‘s fifth-year option, and the league’s lone southpaw starting QB needs better blindside protection after a season in which he suffered at least two concussions. Overspending on O-linemen is not the Patriots’ M.O., but they have a need at right tackle and do not have big dollars devoted to quarterback or any position up front. New England is on the hunt for a right tackle upgrade, and the team’s 2021 free agency showed it would spend when it deemed expenditures necessary.

Best fits: Dolphins, Patriots, Jaguars

4. Jimmy Garoppolo, QB. Age in Week 1: 31

The quarterback market cleared up this week, seeing Geno Smith and Daniel Jones extended and Derek Carr’s lengthy street free agency stretch end with $70MM in practical guarantees. Garoppolo’s injury history will affect his value, but teams kind of make it a priority to staff this position. The former Super Bowl starter is in his prime and on the market for the first time. How high this market goes will depend on what the Raiders want and what Aaron Rodgers decides.

The 49ers’ 12-game win streak that included Brock Purdy’s stunning displays began with Garoppolo at the controls. Guiding San Francisco to four straight wins, Garoppolo was at or close to his best when he suffered a broken foot in Week 13. He sported a 7-0 TD-INT ratio during that win streak and closed the season 16th in QBR. He would have walked into a better market had the injury not occurred; the setback came after a string of health issues. He tore an ACL in 2018, missed 10 games in 2020 after an ankle sprain and was significantly limited by the end of the 2021 slate due to a three-injury season. Garoppolo’s March 2022 shoulder surgery hijacked his trade market.

Ideally for Garoppolo, Rodgers returns to Green Bay or retires. While that is looking unlikelier by the day, it would put the Jets in a desperate position following Carr’s decision. The Raiders represent the other wild card. Garoppolo would slide into Josh McDaniels’ system seamlessly, given the parties’ three-plus years together in New England. The Raiders have operated a bit more stealthily compared to the Jets; they have been connected to Rodgers, Garoppolo and rolling with a rookie. Plan C here would be a tough sell given the presences of 30-year-old skill-position players Davante Adams and Darren Waller, but Las Vegas’ plans cloud Garoppolo’s market. If the Raiders pass and Rodgers chooses the Jets, Garoppolo’s earning power could drop.

McDaniels not fancying a Garoppolo reunion opens the door for the Texans, who hired ex-49ers pass-game coordinator Bobby Slowik as OC, and others. Houston’s situation may not appeal to Garoppolo, but Slowik and Nick Caserio being in Houston make this connection too clear to ignore. The Buccaneers and Commanders are in win-now positions but are giving indications they do not want to spend much at QB. The Commanders were deep in talks for the then-49ers QB last year, however. Garoppolo will test those squads, along with the Falcons, who are entering Year 3 of the Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime. The Panthers’ acquisition of the No. 1 pick likely takes them out of the running, and Carolina not being in the mix could also affect how high the Garoppolo price goes.

Bottom line, there should be enough teams interested in staffing their 2023 QB1 spots that the best free agent option should do OK no matter what happens with Rodgers.

Best fits: Raiders, Texans, Commanders

5. Jamel Dean, CB. Age in Week 1: 26

The Buccaneers retained Carlton Davis last year, but their dire cap situation should force a Dean departure. Dean’s age/performance combination should make him this year’s top cornerback available. With corner a position of need for many teams, the former third-round pick stands to do very well. Dean has only been a full-time starter in one season, however, seeing his defensive snap share jump from 67% in 2021 to 90% last season.

Excelling in press coverage, Dean played a major role for the 2020 Super Bowl champion Bucs iteration and overtook fellow free agent Sean Murphy-Bunting last year. Dean did perform better in 2021 compared to 2022, allowing no touchdowns and limiting QBs to a collective 50.0 passer rating; those numbers shot up to four and 86.0 last season. Still, PFF rated Dean as last year’s 10th-best corner. J.C. Jackson did not break into the top five among corners upon hitting the market last year; Dean should not be expected to do so, either. But many teams will be interested.

The Patriots have paid up for a corner previously, in Stephon Gilmore (2017), but Jonathan Jones – forced to primarily play a boundary role in 2022 – wants to re-sign and will be far cheaper than Dean. The Falcons need help opposite AJ Terrell and trail only the Bears in cap space. Although a Terrell payment is coming, it can be tabled to 2024 due to the fifth-year option. The Dolphins are clearing cap space and now have a corner need, with Byron Jones no longer with the team after his missed season.

Best fits: Dolphins, Falcons, Patriots

6. Jessie Bates, S. Age in Week 1: 26

Bates stands to be one of this free agency crop’s safest bets, combining extensive experience – the final two years as a pillar for a championship threat – with a host of prime years remaining. Beginning his career at 21, the Wake Forest product has started 79 games and anchored the Bengals’ secondary for most of his tenure. The Bengals did not tag Bates for a second time, passing on a $15.5MM price. With the team planning to let Bates test the market, it looks like the sixth-year defender will leave Cincinnati.

The Bengals and Bates went through two offseasons of negotiations, ending in the 2022 tag. The Bengals have some big payments to make at higher-profile positions. Safety does not qualify as such, but Bates has been a cornerstone in Lou Anarumo’s defense and will be handsomely rewarded. Bates finished as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 overall safety in 2020 and, after a shakier 2021 in which he admitted his contract situation affected his play, Bates came through with impact plays in the postseason. He graded as a top-25 safety, via PFF, in 2022.

Safety is one of this year’s deeper positions in free agency. Of the top 10 safety contracts, however, only one went to a free agent (Marcus Williams in 2022). Bates should be expected to join the Ravens defender, who signed for $14MM per year. It will be interesting if he can climb into the top five at the position; Justin Simmons’ $15.25MM-AAV accord sits fifth. Bates should be expected to approach or eclipse that, though moving to the Derwin JamesMinkah Fitzpatrick tier will be more difficult. Still, after the Bengals offered Bates less than $17MM guaranteed last summer, he should depart for more guaranteed money.

The Browns are interested in Bates, who will cost more than John Johnson cost Cleveland two years ago (three years, $33.75MM). Clear of the record-setting Matt Ryan dead-money hit, the Falcons have cash to spend and a Terry FontenotArthur Smith regime entering Year 3. The Falcons need to make progress, and they do not have much in the way of talent or costs at safety. The team has not featured much here since the Keanu NealRicardo Allen tandem splintered. Bates would be a way to remedy that.

Team fits: Falcons, Browns, Raiders

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Minor NFL Transactions: 12/10/22

Here are the minor moves around the league in advance of the Week 14 slate of games:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans