March 13th, 2018 at 10:02am CST by Dallas Robinson
Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny has formally announced his retirement from the NFL following an 11-year career.
Posluszny, 33, was originally selected in the second round of the 2007 draft. After spending four seasons with the Bills, Posluszny signed a hefty deal with Jacksonville, and has remained with the club ever since. Last season, he earned the first postseason berth of his career as the Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship Game before losing to the Patriots.
Although he had been an every-down player for the majority of his career, Posluszny’s playing time was drastically reduced in 2017 as the Jaguars got younger and faster at linebacker. While seeing action of fewer than half of Jacksonville’s defensive snaps, Posluszny managed 42 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
That’s not to say Posluszny wouldn’t have garnered interest on the free agent market, as PFR had ranked him as the No. 7 available linebacker. Pro Football Focus, too, was a fan of Posluszny’s 2017 work, and had graded him as the league’s 15th-best ‘backer last season. But in a NFL more geared toward passing than ever before, Posluszny and his run-stuffing skills likely wouldn’t have landed a multi-year deal.
PFR extends its best wishes to Posluszny in retirement.
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:
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 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
Although there are a number of high-quality starting linebackers available in free agency this year, I predict most contracts signed by LBs over the next few weeks will come in lower that most expect. The linebacker market is relatively stagnant, and unless the player is a legitimate star or inking an extension with his original club, he’s usually disappointed with his annual value. The most expensive deal for an unrestricted free agent ‘backer who signed with a new team was Bruce Irvin‘s $9.25MM/year pact with the Raiders, and Irvin can almost be considered an edge rusher. After Irvin, it’s Danny Trevathan, whom the Bears signed for a $7MM annual value in 2016.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise if no linebacker listed above is able to top Trevathan’s two-year-old average, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t starting-caliber LBs on the market. Zach Brown, the poster boy for having to accept cheap contracts, is coming off another solid season, but is reportedly asking for top-three inside linebacker money. Good luck. Similarly, Demario Davis is looking for $8-10MM annually, while the Jets — who have interest in re-signing him — view him as a $3-4MM/year player.
Nigel Bradham and NaVorro Bowman should both come in around Trevathan’s $7MM average after posting excellent 2017 campaigns. While the Eagles would surely prefer to re-sign Bradham, the club’s dire cap situation may mean Bradham will hit the open market next Wednesday. Bowman, meanwhile, was traded from the 49ers to Raiders last season, and he seems like a good bet to stay with Oakland after new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther heaped lavish praise on the 29-year-old.
Top-to-bottom, the cornerback market is the deepest positional group on the defensive side of the ball. Need a No. 1 defensive back with experience in both man and zone? Trumaine Johnson is your guy. How about a top-end cornerback who, while admittedly up-and-down at times, has the ability to shut down opposing wide receivers? Malcolm Butler has you covered. A former first-round pick who has finally played up to his potential over the past two seasons? Take a look at Morris Claiborne. Or is a career journeyman who posted 10 excellent games last year more your speed? Look into Rashaan Melvin.
Slot cornerbacks are also prevalent in this year’s defensive back market, and while I ranked Aaron Colvin, T.J. Carrie, Patrick Robinson, and Nickell Robey-Coleman in order of my preference, they could each be plugged into a starting nickel package immediately. I originally though Robinson could land a disappointing deal given his age (31) and his track record of underwhelming play prior to 2017, but he’s already garnering interest from the Giants, Raiders, and Cardinals, so his market should allow him to reach at least $5MM annually. Colvin could garner even more than Robinson thanks his youth (26), and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com expects Colvin to have a “legit” market.
If teams are looking for a bargain at cornerback, they should target Ross Cockrell, whom the Steelers dealt to the Giants last year for a seventh-round pick. Cockrell has always been overlooked in the NFL, but he keeps producing results. In 2017, Cockrell finished first in Football Outsiders’ success rate, which measures cornerbacks on their ability to consistently stop opposing wideouts short of the sticks. In fact, Cockrell was one of only eight defenders who stopped a receiver short of a successful gain on over half their tackles a season ago, as FO’s Aaron Schatz recently tweeted, but the league consistently undervalues him and his skill-set.
The best free agent safety was taken off the board earlier today when the Rams used the franchise tag on Lamarcus Joyner, and the remaining market is extremely top-heavy. Eric Reid, Morgan Burnett, Tre Boston, and Kenny Vaccaro could all be in line for at least $5MM annually, but the rest of the class could struggle to find multi-year deals. Among the top-tier safeties, Vaccaro stands out as perhaps the most interesting name. A first-round pick in 2013, Vaccarro has posted three exemplary campaigns and two dreadful years; in 2017, Pro Football Focus ranked Vaccaro as the single-worst safety in the league among 87 qualifiers. But given his draft pedigree and his ability to man the slot, Vaccaro should land a solid deal.
While I like Reid and Burnett a bit more as players, it wouldn’t be a shock if Boston actually lands the largest contract. Reid and Burnett spend a lot of time close to the line of scrimmage, and both have been used as de factor linebackers from time to time. Boston, on the other hand, is a deep safety who can play coverage, and that repertoire is much more difficult to find on the open market. Similarly, Tyvon Branch has been great in coverage during his career with the Raiders, Chiefs, and Cardinals, so he could also see a nice pay bump next week.
After Branch, the crop of available safeties steeply drops off. Every other free agent we’ve listed above will be at at least 29 years old when the 2018 gets underway except for the Lions’ Tavon Wilson, and he was one of the NFL’s worst starting defensive backs last season. Veterans like Corey Graham or Ron Parker can still play as third safeties who see time in “big nickel” packages, but if you’re looking for a starting safety, you’ll want to bring in one of the top six defensive backs on the board.
The Texas Tech product is one of the fastest-rising commodities in this draft. He’s had 18 visits and private workouts thus far, but this one is among the more interesting for the high-volume college passer because of the Texans’ status as a two-time reigning division champion and void at quarterback.
Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports noted earlier this month Mahomes was unlikely to slip past the Texans at No. 25, and the team is now doing some work on him. Houston would have a better shot at drafting the strong-armed former Big 12 signal-caller at No. 25 than Watson, but the former looks to have gained extensive ground and could be a priority for a team holding a higher pick — or one that trades up in front of the Texans — at this point.
Here’s more from the AFC South.
Corey Davis made a trip to Nashville, Tenn., today to visit with the Titans, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Davis will meet with the Titans tonight and Monday before flying to Baltimore for a Monday-Tuesday Ravens summit, per Rapoport. The Titans recently met with fellow first-round wideout prospects John Ross and Mike Williams. The franchise holds two first-round picks (Nos. 5 and 18) and is believed to be targeting wideout help. Their aggressive Brandin Cooks pursuit made this rather apparent.
The Jaguars will have some movement at linebacker, it appears. Last year’s second-round pick, Myles Jack has already learned middle and strong-side linebacker and is set to supplant Paul Posluszny in the middle, relocating the career-long middle ‘backer to the strong side. But the Jags view Jack as a natural fit on the weak side long-term, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Telvin Smith currently occupies that position and is expected to start there again in 2017. However, Smith is slated to be a 2018 UFA, and another Jack move would stand to impact Jacksonville’s decision on Smith. O’Halloran adds that Smith extension talks could pick up after the draft, but the fourth-year linebacker’s spot could be tenuous if Jack is viewed as the future at that position.
The Jags could also be exploring the idea of moving A.J. Cann to left guard, per O’Halloran. A third-year player, Cann’s been the Jags’ right guard starter the past two seasons. Recently re-signed Patrick Omameh and former Cardinal Earl Watford are the team’s other top guards presently. Jacksonville made a push for Kevin Zeitler but saw him sign with the Browns.
The Patriots have been linked to multiple impact receivers during Combine week. In addition to including their No. 32 overall pick in a package for Brandin Cooks, mutual interest between the Pats and Brandon Marshall exists, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). The Jets cut Marshall earlier this week, a move Marshall sought after declining an extension to stay on a rebuilding team. Entering his 12th year and age-33 season, Marshall should generate interest, and the Patriots’ penchant for street free agents that don’t affect the compensatory pick formula makes this a potential situation to monitor. Marshall going 11 seasons without a playoff appearance does as well.
New England has its top four wideouts under contract for 2017, although Danny Amendola‘s $7.7MM cap hit is probably untenable at this point. The Patriots want the veteran back at a reduced rate. Marshall also has a connection to the Patriots, who employ former Broncos HC Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator. However, McDaniels traded Marshall to the Dolphins in 2010 after one season with the then-mercurial wideout. During that ’09 slate, Marshall drew an insubordination suspension during the preseason and saw McDanniels bench him for a game later that year.
Here’s more from the AFC.
Martellus Bennett wants to test the market, but the Patriots would like him to return. Their top competition could come from fellow AFCers, with the Raiders and Jaguars interested in the veteran tight end, Volin tweets. Jacksonville just unloaded underwhelming UFA signing Julius Thomas, and the Raiders haven’t seen much from Clive Walford yet. Former starter Mychal Rivera is a free agent. Bennett and Jared Cook reside as the top tight ends on the market.
Shad Khan bringing Tom Coughlin back to Jacksonville in a front office role will affect GM Dave Caldwell, but the Jaguars’ former top decision-maker will still have input. Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com compares the rearranged Jags front office to the ones in Miami and Atlanta, with three men dividing up power. “Surprisingly enough, through the whole process and having an idea that this was going to happen, you kind of think, ‘How’s this going to work?’ But Tom has been great,” said Caldwell, who’s entering his fifth season as Jags GM. “It’s been great to be able to walk down the hallway and bounce some things off of him: ‘Hey we’re going to do this; we’re going to do that. What do you think about this? What do you think about that?’ And then we sit together with he, I and Doug [Marrone] and we come together on a collective decision.”
Myles Jack is expected to move to middle linebacker next season, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports. If that comes to fruition, Paul Posluszny would slide to strong-side ‘backer. This season represents the final year on Posluszny’s contract. He loomed as a cut candidate, but nothing’s surfaced about a potential release thus far this offseason. The 32-year-old has started for six seasons in Jacksonville. He’s due a $3.95MM base salary and will collected a $500K roster bonus if he remains with the Jags by the fifth day of the 2017 league year.
Mentioning DeSean Jackson and Kenny Stills being set to see “huge” contract offers, DraftAnalyst.com’s Tony Pauline included Robert Woods in this category. Woods hasn’t produced on the level of Stills or Jackson, with season-best receiving totals of 699 yards and five touchdowns (in 2014). But the former USC talent is still just 24 and hasn’t played with the kind of quarterbacks, from a passing standpoint, with the Bills that most of his UFA receiving peers have. His market could be difficult to determine as a result.
The Chiefs added another assistant coach, bringing first-timer Terry Brandon into the fold. He will work as a defensive assistant, Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star reports. Brandon will make quite the jump, moving from graduate assistant at Bethune-Cookman to a job as an NFL staffer.
Three-plus years after multiple coaches declined interviews with the Jaguars before Gus Bradley was hired, the north-Florida head-coaching job is generating more buzz. An “overwhelming” degree of interest has emerged for the Jags’ HC vacancy, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports.
Florio does not expect coaches to turn down Jags interviews this time and lists Tom Coughlin, Josh McDaniels, Todd Haley, and Anthony Lynn as those to be among the most coveted candidates for head-coaching positions. Doug Marrone could also be a candidate, per Florio, but that’s obviously dependent on what happens for the 2-12 team in the season’s final two weeks. The team’s talent base has increased since the 2013 vacancy, likely leading to the enhanced interest.
Coughlin has been connected to Jacksonville as a front-office cog as well. In a coach, the Jaguars are likely going to want to hear Blake Bortles-related pitches — even if the next coach won’t be forced to play him — due to the franchise spending the No. 3 overall pick on the signal-caller and having closed the book on their previous first-round QB, Blaine Gabbert, so quickly. Having that happen twice in the same half-decade would be deflating for the franchise.
Here’s more from the Jags and the rest of the league.
Paul Posluszny is leading the Jaguars in tackles, but the veteran linebacker knows that he might not be back in Jacksonville next year, as ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco writes. “I want to play these last two games as hard as I can knowing that I may not have a future here,” Posluszny said. “You take it one game at a time and say, ‘I’m going to devote everything that I can to these last two games because this might be the last opportunity I get.’” Posluszny is the franchise’s second-leading tackler (904) after six seasons with the club, but those aren’t the numbers that necessarily matter. The 32-year-old is due a $3.95MM base salary plus a $500K roster bonus on the fifth day of the league year (in March). He’s also set to receive a $31K bonus for each game he’s on the active roster, up to $500K. Instead of bringing him back, the Jaguars could give additional playing time to second-round pick Myles Jack.
The Raiders are planning to turn to Menelik Watson at right tackle instead of Austin Howard, Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com reports. The former second-round pick has been unable to stay healthy, being lost for the season due to injury in 2015 and joining Howard as ailing right-flank protectors this season. Oakland saw three of its starting line make the Pro Bowl, and right guard Gabe Jackson has been solid as well. The right tackle spot has been the only deficiency thus far.
The Cowboys will rest Demarcus Lawrence in the next two games, as Jon Machota of The Dallas Morning News tweets. “It wouldn’t surprise me if [Randy Gregory] gets a lot of snaps,” owner Jerry Jones said.
Brandon Williams, Mario Addison and Ronald Leary are among the looming UFAs who can expected to be paid handsomely, at least when compared to their public perception, Field Yates of ESPN.com writes. Kelechi Osemele helping catalyze the Raiders’ offensive line points to the Cowboys’ left guard being a sought-after player. Leary reclaimed this job after La’el Collins‘ foot injury and has been a top-20 guard in the opinion of Pro Football Focus, and the fourth-year player has seen far more work than well-paid Jaguar right tackle Jermey Parnell was during his time in Dallas. Williams became a space-eating 3-4 nose man despite a Division II background, and Addison now has three straight seasons of at least six sacks. The Panthers’ 40 sacks match the Broncos for the league lead, and Addison’s 7.5 bests their group.
Here’s the latest coming out of north Florida during the OTA portion of the NFL calendar.
Although Myles Jack‘s role could be on passing downs as he acclimates to the NFL after a damaging knee injury ended his UCLA career, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union projects the Jaguars second-rounder’s future to be at middle linebacker, where Paul Posluszny has lined up for the past three seasons. This would leave Dan Skuta untouched on the strong side if Telvin Smith is indeed going to resume his work opposite him. If healthy, Jack possesses the speed to play anywhere at linebacker but played mostly on the outside with the Bruins during his two healthy seasons, when he wasn’t moonlighting as a running back.
The 31-year-old Posluszny, whose 725 solo tackles since 2008 lead the NFL, has been a three-down linebacker during his three-year Jags tenure. But if Jack can prove adept, he could well join Smith in nickel settings. A former second-round pick, Posluszny sees a demotion out of a third-down role as a ticket out of the league, given teams’ reliance on sub-packages. “When teams see you as a two-down player, to me, that means it’s over for you,” Posluszny said. “And what if I’m playing at a high level on first and second downs? Does that mean I get to stay here next year? I don’t know. I just have to continue to do everything I’ve done and when it’s time to compete, I have to play at a high level.” Posluszny, who has started all 113 games he’s played with the Bills and Jags, signed an extension to remain with the Jags until 2017 last April. His cap hits drop, however, from the his peak earnings seasons the past two years. He’s set to occupy $5.17MM of the Jags’ cap this season, and although he can be cut for less than $500K of dead money, cap space isn’t something the Jags are sweating right now. Their $49.3MM available leads the league.
Chad Henne did not opt to test the free agent market this year, instead agreeing to another two-year contract in Jacksonville, one that will pay him $8MM in that span. Entering his age-31 season, the former second-round pick of the Dolphins’ prefers the comfort his current role behind Blake Bortles provides as opposed to trying to procure another starting job. “I was hoping it would happen like this just because I enjoy it here … and being in the same system for two years and not having to learn a new one is beneficial,” Henne told media, including O’Halloran. Aside from Chase Daniel‘s $7MM-per-year wages, Henne resides in the top bracket of backup signal-callers in terms of AAV.
As is the case in third-round negotiations, Yannick Ngakoue will have some flexibility regarding his rookie contract with the Jaguars. O’Halloran reports Ngakoue will earn at least a $540K salary in 2016 and an $856K signing bonus as part of being selected No. 69 overall. But according to cap expert J.I. Halsell, the Jags rookie pass-rusher can earn up to $456K in additional compensation spread out over the deal’s four years. With the CBA containing no language of what third-rounders will earn precisely, more extensive negotiations are commencing. “It’s just a weird round,” a veteran agent told O’Halloran. “I called the [NFLPA] a couple weeks ago to ask about it, and they said, ‘It’s the wild, wild West.’” Last year’s No. 69 pick, the Texans’ Jaelen Strong, received 62% of that additional compensation figure ($249K of an available $402K), O’Halloran reports, while three picks later, Jaguars guard A.J. Cann booked 75% ($311K) in his rookie pact. It’s a strange financial matrix these third-rounders enter compared to the players slotted above and below them.
“All of that is just a distraction,” Daniels said. “That’s just a distraction. I’m here to play football. I’m here to get better. I’m here to watch film, relearn the defense, get bigger, faster, stronger. All that stuff, that’s nothing but a huge distraction. The instant people start putting a focus on something like that, that’s when their play starts to suffer. And I don’t have time for my play to suffer.”
Daniels played in 63.8% of the defensive snaps last season and has 76 tackles and 14 sacks across three seasons. Here’s more from around the NFL..
After checking in for the Colts‘ first day of offseason conditions, tight end Dwayne Allen is heading back to Arizona to work out on his own there, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitterlinks). Rapoport notes that Allen, who is entering a contract year, doesn’t expect to discuss a new deal with the club until after the season.
Buccaneers GM LovieSmith says that he and GM Jason Licht are in “total agreement” as to who the team should draft, Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com tweets.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks and running back Chris Polk were not present for the start of the Eagles‘ spring workouts, sources tell Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). Polk has yet to sign his low-level restricted free agent tender offer and therefore cannot partake in activities yet. Kendricks, meanwhile, is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
Dion Jordan was not present for the Dolphins‘ voluntary workouts today and it’s not immediately clear why, Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets. The defensive end is under contract through 2016 with cap numbers of $5.6MM and $6.5MM in each of the next two seasons.
The Dolphins discussed trading for Matt Barkley before ultimately signing Josh Freeman, according to Dianna Marie Russini of NBC4 (on Twitter). That deliberation is what kept the Eagles from signing Tim Tebow even sooner.
Paul Posluszny‘s 2015 cap number with the Jaguars should go from $9.5M to $6.8MM with his renegotiated three-year deal, according to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
Toledo safety Jordan Haden, the younger brother of Pro Bowler Joe Haden, has decided not to pursue an NFL career, his father tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. The younger Haden drew interest from nine NFL teams, but has elected to work for the family business after sustaining a number of injuries during his college career.
The Jags, however, might be inclined to use Lewis as a trading chip for a tight end-needy team during the season, with the veteran set to carry a lower cap number, writes Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Although precise terms of Lewis’ new 2015 figure are not yet available, he won’t carry the gaudy $8.2MM, which was the sixth-highest figure in the league, and another team wouldn’t be on the hook for any payments after 2015, reports O’Halloran.
Thomas’ $10.3MM remains the most a team will pay a tight end this season.
Jacksonville executed this strategy two years ago when it dealt left tackle Eugene Monroe to the Ravens for fourth- and fifth-round picks in last year’s draft. The Jags won’t be able to extract that kind of return for the descending Lewis, who will be 31 this year, but a late-round pick wouldn’t be out of the question once injuries are factored into the in-season equation.
Here is some additional news coming out of north Florida on Saturday night.
Recently extended linebacker Paul Posluszny remains below his playing weight after recovering from offseason chest surgery, reports O’Halloran. Currently at 235 with hopes of returning to the 240-pound frame at which he normally plays, Posluszny weighed barely 220 pounds earlier this offseason thanks to the surgery-induced inactivity.
Despite signing Sergio Brown last month, the Jaguars remain interested in bolstering their safety corps, writes Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union. Brown’s made just 11 starts in five seasons and was the Jags’ fallback option after Devin McCourty opted to stay with the Patriots. With a weak safety class, Brown will probably have to be relied upon here, with holes at wideout, running back and defensive line outweighing the need on the back end, Carlyon notes. Byron Jones, Eric Rowe and P.J. Williams are three players Carlyon identified as those who could move from cornerback to safety, as McCourty did. “For me, it’s been going back a few years now, it’s been the hardest position for me to evaluate,” NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah told Carlyon. “You have to watch more tape on that position than any other because of the spread offense and the college game.”
The Jags are expected to focus their wideout pursuit on a slot receiver first, reports O’Halloran. Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee vacillated between inside and outside work last season as rookies, while Ace Sanders played there exclusively, albeit in only 60 snaps. None received a positive grade, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).
Electing to exhaust their prospect tours in bulk, the Jags have already used 25 of their 30 allowed visits, according to O’Halloran. Ten prospects trekked to the Jaguars’ facilities on April 7 and April 8, respectively.
Let’s check in on a handful of Friday items from out of the AFC South….
The Jaguars still have interest in center Stefen Wisniewski and wide receiver Greg Jennings, but haven’t made a contract offer to either player, tweets Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union. Speaking of Jennings, Nick Underhill of The Advocate writes that the wideout has received interest from the Ravens in addition to the four teams he’s been linked to previously — the Saints, Dolphins, Panthers, and Jags. I examined Jennings’ free agent stock this morning.
According to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, front office executives and agents around the NFL are in rare agreement on the issue of Andrew Luck‘s contract situation — both sides are surprised that the Colts aren’t doing whatever they can to sign him to an extension sooner rather than later. Owner Jim Irsay indicated last month that the team likely won’t address the quarterback’s contract until 2016.
In the wake of his new extension and restructure with the Jaguars, linebacker Paul Posluszny said he thinks the deal is mutually beneficial, per Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union. “I want to be a part of this organization and I wanted to do what I could to be here,” Posluszny said. “This was a great opportunity to extend the contract and give me another shot and opportunity to compete with the Jaguars.”
THURSDAY, 12:27pm: According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter), Posluszny will now earn $15MM — or as much as $18MM, depending on whether he meets incentives — over the next three years. He had previously been slated to earn $7.5MM annually over the next two years.
WEDNESDAY, 11:20pm: Jaguars linebacker Paul Posluszny, who had been under club control for two more seasons, has agreed to a one-year extension with the team, according to Alex Marvez of FOXSports.com (via Twitter).
Posluszny, 30, signed a six-year, $42MM deal with Jacksonville in 2011 after excelling in his first few years in the league with the Bills, who selected the Penn State product in the second round of the 2007 draft. He has received somewhat mixed reviews from Pro Football Focus, sometimes being included in or near the top 10 middle linebackers in the league and other times being ranked closer to the bottom of the list of qualified players. However, he has consistently posted strong tackle numbers, and he has put up 12 sacks, 11 interceptions, and eight forced fumbles over the course of his career.
He has also been durable, as last season marked the first time since his rookie campaign that Posluszny had missed any significant action due to injury. He tore his pectoral muscle in the team’s seventh game of the season and was placed on IR shortly thereafter. He was coming off his first Pro Bowl nod, having recorded 162 tackles to go along with three sacks, two interceptions, and nine passes defended in 2013.
PFR’s Luke Adams wrote back in December that Posluszny would be open to reducing his $9.5MM cap number for 2015 in exchange for another year added to his contract, and this extension will presumably accomplish just that.