February 6th, 2018 at 11:55am CST by Zachary Links
The Saints announced that they have released defensive tackle Tony McDaniel. McDaniel was already scheduled for free agency in March, so his return to New Orleans was never assured.
McDaniels hooked on with the Saints in late December for his second stint with the team. The 33-year-old’s first go ’round came over the summer when he appeared in all four preseason games with the team before being released at the start of the season. In between those two New Orleans trips, McDaniel also appeared in four games for the 49ers.
All in all, McDaniels wound up appearing in just one regular season game for the Saints as well as their first round playoff win against the Panthers. An undisclosed injury in the Carolina game landed him on injured reserve, ruling him out for the divisional round game against the Vikings.
It is the 12-year lineman’s second stint with the Saints in 2017. McDaniel appeared in all four preseason games with the team before being released at the start of the season. He then signed with San Francisco and appeared in four games, making five tackles, before being released on November 13.
The Saints will mark the sixth team McDaniel has suited up for since entering the league in 2006 as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee. After stays with Jacksonville and Miami, McDaniel enjoyed his breakout campaigns with Seattle in 2013 and 2014, winning a Super Bowl during that stretch. He made a stop in Tampa Bay, another round in Seattle before ending up with the Niners and Saints in 2017.
Tony McDaniel‘s stint with the 49ers has come to an end. Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports (via Twitter) that the team has released the veteran defensive tackle.
McDaniel initially signed with the Saints during the offseason, but he was released towards the end of the preseason. He later joined the 49ers in mid-October, and he proceeded to compile five tackles in four games. The 32-year-old has bounced around the league recently, and he’s spent time with five different organizations during his 12-year career. Following breakout campaigns with Seattle in 2013 and 2014, he joined the Buccaneers in 2015 before reuniting with the Seahawks in 2016.
As Maiocco points out, the team is presumably anticipating the return of defensive end Tank Carradine, who is eligible to come off the injured reserve later this month. Before landing on the IR with a high ankle sprain, Carradine had appeared in three games (two starts) this season, compiling seven tackles and one sack.
McDaniel, 32, has experience in a system similar to SF’s thanks to his time in Seattle. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was even on staff with the Seahawks during one of his seasons with the team. In that year, McDaniel started a career-high 15 games and recorded 53 tackles (a career mark) plus two sacks.
Douzable missed the Niners’ initial cut, but he is back with the team here in October. The 31-year-old appeared in every game for the Bills last season (including five starts) and had 43 total tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Rubin, perhaps the most notable of the bunch, spent the previous two years in the 49ers’ divisio – the NFC West – with Seattle. The Seahawks, who play the 49ers this week, released Rubin at the outset of the month, and his only known interest prior to his meeting with San Francisco came from the Bills. The 31-year-old DT started in all 32 appearances with the Seahawks, registering 75 tackles and three sacks, and previously started in 75 of 99 games as a Brown from 2008-14. Kyle Shanahan, the Niners’ rookie head coach, was Cleveland’s offensive coordinator during Rubin’s last season there.
Howard, 28, worked out for the Lions this week before his visit to San Francisco. The former Chief has been on the hunt for a job since the Bears released him Sept. 2. Howard didn’t play a down in Chicago, which signed him in May after the Chiefs released him, and is coming off an injury-played 2016. After Howard posted back-to-back 16-game seasons and combined for 24 starts from 2014-15, a hip ailment limited him to eight and five in those categories last year.
Like Rubin and Howard, Langford and McDaniel earned summer releases from their previous employers. The Colts cut Langford with a failed physical designation in August, indicating that the 31-year-old hadn’t recovered from the knee injury that ended his 2016 campaign in October. He was, however, the picture of durability from 2008-15 with the Dolphins, Rams and Colts, appearing in eight straight 16-game seasons. Langford’s also just two years removed from a career-high seven-sack showing.
McDaniel, whom the Saints released at the beginning of the month, is an 11-year veteran who spent three of the previous four years in Seattle. The 295-pounder is familar with first-year 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who worked on the Seahawks’ staff during one of McDaniel’s seasons with them (2013). McDaniel started a personal-best 15 games that season and notched 53 tackles (a career mark) and two sacks.
It’s unclear if the 49ers will sign any of these players, but doing so would perhaps improve a defensive line that didn’t generate much pressure during their 23-3 loss to the Panthers in Week 1. The 49ers hit Panthers quarterback Cam Newton just twice and failed to register a sack in Saleh’s debut atop their defense. They did, however, hold Carolina to a measly 3.1 yards per rush on 38 attempts.
New Orleans signed McDaniel earlier this year following the loss of Nick Fairley to a heart condition with the hope that the 32-year-old veteran could offer experience to a depleted defensive interior. McDaniel does boast 141 career appearances and 48 starts, after all, and has been a serviceable rotational option with Seattle and Tampa Bay over the past few seasons.
Defensive tackle Tony McDaniel has signed with the Saints, his agency announced Thursday (on Twitter).
The 32-year-old McDaniel could end up in a prominent role for the Saints, who are awaiting word on whether starting defensive tackle Nick Fairley will be able to overcome heart problems to continue his career. Like Fairley, McDaniel brings plenty of experience, having logged 141 appearances and 48 starts with the Jaguars, Dolphins, Buccaneers and Seahawks since entering the NFL in 2006.
Morgan, 29, was nominally the Seahawks’ starting strongside linebacker in 2016, but because Seattle spent so much time in nickel, Morgan’s defensive snaps were limited. Morgan’s contributions were further restricted by injury last year, as he spent eight weeks on injured reserve while dealing with a sports hernia. All told, Morgan played only 138 defensive snaps and posted just 10 tackles. His only other known interest this offseason came from the Jaguars, for whom he auditioned last month.
Like Morgan, McDaniel also spent the 2016 campaign with Seattle, and has in fact played for the Seahawks in three of the past four years. The 32-year-old McDaniel played on 45% of Seattle’s defensive snaps a season ago, racking up 43 tackles and grading as the league’s No. 52 interior defender in the process, per Pro Football Focus. McDaniel could have a path to playing time in New Orleans alongside Sheldon Rankins, especially if Nick Fairley‘s heart condition restricts his ability.
The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.
Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.
Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.
We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.
Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:
The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.
Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).
Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.
The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.
While players at other defensive positions have flown off the board, there’s been almost no movement among off-ball linebackers. Only five of PFR’s original top-15 free agent linebackers have signed new contracts, a group that includes Dont’a Hightower, our previous No. 1 ‘backer who re-signed with the Patriots today. Zach Brown, who now holds that honor, broke out in his fifth NFL campaign and played especially well in coverage, a skill that should lead to a handsome reward. Brown, 27, met with the Raiders today, while the Dolphins also hope to schedule a visit.
The Bengals, specifically, are in the linebackermarket, as they’ve met with both Kevin Minter and Keenan Robinson in recent days. But the rest of the players on this list aren’t drawing much interest as of yet, a fact that speaks to the devaluation of the linebacker position. Teams will pay up for a three-down linebacker like Hightower, but if a player can be formation-ed off the field, he’s not going to land a hefty deal.
One linebacker who did prove he could stay on the field on third down was Perry Riley, who played 370 coverage snaps for the Raiders last season. Riley is still only 28 years old, but posted awful marks from Pro Football Focus during his previous campaigns with Washington. Whether it was Oakland’s scheme (including its talented pass rushers) that allowed Riley to flourish, or a true breakout coming in the middle of a career, Riley could help a number of clubs. The Raiders are reportedly working to bring him back.
The top two corners still on the open market are both former Cowboys, and Brandon Carr looks like the surer bet to return to Dallas at this point. Morris Claiborne, meanwhile, has drawn interest from the Ravens, and most opposing clubs believe he’ll end up signing with Baltimore. Clairborne, 27, appeared to be a prime overpay candidate heading into the offseason, but if the Ravens can land him on a short-term deal, they’d be making a wise investment.
Now that all charges have been dropped against Darrelle Revis, he’ll make for an interesting test case in free agency. Clearly, Revis is not the shutdown corner he once was, and may even be mulling a move to safety as he closes his career. But clubs in the market for secondary help could do worse than Revis, and he should be on a roster when the regular season rolls around.
Most of the safeties on this list are in-the-box types — that’s thanks to the fact that center field-esque safeties are more rare and thus more expensive. Recently-released veterans such as Jairus Byrd, Lardarius Webb, and Corey Graham, however, offer coverage ability and would make for decent signings on short pacts. T.J. McDonald and Bradley McDougald, on other hand, are big hitters that will patrol near the line of scrimmage. McDougald, specifically, will take a visit with the Seahawks this week.
Chris Prosinski is just a special teamer, but he’s a great special teamer. While he only played 173 defensive snaps in 2016, he saw time on more than 80% of the Bears’ special teams plays, and was listed as one of the season’s best special teams players by Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders ranked the Cardinals, Jets, and Texans as the bottom-three teams in special teams DVOA, and any of those clubs would benefit from adding Prosinski.
Demand is not high for placekickers at the moment, as only the Giants and Bengals stand out as clubs that immediately need a kicker. Injuries and ineffectiveness are sure to strike the position, however, at which point the specialists on this list will surely receive calls. Dan Carpenter and Mike Nugent missed a combined 11 extra points in 2016, and given that he topped both Carpenter and Nugent in field goal percentage, Nick Folk should be the first kicker on clubs’ emergency list.