Bills safety Rafael Bush has retired after nine seasons in the NFL, according to a team announcement. To replace Bush, the club signed fellow safety Kurt Coleman. Coleman will make just over $1MM on a one-year deal with a chance to make a maximum of $2M, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
Bush, 32, was expected to serve as a depth option and round out his two-year pact. Instead, he’s opted to hang ’em up just before the start of training camp. Last year, Bush appeared in 15 games (seven starts) and helped out at the nickel corner spot after Taron Johnson was lost to a torn labrum.
Enter Coleman, 31, who has a long history with head coach Sean McDermott thanks to their time together in Carolina. With the Panthers, Coleman enjoyed the two best seasons of his career. He’ll likely serve as a reserve behind starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, stepping straight into the role that was supposed to be addressed by Bush.
Bush first appeared in the league as an undrafted free agent with the Broncos in 2011, but made a name for himself with the Saints where he saw frequent action. After five straight seasons in New Orleans, he hooked on with the Lions for 2016, returned to the Saints in 2017, and spent ’18 with Buffalo.
The Bills are signing safety Rafael Bush to a two-year deal for $3.5 MM, ESPN’s Mike Rodak tweets. Bush was among the Saints’ free agents this offseason.
It includes $900,000 guaranteed and a $600,000 signing bonus, and base salaries of $1.3 MM in 2018, and $1.4 MM in 2019. He will also receive workout bonuses of $100,000 each year. Rodak also reports there are up to $500,000 in playing time incentives, which could propel the deal to a top value of $4.5 MM.
Bush was among the best safeties in last year’s free agent class, but we did not have him ranked in the top 15 in this go ’round. That’s partially due to the depth of this year’s safety market, but more so because Bush served strictly as a backup for New Orleans last year. He appeared in 14 games — with zero starts — and totaled 22 tackles with one sack.
A fixture as a Saints depth piece for much of this decade, Bush is going into his age-31 season. The former UDFA is likely to supplement Buffalo starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer. Hyde is signed to a five-year, $30MM deal and Poyer to a four-season contract worth $13MM. Those two each graded as top-15 safeties in the view of Pro Football Focus.
Bush has started 18 games in his seven-year career. He played 236 snaps for the Saints last season and now looks like Buffalo’s No. 3 safety for 2018. This is now a position the Bills don’t really need to worry about for a bit.
Some assorted notes from around the NFL this morning…
There were rumors that veteran defensive tackle Haloti Ngata could consider retirement, but the 33-year-old decided to return to the Lions for the 2017-18 campaign. Coach JimCaldwell is certainly happy that the defensive lineman will be sticking around. “Obviously, when you get to (have) played as many years as he has, you never know,” Caldwell said (via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press). “And I think once a guy gets about eight, nine years (in), that’s certainly always a possibility. But certainly we’re glad that he’s coming back.”
Lions offensive linemanLaken Tomlinson may have lost his starting gig last season, but general manager BobQuinn made it sound like the first-round pick will be returning. “Laken’s still here,” Quinn told Birkett. “Laken’s going to compete at the left guard spot, and we’ll head into training camp and OTAs with really good depth and really good competition across the board.”
Chris Long‘s contract with the Eagles includes options from the 2018 to 2021 season, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). The total deal could max out at $11.25MM, and he’ll essentially earn $2.25MM each season from 2019 through 2021.
Safety Rafael Bush‘s one-year deal with the Saints is worth $885K, reports Wilson (via Twitter). $775K of that will come via the player’s salary (with $100K guaranteed), with another $80K coming via a signing bonus.
Tony Romo won’t like this, but the injuries he and Cowboys backup quarterback Kellen Moore suffered last summer might have been “a little blessing in disguise,” Moore told 93.1-FM Idaho Sports Talk (via the Dallas Morning News). Both the broken bone in Romo’s back and Moore’s broken leg paved the way for the Dak Prescott era, and instead of acting as a caretaker as a rookie, he performed like a star for a 13-3 club. The Cowboys are now Prescott’s team as a result, leaving Romo’s future with the franchise in doubt. It’s unlikely he’ll be a Cowboy again next season, which could open the door for the recently re-signed Moore to serve as Prescott’s primary backup.
The Eagles released pass rusher Connor Barwin earlier this month, and believe it or not, he then helped the team find his replacement. Before signing with Philadelphia on Tuesday, defensive end Chris Long talked with Barwin, who gave glowing reviews of the city and the franchise, writes Zach Berman of Philly.com. Now that he’s an Eagle, Long expects to thrive in their system. Even though Long’s numbers dropped over the previous three seasons, during which he combined for eight sacks in 34 games with the Rams and Patriots, the 32-year-old believes he still has “a lot left.”
Safety Rafael Bush’s one-year deal with the Saints is worth $855,000, including $100K in guarantees and an $80K signing bonus, tweets Nick Underhill of The Advocate.
The Saints are signing safety Rafael Bush, according to Nick Underhill of The Advocate (on Twitter). It’s a one-year deal, per a team announcement. This marks a return to New Orleans for Bush after spending the 2016 season with the Lions.
Heading into Thursday, we had Bush ranked as the sixth-best safety available on the open market. Bush primarily saw time at free safety during his first New Orleans stint, but last year the Lions utilized him at a number of spots in the secondary. All in all, he finished out with 48 tackles, two interceptions, three passes defensed, and his first career sack. He appeared in every regular season contest, including four starts. Bush finished out as the 65th best safety in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics. It was a solid showing after a torn pectoral muscle limited him to only one game in 2015.
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.
Here are a few of the latest contract details from around the NFC on recently agreed-upon and signed deals. All links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle unless otherwise indicated…
Robert Ayers, DE (Buccaneers): Three years, $19.5MM. $10.5MM guaranteed. $2.5MM roster bonus due on March 16. $2MM roster bonus due on fifth day of 2017 league year. $1MM roster bonus due on fifth day of 2018 league year. $550K annually in sacks incentives (Twitterlinks).
Derrick Shelby, DE (Falcons): Four years, $18MM. $7.5MM guaranteed. $5MM signing bonus. Annual $1MM base escalator from 2017 to 2019 (Twitterlinks).
Matt Schaub, QB (Falcons): One year, $1.75MM. $500K signing bonus. Up to $1MM in playing-time and 53-man roster incentives (Twitter link).
Tress Way, P (Washington): Five years, $7.8MM. $2.35MM guaranteed. $1.25MM signing bonus. Up to $400K in annual escalators from 2017 to 2020 (Twitter link via Master Tesfatsion of the Washington Post).
Nigel Bradham, LB (Eagles): Two years, $7MM. $4.5MM guaranteed. $1.5MM signing bonus. $500K base escalator for 2017 (Twitter link).
Kyle WIlber, LB (Cowboys): Two years, $3.25MM. $1MM signing bonus. $1MM playing-time incentive (Twitter link).
Logan Paulsen, TE (Washington): One year, minimum salary benefit. $35K signing bonus. $45K bonus for being on 53-man roster for first game (Twitter link).
Nick Perry, OLB (Packers): One year, $5MM. $1.5MM signing bonus. $2.3MM base salary. Up to $1MM in per-game active roster bonuses. $200K workout bonus. Up to $250K in incentives (Twitterlinks via Wilson and Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).
Marcus Sherels, CB (Vikings): Two years, $4MM. $1.5MM guaranteed. $500K roster bonus due on March 16. $100K in annual punt return average incentives. $50K annual Pro Bowl incentive (Twitterlinks).
Rafael Bush, S (Lions): One year, $2.4MM. $250K signing bonus. $250K in per-game roster bonuses. Up to $900K in playing-time bonuses (Twitter link via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press).
The Lions have added some much-needed depth to their safety corps, as NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the team has signed Rafael Bush. The deal is for one year at $2.4MM, Rapoport adds.
The former undrafted free agent has bounced around a bit throughout his six-year career, but he seemed to find a home with the Saints. The 28-year-old spent the past four seasons in New Orleans, appearing in 40 games (14 starts). The defensive back finished the 2014 season with 56 tackles and two passes defended, but a torn pectoral muscle limited to only one game in 2015.
Bush will seemingly slide into the Lions starting lineup besides Glover Quin. The team did ink Tavon Wilson to a deal earlier this week, but the former Patriots safety will presumably serve in a back-up role.
Here’s the latest from some of the free agents yet to sign on Day 2.
Eric Weddle won’t be in a rush to determine his new location, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports (on Twitter). Despite the eagerness Weddle displayed to leave San Diego during his acrimonious final days with the Chargers, the 10th-year safety figures to take his time and mull the options that present themselves to the 31-year-old two-time first-team All-Pro, La Canfora notes. Weddle, though, has four teams after him, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune tweets. One of those is the Raiders, as expected.
Although it will take more than just money to secure the services ofColin Kaepernick given that he’s under contract with the 49ers, the sixth-year quarterback was high among the Broncos‘ plan B options, a source told 9News’ Mike Klis before Brock Osweiler agreed to the four-year, $72MM that sent him to Houston.
Should the Broncos not be able to pry Kaepernick away from the 49ers or sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of their options should be a two-pronged approach, Klis writes, involving a trade for either Brian Hoyer or Nick Foles and selecting a quarterback in the first round. While Fitzpatrick wants a salary in line with other franchise QBs at ~$16MM AAV, Foles’ salary for 2016 is $7.75MM and Hoyer set to earn $4.86MM. Klis, who rates this as the No. 1 option the Broncos should consider, lists Connor Cook and Dak Prescott as QBs that will be available at No. 31.
The Chiefs‘ perpetual search for a No. 2 wide receiver will continue when the team hosts Jeremy Kerley on a visit, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets. Kerley will meet with the Chiefs on Friday, ESPN.com’s Josina Anderson reports (via Twitter). The Jets recently released Kerley despite having signed the slot receiver to an extension in Oct. 2014. Kerley, who will be 28 this year, finished with career-worst numbers after being phased out of Chan Gailey‘s offense as Eric Decker took over primary slot duties. Kerley’s best season came in 2012, when he caught 56 passes for 827 yards and two touchdowns. He hasn’t topped 550 yards since.
Rafael Bush will visit the Lions on Friday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. A torn pectoral muscle sidelined Bush after one game last season, but he started in 13 combined contests in 2013-14 for the Saints.
The Saints have expressed an interest in bringing safety Rafael Bush back to the team, Sean Fazende of FOX 8 tweets.
Bears free agent cornerback Sherrick McManis is visiting the Patriots, per Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Earlier today, it was reported that McManis was visiting an AFC East team and we now know that club’s identity. The Jaguars are also interested in him, according to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union (on Twitter).
Danny Trevathan, who just signed with the Bears, offered up an interesting answer when asked if the Packers reached out to him. “No, they didn’t. I wish they would have, but they didn’t,” the linebacker said (Twitter link via NFL Network).
The Ravens hosted guard Vlad Ducasse on a visit today, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Ducasse started 11 of 16 games for Chicago in 2015. Ducasse began his career with the Jets, a team that was high on his raw talent but never got to see him put it altogether on the field.