Rashaan Melvin

Lions To Sign Rashaan Melvin

The Lions have been active in free agency, and they’re making another move. Detroit is signing cornerback Rashaan Melvin to a one-year deal, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN (Twitter link).

The Lions brought Melvin in for a visit on Wednesday, and apparently liked what they saw. Per Schefter, the deal will pay Melvin $3.5MM. Melvin comes to the Lions after spending the 2018 season with the Raiders. He began the year as a starter, but didn’t play well and was benched. He ended up making 14 appearances for Oakland, with seven starts.

His down year with the Raiders was somewhat surprising, since he was coming off a couple of strong years with the Colts. In 2017 he appeared in ten games, starting all ten, and had three interceptions with 13 passes defended. He got $5.5MM from the Raiders last offseason, so his most recent campaign clearly hurt his market value.

The Northern Illinois product will now get a much-needed fresh start. Overall, it’s a nice low-risk signing for a Lions team that is in the middle of rebuilding their defense in Matt Patricia’s vision. If Melvin can get back to his pre-2018 form, he could be a nice addition to Detroit’s secondary alongside Darius Slay.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rashaan Melvin To Visit Lions

Well-traveled cornerback Rashaan Melvin will visit the Lions on Wednesday, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Melvin started seven games for the Raiders last season, and he was a solid regular with the Colts in his two seasons in Indianapolis prior to that.

He did not have an impressive 2018 campaign with Oakland after signing a one-year, $5.5MM pact with the club last March, but he is certainly a capable CB. Following a breakout season in 2016, Melvin was just as productive in 2017, finishing with 36 tackles, three interceptions, and 13 passes defended. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance that year, ranking him 17th among 120 eligible cornerbacks.

The fact that he butted heads with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden last season is unlikely to be held against him. In Detroit, Melvin could start on the outside opposite Pro Bowler Darius Slay.

The Lions have already addressed their defensive backfield in free agency by adding slot corner Justin Coleman last week, and they’re obviously not done.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: Gordon, Melvin, Marshall, Bosa

Josh Gordon has run afoul with a new team. The Patriots plan to discipline the oft-embattled wide receiver during tonight’s Bills game, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), with tardiness at the root of the trade acquisition’s latest issue. New England will play without Gordon for a period of time tonight, around a quarter or “several series,” per Rapoport. Gordon showed up late to the Patriots’ facility on Sunday before the team left for Buffalo, Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets. After Gordon rides the bench to start the game, Rapoport adds he’ll return to his normal workload tonight. This benching is part of the team’s effort to manage and work with the 27-year-old wideout, one who had rampant trouble in Cleveland on this and other off-field fronts. If Gordon was on a low-tolerance policy with the Patriots, this doesn’t help his cause.

Here’s the latest from the AFC on trade deadline eve:

  • Bruce Irvin and Karl Joseph are believed to be on the trade block during the Raiders‘ rebuild, and, perhaps unsurprisingly based on the way his season’s gone, so is cornerback Rashaan Melvin. The recently signed corner was a healthy scratch against the Colts on Sunday, and Tom Pelissero of NFL.com notes (video link) Melvin is available for a trade. Melvin signed a one-year, $5.5MM deal but drew Jon Gruden‘s public scrutiny after complaining about his role on the Raiders and the coaching staff’s style earlier this season. Melvin, 29, was a well-regarded Colts starter at this point last season and almost certainly will not be part of the 2019 Raiders.
  • Broncos plans to trade Brandon Marshall, if that was ever the case, look to have hit a snag. The longtime Denver starting linebacker now has a bone bruise in one of his knees and will likely miss time because of it, Denver7’s Troy Renck tweets. Marshall, whose contract makes him far from a lock he’ll be on next year’s Broncos, surfaced in trade rumors over the weekend. One of the handful of Denver starting defenders left over from Super Bowl 50, Marshall has been a full-time starter since 2014. He signed an extension in 2016, but that deal includes a $9MM cap number next year. Rookie Josey Jewell has played well in part-time duty as well, and the Broncos could get an early look at the fifth-round pick as a starter if Marshall is forced to miss time.
  • Joey Bosa could make his season debut on Sunday. At least, the Chargers haven’t ruled it out. Anthony Lynn said it was possible Bosa plays in Week 9, per Eric Williams of ESPN.com. Lynn said Bosa was getting closer. He’s missed seven Bolts games this season because of a bruised left foot, an injury he aggravated before Week 1. Lynn added he’s not ruling Melvin Gordon out, either.
  • The Texans followed through with their scheduled Brice Butler workout on Monday, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweets. In addition, Houston auditioned quarterback Brogan Roback, cornerback Craig Mager and wide receivers Amba Etta-Tawo and Steven Mitchell.

Raiders Rumors: Trades, Melvin, Lynch

Stability’s been elusive during Jon Gruden‘s first months in Oakland, and Rashaan Melvin found himself as the centerpiece of a recent chapter in a complicated Raiders year. The Raiders limited the free agent addition to just seven snaps Sunday in London, and Melvin expressed his frustration with a reduced role. The Raiders have wanted Melvin to add a new technique to his repertoire, one he wasn’t familiar with during his previous NFL seasons, and internally prefer mid-offseason pickup Daryl Worley to Melvin, Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes. After a more diplomatic response Sunday, Melvin tweeted, “I’m done trying to change my style. It’s not me. Back to what I know and what got me here!!” Gruden then used another opportunity to take issue with one of his players through the press.

Melvin is on his seventh team. Maybe he is confused about what technique he is using,” Gruden said Tuesday, via Vic Vafur of The Athletic (on Twitter). “He is frustrated. I can’t blame him. … He is a good kid.”

Melvin signed a one-year, $5.5MM contract with the Raiders after delivering a strong season, prior to an injury, in 2017. Like most aspects of the 2018 Raiders, Melvin’s contract year is not going well. Projected starting corners Melvin and Gareon Conley are now on the bench.

Here’s the latest out of Oakland:

  • Trade rumors continue to hit Reggie McKenzie-era draft picks, with Amari Cooper, Karl Joseph and even Derek Carr surfacing in them. Although Carr’s status appears secure in 2018, Charles Robinson of Yahoo.com writes some NFL execs are receiving the impression no other non-rookie Raider is untouchable at this year’s trade deadline. While little’s going right for the Raiders, they do have a solid offensive line interior (Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson) and have proven pass rusher Bruce Irvin. All arrived under McKenzie’s watch and helped lead Oakland to a 12-4 2016 season. Cooper’s availability stems from the Raiders, like they were with Khalil Mack, appearing unready to authorize a top-market second contract, per Robinson. It’s a tough time for a franchise that’s endured many of them this century.
  • Marshawn Lynch is one Raider who’s having a decent season, but his campaign may need to be paused. The 32-year-old back is battling a groin strain, and Gruden is concerned this could be a long-term problem (Twitter link via Tafur). Lynch is receiving medical input on the issue this week. Lynch scored touchdowns during the first three games of the season but has averaged fewer than four yards per carry in five of his six games. He rushed for 45 yards on 13 carries in London. The Raiders exercised their post-London bye option, so Lynch has additional time to recover.
  • Having cut Derrick Johnson earlier Tuesday, the Raiders worked out former Broncos linebacker Corey Nelson, veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets. Nelson’s been on the workout circuit for a bit now and hasn’t been able to stick on a team since his Broncos rookie contract expired.

Raiders Work Out DRC

The Raiders worked out free agent corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Wednesday, according to Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Previous reports had indicated DRC earlier this month, but he’d actually only spoken with Oakland.

Rodgers-Cromartie has drawn plenty of interest this offseason after being released by the Giants in March. The Redskins were his first free agent visit, and reportedly reached out to him last week prior to cutting slot corner Orlando Scandrick. DRC has also worked out for the Seahawks while the Chargers have reportedly eyed the 32-year-old defensive back.

The Raiders brought in plenty of new faces at the corner position this offseason, adding veterans such as Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley, Shareece Wright, and Leon Hall, and also drafted Nick Nelson in the fourth round. Melvin is projected to start opposite 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley, but DRC could give Oakland another option in the slot.

In 2017, Rodgers-Cromartie appeared in 15 games (six starts) for the Giants, managing 31 tackles, a half-sack, and one pass defensed while grading as the NFL’s No. 58 cornerback, per Pro Football Focus. On 25 targets, DRC allowed 7.2 yards per pass, more than double his 2016 average of 3.5.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Sign CB Rashaan Melvin

The Raiders are expected to make an upgrade to their defensive secondary by signing free agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports the move is a one-year deal worth $6.5 MM (Twitter link). 

Melvin, a 2013 undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois, spent the past two seasons with the Colts, where he’s had a pair of solid campaigns. Following a breakout season in 2016, Melvin was just as productive this year, finishing with 36 tackles, three interceptions, and 13 passes defended. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance, ranking him 17th among 120 eligible cornerbacks. PFR ranked Melvin as the No. 12 free agent cornerback.

The move makes Melvin a starter in Oakland on one sideline with 2017 rookie Gareon Conley expected to man the other, barring further moves. The two sides met on Friday and a deal did not take long to get done.

The move is the latest in a flurry of transactions for the Raiders under new head coach Jon Gruden. On Thursday, the team signed former All-Pro receiver Jordy Nelson and released veteran Michael Crabtree. Less than an hour before Melvin signed with the team, former Bills cornerback Shareece Wright was also signed to the secondary.

[RELATED: Raiders Depth Chart]


Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders To Host CB Rashaan Melvin

The Raiders will host free agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin on Friday, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link). Both Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link) and Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal have reported that Oakland has had conversations with Melvin.

Melvin, a 2013 undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois, spent the past two seasons with the Colts, where he’s had a pair of solid campaigns. Following a breakout season in 2016, Melvin was just as productive this year, finishing with 36 tackles, three interceptions, and 13 passes defended. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance, ranking him 17th among 120 eligible cornerbacks. PFR ranked Melvin as the No. 12 free agent cornerback.

The Raiders could certainly use some reinforcement at cornerback, as the club is currently projected to start 2017 first- rounder Gareon Conley and former seventh-rounder Dexter McDonald. Oakland also has Darius Hillary, Antonio Mitchel, and Shaquille Richardson on their CB depth chart.

Oakland isn’t the only team eyeing Melvin, as the Packers also reportedly have interest in the 28-year-old.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Interested In Rashaan Melvin

The Packers have expressed interest in signing Colts free agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Melvin stands as one of the better available CBs after Trumaine Johnson, Bashaud Breeland, and other notables have come off the board.

The Raiders are also among the teams with interest. Green Bay has been more active during free agency’s first wave than it generally was during Ted Thompson’s run, with the now-Brian Gutekunst-managed franchise adding both Jimmy Graham and Muhammad Wilkerson.

However, the Packers have been in need of cornerback help. They’ve used a few high draft choices to address that position, but it remains a need area. And Green Bay traded 2015 first-round pick Damarious Randall to the Browns last week, further depleting its corner contingent.

Melvin broke out for the Colts last season after a mostly anonymous career leading up to it.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Interested In CB Rashaan Melvin

The Raiders are eyeing free agent cornerback Rashaan Melvin, reports Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review Journal (via Twitter). There’s been “some communication” between the two sides, but it doesn’t sound like a deal is coming anytime soon. Meanwhile, the reporter notes that Oakland wasn’t in on Trumaine Johnson, who signed with the Jets today.

The 2013 undrafted free agent out of Northern Illinois spent the past two seasons with the Colts, where he’s had a pair of solid campaigns. Following a breakout season in 2016, Melvin was just as productive productive this year, finishing with 36 tackles, three interceptions, and 13 passes defended. Pro Football Focus was particularly fond of his performance, ranking him 17th among 120 eligible cornerbacks. Our own Dallas Robinson listed him as the No. 12 free agent cornerback.

The Raiders could certainly use some reinforcement at cornerback. The team is currently projected to be starting 2017 first-rounder Gareon Conley and former seventh-rounder Dexter McDonald. The team is also rostering Darius Hillary, Antonio HamiltonTevin Mitchel, and Shaquille Richardson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more