Rashad Johnson

Ex-Cards/Titans DB Rashad Johnson Retires

Former Cardinals and Titans safety Rashad Johnson has announced his retirement from the NFL in an Instagram post.Rashad Johnson

Johnson, who turned 32 years old earlier this week, enjoyed an eight-year pro career after being selected out of Alabama in the third round of the 2099 draft. Seven of those seasons came with the club that originally drafted him, the Cardinals, for whom he appeared in 100 of his 114 career games. Primarily a reserve and special teams player during his first five years in the league, Johnson was a full-time starter in 2014 and 2015, and racked up nine interceptions during that period.

After reaching free agency following the 2015 campaign, Johnson inked a one-year deal with the Titans. In his lone season with Tennessee, Johnson was one of four Titans safeties to see action on at least 50% of the club’s defensive snaps. He made seven starts and 14 total appearances while managing one forced fumble and one pass defensed. Although Johnson was expected to draw interest during the 2017 offseason (and was ranked as a top-15 free agent safety by PFR), he never generated any known interest and didn’t play in a contest last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

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:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

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.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

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).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

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.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

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.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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AFC Rumors: Browns, Steelers, Titans, Jets

While the first day of the NFL’s legal tampering window has been relatively slow, things figure to heat up in the coming days as the new league year approaches. Two AFC North clubs stand to be in on the action, as the Browns and Steelers are both expected to be active when free agency begins, per Tony Grossi of ESPN.com (Twitter link) and Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com (Twitter link). Pittsburgh will be “working the phones” more than usual, per Kinkhabwala, but that doesn’t mean the usually conservative team will be targeting more free agents than is customary.

Here’s more from the AFC:

  • Although the Titans have interest in retaining safety Rashad Johnson, he’s expected to have other suitors, tweets Terry McCormick of TitansInsider.com. Johnson, 31, signed a one-year, $2MM deal with Tennessee last offseason, and proceeded to start seven games for the club in 2016, posting 38 tackles in the process. He ranks as PFR’s No. 15 free agent safety, just behind Mike Adams and Jairus Byrd.
  • The Jets are expected to pursue interior offensive lineman Brian Schwenke, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. Schwenke, 26 this month, started 28 games during his four-year run with Tennessee, but lost his hold on the club’s starting center job when the Titans inked Ben Jones last offseason. Also capable of playing guard, Schwenke has also been linked to Seattle.
  • Although previous reports have indicated Sylvester Williams is not only likely to test the market, but leave the Broncos altogether, Denver does have “some interest” in retaining the former first-round defensive lineman, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Williams hasn’t lived up to his draft billing, but does offer 48 games of starting experience. The Broncos declined his 2018 fifth-year option last summer.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday 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. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

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 franchised players 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 this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, 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, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

[RELATED: Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense]

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:

Edge defender:

  1. Chandler Jones
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Jason Pierre-Paul
  4. Nick Perry
  5. Jabaal Sheard
  6. James Harrison
  7. John Simon
  8. DeMarcus Ware
  9. Lorenzo Alexander
  10. Andre Branch
  11. Julius Peppers
  12. Charles Johnson
  13. Datone Jones
  14. Mario Addison
  15. Dwight Freeney

The Cardinals have already made it abundantly clear that Chandler Jones will see the franchise tag this offseason, and Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul are also candidates to be tagged by the Chargers and Giants, respectively. If the latter two are able to hit the open market unfettered, however, they both figure to break the bank. Ingram, Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 edge defender, could be a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, while JPP will be looking for a long-term commitment after signing consecutive one-year deals.Chandler Jones (vertical)

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among the players with youth still on their side, Packers edge defenders Nick Perry and Datone Jones figure to interest different clubs, as Perry is a better match for a 3-4 defense while Jones needs to restart his career as a 4-3 defensive end. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. James Harrison and Charles Johnson, meanwhile, look like good bets to return to Steelers and Panthers, respectively, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Kawann Short
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Johnathan Hankins
  4. Brandon Williams
  5. Dontari Poe
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Bennie Logan
  8. Nick Fairley
  9. Alan Branch
  10. Jared Odrick
  11. Karl Klug
  12. Terrell McClain
  13. Lawrence Guy
  14. Earl Mitchell
  15. Stacy McGee

Unlike the edge defender market, the 2017 cadre of interior defensive lineman shouldn’t be overly affected by the franchise tender. Head coach Ron Rivera recently confessed the Panthers will “probably” have to use the tag on Kawann Short, but the rest of the defensive tackles listed here should be able to hit the open market. Of the remaining defenders, Campbell is the best overall player, but given that he’s entering his age-31 season, he may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Earl Mitchell), and run stoppers (Karl Klug, Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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Extra Points: Jets, Luck, Mebane, Hayne

Jets receiver Eric Decker told SiriusXM NFL on Tuesday afternoon that, right now, the Jets “have to move on without” free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, as a guest on NFL Total Access on Tuesday evening, he expressed confidence that the Jets and Fitzpatrick will ultimately get a deal done, writes Dan Hanzus of NFL.com.

“Something is going to happen. It might be before training camp, the day or two before, but I believe that he’ll be back on the team come this fall,” Decker said, though he did acknowledge that the two sides “are so far off” from each other when it comes to the quarterback’s dollar value.

In other NFL news…

  • It looks as if Colts quarterback Andrew Luck‘s injury-plagued 2015 campaign is behind him. The four-year veteran is participating in Colts workouts with “no limitations,” he said Tuesday (via Mike Wells of ESPN.com). After appearing in all of the Colts’ games during his first three seasons, Luck missed nine contests last year with injuries to his kidney, ribs and shoulder, and experienced a precipitous statistical decline while on the field. Now, Luck “looks really good,” according to head coach Chuck Pagano. As of late April, the Colts were focusing on an extension for Luck, whose deal expires at the end of the upcoming season. It’s likely a new contract for the 26-year-old would make him one of the league’s highest-paid players.
  • Chargers defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who signed with the Bolts in free agency, spoke effusively about the team’s defensive personnel Monday (per Michael Gehlken of the San Diego Union-Tribune). “I was telling guys, there’s more talent on this defense than in Seattle. If you look at the draft, you’ve got four first-round draft picks. You’ve got five second-round draft picks, all total on defense. In Seattle, we only had two first rounders and one second rounder. Everybody else was pretty much down in the draft or undrafted.” Mebane is quite familiar with the Seahawks’ defense, of course, having spent the first nine years of his career in Seattle. Regardless of draft pedigree, however, the Seahawks has been among the NFL’s defensive elite over the past several years, whereas the Chargers’ stop unit was toward the bottom of the league in all notable categories last season. With Mebane and third overall pick Joey Bosa now aboard, at least some improvement should be in order this year.
  • Chip Kelly understood Jarryd Hayne‘s decision to retire in light of a potential Olympic rugby opportunity, Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. On the subject of Hayne, the NFL’s drug-testing protocol may keep him out of the Olympics despite American football having no presence in the Games. Prospective Olympic athletes must be in a World Anti-Doping Agency-compliant pool for at least six months, Jamie Marcuson of the Sydney Morning Herald reports. The NFL does not fall under the WADA umbrella, and former Australian Anti-Doping Agency chief Richard Ings told Marcuson that Hayne has “no chance” of playing for his native Fiji this August as a result. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wonders if Hayne’s exit strategy stemmed instead from the fact he didn’t have much of a chance to make the 49ers‘ 53-man roster.
  • Titans safety Rashad Johnson told SiriusXM (Twitter link) that the Cardinals expressed some interest in having him back, but did not make an offer.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Titans Sign Rashad Johnson

MARCH 31: Johnson’s one-year contract features a $500K signing bonus and has a base value of $2MM, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. According to Pelissero, the deal also includes up to $1MM in playing-time, INT, and Pro Bowl incentives.

MARCH 25: The Titans and free agent safety Rashad Johnson have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, reports Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Financial terms of the agreement aren’t yet known, but the team has confirmed the move.Rashad Johnson

Johnson, 30, has been with the Cardinals since the team selected him in the third round of the 2009 draft. After starting his NFL career as a reserve and a special-teamer, the 30-year-old has found a place in Arizona’s starting lineup in recent years, making 30 starts for the team in 2014 and 2015.

During his time as a starter, Johnson has shown a knack for coming up with turnovers — in the past two seasons, he has racked up nine interceptions, including two for touchdowns, and three fumble recoveries. However, with Tyrann Mathieu, D.J. Swearinger, Tony Jefferson, and the newly-signed Tyvon Branch among the players potentially in the mix at safety for the Cardinals in 2016, Johnson will be moving on after spending seven seasons with the club.

The Titans have one solid starting safety in Da’Norris Searcy, but were a little thin at the position after parting ways with veteran safety Michael Griffin earlier in the offseason.

Johnson didn’t earn a spot on our list of 2016’s top 50 free agents, but ranked as the seventh-best safety in our breakdown of the winter’s top defensive free agents.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Bears, Galette, Cards, Hester

The Bears’ excellent cap situation (nearly $24MM in space) and the importance of having quality edge rushers are two reasons the team won’t release either Lamarr Houston or Willie Young, as Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times writes.

On Houston, who had a career-high eight sacks in 2015, general manager Ryan Pace said, ‘‘He came on strong. Luckily, we’re in a healthy cap situation, so we can [keep him on the roster].”

Houston’s $6.99MM cap hold is the Bears’ fourth-highest total for 2016, while the $3.17MM hit for Young (6.5 sacks last season) is more modest. One anonymous AFC executive opined last month that Houston was a candidate for the chopping block, but it now appears he’s safe.

Regarding Houston and Young, who combined for 12.5 sacks over the final nine games last season, head coach John Fox stated, “Obviously, I like those guys.”

The fact that Houston and Young seem to have the approval of Bears brass doesn’t mean the club will eschew pursuing more pass rushers via the draft, per Jahns. On the contrary, they’d like to add speed off the edge. Speed isn’t the strongest suit of Houston, Young or Pernell McPhee, Jahns notes.

In other NFC news…

  • Washington re-signed Junior Galette to a one-year deal because of the uncertainty surrounding Galette’s ability to re-emerge from the torn Achilles’ tendon that shelved him for the 2015 season, Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com. “Well, we’ve got to see, coming off an injury at any part of your body,” GM Scot McCloughan said. “But the Achilles for a guy’s explosion? It’s going to be interesting. That’s why the one-year deal from our standpoint made sense because, you know, does he still have the same twitch? Does he still have the same ability to get up field? I believe he does.” Galette’s contract doesn’t contain any guaranteed money. The 28-year-old pass-rusher notched 10 sacks for the Saints when last healthy in 2014, with current Washington edge-rushing counterpart Ryan Kerrigan registering a career-high 13.5 the same season.
  • Before agreeing to a deal with Tennessee on Friday, safety Rashad Johnson spent the first seven years of his NFL career in Arizona. If the 30-year-old had it his way, he’d still be a member of the Cardinals. Johnson told Zig Fracassi of Sirius-XM NFL Radio that he wanted to re-sign with the Cards, but they didn’t make him an offer (Twitter link).
  • The NFL’s decision to move touchbacks from the 20-yard line to the 25 next season should have an adverse effect on return men. Devin Hester, one of the all-time great returners, could be an exception. The Falcons might continue to turn him loose, according to head coach Dan Quinn. “There are special players like Dev and other returners around the league, they’ll still get green-lighted. Here’s a guy who is on the club for this unique reason,” Quinn told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The 33-year-old Hester missed all but five games last season because of a toe injury, but he has since had surgery on it and is currently rehabbing.

Sam Robinson contributed to this post.

AFC South Notes: Titans, Free Agents, Texans

Addressing a couple of the free agents the Titans brought in for visits earlier this month, general manager Jon Robinson confirmed that the team met with offensive lineman Louis Vasquez and safety Rashad Johnson, and didn’t rule out the possibility of working out a deal with either player (Twitter links via Jim Wyatt of TitansOnline.com).

According to Robinson, he’s still in communication with Vasquez’s agent. As for Johnson, the GM suggested that the two sides are in something of a holding pattern — I’m speculating, but that makes it sound as if the Titans haven’t been willing to increase their offer to the veteran safety, and he has yet to receive a better offer from another team.

As we wait to see if Tennessee lands either Vasquez or Johnson, let’s check in on some other notes from out of the AFC South…

  • Titans head coach Mike Mularkey said that quarterback Marcus Mariota has been a solid recruiter so far in free agency, reaching out to players himself and acting as a part of the “welcome committee” (Twitter link via Wyatt). The team has been pretty active so far in free agency, having signed or re-signed Rishard Matthews, Ben Jones, Byron Bell, Antwon Blake, Al Woods, Brice McCain, and Sean Spence, among others.
  • The Titans are in the market for a new director of player development, according to Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com, who notes that Tre’ Stallings is no longer with the club.
  • Antonio Allen‘s one-year deal with the Texans is worth just $800K and doesn’t feature a significant bonus, but it didn’t qualify for the minimum salary benefit, so the full $800K will count against Houston’s cap, Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle clarifies (via Twitter).
  • In a piece for the Chronicle, Wilson examines Arian Foster‘s comeback from a torn Achilles, writing that the longtime Texans running back remains “passionate” about football and aims to be back on the field in 2016. Having been released by Houston, Foster will be looking for a new team.

Sunday Roundup: Okung, Lions, RGIII

Let’s take a look at some notes from around the league as the second wave of free agency starts to heat up:

  • After meeting with Russell Okung today, the Steelers are scheduled to meet with free agent tackles Ryan Harris and Chris Hairston later this week, per a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter (we had already heard about the Harris meeting, but the Hairston visit is a new development). Pittsburgh has a void at left tackle that it is seeking to fill, as Kelvin Beachum, who missed most of the 2015 campaign with a torn ACL, looks ready to sign elsewhere.
  • The Lions have already had a visit with Okung, and while all reports seem to indicate that it was a positive meeting, Detroit remains in a holding pattern with the talented but oft-injured tackle. As Kyle Meinke of MLive.com writes, Detroit may have no other choice but to make a big-time offer for Okung, despite the risks, as the offensive line is in serious need of an upgrade and Okung is far and away the best talent still on the market.
  • Darius Slay and Sam Martin are two members of the Lions‘ terrific 2013 draft class that could sign extensions with the club in the coming months, and as Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes, Theo Riddick is also open to an extension that would keep him in Detroit for the foreseeable future. No contract talks have taken place yet, but Riddick, who led all running backs with 80 receptions in 2015, could have a bigger role in the running game in 2016, and he could get a nice payday as a result.
  • Birkett writes in a separate piece that new Lions GM Bob Quinn has done a nice job of patching holes on his team’s roster while steering clear of overpaying for mediocre talent, a common pitfall for first-time GMs. But Birkett also observes that the Lions are no better right now than they were last year, and Quinn will have to prove that his eye for young talent in the draft matches matches his prudence in free agency.
  • Former NFL agent Joel Corry does not believe that the Jets have serious interest in Robert Griffin III, and he believes the team’s “pursuit” of RGIII is simply a leverage play staged for Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s benefit. If the team were to sign Griffin, Corry believes it would be a modest, one-year pact worth between $4MM-$5MM (Twitter link).
  • Free agent safety Rashad Johnson was set to meet with the Titans on Friday, but per ESPN’s Josina Anderson, that visit has been pushed back to tomorrow (Twitter link).
  • The Raiders appear to be trending upwards, and they have suddenly transformed from a last resort to a desired destination, as Jerry McDonald of InsideBayArea.com writes. Although the team lost out on Malik Jackson, who ultimately signed with the Jaguars, Oakland landed three major free agents–Kelechi Osemele, Bruce Irvin, and Sean Smith–just one year after being spurned by a number of its top free agent targets. As GM Reggie McKenzie said, “It’s good to see people call us and not always have to beg.” McDonald adds that McKenzie is not done spending–the team still has considerable cap space, after all–and the club’s free agent haul, combined with its talented young core, could propel the Raiders back to the playoffs in 2016.