Richard Rodgers (TE)

Eagles Re-Sign TE Richard Rodgers

The Eagles are bringing back tight end Richard Rodgers. On Thursday, the club announced a new two-year deal for the 27-year-old. 

[RELATED: Eagles Wanted To Keep Nick Foles Away From Giants, Redskins]

Rodgers, a former third-round pick of the Packers, inked a one-year deal with the Eagles last year. Unfortunately, a knee injury cut his first season in Philly short. After recording just one catch for seven yards, Rodgers is eager to show what he can do in green and white.

Rodgers’ best season to date came in 2015, when he hauled in 58 receptions for 510 yards and eight touchdowns. He also had a quietly productive 30/271/2 stat line in 2016. He never quite lived up to expectations in Green Bay, but he could make for a fine supporting TE behind Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert if healthy.

In other Eagles news, the club plans to keep Brandon Graham at defensive end, despite sometimes using him on the inside last year. The Eagles are also looking to extend Carson Wentz, despite his troubling injury history.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles’ Richard Rodgers Cleared To Practice

The Eagles already have Zach Ertz on a historic reception pace and second-round rookie Dallas Goedert behind him, but the defending Super Bowl champions plan to further strengthen their tight end group.

Richard Rodgers has missed all of this season because of a knee injury, but he will return to practice this week and be in line to come off IR, Zach Berman of Philly.com tweets.

This is an interesting move because it means one of either Mike Wallace or Mack Hollins now must remain on IR all season. Although Philadelphia’s depth chart at receiver now includes Golden Tate, it’s notable the team will bring Rodgers off IR nevertheless.

Wallace is out with a broken fibula sustained in early September but was a candidate to return this season. Hollins has missed the entire season but is also an IR-return option and may be likelier to see the field down the stretch than Wallace.

The former Packers target signed with the Eagles in April on a one-year, $880K deal. He has 21 days to be activated. He caught 58 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns in 2015 but hasn’t come particularly close to reaching those numbers since.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Re-Sign Markus Wheaton, Place Richard Rodgers on IR

Markus Wheaton, who was released on Saturday, is back in Philadelphia according to Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link).

Wheaton, who was among the casualties of Saturday’s roster cut-down, now rejoins a receiving corp that’s expected to be with out number one threat Alshon Jeffery for at least the first couple of games. It looks like the Eagles were planning on bringing Wheaton back the entire time, and were just waiting to clear up a spot.

To make room on the roster, the team placed tight end Richard Rodgers on injured reserve. Rodgers, who suffered a knee injury in the Eagles’ second preseason game, will be eligible to return after eight games. At the time of his injury, Rodgers was labeled week-to-week, but clearly the Eagles felt he wasn’t valuable enough to hold a roster spot for.

Wheaton has always been a player who’s production has never equaled his potential. After a breakout 2015 season where he caught 44 passes for 749 yards and five touchdowns with the Steelers, he’s played in just 14 games over the past two seasons, catching just seven passes total for 102 yards. Last offseason he signed a two-year $11MM contract with $5MM guaranteed with the Bears, and was an epic bust, catching just four balls during his time in Chicago. He signed a one-year prove-it deal with the Eagles this past May, and will be facing an uphill battle to revive his career in a crowded skill players group.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Patriots, Matthews, Eagles

Some details on recent free agent deals:

  • Jordan Matthews’ one-year deal with the Patriots is worth $1MM with $170K guaranteed, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe tweets. The deal includes an $90K guaranteed, a modest $790K salary, and a $130K offseason workout bonus. Matthews was hampered by injuries in 2017, but prior to that, he had three strong seasons with the Eagles, so he could prove to be a major value signing for New England.
  • New Eagles tight end Richard Rodgers signed a one-year deal worth $880K with $245K fully guaranteed, Adam Caplan of SiriusXM tweets.
  • Joe Webb‘s one-year deal with the Texans is for the minimum salary, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com tweets. With his salary at the league’s floor, it could negate him as an unrestricted free agent loss for the Bills and hurt their chance at scoring a compensatory pick.

Eagles Sign TE Richard Rodgers

Richard Rodgers will be heading east, agreeing to a deal with the Eagles. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets this is a one-year agreement between the defending Super Bowl champions and the former Packers tight end. The team has since confirmed the deal via press release.

Rodgers will join Zach Ertz in Philadelphia and, for now, is in line to replace Brent Celek, whom the Eagles released last month. Celek could still be brought back at a cheaper rate after the loss of Trey Burton in free agency.

Rodgers, 26, put himself on the map in 2015 when he caught 58 passes from Aaron Rodgers. His role in the Packers’ offense waned over the next couple of years, however. In 2016, he had just 30 catches for 271 yards. Last year, he had just 12 grabs for 160 yards. Depending on how the rest of the offseason shakes out, he may get an opportunity to shine in two tight end sets along with Ertz.

Billy Brown, Joshua Perkins, and Adam Zaruba are also fighting to make the Eagles’ final cut at tight end, but they could be facing long odds between the addition of Rodgers and the likely selection of a rookie tight end in this month’s draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers No Longer Interested In TE Ed Dickson

Ed Dickson has lost a suitor. After the Packers agreed to sign Jimmy Graham on Tuesday, they are no longer interested in the Panthers free agent, according to Tom Silverstein of the Journal Sentinel (on Twitter). Meanwhile, they have “done nothing” with free agent Richard Rodgers.

Based on what we’ve heard, that could mean the Falcons are in the catbird seat for his services. Atlanta needs another tight end after cutting Levine Toilolo, so Dickson could potentially remain in the NFC South. He’d serve as the Falcons’ No. 2 behind starter Austin Hooper.

Dickson, 30, didn’t play a large receiving role during his first three years with the Panthers, but an injury to starting tight end Greg Olsen allowed Dickson to play on 80% of Carolina’s offensive plays last season. While he wasn’t a world-beater, Dickson did manage 437 yards and a touchdown, solid numbers considering he’d managed just 370 receiving yards from 2014-16.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2018 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense

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. We’ll start today on offense, before getting to defense and special teams later this week.

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each offensive position. The rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts that each player is expected to land in free agency, they 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 are not listed here since they are unlikely to actually reach the open market. The same goes for players who have been franchise tagged or transition tagged.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some guys than you are, so we encourage you to make your voice heard in our comments section to let us know which free agents we’ve got wrong.

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

Quarterback:

  1. Kirk Cousins
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Case Keenum
  4. A.J. McCarron
  5. Sam Bradford
  6. Teddy Bridgewater
  7. Colin Kaepernick
  8. Josh McCown
  9. Mike Glennon
  10. Drew Stanton
  11. Jay Cutler
  12. Chase Daniel
  13. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  14. Brock Osweiler
  15. Tom Savage

There were many difficult calls when putting this list together, but ranking Kirk Cousins as the No. 1 QB available was not among them. Cousins is the best quarterback to reach free agency in recent history and he’ll become the highest-paid player of all-time – at least, for some period of time – in mid-March. Who will make history with Cousins? That’s anyone’s guess right now. The Browns have more cap room than any other team, but a recent report from Adam Schefter of ESPN.com listed the Broncos, Cardinals, Jets, and Vikings as the final suitors for Cousins. Of those four, the Jets have the most money to work with, but they’re concerned about the Vikings winning out and Cousins’ desire to win could point him in another direction. If the Broncos and Cardinals want in on the Cousins sweepstakes, they’ll have to get creative with the books.

Drew Brees is included here, but by his own admission, he’ll be re-signing with the Saints rather than testing the open waters of free agency. Unless the Saints lowball their franchise QB, it’s hard to see him leaving New Orleans.

Case Keenum put together a tremendous season for the Vikings, but he doesn’t have a history of success beyond 2017. There will be plenty of interest in Keenum, but only after QB-needy teams strike out on Cousins. The incumbent Vikings could re-sign Keenum, but right now, it seems like they are intent on exploring the Cousins waters first.

There isn’t a ton of footage on A.J. McCarron, which made his placement on this list awfully tricky. We know this much: McCarron did well in place of Dalton in the home stretch of the 2015 season and his former offensive coordinator Hue Jackson was salivating at the chance of landing him before the Browns bungled the trade with the Bengals. McCarron’s relative youth is a plus (he won’t turn 28 until September) and his lack of experience can be looked at as a positive. Unlike some of the other names on this list, he hasn’t run up his NFL odometer.

What will NFL teams make of Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford this offseason? Not long ago, both seemed like quality starting options. However, there are serious injury questions about both players and any team signing them will either look to backstop them with another decent option or ask them to come onboard as a QB2. With that in mind, one has to wonder if Bradford would consider retirement if asked to hold the clipboard for another signal caller. Bradford has earned upwards of $110MM over the years in the NFL, so it’s safe to say that he has enough money in the bank to call it quits if he wants. For now, he’s intent on playing.

Colin Kaepernick‘s placement on this list is sure to draw some strong reactions from his fans and detractors alike. Looking purely at his football ability, there’s no question that he belongs on someone’s roster. At minimum, Kaepernick profiles as a high-end backup, even after a year out of the game.

Quarterbacks coaches have long believed that Mike Glennon is capable of great things, due in part to his height. At 6’7″, he can see over any defensive line, but he hasn’t done much on the field to prove that he is a quality Week 1 starting option. Josh McCown, who is a decade his senior, edges him here for his surprisingly strong performance in 2017 at the helm of a weak Jets offense.

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2017 Proven Performance Escalators

According to the NFL’s contractual bargaining agreement, players drafted in rounds three though seven are entitled to raises during the fourth year of their respective rookie contracts. The pay bumps are tied to playing time — a player must have played in 35% of his team’s offensive or defensive snaps in two of his first three seasons, or averaged 35% playing time cumulatively during that period.Donte Moncrief (Vertical)

If one of these thresholds is met, the player’s salary is elevated to the level of that year’s lowest restricted free agent tender — that figure should be around $1.8MM in 2017. Players selected in the first or second round, undrafted free agents, and kickers/punters are ineligible for the proven performance escalator.

Here are the players who will see their salary rise in 2017 courtesy of the proven performance escalator:

49ers: Aaron Lynch, LB; Marcus Martin, OL

Bears: Charles Leno, T; Will Sutton, DT

Bengals: Russell Bodine, C

Bills: Preston Brown, LB; Seantrel Henderson, T

Broncos: Michael Schofield, OL

Browns: Christian Kirksey, LB

Buccaneers: Kevin Pamphile, G

Cardinals: John Brown, WR

Chiefs: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, G; Zach Fulton, G; Phillip Gaines, CB

Colts: Donte Moncrief, WR

Cowboys: Anthony Hitchens, LB

Falcons: Devonta Freeman, RB

Giants: Devon Kennard, LB

Jaguars: Aaron Colvin, CB; Brandon Linder, G; Telvin Smith, LB

Lions: Nevin Lawson, CB; Travis Swanson, C

Packers: Corey Linsley, C; Richard Rodgers, TE

Panthers: Tre Boston, S; Trai Turner, G

Raiders: T.J. Carrie, CB; Justin Ellis, DT; Gabe Jackson, G

Rams: Maurice Alexander, S; E.J. Gaines, CB

Redskins: Bashaud Breeland, CB; Spencer Long, G; Morgan Moses, T

Texans: C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE; Andre Hal, S

Titans: DaQuan Jones, DL; Avery Williamson, LB

Vikings: Shamar Stephen, DT

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Potential Replacements For Andrew Quarless

With starting tight end Andrew Quarless dealing with the aftermath of being arrested early on July 4th, the Packers could be missing a key member of their offense in 2015, either due to suspension or release.

Quarless was arrested after firing a weapon in public while in Miami yesterday morning. The team released a statement on their official website, noting they will not make any decisions until they have more information.

“We are aware of the matter involving Andrew Quarless and are in the process of gathering more information. We will withhold further comment.”

More information seems more likely to hurt Quarless than help him, and many fans and pundits expect his release. He is in the second year of a two-year deal that he signed last offseason, and is due a base salary of $1.3MM plus roster and workout bonuses.

Although he was a starter, he caught only 29 passes for 323 yards last season, and has career totals of only 85 catches and 909 yards in his four years with the team. Still, whether Aaron Rodgers needs big production from tight end or not, losing a starter is rarely a good thing, and he will need to be replaced.

If they choose to look to free agency, Jermaine Gresham remains available as one of the best overall players on the market. He should be easy to sign on a short-term deal, and has experience both as a pass catcher and blocker as a former first-round pick in Cincinnati.

The 6’6″ Gresham has had consistent production since coming out of Oklahoma has a big-time playmaker at the position. His numbers came in between 45 and 65 catches each of his professional seasons, catching between four and six touchdowns each year. While those numbers were underwhelming considering his hype coming out of college, he was a reliable option for Andy Dalton, and could thrive in the Green Bay offense.

Zach Miller, formerly of the Seahawks, could also be a relatively cheap option, but after Gresham the market is weak for tight ends. Miller is entering his age-30 season, and hasn’t produced much of anything since leaving Oakland for Seattle in 2011. He missed most of the 2014 season with an ankle injury, but is not the player he once was even if he gets healthy.

Besides Gresham and maybe Miller, the list of available players at the position (courtesy of Spotrac.com) is full of uninspiring choices who either have no history of producing on the field or a long gap since the last time they were effective players.

Signing or trading for an impact player at the position is out of character for the Packers and general manager Ted Thompson anyway. The most likely scenario is an upgrade in role for second-year tight end Richard Rodgers, who caught 20 passes for the team in 2014. They also drafted Kennard Backman in the sixth round, who could see some action in a backup role.

Either way, smart money says it will not be Quarless catching passes in Green Bay this coming season.

South Notes: Jones, Blackmon, LeBeau

News out of the AFC and NFC South..

  • Some have concluded that since Julio Jones has one year left on his contract and is on the verge of getting a lucrative extension that new Falcons coach Dan Quinn would prefer to trade him for extra draft picks. However, his comments during a Tuesday news conference indicate that Jones is a part of Quinn’s gameplan going forward. “Absolutely — I can’t wait (to meet him). Just a chance to go through the process with him. … We love great players. We’re trying to celebrate all the good guys. We’re trying to collect more great players, not the other way around,” Quinn said, according to Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • The odds are against guys like Josh Gordon and Jaguars receiver Justin Blackmon making it back to the NFL, opines Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Both have lots of work ahead of them in the league substance abuse program and have spent a good deal of time away from the team structure.
  • Dick LeBeau might have several former players who could be available to join him with the Titans, as Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweets. Safety Troy Polamalu, defensive end Brett Keisel, linebacker James Harrison, and cornerback Ike Taylor could all be available and interested in a reunion with the 77-year-old coach. Polamalu currently has two years left on his deal with Pittsburgh but it’s conceivable that they could part ways. Taylor was considering retirement but recently decided that he would return to football.
  • Panthers coach Ron Rivera reassigned special teams coordinator Richard Rodgers, sources told Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Carolina’s special teams finished at or near the bottom in a number of major special teams categories this past season. Rivera will promote Rodgers’ assistant Bruce DeHaven to fill that role.