Ricky Wagner

North Notes: Bears, Packers, Tomlin, Browns

The Bears became the latest team to work out Jamon Brown, with SI.com’s Albert Breer tweeting the guard was in Chicago for an audition. The free agent guard, a Falcons cut last month, has already worked out for the 49ers. Brown was a full-time Rams starter in 2017, but a 2018 suspension derailed his momentum. The Rams waived him shortly after he returned from that ban, but he ended the ’18 season as a Giants first-stringer. The Bears are returning four starters from last season and have been trying ex-Seahawks right tackle Germain Ifedi at guard.

Here is the latest from the North divisions:

  • The Steelers will let Mike Tomlin enter a contract year. Signed through 2021, Tomlin will not be extended this year, Art Rooney II said (via The Athletic’s Ed Bouchette, subscription required). The Steelers gave Tomlin his most recent extension last July, and he managed an eight-win season despite the largely Ben Roethlisberger-less Steelers ranking 32nd in offensive DVOA. Rooney said he plans to address the contracts of Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert, who just signed a one-year extension, in 2021.
  • One of the league’s healthiest teams last season, the Packers may be down a starter in Week 1. Billy Turner suffered a knee injury during a scrimmage and is uncertain for Green Bay’s opener, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com notes. Turner played guard for the Packers last season but is competing with free agency addition Ricky Wagner at right tackle this year. Lane Taylor, who missed all of last season, is expected to play right guard opposite emerging talent Elgton Jenkins on the left side.
  • For the second time in three weeks, the Browns brought in Cody Parkey for a visit. The veteran was part of a kicker group to work out for the Browns in August, though it was reported at the time the team was organizing a COVID-related emergency kicker list. Parkey briefly kicked for the Titans last season.
  • Bears training camp coaching intern Henry Burris will stay on the team’s staff all season, Matt Nagy announced. Known mostly for his 17-season CFL run, Burris also was a Bears quarterback for a short time in the early 2000s. This will be his first NFL coaching gig.
  • Vikings linebacker Cameron Smith underwent successful open-heart surgery recently, according to the Associated Press. Mike Zimmer said the second-year defender, who landed on Minnesota’s IR list, will remain in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future to recover.

Packers Eyeing David Bakhtiari Extension

Aaron Rodgers‘ longtime blindside protector, David Bakhtiari, is entering the final year of the four-year extension he signed with the Packers just before the 2016 campaign. He has more than lived up to that contract, earning two Pro Bowl nods and one First Team All-Pro bid over the past four seasons.

He is unquestionably one of the best left tackles in the league, and as Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network observes, Green Bay would love to get an extension finalized before Week 1 (Twitter link). After all, the LT market is rapidly heating up, and Bakhtiari’s deal now places him outside of the top-10 in terms of average annual value.

When asked back in June if there were any ongoing negotiations with the Packers, the soon-to-be 29-year-old was tight-lipped. Though he did commit 12 penalties in 2019, including a career-high five false starts, he chalked that up to learning a new offensive system. Indeed, he did not commit any penalties in the final four games of the campaign, and if he turns in a typical performance in 2020, he will have every right to demand a contract similar to the monstrous three-year, $66MM pact ($50MM guaranteed) that Laremy Tunsil recently signed with the Texans.

The Packers certainly would like to get Bakhtiari tethered to something a little more team-friendly, so it stands to reason that they would try to lock him up sooner rather than later. That is especially true in light of the expected salary cap decrease in 2021.

In other OL news for Green Bay, offseason acquisition Ricky Wagner left practice with a left arm injury yesterday, as Tom Silverstein and Jim Owczarski of PackersNews.com write. If Wagner misses an extended period of time, look for the club to line up 2019 right guard Billy Turner at right tackle and Lane Taylor at right guard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers To Sign T Ricky Wagner

This is breaking news. Please refresh for updates.

Ricky Wagner will jump from one NFC North offensive line to another. The Packers are signing the recently released Lions lineman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

A former Ravens starter, Wagner served as the Lions’ right tackle for three seasons. He will be in line to succeed Bryan Bulaga in Green Bay. Bulaga is a free agent expected to have a strong market.

The Lions cut Wagner over the weekend, and the Packers emerged as a suitor Monday morning. Minutes after Green Bay was linked to the seven-year veteran, the sides had a deal. This marks the Packers’ second notable street free agent agreement of the morning, with the team adding linebacker Christian Kirksey as well. It looks like Brian Gutekunst plugged two holes in the team’s starting lineup before the tampering period begins.

Wagner graded as a substandard blocker, per Pro Football Focus, in 2019 but was solid in his initial two Lions seasons. The Lions cut bait on a five-year deal. Wagner came into the league three years after Bulaga did, but the former is only seven months younger than the longtime Green Bay right tackle. Both are 30. Since becoming a Ravens starter in 2014, Wagner has started 87 games.

Lions Release T Ricky Wagner

The Lions will make a major change along their offensive line. They are releasing veteran right tackle Ricky Wagner.

Wagner spent three seasons in this role with Detroit, but his release will provide the Lions with $6.1MM in cap space. Going into his eighth season, Wagner was set to make $9MM. Two years remained on Wagner’s Detroit deal.

Detroit signed Wagner to a five-year, $47.5MM deal in 2017. He started all 40 games in which he appeared and, over the first two years of the contract, produced a positive Pro Football Focus review. This past season, however, the 30-year-old blocker graded as PFF’s No. 61 overall tackle. This will mean the Lions are set to lose two starters from their past three O-lines, with guard Graham Glasgow on track to be a coveted free agent.

With this move, the Lions will move back north of $50MM in cap space. They stand to possess at least $53MM, though other cuts could surely follow the Wagner decision. Wagner now heads to a marketplace that will feature a few newly available tackles, including Jason Peters, Trent Williams and Cordy Glenn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Britt, Wagner, Broncos

Let’s take a look at the details of some recently signed free agent contracts:

  • Kenny Britt‘s four-year Browns deal will provide the ninth-year wide receiver with $10.5MM fully guaranteed at signing, per Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Britt will collect $17MM over the first two seasons of this deal, Caplan reports.
  • The Lions‘ lavish accord for Ricky Wagner raises the right tackle ceiling, although the base salaries in this contract don’t reflect that early. Wagner will see $3MM in base salary in 2017 and ’18 before those figures spike to $9MM per year from 2019-21, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press reports. Wagner’s deal provides $17.5MM in true guarantees, with his 2018 salary being fully guaranteed on the fifth day of the ’18 league year, per Birkett. Wagner’s 2019 base salary is guaranteed against injury. He received a $14.5MM signing bonus, while the former Raven’s cap hits will be $5.9MM in each of the next two seasons.
  • D.J. Fluker‘s one-year Giants pact is expected to be worth $3MM, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reports. That’s quite a bit lower than what the Chargers would have paid him ($8.82MM) if they kept him after picking up his fifth-year option.
  • Menelik Watson‘s three-year, $18.75MM Broncos accord will give the British blocker $5.375MM in fully guaranteed money at signing, Mike Klis of 9News reports. Watson received a $4MM signing bonus. The former Raider will have a $5.5MM guaranteed-against-injury salary in 2018 and is due a nonguaranteed $5.5MM amount in 2019.
  • Ronald Leary‘s four-year contract with the Broncos also comes with a fully guaranteed 2018 salary, which will pay former Cowboy $7.65MM for his age-29 season, per Klis. Leary is slated to make $8.15MM in 2019 and ’20, respectively. His 2019 base salary is guaranteed against injury only, with the ’20 slate being nonguaranteed.
  • Russell Shepard‘s three-year Panthers deal will be worth $10.5MM, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. The contract includes a $2MM signing bonus and $2.5MM guaranteed. Laine notes the former Bucs wideout will make $4MM in 2017.
  • Sealver Siliga‘s one-year Buccaneers deal can max out at $1.5MM, Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. The contract contains a $200K signing bonus and a $100K roster bonus for the nomadic defensive lineman.

Lions To Sign Ricky Wagner

The Lions and tackle Ricky Wagner have agreed to terms on a deal, NFL reporter Rand Getlin tweets. The deal will pay him more than $9MM per year, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s a five-year contract for Wagner, reports Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter).<a rel=

Throughout the offseason, we’ve heard rumblings of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year, a staggering number for a right tackle. However, salaries are on the rise across the board thanks to the cap increase and Wagner was in great position to get paid given the lack of quality tackles in this year’s free agent crop. It also helps that the draft is soft on tackles.

The Lions are a natural fit for the 27-year-old, as offensive lineman Riley Reiff is also a free agent. The team has tackles Taylor Decker, Corey Robinson, and Pierce Burton on the books for next season.

Until now, Wagner spent his entire four-year career with the Ravens after being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. The offensive tackle played in 62 total games for Baltimore, including 47 starts.

I had ranked Wagner as the second-best offensive tackle available in free agency. The veteran slotted below Andrew Whitworth and above Russell Okung, though I had him slated to make more money than both.

The rival Bears were said to also have interest in Wagner, as were the Texans and Vikings. There were reports that the Ravens were also interested in retaining the lineman.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

Read more

Lions, Texans Interested In Ricky Wagner

After learning that the Vikings and Bears would have some interest in free agent offensive lineman Ricky Wagner, it looks like we can add another pair of teams to the list of potential suitors. NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports (via Kevin Patra of NFL.com) that both the Lions and Texans will “be in play” for the veteran.

Ricky Wagner (featured)

Wagner has spent his entire four-year career with the Ravens after being selected in the fifth round of the 2013 draft. The offensive tackle ultimately played in 62 games for Baltimore, including 47 starts. A recent report indicated that the ship “appears to have sailed” regarding Wagner’s return to the Ravens.

The Lions are a natural fit for the 27-year-old, as offensive lineman Riley Reiff is also currently a free agent. Meanwhile, our own Connor Byrne noted that the Texans should seek some offensive line help this offseason. However, he could be out of their price range, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

PFR’s Zach Links ranked Wagner as the second-best offensive tackle available in free agency. The veteran was listed below Andrew Whitworth and above Russell Okung.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Offense

NFL free agency is right around the corner! The legal tampering period starts on Tuesday and free agency officially starts on Thursday. The list of available free agents will change between now and then as players re-sign with teams or get cut loose, but we have a pretty good idea of who will be available right now. After looking at the top defensive players, we now shift our attention to the other side of the ball.

Here are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each position. The rankings aren’t determined by earning power, they are simply the players we like the most at each position, with a combination of short- and long-term value taken into account. You won’t find restricted free agents or franchise tagged guys here since they are unlikely to go leave their current clubs.

Player evaluation is always subjective, so we encourage you to make your voices heard in the comments section in cases where you disagree with us.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by offensive position for 2017:

Updated 3-7-2017, 2:55pm CT

Quarterback:

  1. Mike Glennon
  2. Nick Foles
  3. Brian Hoyer (story)
  4. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  5. Colin Kaepernick
  6. Josh McCown
  7. Case Keenum
  8. Matt McGloin
  9. Mark Sanchez
  10. Ryan Mallett
  11. Christian Ponder
  12. Blaine Gabbert
  13. Geno Smith
  14. Matt Schaub (story)
  15. EJ Manuel

Honorable mention: Ryan Nassib, Landry JonesShaun Hill Mike Glennon (vertical)

Colin Kaepernick’s agents have (wisely) let everyone know that their client will stand for the National Anthem in 2017. That may seem like a minor point, but teams say they would have automatically removed him from consideration if he continued his attention-grabbing protest. He grabbed headlines for his actions on the sidelines last year, but he actually turned in an OK season. From a football standpoint, Kaepernick would make sense for a lot of teams as a QB2 with upside.

Interestingly, this list includes three quarterbacks who couldn’t cut it as the Jets’ starter and three rejects from the 49ers. They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all six of those players (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kaepernick, Mark Sanchez, Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Blaine Gabbert) come with varying degrees of potential and proven effectiveness. Smith, somehow, could reportedly be retained by the Jets and installed as the starter in 2017.

Ryan Nassib is just outside of the top 15 here with EJ Manuel getting the final spot. Despite positive word about his play in practice, Nassib is unproven and the Giants’ apparent lack of interest in re-signing him says a lot. It’s also possible that he might not be 100% after ending the 2016 season on IR with an elbow injury. Manuel, for all his warts, has shown potential in small bursts.

Running back:

  1. Eddie Lacy
  2. Adrian Peterson
  3. LeGarrette Blount
  4. Latavius Murray
  5. Jamaal Charles
  6. Darren McFadden
  7. Jacquizz Rodgers
  8. Rex Burkhead
  9. Rashad Jennings
  10. Danny Woodhead
  11. Tim Hightower
  12. DeAngelo Williams
  13. Andre Ellington
  14. Chris Johnson
  15. Christine Michael

Honorable mention: Robert Turbin, Travaris Cadet, Benny Cunningham, Lance Dunbar, Bobby Rainey, Brandon BoldenDenard Robinson, James Starks

Adrian Peterson (vertical)As expected, the Vikings have cut Adrian Peterson loose and he is expected to garner interest from contending clubs this week. Some might peg Peterson as the most talented running back in this year’s free agent class, but it all comes down to how you weigh his age and injury history. Peterson has shocked the football world in the past with an incredible comeback, but I’m a little skeptical of his ability to do it again in his age-32 season. Eddie Lacy, who has injury question marks of his own, takes the top spot at the position.

The Patriots believe they won’t be able to match the offers that come in LeGarrette Blount‘s direction. Latavius Murray could circle back to the Raiders, but he won’t be agreeing to a deal with them before free agency opens on Thursday.

Jamaal Charles has the most impressive resume of anyone on this list, with the exception of Peterson. However, no one knows exactly what he can do after playing eight games in the last two years. He’ll turn 31 in December and that’s usually not an indicator of success for running backs.

Read more

Latest On Ravens’ Top Free Agents

With less than two days until the legal tampering window opens, the Ravens run the risk of losing three key free agents. One appears to be already set to explore avenues elsewhere, with Jeff Zreibec of the Baltimore Sun reporting (on Twitter) the Ricky Wagner ship “appears to have sailed.” The fifth-year lineman is expected to receive top right tackle money and depart Baltimore.

Wagner’s arrow, though, had been pointed out of Maryland for some time now. He’s viewed as a top tackle in a weak market at that position, and the Ravens were reportedly ready to live with Wagner leaving if it meant they could retain Brandon Williams. That now no longer looks certain, either. The team has made several proposals to the fifth-year nose tackle but hasn’t found common ground, per Zreibec (via Twitter).

Assistant GM Eric DeCosta said Williams would be a Ravens priority, but the former Division II standout may be in position to make more on the open market, given Kawann Short being franchise-tagged in Carolina. Zreibec notes the Ravens could meet with Williams’ agent on Monday, but that’s not certain at this juncture.

The third player in question here, Kyle Juszczyk, won’t command the kind of money the aforementioned pair will this week. And the Ravens are expected to meet with the fullback’s agent on Monday, Zreibec tweets. Juszczyk, though, is expected to garner high-end fullback money, per Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com, who notes the fifth-year fullback’s price point is expected to “shatter” what the Ravens will pay.

Juszczyk, who rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 fullback last season (largely on the strength of his top-flight pass blocking), has 97 career receptions for 769 yards and five touchdowns. Kansas City’s Anthony Sherman is the highest-paid fullback at $2.1MM per year, so that could be in line to change.

Wagner and Williams profile as two of the league’s top free agents, with Wagner possibly looking at nearly $10MM per year. Both the Vikings and Bears are said to be interested in his services. The Ravens made an attempt to retain him in February, but Wagner “rebuffed” the offer. Baltimore hovers on the low end in terms of cap space, sitting with barely $13MM.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.