Ron Parker

West Rumors: Raiders, Bosa, Chiefs, Griffin

With Jon Gruden and Mark Davis leading the charge to trade Khalil MackReggie McKenzie‘s premier draft choice — it could signal a separation of the Raiders‘ power structure soon. Davis gave Gruden power via the 10-year, $100MM contract, but McKenzie’s remained in his GM role. That could change soon, with Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports expecting the Raiders to part ways with McKenzie and bring in one or two younger evaluators to work under Gruden as the franchise transitions to Las Vegas. Some around the league didn’t expect Gruden and McKenzie to coexist for long, and the Raiders making one of modern NFL history’s biggest trades could further drive the decision-makers apart. Gruden has also expressed doubt about McKenzie’s recent draft classes, and the transactions involving those players signal the new coach’s dissatisfaction with the classes.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions:

  • Mack’s contract sets up Joey Bosa as the player best-positioned to eclipse it, Joel Corry of CBS Sports said (via Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune). Bosa’s floor will be Mack’s $23.5MM-AAV Bears deal, per Corry, who adds he wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chargers‘ young pass rusher sign for $25MM per year and shoot for $100MM guaranteed. The Chargers have Bosa under team control through 2020 via the fifth-year option, and as teams showed with the 2014 first-round crop, procuring an extension with two years left on a rookie contract is difficult. Todd Gurley provided a recent exception, however. Bosa, 23, becomes extension-eligible after this season and will be much younger than Mack or Donald was when they became eligible. The Bolts also have Philip Rivers signed through 2019, and the veteran quarterback has not indicated he’s considering near-future retirement. So, the Chargers might have to build for the prospect of having two $20MM-per-year players on a payroll. No team’s cap sheet currently features that.
  • Shaquem Griffin will make a Week 1 start. The inspirational Seahawks fifth-round rookie will start in place of K.J. Wright against the Broncos this week, Pete Carroll said. Wright underwent recent knee surgery and has a best-case scenario of being ready by Week 2.
  • Despite being away from the Chiefs all offseason, Ron Parker has multiple avenues back into the starting lineup in time for Week 1. Eric Berry is questionable to face the Bolts with a heel injury, and Andy Reid said Berry’s longtime wingman could start regardless of the All-Pro’s status (Twitter link via the Kansas City Star’s Brooke Pryor). Parker’s started all but one Chiefs game for the past four seasons but was released in March for cap concerns. He’s now back for the league minimum, per OverTheCap. The Chiefs lost projected starter Daniel Sorensen to an August injury; he’s currently on IR.

Chiefs To Bring Back Ron Parker

Ron Parker is set to return to the Chiefs after a few months away from Kansas City. The recently released safety will re-sign with the Chiefs, Terez Paylor of Yahoo.com reports (on Twitter).

The Chiefs released Parker in March after he’d played three seasons of a five-year, $30MM deal. It’s likely Kansas City can get back its longtime Eric Berry sidekick for less than what he was supposed to make on his previous Chiefs contract. The Falcons cut Parker this week after signing him late in the offseason.

Parker’s return comes for a Chiefs team that doesn’t have a surefire option opposite Berry. Projected starter Daniel Sorensen already underwent surgery for what could be a severe leg injury. He hasn’t been placed on IR yet but is not expected to return anytime soon.

The Chiefs deployed Parker as a starter for four seasons, first in 2014 as Berry’s replacement while he battled cancer and then as Berry’s complement. Parker is now 31 but is obviously familiar with fifth-year DC Bob Sutton‘s system and was durable for the Chiefs, playing in all 64 of their regular-season games the past four years.

Parker’s the second safety the Chiefs will have added in two days. K.C. acquired Jordan Lucas from the Dolphins as well, perhaps signalling Sorensen is, in fact, IR-bound.

Falcons To Release Ron Parker

Ron Parker‘s stay in Atlanta turned out to be short. The Falcons are releasing the veteran defensive back, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Parker announced his release.

The Falcons signed the safety as a possible depth piece during the summer. Parker started four seasons with the Chiefs, serving as Eric Berry‘s top back-line sidekick and frequently defending slot receivers.

The Chiefs released Parker in March. Atlanta returns starters Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal, with the former signing an extension earlier this summer. Parker played five seasons with the Chiefs, shifting from cornerback to safety. He’s on the market again, not having to pass through waivers, in advance of what would be his age-31 season.

Atlanta acquired safety Jordan Richards in a trade with New England earlier Friday, and Parker looks like the odd man out. Damontae Kazee, a 2017 fifth-round pick, remains on the roster as well, Kemal Ishmael re-signed with the Falcons this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Details On Ron Parker’s Falcons Contract

The free agent safety market finally budged Monday when veteran Ron Parker agreed to a one-year deal with the Falcons, but as Field Yates of ESPN.com notes (Twitter link), the details of Parker’s contract indicate the remaining crop of free agent defensive backs could have trouble garnering any significant money before the regular season gets underway.

Parker, who had been earning $5MM annually with the Chiefs before being released earlier this year, inked a minimum salary benefit pact with Atlanta, per Yates. Minimum salary benefit contracts, or MSBs, allow teams to sign veteran players at a cheaper salary cap cost, while still allowing the player to collect the minimum salary for his years of NFL service. Parker, for example, will earn a base salary of $915K in 2018, but he’ll only count for $630K on the Falcons’ cap.

Pro Football Rumors has examined the minimum salary benefit in the past, but in its simplest form, the rule is designed to favor veteran players. The rule is especially effective at this time of year, when clubs are attempting to fill in the back end of their respective rosters. If two prospective additions are comparable players, a team might prefer to sign the free agent with fewer years of NFL experience (who will in turn require a cheaper minimum salary). But thanks to the MSB rule, veterans such as Parker are able to collect their rightful paycheck while not overly affecting a club’s salary cap.

The macro effect of Parker’s deal with the Falcons on the safety market isn’t yet clear, but his low salary is far from good news for remaining free agent defensive backs such as Eric Reid, Tre Boston, and Kenny Vaccaro. However, Parker is older than all three of those players, graded worse than Reid and Boston in Pro Football Focus‘ positional rankings, and placed below all three safeties in Pro Football Rumors’ early March free agent breakdown.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons To Sign Ron Parker

Former Chiefs safety Ron Parker is expected to sign with the Falcons on Monday, sources tell Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports (on Twitter). It’s a one-year deal, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). 

The free agent safety market has moved at a glacial pace this offseason and Parker was one of several vets without work in June. Tre Boston, Eric Reid, Kenny Vaccaro, and several other experienced safeties continue to hunt for a job, but Parker has found an NFL home for the 2018 season.

Parker started in 64 of the Chiefs’ last 65 games. This offseason, KC opted to let him go in order to save $5MM with $2MM left over in dead money. His release terminated the five-year, $30MM extension he signed in 2015.

In his run with the Chiefs, the former UDFA notched 40 pass breakups and intercepted nine passes. His performance slipped in 2017, but he’ll look to get back to his old ways in Atlanta as he enters his age-31 season.

The Falcons will start a solid 1-2 at safety with Keanu Neal at free safety and Ricardo Allen delivering the big hits at strong safety. Parker projects to serve as one of the top safeties off of the bench with Kemal Ishmael, Damontae Kazee, and Tyson Graham among those also pushing for time.

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Chiefs To Release Ron Parker

The Chiefs are officially cutting Ron Parker on Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports (Twitter link). This news was expected and won’t cost the franchise too much in dead money.

Kansas City turned to Parker as a four-season starter at safety, with the second, third and fourth seasons coming on a second Chiefs contract the defensive back signed in March of 2015. Parker has been one of the most durable players at his position since becoming a perennial K.C. starter, suiting up for 64 of the past 65 games — all starts for a near-annual playoff entrant.

Parker will tag the Chiefs with a $2MM dead-money charge, but the franchise will save $5MM after this move.

Initially taking over as a first-string safety after Eric Berry was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, Parker signed a five-year, $30MM deal and was Berry’s running mate on three Chiefs playoff teams over the past three years. The 30-year-old former UDFA notched 40 pass breakups and intercepted nine passes as a Chief, with the team often using the former cornerback’s skills as a slot corner to help its defense.

However, Parker’s 2017 play was not on par with his usual work. And the retooling defense will move on after five seasons.

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

Chiefs Expected To Release Ron Parker

The Chiefs are expected to part ways with Ron Parker this offseason, sources tell Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star. By cutting the safety, KC will save nearly $5MM against the salary cap with just $2MM in dead money. Ron Parker (vertical)

The Chiefs re-signed Parker to a five-year, $30MM deal during the 2015 offseason, a pact that seemed a little rich at the time given his level of experience. Parker established new career highs across the board in 2014, but that was his very first season as a starter.

In 2017, Parker had the worst Pro Football Focus score of his career (40.1) and rated as one of the worst qualified safeties in the NFL. With his 31st birthday around the corner in August, it’s not a surprise to hear that the Chiefs are looking to cut bait.

Once Parker is cut and the trades of quarterback Alex Smith and cornerback Marcus Peters are made official, the Chiefs are expected to have roughly $19MM in cap space to work with. They’ll gain another $6.6MM in cap space if outside linebacker Tamba Hali retires or is released.

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FA Notes: Freeman, Irving, Moore, Mays

Tim Tebow isn’t the only free agent quarterback attempting an NFL comeback. Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report tweets that ex-Buccaneers signal-caller Josh Freeman recently worked out for the Jets and has several other clubs taking a “hard look” at him. Freeman’s NFL success, which included a 4,000-yard season in 2012, was viewed as more sustainable than Tebow’s, so it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see a team give him a shot this summer.

Let’s check in on a few other free agent items from around the NFL….

  • Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter links) has updates on a pair of free agent defenders, reporting that linebacker Nate Irving is visiting the Colts, while defensive back Sterling Moore is on track to visit the 49ers after meeting with the Steelers.
  • There’s mutual interest between the Dolphins and quarterback Matt Moore, who has backed up Ryan Tannehill in recent years, writes Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald. However, Moore only wants to return at fair market value, so the free agent quarterback will probably be more inclined to explore his options than to re-sign with Miami for a hometown discount.
  • Washington continues to show interest in safety Taylor Mays, and the sides are trying to work out a possible visit, tweets John Keim of ESPN.com.
  • Ron Parker drew plenty of reported interest during his few days on the open market, but the Chiefs safety said today that the Falcons were the team with the most interest in him, besides Kansas City, tweets Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star.
  • Speaking to reporters today, including Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link), Tyrunn Walker said he was offered a three-year contract by the Patriots but opted for a one-year pact with the Lions instead. I’m guessing the Pats’ offer likely didn’t include any guaranteed money beyond the first year, so opting for Detroit instead will give Walker more freedom, and could land him a larger deal next winter if he has a good year for the Lions.

AFC North Notes: Steelers, Ravens, T. Williams

The five-year, $99MM extension Ben Roethlisberger signed with the Steelers last week pays him more than $35MM in 2015, according to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who provides some details on the quarterback’s new deal. Bouchette reports that Big Ben gets a $31MM signing bonus, and could earn up to $9MM in incentives in later seasons, potentially increasing the total value of the contract to $108MM.

Here’s more from around the AFC North:

  • Free agent defensive back Sterling Moore, who paid a visit to the Buccaneers last week, has a meeting lined up with the Steelers this week, tweets Josina Anderson of ESPN.com. Non-tendered by the Cowboys, Moore arrives in Pittsburgh tonight and his visit with the team will continue tomorrow, per Anderson.
  • The Ravens ultimately signed Kendrick Lewis to address their need at safety, but the club also had interest in Ron Parker before he decided to return to Kansas City, writes Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. Speaking of Ravens’ secondary targets, Wilson reports in a separate piece for the Sun that Baltimore is currently eyeing cornerback Tramon Williams, who has also received interest from the division-rival Browns.
  • In a piece naming 10 of his favorite team-friendly deals of free agency so far, Grantland’s Bill Barnwell places the Ravens‘ signing of Justin Forsett atop his list.
  • Free agent wide receiver Cecil Shorts is paying a visit to the Texans this week, but the Ohio native doesn’t have a visit lined up with the Browns, tweets Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
  • Earlier today, Cabot reported that the Browns attempted to trade for Larry Fitzgerald before he worked out a new contract with the Cardinals.