Ryan Jensen

Buccaneers Sign C Ryan Jensen

The Buccaneers fortified their front five on Friday, signing former Ravens center Ryan Jensen, Mike McCartney, the player’s agent, tweets

NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports the contract is a four-year deal for $42MM with $22M in guaranteed money (Twitter link). The deal made Jensen the highest-paid center in the league and suggests that Ali Marpet will move back to guard in 2018.

That’s quite the haul for Jensen, who played his first three seasons in the league as a guard before switching to center in 2017. He proved up to the task in his first season at the position, ranking as Pro Football Focus’ No. 9 center in the league. With Weston Richburg off the board, Jensen was the best pure center remaining on the open market.

Jensen was inactive for all 16 games as a rookie and was waived in his season before returning to the Ravens practice squad. He played just 19 games in his first four seasons before enjoying his breakout campaign in the middle of Baltimore’s front five in 2017.

The addition of Jensen should help open up some running lanes in Tampa Bay. In 2017, Peyton Barber led the team in rushing yards with a measly 423 yards. Kickstarting the rushing attack will help open up things through the air for Jameis Winston and Mike Evans.

[RELATED: Buccaneers Depth Chart]

 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Top 25 Remaining NFL Free Agents

Many of this year’s top free agents came off of the board during the legal tampering period, including Kirk Cousins, Trumaine Johnson, Sammy Watkins, and Allen Robinson. Still plenty of the names from our list of the Top 50 Free Agents remain, including some new additions. Here’s a rundown of the players to keep an eye on as free agency officially begins, ranked roughly by their expected contract value:

1. Ndamukong Suh, DT (Dolphins): The Dolphins bailed on Suh’s mega contract midway through, freeing him up to sign another high-priced contract. He won’t get anything close to a six-year, $114MM deal this time around, but he should settle in at an AAV that keeps him among the best compensated players at his position. Last year, Pro Football Focus ranked Suh fifth among 122 interior defenders. 

2. Tyrann Mathieu, S (Cardinals): The Cardinals worked feverishly to hammer out a new contract with the Honey Badger, but the two sides could not come to terms on a deal to lessen his 2018 cap hit. He has been released, allowing him to hit free agency as the best safety available. The Jets are not believed to be interested, despite his connection with head coach Todd Bowles. The other tenant of the Meadowlands, however, could have interest thanks to the presence of former Arizona DC James Bettcher.

3. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson may have lost some luster following the trade that sent him from the Jets to the Seahawks, but he among the best defensive tackles currently available. With plenty of cap space remaining, Richardson should find a lucrative deal, though it probably won’t come from Seattle. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will fetch about $9MM/year.

4. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe missed out on a big payday last year when teams shied away from him due to lingering back issues. After turning in his second consecutive 16-game season, things could be different this time. For the record – Poe has missed only two regular season games over the course of his career, so he boasts a better attendance record than a lot of other veterans on this list. He’s unlikely to circle back to Atlanta.

5. Josh Sitton, G (Bears): With Andrew Norwell off of the board, Sitton stands as the best guard on the market. He’s missed six games over the last two years, but he has four Pro Bowl appearances to his credit. He’s set to meet with the Dolphins.

6. A.J. McCarron, QB (Bengals): It’s difficult to peg McCarron’s value heading into free agency. Outside of some quality starts in 2015, there isn’t much film out there on McCarron, despite that fact that he has spent four years in the NFL. Hue Jackson was itching to reunite with McCarron, but the Browns no longer seem a likely destination for him after the acquisition of Tyrod Taylor. It’s also hard to see him landing with the QB-needy Jets after they re-signed Josh McCown and added Teddy Bridgewater. McCarron will find a home, but it may not be as a starter. [UPDATE: McCarron has signed with the Bills]

7. E.J. Gaines, CB (Bills): Injuries in the fall limited Gaines to just 11 games last season, but he proved to be a quality return for the Bills in the Watkins trade, in addition to the second-round pick that came with him. Gaines graded out as the No. 13 cornerback in the league last year, per PFF, and he just turned 26 in February. Gaines missed all of ’15 due to injury and didn’t look all that sharp in ’16, but timing is everything in free agency. You can expect multiple teams to call on him and the Texans could still have interest, even after inking Aaron Colvin.

8. Eric Reid, S (49ers): Reid is just 26 and is undoubtedly a starting quality safety. He has both youth and versatility on his side, but it’s possible that his anthem protest participation could hurt him when it comes to some suitors. Injuries over the last two seasons will hurt his market as well.

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Ravens C Ryan Jensen To Visit Bucs, Colts

Ravens free agent center Ryan Jensen will visit Buccaneers and then the Colts, according to ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter).

The Jets, who have signed Spencer Long to fill their center vacancy, liked Jensen, according to Manish Mehta of the Daily News (on Twitter). However, they were warded off by his price tag.

Jensen started all 16 games last season, but he was relatively experienced before 2017, as he’d started a total of nine games in the three years prior. But Jensen has youth on his side, as he’s still only 26 years old, and he graded as the league’s No. 9 center a season ago, per Pro Football Focus.

With Weston Richburg off the board, Jensen is the best pure center remaining on the open market. However, Jensen almost surely wouldn’t play center in Indianapolis, where the Colts have former first-round pick Ryan Kelly at the pivot. Tampa Bay also has a center in Ali Marpet, but he does have experience at guard.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents For 2018 1.0

There will be tons of free agents available in March, but only a some of them can be real difference makers for your favorite team. To help separate the wheat from the chaff, we’ve assembled our early list of the Top 50 NFL Free Agents for 2018.

Our early version of the NFL’s top 50 free agents may include players who will be re-signed between now and March 14. When we update this list next week, a few of the big names will be spoken for while new high-profile names will join the fray as veterans become cap casualties.

Recently, we broke down the top free agents by position on both offense and defense, but our rankings below may not have each player listed in the same order. Those position lists took the short-term value of a player into account more heavily, meaning many players in their 30s received prominent placement. Our overall top 50 list favors longer-term value, and is more about forecasting which players will be in highest demand when it comes to years and dollars.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2018:

1. Kirk Cousins, QB (Redskins): At long last, Kirk Cousins is headed towards unrestricted free agency. You may or may not regard Cousins as a star, but he is the best quarterback in recent history to reach the open market and QB-needy teams will be rolling out the red carpet for him. The Jets, Vikings, Broncos, and Cardinals have been named as the top suitors for his services, but the NFL is full of surprises this time of year and we would not be surprised to see other teams get involved. The cash-flush Browns are reportedly keen on signing a lower-cost vet and drafting a QB early, but who’s to say they won’t change course and get in on the Cousins sweepstakes? The Bills, Giants, Dolphins, Bucs, and Colts could also consider kicking the tires here, but there are obstacles in that bunch ranging from established starters already in place (Eli Manning, Ryan Tannehill, Jameis Winston, and Andrew Luck) to financial constraints. No matter where he goes, it’s almost certain that Cousins will become the league’s highest-paid player of all-time. That is, until another top-tier QB signs a contract extension soon after.

2. Drew Brees (Saints): There are multiple possibilities for Cousins but it’s hard to see a scenario in which Brees actually leaves the Saints. Brees has already said that he does not plan on testing free agency, so he’ll likely put pen to paper before things begin on March 14. As far as we can tell, the only way Brees will think about leaving is if he is lowballed to an extreme degree by the Saints, but that seems improbable based on his history with the team

3. Case Keenum (Vikings): One year ago, no one ever would have expected Keenum to be one of 2018’s most sought-after free agents. The Vikings signed the former Rams signal caller to a one-year, $2MM deal in March with the idea that he would back up Sam Bradford and, eventually slide down to third on the depth chart when/if Teddy Bridgewater returned to full health. When Bradford went down in September, Keenum exceeded all expectations and put together the best season of his career. The 30-year-old graded out as Pro Football Focus’ ninth-ranked QB in 2017, putting him above the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo, Aaron Rodgers, Marcus Mariota, Matthew Stafford, and Tyrod Taylor. With Keenum at the helm, the Vikings earned a first-round bye and beat the Saints in a playoff thriller before succumbing to the Eagles in the NFC championship game. Of course, after four seasons of mediocrity, teams are wondering whether this was an aberration or a real sign of things to come. Teams know that Keenum is not a lock, but he’s also the best Plan B for any team that loses out on Cousins or doesn’t have the means to sign him.

4. Andrew Norwell, G (Panthers): There was a time when tackles were the only offensive linemen to really cash in on the open market. That’s no longer the case, as evidenced by the contracts of Kevin Zeitler (five years, $60MM) and Kelechi Osemele (five years, $58.5MM). Osemele inked his free agent deal with the Raiders in 2016 and Zeitler signed his in the 2017 offseason. Given the cap increase and the natural progression of the market, Norwell figures to reset the market for interior linemen. Keenum figures to gross no less than $20MM/year on his next contract, so he’s slotted behind him, but an average annual value of $13-14MM is not out of the question for the former undrafted free agent.

5. Nate Solder, OT (Patriots): Solder isn’t coming off of his best season and he might be the least sexy name in the top ten. Still, there’s a dearth of tackles league-wide and Solder has been among the league’s best at his position for quite some time. The Patriots are bracing for Solder to leave as they fear he’ll garner offers of $12MM/year. No other tackle in this year’s free agent crop is even close to him in terms of ability, so we’re also buying into the hype. Injuries contributed to Solder’s up-and-down season, particularly early on, so teams will take that into account when evaluating him.

6. Allen Robinson, WR (Jaguars): The Jaguars opted against using the franchise tag on Robinson, which is understandable since they have limited cap space. Robinson missed almost all of 2017 with an ACL tear, but his 2015 season (and even his so-so 2016 campaign) gives teams reason to believe that he can be a quality WR1. Robinson is one of only two such players on the unrestricted market, so expect him to get paid. Robinson probably couldn’t do worse than Kenny Britt‘s four-year, $32MM deal with the Browns from last season (and he should do a whole lot better), but if he is underwhelmed by the multi-year offers he receives, he could always go the Alshon Jeffery route. Jeffery inked a one-year, $9.5MM prove-it deal with the Eagles and that turned out to be a smashing success for both parties. Jeffery was rewarded with a four-year, $52MM extension in December, so Robinson’s camp will surely be open to a pillow contract if necessary. 

7. Sammy Watkins, WR (Rams): Some may view Robinson and Watkins as 1A and 1B in this year’s wide receiver class, particularly since Robinson missed all of 2017 and Watkins, despite his own injury history, played in all but one of the Rams’ games. Unfortunately, Watkins did not have the platform year he was hoping for as he caught just 39 passes for 593 yards. If we strike Robinson’s lost year and Watkins’ down year from the record, the breakdown favors the Jags receiver – Robinson averaged 77 receptions for 1,078 yards and eight touchdowns per 16 games in that set versus Watkins’ 66 grabs for 1,063 yards and seven scores. These two should come pretty close in average annual value, but we give the edge to Robinson.

8. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Rams): Players often bemoan the franchise tag, but Johnson can’t really complain after receiving two consecutive tags from the Rams and earning more than $30MM between 2016 and 2017. The Rams, rightfully, did not consider a third consecutive tag for Johnson at a cost of ~$20MM and they already have his replacement in Marcus Peters. That’s one suitor down, but plenty of other teams will be eager to speak with Johnson, who profiles as the best cornerback in a deep class.

9. Sheldon Richardson, DT (Seahawks): Richardson gave the Jets lots of headaches, but he also gave them high-end production. He didn’t quite match that production in Seattle, but Richardson is positioned for a massive payday anyway since impactful defensive linemen are at a premium. Our own Dallas Robinson estimates that Richardson will garner about $9MM/year, but I would say that is his floor. The top-end of free agency rarely yields team-friendly deals, so Richardson could easily creep into eight figures in AAV, particularly since he does not turn 28 until November.

10. Dontari Poe, DT (Falcons): Poe thought he was in for a monster contract last offseason, but concerns about his lingering back issues forced him to take a one-year, $8MM deal with Atlanta. Teams may still worry about his back being a ticking time bomb, but perhaps they’ll view him in a different light now that he has played back-to-back 16 game seasons and has only missed two regular season contests over the course of his career.

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AFC North Notes: Bengals, Ravens, Steelers

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert has missed 41 of 80 potential regular season games due to concussions, stingers, an elbow injury, a torn labrum, ankle surgery, disc repairs, and a knee issue. As he approaches free agency, he tells Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer that “everything is fixed.” Teams, of course, will be taking a thorough medical look at Eifert before extending him any offers. The 27-year-old Eifert is arguably the most talented free agent tight end available, but his injury history will put a ceiling on his market. PFR’s Zach Links recently ranked Eifert as the third-best available tight end, behind Trey Burton and Jimmy Graham.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two North divisions:

  • Pending Colts free agent wide receiver Donte Moncrief could be a fit for the Ravens, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Baltimore could certainly use help at wideout, as the club ranked 26th in passing DVOA a season ago and could be poised to lose several contributors over the coming weeks. Mike Wallace is scheduled to hit free agency next Wednesday, while fellow veteran pass-catcher Jeremy Maclin has been mentioned as a candidate for release. Moncrief, meanwhile, has been limited by injuries over the past two seasons, but is only 24 years old and managed a 64/733/6 line as recently as 2015. Per Rapoport, Moncrief is likely to sign a one-year deal, which makes sense given his limited record of recent production.
  • Speaking of the Ravens, center Ryan Jensen is expected to garner a “nice” deal in free agency, and it’s unclear if Baltimore will be able to re-sign him, as Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun writes. Jensen is one of the top free agent centers on the market, but he only has one full season of starting experience. Still, his youth (age 26) should allow him to land a multi-year pact in a free agent market short on interior lineman. Meanwhile, receiver Michael Campanaro has already generated interest around the NFL based on his route-running and special teams prowess, per Zrebiec.
  • Given that Le’Veon Bell doesn’t seem amenable to a long-term contract that pays less than $15MM annually, the Steelers are now forced to plan for life after Bell, opines Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com. Bell was assigned the franchise tag for the second consecutive season, but Pittsburgh should look at running backs in the 2018 draft as a hedge against Bell returning to Pittsburgh in 2019. Of course, the Steelers did use a third-round pick on running back James Conner in last year’s draft, but he handled only 32 carries on the season before going down with a knee injury.

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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FA Rumors: Broncos, Davis, Giants, Crowell

Earlier this week, the Broncos were believed to be ready to compete to the end of the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes. But last month, they were identified as having Case Keenum looming as a possible backup plan. There’s been more chatter about that in Indianapolis, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes (on Twitter). While it’s unlikely the Broncos are ready to bow out on Cousins after being so closely connected to him for weeks, they’ve been the top non-Vikings Keenum connection this offseason. The Broncos also discussed a trade for Keenum with the Rams in 2016. La Canfora notes the Broncos being serious on Keenum could pit the Vikings and Jets against one another for Cousins. It’s possible the Broncos could sign Keenum and not select a quarterback at No. 5, and Mike Klis of 9News wrote recently Keenum and Cousins are likely to be the only QBs who would deter the Broncos from using that pick on a passer.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo sports, who reported earlier this week the Broncos were ready to go “all in” for Cousins, notes every team linked to the former Redskins quarterback has made it a point to stay in contact with agents of other passers in order to preserve fallback options (Twitter link). That said, Robinson does not believe the Broncos — or any team linked to Cousins thus far — is truly out on the 29-year-old signal-caller.

Here’s more from the free agent market.

  • Demario Davis enjoyed a solid contract year after an offseason trade with the Browns sent him back to the Jets, but he might be set to relocate again. A considerable gap between Davis’ expectations and the Jets’ valuation of him exists, with Rich Cimini of ESPN.com reporting Davis is eyeing a deal that would pay him between $8-$10MM annually. The Jets, conversely, see him as a $3-$4MM-per-year player and are not prepared to pay him what he’s currently targeting. Cimini notes that in a buyer’s market that has several younger non-rush linebacker options, Davis will have to adjust his price point. While the sides were talking earlier this offseason, this kind of gap could route Davis elsewhere. Although the 29-year-old inside linebacker had a strong 2017 season, he hasn’t been especially consistent. And only five 3-4 ILBs earn $8MM per year. Davis signed for $4MM per year with the Browns in 2016.
  • Last offseason, Isaiah Crowell hired Drew Rosenhaus to negotiate with the Browns on an extension, but a deal didn’t come to pass. Not much has transpired on a Crowell/Cleveland future in recent months, but John Dorsey said he’s had discussions with Rosenhaus about keeping Crowell in the fold. However, Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal notes Hue Jackson didn’t express much optimism about Crowell staying. The Browns are a prime candidate to draft Saquon Barkley, possibly at No. 1 overall, so that would make Crowell somewhat superfluous.
  • The Giants have been open about wanting to commit to an offensive line overhaul and haven’t ruled out a 2018 line that includes Andrew Norwell and Justin Pugh. But they’re likely to lose D.J. Fluker, Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com notes. Fluker has not enjoyed a particularly productive career, and Pro Football Focus graded him as one of the worst pass-blocking linemen last season. The former first-round pick wouldn’t cost much, but it looks like Dave Gettleman will move on.
  • Should the Giants be priced out of the Norwell sweepstakes, they have Ryan Jensen lined up as a cheaper contingency plan, per Pauline. Jensen’s most prominent NFL work has come at center, where he started all 16 Ravens games last season, but he was a part-time guard starter in years past. PFF rated Jensen as a top-10 center last season. The Giants are expected to lose four-year starter Weston Richburg in free agency.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/19/17

Wednesday’s minor NFL moves:

  • Restricted free agent offensive linemen James Hurst and Ryan Jensen have signed their tenders with the Ravens, as has exclusive rights free agent wide receiver Chris Matthews. The Ravens tendered both Hurst and Jensen at the lowest level last month, meaning they wouldn’t have been entitled to compensation had either headed elsewhere by way of an unmatched offer sheet. Hurst, a tackle, is the more experienced of the two, having appeared in all 48 regular-season games and totaled 16 starts during his three-year career. Jensen has also been in the NFL for three years, but the interior blocker only has 19 appearances and nine starts to his name.
  • The Raiders have announced the signing of kicker Giorgio Tavecchio, who was with the team in each of the previous three training camps. The Italy native, undrafted from Cal in 2012, has also spent time with San Francisco, Green Bay and Detroit, but he hasn’t seen any regular-season action yet.
  • The Rams have waived defensive back Kevin Short, who spent time on their practice squad last year and then signed a reserve/futures contract in January. Interestingly, Short came to the pros directly from the JUCO level, having played at Fort Scott Community College (Kansas). He went undrafted in 2015, unsurprisingly, and suited up for the Chiefs’, Seahawks’ and Jets’ practice squads prior to joining LA’s taxi squad.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/8/17

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents. All RFA tenders listed are original round/right of first refusal (worth $1.797MM), and all links go to Twitter:

RFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

ERFAs:

Tendered:

AFC West Notes: Lynch, Hillman, Childress

The quarterback battle rages on in Denver, as Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak hasn’t yet named a starter for the club’s third preseason game, tweets James Palmer of NFL.com. And while Mark Sanchez and Trevor Siemian have been viewed as the only competitors for the No. 1 job, Paxton Lynch is still a candidate for the starting role. “He’s always been in the mix,” Kubiak told the media, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk“I just told you guys that he’s behind the other two from a knowledge standpoint, but we’ve been out there competing every day. Everybody is in competition to play.”

Let’s take a look at more out the Mile High City and the rest of the AFC West:

  • Kubiak said last week that running back Ronnie Hillman is in a “hell of a battle” with Devontae Booker and Kapri Bibbs and intimated that Hillman might not make the Broncos‘ roster, and Mike Klis of 9NEWS has taken that sentiment a step further, writing that it’d be a “surprise” if Hillman is with Denver come Week 1. Denver has already handed Hillman $600K through a signing bonus and workout bonuses, but Hillman’s $1.4MM base salary is non-guaranteed, and it doesn’t appear the Broncos are likely to pay it.
  • The Broncos may need to scour the free agent market for an addition at offensive guard, according to Klis. Darron Weems looked like he was going to be the club’s starter on the right side, but he suffered a concussion during Saturday’s preseason game. Ty Sambrailo is also dealing with an injury of his own, while rookie Connor McGovern isn’t ready to play immediately. One option for Denver might be Ravens lineman Ryan Jensen, per Klis, though it’s unclear whether the 9NEWS scribe is reporting or simply speculating.
  • Veteran wide receiver James Jones is likely to make the Chargers‘ final roster thanks to his ability to play both in the slot and outside, writes Eric D. Williams of ESPN.com. San Diego is dealing with several minor injuries among its receiving corps, so the club might be forced to keep more pass-catchers on its roster than it normally would. The only downside with Jones is that he doesn’t play on special teams, which could force to keep another receiver active on gamedays simply to play teams.
  • Brad Childress was ready to retire after last season, but the longtime NFL coach had a change of heart after being promoted to Chiefs co-offensive coordinator, per Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Childress was also a candidate to join former Kansas City coach Doug Pederson as the Eagles’ play-caller, but Andy Reid bumped Childress up to OC, where he’ll team with Matt Nagy and run the Chiefs’ offense.