Sam Bradford

Extra Points: Hackenberg, Cardinals, Colts

Some assorted notes from around the NFL…

  • Raiders coach Jon Gruden has never been a fan of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, and he attribute quarterback Christian Hackenberg‘s recent release to the CBA’s limitations. “Everybody is an expert out there on Hackenberg and thinks he can’t play,” Gruden said (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “It’s unfortunate, this whole collective [bargaining agreement]. How do you develop a quarterback? I don’t know how you do it. … It is hard enough to get Connor Cook enough reps, let alone a fourth guy. It really depresses me how we can’t spend more time with these young quarterbacks, and it is really going to be an impactful situation on the NFL in the future.” The former second-round pick was released by the Raiders after having been acquired from the Jets several weeks ago.
  • First-round quarterback Josh Rosen is undoubtedly impressing in Cardinals‘ camp, but Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com believes Sam Bradford will still be the team’s starter heading into the season. The veteran has the upper hand when it comes to accuracy and throwing power, and while the team is planning on bringing him along slowly (Bradford suffered another knee injury last season), he’s expected to be atop the depth chart at the start of the season.
  • The Colts are curiously attempting to switch linebacker John Simon to defensive end. As Zak Keefer of IndyStar.com writes, this is an especially questionable move considering the team’s lack of depth at linebacker. So far, no one on the Colts sounds overly optimistic about the switch. Defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus didn’t give a glowing review of the 27-year-old, acknowledging that Simon lacks the size of a typical defensive end. “What you have to do is use your attributes, your strengths, use your get-off, all those things,” he explained. “He’ll figure it out as we go.”
  • Former Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage has been named the general manager of the Alliance of American Football league’s Phoenix franchise (via SBJ’s Liz Mullen on Twitter). The 53-year-old was also the Browns general manager between 2005 and 2008.

NFC Notes: Bradford, Cardinals, Breeland, Rodgers-Cromartie, Giants

Sam Bradford‘s tenure as the Cardinals’ unquestioned starting quarterback didn’t last long. Just a month after signing a one-year $20MM deal with an option for a second year, the Cardinals selected Josh Rosen 10th overall. The move suggested that the Cardinals don’t view Bradford as their longterm answer, and see him more as a bridge quarterback/stopgap option.

If Bradford plays well though, it will be hard for the Cardinals to turn to Rosen and Bradford has certainly shown he’s capable of playing at a high level when he’s able to stay healthy. Bradford’s health may end up being the determining factor for when Rosen sees the field, and Bradford is apparently now beginning to ramp up his on-field work according to Mike Jurecki (Twitter link).

Jurecki reports that Bradford “will be able to participate more in the mandatory minicamp” this week and that as long as Bradford is healthy he thinks he’ll be the week one starter, noting that Bradford’s “accuracy has been impressive during workouts.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • Free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has made it clear he still wants to play, and told reporters at Landon Collins‘ charity softball game that he “knows where he will sign before training camp”, according to Paul Schwartz of the NY Post (Twitter link). Rodgers-Cromartie said he didn’t want to do OTAs anywhere and told the assembled Giants writers that “Y’all might see me again.” Schwartz added in a follow-up tweet that he thought Rodgers-Cromartie was referring to playing against the Giants this upcoming season, perhaps for a division rival.
  • Despite a recent report that the Cardinals wanted to re-evaluate cornerback Bashaud Breeland in a “few weeks”, Jurecki tweets that “as of today, he’s not on the radar” for the Cardinals. Breeland agreed to a three-year, $24MM deal with the Panthers earlier this offseason, but the deal was nullified due to a foot injury Breeland suffered.
  • In case you missed it, Odell Beckham Jr.’s ankle may be what is causing the Giants to move slowly on an extension for their star wide receiver.

Poll: Which Team Best Addressed QB Spot This Offseason?

This turned out to be an important year for quarterback acquisitions. Many teams’ short- and long-term futures will depend heavily on the players they added over the past two months.

A fourth of the NFL made major investments in outside talent at the quarterback position this offseason. Which team did you think is in the best position after all the dominoes fell?

Three teams acquired their unquestioned starters via trade or free agency. The Redskins’ trade for Alex Smith ensured they were not going to pick a quarterback in the draft. As did the Vikings’ subsequent Kirk Cousins agreement. The Broncos entered the draft as a borderline QB destination, but John Elway valued Bradley Chubb more than Josh Allen or Josh Rosen, eschewing a Bills offer that would have given his team extra first- and second-round picks. So, Case Keenum is going to be Denver’s starter.

Four of the five teams that used first-round picks on quarterbacks made sure to add bridge-type solutions, with the Browns moving first to get Tyrod Taylor. The Jets and Cardinals then respectively proceeded to bring in Josh McCown, Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Bradford and Mike Glennon. And the Bills made the final stopgap addition in A.J. McCarron. But these players, for the most part, are 2018 placeholders — at best.

Was Baker Mayfield worth the No. 1 overall pick? Or did the Browns make what could turn out to be the costliest of their spree of modern quarterback misjudgments last month? Several Cleveland executives independently rated Mayfield as the draft’s premier passer, going against the grain of the many teams that viewed Sam Darnold as this year’s top passing prospect. The Jets appear to have appreciated this bold move, and Darnold is almost certainly going to see extensive time in 2018. PFR readers believe he will.

The Bills worked the phones relentlessly in an effort to install Allen behind McCarron, and the Cardinals reportedly had the Wyoming prodigy rated as their top QB as well. But Allen could need extensive seasoning, and as of now, a returning playoff team has a fifth-year player with 133 career pass attempts set to open the season and possibly close it as the starter.

Conversely, the player the Cardinals invested in was tabbed by many draft experts as the readiest pro. And Bradford being in front of Rosen for 16 games may be asking a lot from the injury-prone veteran. The Ravens are already planning Jackson packages, and although the player whom some teams wanted to work out as a wide receiver may need a season to develop, this draft’s most dominant college QB resides in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco.

Armed with one of the league’s most talented rosters, Minnesota had the most obvious case to pursue a veteran. And the Vikings made history by authorizing a $28MM-AAV fully guaranteed deal for the soon-to-be 30-year-old Cousins, who may be the safest option among all of these players. But he’s now the league’s second-highest-paid passer and tethered to the Vikings through 2020. Smith is coming off his best NFL season, but his Chiefs teams disappointed in two home playoff opportunities. Washington could also be much further away from contention than Minnesota, and the Redskins have now brought in quarterback who for all the stability he offers is four years older.

It’s debatable the Broncos’ contention window could still be open, with many of their core Super Bowl 50 performers still on the team and having played the past two seasons without much help at quarterback. But a 5-11 team armed with only its second top-five pick since 1992 passing on two coveted QB prospects to pursue the 30-year-old Keenum, a late-blooming talent or a player who benefited from better circumstances, could also be classified as a bold choice as Rosen and Allen’s careers unfold. The Broncos only committed to Keenum for two years and are paying Football Outsiders’ No. 4 2017 DYAR passer $10MM less per year than Cousins commanded.

So, with all things considered, which of these franchises is best set up after this offseason? Did one of the teams that spent a first-round pick on a QB ensure a decade and then some of stability and promise? Or did the teams that went strictly for vets get this right? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Bradford, Raiders, Chiefs

The Cardinals gave Sam Bradford a hefty deal to be their starting quarterback in 2018, but that’s no longer a certainty after their selection of UCLA’s Josh Rosen in the first round.

We got Sam to be our starting quarterback and I would still say that is the case,” coach Steve Wilks said when asked if Bradford will be the starter (via Kent Somers of The Arizona Republic). “I’m very excited about Josh … what he can bring. Every position is open for competition.

The selection of Rosen marked the first time in 12 years the Cardinals drafted a quarterback in the first three rounds. They also gave up third- and fifth-round picks in order to advance to the No. 10 pick for him.

Clearly, the Cardinals believe that the future is very bright for Rosen, but he is also regarded by some as the most NFL-ready of any QB from this draft class. For Rosen and Arizona, the future could be the present.

Here’s more from the West divisions:

  • The Raiders converted $7.085MM center Rodney Hudson’s 2018 base salary into a bonus, creating $5.668MM in cap space, a league source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The move had to be made in order to make room for the Raiders’ draft class as well as the acquisition of wide receiver Martavis Bryant.
  • Due to the Raiders already paying Seth Roberts his $2MM roster bonus, the slot target’s $2.25MM 2018 salary is fully guaranteed. Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal tweets there are also incentives in Roberts’ deal — $150K for 45 receptions and another $150K if he eclipses his career-high mark (43 grabs last season) by a bigger margin and reaches 65 — and adds that Roberts may not be easy to move despite this draft featuring a less-than-stellar wideout contingent. But Oakland is trying to do so. Roberts has been Oakland’s primary slot man since the 2015 season, but his work has been consistently maligned by Pro Football Focus.
  • The Chiefs did not have a first-round pick on Thursday, but they did try to trade into the back end of the first round, as Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes. “I was (tempted),” GM Brett Veach said. “We make calls. But if you were to ask me, what were the odds of getting into round one, I would have said they were very low. But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to try. We certainly had dialogue from (picks) 27 to 32. But it had to make sense for us, both now and in the future. It never got close.” The Chiefs traded their first-rounder to the Bills for the right to select Patrick Mahomes last year.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.

West Rumors: Raiders, Bradford, Donald

Although the Raiders have signed a slew of veterans in free agency this year, they are still in need of help at linebacker. And they may be hoping a run on quarterbacks helps bring Roquan Smith to them at No. 10. They may not be willing to trade up for the Georgia-honed linebacker, however.

Roquan Smith is the guy. I don’t know that they would be willing to give away additional picks later to go up and get him, but he’s the guy they want,” ESPN’s Todd McShay said, via Matt Kawahara of the San Francisco Chronicle. “… There’s a lot of love for Roquan Smith in that building.”

While NaVorro Bowman has been connected to the Raiders for months as a re-sign candidate, he remains a free agent. The Silver and Black signed Tahir Whitehead, and he’ll likely start at one of their second-level spots, with Kyle Wilber and Emmanuel Lamur in line to supply depth. But a long-term cog looks to be on the agenda as this draft approaches. The Raiders have not selected a first- or second-round linebacker who plays off the ball during the Reggie McKenzie regime, with Rolando McClain (Round 1, 2010) being the most recent such investment. Of course, McKenzie ceded some power to Jon Gruden this offseason.

However, the 49ers are a possible Smith suitor as well — with Reuben Foster facing possible prison time and Malcolm Smith coming off a season-ending injury — and met with Smith this week. He also visited with the Colts and Bears, each holding top-eight picks, in April.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions:

  • McShay’s also heard Tremaine Edmunds and Vita Vea‘s names linked to the Raiders. With four quarterbacks possibly set to go off the board before the Silver and Black’s selection window opens, they could have their pick of these three prospects.
  • While the Cardinals are going to ease Sam Bradford into action this offseason, Steve Wilks likes the early form the would-be starter is in. “I didn’t see anything (bad) out of his knee. Not one thing,” Wilks said, via Darren Urban of AZCardinals.com. “Nothing is wrong with his knee. I thought he threw the ball well, ball-handling, he handed the ball off, rolled out, bootleg, all those things. He’s doing everything we ask him to do. We just want to make sure we don’t put too much on him too soon.” Bradford wore a brace on his troublesome left knee early in the week before shifting to a sleeve, per Urban.
  • Sean McVay is encouraged by the early dialogue the Rams are having with Aaron Donald. The team did not expect Donald, a holdout until September last year, to report to the first phase of its offseason program as he seeks a landscape-altering contract. “We feel good about the dialogue that has existed,” McVay said this week. “This is a voluntary offseason program with where we’re at. You know he’s a guy who’s going to work hard on his off-time, and that’s kind of where we’re at.” The Rams sound like they’re on the verge of authorizing a record contract for the reigning defensive player of the year.
  • Maurice Hurst visited the Raiders on Monday, Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area notes. Adding the Raiders are “hell bent” on strengthening their interior pass rush, which has been a trouble spot for a while now, Bair identifies the Michigan defensive tackle as a candidate for Oakland’s Round 1 choice it the team trades down from its No. 10 slot.
  • Foster’s in a world of trouble for an alleged domestic violence incident earlier this year, facing three felony charges, but the 49ers linebacker saw a misdemeanor charge dropped this week. Foster won’t face a charge for the possession of a large-capacity ammunition magazine, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office announced (via Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle).

Baker Mayfield To Meet With Seven Teams

Baker Mayfield‘s April figures to be busy. The Oklahoma signal caller will meet with the Browns, Bills, Jets, Giants, Dolphins, Broncos, and Cardinals, Robert Klemko of The MMQB reports. 

The Giants will sit down with Mayfield before the Jets, Manish Mehta of the Daily News adds. He’ll meet with the G-Men on April 8 and 9 before continuing his pre-draft tour with the Jets on April 9 and 10. The Jets conducted a private workout with Mayfield in Oklahoma on March 24, fueling speculation that he could be among the QBs in consideration for them at No. 3 overall.

Mayfield was last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, but some evaluators question whether he has the height to succeed at the next level. There are also some character concerns thanks to his actions during games against Ohio State and Kansas and a public intoxication arrest.

Most of the teams in this bunch were expected to show interest in Mayfield, but the Dolphins and Broncos are not obvious fits for him given the presence of Ryan Tannehill and Case Keenum, respectively. The Cardinals make more sense for Mayfield since Sam Bradford is not necessarily a long-term answer under center and the Bills are also a logical fit since they are not completely locked in on A.J. McCarron as their starter for 2018. Unlike the Dolphins and Cardinals, the Bills have ample ammo to move up for Mayfield with the Nos. 12 and No 22 picks in their possession.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Contract Details: Cousins, Bradford, Poe

Here are figures on some of the recent contracts signed around the NFL, with all links going to Twitter unless noted otherwise.

Sam Bradford To Sign With Cardinals

The quarterback dominoes continue to fall, with the latest representing another opportunity for Sam Bradford.

Bradford has agreed to terms with the Cardinals, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter). This stands to take another team out of the Kirk Cousins mix, one that’s believed to be concluding with the Vikings landing this year’s free agent prize.

It’s a two-year deal for Bradford, Peter Schrager of NFL.com reports (on Twitter), and Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic tweets this agreement will be worth $18MM per year. Incentives could take it to $20MM per season, per Somers. However, Schefter and NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport report (Twitter links) this is a one-year deal worth $20MM with an option for a second season. Schefter reports $15MM is guaranteed in this contract. Some form of injury protection exists within this deal, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets.

With Cousins likely landing in Minnesota and Case Keenum set to trek to Denver, the Cardinals were lower on options. They were believed to have inquired about Tyrod Taylor as well before the Browns acquired him. But Bradford will now head to a fourth NFC team and potentially receive an opportunity to be a Week 1 starter again.

The Cardinals were linked to Mike Glennon earlier on Tuesday, but that could well have been as a possible backup. As of now, no quarterbacks reside on Arizona’s roster after Carson Palmer‘s retirement and Drew Stanton and Blaine Gabbert‘s contracts expiring.

Given his injury history, Bradford does not bring much stability. But he did play 15 games for the 2016 Vikings and suited up for 14 contests with the 2015 Eagles. While Bradford set a then-NFL record with a 71.6 percent completion rate in his first Minnesota season, during a season that saw him throw 20 touchdown passes compared to five interceptions, his tenure was marred by nagging knee trouble in his second.

Bradford played in just two games for the Vikings last season. He torched the Saints in a Week 1 win but then experienced knee pain that shelved him for several weeks, and the former No. 1 overall pick could not make it through a second game — being benched for Keenum — and did not play again last season. Bradford also missed all of the 2014 season and nine games for the 2013 Rams due to knee trouble.

This is a slight gamble for the Cardinals, but without the kind of cap space the Vikings or Jets had, a Cousins union looked less likely.

This takes another veteran option out of the mix for the Jets. But Teddy Bridgewater remains unaffiliated, and Gang Green was believed to be viewing the former Vikings first-rounder as its optimal bridge plan. This also leaves A.J. McCarron without a surefire landing spot. The Bengals backup had sought an opportunity to become a starter, but several franchises have moved or are believed to be moving in other directions.

As for Bradford, he’s still just 30 despite experiencing a litany of injuries. He will likely be asked to take the Cardinals’ reins in the near future while the franchise attempts to bring in a long-term successor in the draft. Picking at No. 15 this year could complicate that.

It’s quite possible all four top quarterbacks in this year’s prospect pool could be long gone by the time Arizona’s selection window opens. The Browns, Giants, Jets, Bills and possibly the Broncos represent potential quarterback landmines for the Cardinals’ quest, and after the Bills’ Cordy Glenn trade, all five of these franchises pick in front of Arizona. The Cardinals could target a passer in the second round, however, and may turn to the 2019 draft.

[RELATED: Cardinals Depth Chart]

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills Interested In Sam Bradford, Case Keenum

The Bills have interest in both Sam Bradford and Case Keenum, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Pelissero adds that the Bills see Bradford as a good scheme fit. 

The Bills are in need of a quarterback after shipping Tyrod Taylor to the Browns. The third-round pick they picked up in the deal (No. 65 overall) could help them find a new QB on the trade block, but they are intent on first exploring their options in free agency. With upwards of $32MM in cap space, the Bills theoretically have room to sign someone of Bradford or Keenum’s stature.

With Taylor off the roster, the Bills will be down to one quarterback in Nathan Peterman when the new league year opens on Wednesday. Third-string quarterback Joe Webb is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Peterman — a fifth-round pick in 2017 — made four appearances as a rookie, including two starts. The 23-year-old struggled, though, throwing five interceptions and completing 49% of his passes.

Kirk Cousins‘ landing spot could also have an effect on the Bills’ pursuit of Keenum or Bradford. The Vikings are reportedly expected to Cousins their first priority this offseason. If they were to miss out on Cousins, though, that could open up the possibility of a reunion with Keenum and Bradford, along with Teddy Bridgewater.

Keenum, 30, started 14 games last year for the Vikings, completing a career-high 67.6% of his passes while throwing 22 touchdowns to seven interceptions and leading the team to the NFC Championship Game. Bradford started the other two games for the Vikings, missing most of the season with a knee injury.

Bradford, 30, was activated in time for the postseason, though, to serve as Keenum’s backup. He was given assurance of the structure of the ligaments in his ailing knee in November by Dr. James Andrews after a procedure to shave a bone spur and clean out fluid.

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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