Sean Spence

Colts Sign LB Sean Spence

The Colts have signed free agent inside linebacker Sean Spence. To make room on the roster, Indy placed tackle/guard Denzelle Good on injured reserve. Sean Spence (Vertical)

Spence signed with the Colts as an unrestricted free agent in March but missed the initial cut down to 53. Less than two weeks later, he’s back with the team. The Colts already paid out Spence’s $750K guarantee, but his new deal likely has no guarantees, making him a week-to-week player. Spence also auditioned for the 49ers earlier this week before circling back to the Colts.

Last year, Spence played in 15 games (six starts) for the Titans and set career highs with 77 tackles, four tackles for loss, three sacks, three passes defensed, and one forced fumble. He finished third on the team in tackles.

Last year, the Colts ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run in 2016 and placed 31st in DVOA against opposing tight ends. With some improved depth at linebacker, they’re hoping to turn that around.

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49ers Work Out Sean Spence, Donald Butler

As linebacker Reuben Foster deals with an ankle injury, the 49ers are looking into some outside help. San Francisco auditioned linebackers Sean Spence and Donald Butler on Tuesday, according to ESPN.com’s Field Yates (on Twitter). Sean Spence (vertical)

Spence spent last season with the Titans and recorded 50 tackles with three sacks in 15 appearances (six starts). He hooked on with the rival Colts in March, but Indianapolis decided to eat the $750K guaranteed in his deal rather than keep him on the 53-man roster. Spence might not be starting material, but he could be a worthwhile reserve for SF until Foster gets back on the field.

Butler, a former third-round pick, spent his entire six-year career with the Chargers before being released by the team in March of 2016. He joined up with the Dolphins in September of last year and saw time in 14 games, including five starts. His 28 total tackles marked a career low and it was his first season without at least half a sack.

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Saints Working Out LB Sean Spence

The Saints are auditioning free agent linebacker Sean Spence today, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com.Sean Spence (Vertical)

[RELATED: Saints Work Out CB Leon Hall]

Spence already joined one linebacker-needy team — the Colts — earlier this year, inking a one-year deal that included $750K in guaranteed. That wasn’t enough to keep the 27-year-old Spence on Indianapolis’ roster, however, as he was released during final cutdowns. A four-year NFL veteran, Spence spent the 2016 campaign in Tennessee, where he posted 50 tackle and three sacks in 15 appearances (six starts).

The Saints are expected to three newcomers at linebacker in their base package: free agent signings A.J. Klein and Manti Te’o, plus third-round rookie Alex Anzalone. While the club has depth behind that trio in the form of Craig Robertson, Stephone Anthony, and Nathan Stupar, Anthony could conceivably be dropped at any time. The former first-round selection wasn’t considered a roster lock as of last month, and while he did end up making the squad, Anthony could theoretically be traded or cut in the future.

In addition to Spence, New Orleans is also taking a look at cornerback D’Joun Smith and offensive lineman Michael Person, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link) and Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).

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Colts Down To 53

The Colts made major news on Saturday when they shipped wide receiver Phillip Dorsett to the Patriots in exchange for quarterback Jacoby Brissett. After that, they had the daunting task of bringing their bloated preseason roster down to the 53-man max in time for the deadline. Here’s the complete rundown.

Waived:

Waived/Injured:

Released:

Placed On IR:

PUP List:

Richardson, who once had a prominent role with the Rams, joined the Colts on Aug. 29 and was viewed as a longshot to make the final cut.

Colts To Release LB Sean Spence

The Colts will release linebacker Sean Spence, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (Twitter link).Sean Spence (Vertical)

Spenece, 27, was one of many Indianapolis additions on the defensive side of the ball, and looked to be a good bet for a roster spot based on salary, versatility, and experience. Spence agreed to a one-year pact with $750K guaranteed, a total that the Colts will now be forced to eat. Able to play both inside and outside linebacker, Spence looked like a viable starting option for Indy, but he’s fallen down a depth chart that also includes John Simon, Jabaal Sheard, Antonio Morrison, and Jon Bostic.

Spence wasn’t a full-time starter for the Titans last year, but did play on nearly 50% of the club’s snaps, managing 50 tackles and three sacks. He boasts 46 career appearances, with 19 total starts.

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Contract Details: Taylor, Cook, Willson

The latest contract details from around the NFL:

  • Tyrod Taylor, QB (Bills): Taylor earns an additional $500K if the Bills make it to the divisional round of the playoffs in 2017, which becomes $1MM if they advance to the AFC Championship, and $2MM if they advance to the Super Bowl. The same package of incentives applies to 2018 (via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).
  • Jared Cook, TE (Raiders): Two years, $10.6MM, $1.6MM in incentives (effectively a one-year $5.3MM deal with $800K in incentives) (Twitter link via Ben Volin of The Boston Globe).
  • Luke Willson, TE (Seahawks): One year, $1.8MM, $1MM in incentives (Twitter link via Aaron Wilson of The Houston Chronicle).
  • Kayvon Webster, CB (Rams): Two years, $7.75MM. Salaries of $2.75MM (guaranteed), $3MM. $1MM 2017 roster bonus guaranteed, $500K 2018 roster bonus guaranteed. (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Sean Spence, LB (Colts): One year, $2.5MM. $750K signing bonus. $500K in incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).
  • Kendall Wright, WR (Bears): One year, $2MM. $250K signing bonus. $2MM in incentives (Twitter link via Wilson).

Colts To Sign Sean Spence

The Colts and free agent linebacker Sean Spence have agreed to a one-year, $3MM deal, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter). Spence was not a full-time starter for the division-rival Titans last year, but he did play on nearly 50% of the club’s snaps, managing 50 tackles and three sacks. Indianapolis hopes he can help bolster a unit that ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run in 2016 and placed 31st in DVOA against opposing tight ends.

Sean Spence (Vertical)

Spence becomes the latest in a string of free agent additions to the Colts’ linebacker corps, as new GM Chris Ballard has also acquired Jabaal Sheard, Barkevious Mingo, and John Simon. Of course, Sheard, Mingo, and Simon will likely play on the outside, while Spence will roam the middle of the field. The team recently brought Spence in for a visit, along with fellow linebackers Kevin Minter and Jon Bostic, but Minter ultimately signed with the Bengals. Bostic, meanwhile, remains unsigned.

The club opened its offseason by releasing 33-year-old D’Qwell Jackson as it attempts to rejuvenate its defense. Spence is by no means a high-impact acquisition, but he can be a useful player when utilized properly. He ranked as the as the No. 8 LB on PFR’s most recent edition of the top remaining defensive free agents.

Spence, 26, was selected by the Steelers in the third round of the 2012 draft, but the former Miami Hurricane saw his first two NFL seasons wiped out by knee problems. While those health issues contributed to Spence never developing into the sort of player the Steelers may have initially hoped he’d become, Spence did appear in 31 games over his last two seasons in Pittsburgh, starting 13.

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Colts Eyeing Free Agent Linebackers

The Colts have interest in adding a free agent linebacker, and have hosted Kevin Minter (previously reported), Sean Spence, and Jon Bostic on visits, reports Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link)."<strong

Indianapolis ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run in 2016, and placed 31st in DVOA against opposing tight ends, meaning the club needs to add defenders who are able to cover the middle of the field. The Colts began their offseason by releasing inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who at age-33 has lost some of his luster. New general manager Chris Ballard then brought edge rushers Jabaal Sheard and John Simon, but Indy still needs inside ‘backers to complement Edwin Jackson and Antonio Morrison.

Minter, 26, is the best of the free agent linebacker trio hosted by the Colts, and ranks as the No. 2 LB on PFR’s most recent edition of the top remaining free agents. After starting all 16 games in each of the past two seasons, Minter has created a healthy market for himself, and has already met with the Bengals. The former second-round posted 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks in 2016, grading as the league’s No. 25 linebacker, per Pro Football Focus.

Spence, meanwhile, wasn’t a full-time starter for the Titans last year, but did play on nearly 50% of the club’s snaps, managing 50 tackles and three sacks. He’s No. 8 on PFR’s ranking of free agent linebackers. Bostic, 25, missed the entirety of the 2016 campaign with injury, and probably wouldn’t be counted on for anything besides special teams duty with the Colts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 3.0: Defense

The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.

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 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Dwight Freeney
  2. Elvis Dumervil
  3. Chris Long
  4. Mario Williams
  5. Connor Barwin
  6. Paul Kruger
  7. Trent Cole
  8. Erik Walden
  9. Jason Jones
  10. Darryl Tapp
  11. Devin Taylor
  12. Eugene Sims
  13. Howard Jones
  14. Wallace Gilberry
  15. Sam Acho

The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.Dwight Freeney (Vertical)

Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).

Chris Long has already indicated he won’t be returning to the Patriots, indicating he wants to join a roster where he’ll earn more playing time. Erik Walden, too, won’t re-sign with his 2016 club (the Colts), but he has taken a visit with the division rival Titans. Further down the list, Howard Jones has also met with at least one club, as he was hosted by the Jets on Tuesday. Jones, 27, is recovering from a torn ACL, but did post five sacks in five starts last season.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Johnathan Hankins
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Jared Odrick
  4. Vance Walker
  5. Sen’Derrick Marks
  6. Ricky Jean-Francois
  7. Roy Miller
  8. Al Woods
  9. Tony McDaniel
  10. Cullen Jenkins
  11. Frostee Rucker
  12. Cam Thomas
  13. John Jenkins
  14. Tyson Jackson
  15. Tyson Alualu

Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.

The remaining defensive interior players are mostly over-30 veterans, with names such as Tony McDaniel, Cullen Jenkins, Frostee Rucker, and Tyson Jackson still looking for new deals. While most of these guys can still play, they may have to wait awhile — possibly into the summer — before signing on with their next club. Jared Odrick (Patriots) and Vance Walker (Bears) have both taken visits, but the most intriguing lineman here may be Sen’Derrick Marks, who offers a good amount of pass rush from the interior.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position 2.0: Defense

NFL free agency gets underway on Thursday 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. Here is our updated outlook for each defensive and special teams position.

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 franchised players 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 this offseason:

Edge defender:

  1. Nick Perry
  2. Jabaal Sheard
  3. John Simon
  4. DeMarcus Ware
  5. Lorenzo Alexander
  6. Andre Branch
  7. Julius Peppers
  8. Charles Johnson
  9. Datone Jones
  10. Dwight Freeney
  11. Chris Long
  12. Mario Williams
  13. Paul Kruger
  14. Courtney Upshaw
  15. Jarvis Jones

Now that Chandler Jones, Melvin Ingram, and Jason Pierre-Paul have all been assigned the franchise tag, Nick Perry stands as the top edge defender on the free agent market, and is now in a position to cash in. The Packers opted against the franchise tender for the 26-year-old Perry, so he’ll hit the open market following a career year which saw him post 11 sacks."<strong

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among players with youth still on their side, Datone Jones figures to interest clubs thanks to his versatility, as he can vacillate between end and linebacker, while fellow former first-round pick Jarvis Jones is solid against the run. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. Charles Johnson, meanwhile, looks like a good bet to return to the Panthers, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Calais Campbell
  2. Johnathan Hankins
  3. Brandon Williams
  4. Dontari Poe
  5. Chris Baker
  6. Bennie Logan
  7. Nick Fairley
  8. Alan Branch
  9. Jared Odrick
  10. Karl Klug
  11. Terrell McClain
  12. Lawrence Guy
  13. Stacy McGee
  14. Stephen Paea
  15. Sylvester Williams
    Honorable mention: Paul Soliai

Calais Campbell is the best overall player among interior defenders, and though he’s entering his age-31 season and may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe, Campbell will still be highly-sought after as he searches for his last substantial payday Campbell’s agent met with the Cardinals last week, but other speculative fits for the veteran defender include the Broncos, Raiders, Ravens, Colts, and Titans."<strong

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Karl Klug), and run stoppers (Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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