Sean Weatherspoon

South Notes: Jags, Colts, Glennon, Falcons

After their most successful season this century, the Jaguars are firmly committed to their power structure. The Tom Coughlin/Dave Caldwell/Doug Marrone triumvirate is now signed through 2021 after the extensions announced Friday, and this season looks to have played a key part in Shad Khan‘s decision. The owner approached his top staffers about these extensions shortly after the Jags’ AFC championship game loss to the Patriots, Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports.

For Caldwell, this marks the second two-year extension in as many offseasons. The GM signed one in January 2017 on the same day he was stripped of some of his decision-making abilities, but he’ll continue to work with Coughlin for the foreseeable future. This comes after some in league circles believed Coughlin would attempt to push Caldwell out of the picture, per O’Halloran, if last season did not go well. In particular, Blake Bortles‘ play was key in this scenario, O’Halloran writes. Caldwell had overseen four straight losing seasons since taking over the Jags’ reins in 2013.

Here’s the latest out of the South divisions:

  • The Colts continue to add to Frank Reich‘s first staff. They’ve hired Tom Manning as their tight ends coach, reports Tommy Birch of The Des Moines Register. The former Iowa State offensive coordinator led the Cyclones to two of the best offensive seasons in team history. He previously served as the offensive line coach at Toledo and Mount Union.
  • Regarding Reich’s first offense, Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star notes it’s expected to be a significant change from Rob Chudzinski‘s attack. Reich is expected to install an uptempo setup to help a Colts offense that ranked 31st last season. However, Andrew Luck being at the controls had the Colts at No. 10 offensively in 2016. So, improvement will largely come from Indianapolis’ starter being back in the fold.
  • A Buccaneers/Mike Glennon reunion will likely be on the Tampa Bay brass’ radar, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times writes. The Bears are expected to cut Glennon, whom Mitch Trubisky quickly supplanted in Chicago’s starting lineup, and Stroud notes the Bucs will be watching carefully to see if their former backup will wind up in need of a job. Glennon served as Jameis Winston‘s backup in 2015 and ’16, and with a possible suspension for Winston looming because of an alleged groping of an Uber driver, Stroud notes Tampa Bay’s backup could play a key role in the 2018 season. The Bucs were ready to pay Glennon like a top-market backup at $8MM per year, but the Bears’ offer easily won out last March.
  • Sean Weatherspoon has played in just six games for the Falcons the past two seasons and has missed all five of Atlanta’s playoff contests in that span. The 30-year-old linebacker is now a free agent. He would like to return to Atlanta but acknowledged a connection to former Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, who now has a first-time opportunity as an NFL DC with the Colts. “My college coach, who recruited me to Missouri, is the (defensive) coordinator for the Colts now,” Weatherspoon said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “There are a lot of things, I love Atlanta, but I’m just looking for an opportunity. I’d love to be here. If things work out, this is where I’ll be.” Prior to his injury trouble during his second Falcons stint, the former first-round pick started 40 games with the Falcons from 2010-13. Given where he is in his career, Weatherspoon would likely be available for the veteran minimum.

Ben Levine contributed to this report.

Falcons Sign LB Sean Weatherspoon

The Falcons are reuniting with linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, a source tells Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Weatherspoon will help fill in at linebacker now that rookie Duke Riley is set to undergo knee surgery. Sean Weatherspoon (vertical)

Weatherspoon, 29, was a first-round pick of the Falcons in 2010. Unfortunately, his career has been marred by injuries in recent years. In the last four years, he has made only 25 appearances – he missed the bulk of last season, rouhgly half of 2013, and the entire 2014 campaign.

In 2011, his only full season, he showed what he is capable of as he racked up 125 tackles and four sacks. If his knee and foot problems are behind him, he could perhaps be a quality contributor once again. The Falcons probably aren’t expecting that kind of stat line, but he could perhaps help the Falcons pivot out of their current three-game rut.

Assuming he dresses, Weatherspoon’s first game of 2017 will be a road contest against the scrappy Jets.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons Release O’Brien Schofield

O’Brien Schofield‘s reunion with the Falcons didn’t last long, as Atlanta has cut the veteran linebacker to make room for new addition A.J. Hawk, the club announced today. The Falcons also officially placed linebacker Sean Weatherspoon on injured reserve after he suffered an Achilles injury on Sunday."<strong

[RELATED: Falcons Sign A.J. Hawk]

The Falcons made Schofield an offer early on in the offseason, but he held out for more money. Schofield appears to have misjudged the market as the Falcons did not improve their offer and interest from other teams was mild to say the least. The Patriots met with Schofield in August and the Jets hosted him on a visit in September, but neither meeting led to a deal.

Schofield, 29, followed Dan Quinn from the Seahawks to the Falcons, signing a one-year, $1.7MM deal with Atlanta last year. He finished the year with 28 tackles, four tackles for losses, two sacks, 13 quarterback hits, and one forced fumble.

Because they signed Schofield after the start of the regular season, the Falcons won’t be on the hook for the rest of his minimum salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Falcons LB Weatherspoon Suffers Torn Achilles

Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon has suffered a torn Achilles tendon, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Weatherspoon will presumably be shut down for the season and placed on IR. Sean Weatherspoon (vertical)

Sadly, this marks the second time that Weatherspoon has suffered an Achilles tear in his career. The 28-year-old (29 in October) missed the entire 2014 season thanks to that injury. In 2015, he left Atlanta for the Cardinals and saw just 159 defensive snaps. This offseason, he returned to the Falcons with the hope of earning more playing time. He started three of Atlanta’s four games this season, tallying 27 total tackles.

Weatherspoon originally entered the NFL as a Falcons first-round draft pick, joining the team as the 19th player selected in the 2010 draft. In 2011, his only full season, he showed what he is capable of as he racked up 125 tackles and four sacks. Unfortunately, he has since been held back by his Achilles issues plus knee and foot problems.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Freeman, Sims, Claiborne

Here are the latest contract details for players who have agreed to new deals and/or signed them in recent days. Unless otherwise specified, all links are courtesy of Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle…

NFC:

  • Jerrell Freeman, LB (Bears): Three years, $12MM. Deal maxes out at $14.25MM with incentives/escalators. $6MM guaranteed at signing (Twitter link via Tom Pelissero of USA Today).
  • Eugene Sims, DE (Rams): Three years, $10MM. $3.75MM in guarantees. $2.25MM salary for 2016 guaranteed. $750K roster bonus due this week. $500K roster bonuses due on the fifth day of the 2017 and 2018 league years. $750K annual incentives for sacks and playoffs (Twitter links).
  • Jon Ryan, P (Seahawks): Four years, $10MM. $3.4MM guaranteed. $2.4MM signing bonus. $1MM salary in 2016 guaranteed. $100K incentives for Pro Bowl and playoffs (Twitter link).
  • James Hanna, TE (Cowboys): Three years, $8.25MM. $2.25MM signing bonus (Twitter link).
  • Emmanuel Lamur, LB (Vikings): Two years, $5.5MM. $2MM guaranteed. $1MM roster bonus due Monday. $15,625 per-game active roster bonus in both seasons (Twitter link).
  • Gino Gradkowski, OL (Panthers): Three years, $3.15MM. $450K signing bonus. $25K annual workout bonus (Twitter link).
  • Morris Claiborne, CB (Cowboys): One year, $3MM. Deal maxes out at $3.375MM with incentives. $500K signing bonus. $1MM in per-game active bonuses (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Keenan Robinson, LB (Giants): One year, $2.6MM. $1MM roster bonus due on the 10th day of the 2016 league year. $21,500 per-game active bonus. Up to $900K in playing-time incentives (Twitter link).
  • Sean Weatherspoon, LB (Falcons): One year, $1.5MM. $500K in per-game active bonuses. $750K in playing-time incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Travaris Cadet, RB (Saints): One year, $840K. $80K signing bonus (Twitter link)

AFC:

  • Eddie Pleasant, S (Texans): Two years, $2.15MM. $311K roster bonus for 2016. $36K roster bonus for 2017 (link).
  • Matt Cassel, QB (Titans): One year, $2MM. $750K signing bonus. $500K in incentives (Twitter link via Pelissero).
  • Shane Lechler, P (Texans): One year, $1.8MM. $500K signing bonus (link).
  • Nick Novak, K (Texans): One year, 965K. $80K roster bonus due Monday (link).

Falcons To Sign Sean Weatherspoon

More than two years after playing his last game for the Falcons, linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is returning to Atlanta for the 2016 season. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter links) reports that the Falcons and Weatherspoon have agreed to terms on a one-year contract.Sean Weatherspoon

Weatherspoon, 28, originally entered the NFL as a Falcons first-round draft pick, joining the team as the 19th player selected in the 2010 draft. Over the next four seasons, Weatherspoon played 47 games for Atlanta — in 2011, he started all 16 games, racking up 125 tackles to go along with four sacks. In his final two seasons with the Falcons, however, he missed all but seven games due to an Achilles injury in 2014, and knee and foot issues in 2013.

The Cardinals signed Weatherspoon a year ago as a free agent, but the veteran linebacker didn’t play a major role in Arizona, earning just 159 defensive snaps. Another year removed from his Achilles injury, Weatherspoon will attempt to make an impact in 2016 for the Falcons.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Free Agent Rumors: Freeman, Neal, Osemele

Here is the latest on some of the top free agents still available and some of the talents who have already landed with new teams.

  • After the Packers decided to re-sign Nick Perry at a lower rate than what his fifth-year option would’ve paid him, he could still be joined by Mike Neal next season, Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com tweets. The Packers’ 2010 second-round pick started 15 games last season, and the team hasn’t ruled out bringing him back as well to join Perry and Julius Peppers.
  • The Colts and Jerrell Freeman aren’t close on a new contract, Chris Hagan of FOX 59 tweets. Mike Chappell of IndySportsCentral.com adds the Colts’ offer for the inside linebacker could be a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Freeman finished last season as Pro Football Focus’ No. 4-ranked linebacker and as PFR’s No. 23-rated UFA resides as one of the best players still on the market.
  • Vikings free agent cornerback Josh Robinson is visiting the Dolphins, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk (on Twitter).
  • New Raiders addition Kelechi Osemele says that his position is not set in stone, as Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. Osemele indicated that he will play either tackle or guard depending on what happens for Oakland in free agency and in the draft.
  • I would love to come back [to the Falcons] and revive the feeling we had at the [Georgia] Dome, and revive my career,” free agent linebacker Sean Weatherspoon told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. He’ll be meeting with Atlanta brass this evening, per Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • New Broncos tackle Donald Stephenson told media (including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post, Twitter link) that 13-15 teams were interested in him.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report

Free Agent Rumors: Robinson, Raiders, Weddle

Can Nate Robinson go from the pages of Hoops Rumors to Pro Football Rumors? In a YouTube video released this week, the diminutive former NBA guard announced that he is going to make a run at the NFL. The well-produced video features testimonials from Marcedes Lewis and Brendon Ayanbadejo, former NBA teammates Jamal Crawford and Glen Davis, as well as former football coach Rick Neuheisel, all of whom insist that Robinson is perhaps the only athlete who could make the transition from professional basketball to professional football.

Robinson originally went to the University of Washington on a football scholarship and made a name for himself on the gridiron with his electrifying plays, but it has been many years since he tried his hand at football. The 31-year-old (32 in May) did not say which position he would like to play in the NFL, but he spoke about both offense and defense in the video, inferring that he might try to market himself as being able to play on either side of the ball.

Here’s the latest news on some of this week’s more typical NFL free agents:

  • The Raiders are zeroing in on Eric Weddle, Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. It’s not immediately clear whether Weddle has a visit scheduled with Oakland. We learned last night that the Steelers are also fond of the veteran.
  • The plan is for Akiem Hicks to visit the Bears tomorrow, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets.
  • Safety Rashad Johnson is traveling Friday for a visit with the Titans, a source tells Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Chargers GM Tom Telesco says he’s ready for the second wave of free agency, as ESPN.com’s Eric D. Williams writes. Telesco also says that he is open to newly signed safety Dwight Lowery serving as a stopgap for Eric Weddle.
  • Cardinals free agent linebacker Sean Weatherspoon will meet with the Falcons on Friday, per Jay Adams of the Falcons (on Twitter).

NFC South Notes: Manuel, Falcons, Olsen

The NFC South champion Panthers are set to take on the Cardinals tomorrow in the NFC Championship, and while wait for that contest, let’s take a quick look at some notes out of Carolina’s division:

  • Falcons secondary coach Marquand Manuel turned an offer to become the Jaguars defensive passing game coordinator and will remain with Atlanta, reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Manuel, who interviewed for Jacksonville’s defensive coordinator vacancy before the club promoted internal candidate Todd Wash, will enter his second season with the Falcons.
  • In a separate piece for the AJC, Ledbetter examines whether the Falcons should consider reuniting with linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who’s spent the 2015 season with the Cardinals after five years with Atlanta. The Falcons did offer Weatherspoon an incentive-laden deal last offseason, reports Ledbetter, but Arizona offered $1.25MM in guarantees. For his part, Weatherspoon seems happy with his current situation, but did allow that “part of [his] heart is in Atlanta.”
  • Tight end Greg Olsen is the Panthers‘ No. 1 option in the receiving game, but at one point not long ago, he looked like a middling pass-catcher as a member of the Bears. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune looks back at the 2011 trade that brought Olsen from the Windy City to Carolina.

Extra Points: Broncos, Cowboys, Draft

With quarterback Peyton Manning nearing a return from injury, the Broncos are on the brink of having to make the most important decision of their season, Troy Renck of The Denver Post offers.

The 39-year-old Manning was having a bottom-of-the-barrel season before he landed on the shelf in mid-November with a torn plantar fascia in his left foot, and his loss looked like addition by subtraction as the Brock Osweiler era got off to a solid beginning. Osweiler’s first three starts all ended up as wins for Denver, but some shine wore off two weeks ago in a 17-3 victory over a horrific San Diego team and matters worsened in a 15-12 loss to Oakland last Sunday.

Manning will be inactive for Sunday’s game against playoff-caliber Pittsburgh, but he’s likely to be healthy enough for activation by Week 16. That means Osweiler might be playing for the starting job at Heinz Field. As Renck points out, Denver’s Osweiler-led offense has gone 23 straight possessions without scoring a touchdown, which isn’t going to cut it with a prolific Steelers offense on the other side. With another underwhelming showing from Osweiler, head coach Gary Kubiak could turn back to Manning as the playoffs near.

Some other NFL news and notes:

  • Tonight is potentially the end of the Matt Cassel era in Dallas. The 33-year-old has fared poorly in place of Tony Romo this season, and he’ll be on a short leash against the Jets, ESPN’s Ed Werder tweets. The Cowboys’ current No. 2 QB, Kellen Moore, got some first-team reps in practice this week and could see his first action since going undrafted out of Boise State in 2012.
  • Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright capped off an injury-riddled junior year Saturday by announcing he’ll enter the 2016 draft, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk reports. A foot injury cost Wright all but three games this season, making it a disappointing follow-up to a highly productive 2014 campaign that saw him earn All-America honors, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Jack Lambert Award (nation’s best linebacker), and the Chuck Bednarik Award (nation’s top defender).
  • A list of the top 20 failed free agent signings from last offseason reveals predictable names – Dwayne Bowe, DeMarco Murray, Brandon Browner, among others – but also mentions lower-tier additions like Tampa’s Bruce Carter and Arizona’s Sean Weatherspoon, Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com writes. Both Carter and Weatherspoon were beaten out early for starting linebacker jobs.

Sam Robinson contributed to this report.