Stephon Gilmore

Fallout From Bills’ Front Office Shakeup

The Bills deciding to trade out of their No. 10 slot, when the Chiefs surrendered their 2018 first-rounder to headline a package that netted them Patrick Mahomes, indicated Doug Whaley was not going to be around much longer, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports notes. Buffalo moving down 17 spots — a move the Bills were believed to be pushing for prior to the draft — signaled a long-term plan more than one designed to help an embattled GM’s team win now. (However, Chiefs GM John Dorsey told B.J. Kissel of KCChiefs.com — Twitter link — Whaley was involved in talks that originated early this week.)

Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com notes the Bills’ chaotic front office situation goes back to 2014, when Terry and Kim Pegula took over and were surprised when Doug Marrone exercised an opt-out option that garnered him $4MM and left the Bills without a coach despite having completed a rare over-.500 season in 2014. The current Jaguars HC’s 9-7 campaign, aided the Patriots resting starters in Week 17 of that season, represents the most the Bills wins since 2004.

La Canfora notes Whaley has not gotten along especially well with any of his coaches, describing less-than-ideal relationships with both Marrone and Rex Ryan, and the one with Sean McDermott did not take off. Bill Polian declined to join the Bills in January of 2015, and La Canfora notes that decision kept Whaley in charge and helped lead to Marrone bolting on his contract.

Now running the show in Buffalo, McDermott was not happy the Patriots plucked Stephon Gilmore in free agency, La Canfora writes. The RFA decisions on Chris Hogan and Mike Gillislee did not help, either. The CBS-based reporter notes some of Pegula’s confidants advised him to fire Whaley years ago. The Bills signed Whaley to an extension last year, however.

A source categorized the Bills’ draft room this weekend as “one of the weirdest three days,” per Breer, due to the fact a leadership component wasn’t entirely present. McDermott, though, was the one who was providing the final say, Breer reports. The first-year HC was given autonomy to remove prospects from the draft board as well. Pegula said today Whaley put together the draft and the organization decided to fire him after the three-day event, Mike Rodak of ESPN.com relays.

Scouts were upset with Ryan’s program last year, Breer notes, adding that Bills coaches felt some of Whaley’s draft decisions — be it the trade-up for Sammy Watkins or selection of injury-risk Shaq Lawson — didn’t fit the schemes they were using. As for Watkins, it’s possible the Bills made his injury situation worse. Breer reports that the wideout’s foot injury was too severe for him to complete walkthroughs, but no one put a stop to his comeback attempt, and the pain worsened as he pushed through it to lead to a two-month shutdown. Watkins returned for the final six games but only cleared 80 receiving yards twice, albeit on a run-centric team. Already rumored to be set to decline Watkins’ fifth-year option, the Bills are probably more likely to go in that direction now that Whaley is gone, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap tweets.

Further complicating things with McDermott: Anthony Lynn was Whaley’s first HC choice, according to Breer, and ownership went with the former Panthers DC — with whom Whaley did not have much of a relationship — while letting Lynn proceed to the Chargers’ job. Tyrod Taylor‘s return on an adjusted deal also went against Whaley’s wishes and was more in line with new OC Rick Dennison‘s. The latter was the Broncos’ OC when the team pursued Taylor in 2015.

As far as the selection of the next GM, the Pegulas might not lean on team president Russ Brandon too much, with Terry Pegula saying today the owners would ask Brandon questions if they believed they need to (Twitter link via Breer). Former Eagles president and Browns CEO Joe Banner understandably expects the new GM to be someone with close ties to McDermott, the longtime exec told Sirius XM Radio (Twitter link). Panthers assistant GM Brandon Beane could well become a candidate.

AFC Notes: Revis, Garoppolo, Lynch

Criminal charges were dropped against free agent cornerback Darrelle Revis earlier this week, which ostensibly opens the door for him to find a new employer soon. Ben Volin of The Boston Globe reports that one league executive believes a Revis reunion with the Patriots is the only thing that makes sense, and while he would likely not serve as a starting corner in New England, he could be used as a strong safety or as cornerback depth. Interestingly, though, Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald tweets that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick told Revis several years ago that Revis’ skill-set did not translate to the safety position. While that does not preclude a New England reunion, it does add an interesting twist to the Revis saga, as many have taken it for granted that Revis will wind up playing safety for whoever signs him in 2017.

Now for more from the AFC:

  • As Volin notes in the same piece cited above, the Patriots’ apparent desire to trade Malcolm Butler is reflective of the team’s usual philosophy of getting rid of a player a year too soon instead of a year too late. However, the Pats have notably departed from that philosophy with respect to Jimmy Garoppolo, whom the club has been reticent to trade despite the haul of picks they could acquire in return. Volin says the Patriots’ stance with Garoppolo is simply based on the fact that he plays quarterback, and they believe that if something were to happen to Tom Brady, they could still compete for a title with Garoppolo under center. The team took a similar approach in 2014, when they held onto Ryan Mallett throughout training camp and did not deal him until they were confident that Garoppolo could handle the backup role.
  • Some Patriots fans are wondering why the club is willing to trade Butler but handed Stephon Gilmore a mega-deal this offseason. As Dan Hatman of The Scouting Academy (via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com) notes, Gilmore is simply bigger than Butler, and his size and length can create more flexibility for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia when matching up against some of the game’s bigger receivers. Simply put, Gilmore is a premium man corner, and those players get paid.
  • Despite the Morris Claiborne signing, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com still expects the Jets to select a cornerback in the first or second round of this year’s draft.
  • Saturday night, as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, retired running back Marshawn Lynch retweeted a message in which someone noticed that a musical playlist put together by Lynch contains a track entitled “Oakland Raiders.” The playlist was created in September 2015, but Florio believes the fact that Lynch went ahead and retweeted the message further legitimizes the Lynch-to-Raiders rumors.
  • Meanwhile, new Raiders acquisition Cordarrelle Patterson is actively recruiting free agent running back and former Vikings teammate Adrian Peterson to join him in Oakland, as Ben Goessling of ESPN.com writes. However, the latest reports about a Peterson/Oakland match suggest that Peterson has more interest in the Raiders than the Raiders have in him at the moment.
  • Sean Spence agreed to a deal with the Colts earlier today, and Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com tweets that Spence’s former team, the Titans, could use newly-acquired Jonathan Cyprien, a strong safety by trade, to fill Spence’s role as nickel linebacker.

AFC Contract Details: Gilmore, Kirkpatrick

The latest contract details from the AFC (all Twitter links):

  • Cornerback Stephon Gilmore‘s five-year, $65MM accord with the Patriots includes an $18MM signing bonus, reports Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. The arrangement comes with a fully guaranteed $31MM through 2018 and $9MM guaranteed for injury only in 2019. It contains up to $500K in per-game roster bonuses each year, as well (via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe).
  • Fellow corner Dre Kirkpatrick‘s Bengals deal, worth $52.5MM over a five years, includes $15MM in 2017, according to Tom Pelissero of USA Today. The contract features another $2.5MM in incentives. It’s essentially a pay-as-you agreement after 2018, notes CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who adds that Kirkpatrick got $7MM to sign, $12MM in guarantees, and will make $23.2MM during the first two years of the contract.
  • Guard Ronald Leary‘s pact with the Broncos is worth $36MM over four years and will receive $18.75MM guaranteed, writes Mike Klis of 9NEWS. Leary will collect a $3.5MM signing bonus.
  • Newly re-upped Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills landed a $7MM signing bonus, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.
  • Fullback Patrick DiMarco‘s four-year deal with the Bills features $4.8MM in guarantees, more than the originally reported $4MM, per Wilson. It also comes with a $2MM bonus and an annual workout bonus worth $59K.
  • Safety Nate Allen‘s contract with the Dolphins is for one year and $3.4MM, relays Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald.
  • The Titans gave linebacker Nate Palmer $2.3MM over two years, writes Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com. He also received a signing bonus worth $850K.
  • Tight end David Johnson‘s agreement with the Steelers is worth $2.05MM over two years, per Wilson. It includes a $235K signing bonus and a $915K roster bonus.

Extra Points: Bears, Cutler, Bills, Gilmore, Kendricks, Eagles

No surprise here, but the Bears tried to trade Jay Cutler before releasing him on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. After his 2016 struggles, teams were not willing to take on his contract. He’s now a free agent.

Here’s more from around the NFL:.

  • Bills brass decided well before the 2016 season they wouldn’t pay Stephon Gilmore anything close to the $14MM/year figure he’ll reportedly get from the Patriots, Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News tweets.
  • There has been no movement on a potential Mychal Kendricks trade for the Eagles, a source tells Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer (on Twitter). He’ll see his $4.35MM salary guaranteed if he remains on the roster on Saturday.
  • The Falcons had talks about defensive tackle Terrell McClain, according to source who spoke with Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com (on Twitter). However, McClain will be joining up with Washington on a multi-year deal.
  • The Eagles have some interest in bringing back Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Kaye of First Coast News tweets. Wisniewski has the ability to play either guard or center and did well in starts at left guard last season.

Patriots To Sign CB Stephon Gilmore

The Patriots are making big moves this week. New England will sign cornerback Stephon Gilmore, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter). The deal is expected to come in at more than $14MM/year, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, but the length of the pact is not yet clear. "<strong

This deal spells the end of free agent Logan Ryan‘s time with the team, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report tweets. In theory, Gilmore and Ryan could have formed one of league’s premier CB duos, but that would have been extremely costly for the Pats. I have Ryan ranked No. 6 on my Top 50 Free Agents list, which ranks players in terms of projected earning power. Gilmore was not far behind at No. 10.

Malcolm Butler, on the other hand, should still be returning to New England. This week, the Pats applied the first-round tender to the cornerback. In theory, another club could sign him to an offer sheet and forfeit a first-round choice if the Pats choose not to match. We’re not so sure Butler will be worth all of that for interested clubs.

The Bears made a strong push for Gilmore this week and the Bills were also working to re-sign him. Buffalo could have retained Gilmore with the franchise tag, but the team felt that the one-year tender for corners was too pricey. They allowed Gilmore to test the open market and they may or may not regret that decision today.

Gilmore did not play up to his ability in 2016 and some have speculated that he was playing it safe in his contract year. Others have wondered if Gilmore simply slipped as the Bills’ entire defense slumped.

The former first-rounder has started 66 games since entering the league in 2012. This year, he had a career-high five interceptions, but Pro Football Focus ranked him only 61st among 112 qualifying corners. Despite the so-so year, Gilmore still ranked as our third-best available free agent cornerback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Stephon Gilmore

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is using Janoris Jenkins‘ deal as a baseline to work from, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com hears (on Twitter). The Giants handed Jenkins a five-year, $62.5MM contract last offseason.

Stephon Gilmore (vertical)We learned yesterday that the Bears were making a strong push for Gilmore. The cornerback said in January that he’d like to stay with the Bills, but the team ultimately decided against slapping the player with the franchise tag.

The former first-rounder has started 66 games since entering the league in 2012. Despite finishing the 2016 season with a career-high five interceptions, Pro Football Focus ranked him only 61st among 112 qualifying corners.

Despite the apparent decline in performance, Gilmore still ranked as our third-best available free agent cornerback. Zach Links also predicted that Gilmore will receive the 10th-highest contract this offseason.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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Bears Pushing To Sign Stephon Gilmore

Cornerback Stephon Gilmore drew a connection to the Bears last week, and now that the legal tampering period has begun, the club is making a “big push” to sign him, reports Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link).

Stephon Gilmore (vertical)

The Bears have a crying need at corner, so adding the accomplished Gilmore would go a long way toward fixing their issues. The five-year veteran possesses an impressive NFL resume, having racked up 68 appearances, 66 starts and 14 picks with the Bills since going in the first round of the 2012 draft. The 26-year-old Gilmore started in each of his appearances (15) for the third straight season and notched a career-high five interceptions in 2016. However, after ranking as one of Pro Football Focus’ 10 best corners in 2015, he dropped to 61st (among 112 qualifiers) last season.

Despite an arguably disappointing 2016, Gilmore undoubtedly stands as one of the best players set to the market. PFR’s Zach Links ranks Gilmore 10th overall in this year’s class, and he’s somewhere in the top three corners with the Texans’ A.J. Bouye and the Patriots’ Logan Ryan. As is the case with Gilmore, the Bears have interest in Bouye. Clearly, then, they’re going big-game hunting in the secondary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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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Pauline’s Latest: Savage, 49ers, Conley

Although some around the league reportedly believe the Texans are the best fit for quarterback Tony Romo, other front office members don’t see the fit, according to Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.com. If Romo does land in Houston, the Texans could end up trading fellow signal-caller Tom Savage to the 49ers, per Pauline. San Francisco is known to be in the quarterback market, and have been tied to options like Mike Glennon, Jimmy Garoppolo, and Kirk Cousins.

Here’s more from Pauline:

  • A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore will ink new contracts and set the market for free agent cornerbacks before Logan Ryan and Dre Kirkpatrick sign deals, reports Pauline. Although Bouye is apparently far apart in talks with the Texans, a feeling exists that he could re-sign with Houston at a cost of $12MM per season. Ryan and Kirkpatrick, PFR’s No. 2 and No. 5 free agent corners, respectively, could earn $10-11MM annually, per Pauline.
  • While the 2017 cornerback draft class doesn’t offer as much top-end talent as the safety class, it does boast more depth, opines Pauline. UCLA’s Fabian Moreau, for example, won’t be selected in the first round, but most scouts expect him to come off the board within the first 15 picks of Day 2, according to Pauline.
  • Some evaluators believe Ohio State cornerback Gareon Conley is a superior player to former Buckeye defensive back Eli Apple, who was drafted 10th overall by the Giants in 2016. Conley, per Pauline, could be the “steal” of the cornerback position.