T.J. Carrie

T.J. Carrie To Meet With Saints

Colts cornerback T.J. Carrie is set to meet with the Saints (Twitter link via Adam Caplan of SiriusXM). The Saints have been looking for corners to support Marshon Lattimore and Carrie could fit the bill.

Carrie spent 2020 with the Colts and finished the year with two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and two touchdowns. His first TD came off of a pick six against the Jets in Week 3. Then, against the Titans in Week 10, he scored again off of a punt return.

Carrie was mostly used as a reserve last year, but he was first-string for much of his early Raiders tenure. There’s a chance that Carrie could fight his way into the starting lineup if he’s signed, though he’s more likely to fill Justin Hardee‘s shoes as a reserve and special teams ace.

The Saints previously considered corners like Chidobe Awuzie, who landed a three-year deal worth ~$22MM with the Bengals. They’re also said to be interested in multiple-time Pro Bowler Richard Sherman. Carrie would represent a cheaper solution at cornerback — one that wouldn’t limit them from a splashier acquisition later this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC South Notes: Reader, Colts, Titans

The Texans lost D.J. Reader to an unlikely team, with the Bengals deviating from a long-conservative free agency philosophy to sign the breakout defensive lineman to a four-year, $53MM deal. Bill O’Brien confirmed (via the Houston Chronicle’s Aaron Wilson, on Twitter) the Texans wanted to keep Reader. The seventh-year Texans HC/first-year Texans GM said team brass had “good conversations” with the interior defender’s camp about a new deal but acknowledged the team “couldn’t get that one done.” The Bills, Broncos and Titans were among the known Reader suitors before the Bengals swooped in. The Texans initially came in with a $6MM-per-year offer before the 2019 season, but Reader’s bet on himself translated into $13MM-plus-AAV deal. Houston has not made a move to replace Reader up front. The Texans have $35MM in cap space but are working on a Laremy Tunsil extension and obviously have a Deshaun Watson deal to consider.

Here is the latest out of the AFC South:

  • Justin Reid made a pitch to O’Brien to consider his brother as an addition at safety, Wilson notes. The Panthers recently released Eric Reid. In addition to the younger Reid brother, Houston employs Tashaun Gipson at safety and just signed Eric Murray to a deal that surprised many. The Texans are not likely to make another major addition at this position this offseason.
  • Coming off one of the worst kicking seasons in modern NFL history, the Titans are bringing back late-season addition Greg Joseph. But they will add competition soon, GM Jon Robinson confirmed (via Jim Wyatt of TennesseeTitans.com). Robinson said the team will look in both free agency and the draft for its second kicker. The Titans went a ghastly 8-for-18 on field goals last season. Joseph did not attempt a field goal in two regular-season games with Tennessee and only attempted one — a make — in the Titans’ three playoff games. The former Browns kicker made all 18 of his extra point tries, however, and was successful on 25 of 29 field goal tries during his 2018 season in Cleveland.
  • The ColtsT.J. Carrie addition did not seem to add up given Kenny Moore‘s place as one of the league’s best slot cornerbacks, but GM Chris Ballard said the team needed better depth at this position (via Stephen Holder of The Athletic, on Twitter). Carrie has played both inside and outside during his time with the Browns and Raiders and will likely be given time at both spots with the Colts. He’s done his best NFL work in the slot, however, so Indianapolis should be covered behind Moore this season. Moore missed five games due to injury in 2019.

Colts, CB T.J. Carrie Agree To Deal

A few days after the Colts agreed to sign Xavier Rhodes, they are adding another veteran cornerback to the mix. The Colts and T.J. Carrie agreed to terms Monday, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.

It’s a one-year deal for Carrie, who will earn the veteran minimum, per Adam Caplan of Sirius XM Radio (on Twitter). Carrie will receive $300K guaranteed, Caplan adds.

After being cut by the Browns in February, the former seventh-round pick visited the Seahawks earlier this month. Both he and Rhodes are street free agents, with the latter being a Vikings cap casualty.

The Colts have done some retooling in their secondary, releasing veteran Pierre Desir and signing Rhodes and Carrie. The latter duo brings a combined 13 years’ experience. For Carrie, this will be his third NFL team. The former Raiders draftee spent the past two seasons with the Browns.

Carrie worked as a part-time starter in Cleveland, opening 14 games with the Browns’ first-string defense during his time in Ohio. He worked as the Raiders’ primary slot defender in 2017. Pro Football Focus did not view Carrie’s Browns work as being on the same level as his Raiders contract year, but the 29-year-old defender will likely not be expected to be a starter in Indianapolis. He instead profiles as a depth piece for the Colts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

DB T.J. Carrie To Visit Seahawks

Free agent defensive back T.J. Carrie will visit with the Seahawks this week, per NFL insider Adam Caplan (via Twitter). The Browns released Carrie as part of a roster purge last month.

Carrie, who will turn 30 in July, joined the Browns on a four-year deal in 2018 after turning in a strong contract year as the Raiders’ slot cornerback. Over the past two seasons, he’s appeared in every possible game and started in 14 of those contests. Last year, he notched 52 tackles and one interception, but he was unable to get into a rhythm, and his coverage was nowhere near his best work in Oakland.

But he was strong in coverage in his first year in Cleveland, and he may be able to return to form with a new club. Seattle typically used three linebackers in nickel packages last season, with LB Mychal Kendricks serving as the de facto nickel corner. So adding Carrie — who also has some experience on the outside and at safety — to serve as the primary slot defender would likely be a boost to the entire secondary.

By the end of the season, 2019 fifth-rounder Ugo Amadi had usurped Kendricks at nickel, and head coach Pete Carroll recently said that the job was Amadi’s to lose (via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times). However, Carroll did couch his statement by saying that the team would continue to add competition for the role, and Carrie would be a well-established competitor.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Browns Release Carrie, Harris, Kush

The Browns are in the midst of some serious spring cleaning. On Monday, the Browns announced that they’ve cut cornerback T.J. Carrie, tight end Demetrius Harris, and guard Eric Kush, in addition to the previously reported release of linebacker Adarius Taylor.

In total, the moves will open up more than $13MM in cap room for the Browns with less than $4MM in dead money left over. It’s yet another signal that the club is committed to a significant roster haul under the guidance of new head coach Kevin Stefanski and GM Andrew Berry. All four released players were brought on board by former GM John Dorsey.

Carrie joined the Browns on a four-year deal in 2018 after turning in a strong contract year as the Raiders’ slot cornerback. Over the past two seasons, he’s appeared in every possible game and started in 14 of those contests. Last year, he notched 52 tackles and one interception, but he was unable to get into a rhythm and his coverage was nowhere near his best work in Oakland.

Harris, too, will see his contract terminated at the midway point. In his lone Browns season, he had 15 grabs for 149 yards and three scores. On the line, Kush had a perfect attendance record and started seven times, but the advanced metrics painted him as one of the worst qualified interior linemen in the NFL.

While those four players will be let go, much of the Browns’ core will remain in tact. At his introductory presser, Berry indicated that Odell Beckham Jr. will probably not be traded, despite all of the speculation. The latest misstep of running back Kareem Hunt, meanwhile, won’t rule him out for 2020.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Rumors: Taylor, Carrie, Broncos, Hawks

The trade that will send Jamar Taylor to his third NFL team will come with an adjusted contract. Taylor will make less for the Cardinals this year than he was supposed with the Browns, with Kent Somers of AZCentral.com reporting (on Twitter) the veteran cornerback will earn $3.5MM in base salary — down from $4.25MM. The additional $750K will be pushed onto the Cards’ 2019 balance sheet. The Cardinals and Browns have been discussing a Taylor deal since the draft, Mike Jurecki of ArizonaSports.com tweets, adding that the Bashaud Breeland avenue is likely closed after this trade. Taylor is under contract for two more seasons. Finding a capable Patrick Peterson counterpart has been a problem in Arizona for a while, and Taylor will have a decent chance to earn that No. 2 job. Now-well-traveled Bene Benwikere, former Jets corner Marcus Williams and one-time third-round pick Brandon Williams represent the top competition.

Here’s the latest from the West divisions, keeping with the subject of cornerbacks who have worn Browns colors recently.

  • Taylor and T.J. Carrie were Browns teammates for a little more than two months, and Cleveland has now traded both of its 2017 starting corners as John Dorsey enters his first full season as Browns GM. Carrie will factor in prominently in the Browns’ 2018 secondary, but Jon Gruden would have preferred the Raiders retain Carrie, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. It’s unclear how much the Raiders were willing to offer their 2017 slot corner, but Gruden and some members of his new staff did meet with Carrie just prior to free agency. And the Bay Area native wanted to stay. However, Bair mentions money guided him to northeast Ohio. It’s unlikely the Raiders’ offer was especially close to the Browns’ four-year, $31MM proposal.
  • It appears the Broncos are going to try Menelik Watson at guard. After the former Raiders tackle struggled mightily before his latest injury, allowing a career-worst 7.5 sacks despite playing in just seven Broncos games last season, the team’s putting him in competition with as-of-now starter Connor McGovern for its right guard job, Mike Klis of 9News notes. A sixth-year player, Watson is a career tackle. Denver, which has entered the past five seasons with five different right tackle starters, traded for Jared Veldheer to replace Watson on the edge. McGovern himself is a notable inclusion into the lineup, since Max Garcia has started at guard for two seasons. McGovern worked his way into Denver’s starting mix after being an injury replacement for Ronald Leary late last season.
  • After the Seahawks lost pro personnel director Dan Morgan to the Bills, they will replace him with Nolan Teasley. A former running back at Division II Central Washington, Teasley began his career as a scouting intern in 2013 but rose to the position of assistant pro personnel director in 2017.
  • By giving Patrick Mahomes a top-flight arsenal to work with as he begins his run as the Chiefs‘ starting quarterback, Andy Reid is taking a better approach to developing his most recent prized passing prospect compared to his work with Donovan McNabb, Geoff Mosher of The Score writes. McNabb was not given many notable pass-catchers early in his career, but Mahomes has plenty. With the $16MM-AAV Sammy Watkins deal representing a notable Chiefs about-face regarding their No. 2 wideout position, the franchise now has a quartet of weapons — Watkins, Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill — that rivals any it’s ever assembled. While the Chiefs’ defense may have some work to do after the Marcus Peters trade, Mahomes has far more to work with offensively than Alex Smith did when he arrived in Kansas City five years ago.

The Top 25 Remaining NFL Free Agents

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Browns To Sign CB T.J. Carrie

The Browns have reached agreement with free agent cornerback T.J. Carrie, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (Twitter link).

The former Raiders corner signed for four years and $31MM, with $10MM fully guaranteed at signing, Adam Caplan of ESPN.com tweets.

Before landing with Cleveland, Carrie also drew interest from the Broncos, but Denver signed fellow corner Tramaine Brock instead. Carrie ranked as PFR’s seventh-best available cornerback heading into the free agent period.

Cleveland needed all the secondary help it could find after ranking 27th in pass defense DVOA in 2017. So far, they’ve inked Carrie and Terrance Mitchell to go along with Jason McCourtyJamar Taylor, and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, among others. Additionally, the Browns have interest in safety Morgan Burnett as they further remake their defensive backfield.

Carrie will almost surely play the slot in Cleveland, as the 27-year-old handled nickel duties for Oakland last season. In 15 starts, Carrie managed 70 tackles and graded as the NFL’s No. 21 CB, per Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders’ metrics weren’t quite as fond of Carrie, as he ranked 68 out of 81 qualifiers in success rate.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Eyeing CB T.J. Carrie

The Broncos have interest in cornerback T.J. Carrie, according to CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora (on Twitter). Carrie entered free agency as one of PFR’s ten best cornerbacks available and one of the 50 best free agents overall.

Carrie has said that he doesn’t want to leave the Raiders, but it’s not clear whether new head coach Jon Gruden has him in their plans. Carrie did meet with the Raiders’ new staff, however. Ultimately, his market value could drive him away from Oakland and into the arms of a divisional rival.

The Broncos are in search of a No. 3 cornerback after agreeing to trade Aqib Talib to the Rams. Talib, Chris Harris and Bradley Roby formed probably the league’s best corner trio over the past four years, and Harris and Roby remain. But despite drafting Brendan Langley in last year’s third round, the franchise was said to be searching the veteran market for a cheaper option than Talib.

Carrie qualifies, but after a strong contract year where he proved to be a clear slot upgrade on D.J. Hayden, it’s unclear how cheap he will come. Both Harris and Roby are going to earn north of $8MM in 2018, so any Carrie deal would place the Broncos toward the top of the league in cornerback spending.

A perennial Pro Bowler, Harris has functioned as probably the game’s best slot cornerback over the past several years. But he recently expressed a desire to play more on the outside. His flexibility as a boundary corner in base sets and slot cover man in Denver’s nickel would allow the team to target a slot player or outside defender in free agency.

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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