Todd Davis

Vikings To Sign Todd Davis

The Vikings have agreed to sign linebacker Todd Davis, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). Financial terms of the deal are not yet known, but it’ll be a one-year pact for Davis and the Vikes.

Davis stood as one of the Broncos’ longest-tenured players up until his release in early September. The Broncos opted for extra cap space over the veteran, but he was still productive in 2019. Last year, he notched a career-high 134 tackles, tying him for eighth on the NFL leaderboard.

Interestingly, Davis has largely been off the radar since he was released by Denver three weeks ago. His former head coach Gary Kubiak – who now serves as the Vikings’ offensive coordinator – will be happy to welcome him to Minnesota.

The Vikings could use an experienced player like Davis, particularly in the wake of Anthony Barr‘s season-ending pectoral injury. Despite all of their defensive talent, the Vikings are 0-2 after opening the year with losses to the Packers and Colts. It won’t get any easier this week, as they take on the 2-0 Titans on Sunday afternoon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Vikings To Meet With LB Todd Davis

Todd Davis will travel to meet with the Vikings once he clears COVID protocols, according to Mike Klis of 9News (on Twitter). This marks the first known visit for the linebacker since he was released from the Broncos earlier this month. 

[RELATED: Vikings’ Barr Done For The Season]

Davis had been with the Broncos since 2014, and, over time, he evolved into one of the organization’s most productive players. Despite appearing in only 14 games last season, the 28-year-old finished with a career-high 134 tackles. Over the course of six NFL seasons – including a brief stint with the Saints – Davis has appeared in 85 games while logging 63 starts. Davis was set to count for $6MM against the Broncos’ cap this year. Instead, they dropped him to gain $1.5MM in additional wiggle room.

If signed, Davis would help provide support in the wake of Anthony Barr‘s season-ending pectoral injury. There’s no question that the Vikes could use the help, especially after their rough start to the 2020 season. This week, they’ll try to get on the right track against the Titans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos Release LB Todd Davis

The Broncos have released inside linebacker Todd Davis, as Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. The move brings an end to the veteran’s six-year tenure in Denver and puts an experienced vet on the market days before the start of the season. 

[RELATED: Broncos Sign Mark Barron]

Davis has been with the Broncos since 2014, and, over time, he evolved into one of the organization’s most productive players. Despite appearing in only 14 games last season, the 28-year-old finished with a career-high 134 tackles. Davis was set to count for $6MM against the Broncos’ cap this year. Instead, they’ll drop him to gain $1.5MM in additional wiggle room.

Without Davis, Von Miller stands as the lone defender left from the team’s Super Bowl-winning squad. Things might have been different if not for Davis’ latest mid-training camp injury, a calf issue that has dogged him throughout the summer. Last year played out similarly and his calf was also the culprit.

Not long ago, the Broncos were expected to trot out rookie Justin Strnad and Davis as their top ILBs. Now, thanks to Strnad’s season-ending injury, they’ve had to revamp the position. Newcomer Mark Barron now figures to play a larger than expected role in Denver’s front seven.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

West Notes: Williamses, Broncos, Fans

The Chargers suddenly have an issue at wide receiver. Already carrying a thin depth chart beyond Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, the Bolts now have just Allen and not much else in the way of proven targets healthy. Williams is battling a shoulder injury, one that Anthony Lynn said will keep the 2017 first-rounder “out for a while,” Daniel Popper of The Athletic tweets. As of Monday, Williams was expected to be ready for the Chargers’ Week 1 game. But Lynn said Tuesday he is not sure that will be the case. The former Clemson standout battled injuries in college and has frequently dealt with setbacks as a pro. But he has mostly been available for the Bolts, having played in 31 regular-season games over the past two seasons. The Chargers may well pursue receiver help via free agency soon.

Here is the latest from the West divisions, moving first to a former Chargers receiver:

  • Tyrell Williams will try to play through some familiar pain this season. The Raiders wideout suffered a torn shoulder labrum, but as of now, the veteran is not envisioning a prolonged absence, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). After a multi-week rest period, Williams will attempt to play despite this ailment. Shoulder issues have become chronic for the ex-Charger. He played four games despite a labrum tear in 2016 and played through this issue in the same right shoulder as a senior at Western Oregon in 2014. But Williams is not a lock to finish the season, with his agent informing NFL reporter Josina Anderson (Twitter link) surgery may be on the table if the shoulder “continues to dislocate.”
  • Only two Broncos defenders remain from the team’s Super Bowl champion unit. Along with Von Miller, linebacker Todd Davis is still with the team. The latter, however, is currently out with a calf injury, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. Davis missed most of the Broncos’ 2019 training camp with a calf malady. Denver, which just lost rookie linebacker Justin Strnad for the season, did not do much at linebacker this offseason and is again counting on Davis to be a starter.
  • SoFi Stadium will debut next month, but fans will not be permitted to watch those games. The Chargers and Rams will not have fans at home games “until further notice,” the teams announced. The 49ers will take a similar route. No fans will attend their Week 1 game against the Cardinals. With California being one of the most cautious states during the pandemic, this is certainly not unexpected.
  • Possessing one of the NFL’s premier home-field advantages, the Seahawks will not have the luxury of fans creating that edge for them for a while. The team will not have fans in the stands for at least its first three home games. Seattle’s first three home games are scheduled to occur in Week 2 (Patriots), Week 3 (Cowboys) and Week 5 (Vikings). The NFL will not regulate each team’s fan policy, leaving it up to teams and cities to determine stadium capacities this season.

Broncos To Pick Up Options On K Brandon McManus, LB Todd Davis

A pair of veterans will be back with the Broncos next season. General manager John Elway told reporters (including Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post) that Denver’s picking up the options on kicker Brandon McManus and linebacker Todd Davis. Meanwhile, the Broncos won’t be picking up lineman Ronald Leary‘s option.

McManus has been the team’s full-time kicker since 2014, and he had another solid year during his age-28 season. The veteran connected on 85.3-percent of his field goal attempts and 96.2-percent of his extra point tries last season. McManus signed a three-year extension prior to the 2017 season, and the extra option year will count $4.25MM against the cap.

Davis has also been with the organization since the 2014 season, and he’s continued to evolve into one of the organization’s most productive players. Despite appearing in only 14 games last season, the 27-year-old finished with a career-high 134 tackles. Davis has a cap number of $6MM for next season.

Leary would have counted $9.3MM against the cap next season, and the decision to avoid his option will save the organization around $8.44MM. Denver signed the offensive guard to a four-year deal back in 2017, and he’s started all 29 of his games during his stint with the team. Unfortunately, each of his three seasons with the Broncos ended on the injured reserve.

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Broncos LB Todd Davis Partially Tears Calf Muscle

Broncos linebacker Todd Davis suffered a partially torn calf muscle at practice today and is expected to miss three-to-four weeks, according to Nicki Jhabvala of The Athletic (Twitter link).

If Davis sticks to that timeline, he won’t be in danger of missing any regular season action. However, he’s likely to miss all of training camp and at least some of the preseason, which could put him behind the eight ball for the regular season. In the meantime, backups like Keishawn BierriaAlexander Johnson or Joseph Jones could see more action alongside starter Josey Jewell.

A former undrafted free agent, Davis began his career in Denver as a special-teamer but became a starter at inside linebacker when Danny Trevathan left via free agency in 2016. Over the past three years, Davis has started 45 games and played at least 500 defensive snaps in each season. In 2018, the 27-year-old played a career-high 842 snaps and graded as the league’s No. 25 linebacker among 92 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Broncos To Re-Sign ILB Todd Davis

The Brandon MarshallDanny Trevathan inside linebacker setup the Broncos used during their Super Bowl season broke up after one season when Trevathan defected in free agency, but Denver plans to ensure its post-Trevathan arrangement will continue for much longer.

Todd Davis loomed as one of the Broncos’ top UFAs, and he will stay in Denver, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. The fifth-year linebacker agreed to a three-year, $15MM deal to stay, according to Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). She adds $6MM will come Davis’ way in guarantees.

Davis has been a starter alongside Marshall for two seasons, and now both of the Broncos’ first-string inside ‘backers are attached to veteran contracts. However, with Davis profiling as more of a run-defending type and less of a pure three-down performer, the Broncos were able to keep him for $3MM (per year) cheaper than it took to extend Marshall two years ago.

The Broncos were hoping to re-sign Corey Nelson, but the longtime backup opted for a one-year Eagles deal. They ramped their efforts to retain Davis after that transpired, and Davis will be back for a fifth Broncos season and third as a starter.

Davis, 25, graded as one of the league’s best run-defending linebackers last season, per Pro Football Focus.

[RELATED: Broncos Depth Chart]

Extra Points: Broncos, Cousins, Coleman

Despite the Broncos being interested in Kirk Cousins throughout the offseason, they moved on Case Keenum and reached an agreement before the Cousins domino fell. The Broncos, who do not have as much cap space as their top Cousins competitors do, spoke with the quarterback’s representation on Monday but did not submit an official offer, James Palmer of NFL.com reports (on Twitter). The team’s Keenum agreement being at least $18MM represented a significant discount from Cousins’ near-$30MM-AAV deal — one expected to be with the Vikings. Despite Cousins having proven more than Keenum, Broncos brass moved quickly on this agreement and was on the same page about the belated breakout passer. Palmer reports that went a long way toward completing this deal. Gary Kubiak is currently serving as a top Broncos front office bastion. Kubiak initially brought Keenum into the NFL as a UDFA while serving as Texans HC.

Here’s more from Denver and elsewhere around the league on Day 2 of pre-free agency.

  • Now that the Broncos lost one of the UFAs they were trying to keep, when Corey Nelson agreed to terms with the Eagles, Denver is trying to retain a higher-profile linebacker. The Broncos are expected to try and ramp up their efforts to retain Todd Davis before he hits free agency on Wednesday, Mike Klis of 9News reports (on Twitter). This would continue a change of pace for the John Elway-era Broncos. Previous offseasons saw off-ball ‘backers Wesley Woodyard, Nate Irving and Danny Trevathan depart. But in 2016, Elway authorized an $8MM-per-year deal for Brandon Marshall. Davis almost certainly won’t cost that much, profiling as more of a two-down thumper than sideline-to-sideline rover who can reliably operate in coverage, but he won’t come cheap since he’s been a two-year starter on one of the league’s top defenses.
  • Kurt Coleman took two visits before agreeing to join the Saints, meeting with the Giants and Bengals, Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com tweets. Coleman has bounced around the league, with his most recent stop being his most notable since the Panthers deployed him as a three-year starter — including in Super Bowl 50 — and signed him to an extension in 2016. Despite having played for three teams and having started 74 games, Coleman won’t turn 30 until July. The Giants are in need of a safety to complement Landon Collins. The Bengals, though, don’t have as obvious a need on their back line.

Top 2018 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Wednesday, March 14th, 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. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense on Monday, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

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 2018:

Edge defender:

  1. Julius Peppers
  2. William Hayes
  3. Trent Murphy
  4. Pernell McPhee
  5. Aaron Lynch
  6. Alex Okafor
  7. Adrian Clayborn
  8. Kony Ealy
  9. Connor Barwin
  10. Jeremiah Attaochu
  11. Junior Galette
  12. Derrick Shelby
  13. Barkevious Mingo
  14. Kareem Martin
  15. Erik Walden

As a positional group, pass rushers comprise interesting market on the defensive side of the ball. It’s not often that a list of best available players is topped by a 38-year-old, but Peppers is the top free agent edge defender after the Cowboys and Lions deployed the franchise tag on Demarcus Lawrence and Ezekiel Ansah, respectively. As with quarterbacks, NFL clubs are extremely reluctant to allow pass rushers to hit the open market, so top-tier options are rarely ever truly “available.” Peppers, for his part, hasn’t even declared whether he’ll return in 2018, but indications are that he’ll suit up for a 17th campaign after posting 11 sacks last year.

Alongside Peppers, other veterans populate the edge market, and while William Hayes may not be a household name, he’ll be a contributor for whichever team signs him. A stout run defender, Hayes is also capable of generating pressure despite managing only one sack in 2017. The Dolphins used Hayes on only 271 defensive snaps a season ago, and have since replaced him by acquiring fellow defensive end Robert Quinn from the Rams. Now that he’s entering his age-33 season, Hayes should come cheap, but will almost assuredly outplay his contract.

Nearly every other available pass rusher has some sort of flaw which will likely limit his market next week. Trent Murphy is only 27 years old and put up nine sacks in 2016, but he missed the entirety of the 2017 campaign with injury. Pernell McPhee, Alex Okafor, Junior Galette, and Derrick Shelby have also been plagued by health questions in recent seasons. And Adrian Clayborn famously registered the majority of his 2017 sacks (and 20% of his career sack total) in one game against overwhelmed Cowboys backup Chaz Green.

The two names that I keep coming back to are Aaron Lynch (49ers) and Jeremiah Attaochu (Chargers). Yes, Lynch has been suspended for substance abuse, struggled with his weight, and was reportedly in danger of being waived prior to last season. He’s also extremely young (he won’t turn 25 years old until Thursday) and ranked fifth in the league with 34 pass pressures as recently as 2015. Attaochu, a 25-year-old former second-round pick, also has youth on his side, and while he hasn’t quite flashed as much as Lynch, he’s also been buried on LA’s depth chart for much of his career.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Sheldon Richardson
  2. Dontari Poe
  3. Muhammad Wilkerson
  4. Star Lotulelei
  5. DaQuan Jones
  6. Beau Allen
  7. Denico Autry
  8. Justin Ellis
  9. Tom Johnson
  10. Bennie Logan
  11. Chris Baker
  12. Kyle Williams
  13. Dominique Easley
  14. Haloti Ngata
  15. Jay Bromley

Interior rushers are getting more respect in today’s NFL, but that still hasn’t translated to them being paid on the level of edge defenders — the 2018 franchise tag for defensive tackles, for example, is roughly $3MM cheaper than the tender for edge rushers. While the 2018 crop of interior defenders boasts some impressive top-end talent, none of the available players figure to earn a double-digit annual salary. Sheldon Richardson may have the best chance to do so, but Seattle determined he wasn’t worth a one-year cost of $13.939MM, so is any other club going to pay him $10MM per year? I’d guess he comes in closer to $9MM annually, which would still place him among the 25 highest-paid defensive tackles.

Dontari Poe will be an intriguing free agent case after setting for a one-year deal last offseason, but the most interesting battle among defensive tackles will take place Star Lotulelei and Muhammad Wilkerson, and I’m curious to see which player earns more on the open market. Both are former first-round picks, and it’s difficult to argue Wilkerson hasn’t been the more productive player — or, at least, reached higher highs — than Lotulelei. Wilkerson also won’t affect his next team’s compensatory pick formula given that he was released, but his off-field issues, which include a reported lack of effort and problems with coaches, could limit his appeal.

While Beau Allen and Denico Autry are potentially candidates to be overpaid based on their youth, there are bargains to be had at defensive tackle. Tom Johnson is 33 but he’s offered consistent pressure from the interior for years — his last contract was for three years and $7MM, so he shouldn’t cost much this time around. Haloti Ngata was injured in 2017 but plans to continue his career, and he can still stop the run. And Dominique Easley was outstanding as a 3-4 end in 2016 before missing last season with a torn ACL, meaning the former first-round pick could be a value play for any number of teams.Read more

FA Notes: Burkhead, Seahawks, Broncos

Free agent running back Rex Burkhead is expected to see a “competitive market” for his services and it’s not a lock that he re-signs with the Patriots, according to Doug Kyed of NESN. Burkhead, 27, inked a one-year deal with New England last offseason and went on to produce 518 yards from scrimmage in 10 games. Viable in both the running and passing game, Burkhead ranked seventh in receiving DVOA in 2017, meaning he was highly effective on a per-play basis. The Patriots, of course, have another free agent running back in Dion Lewis, who is expected to draw interest from six-to-seven teams on the open market.

Here’s more from the free agent front:

  • The Texans and cornerback Johnathan Joseph have mutual interest in a return, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Joseph, 33, has spent the past seven seasons in Houston after beginning his career in Cincinnati. Last year, Joseph started all 16 games for the Texans and managed two interceptions. Even more impressive, Joseph ranked 21st in Football Outsiders’ success rate, meaning he was excellent at stopping wideouts short of the sticks. If he does re-sign with Houston, Joseph will need to accept less than the $7.3MM annual salary he earned under his previous contract, per Wilson, who adds Joseph would also likely see a reduced role in the Texans’ secondary.
  • With Kam Chancellor‘s status for the 2018 season in doubt, the Seahawks have discussed moving cornerback DeShawn Shead to safety, reports Brady Henderson of ESPN.com. Shead is a free agent, so Seattle would have to re-sign him if it wants him to play safety, but the club clearly has interest in retaining him. A 15-game starter as recently as 2015, Shead tore his ACL in January 2016 and took awhile to recover. Two surgeries later, Shead is hitting the free agent market after appearing in only two contests a season ago. Fellow reserve defensive back Bradley McDougald is also a pending free agent, so the Seahawks will need to work to retain their secondary depth this offseason.
  • Although the Broncos would prefer to re-sign linebacker Todd Davis, they will likely allow him to gauge his value on the open market, general manager John Elway told reporters, including Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post (Twitter link). The Broncos plan to meet with the representatives for both Davis and fellow linebacker Corey Nelson on Saturday, per Jhabala. Davis, for his part, has started 29 games for Denver over the past two seasons. Now 25 years old, Davis graded as the No. 34 linebacker among 87 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.