Tre Boston

DB Notes: Roby, Boston, Berry

Earlier today, the Texans agreed to sign former Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby to a one-year, $10MM deal. It sounds like the 27-year-old may have left some longer deals on the table, as the defensive back told Mike Klis of 9News in Denver that he turned down a three-year offer from the Steelers and a one-year offer from the 49ers. Roby said that the Browns were also in the mix (Twitter link).

“It’s a prove it deal,” Roby explained. “I feel like I should go back in (the market) while I’m still young.”

Roby left Denver after spending five years with the organization, and it sounds like the veteran holds a bit of a grudge against his former team.

“It’s a business. Denver didn’t want me, they wanted someone else,” Roby said, with the cornerback referring to the team’s acquisition of Kareem Jackson (Twitter link). “No, they tried to word it nice – they were talking about it but they didn’t offer. They got the guy they wanted.”

Let’s check out some more notes revolving around the league’s defensive backs…

  • Free agent safety Tre Boston doesn’t expect to sign a deal right away, with the 26-year-old telling ESPN’s Josina Anderson that he expects to be in the “second wave” of safety signings (Twitter link). Boston said that three teams have already reached out to express preliminary interest, including the Raiders. However, following the team’s agreement with Lamarcus Joyner, it’s uncertain if they’ll still have interest. Boston spent the 2018 campaign with the Cardinals, compiling 79 tackles, nine passes defended, and three interceptions.
  • Could the Chiefs signing of Tyrann Mathieu spell the end of Eric Berry‘s tenure with the organization? Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio thinks so, as the writer can’t envision the organization paying a combined $27MM for the two players. Considering Berry’s recent injury issues, this isn’t a particularly hot take, but it’s worth noting that the Chiefs will have to make a decision relatively soon. As Florio tweets, another $7.25 million of Berry’s contract will become guaranteed on March 15th.
  • A number of safeties earned large paydays yesterday, which was a significant difference from last offseason. CBS Sports’ Brady Quinn explained why safeties were the bigger winner during the NFL’s first day of the legal tampering period.

NFC Notes: Vikings, Panthers, Jones, Tate, Boston

Following the tragic and unexpected death of offensive line coach Tony Sparano this week, the Vikings have made some adjustments to their coaching staff. Ben Goessling of the Star Tribune reports (via Twitter) that the team will names Clancy Barone and Andrew Janocko co-coaches for the offensive line.

Barone, who’s been working in the NFL since 2004, was the Vikings tight ends coach last season. With the reorganization of the coaching staff, senior offensive assistant (and former Raiders offensive coordinator) Todd Downing will take on the tight ends gig. Meanwhile, Janocko had previously served as the team’s assistant offensive line coach.

NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport notes (via Twitter) that the team had also pursued former Vikings head coach Mike Tice for the offensive line job. We heard back in February that the 59-year-old was eyeing retirement.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Panthers right tackle Daryl Williams appeared to suffer a serious knee injury during practice today, writes Bryan Strickland of the team’s website. The 25-year-old reportedly went down following a “non-contact injury,” and he was later carted off the field. “He’s being evaluated,” said head coach Ron Rivera. “They’ll send him up to Charlotte where he can be closely looked at, and we’ll go from there. I’m not sure. I just know they’re going to take him up and evaluate him later today…Daryl is a solid young man, and he’s a big part of what we do. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.” If the 2017 second-team All-Pro ends up missing time, Rivera said 2017 second-round pick Taylor Moton will be given the chance to earn the starting gig.
  • Julio Jones saw several adjustments to his contract before reporting to Falcons training camp, writes Michael Davis Smith of ProFootballTalk.com. The star wideout will now earn a $4.4MM signing bonus thanks to his revised deal, while his 2018 and 2019 base salaries were reduced to $1.5MM and $2.9MM, respectively.
  • Lions wideout Golden Tate is entering the final season of his five-year, $31MM deal that was signed back in 2014. While the 29-year-old shouldn’t anticipate a similar payday as Brandin Cooks or Sammy Watkins, he’s still hoping the organization has some leftover money to keep him around. “I hope there’s some (money) left,” Tate told Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press“Congratulations to all those guys who’ve gotten big deals. They definitely deserve it. I mean, all those players like Cooks and Sammy, they’re all hell of players. Who else? The guy who used to be in Chicago? Alshon (Jeffery). He got a payday, too. So congratulations to all those guys. I hope everyone who plays this game has an opportunity to earn a big payday. I’m happy for them.” Tate had another productive season in 2017, hauling in 92 receptions for 1,003 yards and five touchdowns.
  • We heard earlier this week that Tre Boston‘s deal with the Cardinals was worth $1.5MM (although this could be increased to $3MM). However, Pro Football Talk reports that the safety’s deal only contains $800K in guaranteed money. The deal also includes a number of incentives, including per-game bonuses, playing time bonuses, and Pro Bowl/statistical bonuses. The 26-year-old had a productive season for the Chargers last season, compiling 79 tackles, eight passes defended, and five interceptions in 16 games (15 starts).

NFC West Notes: Cardinals, Boston, Rams

The Cardinals‘ one-year deal with free agent safety Tre Boston is worth just $1.5M, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). However, Boston can earn up to $3MM if he hits certain requirements and incentives.

These last five months probably felt like five years for Boston as he lingered on the open market. Like other veteran safeties, he found that interested teams were only willing to offer him deals at or near the minimum salary as they preferred younger and cheaper options in the draft.

The good news for Boston is that he may be able to reestablish his value with a strong year in Arizona. The Cardinals tend to employ sets with three safeties on the field, so he’ll have a chance to shine as he mans center field.

Here’s more from the NFC West:

  • Are the Rams concerned about giving Aaron Donald big money? Mike Florio of PFT wonders aloud if the Rams are wary of paying Donald only to watch him take his foot off of the gas, like other defensive tackles have done before him. Most notably, former standout Albert Haynesworth tanked after signing a $100MM deal with the Redskins.
  • Todd Gurley‘s new $57.5MM extension with the Rams is a rarity in the NFL, Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap writes. That’s because Gurley’s new contract represents a 74% uptick over the second highest paid running back in the NFL and a 110% increase over the fifth highest paid RB. The last player to sign a deal like this was Ndamukong Suh and that was as an unrestricted free agent and his increases were closer to 50% and 75%, respectively. Fitzgerald also believes that the Rams’ ill-fated extension with Tavon Austin hurt their leverage with Gurley.
  • On Thursday, the Seahawks formally placed retired safety Kam Chancellor on the PUP list and released 2017 second-round pick Malik McDowell.

Cardinals Sign Tre Boston

The Cardinals have signed veteran safety Tre Boston to a one-year deal, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Boston’s signing indicates (at last) movement in the free agent safety market, which had been incredibly stagnant since free agency opened back in March. While players such as Kurt Coleman and Tyrann Mathieu received contracts early in the free agent process, other defensive backs like Boston have failed to land deals. At present, free agent safeties Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro are still unsigned.

Boston met with the Colts and Cardinals earlier this summer, and while he wasn’t happy with the outcome of his Indianapolis meeting, Arizona reportedly “rolled out the red carpet” for the 26-year-old. That initial impression probably didn’t hurt the Cardinals’ chances of landing Boston, and his experience with head coach Steve Wilks — who was the Panthers’ defensive backs coach during Boston’s time in Carolina — likely also contributed to his landing in Arizona.

The Cardinals spent time with former Steelers safety Mike Mitchell earlier today, but they’ve instead chosen Boston, who is not only younger, but a better player by almost any measure. In 2017, Boston’s first and only year with the Chargers, he started 15 games and posted a career-high five interceptions. Pro Football Focus graded Boston as the NFL’s No. 30 safety, lauding his pass defense skills but denigrating his run defense.

Boston’s poor run-game work shouldn’t make much of a difference in Arizona, where the Cardinals often play three-safety sets. With Antoine Bethea and Budda Baker available to play closer to the line of scrimmage, Boston will likely spend most of his time in a center field role.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Tre Boston On Cardinals, Colts Visits

Tre Boston‘s recent visit to the Cardinals yielded a contract offer. However, it was a “very, very disrespectful” one, according to the safety (Twitter links via SiriusXM). 

The Cardinals “rolled out the red carpet” for Boston late last month, but the end result was a deal that he found insulting. Meanwhile, his visit with the Colts might not have been serious at all.

I didn’t meet with the GM, head coach or defensive coordinator,” Boston said of his visit to Indy. “I was in the lunch room for two hours. I even got to play basketball.”

Like several other veteran safeties, Boston finds himself in limbo this summer. He finds the situation frustrating, to say the least.

It’s kinda rough man, they got us where they think they want us,” Boston said. “For us, we have to communicate with each other so we don’t take this minimum wage.”

The longer things drag on, the more likely it is that Boston and his fellow safeties will have to accept minimum wage deals. Tyvon Branch, Ron Parker, Eric Reid, and Kenny Vaccaro are also among the safeties without contracts as we head into July.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

There are still plenty of impact free agents left on the board, including some big names. Here’s a look at some of the high-profile veterans that are still looking for work in advance of training camp: 

Kaepernick probably stands as the most talented quarterback left on the open market, but his ongoing collusion case against the NFL complicated matters. It seems unlikely that he’ll land anywhere between now and the start of the season, but friend and former teammate Eric Reid probably has a better chance of signing somewhere, despite being in a similar boat. Recently, the duo was spotted working out together in California.

It seems like just yesterday that Murray was the league’s most fearsome running back. Unfortunately, Murray’s age has caught up to him to some extent and he was overshadowed last year in Tennessee by the younger Derrick HenryThe Titans dropped Murray in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the LionsSeahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Recently, the Saints tried to include Murray in their cattle call for running backs, but he declined the invite.

Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. It’s possible that Murray and Peterson won’t sign unless a running back injury opens up an opportunity for them. Teams could also steer clear of Peterson altogether given his desire for a starring role despite his lack of star performance over the last two years.

Bryant is the biggest name on this list, but we shouldn’t expect to see him sign anywhere until July. There have been conflicting reports on his market, but the latest word indicates that he is receiving interest, despite concerns about his demeanor in the locker room.

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The Best Remaining NFL Free Agents

The biggest names in this year’s free agent class such as Kirk Cousins, Sammy Watkins, Allen Robinson, and Trumaine Johnson have long been spoken for, but plenty of notable players remain on the board here in June. With a hat tip to James Palmer of NFL.com (on Twitter), here’s a look at some high-profile veterans who are still seeking work this summer: 

Of course, Kaepernick’s situation is more complicated than the rest. Lately, the only updates we’ve heard regarding Kaepernick have been tied to his pending collusion case against the NFL. Former teammate Reid is certainly closer to the NFL radar after an April meeting with the Bengals, but he also believes teams are shying away from him due to his participation in anthem protests. Reid filed a grievance of his own against the NFL in May and has been spotted working out with Kaepernick.

Unfortunately for Murray and Peterson, filing a grievance for age bias against running backs is not an option. The Titans kicked Murray to the curb in March and he has not found a new NFL home despite meeting with the Lions, Seahawks, and Dolphins since his release. Peterson has lobbied the Texans, Saints, Packers, Panthers, Dolphins, and Rams to sign him, but we have yet to hear of any reciprocated interest from those clubs. Given Peterson’s reluctance to be on the lower end of a timeshare in New Orleans last year, one has to imagine that Peterson will not be a real consideration for teams unless a starter gets injured in camp. Murray could be a more attractive option for teams. Although he averaged just 3.6 yards per tote with the Titans last year, he contributed in the passing game with 39 receptions.

Bryant says he has no regrets about turning down a three-year, $21MM offer from the Ravens, but right now it looks like he blew his opportunity at a solid free agent deal. Reportedly, many teams are unwilling to consider him for even the league minimum, so it seems unlikely that he’ll find the lucrative one-year contract he’s seeking. On the plus side, his former employer says multiple teams have checked in on him.

Things have been eerily quiet for Maclin after he was displaced by the Ravens, though the Eagles and Cowboys considered him internally in the spring. We also haven’t heard a peep about Decker since his spring meetings with the Raiders and Ravens. Both players are roughly in the same boat – they were 1,000-yard receivers in 2015, but they are on the wrong side of 30 and haven’t done much on the field in the last two years. Still, both profile as low-risk/high-reward signings.

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Cardinals Meet With Tre Boston

Boston to Arizona? On Wednesday afternoon, the Cardinals will meet with free agent safety Tre Boston, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). Josina Anderson of ESPN.com (Twitter link) first reported that Boston was en route to Arizona. 

The Cardinals intend to use safety Budda Baker at nickelback in certain packages, helping to fill the void left by Tyrann Mathieu‘s departure. In those instances, Boston could help hold down the fort at safety.

The Raiders, Browns, and Giants expressed interest in Boston back in March, but we haven’t heard much on that front in recent weeks. The Colts met with Boston about two weeks ago, but he left Indianapolis without a deal.

The market has been painfully slow for free agent safeties this year. In addition to Boston, longtime starters Kenny Vaccaro and Eric Reid are also unemployed as of this writing.

Last year, Boston had to settle for a one-year deal with the Chargers. He was hoping to land a multi-year deal this year, but at this point it looks like he’ll have to settle for yet another platform contract.

In 2017, Boston started in 15 of his 16 games for the Chargers and totaled 79 tackles with eight passes defensed. Heading into the start of free agency in March, we had Boston ranked as the third-best safety available.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Who Will Be Next FA Safety To Sign?

The slow development of the safety market has been one of the major storylines of the offseason, and while there are a number of reasons as to why some of the top available players at the position remain unsigned, it is still surprising to see players of their ilk without work at this point in the league year. Indeed, three of PFR’s top 10 remaining defensive free agents are safeties, and we would like to know which one you think will be the first to sign with a club.

Our top-rated defensive player still available, Eric Reid, could be having difficulty fining a team because of his history of protesting the national anthem. Indeed, the only team that has brought him in for a visit, the Bengals, asked him about his plans in that regard moving forward. But Reid’s fellow free agent safeties on our Top-10 list, Tre Boston and Kenny Vaccaro, have not made the same public stances — though Boston was fairly outspoken following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a Charlotte police officer two years ago — and they haven’t had any better luck, so it could be his status as a safety, more so than his status as a political activist, that is dampening Reid’s market.

Of course, Reid himself feels differently, and he has filed a collusion grievance against the NFL. That will surely not help his cause, but on the field, Reid is a solid and versatile player capable of playing either defensive back or linebacker. His skillset would fit nicely on a team like the Cardinals or Buccaneers.

Boston, meanwhile, has drawn interest from a number of clubs, and he is coming off the best season of his career. He is far from a perfect player, but he does have the ability to play deep safety, and he picked off five passes for the Chargers in 2017. He appeared to be coming into his own after being released by the Panthers last year, and while he is not great in coverage, he has shown that he can at least be serviceable in that regard. He is also a capable pass rusher.

Vaccaro, on the other hand, was terrible in coverage in 2017, but he has shown the ability to line up at safety or at slot corner in his career, and he could theoretically play linebacker in sub-packages as well. He recently met with the Colts, and two weeks ago we heard that he was going to meet with the Jets, though it is unclear whether his summit with Gang Green has actually happened yet. He met with the Dolphins earlier in the offseason, but after the Fins used their first-round pick on Minkah Fitzpatrick, they are probably no longer interested in Vaccaro.

Again, these three players are not without flaws, particularly in coverage, and with the league moving further and further away from traditional in-the-box safeties, maybe we shouldn’t be as shocked that they remain without work. After all, younger players on rookie contracts frequently offer a strong presence in the run game while they work on their coverage skills, so it could be that teams just don’t want to pony up the cash for a veteran to do the work that a less experienced player can do.

Presumably, however, Boston or Vaccaro will eventually find a new team, and Reid may as well, despite his grievance. Let us know which of them you think will sign first, or if you think another safety like Corey Graham will get a chance before they do. We’d also like you to explain your choice in the comments section and let us know what you believe is holding up the safety market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Rams, Manziel, Eagles, Colts

The majority of the 2018 NFL Draft class is now signed, but that’s not the case in Los Angeles. The Rams have yet to sign a single pick.

Should fans be concerned? To put it simply, no.

This isn’t new to the team, as Michael David Smith of PFT writes, as it likes to address financial planning with its players before giving them a large signing bonus. Like in years past, the Rams rookies will all generally sign at once sometime in the next few weeks.

“One of the things that we think is important with that is bringing the rookies in as a group, having them live together as a group, and not having any real differentiation between the first-round pick and the undrafted rookie,” Demoff said. “They’re in the hotel together. They’re eating meals together. They’re doing things together. And then [by the time] they all scatter, we’ll sign their contracts. They’ll leave knowing the contract’s done, so they don’t have to worry about that headache when they go on vacation.”

So no need to panic Rams fans. This is par for the course.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • The Eagles signed running back Matt Jones earlier in the week. The Philly Voice’s Jimmy Kempski has the details at two years for $1.5MM, none of which are guaranteed (Twitter link). He joins a crowded backfield that includes Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles.
  • The Colts have had visits from Kenny Vaccaro, Tre Boston and Bashaud Breeland in recent days. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star tweets, however, the meetings were merely informational and no signings are imminent.
  • And we’ll also make pitstop in the CFL, where Johnny Manziel is not guaranteed to start for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith writes. Smith quotes head coach June Jones, who praised current starter and former Oregon standout Jeremiah Masoli. “Let me tell you something right now, he’s got his work ahead of him to beat out Jeremiah,” Jones said of Manziel. “He’s got a lot to catch up on, but he’ll spend the time to get that done. I know he will because he’s already learned that lesson.” Though Masoli has the leg up, it won’t be long before Manziel is given the reins, given he can stay out of trouble.