October 24th, 2017 at 5:10pm CST by Dallas Robinson
The Buccaneers have agreed to sign free agent defensive end Darryl Tapp, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link).
Tampa Bay is dealing with several injuries along its defensive line, the most severe of which may be to edge rusher Noah Spence, who left Sunday’s contest with a shoulder injury and will likely miss an extended period of time. Ryan Russell is also coming back from a shoulder issue, while veteran Robert Ayers is managing a knee injury (and was able to play in Week 7).
Tapp, 33, has already had multiple stints with the division rival Saints in 2017, but hasn’t actually played a down for New Orleans since last season. He’s been more or less a rotational defensive end since 2009 (with his best and most productive years coming as a starter for the Seahawks in 2007-08), and that’s likely the role he’ll play for the Buccaneers. Tapp, who has 162 career appearances under his belt, will play behind Ayers, William Gholston, and Will Clarke in Tampa.
Cincinnati will go with a youth movement along its offensive line, both in the starting lineup and further down the depth chart. Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher are the club’s starting tackles, while youngsters such as Christian Westerman and J.J. Dielman should make the roster. Winston, the NFLPA president, appeared in all 16 games for the Bengals a season ago, but started only two contests.
Gilberry, meanwhile, originally signed with the Lions last year but found his way back to the Bengals at midseason. The 32-year-old ultimately played in five games for Cincinnati. Rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis, plus trade acquisition Chris Smith, will take over backup edge rushing responsibilities in the Queen City.
The latest contract details, most of which come via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle:
Quarterback Case Keenum‘s one-year, $2MM pact with the Vikings features $750K in guarantees. There’s also a $250K signing bonus, $250K in incentives and $46,875 in per game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
Bengals defensive end Wallace Gilberry‘s accord is worth $1.4MM, including a $300K signing bonus and a $100K workout bonus. He could make another $500K via sack incentives and $6,250 in per game active roster bonuses (Twitter link).
Running back Tim Hightower‘s one-year deal with the 49ers is worth $1.107MM, including $300K guaranteed, Tom Pelissero of USA Today tweets. He can earn an extra $400K in incentives for rushing yards.
Tight end Gavin Escobar‘s one-year Chiefs contract is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $855K, including $95K fully guaranteed. It also comes with an $80K signing bonus (Twitter link).
Lions linebacker Nick Bellore also inked a minimum salary benefit contract. Like Escobar, Bellore’s contract includes an $80K signing bonus (Twitter link).
Gilberry joined the Lions prior to the 2016 season and was slated to be a situational pass rusher in Detroit. After four games, he was sidelined by an abdominal injury. Detroit subsequently placed him on IR before releasing him midway through the season. When he hit the open market, the Bengals brought him back to Cincinnati.
In his first Bengals stint from 2012-15, he started in 19 games for the team and recorded 16.5 sacks with Cincinnati. Last year, he appeared in five games for the Bengals and tacked on another 2.5 sacks. For his career, Gilberry has 34 sacks across nine NFL seasons.
All of the Bengals’ free agent defensive linemen from this offseason are now spoken for, in one fashion or another. Domata Peko left for the Broncos and Margus Hunt signed with the Colts, but Gilberry will stay thanks to today’s deal.
The initial wave of NFL free agency is now complete, and while many of the league’s top available players are now off the board, there are still plenty of quality options still on the open market.
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 2017:
The pass rushing market has been completely depleted during the first week of free agency, as 14 of our original top 15 edge players have now been franchised, signed, or, in the case of DeMarcus Ware, retired. As such, a 37-year-old with 15 NFL seasons under his belt is now the best pass rusher on the market. Dwight Freeney played on roughly a third of the Falcons’ defensive snaps in 2016, and posted three sacks and 18 hurries. Capable of playing in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, Freeney can still help out a club on the cheap.
Three players on this list — Elvis Dumervil, Connor Barwin, and Eugene Sims — were released by their respective clubs last week, meaning they won’t count against the compensatory formula if and when they’re signed. Dumervil, now 33, was hampered by injuries last season but still earned strong pass-rushing marks from Pro Football Focus. Barwin, meanwhile, wasn’t a good fit in Jim Schwartz‘s 4-3 defense, but he should flourish if he signs with a team running a 3-4 look. So far, he’s met with the Bengals (who use a 4-3) and Rams (3-4).
Although top-flight players such as Calais Campbell and Brandon Williams have already been signed, the crop of interior defenders remains strong at the top. The buzz around Johnathan Hankins has been virtually non-existent, as the only club that’s been even tangentially linked to the 25-year-old is the Redskins. He’s one of the youngest free agents on the market, and therefore is probably looking for a massive payday. But the lack of interest around Hankins may be an indication that he’s simply asking for too much money.
The same issue could be surrounding Dontari Poe, although he’s not wanting for meetings around the league. He’s visited with the Colts, Falcons, Jaguars, and Dolphins, while the 49ers and Raiders also reportedly have some level of interest. Clubs may have concerns about Poe’s lingering back issues, and he might have to accept a one-year deal in order to prove he’s healthy and willing to provide full effort.
While players at other defensive positions have flown off the board, there’s been almost no movement among off-ball linebackers. Only five of PFR’s original top-15 free agent linebackers have signed new contracts, a group that includes Dont’a Hightower, our previous No. 1 ‘backer who re-signed with the Patriots today. Zach Brown, who now holds that honor, broke out in his fifth NFL campaign and played especially well in coverage, a skill that should lead to a handsome reward. Brown, 27, met with the Raiders today, while the Dolphins also hope to schedule a visit.
The Bengals, specifically, are in the linebackermarket, as they’ve met with both Kevin Minter and Keenan Robinson in recent days. But the rest of the players on this list aren’t drawing much interest as of yet, a fact that speaks to the devaluation of the linebacker position. Teams will pay up for a three-down linebacker like Hightower, but if a player can be formation-ed off the field, he’s not going to land a hefty deal.
One linebacker who did prove he could stay on the field on third down was Perry Riley, who played 370 coverage snaps for the Raiders last season. Riley is still only 28 years old, but posted awful marks from Pro Football Focus during his previous campaigns with Washington. Whether it was Oakland’s scheme (including its talented pass rushers) that allowed Riley to flourish, or a true breakout coming in the middle of a career, Riley could help a number of clubs. The Raiders are reportedly working to bring him back.
The top two corners still on the open market are both former Cowboys, and Brandon Carr looks like the surer bet to return to Dallas at this point. Morris Claiborne, meanwhile, has drawn interest from the Ravens, and most opposing clubs believe he’ll end up signing with Baltimore. Clairborne, 27, appeared to be a prime overpay candidate heading into the offseason, but if the Ravens can land him on a short-term deal, they’d be making a wise investment.
Now that all charges have been dropped against Darrelle Revis, he’ll make for an interesting test case in free agency. Clearly, Revis is not the shutdown corner he once was, and may even be mulling a move to safety as he closes his career. But clubs in the market for secondary help could do worse than Revis, and he should be on a roster when the regular season rolls around.
Most of the safeties on this list are in-the-box types — that’s thanks to the fact that center field-esque safeties are more rare and thus more expensive. Recently-released veterans such as Jairus Byrd, Lardarius Webb, and Corey Graham, however, offer coverage ability and would make for decent signings on short pacts. T.J. McDonald and Bradley McDougald, on other hand, are big hitters that will patrol near the line of scrimmage. McDougald, specifically, will take a visit with the Seahawks this week.
Chris Prosinski is just a special teamer, but he’s a great special teamer. While he only played 173 defensive snaps in 2016, he saw time on more than 80% of the Bears’ special teams plays, and was listed as one of the season’s best special teams players by Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus. Football Outsiders ranked the Cardinals, Jets, and Texans as the bottom-three teams in special teams DVOA, and any of those clubs would benefit from adding Prosinski.
Demand is not high for placekickers at the moment, as only the Giants and Bengals stand out as clubs that immediately need a kicker. Injuries and ineffectiveness are sure to strike the position, however, at which point the specialists on this list will surely receive calls. Dan Carpenter and Mike Nugent missed a combined 11 extra points in 2016, and given that he topped both Carpenter and Nugent in field goal percentage, Nick Folk should be the first kicker on clubs’ emergency list.
Gilberry auditioned for the Bengals during their bye week workouts and made a good impression on coaches. Fullback Marcel Reece, defensive tackle Jordan Hill, and tight end Justice Cunningham also showed their stuff for the Bengals on Wednesday.
Gilberry joined the Lions this offseason and was being used as a situational pass rusher. After four games, he was sidelined by an abdominal injury. Detroit subsequently placed him on IR before releasing him on Oct. 11. Before that, the 31-year-old played for the Bengals from 2012-15, starting in 19 games for the team and recording 16.5 of his 35.5 career sacks with Cincinnati.
Since hitting the free agent market, Marcel Reece has yet to find a taker to give him a second chance. But several teams have been interested, with the Bengals being the latest after working out the veteran fullback today, Doug Kyed of NESN.com tweets.
Cut by the Raiders on the heels of his PED suspension ending in September, the eighth-year fullback worked out for the Patriots and Jets over the past five weeks but has not played this season. The 31-year-old Reece made the Pro Bowl from 2012-14 and was a consistent outlet option for Derek Carr and previous Raiders passers during his time in Oakland.
Cincinnati does not employ a traditional fullback presently but does house four tight ends.
Gilberry signed a one-year deal with the Lions this offseason but was cut last month. The 31-year-old pass-rusher played for the Bengals from 2012-15, starting in 19 games for the team and recording 16.5 of his 35.5 career sacks with Cincinnati. He’s played in four games this season, starting one.
The Seahawks auditioned defensive end Wallace Gilberry, per Caplan (Twitter link). Gilberry was released off the Lions’ injured reserve earlier in October.
The Lions worked out offensive guards Jake Bernstein and Isame Faciane before signing fellow OG Matt Rotheram to their practice squad, tweets Balzer. Faciane was cut by the Vikings following a DUI arrest earlier this month.
October 11th, 2016 at 6:24pm CST by Dallas Robinson
Today’s minor moves:
The Lions waived linebacker Steve Longa and released defensive end Wallace Gilberry from the reserve/injured list, Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com tweets. Gilberry, 32 in December, has posted 31.5 career sacks.
The Giants have promoted linebacker Deontae Skinner from their practice squad, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). To open a roster spot, New York waived defensive tackle Montori Hughes.
In need of a roster opening after claiming cornerback Dwayne Gratz, the Rams have waived defensive lineman Morgan Cox, per Gary Myers of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link).
The Lions announced that they have claimed Armonty Bryant off waivers from the Browns. Cleveland waived the defensive end earlier this week.
Bryant, 26, is slated to return from suspension this week. The Browns gave everyone in the football world a mild surprise by waiving the defensive lineman just before he was eligible to play. Coach Hue Jackson has spoken at length about prioritizing character and it’s possible that Bryant’s off-the-field indiscretions led to his release.
Bryant was arrested in December 2015 when he was found with Adderall but without a prescription. To make room for Bryant, Detroit placed fellow defensive lineman Wallace Gilberryon injured reserve.