If this is your first visit, be sure to
check out the FAQ by clicking the
link above. You may have to register
before you can post: click the register link above to proceed. To start viewing messages,
select the forum that you want to visit from the selection below.
Peyton Manning Medically Cleared, Headed for Free Agency
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
Long time Colts QB Peyton Manning will hit the free agent market.
It looks like Peyton Manning's storied career will continue in a city other than Indianapolis.
Earlier in the day, Manning was cleared for all football related activities by a team of medical specialists. He was seen throwing and appeared to be in good health. His throws had velocity and were on target, and he showed no ill effects from the neck surgery that knocked him out for the 2011 season.
In the afternoon, he met with Colts management and was informed that the team would not be picking up his $28 million dollar option, making him an unrestricted free agent.
Manning immediately becomes the top free agent QB and one of the top free agents overall. With his new clean bill of health, Manning figures to have a long list of suitors lining up for his services.
Manning was not available for comment but his agent indicated that a good situation on a contending team would be just as important to his client as the money the team is offering.
His story will just be one of many to follow in what is sure to be an interesting offseason.
No Franchise Tag for Mario Williams
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
Best free agent ever?
Team sources with the Houston Texans have announced today that they will not apply the franchise tag to pass rusher Mario Williams.
Williams is slated to hit unrestricted free agency and figures to be one of the most highly coveted free agents of all time. And this is despite the fact that he missed much of the 2011 season with an injury.
Williams is reportedly working out hard and is showing no ill effects from the injury.
He hasn't expressed a preference in any particular team thus far, but that is sure to change in the coming weeks as teams make him their finest offers.
Players Likely to be Franchise Tagged
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
Staying with their teams?
The franchise tag is a useful tool for NFL franchises, allowing them to keep one player a year on a salary equal to the five highest paid players at their positions.
Players generally dislike getting stuck with the tag, preferring instead for a long term deal that typically comes with a large guaranteed signing bonus and a commitment from the team longer than one season.
Regardless of your feelings on the tag, we're sure to see it applied plenty this upcoming offseason. Here are a look at some of the players who will most likely be seeing the tag used on them:
TE Jermichael Finley - Packers - Finley is easily the best TE available on the market currently, and in a league where the TE position is as valuable as ever, the Packers really can't afford to let him go. Despite his penchant for drops and occasional asinine post-play antics, look for the Packers to apply the tag to Finley. Likelihood: High
DE Cliff Avril - Lions - While both parties would certainly like to work out a long term deal, the amount of money the Lions have tied up in other places on the d-line make further investments there unlikely. Instead, look for them to apply the tag to Avril, one of the better up-and-coming pass rushers available on the market. Likelihood: High
RB Matt Forte - Bears - Matt Forte showed that he is one of the best all-around players at the RB position last season before injuring his knee. With little else to get excited about on the offensive side of the ball, the Bears absolutely have to keep Forte, even if it means applying the franchise tag. Likelihood: Extreme
LB EJ Henderson - Vikings - With a rebuilding team like the Vikings, you don't often see the team applying the franchise tag as the money can be better spent addressing other needs. That said, Henderson is a quality linebacker and the Vikings may be tempted to keep him around another year. Likelihood: Low
OLB Anthony Spencer - Cowboys - While Spencer hasn't been the player the Cowboys expected after drafting him in the first round, team owner Jerry Jones has said that he would like to keep Spencer around, via franchise tag if required. Whether it was simply a bluff or if he actually follows through on it, this will be a situation to keep an eye on. Likelihood: Moderate
WR Desean Jackson - Eagles - Though his attitude problems showed through last season in which he was clearly unhappy with his contract, Jackson still has elite caliber speed and playmaking ability. The Eagles certainly aren't going to let him simply walk away without getting something in return. This may be a likely place where we see a player franchise tagged and then traded. Likelihood: High
TE Fred Davis - Redskins - Despite being suspended for the first 4 games of 2011, Davis returned to the field to put up career highs in receptions and yardage. While not in the elite class of the league's TEs, he is a quality player and one the Redskins would certainly like to keep around. Likelihood: High
QB Drew Brees - Saints - This one is a no brainier. Unless the team works out a long term deal with him in the next few days (the real life team, that is,) Brees will absolutely be franchise tagged in order to keep him in town. No if's, and's or but's about it. Likelihood: Certain
LB Curtis Lofton - Falcons - Even though new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan has said that Lofton will be a "two down player" in his defense, keeping Lofton is still expected to be a priority for the Falcons. Whether that means they will use the franchise tag to ensure that he stays remains to be seen. CB Brent Grimes is another possibility here if the Falcons choose not to keep a two down linebacker.Likelihood: Low
S Dashon Goldson - 49ers - In a year of many pleasant surprises for the 49ers, Goldson was easily one of the best. He played a pro-bowl caliber all season and is a guy the team would certainly like to keep around. The franchise number for safeties isn't too bad and franchising him would allow the team to keep a vital part of its defense in-tact. It was a tough choice between Goldson and CB Carlos Rogers, and either could be the pick in actuality. Likelihood: High
RB Marshawn Lynch - Seahawks - Lynch is coming off of his best season as a pro and was a huge part of the Seahawks offense. Keeping him around needs to be priority #1 for the Seahawks, as 25 year old backs coming off of 1200 yard seasons aren't easy to find on the open market. Likelihood: Extreme
DE Calais Campbell - Cardinals - Campbell has quietly become one of the league's best defensive lineman, posting 3 straight excellent seasons. he has freakish size and athleticism and is a vital piece of their defense. Look for the Cardinals to rush their franchise tag announcement on Campbell into the league office. Likelihood: Extreme
RB Ray Rice - Baltimore - Like Matt Forte above, Ray Rice is one of the best all-around backs in the league and is a huge part of the Ravens offense (when Cam Cameron actually thinks to use him at least...) The Ravens must do what they have to in order to bring him back, even if that means allowing other quality free agents like Ben Grubbs and Jarret Johnson to hit the market.
WR Mike Wallace - Steelers - Right now, you're probably saying "now Rick, he's a restricted free agent, why use the franchise tag?" Well, the highest tender possible for a restricted free agent under the new CBA is a single first round pick, and there are plenty of teams who would gladly give that up for an elite talent like Wallace. If franchise tagged, a team would have to give up two firsts for Wallace, which may scare the other teams off. This move would likely hinder the cash-strapped Steelers from doing anything else in free agency, but it would ensure that they keep one of their most talented offensive players around for at least another year. Likelihood - Moderate (Because the team may choose to gamble on just using his RFA tender.)
LB D'Qwell Jackson - Browns - After missing most of the 2009 and 2010 seasons with injury, Jackson returned to action with the Browns in 2011 and played like one of the league's best linebackers. If not for Matt Stafford, Jackson would likely have been a shoo-in for Comeback Player of the Year. The franchise number for linebackers isn't too bad and the Browns may wish to see Jackson play for another year to see if he can stay healthy and keep up the level of play he displayed in 2011. Likelihood: Moderate
WR Wes Welker - Patriots - Despite the rumors that Welker could hold out if he gets franchise tagged, the Patriots are almost certainly going to apply the tag. Welker is a unique talent and perfectly suited for the Patriots offense as a slot WR. However, his production could likely be matched by a group effort of the teams excellent TEs and other WRs if the Patriots instead wanted to use this money to lure in a true #1 WR...it will be an interesting situation to watch. Likelihood: High
WR Stevie Johnson - Bills - Though Johnson is not without his issues, the fact remains that he's easily the best WR the Bills have had in quite some time. While he may not deserve the "top 5 WR in the league" the franchise tag would give him, it may be well worth it to the Bills to try keeping him around for at least another year. Likelihood: Moderate
RB Arian Foster - Texans - While only a restricted free agent, it may be well worth it to the Texans to apply the franchise tag to Foster for the same reasons as mentioned for Mike Wallace above. Foster is an incredible talent and has been one of the best performing RBs of the past two seasons. With the team already saying they won't franchise tag Mario Williams, it frees them up to potentially consider this move here. Likelihood: Moderate
S Michael Griffin - Titans - It was between Griffin and CB Cortland Finnegan, but the fact that Finnegan has a nasty reputation for his behavior and the Titans have other quality corners already on the roster made me lean towards Griffin. The league doesn't have many top level talents at safety right now, and though Griffin struggles with inconsistency, the team is better off with him than without him. Likelihood: Moderate
DE Jeremy Mincey - Jacksonville - While not a household name, (how many Jaguar players are though?,) Mincey was the Jags top pass rusher last season registering 8 sacks. With a decent amount of cap room, it may be worthwhile to apply the tag and keep him around for another year to see if he can follow it up with another good performance. Likelihood: Moderate
DT Brodrick Bunkley - Broncos - Outside of DRotY Von Miller, the Broncos defense has primarily lackluster talent around the rest of the defense. Bunkely was one of the other bright spots as the team's best run stuffer on the inside, and may be worth applying the tag to in order to maintain a little consistency. Likelihood: Low
C Nick Hardwick - Chargers - Hardwick has been the Chargers most consistent offensive lineman the past two seasons, starting every game and playing at a relatively high level. With questions about the futures of Marcus McNeil and Kris Dielman up in the air due to injury, keeping Hardwick will go a long way towards keeping some consistency on the o-line in front of Philip Rivers. Likelihood: Moderate
S Tyvon Branch - Raiders - This may be difficult for the cash strapped Raiders to do, but if they want to franchise someone, Branch would be an excellent choice. Branch is one of the league's best in-the-box strong safeties, racking up triple digit tackles in each of the last three seasons. It is uncertain whether the Raiders in their first year under a new regime would want to spend the money required to keep him via the franchise tag though. Likelihood: Low
WR Dwayne Bowe - Chiefs - This is one of the "no brainer" moves. Bowe is an excellent WR, managing an 1100 yard season in 2011 despite the extreme inconsistency at QB for the Chiefs. If the Chiefs let him hit the market, teams will be lining up to dump money on Bowe and the Chiefs cannot allow that to happen. Likelihood: Extreme
Salary Cap Situation Evaluations
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
Teams with the most money to spend.
The 2012 offseason will be unique in that it will be the first in which teams are allowed to carry over cap space from the previous season. This is a new addition in the most recent CBA which should lead to plenty of money being available to sign free agents.
These are the team that, with their cap space combined, will be the biggest players on the free agent market. Each has the cap space to sign multiple top free agents (or use the franchise tag without much risk) with some maneuvering room left over to sign some lesser guys later on:
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Denver Broncos
- Tampa Bay Bucs
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Washington Redskins
- Tennessee Titans
- San Francisco 49ers
These are the teams who have enough cap space to sign a top free agent or two with some money left over for some lesser ones. They are also in a good position to use the franchise tag, as they'll still have enough money left over to sign a big free agent or several smaller ones:
- Buffalo Bills
- Seattle Seahawks
- Chicago Bears
- Cleveland Browns
- New England Patriots
- Atlanta Falcons
- Philadelphia Eagles
These are the teams who have some money to spend, but need to be somewhat careful. If they sign a big free agent or use the franchise tag, they won't be left with much room (if any at all.) These teams may wish to cut a few players in order to trim salary and get into a better position to compete for high level free agents:
- Miami Dolphins
- New Orleans Saints
- San Diego Chargers
- Baltimore Ravens
- Arizona Cardinals
- Dallas Cowboys
- Green Bay Packers
- Indianapolis Colts
- Minnesota Vikings
- Houston Texans
These are the teams who are just under or right up against the cap. In order to sign anyone, use the franchise tag, or make trades in which they acquire more salary than they send out, they will need to trim some salary.
- St. Louis Rams
- Carolina Panthers
- NY Jets
- Oakland Raiders
- Detroit Lions
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- NY Giants
(Remember, I set any teams who were over the cap to just under it. They'll still have to make cuts in order to sign anyone, so I think it's fair. I just didn't want anyone to be over the cap to start.)
Under the Radar Free Agents
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
Low key free agents who could be big finds for new teams.
Every year, there are always a few free agents who go under the radar. They aren't talked about much, yet pay huge dividends to the teams that sign them. Think along the lines of Darren Sproles to the Saints last year...these guys, if they fall into the right situation, can give a team a major boost at a relatively low price tag.
CB Terrell Thomas - Giants - Thomas missed all of the 2011 season due to injury and was initially a huge loss for the Giants. Prior to the injury, Thomas had started 33 of the previous 34 teams notching 10 interceptions and forcing 5 fumbles. Due to the injury, Thomas likely won't cost a team more than an incentive laden deal, but if he gets back to pre-injury form, a team could find themselves with a high quality corner.
WR Laurent Robinson - Cowboys - The oft-injured Robinson had bounced around the league for a few years before finally landing in Dallas last year where he really broke out, grabbing 11 TD catches. While his injury history and only one year of success will likely scare off some teams, he looks to be a great pick up for a team looking for a #2 WR option on a budget.
S Thomas DeCoud - Falcons - DeCoud, though somewhat inconsistent, has started all but one game in the past 3 seasons and could be a quality pickup for someone looking to upgrade their secondary. The lack of many top quality safeties in the league makes him a more appealing option than potentially overpaying for someone like a Michael Griffin for instance.
QB Josh Johnson - Bucs - Johnson was seen as a bit of a high-potential project when he was drafted, but never really got much of a chance to show off in Tampa since they immediately drafted Josh Freeman. To a team looking to create a little competition at the QB position, Johnson may be an appealing option who likely won't cost much.
K Connor Barth - Bucs - Barth has improved each of his past 3 seasons in Tampa, with his best year coming in 2011 where he he went 26/28 in FG attempts. Kickers don't generally get that much attention or draw that much money, so Barth could bring some consistency to the kicking position for a team currently without it.
WR Josh Morgan - 49ers - Morgan has good size and speed and improved each of his first three years in the league before getting injured early in 2011. He likely won't cost much and would be a potential upgrade as a #2 WR to a team currently without one.
TE John Carlson - Seahawks - Carlson established himself as a solid, if a bit unspectacular, TE in his first couple seasons in the league but missed all of 2011 due to injury. With the current emphasis on the TE position in the league and the top two options at the position (Jermichael Finley and Fred Davis) expected to be franchise tagged, Carlson could make for an excellent under the radar signing to a TE needy team.
LB David Hawthorne - Seahawks - Hawthorne has quietly put up quality seasons for each of the last 3 years, topping it off in 2011 with his best season yet. Hawthorne is a great option at MLB, possibly even better than the much more heralded Curtis Lofton, and is still young at 26. He could help to greatly improve any rebuilding defense.
RB Mewelde Moore - Steelers - Moore missed some of 2011 due to injury, but is just the type of well rounded "3rd down back" popular in the league today. He's 29 which, paired with the time missed due to injury, will likely keep him from getting too expensive. Any team looking for a 3rd down/change of pace back should definitely take a look.
DE Frostee Rucker - Bengals - While not a great pass rusher, Rucker has a solid build and has proven to be a good 4-3 run stopping DE. These guys don't typically get huge deals, but their impact can be felt by the entire defense. Rucker also has some past off the field issues that could keep interest low.
WR Plaxico Burress - Jets - This may seem like an odd choice, but Burress will be entering his 2nd year out of prison and will likely be in much better football shape this offseason than last. A new team might do well to roll the dice on him, as his size makes him a dangerous jump ball threat and any additional athleticism gained from a 2nd year of workouts will be a major plus.
TE Joel Dreessen - Texans - Dreessen has seen plenty of playing time these last few season as an injury substitute for Owen Daniels and has played moderately well. Much like Carlson above, he could be a solid (and cheap) addition to a TE needy team.
DE Jeremy Mincey - Jags - I mentioned Mincey in my franchise tag article and I'll bring him up again here. There are a number of quality pass rushers available this year (Mario Williams, Robert Mathis, Cliff Avril, etc) but all will likely be fought over and come at high costs. Mincey is coming off of an 8 sack season and could help bring some pass rush to a team at a much cheaper rate. He's a good backup plan for those guys in the very least.
WR Pierre Garcon - Colts - Why Garcon isn't talked about more I'll never know. He's younger (25) than most of the other WRs on the market and is coming off his career best season despite being on a godawful Colts team. I'd look to him even before looking at his older and likely more expensive teammate Reggie Wayne if I needed a WR.
WR Eddie Royal - Broncos - After a fantastic rookie campaign that had many people seeing him as the next big thing at WR, Royal dropped completely off the face of the earth. The offensive systems he was in and the play of his QB certainly didn't help, but a fresh start may be able to respark the magic Royal displayed as a rookie.
RB Mike Tolbert - Chargers - While it's unlikely he has the same level of impact his former teammate in Darren Sproles had last year, Tolbert could be an excellent pickup needing a power back. He had good production splitting carries with Ryan Matthews the last two seasons and is an ideal short-yardage back thanks to his compact size.
QB David Garrard - Formerly Jacksonville - Garrard spent 2011 out of football after being cut before the season and nursing a back injury. His biggest problem is that he was always painfully average...never great, but never particularly bad either. He'd make a great option for a team in need of a veteran stop-gap at QB or a high quality backup.
LB Channing Crowder - Formerly Miami - Crowder also spent 2011 out of football, but is apparently interested in returning in 2012. Crowder isn't too old (28) and was effective as a starter before his abrupt retirement. He could make a solid option for 3-4 team at ILB.
Cardinals Tag Campbell, Release Former First Round Pick Brown
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
Levi Brown cut, Campbell sticking around.
The Arizona Cardinals released a list of transactions today, most notably using their franchise tag on DE Calais Campbell. Campbell has freakish size and athleticism and is a key piece of their defensive front. Both sides would obviously like to work out a long term deal, and the franchise tag amount of over $12 million for a DE will be the starting point.
To create some more cap space, the Cardinals released a number of players including former first round pick OT Levi Brown. The players and the full amounts that will be saved against the cap are as follows:
Levi Brown, OT, $18,225,000
Stewart Bradley, LB, $6,000,000
Todd Heap, TE, $3,375,000
Chansi Stuckey, WR, $2,450,000
Rex Hadnot, C, $2,000,000
Bradley and Heap are also notable in that they were just signed by the team last offseason.
Jaguars Tag Scobee, Release Kampman
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
Scobee franchised, Kampman gone.
The Jaguars official transactions have been been released, showing that they've chosen to apply the franchise tag to K Josh Scobee. The franchise tender for kickers is a relatively low $3 million, which will not hinder the Jaguars too much when it comes to signing other players.
The Jaguars also applied 2nd round RFA tenders to CB William Middleton, DE Leger Douzable, and LB Russell Allen.
Veteran DE Aaron Kampman got the opposite end of the stick, being released. His cut saves the Jaguars around $5 million.
Buffalo GM Buddy Nix said no comment when asked about the rumor Tuesday night. It makes some sense in a way as word spread a few days ago that C.J Spiller wants to be the number one horse in the backfield. Who's to blame him he was electric with the ball in his hands. Spiller didn't see many touches before Jackson got hurt but Jackson was putting up pro bowl numbers. Gaily must find out a way to get them both touches if Fred isnt traded and if he can watch out.
Browns Tag Jackson, Release Steinbach
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
D'Qwell remains, Steinbach not-so-much.
The Browns transactions are in and it appears that they'll be keeping LB D'Qwell Jackson around for another year. Jackson exploded in 2011 after missing two years due to injury, and the Browns have opted to keep him via the franchise tag. The tender amount for linebackers this year is going to be around $9.5 million.
To offset the use of the tag and create some additional cap space, the Browns have released veteran OG Eric Steinbach. The release of Steinbach will save the team around $6 million.
In addition to Steinbach, LB Scott Fujita and OT Tony Pashos have also been released, saving about another $7 million combined.
Tampa Bay General Manager Mark Dominik is reportedly fielding offers for starting tight end Kellen Winslow and starting center Jeff Faine. Under the guidance of Head Coach Greg Schiano, the Buccaneers are reportedly keen to rid the locker room of nuisances like Winslow. In his 3 seasons in Tampa Winslow has started 40 games, recording 218 catches for 2377 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Faine has been a reliable starter for the Buccaneers during his tenure in Tampa, but the team is eager to move forward with Jeremy Zuttah as the teams future starter. Zuttah is said to have the inside track to the starting center job due to his history with Schiano at Rutgers. Faine has made over 50 starts for Tampa.
Eagles Franchise Desean Jackson
by DC Insider Rick Bennett
But is he happy about it?
The Eagles have opted to use their franchise tag on WR Desean Jackson, paying the speedy WR almost $10 million.
Jackson is reportedly not happy about the move and will consider holding out as he seeks a long term deal. Look for the Eagles to look for a potential trade partner to get some compensation for the talented though troubled WR.
The Eagles also announced several cuts, including C Jamaal Jackson, OT Winston Justice and LB Moise Fokou. The release of these players will save the Eagles around $6 million total towards their 2012 salary cap.
The Chiefs wasted no time once the period to apply franchise tags began, immediately applying the tag to CB Brandon Carr. Carr is a quality young CB and will be paid over $9 million as his franchise tender.
Additionally, the Chiefs opted to apply a 2nd round level tender to RFA LB Jovan Belcher.