ProFootballTalk: Keys in Packers-49ers matchup
The Eagles have added some special teams coverage punch.
The club said Wednesday it had reached a two-year deal with Texans outside linebacker Bryan Braman, who was not tendered by Houston as a restricted free agent.
Braman (6-5, 241) played in 44 regular season games for Houston and was among the club’s leaders in special teams tackles in 2013.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who cited Braman’s agent, Braman received a $3.15 million contract with $1 million in guarantees.
“You don’t find many players of Bryan’s size with the ability to run down the field and make plays on special teams,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said in a team-issued statement on Wednesday. “It’s an area of the game that we always have our eye on and look to improve. With his size, we also like his potential as a guy who can compete for spot as an outside linebacker.”
The Broncos were one of the busiest teams in the league on the opening day of free agency, landing both safety T.J. Ward and cornerback Aqib Talib to a defense that was last seen getting shredded in the Super Bowl.
They may not be done either. They’ve been installed as the favorites in the race to land Demarcus Ware and Mike Florio will talk to Vic Lombardi of CBS4 in Denver about that possibility. There’s also talk of interest in linebackers Jon Beason and Daryl Smith, so we’ll try to find out from Lombardi just how many free agents the AFC champs expect to sign this offseason.
One of their own free agents that will probably wind up elsewhere is wide receiver Eric Decker, who is visiting with the Jets on Wednesday. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News will also be on the program with the latest on those talks as well as an overview of what else the Jets have done and are planning to do.
It all gets started at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.
Pierre Thomas won’t be going anywhere after all.
Thomas, the running back who was rumored to be on the verge of getting traded or cut by the Saints, will instead stay in New Orleans after agreeing to a new contract. Thomas’s agent, Lamont Smith, revealed on Twitter that the two sides have agreed to a two-year deal.
Last year Thomas played in all 16 games, starting nine, and had 147 carries for 549 yards. He also had a career-high 77 catches for 513 yards.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported on a Wednesday morning SportsCenter that Tate is in Cleveland to meet with the Browns about joining their backfield.
Tate has been linked to Cleveland for quite a while, as the Browns have been expected to be in the market for a back since they traded Trent Richardson last season and Tate was at the top of every list of possible free agents. Some may point to the presence of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan as well, but Shanahan was gone from Houston before Tate arrived. Tate’s running style should be a good fit for what Shanahan likes in the running game, though.
Tate battled through broken ribs for much of last season before finally landing on injured reserve at the end of the year. He ran for 771 yards on 181 carries in the 14 games he was able to play.
At least one of them isn’t leaving town.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Bills have struck a deal to make Williams a member of the team. Per Schefter, it is a four-year, $13.5 million deal with $5.5 million in guaranteed money.
Williams started every game at left guard for the Rams last season and that contract suggests that he’ll be doing the same thing in Buffalo next season. The Bills struggled to find a capable replacement for Andy Levitre at the spot last season and they’re obviously hoping that Williams can provide them with more push up front.
It may not be the safest of bets given Williams’ history as a first-round washout in Chicago and a player who failed to distinguish himself in Buffalo, but it’s never been easy to get free agents to come to Buffalo without paying a bit of a premium.
The Patriots haven’t done any deals yet, but they continue to line up visitors.
The latest to come in, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com, is Cardinals outside linebacker Matt Shuaghnessy.
The 27-year-old Shaughnessy played as a lineman during his time with the Raiders, but was able to make the transition to playing on his feet with the Cardinals last year.
The Cards had been trying to keep him, but it appears he’s ready to look around.
The Patriots have also had or scheduled visits with Broncos linebacker Wesley Woodyard and Panthers wide receiver Brandon Lafell, a more measured approach than some of their AFC brethren.
While the Jaguars aren’t swinging for the fences, they’re hitting a bunch of singles in free agency.
Formerly of the Buccaneers, he’s primarily a special-teams contributor whom the Jags hope can develop into a situational pass rusher.
The Jaguars also could be signing Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond and Lions defensive end Willie Young.
The Giants got the ball rolling in free agency by signing guard Geoff Schwartz on Tuesday, but they aren’t done looking for ways to upgrade an offensive line that was an abject failure last season.
Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that the team will have guard Shelley Smith in for a visit on Wednesday. They are also expected to visit with kick returner Jacoby Jones a day after signing running back Rashad Jennings to further help what owner John Mara called a “broken” offense.
Smith spent the last two years with the Rams, starting eight times while playing in 25 games. The 2010 sixth-round pick started his career with the Texans, but never saw any regular season action until he moved to St. Louis.
With Schwartz in the fold and Chris Snee taking a pay cut, Smith is likely ticketed for a depth role. That’s not insignificant given the fact that Snee is coming off of hip surgery and Smith could be an option to start in the future as Snee is close to the end of the line.
UPDATE 10:41 a.m. ET: Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reports that Smith is scheduled to visit with the Patriots on Thursday as well.
[Photo credit: StLouisRams.com]
Some call the start of the new league year Christmas. It’s actually more like an extended Hanukkah.
While many of the big presents get opened on the first day, the process continues for days if not weeks, with players watching and waiting and visiting and negotiating.
Sure, the big money evaporates quickly. But the players who haven’t gotten the contract they want must now try to strike the best deal they can. That could take some time.
Until then, you’ve got plenty of time to track the movements and anticipate the next ones. May we suggest our continuously updated PFT Free Agent Hot 100 list?
It’s our oft-imitated device for keeping tabs on the biggest names — and we’ll be adding to it the names of the men who weren’t free agents as of Tuesday at 3:59 p.m. ET, but who have become, or will become, free agents.
A pair of younger NFL veterans and Southeastern Conference products are reportedly visiting the Titans on Wednesday.
Dixon (6-1, 233) has rushed for 458 yards and eight TDs on 128 carries in four NFL seasons with San Francisco. Dixon, 26, played for now-Titans running backs coach Sylvester Croom at Mississippi State.
Woods, who turns 27 later in March, can play either end or tackle in a 3-4 scheme. He made a pair of starts for Pittsburgh at nose tackle in 2013. A fifth-year pro from LSU, Woods (6-4, 307) has played 28 games for Pittsburgh in the last two seasons.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Decker opted to give the Jets the first crack at signing him. Two other teams are interested; Decker chose to travel to New York first.
And, as Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News noted, it was a flight from Denver to New York that let the cat out of the bag on the Decker visit.
If Decker doesn’t agree to terms with the Jets, look for the cat to again exit the bag regard his next potential destination. We’re told there are two other potential landing spots, currently ranked as 1(b) and 1(c).
It’s unclear how the three candidates compare financially. For Decker, who already has a reality show with his wife, more money could be made off the field by living and working in New York.
For teams with free agent kickers, the trend around the league has been to re-sign your own guy rather than go searching for a replacement.
The Bills are subscribers to that approach. They announced that they re-signed kicker Dan Carpenter on Tuesday, the first day that they could sign him for more than the veteran’s minimum. The team didn’t release any terms of the deal, but Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 reports that it is a four-year deal.
“For us it was a no-brainer to come back to Buffalo,” Carpenter said, via the team’s website. “We were comfortable and loved it here last year. To be able to go back somewhere and be wanted where you would like to go, you’re very fortunate in this league for that to happen. We’re very happy to be here and excited to see where it goes.”
Carpenter joined the Bills just before the start of the 2013 season after he was released by the Dolphins and went on to tie a team record with 33 field goals during the year. The Bills drafted Dustin Hopkins in the sixth round last year, but he got injured to open the door to Carpenter. Hopkins should be back to compete this offseason, but the Carpenter deal may make the youngster a decided underdog in that fight.
The Steelers stepped out of character yesterday, signing Panthers safety Mike Mitchell to a five-year, $25 million deal.
Today’s deals were much more Steelers-like, as they announced new one-year deals for long snapper Greg Warren and reserve safety Will Allen.
Allen came back to the Steelers midseason last year after being cut by the Cowboys, allowing him to play in 17 games in a season (since he didn’t sync up his bye weeks).
Warren has spent his entire career with the Steelers, after joining the team as an undrafted rookie in 2005.
The Patriots need help at wide receiver, and they may get it in the form of Brandon LaFell.
LaFell is visiting New England today, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound LaFell has played his entire four-year career in Carolina. Last year he started all 16 games for the Panthers and caught a career-high 49 passes for 627 yards and five touchdowns.
LaFell is the No. 82 player in our Free Agent Hot 100.
One of the league’s most productive defensive tackles last year is taking his time to make a decision.
Hatcher would have much more of a market but for age. The 31-year-old broke out last year with 11.0 sacks last year, after never having more than 4.5.
That coincided with playing the under tackle spot in Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 defense, so it’s unclear how exactly he’d translate back to a 3-4, which Ray Horton’s installing in Tennessee.