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ProFootballTalk: PFT’s divisional picks
The Dolphins re-signed cornerback Brent Grimes, but it looks like they’ll have some work to do to fill out the rest of the group at the position.
Nolan Carroll is expected to sign elsewhere as a free agent and Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team will release Dimitri Patterson. The move hardly comes as a surprise with Patterson’s departure clearing $5.4 million in cap space for the team to use for the expected addition of tackle Branden Albert and others in free agency.
Patterson was limited to just six games by a groin injury that eventually landed him on injured reserve and had 19 tackles and four interceptions in those games. He’ll turn 31 in June and the Dolphins obviously feel the price is too high for what they expected to get from Patterson in 2014.
Grimes will hold down one corner spot and the Dolphins would like to see more from Jamar Taylor and Will Davis in their second year, but they probably won’t put all of their eggs into that basket given how little they did as rookies.
The move, first pointed out by Fox’s Alex Marvez, was listed in the NFL’s Monday transactions.
The 29-year-old Rosario appeared in 15 regular season games for Chicago in 2013, starting three. According to Pro Football Focus, Rosario played 186 snaps for the Bears last season.
The Bears have been speculated as a team to watch in free agency, given their considerable needs on defense. They were linked to Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, who re-signed with Seattle on Monday.
The new league year begins on Tuesday.
An eighth-year pro from Oregon, Rosario had stints with San Diego, Denver, Miami and Carolina before signing with Chicago last year.
Usually one of the last things a team does before cutting a guy they plan to cut anyway is give everyone one last chance.
That appears to be the case with the Panthers, as Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network says they’re attempting to trade the veteran wide receiver. With a $7 million cap hit, that seems unlikely.
It’s been clear that new General Manager Dave Gettleman wasn’t comfortable with Smith at his current price, and Smith wasn’t comfortable with the way it was handled.
But this wasn’t solely about money, as the Panthers are shifting the leadership of the team away from the old guard (Smith and retired tackle Jordan Gross) and onto quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly.
It’s a risky play for a team that entered today with one proven wide receiver on the roster, and now goes into free agency with the possibility of none, and little in the way of cap room to replace him.
Smith was obviously in decline in terms of impact on the field, but as the franchise’s best player, it’s still a clumsy handling for what appear to be his final days with the team that drafted him in 2001.
Free agency gets underway in less than 24 hours and Pro Football Talk on NBCSN is the place to be for all the last minute news you need to know for one of the busiest days on the NFL calendar.
We’ll run down all of Monday’s biggest developments. Defensive end Michael Bennett’s decision to re-sign with the Seahawks, tackle Branden Albert’s expected move to Miami and the Jets cutting Santonio Holmes a day after dropping Antonio Cromartie will all be topics as we take a moment to reset the board ahead of 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon.
It all gets going at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
Mike Johnson appeared to be on track to be the starting right tackle in Atlanta last season, but training camp was still getting going when he fractured his fibula and dislocated his left ankle.
Johnson missed the entire season as a result, but he’ll have a chance to make up for it in 2014. The Falcons announced Monday that they have re-signed Johnson to a one-year deal that will keep him from hitting free agency on Tuesday afternoon. There were no financial terms announced.
It’s hard to know exactly how Johnson will slot into the depth chart because everything is up in the air on the Falcons line. They need to be much better than they were last season and will certainly be bringing in players via free agency and the draft to accomplish that. Sam Baker is expected back after a knee injury, although he could move from left to right tackle if the Falcons find a better option for Matt Ryan’s blind side.
Johnson was a third-round pick in 2010 and has played in 18 games for the Falcons over the course of his career.
The 32-year-old Dahl started nine games for the Rams in 2013. The club signed him as a free agent from Atlanta in 2011.
With Dahl departing, the Rams reportedly could be looking in-state for a replacement.
Schwartz, 27, is No. 63 on PFT’s Free Agent Hot 100. He moved into the starting lineup at right guard late in the season.
The Giants are serious about a new look on offense, and they’re going to create it from the inside out.
Baas, who was their big free agent signing three years ago, missed most of last year with knee and hip problems. Coupled with his $8.225 million cap number, it made it an easy call for the Giants.
Along with the retirement of David Diehl, the Giants figure to have a much different look up front.
Carolina announced that they were tendering Bell on Monday without noting the level of the tender, but Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer reports that it is of the second-round variety. If Bell signs it, he’ll make $2.187 million in 2014. If another team wants to sign him away, it will cost them a second-round pick to secure Bell’s services.
Bell has made 40 starts at right tackle for the Panthers over the last three years and his performance is one of the reasons why the Panthers need to focus on upgrading the offensive line this offseason. With Jordan Gross retired, the Panthers couldn’t really afford to let him get away but it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone else was starting come the regular season.
The Panthers also tendered exclusive rights free agent Chris Scott, who made eight starts at guard last season. As with Bell, there’s uncertainty at guard in Carolina but upgrading from Scott would be a good thing for the offense.
Josina Anderson of ESPN reports that the decision has been made, and the 49ers will cut Rogers.
Under his old contract, Rogers had a cap number of more than $8 million for the 2014 season, so the decision to cut him comes as no surprise. Rogers has started all 16 games in all three of his seasons with the 49ers, but he’ll be 33 before the season starts and isn’t worth the kind of money he was scheduled to make.
Last year, defensive end Michael Bennett signed a one-year, $5 million deal in Seattle. This year, he’ll be making a lot more.
But he could have made even more. Per a league source, Bennett turned down more money from two teams to re-sign with the Seahawks.
One team is believed to be the Bears. The other team currently isn’t known.
Bennett will make $28.5 million over four years. He gets $10 million in 2014, $16 million through the first two years, and $21 million over three.
Of the total, $16 million is guaranteed. It’s unclear how much is fully guaranteed beyond the first year.
It’s an average of $7.125 million per year, less than the $8.5 million average the Vikings paid to defensive end Everson Griffen on a five-year deal. Griffen has one career start, and 17.5 career sacks, all in the last three seasons. Bennett has 23.5 sacks over the last three years.
Still, Bennett played in only 57 percent of the snaps last year. The Seahawks presumably intend to keep his workload at the same level. And his compensation likely is based on the idea that he won’t be on the field every down of every drive.
Regardless of his workload, Bennett becomes the first Seahawk to take less in order to stay in Seattle. If more do the same, the Seahawks will be well positioned to win more Super Bowls.
When free agency opens in 24 hours, and players are able to take visits, most of them will be ready to make a move.
But one is still waiting for a very important piece of information.
Wherever he goes, that team will put him through a comprehensive physical, after his recent neck surgery.
But reports have been hopeful throughout, with Packers officials they were “open and optimistic” about his return.
If his neck checks out, Finley should draw plenty of attention in a market that lacks many receiving weapons at the position.
It’s unclear whether the Cowboys will cut defensive end DeMarcus Ware, whether he’ll restructure his contract by taking less money, or whether both sides will proceed with Ware earning $12.25 million in base salary this season, along with a $500,000 workout bonus.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, a resolution is expected soon. Ideally, it’ll come by 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Cutting Ware with a post-June 1 designation would result in $3.25375 million in dead money for 2014, along with another $5.31775 million in 2015. Cutting Ware without the post-June 1 designation would result in $8.5715 million hitting the cap in 2014.
Either way, $12.75 million in cash would be avoided. A post-June 1 designation would create precisely that amount of cap space. Otherwise, the move clears $7.43225 million.
But here’s the catch. Ware’s full salary and workout bonus will remain on the books until June 1, resulting in the Cowboys getting no cap relief until June 1, at which time $12.75 million would appear. The challenge for the Cowboys would be to find a way to participate in free agency with Ware still counting for $16 million until June.
Per a league source, defensive end Michael Bennett has reached an agreement to remain with the Seahawks. It’s a four-year deal.
Bennett, the No. 2 man on the PFT Free Agent Hot 100, became a free agent last year, after finishing a contract with the Buccaneers. He signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Seahawks.
Despite participating in only 57 percent of the snaps, Bennett racked up eight sacks. He’ll have four more years to do more of the same.
The Jets left the door open a crack to a possible return from cornerback Antonio Cromartie when they cut him on Sunday, something that appeared to be of interest to Cromartie earlier in the offseason when discussing the possibility that he and his $9.5 million cap charge would be thrown overboard.
On Monday, Cromartie said that he’s not ruling out re-signing with the Jets after they made what he called “a business decision” after a less than “ideal season” in terms of performance and health. He’s not just going to wait for the Jets to call him back, however.
“The door’s still open,” Cromartie said on ESPN Radio, via the New York Daily News. “But I’m going to test the market, see where my numbers are.”
Wherever he winds up, Cromartie promised that the league would see the Cromartie of old rather than the one that struggled through the 2013 season with a bad hip. With the Jets reportedly showing interest in corners like Alterraun Verner and Captain Munnerlyn and Cromartie saying they didn’t attempt to adjust his contract, that may well prove to be in another uniform.
The Cardinals, Chiefs and Panthers all won double-digit games in 2013. The Cards were competitive in the NFL’s toughest division, and the Panthers and Chiefs each made the postseason.
However, Nevada oddsmaker CG Technology appears willing to risk that those clubs will not play nearly as well in 2014 as they did a season ago.
CG (formerly Cantor Gaming) released its regular-season win total props last week – wagers where bettors can choose whether a team will go OVER or UNDER a certain number of victories. And of the 32 NFL teams listed at CG, only the Cardinals, Chiefs and Panthers had regular-season win totals at least three games lower than their number of 2013 regular-season wins.
The Panthers, who were 12-4 in 2013, have a 2014 win total of 8.5 at the CG sports books. The Chiefs (11-5 last season) check in at eight wins at the CG books.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, have a 2014 win total of just seven after finishing 10-6 in 2013. In short, those who want to take the Cardinals to go OVER the CG win total just have to hope for an 8-8 record.
That seems like a low bar for Arizona to clear.
Well, the Cardinals do have to face the 49ers and Seahawks twice next season, and they were a combined 1-3 against the NFC West’s best a season ago. What’s more, the Cardinals merely split a pair of games against the Rams, giving Arizona a 2-4 division record. If the Cardinals can’t improve on that record, they would have to go at least 6-4 in their non-division slate to reach .500.
It’s important to note that win total props are a reflection of how oddsmakers believe a team will be viewed by the betting public. While the props take into account oddsmaker expectations for the clubs, the bets are tailored to reflect expectations of how bettors will wager upon these teams.
One example: the Texans, who were 2-14 last season, have a win total of 8.5.
Let’s suppose the Texans had a win total of, say, 4.5. Well, you would probably have to get in line to back Houston at that price — and it probably wouldn’t be on the board for long.
Here are CG’s 2014 win totals for each NFL team:
49ers, Broncos, Seahawks: 11 wins
Packers, Patriots: 10 wins.
Saints: 9.5 wins.
Bengals, Colts, Steelers: 9 wins.
Bears, Eagles, Panthers, Ravens, Texans: 8.5 wins
Chargers, Chiefs, Cowboys, Falcons, Lions: 8 wins
Dolphins: 7.5 wins
Cardinals, Giants, Redskins: 7 wins
Bills, Browns, Buccaneers, Jets, Rams, Titans, Vikings: 6.5 wins.
Raiders: 5 wins.
Jaguars: 4.5 wins.