Who on the Ravens scares the Patriots most? These two teams faced in Week 3, what has changed most since then? Tom Curran tackles these questions and more.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Who are Patriots frightened of most?
Thanks to the rules governing restricted free agents, the Lions aren’t likely to lose running back Joique Bell to another team this offseason.
It’s hard to imagine a team ponying up a draft pick in either of the first two rounds to acquire Bell when few teams have been using those picks on rookie running backs in recent years, so the chances are very good that Bell is in Detroit in 2014. It would be advantageous to the Lions to sign him to a longer deal and save some room under the cap, however.
According to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, such a deal may be in the offing. Birkett reports that the two sides are close to agreeing on a multi-year deal. If they can get it done by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, they’ll have a bit more money to spend when the free agent stampede gets underway.
Bell gained 650 yards on 166 carries while working in tandem with Reggie Bush last season. His role could expand with a new offensive system in place and, one way or the other, it looks like he’ll be in Detroit to make his case for that expansion.
The Factory of Sadness seems to be planning another stellar product line for 2014; perhaps they’ll dub it the “Pick 6.”
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that Schaub is a “serious possibility” for the Browns.
Schaub had some strong years with Shanahan, but based on a horrible 2013 season Schaub seems to be broken beyond repair. For that reason, he wouldn’t be handed the job in Cleveland. He’d have to compete with Brian Hoyer, who’s recovering from a torn ACL.
Currently the property of the Texans, Schaub isn’t available unless and until he’s released. With a cap number north of $14 million, that’s likely to happen, barring a pay cut so big that Ike Taylor would say, “Damn, that guy took a big pay cut.”
The Texans could create $10 million in cap space (as of June 1) by cutting Schaub with the post-June 1 designation. The team would carry $3.5 million in dead money for 2014 before absorbing a $7 million cap charge in 2015.
It’s unclear whether acquiring Schaub would take the Browns out of play for a first-round quarterback. Much of it depends on how much they pay Schaub. The less he gets, the more likely that the Browns are hoping to throw other teams off the scent of the possibility that the team will use the No. 4 pick in round one on a quarterback.
But he’s not exactly covering his tracks very well in terms of social media.
According to Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post, Albert has gone on a spree of following Dolphins players on Twitter, adding Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Miller, Brent Grimes and Louis Delmas to his follows.
Granted, he follows some non-Dolphins too. But it just so happens that he signed up for a bunch of guys who happen to play for the team expected to give him a bunch of money in a few hours.
Welcome to capital-J Journalism, 2014-style.
With the unrestricted free agent market set to open this afternoon, certain positions are already picked over.
And teams are scrambling to keep their own to prevent a vacancy in a thin market.
The former seventh-round pick had a career year, hitting 88.5 percent of his field goals.
Jay Gruden jumped from running the Bengals offense to running everything for the Redskins this offseason and he may want one of his old players to come aboard his new ship.
Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports that the Redskins have made inquiries on wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, who is a restricted free agent that the Bengals tendered at the original round level. That gives Cincinnati the right to match any offer, but neither the Redskins nor any other team would have to fork over a draft pick because Hawkins was undrafted out of college.
Hawkins only played eight games last year because of injuries, catching 12 passes for 199 yards. He was more productive out of the slot in 2012 and isn’t the only receiver coming off a rough year that’s reportedly on the Redskins radar.
Jones reports that they’ve also made inquiries on Kenny Britt, who had just 11 catches in 12 games while playing a steadily diminished role in Tennessee last season. Britt has had numerous injuries and off-field troubles over the years, which should keep his price low enough for some team to take a flier that there’s something left of the player who looked so promising in his first two seasons.
When the Vikings restructured Kevin Williams‘ contract before last season to make him a free agent this year and added Sharrif Floyd in the draft, it seemed like a sign that they were planning for an eventual parting from the veteran defensive tackle.
Williams said Monday that Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman has told him that the Vikings want him back, however, and that his agent is talking to the Vikings as well as other teams. Williams passed on the chance to put odds on his chances of returning to Minnesota, but said he’s happy to stay put.
“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Williams said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I would like to come back, but I’ll have to see if it’s a fit for both of us. I talked to Rick a couple of times and he said he wants me back. I have to see what the coaching staff is going to want.”
If Williams does return, the Vikings could take a longer look at him as a nose tackle while Floyd takes over the three-technique spot that Williams has held down for most of his tenure. Even if that’s a possibility, the Vikings may opt to go in a different direction as they did by re-signing Everson Griffen and moving on from Jared Allen at defensive end.
Well, now we know why linebacker Karlos Dansby hasn’t accepted a two-year offer worth $10 million to $12 million to stay with the Cardinals.
Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reports that the Browns are likely to pursue Danbsy once free agency opens at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Dansby, who at age 32 is nearly two years older than former Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, would replace Jackson (now with the Colts) in coach Mike Pettine’s defense.
The Browns may have competition beyond the Cardinals for Danbsy. Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean reports that the Titans also are interested in Dansby. During his first stint in Arizona, he played for new Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt.
Dansby has enjoyed a significant career rebirth in the last year. In 2013, the Dolphins cut Danbsy loose after signing Dannell Ellerbe away from the Ravens.
Five free agent lessons for the Dolphins to keep in mind.
A call for the Patriots to be aggressive in free agency.
A look at how the Steelers could fill holes without spending a lot.
The Colts may have to find themselves a new kicker.
Gene Frenette of the Florida Times Union thinks the Jaguars need to be players in free agency.
The Broncos’ plans for free agency have come into a bit more focus.
The Chargers would like to add a veteran nose tackle.
The Eagles could strike some quick deals in free agency.
Five positions to watch for the Redskins in free agency.
Former Lions K Jason Hanson regrets not winning more games for late owner William Clay Ford.
Defensive end, quarterback and tackle are the positions the Buccaneers will focus on in free agency.
Most of the 49ers’ 2013 starting secondary will be available on the open market.
The Dolphins are offering a new deal for their much-discussed stadium renovations: We’ll pay for them if we don’t have to pay property taxes.
The team was rejected when it previously asked for direct public financing for Sun Life Stadium upgrades, but the Dolphins are now hoping that they’ll get more support if they offer to pay for the renovations themselves, while still getting help from the public in the form of not having to pay their property tax bill, which is currently about $3.8 million a year, according to the Miami Herald.
That $3.8 million a year goes to schools and other government services, so there will surely be some resistance to the deal among those who believe it would be a bad deal for the public and a sweetheart deal for billionaire owner Stephen Ross.
On the other hand, Ross paying the $350 million to renovate the stadium himself would be a much better deal for the public than the previous proposal, which called for $289 million in public money to pay for the stadium renovations. That deal was rejected. Ross hopes this deal can be struck, and the Dolphins can get renovations that will make Sun Life Stadium more attractive to ticket buyers, and a potential host of a future Super Bowl.
When the Panthers do the thing they seem hell-bent on doing today — getting rid of the best player in franchise history — it won’t be because of money.
And it won’t be because of declining skill.
That means it can only be personal.
Wide receiver Steve Smith, for all his gifts, has the ability to aggravate. Usually opponents, as seen by the way he gets under the skin of cornerbacks.
But teammates too, sometimes.
The reason the undersized wide receiver who came out of the third round has been able to hang on this long and pile up the kind of amazing stats he has (836 catches, 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns) is the way he worked. His practice habits are as intense as any player I’ve ever seen. I covered the guy every day for the first 10 seasons of his career, and of the 10 best catches I’ve seen him make, three or four of them were in games.
But he also has a tendency to remind people how hard he works, to try get them to raise their level. By extension, no one works as hard as he does.
Even if it’s true, and it usually is, people get sick of hearing it at a certain point. And eventually, they’re willing to ignore your positive contributions because they get tired of feeling inferior, or being told they are.
There’s a reason the Panthers had five captains to begin last year, and four of them were from the offense.
Now, the way is clear for Newton in particular to take the lead.
Problem is, it’s going to be harder for him to lead much of a team in the absence of Smith.
From a cap perspective, it’s practically cheaper to keep Smith than to cut him. (ignoring the $3 million in guaranteed cash).
He’d have cost $7 million to keep on the cap this year, and they’ll carry $6 million worth of accelerations for him to be elsewhere (assuming a post-June 1 designation). That means they have to replace their best receiver with effectively $1 million worth of space. Check that, their only receiver. At a time when they needed more wideouts, they made the conscious choice to have none.
So now the way is clear for Newton to make the team his own.
How much of a team it is depends on General Manager Dave Gettleman’s ability to make something out of nothing.
Fran Tarkenton is a Johnny Football fan.
The former quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants overcame his smaller stature to make the Hall of Fame after 18 seasons in the NFL. Tarkenton’s ability to improvise and make plays on the run were what made him a special player.
Tarkenton sees many of those same traits in Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback that could be a Top 5 pick in May’s NFL Draft.
“Nobody really played like I played. This kid plays like I did more than anybody else,” Tarkenton said, via Jim Corbett of USA Today.
Manziel has thrown for 7,820 yards with 63 touchdowns and 22 interceptions over the last two seasons at Texas A&M. He checked in just shy of six feet tall at the NFL combine, measuring in at 5-foot-11 and 3/4 – shorter than Tarkenton (6-foot) but taller than Seattle’s Russell Wilson (5-foot-10 and 5/8).
Tarkenton downplayed any thought Manziel’s size would hinder him at the NFL level. He feels Manziel has “an instinctive vision” and proved his ability in two games against Alabama, But Tarkenton added Manziel won’t be able to run as much and will have to learn how to adjust in the NFL.
Tarkenton did say teams will have to make sure they understand the off-field exploits of Manziel and be comfortable with his prior actions. But, Tarkenton added, Manziel has “franchise qualities.”
“He’s the closest thing I’ve seen to myself,” Tarkenton said. “Russell Wilson has some of it. But Manziel has those similarities even more so than Russell.
“Manziel is a quarterback savant.”
With one of Seattle’s top free agents signed and sealed to stay with the Seahawks, another one could have a deal soon.
He doesn’t specify whether that means with the Seahawks or someone else. As to defensive end Michael Bennett, the Seahawks got serious once another suitor was seriously pursuing the player.
The No. 26 player on the PFT Free Agent Hot 100, Tate entered the league as a second-round pick of the 2010 draft. He had a career high 898 receiving yards in 2013, on a career-high 64 catches. Tate also returned 51 punts, generating an average of 11.5 yards per return.
Tate can sign with the Seahawks at any time. As of 4:00 p.m. ET Tuesday, he can sign with anyone else.
Devin Hester will call a new city home next season after spending the first eight years of his career in Chicago.
Hester is confident it won’t take long for him to find a new team to play for and art of the reason for that confidence is how highly he thinks of his abilities on the field. Hester spoke to Emerson Lotzia ESPN 106.3 FM in West Palm Beach, Fla. ahead of free agency and said he feels he’s the league’s best all-around player.
“Me,” Hester stated bluntly when asked. “I can go and play corner, I can go and play receiver, I can play running back, and I can play a little bit of safety, as well as kickoff and punt returner.”
Hester has been an outstanding kick and punt returner but has had trouble finding a consistent home on either offense or defense. He began his career as a cornerback before switching sides of the ball to play receiver as well for the Bears. His best season offensively came in 2009 when he caught 57 passes for 757 yards and three touchdowns.
However, he’s never been a top-level player as anything other than a return specialist.
Despite a somewhat overly inflated opinion of his talents, Hester is still a valuable player that can be an asset to the right team.
Hester claims he has “at least 15 teams” already interested in him and it will be a matter of finding the team that provides the best fit.
Last week, the Browns applied the transition tag to center Alex Mack, guaranteeing him $10 million for 2014, if/when he signs the offer. He hasn’t signed it yet.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com reported Monday that Mack’s agent is “confident” that he can structure an offer sheet with a “reasonable likelihood” the Browns won’t match. It’s important for any team that signs Mack to an offer sheet to believe the Browns won’t match it; otherwise, the new team will have negotiated Mack’s new contract for no fee or other compensation.
With the poison pill no longer available and the Browns flush with cap space, it will be hard to get the Browns not to match the offer. While Mack’s agent may believe that he knows the limits of the Browns’ budget on a long-term deal, the plan surely will be revisited if/when another team signs Mack to a long-term deal beyond anything the Browns previously have offered — especially since the Browns will receive no compensation if Mack leaves.
The negotiations become more interesting if the Rams have perhaps decided to move on from 33-year-old center Scott Wells. Mack’s agent, Marvin Demoff, is the father of Rams COO Kevin Demoff. The two of them could work together to come up with an offer that the Browns would be inclined not to match.
Or maybe the son will do the father a favor, signing Mack to an offer sheet that they both know the Browns eventually will match. In the interim, Wells perhaps could be squeezed to reduce his $5.5 million base salary.
Regardless, the smarter play for Mack seems to be taking the guaranteed $10 million for 2014 and hitting the open market in 2015, when the salary cap reaches as high as $145 million and it would cost Cleveland $12 million to restrict him for a second straight year.
On the first day of the legal tampering period, it appeared that there was no market for veteran running backs. As the official start of free agency begins, one running back has apparently emerged.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reported Monday that McFadden, the eighth pick in the 2008 draft, is generating “significant interest.”
Of course, it’s one thing to generate “significant interest.” It’s quite another to generate a significant offer.
Despite ample potential, McFadden has generated only one 1,000-yard season in his career. Last year, he generated 379 yards, averaging 3.3 yards per carry.
That was McFadden’s average in 2012, too — 3.3 yards.
Along the way, McFadden has missed 29 games. That’s nearly five per season.
It means that, whatever the interest in McFadden, the offers won’t be substantial. And not nearly as substantial as the slotted pre-rookie wage scale contract he received from the Raiders — a six-year, $42 million deal.