ProFootballTalk: Trestman sticking with Cutler?
Asked to make a bold prediction on Monday’s edition of Pro Football Talk on NBCSN, I suggested that the Browns would resist the temptation to spend a bunch of cash and cap space to eradicate the stink of controversy after controversy after controversy in Cleveland.
I suggested wrong.
With linebacker Karlos Dansby reportedly agreeing to terms before the time for agreeing to terms has come and likewise doing the same for safety Donte Whitner, the Browns are spending plenty. And they could spend more if they opt to trade for the contract of cornerback Darrelle Revis, who would be as close to home as possible without playing for the Steelers.
If they don’t get Revis, look for them to spend on someone else.
It would make much more football sense to wait, as to all these moves. But football sense often doesn’t drive the decisions made in the early days of free agency. In Cleveland, other concerns will be pushing the Browns’ effort to do a cannonball in the Cuyahoga.
The Bengals are parting ways with their starting center.
The 30-year-old Cook was due $2.5 million in salary in 2014 and 2015, according to Rotoworld.com data.
The release of Cook (6-3, 310) adds to the depth of a fairly thin market for centers. The Packers’ Evan Dietrich-Smith and the Saints’ Brian de la Puente are among the veteran center options who can test free agency once the new league year starts later Tuesday afternoon.
Third-year pro Trevor Robinson is among the options to replace Cook in the Bengals lineup.
Assuming, as expected, the Panthers fail to find a trading partner for wide receiver Steve Smith, they are expected to cut him loose to find a new home in the open market.
Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Ravens are “expected to emerge as a strong potential landing spot” for Smith if and when that comes to pass. The Ravens are definitely in the market for help at wideout this offseason and Smith would make a nice fit across from Torrey Smith in the role that Anquan Boldin played during the team’s Super Bowl run.
Steve Smith turns 35 in May and isn’t quite the same receiver he was earlier in his career, but he’s still a tough and productive player who would do some of what the Ravens were missing in the passing game last season.
Wilson also mentions the Buccaneers as a team that “makes a lot of sense” as a landing spot for the veteran wideout, although it is unclear how their uncertain quarterback situation might impact Smith’s decision about where to go after his long run in Carolina comes to an end.
With receiver Eric Decker likely to leave Denver, one of the team’s receivers will be staying put.
Per a league source, the Broncos have struck a two-year deal with Andre Caldwell. The package, we’re told, covers two years, with a value of $3.45 million.
Appearing in 16 games with two starts in 2013, Caldwell had only 16 catches for 200 yards. Whether he gets a chance to replace Decker or continues to serve as an understudy, he’ll be staying for the next two years.
The Browns are reportedly poised to use free agency to bolster their linebacking corps.
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that he’s “hearing” the Browns and Cardinals free agent linebacker Karlos Dansby have the workings of a four-year, $24 million deal, with $14 million guaranteed.
Multiple reports have the Browns as a serious suitor for Dansby, with NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reporting that Cleveland had become the top candidate to land the 32-year-old linebacker, who projects inside in the Browns’ 3-4 scheme.
Dansby filled up the stat sheet for Arizona in 2013, notching 122 tackles, defending 19 passes, recording 6.5 sacks and intercepting four passes. He returned a pair of picks for scores.
Dansby checks in at No. 23 on PFT’s Free Agent Hot 100. He is the top-ranked inside linebacker in free agency. If the deal with the Browns is finalized — and it cannot even be officially offered until 4 p.m. Eastern — he will be counted upon to replace the production of the departed D’Qwell Jackson, who signed with Indianapolis last week after being released.
That didn’t eliminate the possibility of bringing him back, however, and Dawson tweeted a short time ago that he has re-signed with the team. Dawson wrote that he’s “excited and grateful” to return to the team on what Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com reports is a two-year deal.
Dawson is coming off a very strong season that saw him set a franchise record by making 27 straight field goals. He was 32-of-36 overall and all seven, including a game-winner in Green Bay, that he tried in the postseason. Dawson has the highest percentage of made field goals of any kicker in NFL history with at least 300 made field goals.
With Dawson joining Jay Feely, Adam Vinatieri and other veterans who have already re-signed with their teams. Steve Hauschka is the top remaining free agent set to hit the market, but a return to Seattle may be in the cards with few teams unsettled at the kicker position right now.
The Giants are spending the last hours before free agency opens by re-signing some of their own players.
Running back Peyton Hillis, linebacker Mark Herzlich and cornerback Trumaine McBride have also re-signed with the team. It also looks like defensive end Justin Tuck and kicker Josh Brown will be back with the team.
Brown broke out for the Giants in 2012, intercepting eight passes and solidifying himself in a key spot in the team’s secondary. He never got a chance to build on that performance after tearing his ACL last summer and missing the entire regular season.
The Giants will also have Antrel Rolle and Will Hill at safety next season, opening the possibility for the return of the “Big Nickel” featuring three safeties that the Giants have used successfully in the past.
The Raiders have more cap space than Abe Lincoln after getting his head shaved. And yet two of their premier free agents are poised to get paid elsewhere.
It sends a bad message to the young players in the locker room, who may believe that the only way to get paid is to leave. Still, the thinking is that the Raiders don’t regard Veldheer as a top left tackle. One league source told PFT the Raiders believe he’s better suited to the right side.
As to defensive end Lamarr Houston (pictured), they can’t justify paying $7 million or more to a defensive end who is regarded more as a run-stuffer than a pass-rusher.
The Raiders will nevertheless have to spend somewhere. It apparently won’t be on Veldheer, who has been linked to the Cardinals, or Houston, who has been linked to the Bears.
A year from now, the Patriots may still be complaining about Julian Edelman’s agents.
The Pats want their most durable and reliable pass-catching option from 2013 back, but on their terms. Per NFL Media, the Patriots have offered Edelman a three-year deal, and they want an answer by the start of free agency at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Last year, when Edelman became a free agent for the first time in his career, Edelman signed a one-year, $715,000 contract. It contained a “split” provision, allowing the team to pay Edelman less if landed on injured reserve early in the season. Later, they persuaded him to shift $40,000 of his $50,000 workout bonus to a roster bonus payable if he made it to the Week One roster.
It was a bargain for the Pats. Appearing in 16 games, he generated 1,056 receiving yards, most on the team by more than 400 yards.
This year, he deserves more pay and more security. While it’s unclear what the Pats have offered, it appears that they’re ready to move on to someone else if Edelman doesn’t accept. Sort of like they did last year with Wes Welker.
Edelman’s agent, Don Yee, should know by now what someone else will pay. If someone else will pay more, the question becomes whether Edelman will leave for another team — or take less to stick around, like another Yee client, Tom Brady, did last year.
It’s going to be very hard for the Buccaneers to trade cornerback Darrelle Revis.
The problem, as it usually is, is money. The contract Revis signed last year gives him $16 million per year. A season in to his relationship with the Bucs, the team that traded for him wanted him to take less.
Per a league source, Revis declined Tampa’s request to reduce his compensation. Which sparked the effort to trade him and the inevitable decision, if they can’t trade him, to cut him.
The source explains that Revis won’t take a pay cut to facilitate a trade. Really, why would he? If a team like the Browns would pay him $12 million in 2014 as part of a trade, they’d at least pay that much if they can get him without giving up a draft pick or a player or multiple of either.
So unless someone is willing to acquire the current contract as written via a trade with the Buccaneers, a trade won’t happen.
The next question becomes whether and to what extent another team would pay Revis above whatever the Buccaneers were willing to pay on a reduced deal. While it’s tampering for other teams to answer hypothetical questions, agents need to know what’s behind Door No. 2 before rejecting what’s behind Door No. 1. It’s safe to assume those conversations have occurred.
There’s another dynamic to consider when it comes to employing Darrelle Revis. Teams prefer having a happy Darrelle Revis. If he believes he’s underpaid, he won’t be happy. And he will be considering his options, including but not limited to a holdout.
Even a happy Revis is something some teams may not want. He has a reputation, forged by a pair of holdouts in New York and the threat of another that prompted owner Woody Johnson to punt. Some teams don’t want the potential headache, even though the talent remains.
Our prediction? Revis will be cut, and he’ll sign for more than the Bucs wanted to pay. Keep an eye on contending teams with franchise quarterbacks, including but not limited to the Patriots, Broncos, and Falcons. For non-contenders, the only way to get Revis will be to trade for his contract, and hope that he’ll be happy.
It wouldn’t be an offseason without a good Darrelle Revis sweepstakes, and we may now have one.
According to Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle, the Raiders have emerged as a possibility to deal for the Buccaneers cornerback, along with the Browns.
The Raiders certainly have motive and opportunity, with plenty of cap space and plenty of room for impact defenders.
What’s not as clear is if Revis is interested in joining them, which could bog down any potential deal, as that $16 million salary is just sitting there.
If nothing else, the Buccaneers might have a bit of leverage, as two desperate teams get involved for a player they can wave to their fanbase to prove that they’re serious.
Donte Whitner could be a member of the Cleveland Browns within a few hours.
Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Whitner expects to sign with the Browns as soon as free agency officially opens at 4 p.m. Eastern. In Cleveland, Whitner would fill a void in the secondary left by safety T.J. Ward, who is expected to leave in free agency.
The 28-year-old Whitner started all 16 games for the 49ers last season, and the 49ers are interested in re-signing him. But the Browns have more cap space than the 49ers, and the Browns can also give Whitner the opportunity to come home: Whitner was born and raised in Cleveland and played his college football at Ohio State.
Whitner is the No. 28 player in our Free Agent Hot 100, but that doesn’t necessarily make him an upgrade for the Browns’ secondary: Ward is the No. 20 player in our Free Agent Hot 100. The Browns appear set to lose one good safety and gain another.