Mike Florio talks with Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram about the mess in Dallas. Cowboys nose tackle Jay Ratliff has been arrested for a DUI, Jerry Jones has taken play-calling rights from head coach Jason Garrett and offensive coordinator Bill Callahan has been accused by former Raiders players of possibly sabotaging Super Bowl XXXVII.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: No shortage of drama in Dallas?
The Jaguars aren’t bringing in the biggest names in the early hours of free agency, but they’re stacking up solid moves, which should help them fortify an improving base of young talent.
According to Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union, the Jags are bringing in Seahawks cornerback Walter Thurmond, Lions defensive end Willie Young and Buccaneers linebacker Dekoda Watson for visits.
Thurmond’s visit ties in with the previous acquisition of Red Bryant, as coach Gus Bradley tries to collect guys he knows from his days as the Seahawks defensive coordinator.
Young had 3.0 sacks for the Lions last year in 15 starts, replacing Cliff Avril. While his numbers aren’t off the charts, the Jaguars need all the pass-rush they can get.
Given the top-heavy nature of their salary cap situation, the Lions appear to be working the fringes of the free agent market.
Costa could help fill in on the line after the release of Leroy Harris. Hynoski, who wasn’t tendered as a restricted free agent, would offer something the Lions lack, a true thumper in the backfield.
After investing in Reggie Bush last offseason and keeping running back Joique Bell off the market with an extension, the Lions obviously want to offer some protection for the backfield under new coach Jim Caldwell.
The Titans signed Dexter McCluster on Tuesday and it wasn’t the only move they made to address their kick return game.
The team also re-signed kick returner Leon Washington to a one-year contract. Washington joined the Titans late last season and handled both punt and kickoff return duties for the team in the final five games of the season. McCluster’s arrival likely means that he’ll be limited to kickoffs in 2014.
“Leon came in last year and was the consummate professional,” Titans General Manager Ruston Webster said in the team’s announcement of the deal. “He stabilized our return game and we are excited to sign him back to our roster.”
Washington averaged 30.1 yards on kickoff returns for the Titans last season and is tied for the NFL record with eight kickoff return touchdowns in his career. He’s also scored 18 touchdowns on offense, although he’s primarily played on special teams over the last few seasons.
Before Tuesday, a gap existed between the Broncos and Chiefs. On Tuesday, that gap widened.
The Broncos added safety T.J. Ward and, in one of the biggest surprises of the day, cornerback Aqib Talib. While the Broncos saw guard Zane Beadles leave for Jacksonville and likely will lose linebacker Wesley Woodyard (who lost his starting job in the middle last season), those aren’t major departures. Likewise, the Broncos realize receiver Eric Decker won’t be back; with Demaryius Thomas and Julius Thomas in their contract years, it makes no sense to pay all three.
In Kansas City, that sign in the photo may have been taken a bit too literally.
Five players ran for the exits in the first 90 minutes of free agency. Gone are three offensive linemen: left tackle Branden Albert, guard Geoff Schwartz, and guard Jon Asamoah. Receiver/punt returner Dexter McCluster took off for Tennessee. On defense, end Tyson Jackson went to Atlanta, likely lured in part by Falcons assistant G.M. Scott Pioli, who made Jackson the third overall pick in the 2009 draft.
While the loss of Asamoah and Schwartz essentially amount to losing one full-time player, since they essentially shared the right guard job last year, the Chiefs now must find a way to replace both players and, more importantly, their long-time left tackle. Tackle Eric Fisher became the first overall pick in the 2013 draft under the apparent assumption that he’d succeed Albert. Based on Fisher’s struggles last year and the performance of Donald Stephenson in place of Albert, Fisher may stay on the right side.
With the Raiders making a big push to improve their overmatched roster and the Chargers doing what they can with the cap space they have, the Chiefs may have to worry less about catching Denver in 2014 — and more about being caught by San Diego and Oakland.
According to Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins locked up Texans defensive tackle Earl Mitchell with a four-year, $16 million deal, with $9 million guaranteed.
That’s a much smaller deal than Soliai got from the Falcons (five years, $33 million), for a younger player who was good against the run for the Texans.
While overshadowed by some of the bigger deals the Dolphins were making on the other side of the line (signing Branden Albert and trading Jonathan Martin), it was a solid piece for a defense that risked losing its anchors inside.
Plenty of big names made headlines by finding new homes on Tuesday and Wednesday promises more of the same, but there are also plenty of smaller deals getting done around the league.
The Eagles made one of those by signing former Seahawks safety and special teamer Chris Maragos. Adam Caplan of ESPN reports that it is a three-year, $4 million deal with $1 million guaranteed. Caplan reports that the Redskins were also among the teams interested in adding Maragos, but Philly got the deal done.
Maragos played sparingly on defense in Seattle and doesn’t figure to play a much bigger role on Philly’s unit, but he should be a valuable member of the special teams units.
While Maragos isn’t a good bet to see extended time in the secondary, his arrival could lead to more changes at safety. The Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins and released Patrick Chung on Tuesday, and Maragos could wind up taking the roster spot of either Colt Anderson or Kurt Coleman as the Eagles continue building their 2014 roster.
UPDATE 7:55 a.m. ET: The Eagles have officially announced the deal.
Dolphins defensive tackle Randy Starks appears ready to stay in Miami.
The Dolphins and Starks are close to an agreement that would keep Starks around at a salary of about $6 million a year, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS.
The 30-year-old Starks has been to two Pro Bowls in his six seasons with the Dolphins, and he’s strong both against the run and as a pass rusher. He’s a player the Dolphins don’t want to lose in free agency, and now it appears that they won’t.
Starks is the No. 29 player in our Free Agent Hot 100.
They play the Battle of Ohio twice every season and the Browns and Bengals are playing a round this offseason over wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.
The Bengals tendered Hawkins as a restricted free agent at the original round level, which meant that they were not eligible to get draft pick compensation if he signed elsewhere but could match the offer. The Browns took the bait and extended a four-year offer to Hawkins on Tuesday.
It doesn’t look like he’ll be winding up in Cleveland, though. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Bengals will match the offer, which is for $12.2 million with $5.3 million in guaranteed money. That’s much more than the $1.431, one-year tender that the Bengals extended to Hawkins, which makes it a little surprising that the Bengals made a call to match so quickly.
Hawkins played just eight games for the Bengals last season after a stay on injured reserve/return and caught just 12 passes while playing a limited role in the offense. With A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu all back in Cincinnati, it will be interesting to see if Hawkins gets a role more in line with his new deal.
The Raiders have a whole lot of cap space, and they may be preparing to spend some of it on bolstering their defense with a couple of veterans.
Tuck hit free agency this year after playing his entire nine-year career with the Giants. Last season Tuck was somewhat overlooked as the team itself was a major disappointment, but he played well, recording 11 sacks. Tuck is the No. 18 player in our Free Agent Hot 100.
Woodley was cut by the Steelers after seven seasons in Pittsburgh. Last year he missed five games and had five sacks in the 11 games he played.
The Raiders already needed to improve on defense even before they lost their best pass rusher, Lamarr Houston, in free agency. Adding Tuck or Woodley (or both) would go a long way toward turning things around in Oakland.
Tuesday was a relatively quiet day for the Jets and a totally silent one for wide receiver Eric Decker, but things could heat up on both fronts on Wednesday.
Kim Jones of NFL Network reports that Decker will visit with the Jets on Wednesday and an aggressive offer from the Jets, who have plenty of money under the cap, could mean that it is the only visit that Decker makes. The Jets had a rotten receiving corps last season and Santonio Holmes has been jettisoned, leaving them in fairly desperate need of help at the position.
The big question that they’ll have to answer is whether Decker will be as effective catching passes from Geno Smith or someone else the Jets bring in as he was catching passes from Peyton Manning with a ton of offensive talent around him. As the top wideout on the market — and highest remaining available player on PFT’s Hot 100 at No. 8 — Decker’s going to be paid like he can be that productive whether it is from the Jets or someone else.
It’s a question that other receivers in Decker’s position have often failed to answer positively, but the Jets need help at the position badly enough to roll the dice that things break the other way.
Mike Jones of the Washington Post reports that both players have lined up visits with the Redskins. Smith ranks 51st and Graham is 69th on PFT‘s Hot 100 list of free agents, although they rank much higher on the list of available members of that list after Tuesday’s flurry of activity.
Graham would join a secondary in need of all the help it can get. Graham played all 16 games for the Ravens last season, starting five, and had 74 tackles and four interceptions for Baltimore. He’s also been a strong special teams player over the years and the Redskins were dreadful in that phase of the game last season.
Smith just completed his 10th NFL season by starting all 15 games he played for the Texans, missing one after being suspended for ripping off Richie Incognito’s helmet and swinging it at him in a preseason incident that turned out to be a very minor footnote to Incognito’s season. Smith would upgrade the Redskins at a spot where they currently have Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Baker and Stephen Bowen at the top of the depth chart.
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that Smith has also scheduled visits with the Titans, Rams and Raiders, although history tells us that first visits are often only visits.
New Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston evoked an old-school attitude when asked about signing a free-agent contract in Chicago.
“What set the Bears apart for me besides having a team that’s in a position to win is the attitude of the players who have played there before; guys like Dick Butkus, with that nasty, in-your-face tough football. That’s what I love to play and being in an organization that embraces that, I think it’s a good fit for me,” Houston told the Bears’ website.
Houston signed a five-year, $35 million deal with $15 million guaranteed to leave Oakland and head to Chicago, and he said he loves what the Bears franchise represents.
“I’m honored to be joining an organization that has such rich football history,” Houston said. “The things that they’ve already accomplished are something that when you join this organization you hope you can live up to. You know that you’re expected to reach certain levels and standards while you’re playing for the Bears.”
The Bears have high expectations that Houston can lead a turnaround of a defense that fell far short of the normal standards of the Monsters of the Midway in 2013.
Prior to the start of the free agent feeding frenzy on Tuesday, the San Francisco 49ers tendered contracts to a pair of their restricted free agents.
Dobbs is a restricted free agent while Wilhoite is an exclusive rights free agent. Dobbs can seek offers from other teams with the 49ers retraining the ability to match any offer sheet he would sign. Wilhoite doesn’t have that option as he has less than three accrued seasons, locking him in with the 49ers.
Dobbs has appeared in 39 games over the past three seasons with the 49ers, playing mostly on the defensive side of the ball. He had his best season last year for San Francisco with 14 tackles as a rotational player along the defensive line.
Wilhoite played in all 16 games for the 49ers last season and made two starts. He racked up 34 tackles on the year.
In search of help at the cornerback position, the New York Giants are taking a look at former New Orleans Saints Super Bowl hero Tracy Porter.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Porter is visiting the Giants after spending last season with the Oakland Raiders.
The Giants suffered injuries to the cornerback position that saw Trumaine McBride and Prince Amukamara elevated into starting roles. Corey Webster and Aaron Ross each appeared in just four games with the Giants before being lost for the year to injury.
Porter had a strong bounce-back season with the Raiders last season after a myriad of issues in 2012. While with the Denver Broncos, Porter suffered a seizure and the aftereffects forced him to miss a significant amount of time. When he did returned, he suffered a concussion and was unable to play in the playoffs.
With Oakland last season, Porter started all 16 games. He racked up 67 tackles with two interceptions and even 1.5 sacks.
The Cleveland Browns apparently have no interest in slowing down on the free agent market.
Trufant built himself into a valued special teams player and reserve defensive back over the last four seasons with the Jets.
It’s been a long road for Trufant, who began his career with the Spokane Shock in the lower tier of the Arena Football League in 2006. After playing for three teams in five seasons in the AFL, Trufant played two years with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League before finally getting his chance to latch on with the Jets in 2010.