We know the familiar names will show up on the NFL’s biggest stage, but who are the unsung heroes that can tilt the pendulum in their team’s favor?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Unsung heroes of Super Bowl XLVII
Free agent left tackle Branden Albert must really like South Beach.
Otherwise, how would he have seemingly settled on a destination without having been made a firm offer?
According to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald, the technicalities are just that, and Albert will “be a Dolphin.”
Of course, Salguero points out that nothing is 100 percent done, which is because by the letter of the law it can’t be. The league has sent out its memo telling teams they can’t do the kind of thing that is apparently being done here, which is share numbers and reach agreements.
Which, of course, no one believes.
Miami landing Albert would be a huge step in rebuilding their offensive line, but more work needs to be done.
As soon as it can be officially done, of course.
Martha Ford, the widow of William Clay Ford Sr., will inherit the Detroit Lions. Their son Bill Ford Jr. will remain the team’s vice chairman.
The Lions announced on Monday, a day after the death of Ford Sr., that Martha Ford will inherit controlling interest in the team.
“Pursuant to long-established succession plans, Mr. Ford’s controlling interest in Lions passes to Mrs. Martha Ford. She and her four children will continue to be involved in the ownership of the franchise, as they have during Mr. Ford’s tenure,” the team said in a statement.
Bill Ford Jr., who has played an increasingly prominent role in the Lions, will likely be the public face of team ownership. The Lions are not expected to make any significant changes in the front office.
Longtime Lions owner William Clay Ford died on Sunday and the team announced that his widow will take over as chairman of the team while Bill Ford Jr. will remain the team’s vice chairman.
On Monday’s PFT Live, Mike Florio will talk to Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press about what impact the loss of the elder Ford will have on the team’s operations. With free agency opening on Tuesday, there will also be some discussion of the Lions’ plans and president Tom Lewand’s statement that a Ndamukong Suh extension isn’t essential to fulfilling those plans.
The only free agent quarterback market that the Lions will be in is one for backups should Shaun Hill not be re-signed. This year’s crop of free agent signal callers is long on backups, but short of potential starters outside of Michael Vick and Josh McCown. Florio will preview the group during Monday’s show.
It all gets going at noon ET and you can watch it all live by clicking right here.
They haven’t come to an agreement yet, but they are reportedly still trying to make it happen. Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets continue to push for a contract with Howard as he also speaks to other teams that are hoping the Jets aren’t able to secure a signature on the dotted line.
Howard, who placed 60th on PFT’s Hot 100 list of free agents, has started 32 straight games for the Jets and turned in a solid season as a pass blocker in 2013. Right tackles don’t break the bank the way their counterparts on the left side of the line do, but their value has risen in the last couple of years as teams do all they can to secure strong blocking across their entire frontline.
The Patriots turned to Michael Hoomanawanui last year when their tight end position was a mess on and off the field.
Monday, he was rewarded for it.
According to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, Hoomanawanui agreed to a two-year deal to stay with the Patriots.
While he was a solid complementary tight end, the Patriots obviously need a healthy Rob Gronkowski this year, as Hoomanawanui posted 12 receptions for the season, scoring one touchdown.
Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan primarily coached units that played 3-4 schemes prior to landing in Atlanta, but he has run a 4-3 base defense for head coach Mike Smith over the last two seasons.
The addition of an outside linebackers coach to the squad creates some question about whether there might be some schematic changes coming to Atlanta in 2014. Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that the team has promoted Mark Collins from defensive assistant to the outside linebacker position, which was not a position on the Falcons staff in the past.
Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports that there’s been talk from some Falcons players about just such a change and points out a slew of free agents and draft-eligible players who would help facilitate a change in schemes. It’s all speculative, but free agency could wind up telling the story of how the Falcons defense lines up next season.
Marvez also reports that the Falcons have hired former Southern Miss safeties coach Andrew Thacker to replace Collins as the team’s defensive assistant.
The team announced that they have re-signed linebacker Larry Dean. Dean was eligible for restricted free agency, but re-signing now means that he and the Vikings won’t have to do a dance involving tender offers.
Dean joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2011 and has seen action in all 48 regular season games and one postseason game with the team since then. Most of that action has come on special teams, where he has 48 overall tackles. Dean had four of those tackles against the Ravens last December, the most special teams stops in a game by any member of the team last season.
Dean joins cornerback Marcus Sherels as potential restricted free agents that the Vikings have re-signed ahead of the start of free agency. They were the only two players eligible for that designation this season.
At this point, the Bears signing Michael Bennett will seem almost anticlimactic when it happens, because everyone in the world assumes that’s where he’s going to land.
The Seahawks defensive end tried to play coy during an appearance on the NFL Network Monday morning, saying: “I got to leave it suspenseful right now.”
But his brother, Bears tight end Martellus Bennett is already making plans for what life will be like playing with his brother.
“The No. 1 thing is family,” Martellus said, via Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune. “You’re going to get paid wherever you get paid, but to be able to play—this is history. Two brothers—I don’t think there’s ever been two brothers that played on the same time.”
While that’s not true, the plan Martellus — who once dubbed himself “The Black Unicorn” — has dreamed up could be fantastic.
“If the contract is not the numbers that you want, you got to think about the market and off the field,” the Bears tight end said. “We could do Doublemint commercials. Look at Duck Dynasty. Talk about the Black Duck Dynasty right now. Me and you, bro. So it’s just a lot of opportunity. Chicago is the best fans, unique city, great opportunities business-wise, which I know there’s a lot of things you want to do off the field after football. None of those things are tech or coffee, so, I mean, Seattle, that’s what they’re offering you. So come on down to Chicago, man.
“Usually when you go from another team to another team, you may have a friend there. You may just be jumping into the water. But there there’s a bridge. Your brother is the bridge.”
And from that bridge, they may shoot ducks and grow beards together.
After playing well in five starts while filling in for Jay Cutler last season, Josh McCown wants to be a starting quarterback in 2014. And he thinks there are teams willing to give him the opportunity to do that.
McCown said on Mike & Mike that some teams have already expressed interest in signing him when he officially becomes a free agent on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’ve talked to four teams,” McCown said. “There have been good discussions and we’ll take those as they come and evaluate those situations.”
McCown said he loved playing in Chicago and thinks of Cutler as a brother. But McCown has no chance to compete for the starting job in Chicago, and he doesn’t want to spend 2014 holding a clipboard.
“To leave Chicago it will be a situation where I’m looking to compete to start, or to start, and to grow more as a player,” McCown said. “The only way you can do that as a player is on the field. So that will definitely be something that we’re looking at.”
It’s kind of amazing that the 34-year-old McCown is viewed as a potential starter, considering that the NFL had more or less given up on him a couple years ago. But McCown threw 13 touchdown passes and just one interception and had better numbers than Cutler last year, and he’s hoping that he proved he has enough left that he can be some team’s starter.
“Two years ago I was coaching high school football,” McCown said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”
James Walker of ESPN.com reports that the safety is looking for an average salary of around $9 million from any team that wants to sign him when such signings become a possibility on Tuesday. There’s no word on whether he’s found interest at that price tag over the weekend.
If Byrd did land a deal averaging $9 million a year, he’d slot in behind Eric Berry and just ahead of Eric Weddle and Dashon Goldson when it comes to highest averages among safeties. Byrd’s desire to secure a contract in that range led to a long standoff with the Bills after they placed the franchise tag on him last season as Buffalo wasn’t willing to meet his price for a long-term deal.
There have been reports of interest in Byrd from both Miami and St. Louis, although predicted interest from the Browns has yet to materialize. Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com adds that the Eagles, who need safety help, haven’t shown much interest “yet,” which may have something to do with the price tag that Byrd is looking for this offseason.
Welcome back to work. The place where you do most of your non-work Internet perusing while you otherwise should be working.
While you weren’t working, you may have missed some news from the NFL’s weekend of legal tampering, where teams can negotiate but make no offers — and where it’s free to show “interest” in a player, which in turn gives those who were working this weekend something to post on Twitter.
What it means remains to be seen, but it was something to post on Twitter. So here we go.
And he’ll potentially blame someone else for it.
He also makes it clear there’s nothing wrong with his foot or knee.
But teams are more concerned about the thing perched on his neck.
The Bucs (along with about 25 percent of the league) are interested in DE Michael Johnson.
The Mean Machine has ongoing interest in Ravens players.
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett possibly was interested in checking out a potential 2015 employer.
While the vaguely worded world of legal tampering allows teams to negotiate but not offer, to express interest but not too much, it’s hard to divine what’s real and what’s fake.
But Texans defensive end Antonio Smith apparently has some real, tangible plane tickets lined up.
According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, Smith has a pair of visits scheduled this week, among the four teams showing interest.
Players can begin visiting (and agreeing to things) on Tuesday.
Smith’s been a durable and productive player for the Texans, missing just one game the last five years and collecting 27.0 sacks. A solid 3-4 end, he could also project as an interior rusher in a 4-3, which gives him a better chance than some veterans in the open market.
The Vikings signed Jasper Brinkley on Sunday, but that doesn’t appear to have put an end to their search for linebacking help.
Adam Caplan of ESPN reported last week that Jameel McClain, who was released by the Ravens last month, would visit with the Vikings on Monday. Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the meeting is still expected to take place even though Brinkley has been brought on board.
McClain played mostly on the inside for the Ravens, which would presumably put him in the mix for the middle linebacker job left open with Erin Henderson’s release. Brinkley and Audie Cole would also be part of that mix among players currently on the Vikings’ roster.
Jordan Raanan of NJ.com reported over the weekend that the “door is still open” for McClain with the Giants, who he visited last week, although they’d prefer to bring back Jon Beason. McClain also visited the Bills last week, as did Brinkley before returning for a second stint in Minnesota.
The influence of new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is already evident, based on their targets in free agency.
Of course, they’re not the only ones, as six other teams are reportedly also in the mix during the legal tampering window — though we don’t know how many or to what degree those teams are interested.
Quarless has caught 56 passes in four years, but he’s been playing behind Jermichael Finley, so McAdoo apparently thinks he is ready to step out on his own now.
We’ll see if that interest turns into something more tangible, like an actual offer, starting tomorrow.
The looming battle about whether Jimmy Graham should be viewed as a tight end or wide receiver for franchise tag purposes underscores the changing responsibilities of the tight end position in the NFL.
One free agent tight end hopes that things haven’t changed so much that blocking skills have been devalued. Brandon Pettigrew hasn’t put up receiving numbers like Graham or some of the league’s other prolific pass catchers at the position, but he hopes there are teams that appreciate how often he was positioned on the line to help as a blocker when surveying the free agent market.
“I want to be used as a tight end,” Pettigrew said, via USA Today. “I want to be utilized for my run-blocking and my pass-receiving skill set.”
With Graham tagged and Dennis Pitta re-signing with the Ravens, Pettigrew is joined by Jermichael Finley and Garrett Graham at the top of the list of available tight ends. Finley’s 2013 neck injury could be a red flag for teams while Graham has limited experience as the lead guy at the position. That should lead teams to take a long look at Pettigrew and his eventual contract will tell us how much of a price teams will pay for a tight end who leads with skills that have seemed outdated at times in recent years.