Panthers LB Luke Kuechly led all rookies in tackles, but was he the most impressive rookie linebacker from 2012? The PFT crew debates.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Which rookie linebacker stood out most?
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.
The Patriots’ leading rookie receiver in 2013 is on the mend after undergoing surgery on his left foot on Monday.
A second-round pick from Marshall, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Dobson paced Patriots rookies in catches (37) and yards (519) and finished second on the club in TD catches (four). He played in 12 regular season games and one postseason contest for New England in 2013.
If the recovery period reported by the Herald is as anticipated, the 22-year-old Dobson should be ready for training camp in the summer, with his offseason workout participation in the spring a function of how quickly he heals. Considering his production, playing time earned and promise displayed in 2013, Dobson seems likely to have a regular role in the offense next season.
As the Buccaneers look for a potential trade partner for cornerback Darrelle Revis, an obvious impediment comes from his $16 million cap number for 2014.
His contract provides an easy out. As recently explained by Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune (as part of an item pooh-poohing the idea that Revis could be traded), the Revis contract contains a provision allowing the team to unilaterally convert his $13 million base salary into a signing bonus.
If, for example, the team shifted $12 million of the base salary to a signing bonus spread over the remaining life of the contract, the device would create $9.6 million in cap space for 2014, pushing his cap number down to $6.4 million.
Of course, having the power to restructure the deal is meaningless. Revis, like most players, should want to do it. If he doesn’t, then he doesn’t want to be traded. Which creates a separate problem for the team that may be acquiring him.
That’s perhaps the biggest question mark for any team that is considering a move for Revis. Does Revis want to be traded to the team in question? Or does he prefer another team?
Ultimately, does he want to simply be cut so that he can start from scratch as a free agent?
If the answer to the last question is yes, it’s going to be very hard for the Buccaneers to trade him to anyone.
Last week, the Steelers signed safety Troy Polamalu and tight end Heath Miller to contract extensions that gave the players no extra money. This week, the Steelers signed cornerback Ike Taylor to a new contract that reduces sharply his $7 million base salary for 2014.
According to Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Taylor’s base salary has dropped by $4.25 million, to $2.75 million.
Because Taylor is in the final year of his contract, the Steelers have created $4.75 million in additional cap space. Per Bouchette, the Steelers currently stand at $7 million under the cap.
It gives the Steelers some room to maneuver in free agency. Come September, when linebacker LaMarr Woodley exits the books, the Steelers will pick up another $8 million in cap space, more than enough to sign the team’s incoming class of draft picks.
So why did Taylor agree to the pay cut? Presumably, $2.75 million was as much or more than anyone else would have paid him, if he’d landed on the open market.
You wanted it. We didn’t. You won.
We’ve cobbled together a pre-free agency mock draft. With the help of a real NFL scout. Not to be confused with someone who isn’t a real NFL scout but who has picked a Twitter handle that calls himself one.
(That’s one of my favorite things about Twitter. Pick a name, and that’s what you are. For my next Twitter account, I’ll be “SpaceShuttlePilotNinja.”)
The reaction has been predictable. The self-styled draft experts scoff, taking way too seriously a process aimed primarily at framing discussions and thinking creatively. The self-styled draft experts likewise ignore the massive disconnect between the pre-draft obsession and the post-draft reality of football, where most of the names over which the self-styled draft experts have been pouring for months become forgotten. Forgotten even by the self-styled draft experts, who quickly start looking toward the next draft.
That’s the beauty of one of the NFL’s biggest cottage industries. Everyone looks forward. No one looks backward.
Which is good for the self-styled draft experts. Otherwise, those who insisted for example that a fourth-round quarterback wouldn’t slide past No. 7 possibly would be exposed.
Perry Riley has racked up 244 tackles and 6.5 sacks over the last two seasons with the Washington Redskins.
Apparently that production has made Washington want to keep him around.
According to Dianna Russini of NBC News 4 in Washington D.C., Riley has agreed to a deal to return to Redskins.
Riley has started 40 straight games for Washington since taking over as a starter midway through the 2011 season. He’s been a tackling machine for the Redskins ever since. Riley has compiled 319 tackles, 7.5 sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and 19 passes defensed over his first four seasons in D.C.
After being unable to pry Michael Bennett away from the Seattle Seahawks, the Chicago Bears have turned their attentions toward another pass rusher set to hit the market.
Chicago is in need of pass rush help. The team is attempting to trade high-priced defensive end Julius Peppers and could end up releasing him if unable to find a trading partner. With a massive cap number for 2014, a trade of Peppers would seem to be unlikely. Losing Peppers would only increase the need for capable pass rushers in Chicago.
Houston is coming off the best season of his career with the Raiders. Houston compiled 69 tackles with six sacks and two forced fumbles this season for Oakland. He’s also been durable, appearing in all 64 games over the last four seasons.
With Bennett signing with Seattle and Greg Hardy and Brian Orakpo being tagged by Carolina and Washington, respectively, Houston – along with Cincinnati’s Michael Johnson – could be the top defensive ends to actually reach free agency on Tuesday. With competent pass rushers always in demand, it could make the fight for their services more lucrative than initially anticipated.
Earlier today, Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported that the Redskins opted not to carry over $1.3 million in cap space. That was news to the Redskins.
Per a source with knowledge of the NFL’s calculations, the Redskins had no extra cap space in 2013. They actually ended up over the cap by $834,732, based on the computation of so-called “not likely to be earned incentives.”
As a result, Washington’s cap for 2014 is $132,165,268, down from the $133 million available to every team.
Pelissero’s report presumably was based on the NFLPA’s calculations, which often differ from the NFL’s numbers. For these purposes, the NFL’s figures are the rock, and the NFLPA’s are the scissors.
The Giants and Rams, also reported by Pelissero to have cap space that wasn’t carried over, also ended up over the cap due to incentives that are paid in one year and charged to the cap the next.
With free agency starting Tuesday and plenty of deals getting done, we’ll be staying up late tonight in advance of the looming frenzy.
Feel free to stay up with us.
Tomorrow night, we’ll be up all night, cranking out update after update after update in the hopes of catching every piece of news that arises.
The next 48 hours should be intense, followed by a more deliberate process of negotiations and signings. Like every year, the crush comes in the first few days.
Five years after the Great Hamster Massacre of 2009, we’ll be here for every minute of it, with no outages or slowdowns or any other problems.
Now that I’ve jinxed us, look for the whole thing to crash in the next few hours.
Now that Bennett has opted to sign a four-year, $28.5 million contract, what happens with Tate?
It could be that the Seahawks are handling Tate the same way they handled Bennett, letting Tate look for offer(s) elsewhere and swooping in once it appears that Tate has a suitor or two. With Bennett, showing up after another team thought the big free-agency fish was on the line worked, even with the Seahawks undercutting what he could have gotten elsewhere.
With Tate, there’s no guarantee the player will take less than he could get elsewhere to stay put. First, Tate has to have a serious suitor on the line. With a buyer’s market at the receiver position, Tate may not be getting significant offers; definitely not the five-year, $35 million package that as been floating around the Internet.
Regardless, the Seahawks seem to be content with letting someone else set the market before getting involved. For now, it’s unclear whether anyone is.
Well, that was fast.
We speculated within the last hour that, if the Buccaneers can’t find a trade partner for cornerback Darrelle Revis, perhaps they’ll cut him. “Perhaps” has now become “will.”
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Bucs will indeed cut Revis on Wednesday if they can’t find a trade partner. The move would avoid a $1.5 million roster bonus due Thursday. It also would cause the Bucs to avoid having a fourth-round pick upgrade to a third-round pick as the final piece of compensation to the Jets for the trade that sent Revis to Tampa last year.
(Per a league source, the fourth-round pick upgrades if Revis is on the roster after 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday.)
Last year at this time, he was due to be a free agent in 2014. If he’s cut, he’ll be a free agent in 2014. And he will have made $16 million in 2013 from the Bucs, along with a $1 million roster bonus from the Jets.
It’s unclear what he’ll get on the open market. But if he’s cut he’ll be exactly in the same place he would have been but for the trade.
The Colts have re-signed another impending free agent. But it’s not cornerback Vontae Davis.
The team announced on Monday night that defensive end Fili Moala has agreed to terms. No terms have been disclosed.
A second-round pick in 2009, appeared in every game last season, with eight regular-season starts. He started 16 games in 2011 and 14 in 2012.
Moala has 64 career appearances with 45 starts. He would have been an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.
After the Buccaneers hired Lovie Smith, we explained that the decision could end the Darrelle Revis experiment in Tampa. And we promptly were shouted down on Twitter and elsewhere as idiots, crackpots, and/or nincompoops.
While we still indeed may be those three things (and more), our analysis of the Revis situation won’t be proof of it.
Per a league source, the Buccaneers are actively shopping Revis. The development was first reported by Alex Marvez of FOX Sports, who explains that the Buccaneers are “stepping up” efforts to trade Revis. This implies that they previously were trying to trade him. Before Monday, they apparently weren’t.
There had been a theory in league circles that the Broncos and/or the Patriots were trying to shake Revis free from the Bucs. Suddenly, the story is that the Buccaneers are affirmatively trying to move him.
And here’s an intriguing angle. While it’s believed that the fourth-round pick that the Buccaneers owe the Jets to complete the trade becomes a third-round pick on the third day of the league year, it’s possible that the draft pick accelerates at 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday. (We’re currently trying to nail that down.) If true, this means that, if the Bucs trade Revis, they need a deal that compensates for the loss of a higher pick, since there’s no way to trade him before the draft pick upgrades.
Revis also is due to receive a $1.5 million roster bonus on Thursday.
So since the Broncos and Patriots were believed to be interested in trading for Revis, they’ll now try to do it, right? Not necessarily. Now that the Bucs have decided to move Revis, the Broncos, Patriots, and any other interested teams may decide to wait for the Buccaneers to cut Revis, which may be the team’s only option now that the trade cat is out of the bag and clawing up the furniture.
One way or the other, it looks like Revis will end up being a one-year player in Tampa.