Tom Brady recently signed a three-year, $27 million extension with the Patriots, and Erik Kuselias wonders what effect this has on Joe Flacco’s negotiations with the Ravens. Mike Florio says progress is being made, but the two sides still have a long way to go.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: How does Brady’s deal impact Flacco?
The Jaguars have just bolstered their rebuilding effort with a big addition to their defense.
Red Bryant, a starting defensive end on last year’s Super Bowl-winning Seahawks team, has signed with Jacksonville. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that it’s a four-year deal.
The 6-foot-4, 323 pound Bryant has started every game but one in the last three seasons for Seattle. Overall he’s been with the Seahawks for six years, having arrived as a fourth-round pick in 2008.
Although the official free agency period hasn’t started yet, Bryant is eligible to sign now because he was released by the Seahawks in a cost-cutting move.
Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was the Seahawks’ defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2012, so he knows Bryant well. Bryant will be a big part of Bradley’s efforts to turn around the struggling Jaguars.
Colts punter Pat McAfee has talked to the team about potentially becoming their field goal kicker as well.
McAfee, who already handles kickoffs for the Colts, said after signing his new five-year contract that he would like to add field goals to his duties. McAfee said he hopes free agent kicker Adam Vinatieri returns this year, but after Vinatieri leaves, McAfee wants a crack at the job.
“It was definitely brought up and that was kind of the thing I think that was most talked about,” McAfee said, in comments distributed by the team. “Who knows what’s going to happen with Vinatieri? If he gets re-signed, if he wants to get re-signed, however long he wants to play, I just wanted to know whenever that guy is done, whenever that Hall-of-Fame career is over, that I just want a fair shake in kicking as well. That came up in the conversation. Who knows what’s going to happen with everything else obviously with him or who else they bring in. That definitely came up during negotiations and I’m excited to see how that turns out as well.”
McAfee was both punter and kicker in college at West Virginia, and at one point he owned the record for the longest field goal ever kicked at Heinz Field, having booted a 51-yarder against the Pitt Panthers. So he has the skills for the job.
However, it’s very, very rare in today’s NFL for teams to even consider having one person handle all the kicking. NFL teams typically want a punter to spend all his time practicing punting and a field goal kicker to spend all his time practicing field goal kicking. The Falcons had a disastrous experiment in 2006, when Michael Koenen opened the season as both the punter and the kicker. They scrapped that idea just two weeks into the season, after Koenen missed six of his first eight field goal attempts.
Still, finding one player who can handle all the kicking would free up a roster spot when depth is needed at another position. As the NFL considers phasing out the extra point after already making touchbacks easier on kickoffs, teams might start to think the kicking game has become less important, and consider devoting just one roster spot to kicking. If it happens any time soon, McAfee would likely be the man to do it.
Now that the official tampering period has begun, teams are able to negotiate with agents (sort of). While any offers and agreements are prohibited, teams are permitted to outline terms that potentially would be offered as of Tuesday, when free agency opens.
Those terms that are being outlined almost definitely will mirror the offers officially made on Tuesday.
Based on the terms that have been outlined in the 150 minutes since the window for legal tampering opened, it’s looking better than last year. A lot better.
“Deals will be higher across this year across the board,” one league source said. “Teams will be spending this year.”
That meshes with recent comments from Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman, who predicted a more active free agency cycle in 2014: “[W]hen you look at this free agency class and you compare it to last year and the year before, it doesn’t have as much talent as it’s had the last couple of years, so I think that more so the teams who have money and want to go into the free agent market, they’re going to be even more aggressive to get those done quickly.”
With the salary cap increasing by $10 million per team this year and potentially spiking to $160 million by 2016, teams not only can spend — they have to. The new labor deal requires teams to spend 89 percent of the unadjusted cap on a (for now) rolling four-year average. So even if teams prefer to build a team with minimum-salary players, teams now must spend.
And they apparently will spend.
We likely won’t know specifics on any spending until Tuesday, thanks to the memo that as a practical matter will prompt teams and agents to say nothing about potential contracts before the signing period launches. As one source explained it, however, teams typically honor the non-binding discussions that occur during the legal tampering period and the non-legal tampering period.
Otherwise, it becomes hard for teams to do business. This year, plenty of business is about to be done.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, that’s exactly what Raji is doing. Raji intends to see what other teams might be willing to offer, Rapoport reported Saturday.
The question now is whether the 27-year-old Raji can garner a more enticing deal from another club. For Raji, compensation and how he will be utilized in a defensive scheme figure to be factors in his decision-making process. The latter point could be especially important relative to his playing future and his future earning power, especially if he garners just a short-term deal now. If Raji takes a one-year deal, he must be confident he will be utilized in a manner that best suits his skills.
It will be interesting to see if any teams gamble on Raji recapturing his best form. Three seasons ago, he notched 6.5 sacks for a Super Bowl-winning team. Moreover, he was a first-round pick just five years ago. Perhaps there’s a team that rolls the dice and comes up a winner, a la Denver with defensive tackle Terrance Knighton last March.
As quarterback Mike Vick prepares to become a free agent for the first time since the days after he gained his freedom in 2009, a couple of potential candidates can be crossed off the list.
In recent days, the Jaguars and Vikings had emerged as potentially interested teams. On Friday, both re-signed veteran quarterbacks for amounts that would make it unlikely that another veteran quarterback will be signed at a similar rate.
As to the Jaguars, word emerged only recently that they had interest. Some believe that the interest wasn’t genuine, and that it was part of the effort to get Henne to agree to terms.
As to the Vikings, the possibility of signing Vick emerged after tailback Adrian Peterson played G.M.-for-a-tweet and lobbied the team to sign the former Falcons and Eagles starter. In the aftermath of Peterson’s passive-aggressive power play, it was believed that Vick could land with the Vikings, if Matt Cassel signed elsewhere. With Cassel now getting a reported $10 million over two years, it makes little sense for the Vikings to spend as much if not more for Vick.
Both teams have first-round quarterbacks from 2011 on the roster, but each has a very reasonable salary for 2014. Blaine Gabbert, the 10th pick three years ago, has a base salary of $2.011 million. Christian Ponder, the 12th selection in 2011, will earn $1.76 million. Both will be much cheaper than a veteran free agent with similar experience.
Look for both teams to add at least one rookie, and for neither to be interested in a veteran who would want as much or more than the amounts to be paid to Henne and Cassel. Also look for Vick to look for a team where he’ll be paid as much or more than Cassel received in Minnesota — and where Vick will have a legitimate chance to win the starting job.
Per Jordan Ranaan of NJ.com, the Giants made a recent effort to renew Tuck’s contract.
Ranaan reports that it’s believed the offer was made this week. On the surface, it suggests the Giants want to keep Tuck. Without knowing the terms, however, it’s possible the Giants made a perfunctory offer to allow the team to say “we tried to keep him” after he signs with, say, the Eagles.
The soon-to-be-31-year-old performed well last year, despite the Giants’ struggles. After a couple of disappointing seasons, Tuck rebounded with 11 sacks.
It’ll be interesting to see whether Tuck attracts a significant offer on the open market. If the financial numbers aren’t there, he could be a candidate to do a short-term deal with a Super Bowl contender — if he’s willing to take less money in the hopes of expanding his collection of Super Bowl rings to three.
All the teams lining up to talk to free agents have an extra name to add to their list, one who could be signed immediately.
The Bucs had reportedly shopped him in trade, but the combination of his age (30), injury (coming off knee surgery) and cost ($6 million base salary) made that unlikely. Coming off a staph infection (even if it wasn’t MRSA)
While Joseph struggled last year, his track record should earn him a look elsewhere, especially if he can pass a physical and convince teams last year’s struggles were health related.
Jadeveon Clowney is the most talented defensive player in this year’s NFL draft, but that doesn’t make him the best.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock was an early occupant of the Mack bandwagon, saying before the Scouting Combine that he would take Mack over Clowney. Mayock even said he would take Mack with the first overall pick in the draft.
Clowney is freakishly talented and probably would have been the first overall pick in last year’s draft, if not for the NFL’s rule requiring players to be three years out of high school before entering the draft. But during the 2013 season at South Carolina, a consensus began to emerge that Clowney’s work ethic doesn’t match his talent.
Mack, meanwhile, had a phenomenal 2013 season at the University at Buffalo, and some evaluators think Mack’s versatility against the run and the pass makes him a better fit in certain schemes than Clowney, who is primarily an edge pass rusher. Mack turned in a very good performance at the Scouting Combine, and there are no questions about Mack’s work ethic.
The smart money is still on Clowney being the first defensive player off the board. But there are personnel people in the NFL who would rather have Mack.
Yes, it’s happened again. And this time it’s even more bizarre.
The same conflicting signals sent by the NFL in 2013 have been sent again regarding the legal tampering period. This time, however, the NFL has tried to reconcile that which is inherently irreconcilable.
The rules say that negotiations with the agents of free agents may occur starting at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, but that no contract may be executed (i.e., signed) before 4:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The NFL has supplemented the rules with a memo, a copy of which PFT has obtained, articulating a warped interpretation of the standard in a way that makes it pointless to try to negotiate anything.
The rules say negotiations may occur. Last year’s memo says no agreement of any kind may be reached. This year’s memo tries to bridge an unbridgeable gap of logic.
The memo permits a team to “[s]ubmit a written summary of the club’s negotiating position,” to “[e]xpress its position as to signing bonus, length of contract, amounts of signing bonus and yearly compensation, and other items,” to “[a]djust its negotiating position in response to a certified agent’s position,” and “[e]ngage in an oral exchange of positions.”
However, the team must say that it’s only articulating a “negotiating position,” not “making an offer.” Under the memo, no offers can be made, and no express or implied agreements can be reached.
Last year, the memo scared teams away from striking agreements in principle — or at least from letting it be known via media leaks that agreements in princinple had been reached. As the NFL tries to create a letter-of-intent-style signing day for free agency, maybe that’s the real purpose of this now-annual memo, which in its effort to become more clear has made everything only more vague.
The league, which surely realizes negotiations have been occurring discreetly (or otherwise) for weeks, doesn’t want the next three days to entail scattered reports that a player will sign as of Tuesday with a specific team. This approach allows the NFL’s in-house media conglomerate to engineer a maximum TV and online audience when the light officially goes from red to green.
The NFL knows there’s no way at this point to apply the brakes to negotiations that already have started. But by issuing a strict, nonsensical memo that prevents negotiations from leading to their natural outcome, the league ensures that Tuesday will be yet another appointment date on the ever-growing league calendar.
Maybe I shouldn’t complain about that. . . .
Still, the memo isn’t about stopping negotiations from happening and agreements in principle from being reached. It’s about ensuring that news of deals that already have been reached on a wink-nod basis won’t be released until the curtain is raised on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, when millions of NFL fans flock to their televisions, computers, tablets, and phones to find out who their favorite teams are signing, and who their favorite teams are losing.
Yeah, I definitely shouldn’t complain about that. . . .
Until then, the flurry of behind-the-scenes activity that will culminate in those announcements will remain (ideally for the NFL) as silent and discreet as the weeks of tampering that already has been occurring.
And that’s what bugs me the most about this. The NFL isn’t trying to keep negotiations from resulting in tentative agreements. The NFL is trying to keep the fans from finding out what’s really happening until the NFL is ready for the fans to know.
Vince Wilfork has one more year with a $7.5 million salary on his current contract with the Patriots, but New England would like to change those terms.
Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com reports that the Patriots have had recent discussions with representatives for Wilfork about altering his contract. Presumably, the Patriots would like to reduce Wilfork’s number this year, either by getting him to accept a pay cut or getting him to take an extension that spreads some of this year’s $11.6 million cap hit into future years.
With Wilfork coming off a season in which he suffered a torn Achilles tendon, and heading into a season in which he’ll turn 33 years old, it’s possible that the Patriots could release Wilfork if he isn’t interested in altering his current deal.
Wilfork has been a great player in New England for his entire 10-year career, but even great players are often asked to take less money or shown the door, especially once they’ve suffered significant injuries and hit the wrong side of 30. Right now there’s no indication that the talks between Wilfork and the Patriots have grown acrimonious, but there’s no sign that they’re close to an agreement, either.
The Jets have hired Ian Lasher, a former ESPN employee, to serve as Senior V.P. of Corporate Sponsorships.
Now that former Bills WR Andre Reed has made it to the Hall of Fame, he sent some of his stuff there for display.
Long-time Dolphins P.R. chief Harvey Greene has become the team’s V.P. of historical affairs; Jason Jenkins becomes the team’s new V.P. of communications.
Could the Ravens make an uncharacteristic splash in free agency?
The Browns have fired player engagement director Aaron Shea, a former tight end with the team. (They’ll fire his successor in a year or so.)
Former Steelers WR Antwaan Randle El is coach, mentor, and athletics director at Virginia Academy, a private school in the D.C. area.
Bengals free-agents could be making a beeline to Minnesota, for a reunion with Mike Zimmer.
Now with the Colts, former Cleveland coach Rob Chudzinski had a major role in recruiting LB D’Qwell Jackson to Indy.
Vegas doesn’t have a lot of faith in the Chiefs for 2014.
With 17 unrestricted free agents and $66 million in cap space, the Raiders can go in a lot of different directions. (Fans are hoping one of them is “up”.)
Coach Tom Coughlin gave a pep talk to a lacrosse team that borrowed the Giants’ practice facility this week.
Eagles G.M. Howie Roseman believes that, with more teams having money to spend than last year but less talent available, the early days of free agency will see more aggressive moves than last year.
The Lions have tendered KR Jeremy Ross, an exclusive-rights free agent (i.e., not a free agent) who became the first member of the franchise to return a kick and a punt for a touchdown in the same game since 1977.
It’s one thing to want to add 5,000 seats to Soldier Field, the Bears’ home stadium; it’s another to figure out where to put them.
A Vikings fan who wore a purple and yellow sombrero to a 2012 game at Lambeau Field was acquitted of battery charges but convicted of disorderly conduct.
At a time when the Panthers are focused on keeping their own, here are 10 free agents who could help improve the team.
The Buccaneers have re-signed LB Jonathan Casillas, who started four games last season.
Cardinals G.M. Steve Keim says the team’s experience in 2013 proves that “there’s no reason to rush and go out and overspend.”
The Seahawks’ 12th man jersey currently ranks 10th in all jersey sales.
Teams can begin negotiating with free agents at noon today. By 12:01, Chiefs guard Jon Asamoah may be on the phone with the Jets.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports that the Jets will make a play for Asamoah.
The Chiefs drafted Asamoah out of Illinois in the third round of the 2010 NFL draft, and he’s spent his whole NFL career in Kansas City. Last year he played in 14 games, starting nine. Asamoah is a good pass blocker who would give the Jets an upgrade over Willie Colon, who started all 16 games at right guard for the Jets last season. Colon is a free agent and is recovering from a torn biceps tendon suffered in Week 17, so it’s unknown whether he’ll be back.
Asamoah is No. 61 on our Free Agent Hot 100.
Last March, the NFL acknowledged years of pre-free agency tampering by opening for the first time a three-day window allowing teams to negotiate with agents of impending free agents.
Then, just before the window opened, the NFL sent a memo that scared everyone straight.
The rule said this: “Beginning at 12:00 midnight ET on Saturday, March 9 (i.e., after 11:59:59 p.m. ET, on Friday, March 8) and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 12, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2012 Player Contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 12.” (Emphasis added.)
The memo said this: “[P]rior to the beginning of the new League Year it is impermissible for a club to enter into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent for inclusion in a Player Contract after the start of the new League Year.” (Emphasis added.)
The two messages were inconsistent. The rule said negotiations may happen but that a contract “cannot be executed” before the official start of free agency. But the memo severely limited the negotiations that may occur. It was impossible to negotiate anything if the possibility of actually negotiating to a consensus was prohibited.
This year, the rule is the same, with a 12-hour delay in the launch of the tampering window: “Beginning at 12:00 noon ET on Saturday, March 8 and ending at 3:59:59 p.m. ET on Tuesday, March 11, clubs are permitted to contact, and enter into negotiations with, the certified agents of players who will become Unrestricted Free Agents upon the expiration of their 2013 player contracts at 4:00 p.m. ET on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until 4:00 p.m. ET on March 11.” (Emphasis added.)
This year, we’ve yet to determine whether the NFL supplemented the rules, published to the media on Thursday, with a memo scaring the teams away from negotiating at all for fear of inadvertently “enter[ing] into an agreement of any kind, express or implied, oral or written, or promises, undertakings, representations, commitments, inducements, assurances of intent or understandings of any kind concerning the terms or conditions of employment offered to, or to be offered to, any prospective Unrestricted Free Agent.”
Presumably, the NFL was hoping to avoid a flurry of reports from the three-day tampering period that a given player had agreed to terms with a given team, like the flurry of reports that arose when the NFL utilized a brief negotiating period after the end of the lockout in 2011. Some think the league hopes to eventually craft — and market — a “signing day” for the NFL, where players announce one after another their decisions regarding their next NFL contract, like high-school players picking a college. Possibly by picking up the putting on their heads the latest offerings of the league’s official cap provider.
Regardless of whether this year’s legal tampering window leads to real negotiations resulting in actual agreements that will become binding contracts on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET, the reality is that the negotiations have been occurring for weeks. Opening a three-day window for permissible (yet meaningless) tampering didn’t stop the more meaningful tampering that occurs before the three-day window opens.
Keith Bulluck was a teammate of Chris Johnson’s in Tennessee for two seasons, and Bulluck doesn’t seem to think Johnson is the kind of guy new Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt should want in his locker room.
That’s not so much because Johnson ran for a career-low 1,077 yards and averaged a career-low 3.9 yards a carry last season, but because Johnson can’t accept responsibility for his declining numbers. Bulluck says Johnson always thinks someone else deserves the blame for his struggles.
“He’s a friend of mine but when it comes to athlete, he’s a ‘me’ person. He’s a ‘me’ person when it comes to the athlete. For the years that he’s been there, it’s never been his fault why he didn’t have a good running game or why he didn’t have a good game. It was always somebody else’s fault,” Bulluck said on The Midday 180, via Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com.
If that’s how Johnson’s friends talk about him, I’d hate to hear what his enemies say.
Bulluck also said that Johnson should have been to the Titans facility to meet Whisenhunt and talked to him about wanting to stay with the team. The fact that Johnson has made no such overture, Bulluck says, speaks volumes.
“If I wanted to be there and it was important to me, I would make it my duty — especially considering I have a house there — I would make it my business to get in and say, ‘Look, what’s going on, blah, blah, blah,’” Bulluck said. “Even if I’m not going to be on the team, just to meet him. It’s just professionalism. But, I will say, different strokes for different folks. Some people are too cool for school, some people don’t get it, they don’t get how things work.”
Johnson’s $8 million salary makes it unlikely that the Titans will keep him around this season, unless he agrees to take a pay cut — which he has shown no interest in doing. Before the season starts, there’s a good chance that Johnson will take his act to some other locker room.
With free agency opening next week, the biggest name in the running back market belongs to Texans tailback Ben Tate.
After four years in Houston, Tate plans to become one of the top running backs in the league.
“I think I can bring you an elite running back,” Tate told Mark Berman of FOX 26 in Houston. “I’ve learned a lot being behind Arian [Foster]. Definitely, when I’m healthy I think I’m an elite running back in this league, and I feel like I can show my abilities and my numbers and my play will speak for itself, and guys will be able to see that I am a guy who is a top-five running back in this league, which I believe once I get out there and get to show that on a consistent basis.”
“It lets me know that my hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed,” Tate said. “Even with my limited, I guess you would say my limited amount of snaps and my limited amount of being able to be out there and play, that my talent is still recognized. It’s very much appreciated.”
Tate says he has come to terms with the fact that he’ll have to leave Houston.
“I have, I have,” Tate said. “I’m very grateful for the Texans selecting me and giving me an opportunity coming out of college. Without a doubt I’m very grateful for that. I just see it as a chapter closing in my life and opening a new chapter.”
The old chapter consisted of 1,992 yards in three seasons with the team, after breaking an ankle in the preseason opener of his rookie season. In 2011, he gained 942 yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry.
It’s unclear whether his potential production will result in a major payday. In recent years, veteran tailbacks receive roughly $3 million to $4 million per year. Few running backs get much more than that, because teams tend to skew younger at the tailback position. When the 2014 season starts, Tate will be 26.