While Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell are a decent receiving duo, the Panthers are still on the search for depth at the WR position. Who is on the Panthers wish list?This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
ProFootballTalk: Panthers searching for depth at WR?
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.
The looming start of free agency gives you plenty of reasons to check PFT early, often, and constantly on Monday and beyond.
Here’s another reason to stop back throughout the day: Our first mock draft of the year is coming at some point this morning. Hopefully.
It’s a pre-free agency edition, which makes it even more meaningless than usual. But we put it out to a vote, and you wanted it.
Well, enough of you wanted it to make us decide to do it even though we didn’t really want to do it.
Packers G.M. Ted Thompson has a reputation for being stingy with free-agency dollars. That’s true, as applied to free agents who have been playing for other teams.
When it comes to his own guys, Thompson spends, baby.
Most recently, Thompson spent $39 million over four years on cornreback Sam Shields, a player Peter King dubs as “pedestrian.” Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel takes a broader look at the players Thompson has paid, from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to linebacker Clay Matthews to linebacker A.J. Hawk to cornerback Tramon Williams to guard Josh Sitton to guard T.J. Lang.
Silverstein points out that some of the in-house players who were paid became mistakes, like linebacker Brandon Chillar and (perhaps) safety Morgan Burnett. And Thompson perhaps shouldn’t have let defensive end Cullen Jenkins walk.
The only big-name player signed from another team under Thompson was cornerback Charles Woodson. And that came only after quarterback Brett Favre held a bizarre golf-course press conference as part of his will-I-or-won’t-I-retire campaign and openly lobbied for the team to land an impact player on defense.
“I know when we signed Reggie White, we knew we were going to be better right away,” Favre said in April 2006. “I think people associated with the Packers said, ‘There’s a signing that will make us better.’ I think that’s what we have to do. We have to make a statement again. You have to stay up with the NFL. Teams are making statements. Sometimes you hit on them. Sometimes you don’t.”
Less than three weeks later, Woodson was a Packer.
While Thompson obviously is more comfortable with guys he knows, Thompson welcomes a slew of strangers every year via the draft. But the financial risk is much lower.
Still, the same kind of scouting principles that apply when draft players surely can be used in free agency, and Thompson could be adding guys who’d come in and make the team, as Favre said nearly eight years ago, “better right away.” Jared Allen would, for example, make the Packers better right away. Other players on both sides of the ball (specifically, the offensive line) would make the Packers “better right away.”
They don’t need to be much better. They know how to get to the playoffs consistently. They’re just having trouble advancing. At some point, the formula needs to be revised in order to get the team back to the top.
At some point, they need to welcome strangers to the organization who have shown with other teams that they can play at a high level.
One of the reasons the Buccaneers have a lot of work to do this offseason is that their roster wasn’t built with the current coaching staff in mind.
That’s the word from Bucs coach Lovie Smith, who told the Tampa Tribune that the roster he inherited doesn’t necessarily match his defense or coordinator Jeff Tedford’s offense.
“We have systems that we want to run and this roster wasn’t set up with our systems in mind,” Smith said. “Not that it’s going to be that different, but we have some changes we have to make.”
The biggest question is whether Mike Glennon, who ended last season as the starting quarterback, is a fit for what Smith and Tedford want. Smith said Glennon hasn’t proven yet that he’s a franchise quarterback, and that means the Bucs are on the lookout for a veteran to sign.
“To say right now that Mike is the answer and he’s our quarterback of the future and we’re going to build around him and give him a 20-year contract, we’re not there,” Smith said. “I like him as one of our quarterbacks right now, but we’re going to have at least four in camp and at least one [veteran] will be in the mix. And then you just let it all play out.”
Smith’s comments suggest that the Bucs will have to be big players when free agency starts tomorrow.
Eight opinions on what the Bills should do in free agency.
What’s the outlook on special teams for the Bengals this offseason?
Free agent receivers and tight ends that could be on the Browns’ radar.
Receiver help is a must for the Jaguars.
Priest Holmes and Christian Okoye are among the former players taking part in a Chiefs fantasy camp.
The Raiders are active in the left tackle market.
Could Notre Dame DT Louis Nix III be a fit with the Chargers?
The Cowboys are expected to be bargain shoppers in free agency.
Top free agent cornerbacks could cost more than the Giants can pay.
A look at the pass rush options for the Eagles.
The Redskins are hosting a Q&A with director of player personnel Scott Campbell and director of pro personnel Morocco Brown.
Current and former members of the Lions organization remembered late owner William Clay Ford on Sunday.
Re-signing players has been a good value for the Packers over the years.
On Sunday, the Mount Vernon Baptist Church held its final services in a building that will be torn down to make way for the new Falcons stadium.
The Saints continue to look at in-house options with free agency starting Tuesday.
Some older players for the 49ers to consider in free agency.
Said Seahawks WR Doug Baldwin on getting the second-round tender, “Well, we expected that. That’s just the process of this business side of it. We expected it. There are steps in this process that we have to wait on before we can move forward with it.”
A Bennett family reunion could be heading to Chicago.
Two team officials told Briggs that the team expects to sign Bennett once the free agency period opens on Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Bennett signed a one-year, $5 million deal in Seattle last year after hitting free agency as a member of the Buccaneers. The Seahawks wanted to re-sign Bennett; a report from Super Bowl Sunday said they definitely would.
At this point, it looks like they won’t, barring an unexpected development.
It’s also possible that the acquisition of Bennett via a market deal will conclude defensive end Julius Peppers‘ run with the Bears. Signed on the first day of free agency four years ago, Peppers has an $18.1 million cap number and a $13.9 million salary. If the Bears keep him at that number, they’ll have more than $40 million in 2014 cap space tied up in two players — Peppers and quarterback Jay Cutler, whose cap number is $22.5 million.
One of the top offensive linemen in free agency is reportedly set to change teams.
The Rams’ second-round pick in 2010, the 25-year-old Saffold has started 44 games in four NFL seasons. He has made starts at both tackle spots, and he has also played guard. His ability to play tackle and his relative youth are among his primary assets in free agency.
According to the Post-Dispatch, Herman did not indicate where Saffold could be headed, though the paper reported Oakland and Tampa Bay were speculated to have interest.
Saffold is ranked No. 25 in PFT’s Free Agent Hot 100.
The Bears continue to sign their own free agents — even though the guys they aren’t signing may be getting more of the attention.
Collins appeared in five games with two starts in 2013 before landing on injured reserve with a knee injury. He has played two seasons with the Bears and two before that with the Jaguars.
The younger brother of Carson Palmer, Jordan Palmer spent nine weeks on the Chicago roster in the 2013 season.
The moves mean that the Bears have re-signed 12 of their potential free agents.
It’s been a good year for Karlos Dansby.
Cut by the Dolphins last year after Dannell Ellerbe arrived via free agency, the veteran linebacker returned to Arizona on a one-year, $2.5 million deal.
After a strong season to Arizona, the Cardinals have offered Dansby a two-year deal worth $10 million to $12 million, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. Dansby, the No. 23 player on the PFT Free Agent Hot 100, hasn’t taken it, opting instead to test the market.
Dansby’s decision suggests that he’s got something else cooking for even more. Not bad for a 32-year-old linebacker who shouldn’t be making that kind of money.