Mike Florio runs down the Colts off-season to do list and says beefing up the offensive line to protect Andrew Luck is a must. Florio also says the Colts need to unleash Luck and let him run the ball. He’s smart, strong, and sturdy, and Florio wants to see him on the run.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: Colts need to beef up this off-season
Who’s up for a little in-state restricted free agency intrigue?
According to Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal, the offer sheet is for four years.
The Bengals will have seven days to match the offer. The Bengals tendered the 28-year-old Hawkins at the right-of-first-refusal level in restricted free agency, meaning they will not receive any draft pick compensation if the receiver departs.
The 5-foot-7, 180-pound Hawkins has hauled in 86 passes for 995 yards and four TDs in three seasons with Cincinnati. His quickness makes him a challenging player to deal with in space, and the Browns would likely use him as their primary slot receiver.
A University of Toledo product, Hawkins played for the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes and appeared on the reality show “Fourth And Long” before joining the Bengals.
Now, he appears in line for a nice pay bump, whether it’s in Cleveland or Cincinnati.
Free-agent quarterback Mike Vick can sign with any team at any time. Chance are he won’t be signing with any team any time soon.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Vick plans to be patient in his search for a new job. He realizes that this is likely his last chance to find a starting job, so he’s looking for the right fit.
In this regard, a very real concern becomes the possibility that his new team would acquire a quarterback in the first round of the draft after signing Vick. Vick could, in theory, go from being penciled in as the starter until May, at which time a hot-shot rookie acquires the inside track to the job.
For that reason, it’s possible Vick will wait until after the draft to make a decision. If a team in need of a quarterback doesn’t get the guy it wants, Vick becomes an instant fallback option.
At a time when teams like the Vikings and Jaguars possibly have signed their fallback options pre-emptively, Vick’s best move could be to wait and see where the top quarterbacks get drafted before committing to a team for 2014.
Vick also could decide to wait and see whether a starter gets injured, during offseason workouts or, if he chooses to let it play out into the late summer, training camp and the preseason.
Either way, a quick decision isn’t expected — unless Vick gets firm assurances that he can trust regarding what his role will be for the coming season.
Now that the Cowboys have cut defensive end DeMarcus Ware, he’ll have plenty of options.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Ware intends to be very selective about his next destination, but also to move quickly. Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that six playoff teams already have called.
Ware spent the first eight years of his career in a 3-4 defense, playing outside linebacker. Last year, he moved to defensive end in a 4-3.
The 31-year-old pass rusher was due to earn $12.75 million in 2014. He’ll have to decide whether he wants to max out his earnings, or whether he hopes to position himself for the possibility of getting to the playoffs and maybe winning a game or two — something that hasn’t happened much during his time in Texas.
The Raiders are bringing back Darren McFadden for 2014.
The club and McFadden have reached a one-year, $4 million contract, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday.
According to Joel Corry of CBSSports.com and National Football Post, $2.25 million of McFadden’s compensation is in “unlikely to be earned incentives.”
If Rashad Jennings departs in free agency, McFadden would likely be the clear-cut starting back entering 2014. Latavius Murray, Kory Sheets and Jeremy Stewart are the other backs on the Raiders’ roster. It’s also possible Oakland could add a back, what with McFadden signed through 2015.
The Buccaneers made a big early splash in free agency by landing defensive end Michael Johnson and now they have their eyes on one of Johnson’s teammates in Cincinnati.
Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports that tackle Anthony Collins will visit with the team. Collins has been linked to the Bucs for several days and is the top left tackle left on the market after the other big names landed new homes or re-signed with their teams as free agency opened.
If Collins does land in Tampa, it could spell the end of Donald Penn’s time with the team. Penn struggled as a pass blocker last season and his release would clear more than $7 million in cap space for the Buccaneers to devote elsewhere. Penn’s departure would also guarantee a very different offensive line next season with guard Davin Joseph already given his walking papers.
Collins, who came in at No. 50 on PFT‘s Hot 100 list of free agents, has played both tackle spots in Cincinnati, but did some of his best work on the left side of the line late last season. He’s started 25 games over the course of his six years with the Bengals and his departure would likely mean that Andrew Whitworth will move back to tackle after ending last season at guard.
San Francisco will swap departed safety Donte Whitner for a slightly less expensive alternative.
Shortly after Whitner signed with the Browns for $7 million a year, the 49ers have signed safety Antoine Bethea to a four-year contract that’s worth between $5 million and $6 million a year, according to several reports.
“Indy it’s been real,” Bethea wrote on Twitter. “Fans and city showed me nothing but love my eight years there and greeted me w/ open arms Appreciate all the support! Glad to be a Niner!! Going to the Bay!”
The 29-year-old Bethea has spent his entire eight-year NFL career in Indianapolis and has started all 16 games for six consecutive seasons. Bethea is the No. 39 player in our Free Agent Hot 100.
They didn’t let things get down to the wire. The team announced Tuesday that DeCoud has been released after six seasons with the team.
DeCoud has started all but two games for the Falcons over the last five seasons and made the Pro Bowl after the 2012 season. Like most other players on the Atlanta defense, though, DeCoud’s play slipped during the 2013 season and his $4.2 million base salary made him an easy target for the axe. The move will save the Falcons $3 million under the cap.
DeCoud’s release continues a busy day for the Falcons. They have signed guard Jon Asamoah, defensive end Tyson Jackson and defensive tackle Paul Soliai while re-signing center Joe Hawley and releasing the retired Tony Gonzalez.
For some players, taking a one-year contract is a stepping stone to something bigger.
Few played that card better last year than safety Mike Mitchell.
He turned a successful one-year stint with the Panthers into a new deal with the Steelers, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribiune.
Mitchell was considered a draft bust in Oakland, but had four interceptions and brought a physical presence to the Panthers secondary this offseason.
If he pairs with Troy Polamalu, it gives the Steelers a stout pair on run downs, with problems otherwise.
So why did the Falcons feel compelled to cut retired tight end Tony Gonzalez on Tuesday?
Per a league source, Gonzalez was due to receive a substantial bonus if on the roster as of Thursday. The Falcons had assumed that Gonzalez would file retirement papers, which would eliminate the bonus.
The only problem? Gonzalez hasn’t filed his retirement papers.
And possibly all that that implies.
It forced the team’s hand. And it now gives Gonzalez maximum flexibility for 2014, in the event he decides to pull a Brett Favre and return. He won’t have to clear waivers, he won’t have to force a trade.
Even if he doesn’t intend to come back, it makes sense that he has put himself in position where he has the widest possible range of options for the coming season.
The Bears, whose safety play was lacking a season ago, have dipped into free agency in an attempt to strengthen the position.
Mundy, 29, notched 77 tackles in 16 games (nine starts) for the Giants in 2013. He started the first seven games at free safety for New York but was replaced later in the season by Will Hill. Mundy joined the Giants in 2013 after four seasons with Pittsburgh.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that Tate will visit with the Lions on Tuesday night. As you’d imagine given the timing, it is the first visit for Tate since free agency opened and it wouldn’t be surprising if it wound up being the only visit given Detroit’s need at the position.
Tate had 64 catches for 898 yards and five touchdowns for the Seahawks last season and served as the team’s top receiver for most of the season. He wouldn’t have to play that role in Detroit with Megatron on the field, which could work out well for quarterback Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense as a whole.
Tate, the 26th-ranked player on PFT’s Hot 100 list of free agents, said last week that he hadn’t heard much from the Seahawks. They may be waiting for the market to give them a sense of Tate’s value, as they did with defensive end Michael Bennett, but the Lions could make the Seahawks’ strategy moot if they come up with the right offer.
The Raiders have money to spend, and they’re willing to spend it.
After landing Rams tackle Rodger Saffold earlier in the day, they’re looking at more offensive line help.
Howard’s a solid run-blocker, and the Raiders clearly need multiple players up front. There’s a chance Saffold could still be a guard, but with the money they paid him earlier in the day, that seems unlikely.
Coupled with finishing a one-year deal for running back Darren McFadden, the Raiders are making an emphasis of being more physical.
Now if they just had a quarterback.
Donte Whitner is leaving San Francisco to play in his hometown of Cleveland, and he’ll be well paid by the Browns.
A league source tells PFT that Whitner’s contract will pay him $7 million a year.
Whitner had been pursued by several teams, but he told cleveland.com that the Browns could offer him something no other team could: A chance to play where he grew up, and where his family still lives.
“I’m coming home,” Whitner said. “It’s a dream come true. Everyone dreams about playing for their hometown team and now I have that chance.”
The Browns have gone either 4-12 or 5-11 for six straight seasons, but Whitner believes things are going to change.
“I want to come back to Cleveland and help turn the team and the city around,” Whitner said. “In San Francisco, I went to the NFC Championship game once and to the Super Bowl. I know what it takes to win, and I know what it takes to prepare to win. I can share that with my teammates. We need to instill the culture of winning.”
That will be a tall order, but Whitner is excited about the opportunity.
The safety market is moving quickly, but one of the big names is making a trip that definitely was not expected.
According to multiple reports, Bills safety Jairus Byrd is on his way to New Orleans for a visit with the Saints.
The Saints are not overwhelmed with salary cap room, but they do have a glaring need for a playmaker in the back of their defense to put next to Kenny Vaccaro.
Byrd lost suitors when the Browns and Broncos went other directions, and he’s said throughout he was giving the Bills a chance after they chose to not franchise-tag him for a second straight year.
Of all the moves made on Tuesday, the least expected comes from Atlanta.
The Falcons have released tight end Tony Gonzalez.
“This was a decision we had to make with the start of the new League year as we begin retooling our roster for 2014,” G.M. Thomas Dimitroff said in a release. “On behalf of the entire Falcons organization, we wish Tony all the best in his television career and thank him for everything he did for this franchise.”
Sure, he’s retired. For that reason, the Falcons could have continued to hold his rights, at no cost or cap charge. But the Falcons never do anything without a good reason, and we trust they’ve got one for this move.
In cutting him loose, Gonzalez is now available to join any team that gets off to a great start in 2014 and believes that Gonzalez would be a key component for a stretch run.
Gonzalez has said that, given his decision to go to work for CBS, he won’t be coming back. Either way, he now has 31 other options, if he chooses to yield to the temptation to unretire.