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2015 Free Agency Open Discussion

Updating some of the biggest free agent signings of the day, and some we might have missed last night:

Dallas re-signs WR Cole Beasley for four years, $13.6 million
Green Bay re-signs OT Bryan Bulaga for five years, "just under $7 million per year"
Indianapolis signs RB Frank Gore (SF) for three years, $12 million
Jacksonville signs OT Jermey Parnell (DAL) for five years, $32 million
Jacksonville signs LB Dan Skuta (SF)
Kansas City signs WR Jeremy Maclin (PHI) for five years, $55 million
Kansas CIty signs S Tyvon Branch (OAK)
New York Giants sign RB Shane Vereen (NE) for three years, $12 million
Oakland signs LB Curtis Lofton (NO)
Philadelphia signs CB Walter Thurmond (NYG)
San Francisco signs DL Darnell Dockett (ARI) for two years, $7.5 million
Seattle signs CB Cary Williams (PHI)
Tennessee signs WR Harry Douglas (ATL)
Washington signs DT Ricky Jean-Francois (IND)

Miami finally signs DT Ndamukong Suh (DET). The deal is reportedly for six years and $114 million, with $60 million guaranteed.

As expected, Indianapolis signs WR Andre Johnson (HOU). We will update with terms when they become available. Expect a bevy of "Andrew-to-Andre" headlines this fall.

EVENING UPDATE

Arizona signs DE Cory Redding (IND) and OL A.Q. Shipley (also IND)
Tampa Bay signs LB Bruce Carter (DAL)
New England signs pass rusher Jabaal Sheard (CLE)

THURSDAY UPDATE

Philadelphia signs RB DeMarco Murray (DAL) for a five-year, $42 million deal that includes $21 million guaranteed.
Oakland signs FS Nate Allen (PHI).
Tampa Bay signs DT Henry Melton (DAL) and FS Chris Conte (CHI).
Baltimore re-signs RB Justin Forsett.
New Orleans signs CB Brandon Browner (NE).
Atlanta signs DE Adrian Clayborn (TB).

Also, a Thursday trade: New Orleans trades G Ben Grubbs to Kansas City for a fifth-round pick.

THURSDAY NIGHT UPDATE
New York Jets sign CB Antonio Cromartie (ARI).
Miami signs TE Jordan Cameron (CLE).
Philadelphia signs RB Ryan Mathews (SD), officially.
St. Louis signs LB Akeem Ayers (NE).
Washington signs DT Terrance Knighton (DEN) to a one-year, $4 million contract.

FRIDAY MIDDAY UPDATE
New Olreans trades WR Kenny Stills to Miami for LB Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick.
St. Louis signs DT Nick Fairley (DET) to a one-year, $5 million deal.
Dallas signs RB Darren McFadden (OAK) for two years, $5.9 million.
Washington signs CB Chris Culliver (SF) for four years, $32 million.
Washington also signs DT Terrance Knighton (DEN) for one year, $4 million.
Tennessee signs LB Brian Orakpo (WAS) for four years, $32 million, $13.5 million guaranteed.
Tennessee also re-signs LB Derrick Morgan for four years, $30 million.
Buffalo signs WR/KR Percy Harvin (NYJ) to a one-year deal.
New Orleans signs RB C.J. Spiller (BUF) to a four -year deal for $18 million, $9 million guaranteed.
Miami trades WR Mike Wallace and a seventh-round pick to Minnesota in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
Oakland signs QB Christian Ponder (MIN).

Comments

337 comments, Last at 26 Mar 2015, 4:29pm

7 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Is the implication they had to give up McCoy to get enough cap space for Matthews? They had more than enough to bring him in, they're still way under the cap. You can't just lump in any mildly good player they bring in as being a result of that trade. You might as well have said Brandon Graham or Walter Thurmond or something, but all would equally arbitrary and disingenuous.

Right now, the Eagles are worse off at these positions than at the beginning of the off-season:
QB
RB
WR
O-line
S (which is almost inconceivable)

They are exactly the same at:
D-line
TE

They might be better at these position but because of injury and unproven players with thin resumes, the jury is still out:
CB
LB

They have also given up a 2nd round pick to achieve this state.

And you can't cry "but cap space!" because they're well under the cap even now. They should've kept McCoy if this was all they were going to have to show for free agency. This is a disaster - this was not a great team to begin with. They lacked depth at every position but RB, QB and D-line. They sorta, maybe improved LB depth and got thinner everywhere else (if you consider adding injury-prone players to be something that should be take as a factor in terms of depth.)

Don't try to find some angle where anything Kelly did looks good. Nothing he did looks good. It looks very, very bad.

Now, if everyone stays healthy and players like up to the wildest ideas of their potential (Maxwell is a true #1CB, either Matthews becomes a Pro Bowler, Ertz improves, Thurmond looks how he did on the Seahawks, Bradford earns his spot as the #1 overall pick, Alonso is DPOY) then it could work out. But it's a Giant pile of "if's" and almost all came at well above-market rates.

30 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Actually, they're not well under the cap now, thanks to Sam effin' Bradford and his wonderful $13M cap hit. Over the Cap has them at $21M, but that's without Maxwell and Mathews, so more practically they're probably around $10-15M now, which is pretty low. In fact, I'd say they'd have trouble signing Murray, enough so that we may hear about the Eagles wanting someone to renegotiate a contract, or possibly another trade/cut (Celek or Ryans look tempting, or if they really plan on keeping Bradford, resigning him to a 4-5 year deal would work) if Murray really looks in the mix. You need a few million for the rookies, and at least $5M or more for in-season vets.

And keep in mind that their cap space is boosted very high by prior year money. They had the third highest team cap in the league.

In other words, this is their binge spending year.

Now, if everyone stays healthy and players like up to the wildest ideas of their potential (Maxwell is a true #1CB, either Matthews becomes a Pro Bowler, Ertz improves, Thurmond looks how he did on the Seahawks, Bradford earns his spot as the #1 overall pick, Alonso is DPOY) then it could work out.

I don't agree - who's Bradford throwing to? I had thought Maclin was a flat given, considering their utter garbage WR depth, and they let him go. Now they haven't even gone after any other WRs in free agency. Their WR corps right now is really looking not far off from pre-2004 Eagles land, with Jordan Matthews maybe being the saving grace.

The other implicit assumption there is that no one else declines, which is not going to happen. Their O-line depth is really scary-thin, especially since one of the positions as of right now would be filled by a replacement-level player. And the two best players are 33.

It's easy enough to see what the rest of the league thinks about the guys the Eagles cut: Herremans, Maclin, Cole, and Williams were all signed by good teams for decent/large contracts. We're not talking about the Browns or the Raiders or some other team with questionable talent evaluation: we're talking about the Chiefs, Seahawks, and Colts. And they haven't even come close to replacing those guys. Were the guys they cut overpriced? Yeah, but not a lot (and Williams's contract size is all Kelly-era Eagles' fault anyway).

This just never used to happen - guys the Eagles would cut would never be in high demand, and the Eagles had a well-deserved history of dealing guys to other teams who never met expectations. That's just a clear sign that talent evaluation in Philly is going strongly downhill.

42 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

No, you're right.

My only quibble is that by "this could work out" I meant "this could be a 9-7 or 10-6 type team that competes for the right to lose a playoff game to a real contender." That's how low my expectation have sunk. I think a record like 3-13 is on the table.

Also, as you look back at what they've done, the "cap cuts" become insane. If you're just going after Demarco murray and Sam Bradford, then forget it: don't cut Cole or Herremans and hold onto the very small amount of money it would have take to resign Maclin. (Although, based on Maclin's comments, I have a feeling what happened there is he made clear he didn't want to play for them anymore, so they just sort of dropped their clearly tepid interest in him.) Why pay so much more for Byron Maxwell when it's not clear he's an upgrade on Williams?

It's a real testament to how bad this off-seaosn has gone that I (like many people) thought the Eagles had one of the very worst secondaries in the league and they've somehow failed to conclusively improve it. I never thought I would think "Hm. I kinda wish they had just kept Cary Williams around." Their attitude about replacing Nate Allen just seems to be "eh. that'll work out." It's just insane how unconcerned they are about injures and depth.

And yeah, WR is a disaster. I'm probably more down on it than anyone - I didn't think Matthews showed as much promise as many seem to (I think his ceiling is solid #2), extending Cooper made no sense ever at any point and I believe in my heart that Josh Huff was the worst receiver in the entire league in 2014. And you didn't even touch on the TE's: Celek has to be on his last legs and Ertz has continued to be a very flawed player despite Kelly trying hard to make him a focal point. You don't want your back-up RB to definitely, inarguably be your best receiver.

43 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

"It's a real testament to how bad this off-seaosn has gone that I (like many people) thought the Eagles had one of the very worst secondaries in the league and they've somehow failed to conclusively improve it."

Who could they have signed that would make you believe they have "conclusively improved" the secondary?

47 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

That's a glib answer - but they signed an injury prone role player who two teams have been indifferent to letting go in two years and a guy who you have to squint to see as an upgrade over Williams.

And most importantly: they haven't signed ANY safety. Nate Allen might be coming back. It might be a rookie. You just don't know. Because they haven't addressed it. There are only terrible, all-downside players left at the position in free agency though, so it's tough to see how they improve it.

(Again, we're not talking about 2015 in a vacuum - you could get Antrell Rolle or something, but then what about 2016? Because that dude is not playing another half-decade. And they're out of money now. Let's say Bradford is amazing this year and they have to sign him to a rate that's slightly below the top of the market - they won't be able to do it without making MORE cuts. That means a guy like Maxwell or Thurmond is already on the edge of the chopping block and they haven't even filled out the roster.

Can you see how this is bad? How this secondary is a problem STILL?

48 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Also, if you don't think Revis would have been a far better use of funds than the Murray/Bradford combo, I don't know what to tell you. Revis/Foles/veteran RB is a far better, smarter, more cost-effective line-up then Maxwell/Bradford/Murray. Hell, you probably could have even made Maxwell work alongside Revis for the money they wasted elsewhere.

49 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Furthermore, this is a "chickens coming home to roost" problem where several years of mismanagement at the position group have put them in a position where they felt compelled to try to replace THREE players simultaneously. You're right that they probably couldn't have done wildly, amazingly better in a single off-season than they did. But that's because in previous years, they failed to bring in FA agents who worked, failed to develop young players, failed to make these moves gradually rather than impatiently, failed in just about every way they could for three years running. So they throw money and free agents at the problem, signing two of the worst deals made so far in free agency and they STILL haven't addressed it thoroughly.

54 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Fair enough: do you think it would have been? Do you think this is anywhere in the neighborhood of the best possible outcome for the secondary?

Are you actually happy with Maxwell, Thurmond, Jenkins and rookie/bargain basement FA? Maxwell has never played an entire season in the NFL. Thurmond has not made it through one either - he was either injured or BENCHED. I'm not seeing an upgrade on Williams/Fletcher, forgetting even about Maxwell's awful contract.

143 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Ok, so if that's true, this is just another reason why you can't rely on free agency to solve your issues. In 2013, Kelly signed two CB's and a new safety in free agency. He's already looking for the same pieces again, two seasons later. You need to be able to develop players in-house to SOME degree otherwise you're at the mercy of the whims of Frank Gore, Devin McCourty and Antonio Cromartie. Again - the problem in the secondary is not something that suddenly happened this off-season. It has persisted literally the entire time Kelly been in charge. It doesn't appear he CAN solve it with free agents.

153 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Not if you don't improve the situation. And it's not clear they have. By almost any conceivable standard, they wildly overpaid for Maxwell, who has never played a full NFL season and might be purely the product of the surrounding talent in Seattle (like Cary Williams was in Baltimore. That Seattle hired Cary Williams himself to replace Maxwell shouldn't make you feel great.) They also signed an oft-injured player who was benched from the starting job in Seattle.

Beyond that, it's Kelly's fault Fletcher and Williams were on the team in the first place (and Patrick Chung as well.) It's Kelly's fault he was unable to develop any in-house resolution to the problems in the secondary, despite spending 4 picks on the position. He couldn't develop a single starter while, for comparison, Seattle has continually developed players with the same level of draft investment and then let them because they didn't feel they were worth the contracts to which Philly has just signed them.

It's not a matter of did Williams and Fletcher and, most importantly, Nate Allen suck, but what did he do to improve the team's situation in the past three off-seasons? And the answer is "almost nothing." He wasted lots of resources on it, though.

252 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

No offense Chemical Burn, but he did replace his secondary coaches (CB coach Todd Light left to coach at Vanderbilt, and DB coach John Boyett was moved to the scouting staff) this off-season. So yeah, Kelly is trying to do something to make his secondary better.

Granted the player personnel he added the last two years were not great. But, then again Kelly supposedly didn't have last say on who was brought onto the roster, just who will make the final roster. So if you believe Kelly (and I don't) you could lay this at the feet of Howie Roseman.

256 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Yeah, I've been very anti-Kelly these days, but as an on-field coach, there's plenty to like about him and Davis. I mean, I'm not insane and he clearly understands the problem in the secondary - which in comparison to Reid, where you definitely sometimes felt like "He does know his linebackers and wide receivers are terrible... right?"

So I appreciate he's trying to make the secondary better, but this is twice in three years he's taken the approach of "blow it up and start over from scratch!" And it doesn't look set even now: there's a very significant chance he's got to blow it up again next year.

(Also, we're talking football - it's all but impossible to offend me on such a trivial subject...)

268 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

It is hard to understand what Kelly is doing, but it is possible to understand why he might be doing it.

Bradford is a bad NFL quarterback, but Chip Kelly doesn't appear to want one. He now has two very good NCAA quarterbacks under contract, both of whom have had "success" in the NFL, although not success in the NFL (if you know what I mean). Bradford in particular has put up decent completion numbers and might be a good fit for Chip's offense. (Of course, he's no more mobile than Foles).

He let a running back that was not very good last year (McCoy) go and replaced him with a running back that was good last year (Murray). That is sensible, sort of.

He presumably thinks that he can find wideouts in the draft who can run hook routes and also very fast. He's probably right.

Now, I agree with the consensus that the Eagles were mediocre last year and will struggle to attain mediocrity in the year to come. But Kelly's moves make more sense if you believe he plans to double down on Oregon-style play rather than attempt to become more NFL-like.

2 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Very surprised GB resigned Bulaga. They had Barclay coming back from injury (he was the starting RT two years ago and a RFA). They're also pretty high on Tretter playing RT. He was drafted as a center but played tackle in college. I don't know how much cap space they have left, but I think they started with just over $30 M.

25 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Interesting that they minimized this year's cap hits for Cobb and Bulaga to leave that much cap space. They do tend to roll over anywhere from $5-10 million in a given year, and then you have draft picks, but $21m is still a lot to have sitting around. Gives them the ability something new at ILB or DT, although I don't think anyone they'd be interested in out there (including bringing Guion or Raji back) would be that expensive anyway. Plenty of room to sign Tramon too, unless they think he's done or are unwilling to commit to 2-3 years. Daniels and maybe Hayward are probably the only extension candidates with contracts expiring next year.

28 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

There has been talk about bringing Raji back. I think they are waiting to see what happens with Guion's arrest in Florida, but I think originally they wanted him back more than the oft-injured Raji. I think I'd rather have them go with a stop-gap (esp Wilfork) or even make a run at Fairley.

33 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

I'm with you on a stop-gap at DT—that's essentially what Raji and Guion represent right now anyway—and Wilfork is very intriguing and should be a good fit. But given his age I'm sure the Packers will be hesitant, probably hesitant enough to be outbid by someone willing to offer more guaranteed money or years.

26 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

It does keep their best starting OL in a decade intact through 2016, and even with Bulaga's new contract they're only spending about the league-average on OL through then. (Sitton and Lang are well-paid for guards, but that's more than canceled out by Bakhtiari's rookie contract.) Situation could change assuming they'd like to extend Bakhtiari a year early, but they have plenty of flexibility to make adjustments/cuts based on continued performance, injuries, and whatever the future cap situation might be.

3 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Is Frank Gore really worth $12M over three years in a league where Darnell Dockett only gets two years $7.5M?

I'm really surprised at all the multiyear, multimillion / year RB contracts. I thought that was over and done with.

The Beasley contract seems a bit rich for a slot receiver who doesn't have 2007-Welker-level skills. You would think Dallas could draft a quick, undersized receiver for a lot less money.

Don't get me wrong I like Beasley, but ...

4 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

How much of the Gore contract is guaranteed, I wonder? Any 3-year deal for a RB his age is kind of crazy because you don't know if he's even going to be worth the league minimum in the 3rd year, but if he's cheap and easy to cut after 1-2 years, then it's not so bad.

On the other hand, if a very good RB isn't worth even $4M a year, I don't recognize the NFL anymore. (I think Gore is over-the-hill, but the Colts seem to think he's still a very good RB.

11 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Gore feels like the kind of back teams sign for low value to have a Veteran in the rotation and not a guy that was actively pursued by several teams. Either he has a great agent or more than one someone thinks he has a lot left. In free agency all you need is one someone to play against to get a little more something than you'd expect.

32 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Reports are that the Gore contract is front loaded such that there is minimal cap hit if cut after year 1, and zero cap hit if he's cut after year 2. I haven't seen all the details, but I think it's along the line that most of the guaranteed money is in the form of roster bonuses instead of a signing bonus.

I don't think that seems totally unreasonable, especially since Trent Richardson is scheduled to make 3 million this year on a rookie contract.

36 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Just a quick follow-up

For Andre Johnson:

2015: $3.5M-base salary + $4M - 3/24 roster bonus ($10M dead)
2016: $5M-base salary + $2.5M 5th day league year roster bonus (2.5M dead)
2017: $6M-base salary

For Frank Gore:

2015: $1M-base salary + $3.5M - 3/24 roster bonus ($6.5M dead)
2016: $1M-base salary + $3M 5th day league year roster bonus ($3M dead)
2017: $3.5M-base salary ($0 dead)

While Grigson has his issues as a GM, he seems to be really good at managing the cap. Obviously the true test will be after Luck gets his monster deal, though...

5 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Oh yeah, and it's not a free agency update but the Bears are having a press conference now and I just heard Ryan Pace announce that Cutler is their QB for 2015 and they have faith in him. I guess they couldn't find a trading partner, which is kind of insane in a league where Philly not only traded for Bradford but gave up significant resources to do so.

9 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

The Bucs just cut Michael Johnson, who clearly was overpaid and not that productive but, you know, actually had a pulse. I can only suspect the starting LDE next year is going to be a giant pile of cap space.

10 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

"That giant pile of cash doesn't rush the passer well, but it is a bulwark against the run, Jim."

"But when the Bucs play their Joker Defense and set fire to it, it really makes the offense retreat. No wonder they've already set the record for safetys by this point in the season. It's such a chaotic measure though, I still don't approve of it, Phil."

12 re

I guess it depends on the money...but I'm hoping Andre us at least close to his old self (probably a bit of wishful thinking)

13 Re: re

In reply to by theslothook

His DVOA/DYAR was abominable last year and only looks worse in comparison to Hopkins, who was the definite #1 teams were focusing on by the end. His numbers were worse than Reggie Wayne's by a healthy amount. If he's their 2B option, then I have to think he's still useful, but if they want him to be anything but a role player I think that's a mistake. I also think in general loading up on past their prime veterans like Johnson, Gore, Cole and Herremans is not the way to go and rarely works out.

On the other hand, those plays all at least appear to be upgrades, even taking their downsides into account.

14 Re: re

In reply to by chemical burn

From the way it looks to my inexpert eye, it seems like they are signing a bunch of veteran stopgaps for 2 years, hoping that the talent they draft in that duration will pan out to take their places, and be gone off the books by the time Luck's mega deal is in place. Gore is the longest at 3 years....everyone else seems to be 1 or 2 years, and at positions the Colts were woeful in last year.

20 Re: re

In reply to by Bernie

That's the way that Grigson always seems to approach free agency, I feel: targeting mid-tier free agents on medium length contracts.

I believe that Grigson uses free agency to even out the roster - fill roster gaps with players not significantly better than the existing roster. That way, he has the flexibility in the draft to go best-player-available. In this way, the core of the team will slowly become "homegrown" (i.e. cheap and / or known-commodities), while remaining competitive in the short term.

And Grigson doesn't often (ever?) give out contracts longer than three years to free agents. That way, if the player sucks they get a pass after the first year ("don't worry, he's adjusting to a new system; he'll be better next year.") and get cut after the second year (without too much of a cap hit).

15 Re: re

In reply to by theslothook

The Colts going "all-in" makes sense when, on paper, it looks like the Pats and Broncos will decline this year, even though the Pats-Colts gap has been enormous every time in the Luck era (and, as Bernie said, this is their last chance to load up before Luck makes >$20MM/yr.)

18 Re: re

In reply to by herewegobrowni…

I am a Colts fan, but doesn't it seem like they are building for 2015 a team that would have been much better in 2005? These guys are all so old!

19 Re: re

In reply to by Purds

Johnson aside, I'm very confident Cole, Herremans and Gore all have at least one more year left in them. If you're looking for more than 6 sacks from Cole and unremarkable but competent swing line play from Herremans, you are expecting too much. But those numbers and an effective, 900-yard season from Gore are very realistic bets - Gore was 13th in DVOA/10th in DYAR last year on an offense that was collapsing around him. He's also famously a hell of a pass-blocker, which is one skill you can expect to have no age-related decline.

I mean, it would have been a hell of a haul in 2005, though...

34 Re: Age

In reply to by Purds

I'm pretty sure nobody on the Colts expects these guys to be the core going forward. Johnson is a stop gap until hopefully either Moncrief or Duron Carter develop. I would be shocked if the Colt's don't draft a RB this year, since it's a pretty good year for it. That will be Gore's replacement in a couple of years.

Hermanns is an contingency if the O-Lineman the Colt's have drafted recently don't pan out.

Cole is a little bit of a panic move, but that's because the Colt's had zero capable pass rushers after Mathis went down.

Grigson's first couple of goes at free agency seemed to be him looking to find diamonds in the rough or under utilized players. While that can happen, there's usually a reason these guys are let go or were backups on other teams. This year, Grigson seems to be going for proven veteran production, but at the cost of get players on the down side of their careers. I think renting vets to spackle over holes for a couple of years while you try to grow your own talent is a better FA plan then trying to build your team via FA.

My only concern with the Colts' moves so far is they have done nothing to prevent the Patriots from running all over them again. While I suspect this years draft will be very defensive heavy, they still have very little talent on that side of the ball.

41 Re: Age

In reply to by Ben

Cole is actually a good signing - he's always been one of those stable quiet leaders that even veterans respond to. I get the sense the Colts could benefit from some "proven winner, veteran leader" type of presence. That stuff can get over-stated, but beyond that he also doesn't make mistakes. In the past five years I can recall literally only a single time he was wildly out of position (or failed to make a tackle he should have made or blew a coverage or let a QB slip through his grasp.) Even if you're only getting an unimpressive number of sacks from him (say 4.5 sacks), he's still a really strong piece. He also has these guys where he just comes on and dominates - he had games with 2 or more sacks and a half dozen run tackles several times in 2013 & 2014. Now, you can't expect that from him with anything even in the neighborhood of consistency, but it's there. He's too expensive for the Eagles to keep paying him to play out position at OLB, but he's still a very valuable piece.

168 Re: Age

In reply to by Ben

Ben, regarding your final point, I have two words: Wil and Fork.

I am a little surprised the Colts seemed to keep out of the DL fest in free agency, but in general glad they avoided McPhee and Fairly, two good guys who were overpaid because they played on a line with brighter stars. I'm also surprised Wilfork is still available (as of 10 pm Thursday Seattle time). There were even 2nd tier FAs (usually Grigson's thang) like Knighton available and never heard a word.

Meanwhile, in Foxboro, BB is signing a one-legged RB he expects to rack up 150 yards on the Colts this year.

16 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Bucs set to sign Chris Conte, which is great news for anybody who inexplicably pined for the Sabby Piscitelli "tackling is optional" era.

40 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

It's going to lead to Goldson being released, which nobody will mind. As for Conte, I assume third safety. Assume and/or hope. At this point, no clue what's going on with the safety position. I sort of lost track when they kept Goldson and traded Barron, I think my brain locked up.

44 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

I can't believe the Eagles are going to end up with the two worst values in free agency: Murray and Maxwell. Those are the kind of signings that I make fun of other teams for.

51 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

It's pretty impressive that the Eagles managed to snap up all of the its-a-trap free agents before Jerry or Snyder managed to get a hand on them. And if you told me a few days ago that an NFC East team would ridiculously overpay to trade for a QB I would have assumed that Mr. Jones had gotten drunk and picked up Manziel. It's not easy to have the undisputed worst offseason in that division!

53 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Well Snyder frequently has the best offseason on paper, only to have it all blow up in his face when September rolls around. Maybe Kelly is trying the opposite tack...have a terrible offseason on paper, with the hopes that it will strangely work out. Like when George Costanza did everything the opposite of what his instincts told him, and his life suddenly got better.

56 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

No, Kelly is having a very typical Snyder off-season of what Snyder would've done four or five years ago... it's just that everyone, even Snyder himself has gotten wise to how bad of a strategy it is to overpay dubious veterans at the expense of depth and stability.

But late-period Al Davis Raiders comparisons are still the most accurate.

76 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Old Hickory would run afoul of the personal conduct policy in about an hour, and be suspended for life. Forcing thousands of families on a death march halfway across the country would probably trigger a domestic violence charge in at least couple states or municipalities.

On the upside, Andy Jackson would likely respond to the suspension by challenging Goodell to a duel, and my bet is that Andy is the better shot.

91 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

This is off topic but there's something like defensive pride down there over the Trail of Tears, like it's not really Jackson's fault and it doesn't make him a racist?

But yes, Goodell was exactly the kind of man Old Hickory enjoyed crushing under his boot-heel. (His inauguration party was open to the public, which I always thought was cool and in the spirit of Democracy.)

170 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Could you imagine that inauguration policy today? Two million people descend on DC, half to celebrate, half to protest. I wish I could remember the Headley Lamarr line from Blazing Saddles when he tries to recruit the scum of society. Something like "I want burglars, buggers, rapists, murderers, kidnappers, bull-dykes, Methodists...." Be much cooler to sit outside, pop a few beers with the security guys, and watch from a safe distance.

173 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

My memory from childhood of the tale is that so much mud was tracked in that all the carpeting had to be replaced.

What I think is crazier is that there used to be a policy that anyone could request a meeting with the president - Garfield's assassin was a crazy guy who wanted to be appointed ambassador to France and apparently angry over being blown off in these open meetings.

291 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Here's the quote:

I want rustlers, cut throats, murderers, bounty hunters, desperados, mugs, pugs, thugs, nitwits, halfwits, dimwits, vipers, snipers, con men, Indian agents, Mexican bandits, muggers, buggerers, bushwhackers, hornswogglers, horse thieves, bull dykes, train robbers, bank robbers, ass-kickers, shit-kickers, and Methodists!

96 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

They're essentially on a two year deal with Andre Johnson for 16 MM when they have bundles of cap room, for a guy that is still somewhat productive.

The amount of ire the Colts are getting for signing low-risk, medium-reward, low-value contracts when they have all this cap room, and still retaining cap space for the upcoming extensions, is kind of startling.

I'll rather do this than have them do what they did in the 2013 offseason and sign a bunch of B- players to bigger deals.

102 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update

Are they drawing ire? I guess I really like what they've down with the exception of the Johnson deal, so maybe I'm just seeing the reaction through my own rose-tinted glasses.

I mean, they signed a bunch of old guys who you can't absolutely expect to be playing two years from now, let alone three, so there is reason to temper any excitement. It's all good for 2015, but unless some young players come on strong after that they'll have the same issues they had every other year under Luck: a single great player, a lot of holes, some useful pieces, not nearly strong enough of a roster to win a championship.

58 Lol Raiders

I love the ugliest-girl-at-the-ball thing Oakland has been doing. They came into this offseason with piles and piles of cash which they were desperate to unload on top free agents. They've come away with Roy Helu (RB), Curtis Lofton (LB), Malcolm Smith (LB), Nate Allen (crappy S), Dan Williams (DT), Rodney Hudson (C) and Lee Smith (TE, not the baseball pitcher). That's the sorriest spending spree I've ever seen--or at least, the sorriest since last year's Raiders free agent haul. They were supposed to be top competitors for Suh, Cobb, etc, and they end up with a handful of castoff role players. Did any real free agents even bother to visit Oakland? Reggie McKenzie couldn't get laid in a brothel.

59 Re: Lol Raiders

In reply to by jtr

Oh no - Nate Allen ended up in Oakland? I'm truly sorry for Raidersfans. He's the third worst Eagles starter since I began watching football in the late 80's. You've got problems as a team if Nate Allen is even on your radar. 10-on-11 is better than fielding Nate Allen.

70 Re: Lol Raiders

In reply to by jtr

Don't forget about the Jaguars...so far they have spent a ton of money on Jermy Parnell, Dan Skuta, Jared Odrick, Davon House, and Julius Thomas.

72 Re: Lol Raiders

In reply to by egroetzi

Odrick and Thomas are good signings, maybe Thomas is a bit pricey but they're trying to get a building block.

House is a slight punt but Skuta is a better player than most people think, he'll be a solid starter for them at reasonable money, or what passes for reasonable money in the modern NFL. House for the playcall sort of mold that should work in their defensive scheme.

74 Re: Lol Raiders

In reply to by Karl Cuba

Yeah, I think at the end of the day, the Jaguars looked like they improved their roster and the cost wasn't so exorbitant to undercut the improvement. The Raiders overpaid for guys who are terrible. I mean... Nate Allen? I'm so sorry.

176 Re: Lol Raiders

In reply to by chemical burn

I agree that the Raiders struck out this offseason, but I'm talking more about the length and value of the contracts. I don't know how much is guaranteed for each of the Jags' signings, and I don't feel like taking the time to check all of them, but they gave $32 million to Jermy Parnell over 5 years. They gave Davon House 4 years and $25 million. They gave Dan Skuta 5 years, $21 million...whether or not it's a "good fit," I'm not paying that much for a guy who is 29 and has 5 sacks over the course of his entire career.

Granted, the Jags have to overspend a little in free agency to attract talent, but then again, so do the Raiders. I can't find the exact details of the contract, but I doubt the Raiders gave Nate Allen a five-year deal.

73 Re: Lol Raiders

Not a good haul for them either, but at least Julius Thomas is kind of exciting. Sure, they overpaid him, but at least they gave Jacksonville fans one guy to look forward to watching. Its the utter blandness of Oakland's pickups that gets me.

181 Re: Lol Raiders

It's bland, but Hudson and Williams should improve the team measurably. Maybe Helu too, since he can't be worse than McFadden, and didn't cost much.

60 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

So, they're saying Murray to the Eagles is a done deal. Terms of the contract are not 100% clear.

As bad as each individual signing has been in a vacuum, when you look at this offense as a unit, it looks even worse. Bradford notoriously has an Alex Smith-like inability to throw deep. They have wr's who pose no vertical threat (and also can't play football in general.) They have an o-line with major question marks on the entire right side. Every starter but Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper and Lane Johnson is an injury risk.

Murray is going to be running into stacked boxes for 6 games before he goes down with an injury. Bradford and Mathis will both go down at some point and then it's Mark Sanchez handing off to Chris Polk time behind an o-line that stinks.

69 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Good grief, I made the mistake of hearing Cowherd this morning, and he's claiming the Eagles have upgraded at qb, by getting a guy who has started about 51% of the games his teams have played in the last 6 years, and never has proven to be an upper echleon NFL passer. The Eagles could go 5-11, and there will still be guys who claim he's playing 7 dimensional chess.

105 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Hey, we have that!

Sam Bradford, average air yards per completion:

2010: 4.6
2011: 6.8
2012: 6.6
2013: 4.9

(I don't know why there's a discrepancy with Grantland's numbers.)

Last year, Austin Davis was at 6.2 and Shaun Hill was at 5.7, so this says as much about the Rams as it does about Bradford.

The same numbers for Nick Foles:

2012: 5.4
2013: 7.4
2014: 6.2

Average last season was 6.2 Highest among starters was Mike Glennon (8.5), lowest was Robert Griffin (4.2).

106 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Interesting - those numbers for Bradford are notably terrible, although not inhumanly terrible. Surprised Foles' 2014 is so low, but when you have no o-line, deep threat or run support, you probably have to take what you can get. Hey look - St. Louis has no o-line, deep threat or run support! Good luck, Nick...

Also, I check the Grantland and I didn't get the number from there. Not sure where I picked it up, but I suspect it was something less credible like Deadpan... I can't even find the charts shot distribution comparison charts now on Grantland.

109 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

They are notably terrible ? Yes, his rookie year sucked, but he was the #1 overall pick so his team also sucked. Then 2011 and 2012 he was above the 2014 NFL average(don't know what the average was for the other years). Don't know what happened in 2013. If you throw out the rookies years, Bradfords #'s are as good as Foles, and that was over 2 full seasons vs 2 half seasons for Foles.

110 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Huh? If you throw out their rookie years, Foles average is over a half-yard completion higher. But why would you throw out Bradford's rookie year when he repeated the number in 2013? Any time your QB is throwing a ball under 5 yards, that's really bad. And he did it twice!

Also, I might add, if the Foles/Bradford talent disparity is more or less a wash, then this is a horrific deal for the Eagles - $10 million in cap space and a 2nd rounder given up for a guy whose numbers you might be able to argue are the same if you squint.

151 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Not according to any report I have read. The 2016 second rounder (and 2015 4th rounder) headed out to St. Louis are guaranteed. The Eagles will get a pick in return in 2016 from the Rams depending on Bradford's snaps. The best that pick could be is a third rounder.

If you've read something else, please link to it because this trade has been extremely confusing and misreported several times!

190 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Well the thing is a really great QB like a Tom Brady or Peyton Manning would have transcended the situation. So you're not getting that obviously. He might be like a Vinny Testaverde who really struggled in a bad situation and then was acceptable in a better one.

Of course this assumes his body can even withstand an NFL season.

And that the 2015 Eagles are actually a better situation.

191 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

This is just what kills me though: he costs $13 million and is on the final year of his contract! He's super expensive now and if he's any good, they'll be faced with signing an oft-injured player with a single good season to a new, expensive contract! (Incidentally, with their current moves, I don't see how they can afford to keep him under any circumstances next year. It makes me think the move for Mariota might still be in the offing.)

112 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Best part about Bradford to the Eagles is that we'll finally be able to isolate Bradford from the terrible Rams offenses. I tried to find Tanier's vicious takedown of the Schotty offense, but unfortunately it died with Sports on Earth. As Tanier pointed out, Schotty specializes in coming up with the most complicated way possible to throw a hitch or drive route.

121 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

What's most troubling about the GIF's in that article is this: watch Bradford's head. On every single play he locks onto a wr until he is sacked, knocked down or throws it away - and he doesn't keep his eyes down the field while stepping up. His pocket awareness is god-awful - he steps into the rusher in several of them and doesn't seem to have the faintest idea when a blitz might be coming. I know those are his bad plays, but they show a guy who will never be an NFL QB - you just can't play like that 4 years into your career. I'm way more down on him (and Schottenheimer!) than I was even ten minutes ago which I didn't think would be possible. Not sure how the current Eagles wr corp and Kelly's offensive philosophy cure the "Bradford's numbers are bad because the Rams ran too many drags and short plays to the center of the field" problem. He looks totally shell-shocked and overwhelmed, like David Carr-style broken.

128 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Ok, found it, it was a Barnwell piece:

http://grantland.com/the-triangle/the-nfl-trade-wheel-making-sense-of-who-went-where/

Barnwell HATES Foles and his analysis is in Foles' favor. It also importantly points out how the short throws are not the result of scheme and surrounding talent - Bradford throws short even in comparison to other Rams QB's.

129 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Cian Fahey goes in the other direction:
http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2392065-why-sam-bradford-can-excel-in-chip-kellys-offense

"Bradford is a significantly better player than Foles despite the Rams' willingness to jettison him"

Different strokes for different folks I suppose.

I really have no idea who is better. I HOPE Bradford is, because I know that while Foles flashed potential, he wasn't what I was hoping for in an Eagles QB. I was just hoping the team had a better plan than Foles. Seems they do. Now I'm just praying it works out...That's all we Eagles fans can do now. Close our eyes and hope we come out the other end OK.

135 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

I find Fahey to be wrong just about 100% of the time (not Andy Benoit bad, but up there) and if you're talking purely about who had been better thus far in their career, it's Foles 1000%. Bradford suddenly being great is just wishful thinking and Foles being expendable is the product of the worthless idea that Kelly's system is "player-proof."

The idea that Kelly has some magic system has been pretty conclusively debunked: Vick, Sanchez and Barkley where all terrible under him. McCoy had his worst season since his rookie year under him. DJax had just as good of a season by DVOA/DYAR this year in Washington in a nightmare situation as he did last year under Kelly (and pretty much on the level with his best seasons under Reid.) Maclin had his best season by DVOA/DYAR under Reid. Same for Vick. Celek had his worst year by far by DVOA ever under Kelly. Even Sproles didn't have any peak in productiveness - his best season in New Orleans blows away his year in Philly.

The point is, these players were all good before Kelly arrived and on other teams and (raw stats aside) didn't experience any peak under him. In fact, excellent players like McCoy and Celek experienced career worst years (even Avant did, but that's understandable.) There's no evidence to think Foles is some exception to this - the only data point in Kelly's favor (supporting the idea that Kelly's system produces good players and doesn't simply benefit from them) is Riley Cooper's pretty good but hardly other-worldly 2013.

You need players to win in this league. Bradford ain't one and there's more indication that Foles was one than that he's not.

144 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

The bears in 2009 had the worst offensive line I've ever seen on a consistent week to week basis. It was unbelievable. I suspect that one season alone killed a few years off Cutler's career.

For fun, the most recently awful o line performance I saw was the Chargers' season finale loss against the Chiefs. YOu might be curious to know how the chargers(in a win and you're in scenario) lost to a chase daniels' led chiefs team with nothing to play for. The answer? The offensive line could not pass protect or run block. It almost gave justin houston the sack record and probably would have had Rivers not been the qb. In fact, I believe he would have had the record if not for a roughing the passer penalty that wiped it out.

Maybe charger fans can chime in if they agree.

136 Re: 118 (Vincent)

This thread got derailed a little, but yeah, Vince, that's exactly the Tanier article I was thinking of. That pic you posted on twitter sums up the whole Schotty offense; not only do they have three receivers within 3 yds of scrimmage, they're within 3 yds of EACH OTHER. This is futility by design. I agree with Chemical Burn that there isn't much reason to be optimistic about Bradford. However, we should hesitate to drop his stock too much over his minuscule YPC in STL, since his coaches insisted on running a micropassing attack.

138 Re: 118 (Vincent)

I think the only thing that undercuts what you're saying is something Barnwell mentions in the piece I link to above: Davis and Hill both had far more attempts downfield than Bradford. Those guys are hardly world-beaters and they both managed something closer to a league-average percentage of deep attempts in the same offense. There's a lot, a lot of downside to Bradford and the tiny distance his passes tend to travel is a part of it.

More than anything, this all makes me worried Foles stands any chance out there. If you like Foles and want him to succeed, one thing you don't want to do is spend your afternoon familiarizing yourself with the St. Louis offense over the past half decade. You'll think things like "Tavon Austin... he could be like a bit of DJax Jr. couldn't he... right?" or "that tight end duo isn't terrible." Their o-line is just really astounding though. I've never seen anything like it.

145 Re: 118 (Vincent)

It could be that some of his overreliance on the short game in STL was from "shell shock" from being stuck behind a crappy offensive line for years, which does terrible things to a QB's internal clock. Some guys, like Carr, get ruined forever by a season or two of getting hit all the time; others, like Kurt Warner or more recently Rivers, can look hopeless for a bit after they've been hit too much then get their mojo back. Unfortunately for Bradford, it doesn't look like he's going to get that chance the way PHI's o-line situation is shaping up.

148 Re: 118 (Vincent)

Yeah, I've been looking at footage of him and he definitely has three problems (apart from his short passing proclivities): he stares down receivers (it's tough to find tape of him making a successful second read that isn't a dump-off), he has no pocket presence whatsoever (he steps into sacks or bumps into his o-line on seemingly every play - but they are TERRIBLE so it's tough to entirely blame him) and he panics very quickly (the screwed up internal clock problem you mention.) I can't think of any QB who suddenly lost those bad habits so late in their career. Rich Gannon?

I think Gannon is sort of the only dream scenario here. A weak-armed guy who never looked great and was injured frequently suddenly being placed in a quick strike offense that played to all of his strengths. Gannon even had the same sort of pocket-presence/panic issues Bradford had, but he was mobile so he'd just take off running. I'm also told accuracy is one of Bradford's strengths and Gannon had tons when he was in Oakland. (Which is weird because I remember him being a guy who would spray the ball all over the place in Minnesota.)

But I don't think reasonable to spend much time hoping your QB imitates one of the NFL's weirdest and more inexplicable outliers.

171 Re: 2015 Free Agency: Wednesday Update (Eagles fleeced)

Vince, you are the most helpful, responsive, interactive of all Internet writers, and I'm not just kissing ass because my lips need the exercise. You answer reader questions, sometimes ten at a time, you're patient, and play well with others. We pick a bone with you (sometimes in an angry or less than gracious manner) and you reply with data and a fair mind. Clearly you give a shit.

Much to Aaron's credit, FO has really had a good bunch of guys the past decade-plus.

Now that I've buttered you up, can I borrow like $20 until payday?

Thanks!