4.00pm (Weds March 11) – DONE DEAL – JETS PULL TRIGGER ON QB TRADE
As I mentioned earlier, the Jets have a need for a QB and the Texans have a spare one in the form of Ryan Fitzpatrick. He can still play and while not spectacular, I think he becomes the number one QB in New York this summer… unless Marcus Mariota comes to town !
3.55pm (Weds March 11) – DONE DEAL – CORTLAND FINNEGAN RETIRES
You can add Cortland Finnegan to the list of retirees that includes Jason Worilds, Jake Locker and Patrick Willis. Finnegan was released by the Miami Dolphins last week and calls time on his career after 9 years and more than 500 tackles. We’ll always remember Finnegan for ‘that’ fight with Andre Johnson and he did take one last parting shot at the receiver, stating that he “punches like a bish.”
3.40pm (Weds March 11) – DONE DEAL – RAIDERS SIGN CURTIS LOFTON
The Raiders have added to their defense with a player being labelled “a good leader” in linebacker Curtis Lofton. It should be noted that Lofton was downright poor in New Orleans in 2014. Let’s hope a change of scenery can help him in Oakland.
3.35pm (Weds March 11) – DONE DEALS – JAGS SIGN 2 MORE
The re-build continues in Jacksonville with the official signings of Green Bay Packers CB Davon House and San Francisco 49ers LB Dan Skuta.
2.30pm (Weds March 11) – IN THE WORKS – JETS TO TRADE FOR QB
It will come as no surprise that the New York Jets are not sold on Geno Smith and need to upgrade their QB play. There are no quick fixes short of a headline trade a la Bradford-Foles, but the Jets appear to be going down the trade route. On their radar is former Bills and Texans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. He’s no Dan Marino, but he’s better than Geno.
2.25pm (Weds March 11) – IN THE WORKS – SUH ARRIVES IN MIAMI
The top free agent on the market has arrived in Miami and is about to become a Miami Dolphin. Stay tuned, Fin fans !
2.20pm (Weds March 11) – JULIUS SIGNS ON IN JAX
Julius Thomas has signed his contract and is officially a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags will use Thomas as a ‘move’ tight end who can play all over the formation. Thomas caught 79% of passes thrown his way when split out wide of the formation in 2014 – that was the 2nd-best rate in the NFL.
1.10pm (Weds March 11) – DONE DEAL – DOLPHINS CUT RANDY STARKS
The Miami Dolphins continue to clear cap space for the impending signing of Ndamukong Suh and have released veteran DT Randy Starks. The two-time Pro Bowler played 7 seasons in Miami. He may already have 11 seasons under his belt but Starks is still a very good player and should attract some interest as he hits the open market.
12.40pm (Weds March 11) – THE STORY SO FAR
Here is the story so far as we are still early into Day 2 of NFL Free Agency… A team by team look courtesy of ProFootballTalk.com
12.35pm (Weds March 11) – IN THE WORKS – EAGLES CLOSE IN ON MATHEWS
The Philadelphia Eagles need a running back after trading LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills and they appear to be set on San Diego Chargers oft-injured star Ryan Mathews. He is a good fit for the Philly attack and is top drawer when healthy, but injuries have long been an accompaniment to Mathews during his NFL career.
12.05pm (Weds March 11) – RUMOUR MILL – JETS CONSIDERING CROMARTIE
Remember when the New York Jets were reaching AFC Championship Games a few years back? They did that with two lock-down corners in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Well, the Jets are seriously considering bringing ‘Cro’ back into the fold and he has worked with Todd Bowles in Arizona so would have a level of comfort.
While we’re on Revis, there is nothing wrong with chasing the money but he has been able to win along the way. If he was all about cash, wouldn’t he still be in Tampa Bay now? And he didn’t play for free in New England last year, did he? He happened to win a Super Bowl, but he was only in New England because he was being handsomely paid.
12 noon (Weds March 11) – IN THE WORKS – BRANDON BROWNER VISITS SAINTS
The New England Patriots will be starting over at cornerback in 2015 following Darrelle Revis’ return to the Jets and Brandon Browner testing the free agent market. Browner is visiting with two defensive back-hungry teams, starting with New Orleans and then Washington.
11.05am (Weds March 11) – DONE DEAL – EAGLES ADD ANOTHER CORNER
The cornerback-needy Philadelphia Eagles have added a second defensive back to their roster and it’s another former Seahawk in Walter Thurmond. With Byron Maxwell already in Philly, the Eagles are banking on two former Legion of Boom members shoring up their secondary. Thurmond was on the Seahawks during their Super Bowl run but endured an injury-hit 2014 campaign with the New York Giants. The Eagles’ pass defense ranked 31st in the NFL.
11.00am (Weds March 11) – IN THE WORKS – DOLPHINS EYE PRO BOWL TIGHT END
The Miami Dolphins appear resigned to losing tight end Charles Clay to the Buffalo Bills, but they are working on a contingency plan. The Dolphins have scheduled a visit with Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron. The exciting receiving tight end is an elite talent but has serious concussion concerns and a worrying recent injury history.
10.56am (Weds March 11) – DONE DEALS – GORE TO INDY & REVIS BACK TO THE JETS
As expected, Darrelle Revis cashed in and took the money over the chance to win another Super Bowl in New England. The somewhat-mercenary (and I’m not blaming him for that, I’m just saying) elite cornerback signed a 5-year, $70 million deal with the Jets and gets a cool $39 million guaranteed just for signing on the dotted line. The Jets were devoid of corners last year and need them in Todd Bowles’ system – he likes to blitz and get after the QB and leaves his CBs on an island along the way. Now he has a Revis Island.
Gore will be a welcome addition at RB in Indy and probably signals the end of Trent Richardson’s disastrous spell. The Colts have also toughened up on defense and are an improved team from 2014. Whether they are good enough to take that final Super Bowl leap remains to be seen. Gore is an emotional and power-packed runner who can put a team on his shoulders when necessary.
10.55am (Weds March 11) – WELCOME BACK TO FREE AGENCY DAY 2 !
Welcome back to Day 2 of the NFL Free Agency signing period. There are still some big names out there to be grabbed. It should be another interesting day in the NFL !
10.00pm… THANKS FOR JOINING
There is a temporary lull in the signings – but there will be plenty more over the next few hours – so I’m taking this opportunity to go and walk the dog. I’ll check back in with my views on all the signings in the morning. Thanks for joining me tonight and let’s get this thing on Sky Sports this time next year !! There are still lots of big names out there – we are in for a fascinating few days in the NFL.
9.55pm… RUMOUR MILL – RAIDERS AND MURRAY?
The Oakland Raiders swung and missed on a veteran free agent running back last year in Maurice Jones-Drew. With cash to spend, they have officially entered the chase to grab league-leading rusher DeMarco Murray.
9.51pm… DONE DEAL – WILLIS BOWS OUT
I almost overlooked this on a busy night but good luck to Patrick Willis in retirement. One of the game’s greats of his era and the 49ers will miss his leadership and desire to succeed.
9.50pm… DONE DEAL – BUCS RELEASE COLLINS
This time last year the Tampa Bay Buccaneers spent big on Bengals OT Anthony Collins. They have now released the O-lineman who simply never panned out in Tampa. A warning against getting too excited about free agency perhaps?
9.40pm… RUMOUR MILL – PLENTY OF INTEREST IN DARRELLE REVIS
The New England Patriots want to keep Darrelle Revis and have competition from four other teams. We know this guy can still play at a very high level and we also know he is ruthless enough to allow a bidding war to take place ! Before signing with the club that offers him the most cash ! Update… The Buffalo Bills are reportedly in the mix for Revis. A Rex Ryan reunion perhaps?
9.37pm… DONE DEAL – AJ HAWK TO THE CINCINNATI BENGALS
The Bengals had a need at linebacker with Rey Maualuga a free agent and Vontaze Burfict suffering an array of injuries. Hawk fell from grace in Green Bay but could do a job for the Bengals in 2015.
9.31pm… DONE DEAL – JETS RELEASE PERCY HARVIN
How the once mighty have fallen. After roughly half a season in the Big Apple, the Jets have released Percy Harvin. And prior to that, Harvin couldn’t get along with the Seattle Seahawks. What next for a potential gamebreaker who appears to be more trouble than he is worth?
9.28pm… IN THE WORKS – TEXANS IN PLAY FOR BIG VINCE
I the Texans need defensive line help and could be in play for Vince Wilfork, who is not yet ready to hang up his shoulder pads.
9.20pm… IN THE WORKS – BILLS CHASE CHARLES CLAY
I like watching Charles Clay play for the Miami Dolphins but it doesn’t look like he will be around much longer. The Bills are making a serious play for Miami’s tight end. And that totally makes sense as the Bills have a real need at TE.
9.15pm… DONE DEAL – PANTHERS RELEASE DEANGELO WILLIAMS
The Panthers don’t need high-priced luxury 2nd running back DeAngelo Williams and have finally made this expected move official. In other news, there is reportedly a mutual interest between DeMarco Murray and the Philadelphia Eagles. There are quite a few teams in the mix for Murray now, including Oakland, Arizona and Jacksonville.
9.12pm… DONE DEAL – COLTS CLOSE IN ON FRANK GORE AND SIGN TRENT COLE
The Colts are reportedly closing in on some key signings, including Trent Cole and Frank Gore.
9.10pm… LOCKER THE LATEST 2011 FIRST ROUND FAILURE AT QB
Just a reminder of the lottery that can be the NFL Draft. Tennessee took Jake Locker with the 8th overall pick and he has retired tonight. Jacksonville took Blaine Gabbert with the 10th pick and he is now backing up Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. And Christian Ponder went 12th overall to Minnesota and basically sucked !
9.05pm… DONE DEAL – SHANE VEREEN TO NY GIANTS
One of the stars of Super Bowl 49 – New England Patriots RB Shane Vereeen – is heading to the New York Giants. The versatile Vereen – who is excellent out of the backfield – has signed on for 3 years with the Big Blue team featuring some exciting offensive talent in Odell Beckham Jr, Andre Williams and Victor Cruz.
8.57pm… DID YOU KNOW?
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was one of just five NFL QBs in 2014 to complete fewer than half of his red zone passes (49.1%). You have to figure that number will rise in 2015 with Jimmy Graham now in Seattle. Oh, and I wonder if Wilson’s final pass of the Super Bowl would have gone to Graham instead of Ricardo Lockette? Seahawks fans won’t want to dwell on that and will surely be excited by this move, even if it meant losing Unger and a 1st round draft pick in the process.
8.55pm… DONE DEAL – STEPHEN PAEA TO WASHINGTON
The Redskins have moved to upgrade a defense that ranked 20th in the NFL in 2014, signing Chicago’s best defensive lineman from a year ago – Stephen Paea – to a 5-year deal. This is one free agent I think the Bears should have worked to keep in Illinois.
8.47pm… DONE DEAL – TORREY SMITH TO SAN FRANCISCO
The San Francisco 49ers need a deep threat to open up a passing attack that ranked 30th in the NFL last season. They feel they have their man after signing Baltimore’s Torrey Smith to a 5-year deal. Smith caught 49 passes for 767 yards last year and scored a career-high 11 TD… 5 years $40 million with $22 million guaranteed.
8.45pm… DONE DEAL – JULIUS THOMAS TO JACKSONVILLE
Blake Bortles has improved weaponry around him following the signing of former Broncos TE Julius Thomas… The deal is for 5 years at an average of $9.2 million per year. Byron Maxwell has also inked his deal with Philadelphia. The former Seahawks CB has signed a 6-year deal worth $60 million.
8.27pm… DONE DEAL – JAKE LOCKER TO RETIRE !
You couldn’t make this stuff up ! At the age of just 26, former 1st round draft choice QB of the Tennessee Titans, Jake Locker, is retiring from the NFL. What next? A comeback for Brett Favre? It was just 4 seasons in the league for Locker before he decided to hang up his boots, saying: “I’m retiring from football after much reflection and discussion with my family.”
8.23pm… DONE DEALS IN INDY AND MINNESOTA
The Colts have re-signed safety Mike Adams to a 2-year deal, while the Minnesota Vikings have re-signed one of the better back-up QBs in the NFL in Shaun Hill. The Oakland Raiders are also reportedly set to sign former Super Bowl MVP LB Malcolm Smith.
8.20pm… RAMS OFFER BRADFORD AND 2ND ROUND PICK FOR NICK FOLES
Sam Bradford has more pedigree but the Rams had to give up extra to get their man. They have given Bradford and a second round pick to land Nick Foles. Do the Eagles stick with Bradford or package him up on Draft Day to make a run at Marcus Mariota?
8.15pm… DONE DEALS… IUPATI AND BROOKS REED SIGNED UP
Run-blocking demon and the best guard on the market – Mike Iupati – has signed with Arizona (5 years $40m) and linebacker Brooks Reed has joined Atlanta for $22m over 5 years. Another good LB – Jonathan Casillas – is heading to New York Giants and Cleveland CB Buster Skrine is reportedly set to become a New York Jet.
8.10pm… DONE DEAL – BRONCOS GRAB OWEN DANIELS
The Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning have their replacement for the departing Julius Thomas. Owen Daniels caught 48 passes for 527 yards and 4 TD in Baltimore last season.
8.04pm… LIONS OFFER MID-ROUND PICKS, DOLPHINS SIGN DEFENSIVE BACK DEPTH
The new league year is off and running and reports suggest Detroit is giving up a 4th and 5th round pick for Haloti Ngata. In other news, Miami have re-signed key special teams performer and backup defensive back Michael Thomas.
7.59pm… IN THE WORKS – RAMS TRADE OF SAM BRADFORD TO PHILADELPHIA !
You couldn’t make this lot up tonight. There are now reports that the St. Louis Rams are close to trading quarterback Sam Bradford to the Philadelphia Eagles in exchange for Nick Foles and draft picks ! Stay tuned.
7.57pm… DONE DEAL – RAVENS TRADE HALOTI NGATA TO DETROIT LIONS
It’s official – Haloti Ngata has been traded to the Lions. Busy start to the night and we’re not even into the free agency signing period yet!
7.55pm… IN THE WORKS – HALOTI NGATA TRADE TO DETROIT LIONS
The Lions need a replacement for the departing Ndamukong Suh and Ravens veteran DT Haloti Ngata – who is counting a considerable $16 million against Baltimore’s cap this season – is reportedly being traded to Detroit. Stay tuned !
7.50pm… DONE DEAL – JIMMY GRAHAM TO SEATTLE !
According to Jay Glazer, of Fox Sports, the Saints will send Jimmy Graham and 4th round pick to Seattle in exchange for center Max Unger and a 1st round pick. Have the Saints given up on the season before it has begun or does this help them out?
7.45pm… IN THE WORKS – SAINTS & SEAHAWKS TALKING JIMMY GRAHAM TRADE!!
This will be massive news if it comes off. The Saints and Seahawks are in talks to trade Jimmy Graham to the Pacific north-west… which will be kind of amusing as the Seahawks gave Jimmy a beating a few years ago and questioned his toughness! This could be a shocking development and is being reported from the United States. The Saints need OL help and some cash off the pay-roll and the Seahawks need a TE… but I don’t see how the Saints can let such a talent leave town.
7.40pm… TWITTER QUESTION…
Who will win the Free Agency Super Bowl? – Matthew Richards
I would have to say that the early leaders – depending on how many they actually sign – are the Jacksonville Jaguars. They have the cash to spend and an inspirational coach who seems to be creating quite a buzz in Gus Bradley.
7.35pm… RUMOUR MILL – SAINTS OPEN TO JIMMY GRAHAM TRADE?
The New Orleans Saints are hard up against the cap and would love to find trading partners in order to off-load some players and some cash off their roster. But can they seriously be considering trading away Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham? That’s the latest news out of the United States. I know the NFL has a habit of creating headlines, but I would be shocked if the Saints parted company with Graham.
7.30pm (Tues March 10)… 30 MINUTES TO GO UNTIL THE START OF FREE AGENCY
There are just 30 minutes to go until the free agency signing period opens and the new 2015 league year begins. I’ll take you through all the big signings over the next couple of hours and answer your questions.
4.00pm (Tues March 10)… RUMOUR MILL – COLTS WORKING ON FRANK GORE AND ANDRE JOHNSON
The Colts are working hard to surround their young quarterback (Andrew Luck) with some veteran talent (Frank Gore and Andre Johnson). Gore is a clear upgrade on Trent Richardson and I think Johnson is a good fit who could show some talented but inconsistent young receivers the way to be professionals. These would both be good moves for the Colts, albeit short-term ones. Both veteran players still have enough gas in the tank to produce in 2015 and the Colts know they were not far away from the big dance last time out.
3.45pm (Tues March 10)… GUS BRADLEY KEY IN JAGS’ FREE AGENCY HAUL
Having money to spend is one thing, being able to actually do that and tempt quality players into your building is quite another. I think Gus Bradley is a massive reason why the Jacksonville Jaguars are in the market to make a free agent splash this evening. Players want to play for Gus and while the wins have been slow coming, he has created a buzz and a feeling of competition and growth. It helps to have dollars to throw at prospective players, but they also have to be in the right environment. And that’s where Gus comes in.
3.40pm (Tues March 10)… IN THE WORKS – JETS RE-SIGNING BILAL POWELL
The New York Jets are set to re-sign back-up running back Bilal Powell, who could have an increased role in 2015 depending on what happens with Chris Johnson. Powell had flirted with joining Rex Ryan in Buffalo but will be back in the Big Apple. He rushed for 141 yards and 1 touchdown last season with his best year coming in 2013 when he carried 176 times for 697 yards and 1 score.
3.30pm (Tues March 10)… IN THE WORKS – CHIEFS TO SIGN TYVON BRANCH
Tyvon Branch was supposed to be a top safety for the Oakland Raiders but lower leg injuries ruined his spell with the Silver and Black. He is reportedly signing a 1-year deal with the Wembley-bound Kansas City Chiefs. If he gets back to full health, the 28-year-old has the skills to become a key performer for a Chiefs team that needs help in the secondary with Eric Berry’s future unclear.
3.22pm (Tues March 10)… IN THE WORKS – JAGUARS TO CHASE PACKERS CORNERBACK
If the Jacksonville Jaguars can sign every player they are currently scheduled to secure in free agency, Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell will be dancing a jig by midnight. The Jags are already reportedly in pole position to sign TE Julius Thomas, DL Jared Odrick, OT Jermey Parnell and LB Dan Skuta. They are still in the mix for RB DeMarco Murray and are now said to have secured the services of fast-rising Packers cornerback Davon House. The Jags are set to be serious players when the free agency signing period begins at 8pm UK time.
3.05pm (Tues March 10)… RUMOUR MILL – MORE TEAMS IN THE RACE FOR REVIS!
It’s the seemingly-annual Darrelle Revis Sweepstakes and we can add three more contenders to the mix in the Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders. Revis on one side of the field and Joe Haden on the other would be bad news for the quarterbacks of the AFC North!
2.26pm (Tues March 10)… THE BATTLE FOR REVIS
The New England Patriots are declining to pick up the $20 million option on Darrelle Revis, but that doesn’t mean they are giving up on their top-notch corner. Will Revis stay in New England or ‘go home’ to the Jets? If based on previous form, Revis will follow the dollar bills !
2.25pm (Tues March 10)… RUMOUR MILL CRANKING UP
Anybody up for a good rumour or two or three? The Cleveland Browns are going to have interest in Darrelle Revis if he gets cut by New England, DeMarco Murray suitors have been narrowed down to Arizona, Jacksonville and possibly Tampa Bay, and Frank Gore could very well be heading to Indianapolis. With so much of free agency’s top names already decided in terms of destinations, those three players could provide the drama later this evening.
2.00pm (Tues March 10)… IN THE WORKS – MIAMI TRYING TO MOVE FAILED LINEBACKERS
Here is a classic reason why free agent signings made this week should be put into perspective and not judged until the players actually step on the field. Miami made a big splash in 2013 with the signings of linebackers Dannell Ellerbe (Ravens) and Philip Wheeler (Raiders). Both have struggled in Miami over the past 2 seasons and if the Dolphins cannot find a trading partner in the next few hours, both men could be cut. The Dolphins are clearing cap space to land Ndamukong Suh and are going to re-build their linebacking corps in the process.
1.50pm (Tues March 10)… BEST FREE AGENT MOVES IN NFL HISTORY
It’s only fair then to highlight the free agent moves that have panned out and that can be described among the best in league history…
1. Packers sign DE Reggie White from the Philadelphia Eagles in 1993.
2. Saints sign QB Drew Brees from the San Diego Chargers in 2006.
3. 49ers sign CB Deion Sanders from Atlanta Falcons in 1994, Dallas Cowboys sign him from San Francisco in 1995.
4. Cardinals sign QB Kurt Warner from the New York Giants in 2005.
5. Broncos sign QB Peyton Manning from the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.
1.45pm (Tues March 10)… BUYER BEWARE IN NFL FREE AGENCY !
Not all free agent signings are going to end up as marriages made in heaven. These are exciting times, for sure, especially if your team has cash to spend this evening. But be warned – some of the biggest moves in free agency history have turned into total disasters. Here are 5 of the very worst the history books have to offer (Redskins and Raiders fans may want to look away for a couple of minutes)…
1. DT Albert Haynesworth – signed by the Washington Redskins in 2009 (7 years, $100 million)
2. S Adam Archuleta – signed by the Washington Redskins in 2006 (6 years, $30 million)
3. WR Alvin Harper – signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1995 (4 years, $10.6 million)
4. KR Desmond Howard – signed by the Oakland Raiders in 1997 (4 years, $6 million)
5. CB Larry Brown – signed by the Oakland Raiders in 1996 (5 years, $12.5 million)
1.35pm (Tues March 10)… IN THE WORKS – CARY WILLIAMS TO SEATTLE
The Seattle Seahawks are very banged up in the secondary and are set to lose Byron Maxwell to free agency. Their potential replacement comes in the form of Cary Williams, who struggled badly at times during his spell with the Philadelphia Eagles. Reports suggest Williams will sign a deal worth $18 million over 3 years. The Seahawks have a need in the secondary with Jeremy Lane, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas ending the year with significant injuries, but some fans will wonder if Williams can be the answer? It is an indication that the Seahawks are not quite sold on Tharold Simon, who struggled in the playoffs and the Super Bowl.
1:06pm (Tues March 10)… RUMOUR MILL – ANDRE JOHNSON EYES 4 TEAMS
He may be running the risk of being labelled a glory-hunter but who can blame Andre Johnson after spending his recent years catching passes from Ryan Fitzpatrick and Case Keenum and watching Matt Schaub pick sixes being run back in the other direction. After being released by Houston on Monday, Johnson – a 7-time Pro Bowler with 1,012 career catches to his name – has narrowed down his search to 4 teams. The 12-year veteran wants to compete for a Super Bowl and is eyeing New England and Indianapolis in the AFC and Seattle and Green Bay in the NFC. And I don’t blame him one little bit. He has the cash in the bank and the statistics in the history books – it’s time to make one last run at an elusive Super Bowl ring.
11.59am (Tues March 10)… RUMOUR MILL – BILLS SET TO MAKE MORE AGGRESSIVE MOVES
The Buffalo Bills are showing signs of aggression this off-season, trading for LeSean McCoy, adding Matt Cassel at QB and re-signing Jerry Hughes at DE. Now the Bills are reportedly going to make a serious play for Dolphins TE Charles Clay. While not boasting prototypical size at TE, Clay is a versatile difference-maker. He would strengthen the Bills in an area of need and deplete Miami’s attack in the process. In other words, it would be a win-win situation for the Bills.
11.53am (Tues March 10)… RUMOUR MILL – MURRAY PAVING WAY FOR COWBOYS EXIT?
This is the kind of conspiracy theory we love on free agency signing day! According to reports out of the United States, DeMarco Murray has removed all references to the Dallas Cowboys from his Twitter account. Is Murray simply clearing up his social media profile or is he paving the way for a move to a new team? If he moves today, Murray will be the first player in league history to lead the NFL in rushing one season and leave via free agency the following year. The Jags are among Murray’s suitors.
11.50am (Tues March 10)… TIME TO GO SHOPPING!
The free agency signing period is set to open at 8pm UK time this evening and the 32 NFL teams will be adding free agent talent to their rosters. While no deal is sealed until the player signs on the dotted line, it looks like Ndamukong Suh is going to join the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to seriously upgrade their roster with the signings of TE Julius Thomas, OT Jermey Parnell, DL Jared Odrick and LB Dan Skuta. And Gus Bradley’s team are reportedly in the mix for league-leading rusher DeMarco Murray. We’ll bring you all the big signings over the next 12 hours here on BritViewNFL. Stay tuned!
5.00pm (Mon March 9)… RUMOUR MILL – BRANDON GRAHAM WANTS TO BE A DOLPHIN
The Miami Dolphins are set to land DT Ndamukong Suh and could bolster their defense even further if they sign former Eagles 1st round draft pick Brandon Graham. According to ProFootballTalk, the 26-year-old Graham would prefer Miami and Florida’s lack of state income tax! But the Tennessee Titans and New York Giants are still in the mix for the edge rusher who recorded a career high 5 1/2 sacks in 2014. Graham would likely play DE in a 4-man front in Miami but would more likely be an OLB if he went to Tennessee. The report does not mention any possibility of a return to Philadelphia, even though the Eagles released fellow pass rusher Trent Cole.
4.45pm (Mon March 9)… IN THE WORKS – TORREY SMITH TO 49ERS A “DONE DEAL”
It could be a rough few days for the San Francisco 49ers with DE Justin Smith expected to announce his retirement alongside Pro Bowl ILB Patrick Willis, but if you’re looking for good news, the Niners could be about to add some offensive firepower to their squad. Several reports suggest Ravens WR Torrey Smith to the 49ers is “a done deal.” http://www.csnbayarea.com/49ers/report-torrey-smith-49ers-done-deal Smith has averaged 16.9 yards per catch on his 213 receptions and has scored 30 touchdowns. He caught 49 passes for 767 yards and a career-high 11 TD in 2014. He should add some much-needed downfield threat to a 49ers passing attack that ranked 30th in the NFL last season.
4.30pm (Mon March 9)… BREAKING NEWS – HOUSTON TO CUT PRO BOWL WR ANDRE JOHNSON
Evidence of the business side of the NFL comes with it being widely reported that the Houston Texans are going to cut Pro Bowl wide receiver Andre Johnson today http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/03/09/houston-texans-andre-johnson-released-free-agency Johnson has played his entire 12-year career with the Texans and not always with the greatest of quarterbacks! He has caught 1,012 passes for 13,597 yards and 64 touchdowns and been voted to 7 Pro Bowls. But the Texans do not feel he is worth a salary cap figure of $16.1 million in 2015 and with no takers via trade, Johnson is about to hit the street. He won’t get paid that kind of money as a free agent, but I don’t expect him to be out of work for long. Johnson is coming towards the end of a stellar career, but he still has something to offer. As for the Texans, their passing game is now firmly in the hands of heir apparent DeAndre Hopkins.
4.01pm (Mon March 9)… DID YOU KNOW?
NFL teams are poised with their cheque books at the ready. If 2014 is any indicator, millions and millions of dollars are going to be spent tomorrow night when the free agency signing window opens at 9pm UK time. Last year saw teams spend more than $1 billion in the first 9 hours of free agency. A total of 64 signings saw the teams past that $1 billion mark. Don’t plan on reduced spending this time around as the 32 teams go shopping for quality veteran talent.
3.50pm (Mon March 9)… IN THE WORKS – SEAN WEATHERSPOON HEADING TO ARIZONA
New Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn wanted to build his defense around linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. That is not going to happen, according to Pro Football Talk, who are reporting that the 2010 1st round draft choice is joining the Arizona Cardinals on a 1-year deal. There is some risk on the part of the Cardinals as Weatherspoon has played just 7 games over the past 2 seasons. He suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his foot in 2013 and an Achilles’ tear that robbed him of his entire 2014 campaign.
3.05pm (Mon March 9)… IN THE WORKS – PERNELL McPHEE TO THE CHICAGO BEARS
There will be no free agent news left to report at 9pm tomorrow night at this rate! The NFL has sent a letter to all 32 clubs expressing the league’s displeasure at contract information being leaked following this weekend’s allowed tampering/negotiating period. The latest news – reported by Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun – is that Ravens D-lineman Pernell McPhee is set to join the Chicago Bears on a 5-year deal worth $40 million with $16 million in guaranteed money. McPhee is a versatile and ascending pass-rusher who has recorded 17 sacks in his 1st 4 years in the league, including a career high 7 1/2 in 2014. The Ravens are about to lose a key component of their defense.
2.50pm (Mon March 9)… RUMOUR MILL – ANOTHER PLAYER LINKED TO WEMBLEY-BOUND JAGUARS
The Jacksonville Jaguars appear to be winning the battle to sign Dallas Cowboys swing tackle Jermey Parnell, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The Jags gave up a league-leading 71 sacks in 2014 and have made upgrading the offensive line a priority this off-season. The 6-foot-6, 307-pound Parnell started five games for the Cowboys’ top-ranked offensive line in 2014 and had also drawn interest from Washington, New York Jets, Tampa Bay and Tennessee. Blake Bortles is a slightly happier quarterback when this deal becomes a reality !
2.40pm (Mon March 9)… IN THE WORKS – JAGUARS STRONG FAVOURITES TO SIGN DOLPHINS D-LINEMAN JARED ODRICK
The Jacksonville Jaguars have a league-high $68.4 million to spend this off-season and are in line to pursue to some big-name free agents such as Denver Broncos TE Julius Thomas and Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray. And it appears, according to ProFootballTalk, as if the Jags are in line to snap up versatile and impressive Miami Dolphins defensive lineman Jared Odrick. The 6-foot-5, 302-pound defender can play all along the line and would be a great addition to Gus Bradley’s defense. NFL.com listed Odrick as the 16th-ranked player available in free agency.
2.35pm (Mon March 9)… RUMOUR MILL – PATRICK WILLIS TO CALL TIME ON NFL CAREER?
This is not strictly free agency news but Twitter is abuzz with rumours that Patrick Willis – San Francisco’s All-Pro inside linebacker – will announce his retirement today, somewhat shockingly after just 8 seasons in the league. Willis recorded 950 tackles during his NFL career but played in just 6 contests in 2014 due to a turf toe injury. At the age of 30, there is a growing sentiment that Willis wants to walk away from the game on his own terms. When I met and interviewed Willis in 2010, I remember him telling me he wanted to go down as a Hall of Famer and one of the best ever. If his career is over after just 8 years, Willis might have hurt his case for Canton, Ohio, but I happen to think he is worthy of a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2.15pm (Mon March 9)… BREAKING NEWS – TEXANS TO SIGN QB RYAN MALLETT TO A 2-YEAR DEAL
The Houston Texans are going with a pair of former Tom Brady back-ups in 2015 having signed quarterback Ryan Mallett to a 2-year deal. The move likely signals the end of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s spell in Texas. The NFL is a league of haves and have-nots at the quarterback position… I’m not sure the Texans have moved into the ‘haves’ department with this move, adding Mallett to the soon-to-be-signed Brian Hoyer.
1.40pm (Mon March 9)… THUMBS UP – RE-SIGNING YOUR OWN
There have been several very wise re-signings made by NFL teams on the eve of free agency. The Buffalo Bills kept energetic pass-rusher Jerry Hughes in the building with a 5-year deal worth $45 million. This makes total sense for a team that relies on a tough front seven – Hughes has recorded 10 sacks in each of his two seasons in upstate New York.
Packers fans will have been pleased to see Randall Cobb – the top receiver on the market – re-sign on a 4-year deal worth $40 million. Cobb is versatile, explosive and dangerous after the catch. He always seems to show up in big games and caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014. He should continue to form quite the pairing with Jordy Nelson. Cobb reportedly turned down more money from the Miami Dolphins to remain at Lambeau Field.
The Patriots raised some eyebrows when they didn’t franchise tag safety Devin McCourty, but they had a plan for their roaming, play-making safety. New England inked McCourty to a 5-year deal worth $47.5 million. McCourty would have been snapped up quickly had he hit the open market – he is a strong cover safety who can offer versatility and outstanding leadership on the field and in the locker room.
While other teams are preparing to fill their boots in free agency, the Bills, Packers and Patriots have done some very good business in re-signing existing players they already know and trust.
1.25pm (Mon March 9)… BREAKING NEWS – COULD COLTS BE BEEFING UP THEIR DEFENSIVE FRONT?
The Indianapolis Colts’ playoff capitulation at the hands of the New England Patriots showed they need to get much tougher in their front seven in 2015. And according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Colts are exploring some defensive additions in free agency, hosting visits with former Eagles DE Trent Cole and former Rams DL Kendall Langford, who is attracting considerable free agent interest around the league. The Colts ranked 18th against the run in 2014 and 12th vs. the pass.
1.09pm (Mon March 9)… DID YOU KNOW?
DeMarco Murray, of the Dallas Cowboys, could become the first player in NFL history to lead the league in rushing yards and then sign with a different team as a free agent the following season. Bill Dudley (1946) and Eric Dickerson (1986) played for different teams following a season in which they led the NFL in rushing, but both moved as a result of trades. Murray is attracting free agency interest from Jacksonville and Indianapolis, although Tony Romo and Jason Witten have worked hard to convince him to remain in Big D!
1.02pm (Mon March 9)… IN THE WORKS – DOLPHINS TO LAND FREE AGENCY’S BIG FISH !
The Miami Dolphins are in pole position to land arguably the best defensive lineman to hit free agency in the last 20 years in Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Paying Suh more than $19 million per season with up to $60 million guaranteed may seem a little steep, but there is no doubt we’re talking about a total game-changer here. Suh will easily become the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history and few feel the Dolphins are over-paying. That pressure up the middle could be worth its wait in gold when it comes time for the Dolphins to play Tom Brady and his New England Patriots.
12.53pm (Mon March 9)… BREAKING NEWS – RAIDERS TO SIGN CHIEFS CENTER RODNEY HUDSON
When the signing period officially gets underway on Tuesday evening, the Oakland Raiders are reportedly going to sign Chiefs center Rodney Hudson, according to Jason LaCanfora of CBS. This will be a blow to the Chiefs, who need to upgrade their offensive line this off-season and had hoped to re-sign the best player on their front five in 2014. The Raiders are preparing for the free agent departure of center Stefen Wisniewski and have plenty of money to spend this spring. The Chiefs just don’t have the financial wiggle room to keep Hudson, who will reportedly be paid $44.5 million over the next five years by the Silver and Black.
12.40pm (Mon March 9)… BREAKING NEWS – A.J. HAWK TO VISIT THE CINCINNATI BENGALS
The former Packers inside linebacker will visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, according to Adam Schefter, of ESPN. Hawk was released by the Packers ahead of free agency. He started 13 games for Green Bay in 2014 and recorded 89 tackles. The Bengals struggled to stop the run in 2014 – Vontaze Burfict suffered concussion, neck and knee injuries and Rey Maualuga is a free agent.
12.30pm (Mon March 9)… IN THE WORKS – CORNERBACK BYRON MAXWELL FROM SEATTLE TO PHILADELPHIA (5 YEARS $50-53M)
The Seahawks would love to keep Maxwell in the fold but knew the price was going to be too rich once he hit the open market http://espn.go.com/blog/seattle-seahawks/post/_/id/12268/maxwells-new-deal-was-too-pricey-for-the-seahawks Philadelphia’s need for cornerbacks was obvious but now the Seahawks will have some concerns over their Legion of Boom secondary. Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas have all gone into this off-season with significant injuries and the jury is still very much out on Tharold Simon. As a result, the Seahawks have been connected with Green Bay’s Tramon Williams, former Eagle Cary Williams and former Seahawk Walter Thurmond on the rumour mill.
12.15pm (Mon March 9)… For those of you new to the NFL, this free agency signing period is one of the key ways for teams to upgrade their rosters during the off-season. Basically, when players have played out their four (or sometimes five)-year contracts, they become free agents and it’s then an open market and a spending free-for-all.
To put it in Premier League terms, if a club like Liverpool failed to agree a long-term contract with Raheem Sterling, the England star could play out his existing deal and then sign a new one with Manchester United or Chelsea. And Liverpool would receive no compensation for that move.
With an additional $10 million added to this year’s salary cap, the NFL teams are about to start spending like crazy and – in some cases – over-spending on players they feel will help their club in 2015. Teams have been able to negotiate with their own players and sign them to new contracts. They have been able to negotiate deals with new free agents over the weekend but cannot sign them to contracts until 9pm UK time on Tuesday March 10.
12 noon (Mon March 9) Welcome to BritViewNFL’s live blog covering the free agency signing period in the NFL. Signings can become official from 8pm UK time on Tuesday March 10 although some big-name deals already appear to have been negotiated.
On the eve of the free agency signing period, here are a couple of key facts to get us started…
Build through the draft?… The tried and tested method of building a franchise is, of course, building through the NFL Draft. Or is it? Free agency definitely plays a part. Of the 44 starters on the field in Super Bowl 49, 17 were free agents. 10 of New England’s 22 starters were free agents, including a key quartet signed this time last year in cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, wide receiver Brandon LaFell and safety Patrick Chung.
Beware the off-season winners… The biggest spenders in free agency in 2014 were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos. The Bucs added DE Michael Johnson, OL Anthony Collins, QB Josh McCown, CB Alterraun Verner (and several others) yet dropped their record from 4-12 in 2013 to 2-14 in 2014. The Broncos added OLB/DE DeMarcus Ware, CB Aqib Talib, S T.J. Ward and WR Emmanuel Sanders yet dropped from 13-3 to 12-4 and failed to make a return to the Super Bowl.