Off-season news is made whenever injury prognosis for a star player is provided. How reliable or meaningful is this information? With the league meetings last week a plethora of key updates were announced.
Texans head coach Bill O’Brien said Jadeveon Clowney had his best week of rehab yet and “can be great”. Giants head coach Tom Coughlin went on record hoping for a week one return for Victor Cruz. Colts owner Robert Irsay said Robert Mathis will return from Achilles rupture to make an impact next season.
Are injury estimates from owners or coaches meaningful? Although the update may be honest, usually this type of information is understandably issued through rose-colored glasses. After all, none of the above have any medical training. Just like letters from personal physicians are always positive, so typically are these team estimates.
One certainly hopes Clowney can reach his number one overall draft pick promise but he had a second knee surgery that included a microfracture procedure. Although his operations were performed by his team physician who I know to be a top surgeon, there is no guaranteed recovery when articular cartilage is worn down to bone. A likely nine-month recovery is required and he had the procedure in December. History would indicate that even if Clowney comes back and plays well this season, the long-term odds are against him making it through a big second contract and having a 10-year Hall of Fame career. I am rooting for Clowney but cartilage regrowth surgery has signaled the beginning of the end for many players. A head coach optimistically commenting on a great week of rehab doesn’t change the injury severity.
Like Giants fans, Coughlin is hoping for a week one return for Cruz; however, a patellar tendon rupture can be career threatening for a wide receiver. I have not doubt that he will return, the question is when and how effective he will be. Regaining explosiveness after such an injury is the issue for a player like Cruz. The head coach really hasn’t given fans any specifics by enthusiastically hoping his player returns for the first game. Coughlin does hedge by adding he won’t rush a Cruz return either.
The Colts owner sounded confident in Mathis “re-emerging” to have a strong season. However, he also indicated the return might not be until November as a worst-case scenario. Only time will tell if a 34 year-old edge rusher has his full get-off after his Achilles rupture. Lets not forget there were earlier rumors of off-season setback.
In the end, the league meeting injury updates from coaches, management and owners create fan interest. Ultimately, I am not sure if it provides much real information. After all, when is the last time a team official was pessimistic about a key injury or his team’s playoff chances.
MMMD 1: Failure to remove players leads to “medical timeouts”
Based on film study of the last three seasons, the NFL says a player in distress was not immediately removed on 25 occasions. It obviously was not just the Julian Edelman incident in the Super Bowl that led to the new rule where the “eye in the sky” can immediately stop play to remove a player.
I applaud the new rule, but it would be naïve to think that medical timeouts will be a cure-all to the concussion protocol. I predict the new rule will lead to more controversy this season.
MMMD 2: Four other safety enhancement rules
The new medical timeout is the biggest rule change to come out of the league meetings, but four other rules changes were also made for health reasons.
Defensive players are now banned from pushing teammates on punts. Offensive players are prohibited from peel back blocks. Defenseless receivers get continued protection even if the pass is intercepted. Chop blocks by running backs against engaged players were outlawed.
I applaud all of these changes but feel all chop blocks should be outlawed as I have personally witnessed a high rate of knee and ankle injuries that result.
MMMD 3: Team visits are not for workouts
Prior to the draft, each club will fly in up to 30 former college players. These team visits are for interviews and physicals only.
A medical concern may be the reason for the visit. Perhaps the draftee was not invited to Combine and never had a physical. Often a team just wants to spend more time with a player. Sometimes a team arranges a visit just to throw the media off of its true intentions.
Be careful not to read too much into these visits. Often it is just teams doing there due diligence as no workouts are involved.
MMMD 4: Necessity is the mother of invention
A calf strain limited Aaron Rodgers mobility during the playoffs. I tweeted prior to the post-season how the injury would make it difficult to take snaps under center. Sure enough, the Packers lined him up in the backfield to reduce the need to drop back. Now Green Bay with a healthy and mobile quarterback will continue to utilize the pistol formation as a part of the regular offense. Rodgers and the coaches liked the new look and fans will see more of it this season.
MMMD 5: Not all concussion news is bad
Recently it seems all we hear about is more negative head injury news or another player suffering problems. Especially in the wake of Chris Borland walking away from football, it is refreshing to hear some positive news that not everyone is suffering post-concussion symptoms.
Troy Aikman retired in 2000 and had two major concussions, as well as 6-8 others. He reports undergoing significant head injury testing and shows no signs or problems. He remains mentally sharp as lead NFL analyst for Fox.
In the end, I hope we find this is the norm and not the exception.
MMMD 6: Worst stadium may soon see its last NFL game
All the talk about teams relocating to Los Angeles certainly has fans in St Louis, San Diego and Oakland on edge. One positive side effect may be the end of the medically most outdated and most dangerous stadium in the league.
Oakland Coliseum has been called a travesty and the Raiders are the only NFL team remaining that shares a field with Major League Baseball. This leads to injury issues related to the dirt infield. I have also written about the difficulty in providing appropriate medical care in Oakland and how it is the worst stadium in the league.
I always root for a team to stay in their home market. San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium may be seriously outdated but at least it is not medically dangerous to play there. The Raiders need a new place to play most of all and that may be a side benefit of all the LA talk.
MMMD 7: Eric Berry upbeat on beating cancer
There is no timetable for return to the NFL yet. Even if cured, he may never return. Obviously, football is secondary and all fans wish him well.
Follow David on Twitter: @profootballdoc
Dr. David Chao is a former NFL head team physician with 17 years of sideline, locker and training room experience. He currently has a successful orthopedic/sports medicine practice in San Diego.
After becoming devalued in the new pass-happy NFL era, the running back position has become a premium asset this offseason.
DeMarco Murray and LeSean McCoy both signed five-year deals for $40 million or more, and the 2015 draft is loaded at running back.
Most prognosticators believe that this NFL draft will have at least one running back selected in the first round for the first time in two years.
Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, Tevin Coleman, Jay Ajayi, Duke Johnson, Ameer Abdullah, T.J. Yeldon and Jeremy Langford head a deep group that could contribute from Day One. Before a knee injury sidelined Gurley, many thought the Georgia runner was the most talented back since Adrian Peterson.
Only time will tell if the experts are correct in predicting the quality of this year’s crop, but here’s a look at what the 2015-ers are up against from the last five RB drafts:
2010 — 13 RBs drafted
C.J. Spiller, drafted 9th overall by the Bills, rushed for 1,244 yards in 2012, but a broken collarbone shortened the explosive player’s 2014 campaign.
Ryan Mathews, drafted 12th overall by the Chargers, has started 53 games and averaged 4.4 yards per carry, but he can’t shake the injury bug.
Jahvid Best, drafted 30th overall by the Lions, played in just 22 games before concussions ended his career.
Dexter McCluster, drafted 36th overall by the Chiefs, was a running back/receiver and never exemplary at either, though he did make the Pro Bowl as special teamer in 2013.
Toby Gerhart, drafted 51st overall by the Vikings, served as Adrian Peterson’s backup in Minnesota and then struggled when given an opportunity for more with Jacksonville.
Ben Tate, drafted 58th overall by the Texans, broke his ankle as a rookie, allowing Arian Foster to take his spot. He ran for 942 yards the next year for Houston but has been on three different teams since.
Montario Hardesty, drafted 59th overall by the Browns, was plagued by injuries and last played in a regular season contest in 2012.
Drafted by the Packers (193rd overall, 6th round), James Starks rushed for 316 yards in the 2010 postseason during Green Bay’s Super Bowl run.
D: This class not only lacked depth, but the first seven backs selected are no longer with their original team.
2011 — 24 RBs drafted
Mark Ingram, drafted 28th overall by the Saints, had his best year in 2014, rushing for 964 yards and nine touchdowns after battling myriad injuries.
Ryan Williams, drafted 38th overall by the Cardinals, has been plagued by injuries, including rupturing a patella tendon before taking a regular season snap and a shoulder injury that ended his second season.
Shane Vereen, drafted 56th overall by the Patriots, emerged as an effective runner, receiver and blocker especially on third downs.
Mikel Leshoure, drafted 57th overall by the Lions, tore his Achilles tendon before playing a regular season down for Detroit and did not play for a team during the 2014 regular season.
Daniel Thomas, drafted 62nd overall by the Dolphins, has averaged under 3.9 yards per carry in each of his four seasons.
Drafted by the Cowboys (71st overall, 3rd round), DeMarco Murray led the NFL with 1,845 rushing yards in 2014.
Drafted by the Patriots (73rd overall, 3rd round), Stevan Ridley rushed for 1,263 yards in 2012 before fumbling issues put him in Bill Belichick’s doghouse.
Drafted by the Redskins (105th overall, 4th round), Roy Helu surpassed 100 rushing yards in three consecutive weeks as a rookie.
Drafted by the 49ers (115th overall, 4th round), Kendall Hunter averaged 4.6 yards per carry for his career before tearing his ACL in last year’s training camp.
Drafted by the Jets (126th overall, 4th round), Bilal Powell started 11 games while rushing for 697 yards in 2013.
Drafted by the Falcons (145th overall, 5th round), Jacquizz Rodgers, a shifty third-down back, has scored 10 career touchdowns.
C+: Murray can’t redeem a class whose early-round picks had their careers hampered by injuries and that lacks many full-time starters.
2012 — 19 RBs drafted
Trent Richardson, drafted 3rd overall by the Browns, has become one of the NFL’s biggest draft busts of late.
Doug Martin, drafted 31st overall by the Buccaneers, rushed for 1,454 yards as a rookie before suffering a shoulder injury and then falling out of favor with the Tampa Bay coaching staff.
David Wilson, drafted 32nd overall by the Giants, retired prior to the 2014 season because of neck injuries.
Isaiah Pead, drafted 50th overall by the Rams, carried the ball a total of just 17 times during his three years in St. Louis.
LaMichael James, drafted 61st overall by the 49ers, was relegated to the Dolphins’ practice squad before joining their active roster late in the 2014 season.
Drafted by the Broncos (67th overall, 3rd round), Ronnie Hillman started four games for Denver last year before the emergence of C.J. Anderson.
Drafted by the Ravens (84th overall, 3rd round), Bernard Pierce rushed for 1,334 yards in three years with Baltimore before a recent DUI arrest led to his release.
Drafted by the Redskins (173rd overall, 6th round), Alfred Morris has surpassed 1,000 rushing yards, including 1,613 during his rookie season, and 4.0 yards per carry each year.
Drafted by the Bengals (191st overall, 6th round), Dan Herron started all three playoff games for the Indianapolis Colts last season.
Drafted by the Rams (252nd overall, 7th round), Daryl Richardson rushed for 475 yards as a rookie.
D+: A 6th rounder — Morris — is the best of a lot that included major busts in the early rounds.
2013 — 23 RBs drafted
Giovani Bernard, drafted 37th overall by the Bengals, amassed 1,209 yards from scrimmage during his rookie year while making a slew of highlight plays.
Le’Veon Bell, drafted 48th overall by the Steelers, was initially slowed by knee and foot injuries as a rookie before emerging as one of the NFL’s best weapons in his second season.
Montee Ball, drafted 58th overall by the Broncos, never developed into more than a part-time player as he struggled with injuries and fumbling issues.
Eddie Lacy, drafted 61st overall by the Packers, has become the best back Aaron Rodgers ever played with.
Christine Michael, drafted 62nd overall by the Seahawks, has averaged 4.9 yards per carry during his career, though Marshawn Lynch’s backup only has 52 career rushes.
Drafted by the Chiefs (96th overall, 3rd round), Knile Davis has proven to be a nice complement to the smaller, speedier Jamaal Charles.
Drafted by the Jaguars (135th overall, 5th round), Denard Robinson, the former college quarterback, twice surpassed 100 rushing yards as he grew into his new position during his second season.
Drafted by the Rams (160th overall, 5th round), Zac Stacy started 12 games his rookie year before falling out of favor in his second season.
Drafted by the Raiders (181st overall, 6th round), Latavius Murray surpassed 75 rushing yards three times during the last five games of the 2014 season.
Drafted by the Cardinals (187th overall, 6th round), Andre Ellington has produced 2,078 yards from scrimmage during his two-year career.
Drafted by the Lions (199th overall, 7th round), Theo Riddick caught four touchdowns last year and likely will take on a bigger role after Detroit lost Reggie Bush.
A-: The second round featured a star back in Bell and two very good ones in Lacy and Bernard. The later rounds unearthed several part-time or full-time starters, which could’ve been even better had 4th rounders Johnathan Franklin and Marcus Lattimore not retired early.
2014 — 20 RBs drafted
Bishop Sankey, drafted 54th overall by the Titans, disappointed as rookie, averaging only 3.7 yards per carry and never registering more than 61 yards in a game. He had as many touchdowns as fumbles.
Jeremy Hill, drafted 55th overall by the Bengals, shined as the star of the class, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and stealing the starting job from Giovani Bernard.
Carlos Hyde, drafted 57th overall by the 49ers, averaged 4.0 yards per carry last year and is poised to assume the starting role in 2015 with Frank Gore off to Philadelphia.
Drafted by the Rams (75th overall, 3rd round), Tre Mason came on strong in the latter part of the season as St. Louis’ main back after not playing in the first four games.
Drafted by the Browns (94th overall, 3rd round), Terrance West started six games for Cleveland.
Drafted by the Vikings (96th overall, 3rd round), Jerick McKinnon averaged 4.8 yards per carry and could become Minnesota’s main back if it parts ways with Adrian Peterson.
B: This class could produce as many as six starters on 2015 rosters, but Hill is the only Pro Bowl-level talent.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @JFedotin
Since our last edition of the Pro Days Notebook there have been some interesting results at some schools across the country. We will start with Penn State.
Penn State – March 19th
Adrian Amos – Safety – This draft isn’t exactly a strong year when it comes to the safety position with Alabama’s Landon Collins most likely being the only one selected in the first round.
Amos really helped himself when he ran 4.38 and 4.41. That makes him as fast as any safety in the draft.
Jesse James – Tight End – The knock on James was that he couldn’t run well. That wasn’t the case at the Penn State pro day as he ran 4.67 and 4.72. That speed may move him up a round.
Donovan Smith – Tackle – He may have been the surprise of the day when he ran a 4.98 on his first forty. Not many linemen weighing 328 can run like that. Smith slightly pulled a hamstring on his second 40 and was unable to finish the workout. Word is he may try to do positional drills at a later time.
Missouri – March 19th
Shane Ray – OLB – Shane only lifted at the Combine, so he needed to do just about everything. He ran well, averaging 4.65 with his two 40’s. He looked tight in the hips when he did the agility drills, the times of 4.52 and 7.70 are not very good. The same held true when doing position drills. He was not as smooth as expected when doing pass drops. He lacks a smooth turn and his transition was average.
Marcus Golden – OLB – Golden was Mizzou’s other DE, playing opposite Ray. He also had an average pro day. His speed was fine (4.75 average) but his jumps and agilities were below average for the position. His vertical was 28.5” and the standing long jump was 9’2”. His short shuttle and 3-cone were also average when compared to other players at the position (4.55/7.36)
Stanford – March 19th
Andrus Peat – Tackle – I have Peat as my highest rated offensive linemen. He is only a third year junior and will be a 21 year old rookie. At 6066 – 316, he has ideal size.
At the Stanford pro day, the only measurable drill that Peat did was the standing long jump when he leaped 10’ 1/2’”. That is excellent for a man his size. While doing position drills for the coaches, he looked quick, explosive, and athletic. Don’t be shocked if he is the first offensive linemen drafted.
Henry Anderson – DE – The only measurable drill that Anderson did was the bench press where he did 23 reps. The big 5 technique had a strong positional workout for the coaches. Add that to his good Combine performance, and Anderson will most likely get drafted in the late second or top part of the third round.
Alex Carter – corner – Carter needed to improve on his 40 times and he did averaging 4.51 on his two attempts. He’s a solid mid round pick.
Ty Montgomery – WR- Ty was 220 at the combine and ran 4.55, he weighed in at about 211 for his pro day and his time improved a little, averaging 4.50. Clubs will note that he ran the faster time at a lower weight.
Colorado State – March 23rd
Garrett Grayson – QB – I have Grayson as my third rated quarterback. Starting with the Senior Bowl, he has had a strong off season and that included his pro day.
He showed speed and athleticism that some didn’t realize he had. He ran two 40’s and averaged 4.75. His agilities were 4.33 and 7.00 and he had a 10’1” long jump.
He threw about 70 passes and showed very good accuracy as well as good arm strength and a tight ball. While I don’t see Grayson going in the first round, it wouldn’t shock me if it happened. More than likely he goes in the second.
Central Florida – March 25th
Breshad Perriman – WR – Perriman did not work out at Indy so there were scouts and coaches from just about every team in attendance. He didn’t disappoint. He ran twice, timing 4.25 and 4.27. He also had a 37” vertical jump and a 10’7” standing long jump. He also was very consistent catching the ball. I doubt Perriman gets out of the first round.
Duke – March 25th
Jamison Crowder – WR/RS – Crowder did not run well at Indy and needed to improve on his time which he did. Crowder ran twice and both times, broke 4.50, with his fastest being 4.47. At 5086 – 176, Crowder is limited to being a slot receiver, but he also has enough return talent to eventually be a club’s top return specialist.
Houston – March 26th
Deontay Greenberry – WR – The junior entry had a very productive career at Houston but was not invited to the Combine. At his pro day he measure 6’1 – 211 and he ran 4.51. He also had a 35.5” vertical and a 9’8” long jump.
Don’t be surprised to see his named called around the sixth round come draft weekend.
LSU – March 27th
Most of the top prospects at LSU stood on their Combine numbers and did only positional drills. OT La’el Collins and LB Kwon Alexander both had strong positional workouts. Corner Jalen Collins recently had foot surgery and did not workout. The surgery could drop him a little but not much.
Danielle Hunter – OLB/DE – He weighed in at 251 and had an outstanding workout. He jumped 10’10” in the long jump as well as 36.5” in the vertical. His 3-cone was an outstanding 6.98. He already ran fast at Indy (4.58), so speed wasn’t a question.
In drill work, he looked comfortable dropping into coverage and catching the ball.
TCU – March 27th
Paul Dawson – ILB – As I mentioned yesterday in my top Inside Linebackers article, Dawson improved on his slow 40 time at Indy, running an average of 4.80 in his two 40 yard dashes. While that will help him, I doubt he gets into the first round.
There are still a number of important pro days in the coming days. Tuesday, Florida State will work out. After that, there is Miami on Wednesday, Washington on Thursday, and Florida on Friday. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman will work out April 15th.
Randy Gregory tests positive
One of the bigger news items of the week was Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory admitting he tested positive for marijuana at the Combine. I don’t think it will hurt him as much as some people think.
The fact that he was the one who made the announcement shows he owned up to his mistake and didn’t come out with some BS excuse. While he will drop some, it won’t be drastic. If clubs had him tied with someone like Vic Beasley or Dante Fowler, it could mean he losses the tie breaker. In the end, I don’t think he drops more than about 6 to 8 slots. Instead of being a potential top 10 selection, he may get drafted in the teens.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe
I’ve written that the outside linebacker/edge player position in this draft is loaded. The same cannot be said for inside linebackers. At this time, I can only see one inside linebacker being drafted in the first round, but the rest of the top five could very well go in the second. One may slip to the third round.
1) Benardrick McKinney – Mississippi State
In my opinion, McKinney is easily the best inside linebacker in this draft and the only one that I see going in the first round.
At 6’4 – 246, McKinney has great size to go along with excellent speed (4.68). At the combine, the only thing that disappointed me was his bench press, where he only did 16 reps, which is poor for his position. On tape, he plays with strength and shows explosive hitting ability. That explosiveness was shown with his 40.5” vertical jump and 10’1” standing long jump.
McKinney is a four year starter and highly productive versus both the run and pass. He has top instincts, is aggressive at the point, and shows he can be a blow up tackler. He is an instinctive linebacker who controls the middle of the field. He should start right away and be very productive as a rookie. He can play in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme which increases his value.
2) Stephone Anthony – Clemson
I have always been a big Anthony fan. I wrote him up last year in the NFP, thinking he was going to enter the 2014 draft. I saw nothing on tape from this past season that changed my mind about him.
From a physical viewpoint, he has all the tools. He measured 6’3 – 243 at the combine and ran a very fast 4.57 in the 40. All his drill work was equally impressive with a 37” vertical jump, 10’2” standing long jump, 23 reps of 225 and agility times of 4.03 and 7.07. These were all excellent numbers for a defensive back let alone a linebacker.
On the field, Anthony is instinctive, productive, and tough. He plays tough at the point of attack, can use his hands and shed quickly and takes good angles in pursuit. He is very good in coverage and shows he can play man or zone. He is also very effective when used to blitz.
Like McKinney, Anthony is scheme versatile and can play in any defense. He is also capable of playing Mike or Will in either scheme. While there is a chance he can get drafted at the end of the first round, I feel it is more likely he will go at the top of the second.
3) Paul Dawson – TCU
Going into the Combine, Dawson was looked at by most analysts as the second best ILB in this draft. When he got to Indy, all the wind came out of those sails when he ran a disappointing 4.93 in the 40. Regardless of how good a players tape is, no linebacker who runs a 4.9+ is going in the first round.
Yesterday (March 27th) at the TCU pro day, Dawson was able to improve on his 40. Talking to some scouts who were there, most people had Dawson timed in the 4.80 range. He ran twice and one was in the high 4.7’s and the other on the low 4.8’s.
When you look at how he performed the other drills, he just isn’t a top athlete. His vertical jump was only 28”, his long jump 9’1” and his short shuttle was 4.59. All those numbers are very average to poor for the position.
On tape, Dawson looks much more athletic. He is not a real big guy at 6’0 – 235 but he plays with strength and power. He shows strength at the point, has quick hands to shed, and is very instinctive. He is a big hitter and makes a lot of plays in the tackle box.
On the downside, he doesn’t have great range, has had some character issues and isn’t known to have the best work ethic.
Having average athleticism and not being able to run well, I see Dawson locked into playing in only a 3-4 scheme. The 4-3 clubs look for a much faster player to play Mike. Regardless of how he tested, once the game starts, Dawson can play. Because of that he will get drafted higher than his numbers would indicate. While I have him listed third, it would surprise me if he was the fourth or even fifth inside linebacker to get drafted next month.
It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t like Kendricks on tape. He is a three year starter at UCLA and very productive. He is a top athlete with speed (4.61) and change of direction. He has excellent instincts and is always around the ball and makes plays.
His biggest negative is size. He is not a naturally big guy. At Indy he was 6’0 – 232, but he played most of last year in the high 220’s. He doesn’t have the frame to carry much more than about 235 and that could hurt him some on draft day. There are times when he just gets over powered by offensive linemen.
If he reminds you of anyone as a player, it’s his older brother Mychal who is a starting ILB for Philly. Like his brother, Eric is good at slipping blocks and getting to the play. He is very effective in coverage and as a blitzer.
While Kendricks does have some scheme versatility, I see his best fit as a Will in a 4-3 scheme. From an athletic and instincts viewpoint, he fits that profile much better.
5) Denzel Perryman – Miami
One thing you can’t take away form Denzell Perryman is that he is a very good football player. What he lacks is ideal measurbles. At 5’11 – 236 he is on the small side.
As an athlete, he test out to be average. He runs in the high 4.’7s to low 4.8’s but does play a little faster. He has excellent instincts and anticipation, and that gets him to the ball quickly on a consistent basis. He is better at slipping blocks than taking on and shedding blocks. There are times on tape when you see him get over powered. While he has a number of tackles credited to him, he also misses some. He is more of a hitter than a wrapper.
Perryman is not for everyone. There will be clubs that like him and others will have him off their boards. I see him as a Will in a 4-3 scheme. His instincts and quickness will allow him to perform well at that positon.
I know there are some who feel Perryman is a lock to go in the second round. While I agree that could happen, I feel it’s a stretch and it’s more likely that he goes in the third. It would not surprise me if players such as Kwon Alexander and Shaq Thompson get drafted before Perryman, but for the purpose of this article, I have those two listed as outside linebackers.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe
Players are usually eager to enter free agency because of the expectation of a big payday. It doesn’t always work out that way. A market may never develop for a variety of reasons (age, unrealistic contract demands, supply at playing position, etc.). Here’s a look at a few players that haven’t or didn’t fare so well on the open market.
Michael Crabtree (WR): Crabtree took a backseat to 34 year old Anquan Boldin in the San Francisco 49ers’ passing game last season. The 2009 tenth overall pick finished 2014 with 68 receptions, 698 receiving yards and four touchdown catches. The 49ers went in a different direction at wide receiver by signing speedster Torrey Smith to a five-year, $40 million contract (with $22 million in guarantees). It only took Dwayne Bowe a week to find a new home with the Cleveland Browns once the Kansas City Chiefs released him. Bowe got a two-year, $12.5 million containing $9 million fully guaranteed despite three straight disappointing seasons in Kansas City. Crabtree is willing to be patient to find the right situation. He made $4 million in 2014 during the final year of his six year rookie contract. The odds are against him finding a one year deal for more than his 2014 salary.
Terrance Knighton (DT)-Washington Redskins: It was widely assumed Knighton’s affinity for head coach Jack Del Rio would lead him to the Oakland Raiders. Del Rio had Knighton for three years when he was coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars and spent the last two seasons as his defensive coordinator with the Denver Broncos. Continuing to play for Del Rio went out the window after Knighton eliminated the Raiders from consideration because of a “low ball” offer. Knighton was reportedly seeking a multi-year contract averaging $8 million per year. The Raiders signed defensive tackle Dan Williams to a four-year, $25 million deal with $15.2 million fully guaranteed instead. Knighton took a one year deal worth $4 million from the Redskins, which includes $450,000 in weight clauses.
Rolando McClain (ILB): McClain was one of the NFL’s best bargains in 2014 while making $700,000. He was retired and hadn’t played in the NFL since the Oakland Raiders released him in the middle of the 2012 season when the Dallas Cowboys acquired him in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens last off-season. McClain was the Cowboys’ best linebacker in 2014 and finished tied for second in the voting for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Other 2014 Cowboys linebackers quickly found deals on the open market. Bruce Carter signed a four-year, $17 million contract (worth up to $20.5 million with salary escalators and incentives) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Justin Durant received a three-year, $10 million deal (worth a maximum of $13.8 million through incentives) from the Atlanta Falcons. McClain didn’t do himself any favors by running afoul of the league’s substance abuse policy. He is subject to a fine of four week’s salary for failing three drug tests. His next violation will result in a four game suspension.
The Cowboys are interested in bringing him back but have already signed Jasper Brinkley and Andrew Gachkar for middle linebacker depth. Brinkely received a one year deal worth $2.25 million with the Cowboys having an option for a second year at the same amount. Gachkar signed a two-year, $3.5 million contract (worth up to $5.5 million through incentives.).
Ahtyba Rubin-(DT)-Seattle Seahawks: Rubin’s one-year, $2.6 million deal (worth up to $3.1 million with incentives) is a big departure from his last contract. He entered free agency after completing a three-year, $26.5 million contract extension (with $18 million in guarantees) he signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2011. Rubin, who was slowed by a nagging ankle injury in 2014, will provide depth as a part of Seattle’s interior defensive line rotation.
Rahim Moore (S)-Houston Texans: Moore signed a three-year, $12 million deal ($4.5 million fully guaranteed) to fill a void at free safety that’s existed ever since Glover Quin left via free agency two years ago. It’s interesting that the Texans made a bigger commitment to an aging Ed Reed in 2013 than to the 25 year old Moore. Reed received a three-year, $15 million contract containing $5 million fully guaranteed when he was approaching 35 years of age. The future Hall of Famer made $5,050,966 from the Texans for appearing in seven games before being released nine games into the 2013 season. Moore is making $5 million in 2015.
Follow me on twitter: @corryjoel
Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joel Corry is a former sports agent who helped found Premier Sports & Entertainment, a sports management firm that represents professional athletes and coaches. Prior to his tenure at Premier, Joel worked for Management Plus Enterprises, which represented Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon and Ronnie Lott.