Posts Tagged ‘free agency’

Free Agency’s Losers

Michael Crabtree

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

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: jccorry@gmail.com

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.

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Ryan Pace is proving to be a worthy General Manager

Ryan Pace

Being a General Manager for an NFL franchise is a tough job. Being a General Manager for an NFL franchise in a big media market like Chicago is even tougher. There is always going to be someone questioning just about each and every decision you make.

Ryan Pace has been the General Manager of the

Being a General Manager for an NFL franchise is a tough job. Being a General Manager for an NFL franchise in a big media market like Chicago is even tougher. There is always going to be someone questioning just about each and every decision you make.

Ryan Pace has been the General Manager of the Chicago Bears for only two months, and in that time, he has shown that he has what it takes to become successful in the NFL. In that short two month period, he has already made a handful of decisions that could very well shape the future of the Bears and his time in Chicago.

First, he decided the Bears no longer needed the services of Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall. As talented as Marshall is, he had a negative influence in the locker room, and that’s not someone anyone wants on their team. Pace found a willing participant for a trade and shipped Marshall off to the New York Jets for a low round draft choice.

Next, decided the Chicago Bears were not going to be big spenders in free agency this year. History has shown us that when you go out and spend a huge amount of money in the free agent market, it rarely pays off. Yes, it creates positive press and allows you to “win” the off season, but it doesn’t always translate to wins in the fall. Pace has made numerous moves in free agency, but he hasn’t given out the outlandish big ticket contract that makes headlines.

His first move was to sign outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, who spent his first four years in the league with the Baltimore Ravens. McPhee is only 26 years old and is considered an ascending player, which should mean his best football is in front of him. McPhee was signed to give the Bears an outside pass rusher in their new 3-4 defensive scheme.

Next, Pace signed safety Antrel Rolle. Rolle had a very successful career with the New York Giants and is clearly in the last years of his career, but he is still able to play good football and has strong leadership skills. The price tag to obtain Rolle was very fair, and in no way did Chicago overpay for his services.

The third big move was the signing of wide receiver Eddie Royal. Royal has had an up and down career. He was originally drafted by Denver and caught 187 passes in his first three years in the league. He then had a two year swing where his production fell off, but in the last two seasons, he has proven to still be a very reliable player. At 28 years old, he should still have some good football left in him and gives the Bears a much needed slot receiver.

Going into free agency, the Bears had a huge need along the defensive line as they were transitioning to a new scheme and didn’t have many defensive linemen who fit. Pace resisted going after the over the hill big ticket player and waited until phase two of free agency. His plan may be working. Yesterday, the Bears signed three veteran players who can help improve the defense as they are “fits” to what the Bears are doing.

The first player signed yesterday was defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins, formerly of the Washington Redskins. Jenkins was a Washington’s second round draft choice in 2011 but tore an ACL his rookie year. It wasn’t until the last two years that Jenkins has started to play to his potential. In 2014, he started 14 games and had a career high of 29 tackles and three tackles for loss. He will be a good rotational defensive lineman for Chicago. As he only signed a one year contract, there is minimal risk involved.

The second player signed was inside linebacker Mason Foster. Foster is going into his fifth year in the league and, early in his career, played some outstanding football for Tampa Bay. When Lovie Smith came in as the new Tampa Bay head coach a year ago, Foster was looked at as a player who didn’t really fit Lovie’s Tampa 2 scheme. With his contract up, the Bucs decided not to re-sign him. Foster is a smart, instinctive player and is an excellent fit for the Bears new scheme. Again, the cost was minimal as he signed a one year deal.

The third player signed was by far the most controversial. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald is only 30 years old and has been a very productive player for the 49ers for years. The bad news is that last August he was arrested but not charged in a domestic violence issue involving his fiancé. The San Jose, California police decided against pressing charges after a thorough investigation. Last December, a woman accused McDonald of sexual assault. Almost four months later, no charges have been filed and McDonald has filed a law suit against the woman. It is obvious that the McDonald signing comes with risk and could backfire on the Bears. If that happens, Pace loses a lot of the credibility he has built up in Halas Hall.

Pace did a tremendous amount of research before pulling the trigger on the transaction. The Bears new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio came from San Francisco where McDonald played. Fangio has a four-year relationship with McDonald and vouched for Ray both as a person and a player. The same can be said for defensive back coach Ed Donatell, who spent the last four years with McDonald. The Bears also contacted the NFL regarding what their investigation of the incidents showed. Finally, McDonald flew to Chicago to meet with Bears Chairman George McCaskey. After a two hour meeting with McDonald, McCaskey agreed to the signing.

Regardless of whether or not the Bears feel they have done all their homework, the signing could backfire on Pace and the Bears. If McDonald had no issues, he would have been the second or third best defensive linemen available this off season after Ndamukong Suh. The money he could have gotten would have been in the $5M range per season. With the issues present, the Bears were able to sign McDonald to only a one year contract. If he screws up, it won’t cost the Bears anything other than bad publicity.

If all of these signings work out, Pace will be looked at as a shrewd, young, front office executive. If the McDonald signing fails, then it will be just the opposite. In my view, with the contract structured the way it is, the risk is minimal and the reward high.

Pace has spent the last two weeks in free agency making moves to allow the Bears to draft the best players available. It will be interesting to see how he handles draft day.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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Free Agency’s Big Winners

Ndamukong Suh

With the NFL turning its attention to the annual owners meetings, here’s a look at some of the big winners in free agency.

Ndamukong Suh (DT)-Miami Dolphins: Suh re-set the non-quarterback market with a six-year, $114.375 million contract containing $59.955 million fully guaranteed. The previous non-quarterback benchmark was the six-year, $100 million contract extension (averages

With the NFL turning its attention to the annual owners meetings, here’s a look at some of the big winners in free agency.

Ndamukong Suh (DT)-Miami Dolphins: Suh re-set the non-quarterback market with a six-year, $114.375 million contract containing $59.955 million fully guaranteed. The previous non-quarterback benchmark was the six-year, $100 million contract extension (averages $16,666,667 per year) J.J. Watt received from the Houston Texans last September. Suh’s $59.955 million also sets a new standard for guaranteed money with non-quarterbacks. It eclipses the $53.25 million of guaranteed money in the seven-year, $113.45 million contract extension Calvin Johnson received from the Detroit Lions in 2012.

Darrelle Revis (CB)-New York Jets: Revis getting a deal to place him at the top of the cornerback salary hierarchy was expected. His five-year contract worth $70,121,060 is clearly superior to other top cornerback deals in key contract metrics. $39 million is fully guaranteed at signing. That’s a little over $8.5 million more than the $30.481 million Patrick Peterson and Richard Sherman, the NFL’s second and third highest paid cornerbacks (by average yearly salary) have fully guaranteed at signing collectively.

Julius Thomas (TE)-Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars didn’t make Thomas the NFL’s second highest paid tight end because of his blocking prowess. He is expected to remain arguably the NFL’s best red zone threat at the position after receiving a five-year, $46 million deal containing $24 million in guarantees. Thomas sets a new standard for guarantees in tight end deals with the $24 million. $21 million of the $24 million was fully guaranteed at signing.

Byron Maxwell-(CB)-Philadelphia Eagles: Maxwell hit the open market at the right time. This year’s group of free agent cornerbacks wasn’t nearly as impressive as last year’s group, which included Vontae Davis, Brent Grimes, Sam Shields, Aqib Talib and Alterraun Verner. He received a six-year, $63 million contract with $25 million fully guaranteed. $32 million is in the first three years.

Devin McCourty (S)-New England Patriots: McCourty became the NFL’s second highest paid safety despite rejecting bigger offers from other teams. His five-year, $47.5 million contract contains $28.5 million in guarantees, which is the most ever in guarantees for a veteran safety deal. McCourty also has the best three-year cash flow for safeties with $30 million in the first three years.

Rodney Hudson (C)-Oakland Raiders: Hudson reached his goal of becoming the NFL’s highest paid center with a five-year, $44.5 million contract. The Raiders were smart in using a pay as you go structure with Hudson’s deal. His cash and salary cap numbers are the same in each contract year because he is receiving salary guarantees instead of a signing bonus. Since Hudson’s $7.35 million 2016 base salary doesn’t become fully guaranteed until the third day of the 2016 league year (mid-March), the Raiders have a window to get out of the deal after the 2015 season without any cap consequences if he doesn’t pan out.

DeMarco Murray (RB)-Philadelphia Eagles: Murray didn’t capitalize on a dominant season in a contract year as much as he would have at other positions because of the devaluing of running backs. Nonetheless, his five-year, $40 million contract (with $21 million in guarantees and worth a maximum of $42 million through salary escalators) makes him the first running back to switch teams in free agency with a deal over $5 million per year since Michael Turner left the San Diego Chargers for the Atlanta Falcons in 2008.

Dwayne Harris (WR)-New York Giants: The Giants made Harris the NFL’s highest paid player whose primary role is returning kicks by giving him a five-year, $17.5 million contract (with $7.1 million fully guaranteed). Harris was second in the NFL in kickoff return average with 30.6 yards per return and third in punt return average (12.8 yards) during the 2013 season. It’s conceivable that Harris will be New York’s fifth wide receiver behind Preston Parker, who caught 36 passes in an expanded role because of Victor Cruz’s torn patellar tendon in his right knee. To put Harris’ deal in better perspective, Cole Beasley, who was ahead of Harris on the depth chart with the Dallas Cowboys last season as the team’s third wide receiver, recently re-upped on a four-year, $13.606 million contract with $5 million fully guaranteed.

Aaron Rodgers (QB)-Green Bay Packers: The Packers maintain offensive continuity with offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga and wide receiver Randall Cobb taking hometown discounts to remain in Green Bay. Bulaga signed a five-year, $33.75 million deal. Cobb’s four-year, $40 million contract containing a $13 million signing bonus, which is the deal’s only guaranteed money, is in line with the four-year, $39.05 million contract extension Jordy Nelson signed during the initial days of training camp last season.

Jeremy Parnell (OT)-Jacksonville Jaguars: Parnell signed a five-year, $32 million deal with $14.5 million fully guaranteed after serving as a backup during his five years with the Dallas Cowboys. He got his most extensive playtime in 2014 by starting five regular season games and both of the team’s playoff games because of ankle and foot injuries to starting right tackle Doug Free. Parnell received a much more lucrative contract than Free, who is two and half years older. Free re-signed with the Cowboys for $15 million over three years. The guaranteed money in Parnell’s deal is almost as much as Free’s entire contract.

Follow me on twitter: @corryjoel

Email me: jccorry@gmail.com

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.

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One week later: NFL Free Agency

Ndamukong Suh

The article “What Can You Expect from Free Agency” discussed, among other things, early free agent signings and how there would be plenty of them once 2015 free agency started. Well, the first week is now behind us and there was indeed plenty of activity. This

The article “What Can You Expect from Free Agency” discussed, among other things, early free agent signings and how there would be plenty of them once 2015 free agency started. Well, the first week is now behind us and there was indeed plenty of activity. This article reviews the first week of free agency and focuses on the activity that took place through March 16.

By our count, 119 free agent signings took place as of the end of the day on March 16. This includes signing both free agents whose contracts have expired and players who have been cut for salary or performance reasons. Traded players and players claimed via waiver were not included. Resigning a team’s own players is also excluded for the purposes of this analysis. While this is important it strays from the purpose of the article.

Contract Length

This is just the beginning of free agency, of course, but the early trend seems to be that fewer one- year contracts are being signed. Some of the one-year deals are for players returning from injury (e.g., Adrian Clayborn, Henry Melton, Sean Weatherspoon, Tyvon Branch, etc.,).

The following table compares the 119 signings so far in 2015 with the 139 contracts signed during the first three weeks of the 2014 free agency process.

With possible exception of the Scott Chandler signing by the Patriots, it is our guess that all the contracts of unknown length are one-year contract. This would mean that so far in 2015 free agency slightly less than 25% of all signings were for one year versus 36% in 2014. As free agency progresses we are likely to see more veteran-minimum, one-year contracts so this gap should be closed somewhat.

The Largest Contracts

The Jaguars have been the preeminent team in signing 2015 free agents to longer contracts. They have signed seven players so far with four those receiving contracts of five years. This represents 25% of all free agents who have signed contracts of five years or longer. A fifth player was signed by Jacksonville to a four-year contract. Beside the Jaguars, only the Eagles have signed more than one player to a contract in excess of four years, and they signed two.

If all five contracts are combined, the Jaguars committed to contracts having a Guaranteed Value of $77 million. Only the Jets exceed that investment with the contracts of Darrelle Revis, James Carpenter, Marcus Gilchrist, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine having a Guaranteed Value of nearly $90 million.

Most would agree that, with the ability of NFL teams to release players and void contracts, a contract’s Guaranteed Value is its most important element. Here are the eleven free agent signings with a Guaranteed Value of at least $15 million. Information is from a variety of published sources.

The Suh contract pretty much drawfs the other contracts signed and makes him the highest paid non- quarterback in the league. By way comparison, JJ Watt signed a six-year contract extension last fall and received a Guaranteed Value of $21 million (total contract of about $100 milllion), only one-third of Suh’s guarantee. Seven of the eleven contracts are for defensive players. It is a matter of conjecture whether this is a matter of chance or a commentary on the importance of defense.

Future Free Agent Signings

More players will be added to the free agent pool as the year progresses and teams make further cuts, most of which will be salary cap related. A remaining key date for free agency is June 1. Many teams have an incentive to make cuts after June 1, as that will permit them to spread a terminated player’s salary cap impact over 2015 and 2016. Otherwise the entire amount of a player’s “dead money” goes against a team’s 2015 salary cap, something most teams would like to avoid.

In addition, while many of the big-name players are already signed, there are still a lot of talented free agents available. By our count, over 250 free agents remain unsigned. Some will retire and others will attract no interest, but most will end up in someone’s training camp.

How Are Teams Doing So Far?

The emphasis should be on “so far” as there is a still a long way to go in the free agency process. In assessing a team’s performance it was decided to focus on participation losses. If player A is lost in free agency and had participated in 1000 plays from scrimmage in 2014, his team must find a replacement to play those 1000 snaps.

That replacement can come from the prior year’s roster, the draft or a free agent. In this analysis only free agency is considered so, if a player or players are signed in free agency to replace Player A, his team has suffered no quantitative loss in free agency.

A team that brings in more experience than they lost has a net gain through free agency. The following table summarizes the net gain or loss through free agency for each team. A number in parentheses represents a net loss. The “Added” column represents the number of 2014 scrimmage plays for signed free agents. The “Lost” column represents the number of 2014 scrimmage plays for players lost in free agency.

The Jets and Raiders have added the most while the Eagles and Packers have lost the most. The Packers do not typically chase free agents and others, like the Steelers, tend to sit out free agency until the prices come down.

As a matter of perspective, the Eagles lost the most 2014 scrimmage plays (4637), but those plays represented less than 20% of their total scrimmage plays. So the impact of free agency is relatively modest.

Follow Tony on Twitter @draftmetrics

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Who has done well in free agency?

Dave Caldwell and Gus Bradley

Having spent most of my adult life working in the NFL as a scout, I have great respect for the guys in the NFL who make a living evaluating players. They are very talented people who work hard and, in most cases, make sound decisions. For that reason, unlike other websites, I refuse to put

Having spent most of my adult life working in the NFL as a scout, I have great respect for the guys in the NFL who make a living evaluating players. They are very talented people who work hard and, in most cases, make sound decisions. For that reason, unlike other websites, I refuse to put grades on things like free agency acquisitions draft classes.

First of all, what may look good on paper today can turn out to be a disaster come next fall. Just look at Tampa Bay as an example. Last March, most “experts” thought they had a great free agency haul, with all the money they spent and players they signed. Well, a year later, many of those players have already been cut because they turned out to be poor signings. Many times, the under the radar signings turn out to be the best signings.

Free agency is a way to add players to your roster in areas of need. Free agency and the draft have to work hand-in-hand in order to do the best job in reshaping a roster. If a club relies too much on free agency, they could end up getting burned.

That being said, there are some clubs that I feel have done a good job in the first few days.

Jacksonville Jaguars

With this being the third year of David Caldwell/Gus Bradley era, they have to start winning games. Last year, they drafted quarterback Blake Bortles with the hope that he becomes a top NFL quarterback. While Bortles struggled at times as a rookie, he still flashed enough to show the talent is there.

Caldwell got Bortles another weapon with the signing of tight end Julius Thomas. At 26 years old, Thomas is still an ascending player, and with his size and athleticism, he will be a big help in the red zone

The Jags signed defensive tackle Jared Odrick and cut Red Bryant. Odrick makes the Jaguars more athletic on the defensive front.

Davon House is another young ascending corner who is just string to come into his own. He has size and length and will match up well with taller receivers in the league.

Jeremy Pernell is in the same mold as the others. He is still young and improving and will be an upgrade on the offensive line.

New York Jets

Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles have gotten off to a good start by doing a great job strengthening their secondary. They got the best corner in the game with the signing of Darrelle Revis, who still has plenty of great football in him.

A few years ago, the Jets had one of the best secondaries in the league with Revis and Antonio Cromartie. With Cromartie signing with the Jets last night, they are back together. Add to that duo, the addition of Buster Skrine form the Browns and the Jets have done a great job upgrading the corner position. This morning, it looks as if they will add another good player in safety Marcus Gilchrist.

Miami Dolphins

To sign Ndamukong Suh the Dolphins were going to have to pay big dollars, which they did. That is the cost of business when you want one of the two best defensive lineman in the game.

If tight end Jordan Cameron can stay healthy is actually an upgrade over the possible loss of Charles Clay. While Clay is terrific as a receiver, he doesn’t do as much in the run game as Cameron can.

Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe

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