Ravens released DE Chris Canty.
Canty is on the fence about playing next season, which probably made this decision a lot easier for Baltimore. Canty's departure frees up $2.66 million in cap room for the suddenly cost-obsessed Ravens. The 32-year-old registered 33 tackles during his final season with Baltimore.
Free agent OLB Michael Sam was invited to the veteran combine.
He's also competing in the next season of Dancing With the Stars, though that shouldn't conflict with his combine preparations. Sam is a bit of a tweener: too small to play on the defensive line but not quite fast enough to be effective at linebacker. He might get an invite to training camp, but Sam isn't a difference maker.
With Tuesday's deadline for the franchise tag approaching, the Broncos and free agent Demaryius Thomas are no closer to signing a long-term deal.
Thomas fully expects to receive the franchise tag, which would pay him around $13 million. There's no way Demaryius is leaving Denver after the season he had in 2014 (111 catches, franchise record 1,619 yards). However, his large cap hit could force Peyton Manning to restructure his deal.
Lions signed DE/OLB Phillip Hunt.
Hunt made a name for himself in Canada by leading the CFL in sacks in 2010. That led to a two-year stint with the Eagles and an invite to Colts' training camp last offseason. Even if he makes the Lions' final roster, Hunt probably won't see much playing time next season.
Dolphins released WR Brian Hartline.
A low-ceiling receiver who is allergic to the end zone, Hartline bottomed out with a miserable 2014 season (39 catches for 474 yards in 16 games). It would have been preposterous for Miami to keep him at his $5.9 million salary. Hartline has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his resume, but he's a complementary receiver at best. Hartline's departure makes the Dolphins more likely to keep Mike Wallace and gives another boost to second-year slot WR Jarvis Landry. Still only 28, Hartline could be a starter on a team like the Browns. He also happens to be from Canton (OH) and played college football at Ohio State.
When asked if Devonta Freeman was ready to become the Falcons' feature back, GM Thomas Dimitroff said, "no question."
We figured as much after Steven Jackson was handed his walking papers on Thursday. Freeman showed flashes as a rookie, producing 248 yards on the ground and another 225 through the air. Atlanta is going to be a pass-first offense as long as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are running the show, but Freeman should still have plenty of opportunities to contribute.
Falcons released WR Harry Douglas.
Douglas has been a productive wideout in Atlanta when either Julio Jones or Roddy White has been injured, but he’s going to be 31 this season and new OC Kyle Shanahan's offense is going to go through Jones even more than it has in the past. There was no reason to pay all three of Jones, White, and Douglas. The Falcons can get Douglas’ production as the No. 3 receiver at a much cheaper rate via a bargain free-agent signing or mid-round draft pick. The Falcons pick up $3.5 million in cap space by cutting Douglas, who posted a 51-556-2 line in 2014.
The release of Anthony Fasano makes Travis Kelce an "every-down tight end."
Aside from athletic freak Jamaal Charles, Kelce was arguably the Chiefs' most prolific offensive player last season, grabbing 67 catches for 862 yards and five scores. Kelce might never leave the field now that Fasano is out of the picture. Assuming a clean bill of health, Kelce could easily put up Greg Olsen numbers next season (84 receptions, 1,008 yards, six touchdowns in 2014).