With the NFL Combine in the books and today’s deadline for NFL teams to place their Franchise Tag on their players, we all turn our attention to next week’s free agency. This week will be the calm before the storm for teams, players and fans. Here’s your chance to catch up on all of the news from the past few days.
Franchise Tag Update
The Chiefs placed the Franchise Tag on LB Dee Ford, as expected but NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported the team is open to trading Ford, partially due to the impending switch to a 4-3 defense.
The Falcons used their Franchise Tag on DT Grady Jarrett but will continue to discuss a long-term contract with the nasty interior lineman. This was a move Atlanta had to make to ensure they didn’t lose the big man.
Seattle tagged DE Frank Clark, locking him into town for another season. Clark enjoyed a career-year in 2018 and there was little chance the Seahawks were letting him hit the market.
Continuing the trend of stud defensive linemen drawing the Franchise Tag, the Cowboys slapped DE DeMarcus Lawrence for the second straight year. This situation could get messy as Lawrence has reportedly threatened to hold out barring a long-term deal and the two sides are said to be far apart.
One more top defender will not hit the market as the Texans tagged LB Jadeveon Clowney. The two sides are reportedly close to an agreement on a contract extension as the team is possibly concerned about Clowney’s injury history.
While they still have some time to change their minds, the Giants are not expected to tag SS Landon Collins. The Giants can’t seem to get out of their own way and don’t have the funds to even tag one of their top defenders. Expect Collins to be suiting up for a new team in 2019.
Another defender who is now expected to hit the open market is Baltimore’s LB C.J. Mosley as the team is not expected to use their tag to retain his services. While the two sides continue to discuss an extension, that is far from a sure thing.
Notes and Rumors
There was some anticipation that the Steelers would be able to complete an Antonio Brown trade during the Combine week. While that didn’t come to pass, a trio of teams has reportedly emerged as potential landing spots. Current AB, err…Mr. Big Chest fantasy owners might want to sit down. The Raiders, Titans and Redskins have all been linked to Brown as suitors. The Steelers are reportedly motivated to deal Brown before his roster bonus comes due on March 17. Following these reports, Brown took part in an interview with ESPN and tried to gain leverage, saying, “I don’t even have to play football.”
The Browns recent addition of RB Kareem Hunt sparked a rumor that the team could consider moving RB Duke Johnson and a pair of NFC East teams, the Eagles and Cowboys, have reportedly shown interest. While Johnson would obviously be stuck behind RB Ezekiel Elliott in Dallas, the Philadelphia backfield is wide open and would offer Johnson plenty of opportunity.
The Jets have plenty of cap space and reportedly have their eyes on many free agents. Per Conner Hughes of The Athletic, the Jets are interested in OG Rodger Saffold, TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, RB Tevin Coleman and WR Cole Beasley. This roster has holes all over the field and needs to add multiple impact players.
The Jets are also expected to be players for the top free agent on the market, RB Le’Veon Bell, as are the Eagles and Buccaneers. The Jets are considered the front runners to land Bell though Philly and Tampa would each be more enticing landing spots from a fantasy perspective.
It has been clear for weeks, if not months, that the Dolphins plan to move on from QB Ryan Tannehill. Before they cut their losses though, they are working the phones, beginning with the QB-needy Washington Redskins. With his release inevitable, there is likely little trade market for Tannehill.
One of the top stories of the NFL Combine was the now widely-accepted idea that the Arizona Cardinals will be using their top overall pick to select QB Kyler Murray, making QB Josh Rosen expendable. While Rosen was a top-ten pick just a year ago, NBC Sports Peter King reports the Cardinals might only get a third-round pick for the former UCLA star. Among the potential landing spots for Rosen is Washington, who have reportedly “openly spoken” about making a move for last year’s tenth overall pick.
A long-rumored pairing is now becoming an accepted outcome as ESPN reported the Jaguars are expected to sign free agent QB Nick Foles once free agency begins next week. We’ll see how Foles performs away from Eagles HC Doug Pederson.
The Chiefs announced that TE Travis Kelce required surgery to repair an ankle injury, though he is expected to be fully healthy in time for training camp. Kelce is locked in as the top fantasy option at his position across all formats.
In a weak free agent class, the top receiver on the market might be speedster Tyrell Williams, who is expected to draw attention from the Oakland Raiders. Oakland has a major need at the position and have a history of chasing speed-based players at the skill positions.
Things were already trending down for RB Alex Collins, who lost his starting job in the middle of the 2018 season. Over the weekend, Collins was arrested following an early-morning car accident. The Ravens quickly waived the back and it was later revealed Collins is facing drug and gun charges. Considering Collins’ NFL future was already up in the air, this could signal the end of his career.
Anyone who watched the Rams late in the season, it was apparent there was more to the Todd Gurley injury than the team was sharing with the media and public. Gurley took a back seat to veteran RB C.J. Anderson for the majority of the team’s Super Bowl run, all while HC Sean McVay vowed Gurley was fully healed from a knee injury. Now we are learning that Gurley has arthritis in his knee and is considering stem cell treatment to improve the issue. Always an injury concern after his past knee injuries, this is likely to hurt Gurley’s value in seasonal and dynasty leagues moving forward.