NFL Free Agency 2017: B.S. Meter on Top Rumors
On Tuesday, the first day of "legal tampering period," plenty of rumors were floating around the NFL.
Leading up to Thursday's official start of free agency at 4 p.m. ET, we'll go through seven of the biggest stories to sniff out if these rumors make sense. Are some numbers too large? Do some players just not fit with certain franchises?
Are agents bluffing? Are the decision-makers? When money is floating around, everyone dishing out information, good or bad, has an agenda. Follow us as we go one-by-one trying to make sense of what's swirling around the league.
QB Mike Glennon Will Be a Chicago Bear
Mike Glennon is a 27-year-old quarterback who is at the end of his rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Up to this point in his career, he's best known as the guy who forced Russell Wilson to choose between playing baseball in the football offseason at North Carolina State or having to transfer.
For his career, Glennon has an 84.6 passer rating and has twice as many touchdowns as interceptions. To put those numbers into perspective, Trevor Siemian of the Denver Broncos posted an 84.6 passer rating with 18 touchdowns through the air and 10 interceptions in 2016.
According to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the Bucs want to make Glennon the highest-paid backup quarterback in football, but he could fetch about $15 million per year—almost double the average salary of that title—on the open market.
For what it's worth, starting quarterback Jameis Winston was the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, and he was second in the NFL in interceptions (18) and tied for third fumbles (10) this past season.
Per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, Glennon wants to land with the Chicago Bears, though he's been linked to just about every quarterback vacancy over the past few weeks.
According to Rapoport, Brian Hoyer agreed in principle to a deal with the San Francisco 49ers on Wednesday. If Matt Barkley also walks from Chicago and the franchise moves Jay Cutler via a trade or release (which would save the Bears $14 million on the 2017 cap and $72.7 million over the next four years), Glennon would be a surefire starter in the Windy City.
It seems like Glennon-to-Chicago has legs to it, but without those two heavy bidders in the picture, his asking price could drop by the time he signs on as a Bear.
Fact or fiction: Fact
WR DeSean Jackson Will Be a Buccaneer
No one knows what's happening within the Washington Redskins organization right now other than the people in the building. The team's general manager, Scot McCloughan, was missing from the NFL Scouting Combine and remains MIA, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Quarterback Kirk Cousins' future in Washington is uncertain despite having received the Redskins' exclusive franchise tag. The team also just gave head coach Jay Gruden a contract extension, which free-agent Washington receiver Pierre Garcon mocked on Twitter.
Garcon isn't the only Washington receiver who could leave the nation's capital in the coming days. Big-play threat DeSean Jackson may likewise part ways with the franchise in free agency.
Citing sources, ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com suggested Jackson may seek around $10 to $12 million per season, which, according to Spotrac, could make him one of the seven highest-paid receivers in football based on average salary. At the combine, Draft Analyst's Tony Pauline reported league sources expect Jackson to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, citing Florida's lack of state income tax as one reason.
The Bucs have a young, strong-armed passer in Jameis Winston and a big-bodied receiver in Mike Evans, but Jackson could give them a speed element that they lack. They currently have the league's fifth-most cap space ($61-plus million), per Spotrac, and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport confirmed Tampa Bay "will make a strong attempt" to sign D-Jax.
Washington doesn't have its act together. Jackson wants money from a contender. Tampa isn't far from competing for an NFC South title and needs a speed threat. Everything checks out here.
Fact or fiction: Fact
RB Adrian Peterson Will Be a New England Patriot
According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, running back Adrian Peterson would leave money on the table to play for the New England Patriots. As she noted, a move like that isn't out of the question for veterans of his caliber.
But cornerback Darrelle Revis—one of the names Guregian mentioned—basically got a one-year, $12 million deal in 2014 from the Pats. According to Spotrac, no running back on a long-term contract is worth more than $8 million per season.
That's a big deal.
Peterson is coming off signing a three-year, $42 million deal with the Minnesota Vikings and had a combined salary and roster bonus of $11.75 million in 2016.
Last year in three starts, Peterson had 37 carries for an average of 1.9 yards per rush. He will be 32 on March 21.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has shown little to no commitment to running backs since Corey Dillon's 2004 season. He's been known to pull the plug on backs after fumbles, which has been a weak point of Peterson's Hall of Fame-caliber career.
Belichick's top regular-season running back last year was LeGarrette Blount, who led the NFL in rushing touchdowns (18). In the postseason, Blount had 35 touches, while Dion Lewis recorded 25 and James White registered seven. Belichick and Co. just don't commit to running backs.
Fact or fiction: Fiction
CB Davon House Will Be a Packer
The Green Bay Packers have been known as the NFL's most homegrown franchise in the league since general manager Ted Thompson took over the team. He doesn't often sign free agents, and when he does, they tend to be street free agents instead of unrestricted free agents.
The reason for that may be because street free agents don't impact the compensatory pick system that the NFL has in place. According to The MMQB's Peter King, Green Bay has gained the second-most compensatory picks of any franchise since the league started the system in 1994. In that span, Thompson has been with the Packers other than a five-year stint in which he was the vice president of football operations with the Seattle Seahawks alongside former Green Bay head coach Mike Holmgren.
Last year, the Packers' biggest weakness was at cornerback. After letting Charles Woodson, Davon House, Tramon Williams and Casey Hayward walk in recent years, the team relied on former college safety Damarious Randall, former college basketball player Quinten Rollins and undrafted free agent Ladarius Gunter, who was timed at 4.69 seconds in 40-yard dash, when Sam Shields went down with an injury.
The result? An end-of-the-season decimation by Julio Jones and NFL MVP Matt Ryan in the NFC Championship Game. The Packers need to improve on their cornerback talent, and the only move they have made so far was releasing Shields from his deal that averaged nearly $10 million per season.
House, who actually did well against Jones in a Monday night game when Shields struggled in 2014, signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015 at the tune of $24.5 million over four years. He was released after just two seasons, but the potential of him returning to the Packers under Dom Capers, the longest-tenured defensive coordinator in the NFL, is promising, considering the fact that Green Bay tends to swing toward street free agents, like pass-rusher Julius Peppers and tight end Jared Cook.
According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com, who covers the Packers, the team has already been in contact with House. Cinderella, meet glass slipper.
Fact or fiction: Fact
DL Johnathan Hankins Will Net More Than DL Dontari Poe
Dontari Poe may be the most popular nose tackle in the NFL. He was a former first-round pick who turned into a Pro Bowler early on in his career and as a touchdown gimmick with the Kansas City Chiefs. What most can't tell you, though, is that injuries have slowed down the 346-pounder.
Because of that, the New York Giants' Johnathan Hankins may sign a larger contract this offseason than Poe. Hankins was a second-round nose tackle coming out of Ohio State who moved into an under-tackle role with the Giants in 2016.
The signing of Damon Harrison, one of the many talents New York has added on the defensive side of the ball in recent years, kicked Hankins out of his natural tackle spot in the 4-3 defense. Hankins is just a 24-year-old, though, two years younger and healthier than Poe, and according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com, an NFL defensive line coach believes Hankins has the better tape between the two.
Harrison signed a deal worth $9.25 million per season, the third-largest contract for a nose tackle behind Los Angeles' Michael Brockers ($11.08 million) and Buffalo's Marcell Dareus ($16.09 million) in the NFL. Along with Baltimore's Brandon Williams, the trio of he, Hankins and Poe could rank among the top five nose tackles in the NFL in just one free-agency period.
Being younger than Harrison and Williams will bode well for Hankins on the open market, as will being healthier than Poe. In the end, expect to hear about how Hankins was one of the more underrated linemen in the sport after he signs a megadeal.
Fact or fiction: Fact
CB Darrelle Revis Will Sign for $8 Million or Retire
According to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, cornerback Darrelle Revis wants $8 million a season on his next contract or he'll think about retirement. Per an earlier report from Florio, there was a clause in Revis' contract similar to the contracts of fired college coaches, which stated that whatever Revis is paid, up to the $6 million he's owed for being cut as a New York Jet, it will break even with his former team.
That means an $8 million, one-year deal for Revis actually means the Jets getting $6 million off the hook and Revis working for a one-year, $2 million deal. That's interesting, even for a 31-year-old. New York's defense was built around Revis' man-coverage skills, and those clearly dwindled in 2016.
With that being said, $2 million per year is equivalent to many average salaries of rookie players or quiet veterans like Minnesota's Marcus Sherels at the position. For the highest-grossing cornerback in NFL history, that's a tough bullet to bite.
Revis loves money, but long-term cash is always better than short-term. If Florio's report is correct, will Revis risk sitting out a season, with the potential of never returning to NFL money again, because he'll only earn $6 million in 2017? Revis is better than that.
Fact or fiction: Fiction
CB A.J. Bouye Is the Top Free Agent on the Market
According to Benjamin Allbright of AM 1340 in Denver, who has been first on numerous stories in the past two offseasons, Houston Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye is "the most sought after free agent" for most teams. If you don't know that name, it's because the 25-year-old was only valued as a $1.7 million, one-year player last offseason.
Bouye was a breakout player for the Texans defense, which didn't miss a step despite the fact that it lost the league's best defender in defensive end J.J. Watt for most of the season. Bouye quickly developed into one of the most dangerous cornerbacks in the NFL, but with Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson and Kevin Johnson, Houston is spoiled at the cornerback position, and with Bouye's contract coming up, it's likely that the mouth doesn't get fed.
According to CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora, the Jacksonville Jaguars, who have nearly $74 million in cap space, are in play for Bouye. Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com also noted rumors of Bouye landing with the Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans, on top of the Jaguars, whom he covers.
Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Tennessee rank in the top five in terms of cap space leaguewide, according to Spotrac, with Chicago sitting in the sixth slot. Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com also added the Philadelphia Eagles, a team with a huge cornerback need, to the list of teams whom sources say are in the Bouye race.
Mike Garafolo of NFL Network stated that Bouye could be in the market for more than $12 million per this March. When an echo is this loud, it's hard to ignore. Janoris Jenkins found $12.9 million per year on the open market last year, despite the fact that he had off-the-field red flags dating back to his college days.
If Bouye gets just north of that, he'd be paid right behind Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman and Joe Haden—on the bubble of a top-five cornerback in the sport. As far as free agents go, that's as good as this class is going to get.
Fact or fiction: Fact