NFL Free Agency 2019: BS Meter on Top Rumors

Derrik KlassenContributor IMarch 12, 2019

NFL Free Agency 2019: BS Meter on Top Rumors

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    Chris Cecere/Associated Press

    Monday marks the soft opening of NFL free agency.

    Starting Monday, teams are allowed to negotiate with players ahead of the official opening of free agency Wednesday evening. Once Wednesday evening hits, teams will go into a frenzy to sign the players they feel are their missing ingredients.

    Of course, numerous potential signings and rumors are already out there. Let's examine the most interesting rumors on a believability scale between one and 10—one being believable and 10 being pure B.S.


Frank Clark Threatening to Hold Out for Long-Term Contract

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Seattle Seahawks may be without their best pass-rusher for the foreseeable future.

    According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, defensive end Frank Clark intends to not sign his franchise tag and will instead hold out for a long-term contract. Clark has reportedly threatened to skip training camp if a deal cannot be reached. The two sides have until July 15 to come to an agreement on a multiyear extension, or else Clark will not be allowed to sign for more than one year this offseason.

    The 25-year-old would be the best free-agent pass-rusher if he were allowed to hit the open market. Technically Clark can talk to other teams and sign elsewhere, but because of the non-exclusive franchise tag Clark was hit with, the Seahawks would get an opportunity to match the offer. The Seahawks would also be entitled to two first-round picks from the team that signed him if they chose not to match.

    In short, Clark either comes to an agreement with Seattle at some point or does not play because of the steep price it would cost another team to sign him.

    Save for an intense itch to be back on the field, Clark has no incentive to sign with Seattle in a hurry. He understands how valuable he is to the Seahawks and how much money he would earn on the open market.

    Players such as quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Le'Veon Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown took their future into their own hands in one fashion or another. The way is paved for Clark to do the same.

    BS Meter: 2/10

New York Jets Are the Front-Runners for Le'Veon Bell

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    As the premier free-agent running back, Le'Veon Bell is a logical target for teams looking to support their young franchise quarterbacks. 

    The New York Jets fit that bill.

    On Monday, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported that the Jets were "divided" on whether to sign Bell, adding, "There's a general feeling in the building that Bell is worth pursuing only to a certain point." However, Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk refuted that report, writing: "Per a league source, the Jets are unified on their approach to the soon-to-be-former Steelers standout."

    Ralph Vacchiano of SNY reported "multiple league sources" believe the Jets "are still the favorites" to sign Bell, who would give young quarterback Sam Darnold a much-needed security blanket. ESPN's Chris Mortensen likewise said the Jets remain the front-runners for Bell, per Rotoworld's Evan Silva.

    New Jets head coach Adam Gase is a quarterback-centric coach who likes pass-catching running backs to support his quarterbacks. While the Jets may not be willing to hand Bell a record-setting deal, his fit with Gase's offensive identity suggests they're still open to signing him at the right price.

    BS Meter: 3/10

Dallas Cowboys Out of the Market for Top Free-Agent Safeties

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    The Dallas Cowboys' safety depth chart is not pretty. Free safety Xavier Woods shows moments of brilliance as a young player but does not serve as a clear answer for the team moving forward. Starting strong safety Jeff Heath is a liability, as seen by his team-high 21 missed tackles. Depth players such as Kavon Frazier and Darian Thompson do not appear to be solutions either.

    A clear lack of talent in the back end may suggest the Cowboys would be in play for a top safety on the free-agent market. But according to Calvin Watkins of The Athletic, the Cowboys are not interested in paying what the market will demand for free safety Earl Thomas. Watkins also mentioned a lack of interest in free safety Eric Weddle, who has since signed with the Los Angeles Rams, and strong safety Landon Collins, who has reportedly signed with Washington.

    The Cowboys likely want to sign one of the top safeties, but they do not have the cap flexibility for it. For one, wide receiver Amari Cooper needs a contract extension before his current deal expires in 2020. Quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott are also eligible for extensions this offseason and beyond. All three players are expected to be kept for top dollar in order to maintain the core of the offense.

    In turn, the Cowboys should not want to pour money into a free-agent safety to risk not being able to keep one of their young offensive cornerstones. Offensive star power is a must for Jerry Jones, and it is tough to imagine he'll give that up, especially when Elliott was a first-round pick in 2016 and Cooper was acquired from the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a first-round pick in 2019.

    A conflicting report from Ian Rapoport suggests the Cowboys are not out of the running for Thomas, but that feels more like due diligence by the Cowboys than a legitimate try for Thomas' services. Considering the aforementioned cap burdens on the horizon, it would be difficult for the Cowboys to outbid the San Francisco 49ers, who have more than double the Cowboys' current available cap space at $54.2 million.

    BS Meter: 3/10

Bradley Roby Is a Hot Name on the Cornerback Market

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    This year's crop of free-agent cornerbacks is largely disappointing.

    But Bradley Roby, the No. 31 overall pick from the 2014 draft, is reportedly drawing significant interest.

    On Monday, NFL Network's James Palmer reported Roby "could be down" to the Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders or a return to Denver Broncos.

    Roby is primarily a press-man cornerback who has shown immense peaks in the past. Though he hasn't ever snagged more than two interceptions in one season, he notched at least 10 passes defensed every year except 2016. And in 2016, he returned two touchdowns for interceptions.

    If Roby can return to his full form, some team will have found a high-end No. 2 cornerback who can thrive in man coverage. 

    BS Meter: 2/10

Clay Matthews Returning to Green Bay

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Clay Matthews has been a career Green Bay Packer since being drafted by the team in 2009. Through the ups and downs of Matthews' career, including a temporary position change to inside linebacker, the Packers have found a way to keep Matthews on board and maximize his skill set.

    Mike Silver reported on NFL Network on Feb. 25 that the Packers want to make it work with Matthews, but he suggested they will not go all-in to retain him. Rather, the Packers will allow Matthews to hit the market and gauge his value before deciding to bring him back. It is believed the Packers would like Matthews back for the right price.

    With a new coaching staff and era being ushered in Lambeau, there is not enough reason to believe the Packers would retain Matthews unless the price is well below what they anticipated. Matthews is approaching 33 years old and has not recorded double-digit sacks since 2014.

    Matthews could make sense as a cheap veteran presence to groom whichever pass-rushers the Packers intend on drafting in April, but again, Matthews would have to be had at a low price in order for that to be a reasonable deal.

    Retaining Matthews is nice in theory, but it is neither necessary nor reasonable given what pass-rushers of any caliber will earn on the open market.

    BS Meter: 6/10

Miami Dolphins Moving On from Cameron Wake

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    Matt Patterson/Associated Press

    Cameron Wake's contributions to the Miami Dolphins over the past decade are unmatched by any player over that stretch. Since joining the Dolphins from the CFL in 2009, Wake has racked up 98 sacks, 97 tackles for loss and a whopping 213 quarterback hits. Unfortunately, the time has come for the Dolphins to move on from the 37-year-old pass-rusher.

    As Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported, a handful of teams are interested in signing Wake this offseason, but the Dolphins are not one of them. The organization has not made a clear effort in stating Wake will not return, but if someone of Wake's pedigree and status in Miami were coming back, a deal or announcement would have been made by now.

    Considering Wake's age, plus the fact that new head coach Brian Flores has no allegiance to him, it makes sense that the Dolphins are comfortable moving on. Wake will surely end up in the Dolphins' Honor Roll one day, but this is a good time for them to move toward the future.

    BS Meter: 1/10