Thursday, March 13, 2014

Day 3 NFL FA grades: Jags make decent moves (Clemons, Young)

Day 3 of NFL free agency saw the market slow down in a big way, but there still were some interesting moves made, calling for more grades.

So here goes:

DE Chris Clemons to the Jacksonville Jaguars: He is 33, always a concern, but can still rush the passer. It took him time to get going in 2013 after suffereing a torn ACL in the playoffs in January of 2013, but he looked to be back to normal late last season and during the Super run. The Jaguars haven't had a pure speed pass rusher for a decade. This signing makes a ton of sense. He got $17.5 million for four years. Grade: B

DE Willie Young to the Chicago Bears: I like this move for a team that badly needed an edge pass rusher after letting Julius Peppers walk. Young had only three sacks, but he did get a lot of pressures last season after being a starter for the first time. He can be an 8- to 10-sack player. The money wasn't bad either. Grade: B

DT Ziggy Hood to the Jacksonville Jaguars: He has been a disappointment with the Steelers since being a first­round pick. But he is a big body who will add depth to the line. He reportedly got $16 million for four years. That's a lot of money for a guy who is likely a rotation player. He will play inside, which is where he played in college. Grade: C

DE Justin Tuck to the Oakland Raiders: It's a two­year deal for $11 million, so it's not bad. And Tuck played better last season than he did in 2012, when I made him the league's most­overrated player. He might have a year or two left, and he does offer versatility. He had 11 sacks last season and did a nice job against the run. Grade: B-­minus

T Anthony Collins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Collins started last season on the Bengals bench, but came on to play left tackle and did a good enough job that the team opted to start him there and move Andrew Whitworth inside to guard. Collins did a nice job in pass protection and will be an upgrade over Donald Penn in Tampa. The money ­­ five years, $30 million ­­ is a little high, but his Deal Of The Day football is in front of him, a nd those are the players you pay. Grade: B-plus

LB Kavell Conner to the San Diego Chargers: He is a solid run defender who received a three­year deal. This move is strange in that the Chargers have Donald Butler and Manti Te'o, unless they want to sit Te'o. Butler isn't going anywhere. Grade: C

CB Tracy Porter to the Washington Redskins: He has bounced around some lately, but the former Super Bowl hero actually played pretty well last season for Oakland. The Redskins badly needed help at corner, and he will step in and start opposite DeAngelo Hall. He's not a kid anymore, but this move makes sense. Grade: C-plus

TE Jim Dray to the Cleveland Browns: He is little more than a blocking tight end, but that's what they need with Jordan Cameron. People who don't think he can block need to put on the tape from the 49ers- Cardinals season finale and watch him against Pro Bowl outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks. Grade: B-­minus

QB Charlie Whitehurst to the Tennessee Titans: They gave him a two­year deal for $8 million. Why? Coach Ken Whisenhunt likes Whitehurst, who he had in San Diego. I don't get it for that money. Grade: C-minus

NT Al Woods to the Tennessee Titans: Like Dray, he was on my list of down­the­line free agents who could be steals. Woods came on late last year for the Steelers and can play nose and defensive end. I like this move as they transition to a 3­4 defense. Grade: B-plus

More observations

* I get that receiver Steve Smith, who was released by the Panthers on Thursday, is one of those players who always plays with a chip on his shoulder. But he went a little overboard when he said "there would be blood and guts everywhere" if he plays the Panthers again.

Really? Since his former teammates are the ones who decided to release him? That's just babble­speak. Smith will likely get a look by the Ravens, but he's 35. That's old for any receiver, and he didn't get the big plays last season you expect from him.

* Why do the Eagles need Darren Sproles? When they traded to get him Thursday, most slobbered over the move. I won't. Sproles is slowing down and LeSean McCoy can do most of the things he can do. Yes, he might help in the return game, but that's a young man's job. It's just a weird fit for him.

* Every free­agent period, the Green Bay Packers fans get testy. They wonder if general manager Ted Thompson is doing the right thing not bringing in outside help. Every year, my answer is: He is. Thompson re­signed corner Sam Shields and outside linebacker Mike Neal so far, keeping two players he wanted back. That's the ideal way of handling free agency. Then draft well to supplement what you have. Thompson gets it.

* With the Jaguars signing Clemons and Red Bryant from Seattle, everyone is saying they are now "Seattle East." That's also because their coach, Gus Bradley, came over from Seattle. Familiarity matters, but they are not the only team doing this. The Chargers are signing players Chuck Pagano had when he was in Indianapolis. San Diego signed two former Colts ­­ running back Donald Brown and Connor ­­ who played in Indianapolis when current Chargers general manager Tom Telesco was with the Colts. So it's not only the Jaguars. Teams like signing players they have some idea of what they are like ­­ and not only on the field.

* People wonder how Rodger Saffold could pass one physical but fail another? It happens more than you know. Team doctors look at things in different ways. It's up to the individual doctor. But the whole Saffold thing smells for the Raiders. If reports are true that owner Mark Davis didn't want the deal to happen because of a pending surgery, then he stepped on the toes of general manager Reggie McKenzie. That's never a good thing.

The Rams view Saffold as a much better guard than tackle, which I think is true. Getting him back was a decent move, but why were they willing to let him walk anyway? The deal he got isn't much different than the one he signed with the Raiders.

* The Giants opted to bring back linebacker Jon Beason, who they acquired last year from Carolina. He helped steady a bad linebacker group when he came over, but how much does he have left? He's already just so­so in pass coverage and doesn't run like he used to. They needed to get faster, but this signing will provide a nice veteran starter.

* Smart move by the Texans to re­sign tight end Garrett Graham. They let an older Owen Daniels walk, and kept the younger player. That's how you do it.

* James Harrison's release in Cincinnati is proof that you better be able to run and cover if you want to play linebacker these days. Harrison can't run anymore.

* Vince Wilfork is coming off an Achilles' tendon injury and always has weight issues. That said, he can help a contender if the Patriots release him, as he reportedly requested.

* Anybody taking odds on where Darrelle Revis plays next year when his one­-year rental is up in New England. Good player. Weird deal.

* When Terrence Cody came out of Alabama, a lot of people expected him to become the next Wilfork. He was a major flop with the Ravens, and he's still on the market. Can he revive his career with a new team? He is a big body.

* More mighty have fallen: Former first­round picks Michael Oher and Kenny Britt are still on the market. Britt has a ton of talent, but his off­field problems are well documented. Oher just hasn't played well in his time with the Ravens, not even when they moved him to right tackle. But both are worth a look for a smaller deal.

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