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Tag:Will Brinson
Posted on: February 21, 2012 10:04 am
Edited on: February 21, 2012 11:08 am
 

Report: Bills won't franchise tag Stevie Johnson

Johnson could be a free man if he and Buffalo don't work out a deal. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Stevie Johnson's an interesting test case for the wide-receiver market in 2011; he and the Bills are reportedly exchanging numbers, but they're also reportedly "far apart" in contract negotiations.

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And now, the Bills reportedly won't be using the franchise tag on Johnson if they can't reach a long-term deal before March 5. That's according to Rodney McKissic of The Buffalo News, who reports that the "franchise tag option hasn't been discussed during negotiations" between the team and Johnson.

As we noted previously, Johnson's in a weird spot when it comes to his market value. $9.4 million -- the guaranteed money involved in the franchise tag -- seems like too much for Johnson. But he's certainly not a $5 million per year wide receiver.

And much of what he could get on the open market depends on how other situations play out. If, hypothetically, Marques Colston, Dwayne Bowe, DeSean Jackson, Vincent Jackson, Reggie Wayne and Wes Welker (to name just a few) all hit the market along with Johnson, his stock will drop faster than a potential game-winning catch against the Jets.

Then there's the fact that the Bills would hurt themselves in negotiations if they discussed the franchise tag. Should Johnson's camp believe the tag is an option, it a) reduces the rush to get a deal done before March 5 and b) means the Bills are automatically negotiating from a bare minimum of $9.5 million in guaranteed money.

The only surprising thing is that Buffalo is apparently willing to let their biggest playmaker in the passing game walk; without Johnson, the 6'5" David Nelson steps into the role as top playmaker, barring the Bills being able to bring another high-end free agent into Buffalo.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:43 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2012 2:27 pm
 

Stanford Routt signs three-year deal with Chiefs

Routt tackles his new teammate Bowe. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Less than two weeks ago, Oakland made the decision to cut cornerback Stanford Routt. Less than two weeks later, he's a member of the Chiefs, one of the Raiders AFC West division rivals, Kansas City announced on Monday.

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According to multiple reports, Routt's deal is for three years and worth $19.6 million.

"Stanford has a proven record of success in the NFL," Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said in a statement released by the team. "He’s a talented player that has spent seven seasons in the AFC West, so he is familiar with us and our division opponents. We are excited to have Stanford join the team, and we are looking forward to getting started."

Routt was cut by the Raiders because his contract was simply untenable to new general manager Reggie McKenzie (or perhaps we should say "out of whack"?).

As our own Josh Katzowitz noted last week, Routt drew plenty of interest on the open market, as a talented cornerback available well in advance of most free agents being able to sign with teams on March 13.

Oakland's not off the hook, though. Multiple reports indicate that Routt's new deal will not offset the $5 million Routt was scheduled to receive from the Raiders in 2012, so the cornerback will be getting two paychecks.

"We are excited that we were able to come to terms with Stanford,” General Manager Scott Pioli said. “He is a talented player, and as we have said in the past, we are always looking to add competition at every position year-round. Stanford’s experience and level of play will make him a solid addition to our defense."

Perhaps the most interesting part of the addition of Routt to the Chiefs is what it means for would-be free-agent cornerback Brandon Carr. Carr was a strong possibility to get the franchise tag, but the Chiefs signing Routt means that wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is a much more likely target now.

Carr will then hit free agency at the ripe old age of 25 and likely draw a ton of interest from teams in need of a cornerback.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 1:13 pm
 

Report: Lynch, Seahawks 'deep' in contract talks

Seattle and Lynch are reportedly 'deep' in contract talks. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

In 2011, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch had the most productive season of his career, rushing for 1,204 yards and 12 touchdowns on 285 carries. Despite that, it's been thought that Seattle wouldn't use the franchise-tag on the impending free agent.

A report from Jason LaCanfora of NFL Network significantly changes the perception of Lynch's future in Seattle, as LaCanfora writes on Monday that the two sides are "deep" in contract talks and could use the tag if a deal isn't completed.

"The Seahawks are deep in talks with running back Marshawn Lynch on a long-term deal, which could well be completed before the March 5 deadline. If that somehow falls apart, the Seahawks are prepared to tag Lynch, according to a source with knowledge of the situation."

There's reason to be optimistic about Lynch's future. Though he didn't produce his best cumulative season, he was absolutely dominant down the stretch in 2011, rushing for 941 yards (78.2 percent of his season total) over the final nine games of the season.

And maybe this tag is an obvious one to some people, but there's a reason we didn't list Lynch when we ran down a list of guys we thought would be likely to get franchise-tagged: he's got some serious mileage and some serious question marks.

For starters, Lynch's career-high yards-per-carry total is 4.2, which he posted in 2011. It's also easy to laud his numbers from 2011, but remember, through the first seven weeks of the season, Lynch was averaging 3.55 YPC and just 44 yards per game. That's not the sort of performance that warrants a big-money, long-term investment and it might not be the type of performance worthy of an $8-million-ish payday just for next season either.

Especially when you could just pay him in Skittles.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:52 am
 

Sherman likens Tannehill to Favre, Rodgers

New Fins OC Mike Sherman thinks Tannehill is a Favre-like leader. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

When it comes to quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft, the general consensus out there is that Ryan Tannehill is the No. 3 signal caller behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. But that doesn't mean he's doomed to falling in the draft, as there are plenty of potential suitors picking in the top half of the draft.

One such suitor, the Miami Dolphins, recently hired Tannehill's coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, as its offensive coordinator. And Sherman, speaking to Omar Kelly of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, said that Tannehill reminds him of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

"Like all good quarterbacks he had great poise. Very confident in any system, west coast or not," Sherman said of Tannehill. "Any quarterback has to be confident in his own skin and believe in himself. They always say a great quarterback makes those around him better. I thought [Brett] Favre did that. I think Aaron Rodgers does that. I think Tannehill does that as well."

We'll forgo debating the comparisons between Favre and Rodgers, made only on the premise that Tannehill is a leader. Instead, we'll point out that it was actually Sherman who moved Tannehill to wide receiver before the 2008 season. Tannehill lost out in the competition for quarterback to Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson and remained a wide receiver in 2009.

Tannehill caught over 100 passes for more than 1,400 yards in two years before being moved back to quarterback, and completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 5,388 yards, 42 touchdowns and 21 interceptions over the next two years.

But again: Sherman's the guy who moved him to wideout. It's impressive as hell that Tannehill was a dominant college wide receiver, and even more impressive that he transitioned back to quarterback, but if he was "like Brett Favre," the move to wide receiver is an indictment of someone here.

Oh yes, and Sherman was fired from his job as Texas A&M head coach after this past season.

Having said all that, we tend to agree that Tannehill's stock is on the rise and that he's highly unlikely to even fall towards the end of the first round. NFLDraftScout.com's Dane Brugler slotted him as high as sixth to the Redskins in the latest 2012 NFL Mock Draft. (Rob Rang has Tannehill going 22nd overall to the Browns.)

But if new Dolphins coach Joe Philbin feels the same way about Matt Flynn as Sherman apparently feels about Tannehill, it won't matter much that the Dolphins OC is that interested in his former wideout/quarterback protégé.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 11:07 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 11:08 am
 

Drew Brees wife pregnant with third son

Does Baylen have a future in the NFL too? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Drew Brees announced on Sunday night that he and his wife, Brittany, are expecting their third son. The Saints quarterback announced the news on Twitter; thankfully Saints Rapid Reporter Larry Holder is super diligent and we didn't miss it.

The babies Brees are oddly famous; Drew's first son, Baylen (above), became a mini-celebrity when the quarterback held him and his gigantic earphones in the aftermath of the Saints Super Bowl victory a few years ago. Their second son, Bowen, got his name via a Twitter contest to find interesting B-related names. (We're hoping the new one will be "Brinson Brees," because Brinson is the best B, obviously.)

Naturally, the latest baby news had a twist as well.

"Found out the sex of the baby by Brittany baking cupcakes today," Brees tweeted Sunday. "Bit into the center, all BLUE. Boy #3 is on the way!"

Color-coded cupcakes are absolutely the best way to find out what kind of baby you're having; not only is it a clever method of delivering the news, but it's delicious too.

More interestingly, though, is what Holder points out in his Rapid Report: Brees is the second notable Saints quarterback to produce a trio of baby boys. The last one to do so? Archie Manning.

His sons -- Peyton, Eli and Cooper -- are decent at football and relatively famous. There's certainly no guarantee that Baylen, Bowen and Currently Nameless Baby Boy will be good at football, but there's certainly a precedent set.

Either way, congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Brees on their latest piece of great parenting news.

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Posted on: February 20, 2012 10:20 am
Edited on: February 20, 2012 12:22 pm
 

Report: Rice wants a 'Peterson type of contract'

Rice is good, but is he worth 'AP money'? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

One guy we expect to see franchised over the next fortnight or so is Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice is an unrestricted free agent, is just 25, and is one of only 16 NFL players since the merger to accumulate multiple seasons with 2,000 or more yards from scrimmage. But we also expect Rice and the Ravens to work out a new long-term deal; Rice said he's OK with the tag provided it leads to such a deal.

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But his expectations might be too high: Peter King of Sports Illustrated writes Monday morning that he's hearing Rice "wants an Adrian Peterson-type of contract" for his next deal.

Unfortunately, that's probably not happening. Prior to the 2011 season, Peterson signed a seven-year deal worth up to $100 million, with $36 million guaranteed.

That's "best running back in the NFL" money, and Peterson might be lone exception when discussing running backs who are worthy of that kind of cheddar. (Of course, Peterson spent much of 2011 dealing with a high-ankle sprain that Leslie Frazier later parlayed into a torn ACL by rushing his franchise player back onto the field too quickly.)

Rice, as talented as he is, isn't worth that much money. The Ravens know this and they won't give Rice "AP money." King writes as much, saying that he "doesn't see them going anywhere near that for Rice," although he believes that Baltimore will find a way to get Rice his cash.

A closer approximation to what Rice could get? The deal the Carolina Panthers handed DeAngelo Williams after the 2011 lockout. Williams got a five-year, $43 million deal with $21 million guaranteed.

Rice is more valuable than Williams (the stats bear that out, particularly in 2011), but Williams deal was -- and remains -- a straight-up overpay. The Panthers threw the market for "franchise running backs" out of whack, and now guys like Rice and Matt Forte, who run a lot of risk by only playing for a one-year guaranteed deal in 2011, will suffer because of it.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 4:31 pm
 

NFL says concussions down 50 percent on kickoffs

The Panthers were second in touchdbacks in 2011. So that, um, Olindo Mare signing worked? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Prior to the 2011 NFL season, the league moved kickoffs from the 30-yard line to the 35-yard line in an effort to reduce the number of injuries on kickoff returns. The result, according to Hunt Batjer, the co-chair of NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee, was a positive one.

Quite positive, in fact: Batjer told Brad Biggs of The Chicago Tribune that after the change, concussions were down 50 percent from the previous year.

We just got the data recently," said Batjer, the co-chair of NFL Head, Neck & Spine Committee and department chair of neurological surgery at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "It looks to me like a decreased number of runbacks played a role. It did not affect a lot of the other injuries paradoxically."

This is a pretty logical conclusion to reach, if only because of the dramatic rise in touchbacks as a result of the rule change:

Year Kickoffs Touchbacks Toucback Percentage
2011
2,572 1,120 43.55
2010
2,539 416 16.38
2009
2,484 407 16.38

Yes, it is kind of crazy that 2009 and 2010 featured the exact same percentage of touchbacks. It's even crazier to see the kind of spike that we did in 2011: quite clearly the rule change was effective in limiting the amount of contact that return units had.

In 2009, the Cowboys led the league with 29 touchbacks. In 2010, Billy Cundiff and the Ravens led the league with a ridiculous 40. In 2011, 12 teams had 40 or more and only nine teams had less than 29 touchbacks.

It's an obvious effect of moving the ball forward five yards. An obvious effect of that is less contact, with the final obvious effect being less concussions.

The end result is that you shouldn't expect to see the NFL move kickoffs back to the 30-yard line any time soon.

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Posted on: February 16, 2012 10:22 am
Edited on: February 16, 2012 11:23 am
 

Agent: Flacco is 'in the top five' for QB money

Maybe Flacco should just get Brady's contract? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Tuesday we mentioned that Joe Flacco's camp and the Ravens might start talking about a new contract next week at the 2012 NFL Combine. We also discussed where Flacco fits in terms of the financial quarterback hierarchy, noting that surely he deserves to be paid more than Matt Cassel, Kevin Kolb or Ryan Fitzpatrick, $60-million men in their own right.

Apparently, we badly undershot the expectations of Flacco's camp -- Flacco's agent Joe Linta told Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun that the Ravens quarterback needs to get the same kind of money that a top-five quarterback would expect.

"If the game is about wins and losses, he has to be in the top five [quarterbacks],” Linta said. “He is a player who has been extremely durable, never missed a game. And he’s done something that no one has ever done. In his four years in the league, he has never missed a game and has more wins than any other quarterback."

Now, the reaction to this "WHAT?" That's understandable, because Flacco, frankly, isn't a top-five quarterback in the NFL. He's probably (definitely?) not a top-ten quarterback either. (If we were picking quarterbacks to start a team looking to win both now and in the future, we'd take Flacco 15th.)

But Linta phrased this perfectly. If the game is about wins and losses, then, yes, Flacco is a top-five quarterback. Only Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Alex Smith won more games in 2011. And Flacco's won a lot of playoff games and showed that he can perform under pressure in 2011, even if his overall game took a step back.

But Flacco doesn't win those games by himself. The Ravens ranking No. 3 in overall defense in 2011 helped somewhat. As did Ray Rice and Ricky Williams rumbling Baltimore to a top-10 ranking in rushing yards.

The "quarterback wins" argument is a tired one, in our opinion, but one that still holds water, especially when negotiating a contract. But that being said, if Linta can parlay Flacco's NFL career into "top-five money," he'll be the big winner, since every single NFL player should hire him to negotiate their deals.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com