Tag:2011 NFL Free Agency
Posted on: August 23, 2011 6:01 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 6:09 pm
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Bryant McKinnie gets a chance with Ravens

McKinniePosted by Josh Katzowitz

Bryant McKinnie’s long wait to sign a new deal with a new team is over. The former Vikings offensive tackle who was cut earlier in the preseason has reached an agreement with the Ravens, the Baltimore Sun reports.

McKinnie was a Pro Bowler in 2009*, but he upset the Vikings when he showed up to this year’s training camp far out of shape. Though the Vikings never actually came out and said that was the reason they got rid of McKinnie, coach Leslie Frazier said this before axing him: "There are a number of things that we want to work on with Bryant and some other guys as well. Conditioning is part of it. We just want to try to make sure that we're doing the right thing by every guy that's wearing the purple."

The Vikings also apparently were upset that McKinnie refused to budge off his base salary of $4.9 million, and for a guy who supposedly weighed in at nearly 400 pounds** when he arrived at camp, that was unacceptable.

*You might recall that McKinnie partied a little too hard in Hawaii, and he was not allowed to play in the game.

**McKinnie is 6-foot-8, but even for that height, 400 pounds is rather rotund.

McKinnie's drama
But now, he gets another chance with the Ravens -- who, according to the Carroll County Times, will sign him to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million (with a $1 million bonus).

It’s an interesting move by the Ravens, considering they failed to re-sign free agent tackle Jared Gaither earlier this offseason, essentially paving the way for Michael Oher to return to the left tackle spot, which used to belong to Gaither.

But as I’ve been saying, Oher, though he has a great backstory, isn’t always such a great left tackle. Perhaps the Ravens will give McKinnie, who can be a wonderful tackle when he’s in shape, the chance to prove himself worthy of protecting Joe Flacco’s blind side instead of Oher.

Remember this, though. In order for the deal to be consummated, McKinnie still has to pass his physical. As we’ve seen in the not too recent past, that’s not necessarily a slam dunk for McKinnie.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:43 pm
 

Jared Gaither to start over with Chiefs

GaitherPosted by Josh Katzowitz

With Jared Gaither helping hold down the Ravens offensive line, Baltimore was consistently one of the best running teams in the league. Last season, though, Gaither missed the entire year with a back injury, and perhaps not coincidentally, the Ravens running game became rather mediocre.

But with Baltimore set at the T position this season with Michael Oher and Oniel Cousins, the Ravens declined to sign the free agent Gaither -- which, as it turns out, opened the door for the Chiefs, who signed a deal with Gaither on Thursday.

The 6-foot-9, 340-pound Gaither played LT with the Ravens in 2008 and 2009. It’s not immediately clear on what side of the OL he’ll play for Kansas City, though it stands to reason that, assuming Gaither is healthy, he’s a more enticing tackle than Branden Albert on the left side or Barry Richardson on the right side.

There was a thought, though, that if the Ravens re-signed Gaither, they could return him to LT and switch Oher -- who struggled badly at times trying to protect QB Joe Flacco last season -- to the right side of the line.

But either Baltimore is extremely confident in Oher or not so confident in Gaither’s back, and now it’s up to the Chiefs to discover what Gaither has -- or doesn’t have -- left in his body.

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 11:55 am
Edited on: August 11, 2011 12:27 pm
 

Responses vary regarding Steve Smith signing

Smith

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

The reaction to the Eagles signing of former Giants WR Steve Smith has stirred emotions across the NFC East. We thought it was a strong signing by Philadelphia’s front office, and it was interesting that Smith revealed that the Eagles showed “MUCH more” interest than the Giants did in signing him.

That led to Giants fans lambasting Smith -- coming off microfracture surgery on his knee that could keep him out the early part of the season. Smith wrote Thursday on his Facebook page: "Instead of cursing at me and wishing my family and my knee harm, i wish you could understand that i truly wanted to stay here but that the giants DIDN'T want me here unfortunately.. thank you to my true fans for standing by me and offering your support during this time.”

Steve Smith's Eagles signing
Even some of his old teammates got into the act.

Via the Philadelphia Daily News, Giants CB Terrell Thomas tweeted the following: "Hate to see a [Steve Smith] sign with any team. But glad we get to play against him two times a year and show him the grass ain't GREENER* on the other side.”

*As an aside, I think that tweet would have been more effective if Thomas had put “ain’t” in all caps instead of “greener.” Like this: “But glad we get to play against him two times a year and show him the grass AIN’T greener on the other side.” See what I mean?

Meanwhile, New York coach Tom Coughlin pointed out to reporters that Smith’s surgery was performed by a Giants team doctor, and the New York Post’s Bart Hubbuch tweets that Coughlin sounded betrayed by that notion. Coughlin also said the Giants never had a chance to match the Eagles offer of one year, $4 million ($2 million of that guaranteed) and that Smith’s representation told the Giants they would have a chance to counter. He said it was akin to competing in a race that you didn’t know had started yet (to be fair, though, the Giants had plenty of time to sign him once free agency began).

We have yet to see how Eagles RB LeSean McCoy -- who engaged in a Twitter war with New York DE Osi Umenyiora, which then led to Smith getting involved and posting a pretty sweet picture of him celebrating the Giants Super Bowl victory while featuring an empty Eagles trophy case (as you can see in the above picture) -- reacts to his newest teammate. But Smith is pretty sure everything will be cool between the two.

"Yeah, it’s going to be funny," Smith said Wednesday night during a conference call with reporters. "I’m going to go up to LeSean the first day I see him and just shake his hand and give him a hug and tell him that was all just Twitter beef and it was just all in fun. And you know, it’s just a great rivalry and I’m thankful to be a part of it. And having switched sides it’s a little different but still it will be exciting to see what it’s like on this side.”

The Newark Star Ledger’s Mike Garafolo also had interesting analysis on why the Giants let Smith get away to an intra-divisional rival, writing, “I'm completely baffled on this one. What is going on in the Giants' front office? I mean, seriously, what is going on right now? I'll tell you what's going on: for the first time, Jerry Reese's seat must be getting warm. … How do you let Smith become so discouraged by your efforts to retain him that he goes to see your arch rivals?”

Garofolo then argues that Smith was a potentially valuable asset who the Giants should have squared away (even if Smith had to miss half the season while recovering from his surgery).

Instead, Smith goes to the Eagles, and once he gets his hug from McCoy, he can begin the process of finding a place in a WR corps that includes DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. The Eagles just got a little bit stronger, while the Giants, competing for the same NFC East title, potentially let a star get away.

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Posted on: August 10, 2011 7:10 pm
Edited on: August 10, 2011 7:59 pm
 

Steve Smith signs 1-year deal with Eagles

SmithPosted by Josh Katzowitz

All along, WR Steve Smith wanted to land a new contract with the Giants. He said so in July 2010 when, after catching a franchise-record 107 passes, he said he should be given a raise on his $550,000 salary. He thought so last March, claiming that the Giants had told him they’d take care of him.

Evidently, the Giants had a different idea about Smith’s value. And probably when he'd be healthy again.

And so, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane was the first to report that the Eagles surprisingly have signed Smith to a one-year deal, giving the so-called Dream Team yet another talented piece. The Newark Star Ledger's Mike Garafolo reports that the contract is a one-year, $4 million deal (with $2 million guaranteed).

On his Facebook page, Smith wrote that Philadelphia showed him plenty of love (the bold below is mine):

"I will always cherish my time in NY and the super bowl victory.. This was obviously not an easy decision for me or something i ever expected but unfortunately the business aspect proved that the eagles wanted me to be part of their organization MUCH more than the Giants did.. A special thanks to my WR buddies, coach Gilbride, all of u amazing fans on here, and the entire giants organization for drafting me.. Time for a new beginning..."

He also told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that he thought he was "close" to returning to action.

Steve Smith's Eagles signing
The problem with Smith throughout his four-year career is that he’s been injury prone, particularly last season when he played only nine games after suffering a pectoral injury and then a knee injury that required the dreaded microfracture surgery.

The Giants were cautious to re-sign Smith because of that knee injury and the surgery and because Smith won't be available to start the season on the field.

Instead, Smith will get a chance to revitalize his career with Philadelphia, which has been having holdout issues with DeSean Jackson and illness issues with Jeremy Maclin (though McLane's source said the move had nothing to do with Maclin's health).

Said coach Andy Reid in a statement released by the team: "He's a Pro Bowl quality receiver that we will work into our offense as soon as he is ready to go."

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Posted on: August 9, 2011 12:17 am
 

Did the Lions tamper with a player again?

WilliamsPosted by Josh Katzowitz

RB Ricky Williams made big news today signing a two-year deal with the Ravens to bolster Baltimore’s running back corps and to help take some of the load off Ray Rice.

But as the eagle eyes at Pro Football Talk point out, Williams’ interview with the South Florida Sun Sentinel about why he chose the Ravens might be grounds to charge the Lions with tampering. Yet again.

As Williams explains it, Scott Linehan -- former Dolphins offensive coordinator who worked with Williams when Nick Saban coached in Miami -- was (and still is) with Detroit as the offensive coordinator, and after a Lions-Dolphins game last year, he approached Williams and apparently said something along the lines of, “If you need a home, we’d love to have you on our team.”

That, of course, is a violation of the agreed-upon rules, since Williams was under contract with the Dolphins at the time. Williams’ final two choices for 2011 were the Ravens and the Lions, so Detroit ultimately didn’t cash in on the apparent recruiting job. But it’ll be interesting to see if the NFL investigates the matter and decides to punish the Lions.

As you might remember, the Lions aren’t that far removed from the NFL punishing them for tampering (last February to be exact). In that case, Gunther Cunningham, Detroit’s defensive coordinator, made comments to the media about wanting to pick up defensive players from his former employer, the Chiefs. As punishment, Detroit had to exchange its 2011 fifth-round pick for Kansas City’s fifth-round pick (a 14-pick swing) and the Lions lost their sixth-round selection in the 2012 NFL draft.

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Posted on: August 8, 2011 1:34 pm
Edited on: August 8, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Ravens sign RB Ricky Williams to two-year deal

Posted by Will Brinson

The Ravens went out and made one of the more underrated signings of the offseason, picking up fullback Vonta Leach before he could re-sign with the Texans. One problem: they'd already cut Willis McGahee and lost Le'Ron McClain to the Chiefs, leaving Ray Rice as the only running back worth using on their roster.

Enter Ricky Williams, who agreed to terms with Baltimore on Monday, according to Jamison Hensley of the Baltimore Sun.

According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the deal is a two-year contract "worth up to $4 million."

It's a pretty tremendous signing for the Ravens, who get to reunite Williams with his former head coach in Miami Cam Cameron (the OC with Baltimore, natch).

2011 NFL Free Agency

But, more importantly, Baltimore has upgraded their running game at this point, because adding Williams gives them a perfect power complement to the elusive (but also strong) Rice out of the backfield.

With Leach blocking and Williams giving Baltimore a different speed out of the backfield, don't be shocked if the Ravens running game is once again impressive in 2011.

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Posted on: August 4, 2011 1:14 pm
 

Plaxico injures ankle; Mason in, Cotchery out?

Posted by Will Brinson

The Jets wide receiver corps is in serious flux as the head into 2011. With the exception of Santonio Holmes -- who also signed a five-year deal worth $50 million in the offseason, if you want to count that -- it's entirely likely that the group catching balls from Mark Sanchez will look entirely different.

For starters, there's the presence of Plaxico Burress who, by the by, is dealing with an injured ankle after "tweaking" it on Wednesday while "running around, trying to stay sharp." And it's not even the same ankle injury he's deal with in the past. So that should be concerning, right?

Well, coach Rex Ryan said, per our Jets Rapid Reporter Lisa Zimmerman, it's "nothing serious."

And, according to Burress, if this were a game week, he'd be able to practice and/or play.

In other news, the Jets appear on the verge of signing former Ravens wideout (and therefore "teammate" of Ryan's) Derrick Mason, who was cut by Baltimore during their Borders-like employee cuts last week.

To make room for Mason, it looks like Jerricho Cotchery will get the axe.

"If [Mason] passes the physical, he's on the team and I won't be," Cotchery said, per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. "It's time to move on."

So that means in a very short time, the Jets will have gone from Santonio Holmes/Braylon Edwards/Jerricho Cotchery/Brad Smith to Santonio Holmes/Plaxico Burress/Derrick Mason in terms of their wide-receiver depth chart.

If that happens, is that an upgrade?

No, I'm pretty sure it's not. In fact, there's a pretty good chance that it's a huge downgrade.

Cotchery was praised last year for his toughness, despite playing the slot and not getting any of the love that Edwards/Holmes did. And while Santonio might be one of the most explosive playmakers in the NFL, he's going to see a lot more coverage coming his way if the only two options on the field are both 30-plus, with one of them just a few months removed from a lengthy absence from football.

All that being said, you can't fault the Jets for some of the moves -- the Santonio signing is justified as long as he doesn't get suspended, Edwards is a troublemaker and not worth the money they might give him, and there's no way they could have paid Brad Smith what the Bills gave and justified it.

But giving Burress $3 million guaranteed and dumping a locker room leader and consistent on-field presence like Cotchery? That reeks of a mistake, even if Cotchery's dealing with offseason back surgery.

Fortunately for the wideout, he's probably got options. As I noted on Twitter, both the Panthers and Chargers stand out as great options for Cotchery. The Panthers could use veteran wide receiver help to draw coverage away from Steve Smith and mentor David Gettis and Brandon LaFell.

Cotchery was Philip Rivers' No.-1 target in college and the Chargers are currently looking for someone to line up opposite Vincent Jackson.

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Posted on: August 3, 2011 8:27 pm
 

Report: Tiki Barber works out for Dolphins

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In case you were wondering if you would ever again hear about Tiki Barber’s attempted comeback, wonder no more. Foxsports.com’s Jay Glazer is reporting that Barber had a tryout with the Dolphins on Tuesday.

Tiki Time
Glazer writes that Barber looked good working out, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll catch on with Miami because the Dolphins want to test out their current RBs.

The Dolphins backfield certainly will look new this season after drafting Daniel Thomas in the second round and then dropping Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Then, they acquired Reggie Bush to complement Thomas.

It’s possible Barber could find a place on the squad, but Lex Hilliard and Kory Sheets also are on the Dolphins depth chart, and those two are probably who Miami personnel want to see before they think about making a move on Barber.

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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