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Tag:Greg Olsen
Posted on: February 25, 2012 2:51 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Tight End Rankings

Shiancoe leads what is a fairly unimpressive group of free agent tight ends. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Leading up to the start of free agency on March 13, we're compiling the best 2012 NFL free agents by position. These are the tight ends.

Originally for this post, I listed Jermichael Finley for the No. 1 spot on this list. Obviously, he was an easy call, because he was so obviously the best tight end on the market. Now, though, he’s a signed a two-year deal with the Packers worth about $7.5 million per season, and therefore, the free agent tight end class of 2012 suddenly has grown awfully weak (let’s face it, it wasn’t all that great with Finley on top either).

The best tight ends in the game -- guys like New England’s Rob Gronkowski, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham, San Francisco’s Vernon Davis and Finley -- are safely secure with their respective teams, and those teams who actually are looking for tight ends will have to draw on a list with very few, if any, top-line playmakers. Considering Gronkowski and Graham are helping to redefine the position, that’s not great news. Nevertheless, here we go.

1. Visanthe Shiancoe

Breakdown: Since catching 56 passes for 566 yards and 11 touchdowns when Brett Favre was throwing to him, Shiancoe’s production has decreased the past two seasons, especially in 2011 when he caught 36 passes for 409 yards and three touchdowns. Since he made $4.5 million last season, it doesn’t seem likely the Vikings will re-sign him. Especially since the Vikings seem high on Kyle Rudolph. But unless Favre is planning to return for another season (and let’s face it, we can never rule out this option), the value of Shiancoe isn’t as high as it once was.

Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Browns

2. Martellus Bennett


Breakdown: Though Bennett doesn’t have impressive receiving numbers, that’s not what he’s called upon to do. Instead, he’ll be one of the more valuable tight ends in free agency because he’s top-notch run blocker. Bennett oftentimes is overshadowed by his teammate Jason Witten, but his worth to the Cowboys is evident every time Bennett steps on the field (it also seems evident, though, that Bennett’s time in Dallas is finished). But in order to get paid tons of money, he needs to show he can catch the ball, and that’s something missing from his arsenal at this point.

Potential Landing Spots: Bears, Broncos, Jets, Bengals

3. Joel Dreessen


Breakdown: Dreessen is a solid tight end, and he’s been an important cog for the Texans as quarterback Matt Schaub, receiver Andre Johnson and running back Arian Foster have turned Houston into a consistent top-10 offense in the past three years. He’s not a big-time pass catcher, but he’s a solid run-blocker (as Foster, Ben Tate and Derrick Ward likely would attest). The Texans would like to keep their two tight end set, but assuming Owen Daniels can stay healthy, Dreessen becomes a little more expendable in Houston.
Fred Davis
Potential Landing Spots: Chiefs, Jets, Giants, Texans, Redskins

4. Fred Davis

Breakdown: He’s actually a pretty good candidate to be franchise-tagged by the Redskins (safety LaRon Landry (and his muscles!) is another candidate), and considering he caught 59 passes for 796 yards in 12 games last year in the best season of his career, Davis is a potential emerging star. Unfortunately for Davis, he was suspended for the final four games of the season for a failed drug test, and if he happens to fail another one, he’d be suspended for a year. So, there’s a little bit of a gray cloud following him around, and teams that need a tight end might shy away from a potential off-the-field problem like that.

Potential Landing Spots: Redskins

5. Jeremy Shockey


Breakdown: It was only four years ago when Shockey was considered an elite tight end, good for about 60 catches, 600 yards and six touchdowns per season from 2004-07. He’s been hurt (literally) by injuries, and after the Saints released him in 2010, he was solid enough  last season in Charlotte (though the team did like the toughness he brought to the squad). Shockey has talked about wanting to play in Miami -- he’s also talked apparently about retiring, though it seems like everybody is denying it at that point -- but with Anthony Fasano already entrenched as the Dolphins tight end, Shockey probably would have to be content to play as the No. 2 tight end. He made $4 million last season, and in order to return to the Panthers to play with tight end Greg Olsen, he’d probably have to take a paycut.

Potential Landing Spots: Dolphins, Giants, Panthers
Shockey

6. John Carlson


Breakdown: Carlson missed the entire season with a torn labrum in his shoulder, so there will be plenty of caution surrounding him, even though he’s caught at least 50 passes in two of his first three seasons in the league. Making matters worse, Carlson said in January that he’s not completely healed, estimating that he was only at 90 percent. “Obviously missing the season is not ideal,” he told the Tacoma News Tribune. “But that was the situation I was in. I feel really good. I didn’t beat my body up over the course of the season and my shoulder is repaired.” Carlson is also a solid run-blocker, and he seems like one of those guys who could move into the top-10 of tight ends around the league.

Potential Landing Spots:Seahawks, Rams

7. Jacob Tamme


Breakdown: Like most everybody inside the Indianapolis franchise, Tamme suffered without Peyton Manning around. Playing in place of the injured Dallas Clark, Tamme caught 67 passes for 631 yards and four touchdowns in 2010. Last year, those numbers dropped to 19 for 177 and one. Which obviously is not the kind of season you want to have in a contract year, but it reflects Tamme’s position on the team and, probably, in the league. He’s a solid backup, the No. 2 tight end in a two-tight end set. He has talent, but it’s unclear how much of that was reflected off Manning. He could be a low-risk, somewhat-high reward guy for the right team.

Potential Landing Spots: Colts, Dolphins, Broncos, Bengals

8. Honorable Mention


Unrestricted free agents: Scott Chandler, Reggie Kelly, Daniel Fells
Restricted free agents: None

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:17 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Film Room: Panthers vs. Saints preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit



The Saints are 3-1 but it’s the 1-3 Panthers creating most of the chatter. Or, Cam Newton creating the chatter. Through a quarter of his rookie season, the No. 1 overall pick is, in a word, sensational. But obviously not perfect. The Panthers are still dwelling in the basement of the NFC South.

Here’s a comprehensive look at Newton and his club as they head into their first divisional showdown of the season.



1. How good is he, really?
Through four games, Newton has far exceeded all expectations. Remarkably, this includes expectations about his physical talents. We knew the 6’5”, 245-pound Auburn Tiger was an athletic monster, but rarely are quarterbacks still athletic monsters once they reach the NFL. Newton has been a productive runner, both with power and speed.

He’s a poor man’s Vick when it comes to eluding tacklers and a poor man’s Roethlisberger when it comes to shedding them. That’s a rich combination considering no other quarterback truly exhibits any of these traits (save for maybe Josh Freeman shedding defenders).

Most impressive, however, is that Newton has not leaned on his athleticism. Operating almost exclusively out of shotguns, he’s been a willing and poised statuesque passer who willingly works through his progressions from the pocket. His decisions are usually capped off by a bullet either downfield, outside the numbers (he has the uncanny arm strength to stretch the field both horizontally and vertically) or, if need be, underneath.

For the most part, Newton’s decisions have been good. He has faced an aggressive blitzing defense in Arizona, a classic 3-4 press defense in Green Bay (playing without Tramon Williams, the Packers kept Charles Woodson outside and blitzed far less often than usual that game) and, most recently, a classic Cover 2 defense in Chicago. He posted a legit 370-plus yards passing against all three of them.

The proof that it’s not all daisies and roses is that Newton also threw crucial interceptions in all three games and came away with a loss. He’s still a rookie and still prone to the occasional blunder. The blunders have been far less frequent than anyone expected, but they’ve been costly nevertheless.

2. Panthers dual tight ends
We assumed that with tight ends Jeremy Shockey and Greg Olsen, Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski would craft a dink-and-dunk, run-first system. Indeed, the Panthers have kept two tight ends on the field a majority of the time, but often, at least one of them (usually Olsen) has split out, serving essentially as a No. 3 receiver.

This poses serious personnel issues for defenses. Leave your base three-linebacker unit on the field and risk getting burned through the air (Shockey and Olsen have been superb downfield route runners the first four weeks). Use your nickel personnel and you risk getting run on by a team that always has a top-10 running back on the field.

The Saints are one of the few defenses that have an answer for this: strong safety Roman Harper. He is their second best run defender (behind Jonathan Vilma) and a demon in the box. He’s versatile enough to play press man coverage (he’s not particularly good at it, but Gregg Williams feels comfortable using him sporadically in this capacity) or blitz (3.5 sacks on the season).
 
Expect the Panthers in Week 5 to continue to be pass-first with their tight ends. And expect the Saints to not simply react to this, but rather, to attack by changing up what they do with Harper throughout the game in order to get Newton thinking.

3. Running Impact
Newton is the first quarterback since Vick to pose a veritable threat as a runner (Vince Young can’t be counted as a running threat quarterback because he was such a limited passer that defenses could get away with putting nine in the box against him; not a chance that happens against Newton). Having a running threat under center does wonders for your rushing attack.

The Panthers have all the resources to pound teams on the ground – DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are an excellent duo, center Ryan Kalil can lock defenders at both the first and second level, left tackle Jordan Gross is a Pro Bowler and right tackle Jeff Otah flashed his old power against Chicago last week. But for whatever reason, Chudzinski has not gone in that direction. Carolina is averaging 25.5 rushing attempts per game, tied for 18th in the NFL.

Chudzinski would be wise to change this. The threat that Newton poses really opens things up. We saw this on the third play of the game against Chicago last week:


4. What Newton will see from Saints D
The Saints have one of the most aggressive defenses in football – both in terms of execution and presnap disguise. That has a lot to do with the trust Gregg Williams has in his secondary. Jabari Greer is one of the best ball-man corners in the game. Patrick Robinson had a rough Week 1 at Green Bay but has come on the last few outings (he was phenomenal at Jacksonville).

Playmaker Tracy Porter was eased back into action last week – he missed two games with a calf injury – and should see more snaps Sunday. When you factor in free safety Malcom Jenkins’ range, the Saints clearly have the resources to handle a Panthers’ wide receiving corps that is underwhelming outside of Steve Smith.

Dealing with the tight ends might be an issue, but Roman Harper’s versatility could cause Newton to question that matchup at times. How will Newton react when he sees Harper leave Olsen or Shockey and blitz? The simple answer would be, “He’ll throw to Olsen or Shockey”. But if you and I can predict this, so can Gregg Williams.

The Saints are one of the best green dog blitzing defenses in the league. (A green dog blitz is when a linebacker has a running back man-to-man, sees that the running back is staying in to pass protect and so he goes after the quarterback in response.) These blitzes can be hard to recognize because they come unexpectedly and late in the action.
 
When blitzing is not involved, Carolina’s offensive line can contain a Saints pass-rush that has been hit-or-miss early this season (the return of end Will Smith certainly helps). Thus, expect Gregg Williams to go after Newton and get him guessing before the snap. Many of Williams’ blitzes come out of nickel personnel packages. The Saints used their nickel later in the game against the Texans to counter the receiving impact of Houston’s two tight ends (Owen Daniels and James Casey). Don’t be surprised if they refer to their nickel early against the Panthers’ two-tight end offense.

5. The other side of the ball
The Saints have remade their offense this season. It now runs through Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham. Sproles has been better for the Saints than Reggie Bush ever was (much better, in fact). That could be in part because Sproles doesn’t yet draw the attention that Bush drew. But more than anything, it’s because he has lightning quick feet and an understanding for how to create and exploit spacing in both the run and pass game.

Graham is the dynamic athlete we all knew he’d be after his 2010 debut. It just so happens that the ex-power forward is developing much quicker than expected. He’s a mismatch for any linebacker, has the size to out-position defensive backs and has better hands than Robert Meachem (who is now the fourth option in this pass offense, behind Sproles, Graham and, when healthy, Marques Colston).

Panthers strong safety Charles Godfrey has been stellar in coverage this season and can compete with Graham, but the Panther linebackers (who are really missing Jon Beason) will have trouble with Sproles. Carolina’s best hope is to get pressure on Brees early in the down.

Defensive ends Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy are capable of embarrassing New Orleans’ athletic but grossly unreliable tackles Jermon Bushrod and Charles Brown. But Brees knows this and is also capable of adjusting.

So who will win? Check our Week 5 NFL expert picks for all the games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 10:51 am
 

Bears LB Lance Briggs wants to be traded

Posted by Ryan Wilson

Agent Drew Rosenhaus has filed a formal trade request on behalf of his client, Bears linebacker Lance Briggs. This comes after the six-time Pro Bowler and nine-year veteran asked the team for a raise and was kindly rebuffed. The Chicago Tribune reports that Rosenhaus made the trade request via email. (Presumably he won't be sending out a "never mind, ignore that" follow-up.)

"The Bears made their decision, now I have to make mine," Briggs told the Tribune. "It's just how the business works. It's not going to take away from what I do on the field. I'm 100 percent a Bear, until I'm not a Bear anymore."

If this sounds familiar, well, it should. In 2007, Briggs announced that he would never play for the Bears again before he signed his one-year, $7.2 million franchise tender. A year later, the team inked him to a six-year contract. Doing the math, that means that he still has three years left on the deal he asked for three years ago.

Details on Briggs' current contract situation, via the Tribune: "He is scheduled to make $3.9 million this season (including bonuses), $4 million in 2012 and $6.5 million in 2013. He signed a six-year, $36 million deal in 2008 after first testing the free-agent market, and the maximum value of the first three years was $21.6 million."

The Tribune adds that Briggs wants to restructure his contract so that he makes more money this season, possibly by flip-flopping the $6.5 million he's set to make in '13 with the $3.9 million he'll pull down this season. Apparently, he decided to ask for more money after seeing younger linebackers like the Broncos' DJ Williams and the Jaguars' Daryl Smith cash in with new deals.

For now, head coach Lovie Smith isn't worried about Briggs or his contract.

"If a guy has something that he needs to do, then he can deal with it off the field," he said, via the Tribune. "As far as how I see him, I just see him coming to work every day, like he has done. Lance Briggs has to get ready for the football season, which he has done. "Who doesn't want a new contract?" Smith added rhetorically. "All of us would want a new contract. But still, you go to work every day and do your job, and that's what he's doing. I have no complaints about him."

In general, we support a player's right to ask for a raise because NFL contracts aren't guaranteed. But Briggs had no issue with the deal when he signed it three years ago. Just because other teams might overpay for their linebackers isn't reason enough for the Bears to do the same. Maybe that changes after the season, or perhaps Briggs will get his wish and be traded.

For now, he's 100 percent a Bear until he's not a Bear anymore. Which, given the immutable laws of physics, is typically how these things work.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:28 am
 

Smith points finger at Fox for dwindling output

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It wasn't long ago that the Panthers' Steve Smith was considered one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the game. In recent years, however, his output has fallen off a cliff. He hauled in 78 passes for 1,421 yards in 2008 only to see his yards receiving drop by 439 yards from 2008 to 2009, and it dropped another 428 yards from '09 to '10 (to a six-year low of 554).

Smith's dwindling production coincides with Carolina's three-year slide from playoff team to one of the worst outfits in the league. Also not helping: the revolving door at quarterback; Jake Delhomme was released after the 2009 season, and Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen combined for two wins in 2010. Now it's only a matter of time before 2011 first-overall pick Cam Newton finds the field.

It's a culmination of all these things, as well as the conservative system former head coach John Fox seemed to favor -- not Smith's age -- that had everything to do with decidedly pedestrian numbers. At least that's the story Smith's telling.

"I respect coach Fox and I respect the offensive coordinators that have been here," Smith said, according to the Charlotte Observer. "But at the same time I'm a wide receiver. Run blocking is not my forte.

"It is nice to have layers, have multiple sets, not to just be stacking to one spot for 70 plays," Smith said of Carolina's new offense now under the direction or Rob Chudzinski. "I get to line up in different spots. It's just refreshing. It's not saying, 'Well, we're going to move you around,' and then never do it. Here they're actually saying it and it's happening. It's not just me. It's other guys as well."

The Panthers are making a conscious decision to move away from Fox's run-first scheme. Last week the organization traded for former Bears tight end Greg Olsen, and Newton wasn't selected first overall to hand the ball off.

"The quarterbacks are doing what has not been done around here in a long time. The philosophy in years past has been not to screw it up," Smith said. "And here it's put your foot down on the gas pedal and go hard. So I like that."

One of the liberating things about going 2-14 in 2010 is that there isn't much pressure on the Panthers in 2011. New head coach Ron Rivera isn't yet on the hot seat (though we imagine it's only a matter of time), and expectations couldn't be lower. In that sense, it's a great time to be a Carolina fan. (Okay, that was a bit much, even for us.)

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 6:20 pm
Edited on: July 28, 2011 9:17 pm
 

TE Olsen traded to Panthers for draft pick

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It was just a few hours ago when we told you that the Bears had put TE Greg Olsen on the trading block, as agent Drew Rosenhaus tweeted that Chicago was willing to be very “reasonable” in who they got for swapping Olsen.

The Panthers have taken the Bears up on the deal.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Olsen is on his way to Carolina in exchange for a player (not likely named Steve Smith) and for an undisclosed draft pick.

Olsen caught 41 passes last year for 404 yards and five touchdowns, and he’ll join a crowded tight end group in Carolina with Jeremy Shockey and Ben Hartsock already on the roster.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 1:17 pm
 

Bears sign Matt Spaeth, put Greg Olsen on block

Posted by Will Brinson

Everyone knows that Mike Martz' offense doesn't really benefit tight ends all that much, but there's still some pretty surprising news coming out of Chicago on Thursday that involves the shifting of bodies on the depth chart.

First, there's the news that the Bears are shopping Olsen to anyone that might be interested. And they don't even want that much! At least that's according to his agent Drew Rosenhaus, who penned an note to all the other NFL teams on Wednesday night.

"The Bears have granted me permission to seek a trade for Greg Olsen," Rosenhaus wrote in an email obtained by the Chicago Tribune. "Please let me know if interested.

"Sounds like the Bears will be very reasonable on the compensation in return for Greg."

However, Rosenhaus backtracked about 15 minutes later, writing, "Please disregard my previous email regarding Greg Olsen."

That's a nice sentiment and all, but as Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "Know this: the Bears are indeed shopping Olsen."

Want more proof? The Bears signed Steelers tight end Matt Spaeth on Thursday too, per Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network. Spaeth is a much better blocker and a bigger benefit to the Bears in the running game than Olsen, even if he's not even close to the receiving weapon that Olsen presents.

So where to for Olsen? Well, how about the Panthers who just so happen to employ Rod Chudzinksi as an offensive coordinator, who just so happens to have worked with Olsen in college at Miami and who just so happens to have had some success with tight ends in the past. (You may have heard of Antonio Gates.)

Jensen noted, in fact, that an NFC exec believes the Panthers would be "a good fit" but also reports that the Bears "will not just give Greg Olsen away to the highest bidder."

There's also the matter of Olsen not sounding too thrilled at the prospect -- NBC Chicago's Peggy Kusinski cites a "source close to" Olsen who says the tight end is "not happy at all [with the] trade talk" because he "wants to play his entire career in Chicago."

Unfortunately for Olsen, that may not be an option the way things are unfolding.

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Posted on: May 9, 2011 11:49 am
 

Hawk not impressed by players workouts

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

While the concept of a player-organized workout during the lockout seems like a great idea in theory – hey everybody, let’s work on our game to keep in shape, maintain our chemistry and camaraderie, and show everybody that we really want to play football!!! – Packers LB A.J. Hawk has a different theory about the effectiveness of such workouts.

Basically, he says, they’re not very useful at all.

"I've heard that different guys' workouts from different teams have just been a disaster,” Hawk told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They're working out at bad high school fields and equipment and all that kind of stuff."

And that’s even if the high school will actually LET them on the field, right Greg Olsen?

Though the Packers haven’t scheduled any offseason workouts, Hawk isn’t worried about his teammates getting fat and lazy.

"We're all ready to come back. We never got out of shape," said Hawk. "The player gatherings are a good thing to get together and be with your teammates - that's the most I would take from it."

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Posted on: April 16, 2011 8:51 pm
 

Greg Olsen feels need to set the record straight

Posted by Andy Benoit

On Friday, we posted a piece on how Greg Olsen was booted from a high school field down the street from his home. Olsen said he’s been working out there regularly during the lockout but was recently told he had to leave.

If not for the lockout, this would never be a story. (If no lockout, Olsen wouldn’t be working out at a high school, for one, and for two, there would be copious other happenings that are ten times more interesting/newsworthy than this.)

But, alas, there is a lockout. So not only does Olsen and the high school field become a story, but it also warrants a follow-up story. The follow-up here is courtesy of Olsen himself, who wrote the story for us (and everyone else) on his Twitter account. Olsen’s aim seems to be towards killing any rumors about him having been uncooperative with the high school.

Here’s what he had to say:

“This HS field thing has gotten outa control. Just to get story str8. No class was on field. Met no teachers. Left when asked and called school. Asked If I could sign paperwork or use at another time in message which wasn’t returned. Also have been to the school to speak to various classes and groups with no issue since moved in district. Blown way out proportion.”
Thanks Greg. Hope you can work out at Halas Hall soon. (That would be a real story.)

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