Tag:Jared Gaither
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:28 am
Edited on: March 6, 2012 12:40 pm
  •  
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Offensive line rankings

Is Nicks, our top free-agent offensive lineman, done hoisting Brees? (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

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

It's not the sexiest position in the NFL -- just ask Andre "C-Cup" Smith -- and there's a feeling in the NFL these days, whether it's right or wrong, that offensive line is becoming a fungible position. It's OK to laugh at that idea, because a few years ago, wide receiver was the same way. It'll shift back and forth in the next few years. Right now, you'll pay a nice price to land a wideout and offensive linemen are relatively cheap.

Some of the guys on the list below won't be cheap however. There's a pretty nice group of offensive linemen hitting the market this year, and teams might be wise to avoid trying to race in the free-agent market and focus their efforts on improving protection.

1. Carl Nicks

Breakdown: Nicks is probably the best guard in the league, and it doesn't help that his teammate, Jahri Evans, signed a $56.7 million deal for the next seven years. Especially since Nicks wants more money. With Drew Brees franchised, the Saints are essentially forced to let Nicks and top wideout Marques Colston both hit the market and good luck bringing Nicks back. He's the only guy who can hurt the guard-related stock for Stanford's David DeCastro.
Potential Landing Spots: Saints, Cowboys, Chargers, 49ers

2. Chris Myers

Breakdown: Honestly if Meyers left it would be a) a huge mistake for the Texans and b) a big surprise. Everyone talks about Mario Williams as the guy they need to re-sign, but Meyers is substantially more valuable to what they do (especially with the defensive personnel vs. the offensive personnel). Houston's offensive line is by far and away the most underrated in the NFL and while Eric Winston is the anchor, Meyers is the leader. I'd like to think that Houston won't let him walk, simply because the AFC South window is too big not to keep making a run at another division title.
Potential Landing Spots: Texans, Packers, Ravens

3. Jared Gaither

Breakdown: Gaither was a supplemental draft pick with the Ravens in 2007, washed out, went to the Chiefs and then looked finished in the NFL at an early age. But he was a big factor in revitalizing the Chargers run late in the season; after Marcus McNeil went down, Philip Rivers was offered no protection until Gaither came into town. The Chargers want to keep him, but this is a very shallow class for free-agent tackles, and Gaither could pull in good money on the market. He's got gobs of talent and is still young, but keeping him motivated is a concern.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

4. Ben Grubbs

Breakdown: Grubbs, the Ravens 2007 first-round pick, made the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2011. He's a free agent only because Baltimore's had to use their franchise tag on Ray Rice and couldn't commit to the guard. The Ravens still want to re-sign Grubbs, and that could happen between now and March 13 when free agency begins. Working in the Ravens favor is the deep nature of this crop of free-agent guards.
Potential Landing Spots: Ravens, Bengals, Giants, Bears, 49ers

4. Scott Wells

Breakdown: Wells and the Packers are in the middle of a headed non-discussion about a new contract. Wells believes he deserves big money, and the Packers believe he deserves the type of money that a shorter, 31-year-old center would get on an open market. But Wells isn't just any center; he's proven his worth in working with different quarterbacks in Green Bay and helping to develop Aaron Rodgers. Wells made his first Pro Bowl in 2011 and has missed just one game since 2006. He won't want to leave Green Bay but he also won't take less than he's worth. It wouldn't be surprising to see him move closer to Tennessee (he's from there and played for the Vols in college) either.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Texans, Broncos

5. Demetrius Bell

Breakdown: Bell's been playing football for less than 10 years, but he's clearly quite good at it. Or at least good enough to keep being named the Bills left tackle. The seventh-round pick out of Northwestern State could come back to Buffalo, but if there are teams in need of offensive line help, there's a good chance he'll bail. The offensive line market is odd this year, in that it appears to be guard and center heavy. The tackles aren't exactly stacked and that could result in a nice deal for a guy like Bell.
Potential Landing Spots: Lions, Bills, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings, Rams

6. Evan Mathis

Breakdown: Mathis hasn't started 16 games since coming into the NFL. But he's coming off easily the best season of his career and has said he'll take a discount to remain with the Eagles under the tutelage of Howard Mudd. Mathis said he'd work for "$20 and a pizza," but the reality is he got paid the league minimum last year, and at 30, he'd be insane not to maximize his money-making ability.
Potential Landing Spots: Eagles, Saints, Seahawks, 49ers

8. Geoff Schwartz

Breakdown: Schwartz played all over the line for Carolina in 2010 before missing all of 2011 with injury. It'll be interesting to see Ron Rivera's coaching staff handles the offensive line: Schwartz and Jeff Otah are holdovers from a previous regime and might not necessarily stick. But Schwartz, at 25, would be a nice, versatile and discounted signing for someone who needs help and depth across the line.
Potential Landing Spots: Giants, Bills, Panthers, Seahawks

9. Dan Koppen

Breakdown: You know what's weird? Everyone's willing to toss out the "system" word as it relates to anything with the Patriots quarterback but don't bother discussing how their offensive line, which features a pretty cohesive unit, helps Tom Brady's success. Whatever, it's fine. That's the "Patriot Way." But Koppen isn't going to get the franchise tag like fellow lineman Logan Mankins and he stands to make more money for a team that needs a center.
Potential Landing Spots: Packers, Ravens

10. Jake Scott

Breakdown: The good news is this: Scott played for an offensive-line monster in Mike Munchak. Munchak consistently creates cohesive offensive units that over-produce relative to their value. But the bad news is that Scott's 30 (not too old) and if you bring him into another organization, he's not going to have that same Titans cohesiveness. Is that overplayed? Yeah, maybe. But Scott will have bigger questions when it comes to Chris Johnson's production in 2011, whether that's fair or not.
Potential Landing Spots: Titans, Saints, Eagles, Seahawks

HONORABLE MENTION

Jeff Backus, Nick Hardwick, Vernon Carey, Anthony Collins

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, Like Us on Facebook, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're add it, add our RSS Feed.
Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:01 am
 

Film Room: Lions vs. Chargers preview


Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit

The Lions were that Feel Good team of 2011. Then they started shoving coaches after the game, hitting quarterbacks after the throw, fighting opponents after the play, stomping linemen after the whistle and meekly apologizing for it all after the fact. Thus, they’re now the team everybody wants to see get its comeuppance.

In some ways, they’re like the Chargers – a team that, over the years, has mastered the art of irritating casual onlookers. They haven’t done it with reckless hostility, but rather, perplexing underachievement. If the NFL were like college basketball, where Final Four appearances and division titles mattered, the Chargers would be a dynasty.


Instead, they’re the club that always falls on its face but somehow manages to sneak into the postseason…only to fall on its face again. At least during the regular season they get hot at the right time – this year looking like no exception.

Let’s breakdown these two irritating clubs.

1. Motion
The Chargers offense is perhaps the best in football at using presnap motion to dissect a defense and create favorable matchups. Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan recently took a page out of Norv Turner’s playbook.

After operating out of static formations virtually all season, the Lions created glaring mismatches by motioning Calvin Johnson into the slot against the Raiders last week. The results were extraordinary: Johnson, often working against Oakland’s backup safeties, had a career-high 214 yards receiving. Matthew Stafford threw for 391, with four touchdowns and no turnovers.

It might reason that the Lions will use more presnap motions this week, but that’s not a sure thing. If creating big-play opportunities were as simple as putting players in motion, Linehan would have had his players doing that long ago. But when you change your formation, the defense changes. When the defense is playing man, the changes are easy to read. But when the defense is playing zone, things become more complex.

With an inexperienced quarterback (Stafford will be making only his 28th start Sunday), fairly young tight end (Brandon Pettigrew), rookie wide receiver (Titus Young) and athletic but somewhat unrefined superstar (Johnson), Linehan may once again prefer to keep the Chargers defense – which usually plays to the situation, meaning zone on early downs and man on third down – as static as possible. The drawback with a static offense is it’s obviously easier for the defense to decipher, as there are fewer complexities in route combinations.

2. The running backs
Ryan Mathews has improved throughout his second season. He has the quickness, lateral agility and tempo-changing ability to create his own space or turn the corner. Physicality, down-to-down consistency, ball security and durability remain issues. In a pinch, the Chargers know they can fall back on the powerful, surprisingly versatile Mike Tolbert.

The Lions’ run game became an afterthought when rookie Mikel Leshoure’s Achilles tore in August. Statistically, things actually picked up on the ground for Detroit after receiving-oriented Jahvid Best went out with a concussion.

When healthy, Best’s replacement, Kevin Smith, has shown some suddenness and shiftiness, which makes him a good fit for this shotgun system. But overall, Detroit is unquestionably a pass-first team (28th in rushing yards, 31st in rushing attempts). That’s fine – as their 28 points per game (fourth best in NFL) attest.

3. Chargers O-line vs. Lions D-line
Figure San Diego must score 30 points to beat Detroit. That would have been dicey a few weeks ago when left tackle Marcus McNeill and left guard Kris Dielman first went down with injuries. But with left tackle Jared Gaither coming aboard and relieving helpless backup Brandyn Dombrowski, the front five has stabilized. Dielman’s replacement, Tyronne Green, has settled down in pass protection, and center Nick Hardwick has looked like his former Pro Bowl self.

Philip Rivers is arguably the best in the business at stepping into throws with defenders bearing down. He doesn’t need a clean pocket – just protection that can hold up for a seven-stop drop. The Chargers are up to the task, even if they’re facing the Lions’ high-octane front four. Last week, that front four was actually neutralized by a middle-tier Raiders bunch that had struggled mightily in prior weeks.

4. Rivers and his receivers
If Rivers is not under duress, he’ll throw for at least 325 yards Sunday. The Lions play some of the most basic Cover 2 and Cover 3 zones in football and simply don’t have the personnel to stay with Vincent Jackson or Malcom Floyd – especially with starting free safety Louis Delmas out.

Lions corners Chris Houston and Eric Wright are at their best playing off-coverage, where they can see a route develop in front of them and drive on the ball. The vertical nature of San Diego’s passing game, which is heavy on double moves, can be anathema to that brand of cornerbacking.

Inside, though Detroit’s linebackers can run, and though middle ‘backer Stephen Tulloch can play with depth in zone coverage, the Antonio Gates factor is still a major plus for the Boltz. Gates looks healthier than he has all season.



5. Screen game
Last week the Raiders became the latest team to successfully attack the Lions with screen passes. Because the Lions’ front seven defenders all play with their ears pinned back, offenses frequently use delay and misdirection tactics to coax them out of position. The faster a defender reacts in the wrong direction, the more daunting his recovery task.

San Diego regularly incorporates its running backs in the passing game (Tolbert and Mathews each have 47 receptions on the season). Expect several of the running back’s passes to be screens this week, especially early in the game when the Lions will, as always, will be amped up.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all Week 8 games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
Posted on: August 27, 2011 4:57 pm
 

Ravens move Oher to make room for McKinnie

McKinniePosted by Josh Katzowitz

Ever since the Ravens pulled tackle Bryant McKinnie off the free agent scrapheap, we’ve speculated about the immediate future of Michael Oher as the guardian of Joe Flacco’s blind side.

With Baltimore’s failure to re-sign Jared Gaither, it seemed clear that the team was banking on Oher at the left tackle spot. Until, that is the Ravens signed McKinnie -- formerly the Vikings left tackle. Now, it’s been made clear that Oher, who struggled mightily at times on the left side last year and helped contribute to an offensive line that allowed 40 sacks, will move to the right tackle spot to make room for McKinnie.

“If you give Joe time in the pocket he’s going to make the throws you need,” Oher said today, via Rapid Reporter Jason Butt. “It’s really not that hard. You were left, now you’re right. You just have to switch it.”

Oher, you’ll recall, began his career at right tackle, and now that the Ravens have moved him back, it seems clear that Oher might have found a permanent position (it would be a bit crazy for Oher’s fundamentals if he got moved back to left tackle again).

But this has turned out to be a great day for McKinnie, who says he’s down to 370 pounds (he was rumored to weigh close to 400 pounds before the Vikings released him). He also said he eventually wants to weigh 355.

"There's some things I can do as a veteran," McKinnie said, via the Carroll County Times. "I'm here to help everybody get better. I'm not real vocal, but I will pull people aside and give them tips."

He also claims he’s different than the way he’s been portrayed (apparent $100,000 bar tab notwithstanding).

"Actually, I'm more quiet and laid-back than what people think," McKinnie said. "Little things here and there used to pop up in my past, but it was kind of in my younger days."

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 6:01 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 6:09 pm
 

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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: August 22, 2011 5:46 pm
Edited on: August 22, 2011 7:29 pm
 

The NFL Supplemental Draft: A brief history



Posted by Ryan Wilson

The Oakland Raiders are who we thought they were: a team madly in love with size and speed. They reaffirmed that love again Monday when they used a third-round pick in the NFL Supplemental Draft to take former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, a prospect most draft analysts and personnel types had pegged as a late-round selection.

Pre-draft analysis matters little now; the Raiders are neither conventional nor particularly interested in what the rest of the football world thinks. Owner Al Davis wants guys who can run faster, throw farther and hit harder than than everybody else. But we already knew that because that's always been the case. Now the question is if Pryor can harness that raw athleticism into something that will make him more than a supplemental draft footnote.

Which brings us to this: Who are some of the best NFL players to come out of the supplemental draft?

Glad you asked -- let's get to this…

Bernie Kosar, QB, University of Miami, 1st round, 1985. According to NFL.com's Elliot Harrison, Kosar finagled his way into the supplemental draft -- and deftly avoided the regular draft -- when his agent failed to file the paperwork by the deadline, and it left Kosar available for the supplemental process later that summer. "Controversy erupted, as Minnesota desperately wanted to draft Kosar, but ultimately Commissioner Pete Rozelle left the decision up to the kid. The rest is history. Kosar led Cleveland to the playoffs five straight seasons from 1985 to 1989, including three AFC Championship Game appearances."

Brian Bosworth, LB, Oklahoma, 1st round, 1987. Bosworth was brash but he was also one of the best linebackers in college history. He opted for the supplemental draft to avoid landing with the Bills or Colts, and ultimately ended up with the Seahawks. Other than a brief acting career that made for unintentionally hilarious moments, Boz is probably best remembered for getting trucked by Bo Jackson.


Cris Carter, WR, Ohio State, 4th round, 1987. Carter played 16 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins, and finished his career with 1,101 catches, 13,899 yards receiving and 130 touchdowns. He was part of the 1998 Vikings team that went 15-1 under head coach Dennis Green (and offensive coordinator Brian Billick), and featured Randall Cunningham at quarterback. Some guy named Randy Moss was a rookie for Minnesota that year, too.

Pryor's Journey to Oakland

Steve Walsh, QB, University of Miami, 1st round, 1989. The Cowboys used a first-round pick on Walsh months after they had taken Troy Aikman in the first round of the regular draft. Then-head coach Jimmy Johnson had coached Walsh at the University of Miami, and presumably he thought Walsh gave the Cowboys the best chance to win. Instead, he started just five games during that first season and never was able to unseat Aikman. The rest (in Dallas, anyway) was history. Walsh had an 11-year NFL career, playing for six NFL teams, even making several playoff appearances.

Bobby Humphrey, RB, Alabama, 1st round, 1989. As a rookie with the Broncos, he rushed for 1,151 yards and seven touchdowns, and played in Super Bowl XXIV, a 55-10 drubbing at the hands of the 49ers. Two years later, Humphrey held out in the hopes of a new contract, the team stood firm, and he finally returned to the field in Week 14. By then, Gaston Green was the Broncos' new back, proving yet again that running backs are fungible.

Rob Moore, WR, Syracuse, 1st round, 1990. He played for 10 NFL seasons with the Jets and Cardinals, his best effort coming in 1997 when he hauled in 97 passes for 1,584 yards, and eight touchdowns. He averaged 99 yards receiving per game that season.

Jamal Williams, DT, Oklahoma State, 2nd round, 1998. It wasn't long ago that Williams was considered one of the most dominating nose tackles in football. Now 35, his game isn't where it once was, but he's still formidable enough to regularly require double-teams. Williams opted for the supplemental draft after he was declared academically ineligible at Oklahoma State.

Ahmad Brooks, LB, Virginia, 3rd round, 2006. Brooks was occasionally described as "the next Ray Lewis" while at UVA, but he was dismissed from the team which explains how he ended up in the supplemental draft. It's hardly surprising that the Bengals took a flier on a player with off-field concerns and amazing physical skills. Also not surprising: a player drafted by the Bengals has yet to live up to expectations. Cincinnati cut Brooks before the 2008 season, and he has spent the last three years with the 49ers, where he has started just once in that time.

Jared Gaither, OT, Maryland, 5th round, 2007. Gaither is another high-upside guy who the Ravens never could properly motivate. He played well enough to earn the starting left tackle job, even after the team drafted Michael Oher. But injuries and a questionable work ethic was enough for Baltimore to let him walk in free agency this summer. Gaither's now with the Chiefs.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Ohio State, 3rd round, 2011. To be continued…

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
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.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 26, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: July 26, 2011 7:17 pm
 

Excited Ravens re-sign Marshall Yanda

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

After the Ravens re-signed OL Marshal Yanda on Tuesday, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh could hardly contain his excitement.

“We got Marshall Yanda! That’s great news,” Harbaugh said, via the Ravens official site.

“He told us he wanted to be a Raven and he understood the business part that he had to go through. I’m beaming, you see Ozzie smile and is there anyone more excited than [offensive line coach] Andy Moeller right now? We’re a better team than we were one hour ago.”

It wasn’t cheap, though. According to Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson, the contract is somewhere in the five-year, $32 million range.

Yanda was a huge part of the team last season, moving to RT in place of injured Jared Gaither and starting 16 games, and with Yanda, Gaither, Chris Chester and Tony Moll all Ravens OL in unrestricted free agency, the signing obviously is a huge sigh of relief for Baltimore.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

Posted on: February 3, 2011 8:52 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 9:29 am
 

Hot Routes 2.3.11 everything else

Hot Routes

Posted by Andy Benoit

Philadelphia’s decision to promote offensive line coach Luis Castillo to defensive coordinator has stunned plenty of folks.

Maurice Jones-Drew admitted his mistake in spouting off about Jay Cutler.

Sam Bradford got a haircut. Mixed reviews.

Raheem Morris finished second to Bill Belichick in Coach of the Year voting.

Jared Gaither’s people met with the Ravens, but they’re not close on agreeing to a long-term deal at this point.

Take that, NFL! An AP poll reveals that a majority of fans would rather NOT have an 18-game regular season.

One guy who knows quarterbacks pretty well says the Panthers shouldn’t dump Jimmy Clausen just yet.

Jay Cutler wasn’t the only Bear who took a pain injection before the NFC title game. Brian Urlacher got one, as well.

John Elway says it’s not a foregone conclusion that the Broncos will trade Kyle Orton.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

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