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Tag:Rick Smith
Posted on: February 27, 2012 1:08 pm
 

2012 NFL Free Agency: Defensive End Rankings

It sounds like Houston isn't remotely interested in letting Williams test free agency. (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 defensive ends.

Most of the categories in our 2012 free agent rankings are fairly straightforward. Running backs are running backs. Tight ends are tight ends. Quarterbacks are quarterbacks. But when it comes to the defensive line, the category gets a little blurry.

Some defensive ends also play defensive tackle. Defensive ends in a 3-4 scheme oftentimes line up as an outside linebacker. That makes ranking them in a single list a bit more complicated. Though some of the following players won’t always line up as a defensive end, the idea that each of these players will be asked to rush the passer remains the same. So, we list them as defensive ends.

1. Mario Williams

Breakdown: Williams quickly caught on to Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme where he played as more of an end/linebacker hybrid and recorded five sacks in the only five games in which he participated last year. Williams likely will return to terrorizing tackles and quarterbacks on nearly every snap if he leaves Houston and signs with a team that uses the 4-3. True, Williams is coming off a pectoral muscle injury that sent him to the IR list, but he says he’s healthy and the former No. 1 overall pick is going to be expensive. That said, Texans general manager Rick Smith continues to say that re-signing Williams is one of the teams’ top offseason priorities, though there’s a real question whether Houston has the cap room to do so. Even though Williams has failed to reach double-digits in sacks for the past three years, he still could win the richest defensive player contract of all time if he leaves Houston.

Possible Landing Spots:Texans, Jaguars, Seahawks, Titans
Avril made a name for himself in 2011. (Getty Images)

2. Cliff Avril


Breakdown: Although he’s not as well-known as teammates Ndamukong Suh or (probably) Nick Fairley, Avril emerged as one of the nastiest ends in the league this year. His 11 sacks were a career high, and he even managed his first career interception. The problem on Avril’s end is that there’s almost no chance Detroit will let him get anywhere near free agency. The Lions and Avril are working on a long-term deal. General manager Martin Mayhew said that while he doesn’t want to franchise-tag Avril, he’s also not willing to lose him. If that occurs, Avril -- who has hinted at holding out -- will have to decide if he wants to be on time for training camp.

Possible Landing Spots: Lions

3. Calais Campbell


Breakdowns: The past three seasons, Campbell has been consistent, and he has consistently improved, increasing his tackle totals every season and notching a career-high eight sacks in 2011 for the Cardinals. But like Avril, he’s got very little chance to test himself on the free agent market, because it sounds like if Arizona can’t come to terms on a long-term contract, the Cardinals will tag him. But unlike Avril, Campbell said he’s OK with that scenario. Besides, if he is tagged and makes close to $11 million for 2012 and puts forth another career-best performance, he’ll have the chance to set himself up with a huge contract.
 
Possible Landing Spots: Cardinals

4. Robert Mathis


Breakdown: Since he’s spent his entire nine-year career in Indianapolis, it’s hard to imagine Mathis in a non-Colts uniform -- almost as tough, I suppose, as imagining Peyton Manning in something other than blue and white. The potential problem, though, is new coach Chuck Pagano seems intent on installing the 3-4 scheme, and that will be a transition for somebody who’s always been a 4-3 end (it’s worth noting that CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco doesn’t seem concerned with the Colts turning Mathis into a pass-rushing linebacker). The Colts have said they want to keep Mathis in Indianapolis, but Dwight Freeney will cost $19 million against the salary cap. Another possibility for Mathis is the Colts placing the franchise tag on him, but considering Mathis is 31, the delaying of a long-term contract isn’t necessarily a great option for him.

Possible Landing Spots: Titans, Falcons, Colts

5. John Abraham

Abraham believes he's worth $12 million a year, even though he'll turn 34 before next season. (US Presswire)

Breakdown: Although Abraham will turn 34 before the start of the 2012 season, he still should draw plenty of interest throughout the league, simply because he continues to be one of the elite ends around. He’s durable, playing at least 15 games per season in the last five years, and he continues to churn out double-digit sack totals on a near-annual basis (his 9.5 sacks in 2011 just missed the cutoff). Can he command a long-term contract? Probably not, because of his age. Is he still a top-10 defensive end? Probably, yes. But is he worth $12 million? According to Abraham, the answer is: absolutely. “Check out the five top ends,” Abraham told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Everybody is getting 12-plus. I made $8 million last year. Everybody is saying, ‘Oh, he’s so greedy.’ How am I greedy when I’m just trying to get paid the same thing they are getting paid?” The chances of Abraham getting $12 million? Slim to none.

Possible Landing Spots: Giants, Buccaneers, Patriots

6. Cory Redding

Breakdown: He had a rough year in 2009 in his only season with the Lions, but since moving to Baltimore and playing with the Ravens for the past two seasons, Redding has returned to being a solid end who can stop the run and who occasionally can muster a sack (he’s got 7.5  combined in the past two seasons). But Redding will turn 32 next season, and he had injuries at the end of last year that slowed him a bit (even though it was one of the best seasons of his career). He’s probably not a great long-term value for most teams in the league, but the Ravens are a fan of him, particularly since he took on a leadership role when linebacker Ray Lewis missed four games. Redding just seems to fit in well with Baltimore’s defense. But remember, Pagano lurks to the west in Indianapolis.

Possible Landing Spots:Colts, Ravens

7. Jeremy Mincey


Breakdown: Mincey certainly picked the best time to have a career year. In his contract year, he recorded 57 tackles, eight sacks and an interception. Considering he didn’t combine for those numbers during the first five seasons of his career, that should tell you about Mincey’s mindset entering 2011. Or, it should tell you that last season was simply an anomaly (or, I suppose, you could say that it just took Mincey a long time to develop). Either way, Mincey is looking to get paid -- he’s on record saying he won’t give Jacksonville a hometown discount -- and though it appears the Jaguars would like to keep him, they’ll have to figure out where he fits in with the team’s finances (it should be noted that Jacksonville has plenty of room under the salary cap).

Possible Landing Spots: Jaguars, Bills

8. Israel Idonije


Breakdown: He obviously doesn’t get the love that’s reserved for teammate Julius Peppers, but Idonije notched a career-high 52 tackles last season (along with five sacks). Even better for Chicago, Idonije seems intent on returning to the Bears. “I want to be here,” Idonije said earlier this month. “I have an incredible relationship with the coaching staff, and I understand the system. So my No. 1 focus is to stay.” He even intimated he would give Chicago a hometown discount. He probably won’t command an expensive long-term deal, and he’ll probably be worth it for the Bears.

Possible Landing Spots: Bears

9.  Mark Anderson


Breakdown: Anderson is a strange case, because as ESPN Boston pointed out, he only played 47.6 percent of the Patriots snaps last year. Yet, he still managed 10 sacks. Also, he played all but one snap in the team’s final two games after Andre Carter suffered a quad injury.  Carter also is an unrestricted free agent, but reportedly, Anderson is a better bet to be re-signed by New England.

Possible Landing Spot: Patriots, Dolphins

10. Honorable Mentions


Unrestricted: Kendall Langford, Raheem Brock, Red Bryant, Andre Carter

Restricted: Phillip Merling, Michael Bennett

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: February 24, 2012 9:55 am
 

NFL looking at more changes to the combine

Can you imagine this image with two players running the 40? The NFL can. (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

Although the vision of two scouting combine participants racing down the lanes during the 40-yard run might be fun for the fans to watch and could enliven the atmosphere inside the building, that potential change to the scouting schedule doesn’t necessarily sit well with NFL executives.

As we told you Thursday, the NFL is changing the approach of how scouts time the 40, moving to using fully automated timing (electronic devices will be used for the start and finish), and Friday, the New York Times wrote the league is considering changing the 40’s setup so that two combine participants would race against each other.

The Times also discusses the possibility of players participating in the 225-pound bench press at the same time next to each other, quoting Eric Grubman, the executive vice president of N.F.L. ventures and business operations, as saying, “We would not want to do something that was just good for television, or just good for the fans, if it were at the expense of either the football evaluation or the players’ preparation. It’s a balancing act. The combine works.”

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Not necessarily, according to Texans general manager Rick Smith, who wrote this on his Twitter account Friday morning: “If the NFL is serious about players racing against each other at Combine so long to players working out there. Beyond stupid.”

The changes made likely would begin at the smaller, regional combines before moving to the main one in Indianapolis, but the league also can expect more resistance from team executives.

More from the Times.
While teams often conduct private workouts with players they are most seriously considering drafting -- and certainly with those who will probably be selected highest in the draft -- the combine provides something that football people value. It’s a way to measure players in different tasks -- the 40-yard dash, the broad jump, the vertical leap -- under exactly the same conditions, on exactly the same kind of field. Having players compete head to head would change the conditions for those players, possibly, some speculate, spurring players to run faster if paired with a speedster within their position group.

“I’m old school,” said Trent Baalke, the San Francisco 49ers’ general manager. “Let’s just roll with how we’re doing it.”

Bill Polian, the former Colts executive who now has his own show on Sirius XM Radio, said: “This has grown to a football trade show and I understand that. What we have to do is be careful not to lose the player personnel evaluation purpose of this.”

That’s a concern perhaps because of the league’s decision to allow a group of 250 fans into the combine to watch the proceedings. Combine that with the NFL allowing thousands of fans into Lucas Oil Field this month to watch the Super Bowl Media Day spectacular, and some wonder about the league’s direction.

So, why make these changes at all, even in the face of what could be massive resistance from the people who actually have to evaluate the players? This quote from Grubman might give you the answer.

“When you make it interesting, people want to see it,” Grubman said. “When you let them in, it gets bigger. When it gets bigger, other people want to be there. It goes from football media, who are attracted to it because it’s such a pure event, to popular media, to sponsors because fans are watching.”

And sponsors, of course, equal more money for a league that’s always looking to make more of it.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:44 pm
 

Report: Texans, Foster no progress on new deal

Houston could wait until next offseason to address Foster's desire for a long-term contract. (Getty Images)

By Ryan Wilson

Even if you've been half paying attention to our various soapbox sermons this season (and we fully understand if you've instead chosen to ignore us -- get in line), you're probably familiar with this one: teams shouldn't pay running backs big money because they're easy to replace. We've said ir in the past and brushed off the argument in August when Chris Johnson held out for a new deal.

The Titans eventually caved, Johnson woefully underperformed and those four months of mostly dreadful football no doubt has Tennessee questioning the decision, but it also ruined any chance that young backs now looking for new contracts would be able to cash in.

Matt Forte, Ray Rice and Arian Foster are all among the league's best runners. And by the time 2012 rolls around, they'll make substantially less than they might have just a few years ago for the reasons we described above.


Foster on Houston playoff victory. Rookie J.J. Watt returned an interception for a touchdown, and Andre Johnson and Arian Foster put the game away with second-half scores to power the Texans over the Cincinnati Bengals 31-10 on Saturday in the NFL playoffs.

Foster, who came into the league in 2009 as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee, began his career on the Texans' practice squad. He started one game as a rookie before going off last season, leading the league with 1,616 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. A hamstring injury limited Foster early in 2011, but by the time it was over he ran for 1,224 yards and 10 scores. In Houston's wild-card matchup against Cincinnati Saturday, Foster continued to make a case for just how important he is to this offense, rushing for 153 yards on 31 carries, including two touchdowns.

And yet, the Texans and Foster have "made zero progress" towards a long-term deal, a source tells ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio.

Foster will be a restricted free agent this offseason, which means that the Texans don't have to concern themselves with a multi-year contract just yet. Instead, they can sign him to a tender that what Florio suspects will be in the neighborhood of $3 million for 2012 and revisit things 12 months from now.

That'll be Foster's fourth professional season, which is something more than that when measured in running back years. By that point, Houston could chose to move in a different direction, one that involves Ben Tate, or perhaps address the position in free agency or the draft.

Still, Foster does have some leverage. Florio writes:

"If [he] receives a one-year tender offer, he’ll be entitled to hold out as long as he chooses, since he won’t be under contract. In theory, he could show up in Week 10, sign the tender, and get credit for his fourth season, becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2013."

Ultimately, however, the organization has more leverage. First, as we've mentioned a few million times, running backs are fungible. Second, Foster apparently wants to play football. He's not interested in sitting on the couch, Chris Johnson-style, while his agent bangs out a deal. Florio points out that Foster didn’t hesitate to sign his one-year tender offer in 2011, perhaps concerned that Tate might move up the depth chart in his absence.

Houston general manager Rick Smith has done a fantastic job of assembling the roster (particularly the 2011 defense, including coordinator Wade Phillips), but he'll have some decisions to make regarding Foster. If not this offseason, then certainly next offseason.

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Posted on: January 4, 2012 10:23 am
Edited on: January 4, 2012 1:47 pm
 

2012 NFL Postseason Awards

Brees and Rodgers could square off three times this year, if you count awards. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

We won't bore you by listing our preseason predictions (you can read those here), but suffice to say, all of mine were correct. Take a peak at the midseason hardware if you want too, but right now we're interested in dishing out the awards for the full season.


Speaking of which, I've already ranted on Drew Brees vs. Aaron Rodgers for the MVP, but I find it fascinating that at midseason, no one even picked Brees for Offensive Player of the Year, much less MVP. I'm not here to knock Brees, I'm just saying the award's for an entire season's worth of work.

Anyway, below are our full season picks. (You can also read Pete's full season picks here and Clark's full season picks here.)

Most are obvious but "BFA" is "Best Free Agent Addition," "WFA" is "Worst Free Agent Addition," and "DOH!" is "Pick I'd Like to Have Back." (Haha, yes I did pick the guy who eventually iced his own kicker to win "Coach of the Year." At least I was driving the Camwagon though.)

Dive in below and leave your gripes and complaints in the comments.

Award Brinson
Wilson
Katzowitz
Prisco
Judge
MVP
Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers
OPOY
Drew Brees Aaron Rodgers Aaron Rodgers Drew Brees Drew Brees
DPOY
Jared Allen Terrell Suggs Jared Allen Jason Pierre-Paul Jared Allen
OROY
Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton Cam Newton
DROY
Von Miller Aldon Smith Aldon Smith Von Miller Von Miller
COY
Marvin Lewis Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh Jim Harbaugh
ASST
Rob Chudzinski Rob Chudzinski Wade Phillips Wade Phillips Wade Phillips
BFA
Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles Darren Sproles
WFA
Sidney Rice Braylon Edwards Santonio Holmes Ray Edwards Ray Edwards
Comeback
Steve Smith D'Qwell Jackson Aaron Maybin Matthew Stafford Matthew Stafford
Most Improved
Matthew Stafford Antonio Brown Victor Cruz Rob Gronkowski Rob Gronkowski
Surprise
Bengals Broncos Broncos Bengals 49ers
Disappoint
Eagles Jets Eagles Eagles Eagles
Executive
Rick Smith Rick Smith Rick Smith Martin Mayhew Mike Brown
DOH!
Garrett for COY Rivers for MVP Rivers for MVP Fins in/Lions out Rams in NFCW

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Posted on: June 18, 2011 5:12 pm
Edited on: June 18, 2011 5:26 pm
 

Hot Routes 6.18.11: Getting locked in a bank



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • Though he was asked over and over again the other day if he had any interest in procuring the services of free agent WR Plaxico Burress, Jets coach Rex Ryan artfully dodged each inquiry and never really answered.
  • In case you wanted to see what the Packers Super Bowl ring looks like, it’s right here in living color. It’s rather, um, large and diamond-y.
  • The Florida Times Union opines that the NFL should consider waiving the blackout rule for at least the first four regular-season games. Do it for the fans, Gene Frenette writes.
  • Wade Phillips didn’t just take the Texans defensive coordinator job to be closer to home. He took it because he thought there was great upside to that unit.
  • Ah, the slow clap. This one was for Redskins LB London Fletcher being late to practice last week. Check out the video below.



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Posted on: August 7, 2010 4:12 pm
 

Texans definitely interested in Schobel

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

While Andy has been pretty relentless in calling out the Bills front office for releasing DE Aaron Schobel and not getting anything in return for him, the Texans might be the ones who are the recipient of Buffalo’s gift.

Houston owner Bob McNair has said he’s interested in obtaining the lineman who, mind you, recorded 10 sacks last season.

“(General manager) Rick (Smith) is talking with our coaches, and they’re evaluating things and trying to determine exactly what role a player like Aaron would fill,” McNair told the Houston Chronicle . “We all respect him. He’s a good player, and I’ve always admired the way he plays the game. He’s certainly played hard every time he’s played against us. He’s got a great reputation around the league. I think anybody would be happy to have him.”

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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