2015 NFL Free Agency Diary

  • Jets Land Matt Forte

    After losing running back Chris Ivory to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the New York Jets went out and grabbed a more versatile running back in former Bears Pro Bowler Matt Forte.

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    Forte has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL without the flash or the ego associated.  Although he's on the wrong side of 30, he hasn't showed any signs of slowing down, as he averaged 4.1 yards per carry in 2015 on a bad Bears team.  Forte is a great weapon in the passing game, as he has 487 receptions in his career.

    The former Tulane Green Wave running back has 8,602 career rushing yards on 2,035 carries for an average of 4.2 rushing yards per carry. His 487 receptions have totaled 4,116 receiving yards and he has 64 total touchdowns (45 rushing and 19 receiving) in his career, all for the Bears until now. Forte is a two time Pro Bowler (2011 and 2013), and his 12,718 all purpose yards rank 12th among all active players and 73rd among all NFL players ever.

    Contract details are unknown at this point, but it's more likely than not the Jets received Forte for less money than the Jaguars paid Ivory.

    New York will now turn its focus on signing free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who may have a much bigger market now that there is an opening in Denver.
  • Texans Land RB Lamar Miller

    ESPN is reporting that the Houston Texans have agreed to terms with free agent running back Lamar Miller, formerly of the Miami Dolphins.

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    Miller was the last of the "big three" free agent running backs to sign as Doug Martin re-signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier today, and Chris Ivory left the New York Jets to sign with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

    The Texans will make Miller their lead back and he should prosper in the zone blocking system that Houston employs.  He is only 24 years old and was our top free agent running back available due to his lack of wear and tear and lack of injuries.

    Miami never used Miller enough as he was a very productive back for much of his time with the Dolphins, averaging 4.5 yards per carry in 2015 with eight touchdowns.

    With new quarterback Brock Osweiler having a limited amount of experience, it's likely that Houston leans on the ground game as much as possible.
  • Texans Land QB Brock Osweiler

    The Houston Texans have made one of the biggest signings in the early period of free agency as they signed former Denver Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler.

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    This is one of the bigger surprises in free agency as the Texans have taken the potential starting quarterback of the Denver Broncos.

    Osweiler started just seven games last season before being replaced by Peyton Manning, who led the team to the Super Bowl title.

    He immediately becomes the new face of the Texans franchise after having a productive stint with much better pieces in Denver.  Osweiler completed 61.8 percent of his throws, for 246 yards per game with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.

    The former second-round pick will now lead a Houston offense that has DeAndre Hopkins at wide receiver, and not a whole lot else.

    It's unclear how much of an upgrade Osweiler is over last year's starter, Brian Hoyer.  Teams will have some film on him and Texans head coach Bill O'Brien will have to devise an offense around his talents.

    As for the Broncos, they are now scrambling for an answer at quarterback.  Their best bet is probably Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had a mostly productive season with the New York Jets last year, leading them to a 10-6 record but losing their final regular season game with the playoffs on the line.

    Another option could be San Francisco 49ers signal caller Colin Kaepernick, who is unhappy after being benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert.  With the need so obvious for John Elway, the 49ers now have negotiating leverage for the once Super Bowl quarterback.

    One other option is Robert Griffin, III, who was recently released by the Washington Redskins.  RG3 could be a solid fit in Gary Kubiak's system as he is mobile and can run the bootleg, which is a fixture of his offense.
  • Giants Agree To Terms With DT Damon Harrison

    The defensive line market in free agency is blowing up and former New York Jets defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison is the latest recipient.

    Harrison won't have to change much about his everyday life as he moves from the Jets over to the New York Giants, as he reportedly agreed to a deal with $24 million in guaranteed money.

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    The Giants have been busy spenders in free agency as they re-upped with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on a one-year deal and agreed to terms with cornerback Janoris Jenkins on a long-term deal earlier today.

    The Harrison signing is another part of the team trying to end their playoff drought after four seasons.

    Harrison should fit in well playing along side Johnathan Hankins and Jay Bromley, as the team tries to rebuild a defense that allowed 420.3 yards per game in 2015, good for dead last in the NFL.

    With general manager Jerry Reese on the hot seat, it's no surprise that the Giants are going to unload as much of their cash as possible to try and manufacture a winner.
  • Bucs Come To Terms With RB Doug Martin

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reportedly come to terms with running back Doug Martin on a five-year deal worth approximately $35.75 million with $15 million guaranteed.

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    In his contract year, Martin had his best season since he was a rookie in 2012, rushing for 1,402 yards with six touchdowns.

    Martin "calmed down" the Bucs offense as they had a pair of rookies on the offensive line as well as rookie quarterback Jameis Winston.

    With the cap space that Tampa Bay has, it would have sent a bad message to the team and their fans if they let Martin walk over just a few dollars.

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    The message of the entire Bucs offseason has been continuity, as Dirk Koetter was promoted to head coach and Vincent Jackson was retained by the team.  Having Martin in the fold for the prime of his career is an excellent move.
  • Jaguars Sign Punter Brad Nortman

    The Jacksonville Jaguars have upgraded at punter as they reportedly inked former Carolina Panthers' punter Brad Nortman to a new deal.

    It is being reported as a four-year deal, by NFL Network's Rich Eisen. 

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    Nortman isn't a huge statistical upgrade over soon-to-be former Jaguars punter Bryan Anger, but Anger had to go, mostly due to his draft position (3rd round) by former general manager Gene Smith.

    Anger finished 11th in gross punting in 2015 (46.3 ypp), 22nd in net punting (39.5 ypp), with four touchbacks and he allowed a punt return average of 10.8 ypr.

    Nortman finished 18th in gross punting (45.4 ypp), 17th in net punting (39.8 ypp), with five touchbacks and he allowed a punt return average of 7.8 ypr.

    The 6.8 yard difference between Anger's gross to net punting average was one of the worst in the NFL.

    This isn't a huge upgrade for the Jaguars on paper, but this is more about getting rid of what turned into a league-wide joke, drafting a punter in the third round.  Only if they would've got rid of the other league-wide joke, the guy who drafted him, Gene Smith earlier, they would probably be further along in the team's development.
  • Chargers Come To A Deal With WR Travis Benjamin

    The San Diego Chargers needed someone to stretch the field and they have landed the best available deep threat in free agency in former Cleveland Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin.

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    Benjamin will be a perfect complement to precise route-runner Keenan Allen, and with a healthy Antonio Gates still in the fold, quarterback Philip Rivers will have plenty of receiving options downfield.

    If they can fix their offensive line and keep Melvin Gordon on the field, San Diego can not only have an explosive offense once again, but make a run at an AFC West title.

    The former Browns speedster is also a weapon in the return game as he is an elite punt returner who has taken three kicks back to the house in his career.  The Chargers were historically bad in the return department a season ago, totaling just 84 punt return yards, the lowest by any team since 1981.

    This, along with Mack's departure is just another example of players trying their best and taking less money to leave Cleveland.  This will continue to the be the case until the Browns prove that they can be a functional organization, something they haven't been in nearly 30 years.

     
  • Falcons To Sign Five-Year Deal With Alex Mack

    The Atlanta Falcons made their first big splash of the free agency period as they came to terms on a five-year deal with former Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack.

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    The deal will reportedly pay him $9.5 million annually.

    Mack fits in well on a Falcons offensive line that has been in transition.  Having a solid player like Mack on the line will help guys like Andy Levitre and Mike Person, and will only help Devonta Freeman as he tries to put together a second straight fantastic season.

    The former Browns center opted out of the final three years of his deal to try and test the market and join a team that is potentially closer to competing.  When you're coming from the Browns organization, you can make a legitimate case that any team is closer to a championship.

    Cleveland should really consider trading left tackle Joe Thomas before the start of the NFL Draft and truly embrace their rebuild.  As great of a player as Thomas is, the team won't be a contender before the end of his prime.
  • Gates To Finish His Career With The Chargers

    Source: NFL Media

    Antonio Gates, the all-time leading receiver in Chargers history and an eight-time Pro Bowl tight end, has agreed to a new two-year contract, the team announced Wednesday.

    Gates enters his 14th NFL season with 844 career catches, 10,644 receiving yards and 104 touchdown catches. He will head into 2016 ranked seventh all-time with 104 career touchdown catches. He needs seven more touchdown catches to tie Tony Gonzalez (111) for sixth all-time and first among tight ends.

    In 2015, Gates was the Chargers’ third-leading receiver with 56 catches, good for 630 yards and five touchdowns. His 104 touchdown catches since he came into the NFL in 2003 are the most in the NFL over the last 12-plus years (2003-current).

    Gates has 21-career multi-touchdown games, most by a tight end in NFL history, and he and quarterback Philip Rivers have connected on 77 touchdowns during their careers, most in NFL history for a quarterback-tight end tandem.

     
  • Eagles Agree With QB Chase Daniel, Sanchez Future Murky

    The Philadelphia Eagles have reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with former Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback Chase Daniel.

    The connection between Daniel and the Eagles has been speculated on for a while as the team hired his former offensive coordinator Todd Peterson to be their new head coach.

    Daniel doesn't have a particularly strong arm, but he's played under some great offensive coaches with Sean Payton in New Orleans and Andy Reid in Kansas City and he can run an offense.  Daniel also adds mobility to any offense and although he likely won't have the chance to compete for the starting quarterback job in 2016, per Sam Bradford's large contract, he is signed for one year longer and a poor showing by Bradford could allow the team to move on from him and Daniel can be the place-holder for a rookie in 2017.

    This move likely means the end of the Mark Sanchez era in Philadelphia, as there isn't a need to keep three veteran quarterbacks on a roster.

    As overblown as Sanchez's errors have become, there will likely be a market for his services.  Dallas, Kansas City, Buffalo, Chicago, Houston and Seattle all could have a level of interest.