Denver Broncos sign TE James Casey

Casey was signed by the Eagles following the 2012 season to a 3-year, 12 million dollar deal. He was expected to be a jack of all traits matchup nightmare in Chip Kelly’s offense, but struggled to make it onto the field, playing a combined 330 snaps in 2 seasons in Philadelphia behind both Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, before being an easy cap casualty this off-season. He’s going into his age 31 season in 2015, but he’s had success with Denver Head Coach Kubiak before and they’re only paying him 1.25 million over 1 year, a fraction of what he was making in Philadelphia.

He’ll likely reprise his old role from Houston, where he played 609 snaps in 2012 under Kubiak, despite the fact that the Texans had Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham. Kubiak frequently uses two tight ends and a fullback. He’ll do that less this season in Denver because of Peyton Manning, but Casey will see a lot of playing time at fullback. He’s was Pro Football Focus’ 12th ranked fullback in 2011 and 10th ranked fullback in 2012. This is a solid cheap pickup by the Broncos, getting a decent player who has scheme familiarity and fill a need.

Grade: B+

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Houston Texans extend OLB Whitney Mercilus

This is the classic case of a team overpaying for a marginal talent. Mercilus has largely been disappointing since the Texans drafted him 26th overall in 2012. Mercilus has graded out below average in all 3 seasons he’s been in the NFL, including 28th out of 34 eligible in 2012 and 42nd out of 42 eligible in 2013. He’s coming off of the best season of his career in 2014, but he still only graded out 35th out of 46 eligible, particularly struggling as a pass rusher.

Mercilus was going into his contract year in 2015, but he wouldn’t have been hard to replace. The Texans certainly didn’t need to pay him 26 million over 4 years, including 10.8 million guaranteed. Even if the Texans thought internally that Mercilus was due for a breakout year, they should have just picked up his option for 2016. That option is guaranteed for injury only, so the Texans would have, barring a serious injury, had the option to go back on that option next off-season, which would have given them much more flexibility than this. This deal is a premature overpay at best.

Grade: C

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