New England Patriots 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Guard

The Patriots’ offensive line got better as the season went on, but it was still their Achilles heel and somewhere they need to add this off-season. They especially need help at left guard, where Dan Connolly graded out 72nd out of 78 eligible guards last season. He’s a free agent going into his age 33 season and the Patriots should aim higher in terms of a starter at that spot for next season.

Defensive End

Dominique Easley was drafted in the first round in 2014, but he struggled through knee problems as a rookie, grading out below average on 270 snaps as a rookie. His knee issues date back to his collegiate days, as he tore both of his ACLs in college. He should have a bigger role in 2015, but he’s hard to trust going forward. Vince Wilfork, meanwhile, could be a cap casualty this off-season, while Chris Jones, a 2013 undrafted free agent, has struggled in each of his first 2 seasons in the NFL. In 2013, he was Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked defensive tackle and he graded out 42 out of 47th eligible 3-4 defensive ends in 2014. The Patriots need to add to their defensive line this off-season.

Running Back

With Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen set to hit free agency, the Patriots need to replenish depth behind LeGarrette Blount, a solid lead back, but tough to trust and useless in the passing game. James White is a 2014 4th round pick who struggled on 31 snaps as a rookie, while Jonas Gray had a 201 yard game and did little else after that. They especially need a complementary back who can help in the passing game like Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, and Shane Vereen have done before for the Patriots, assuming they don’t re-sign Vereen.

Outside Linebacker

Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich are a solid edge rusher duo, regardless of scheme, but they had no depth behind them in 2013, which is why they played 1142 and 1114 snaps respectively, 1st and 2nd among 4-3 defensive ends in snaps played respectively. The Patriots added Akeem Ayers for depth purposes in 2014 when Chandler Jones got hurt and he did well in that role, but he’s a free agent this off-season. If he’s not retained, they’ll need to replenish depth, especially with Ninkovich going into his age 31 season and coming off the first season in which he graded out below average in 5 seasons as a starter.

Cornerback

There’s a chance Darrelle Revis won’t be back with the Patriots in 2015, as they need to work out a long-term deal with him to avoid paying him 20 million next season. That would leave Brandon Browner, Logan Ryan, and Kyle Arrington as their top-3 cornerbacks, but none of those 3 players are #1 cornerbacks and Browner could be a cap casualty after committing 19 penalties in 12 games this season. He’s owed 5.5 million non-guaranteed in 2015 and the Patriots can save that entire amount on the cap by letting him go.

Safety

If Devin McCourty isn’t retained as a free agent this off-season, they’ll need to replace him. Duron Harmon is an internal option, but the 2013 3rd round pick has only played 714 snaps in 2 seasons in the league so, while he’s flashed, he’s unproven and they’ll need to find competition for him in the case that McCourty leaves.

Key Free Agents

S Devin McCourty

McCourty entered the NFL as a cornerback, moved to safety in the middle of the 2012 season and has pretty much been dominant wherever he’s been. He’s graded out above average in all 5 seasons he’s been in the league since the Patriots drafted him in the 1st round in 2010 and, with the exception of 2011, he’s been an elite player in every season. In 2010, he was Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked cornerback. In 2012, his composite grade across cornerback and safety would have been 5th among cornerbacks and 4th among safeties. And in the last two seasons, he’s been Pro Football Focus’ 1st and 8th ranked safety respectively. He and Eric Weddle are the only two safeties to grade out in the top-8 in each of the last 2 seasons. The top safety in this free agency class, McCourty is expected to get between 8-9 million annually, which would make him one of the highest paid safeties in the NFL. He’d be worth it.

OLB Akeem Ayers

Akeem Ayers, a 2011 2nd round pick, graded out above average in each of his first 3 seasons in the league with the Titans, including 4th among 4-3 outside linebackers in 2013. However, the Titans’ incompetent new regime didn’t seem to know how to use him and he played just 10 snaps for them before being traded to the Patriots for a swap of late round picks mid-season. In New England, they had no problem figuring out how to use him and he provided much needed depth as a 3-4 outside linebacker, grading out above average on 390 snaps. There’s a reason why the Patriots were Super Bowl winners this year and the Titans went 2-14. Ayers can play both 4-3 and 3-4 outside linebacker, but he’s a better pass rusher than he is in coverage so he’s probably a better fit for a 3-4, where he’ll get more pass rush opportunities. On a strong edge rush market, Ayers could be a nice, cheap option for teams in need of pass rush help.

RB Shane Vereen

Vereen saw just 188 snaps in 2011 and 2012 combined, but the 2011 2nd round pick was expected to be a big part of their post-Aaron Hernandez offense in 2013. He was when he was on the field, but he missed 8 games with injury. He caught 47 passes for 427 yards and 3 touchdowns on 66 targets on 200 routes run, an average of 2.14 yards per route run that was 2nd only to Darren Sproles among running backs, very impressive numbers in 8 games. Going into 2014, he was expected to put up big receiving numbers, assuming he stayed healthy. He did stay healthy, playing all 16 games, but in that sense, his 52 catches were a disappointment. Still, he hits free agency as a valuable, versatile #2 back. He’s only averaged 4.18 yards per carry on 217 carries in his career, but what he does as a pass catcher could get him close to the 3.5 million annually he reportedly covets.

RB Stevan Ridley

Ridley, a 2011 3rd round pick, rushed for 1263 yards and 12 touchdowns on 290 carries (4.36 YPC) in his 2nd year in the league in 2012, but he’ll come cheap this off-season. There’s a reason for that. In the two seasons since, he’s rushed for 1113 yards and 9 touchdowns on 272 carries (4.09 YPC) and he’s coming off of a torn ACL he suffered midway through last season. He’s also useless as a pass catcher, with 23 catches in 52 career games and has 9 career fumbles on 672 career touches. He’ll have to settle for a one-year, prove it deal this off-season, but he could be a smart buy low option for a running back needy team. A return to New England as a backup behind LeGarrette Blount would make some sense.

G Dan Connolly

Dan Connolly is a smart, versatile interior offensive lineman who can play both guard positions and center, but he’s graded out below average in 3 of the last 4 seasons, including 67th out of 81 eligible guards in 2013 and 72nd out of 78 eligible guards in 2014. Going into his age 33 season, he should be a reserve next season. The Patriots should find an upgrade at left guard this off-season and bring Connolly back on a cheap deal as a reserve and a veteran presence.

Cap Casualty Candidates

CB Darrelle Revis

Darrelle Revis is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, grading out 3rd in 2008, 2nd in 2009, 18th in 2010, 1st in 2011, 1st in 2013, and 4th in 2014, with a torn ACL in 2012 that didn’t slow his career down in between. However, Revis is owed 20 million in 2015, including a 12.5 million dollar bonus scheduled to be paid out on the first day of free agency. The Patriots never really intended to pay him that when they signed him last off-season. There’s a small chance they do, given how good he is, but more likely he’ll be released, saving them 20 million on the cap. The Patriots would then try to bring him back on a long-term deal as a free agent. Their preferred option would be to work out an extension with him before then, but that’s no guarantee.

DE Vince Wilfork

Wilfork wasn’t bad in his first season back from a torn Achilles, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 13th ranked 3-4 defensive end, but he’s going into his age 34 season and the Patriots can save 8.5 million in cash and 8.067 million on the cap by letting him go this off-season. He’s a fan favorite, he’s been with the team for 11 years, and he played well last season, but that’s just too much to pay to an aging player when you have cap problems and other players to keep long-term.

WR Danny Amendola

Danny Amendola was signed by the Patriots to a 5-year, 28.5 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago to be the long-term replacement for Wes Welker. That didn’t happen, though fortunately for the Patriots, Julian Edelman became what they were expecting Amendola to become. Amendola missed 4 games with injury in 2013 and, though he played all 16 games in 2014, he struggled mightily overall and was well behind Edelman and Brandon LaFell on the depth chart. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 93rd ranked wide receiver out of 110 eligible on 466 snaps. He played well in the post-season, but that might not be enough for him to stick around. His 4.5 million dollar salary for 2015 is non-guaranteed and too rich for a mediocre, injury prone #3 wide receiver. The Patriots would save 2.1 million on the cap by letting him go.

CB Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner did some nice things for the Patriots after his return from suspension, but his 15 penalties in 9 games was absurd and caused him to grade out below average overall, 19 penalties in 12 games if you include the post-season. That has been a perennial issue for him. The Patriots can save 5.5 million in cash and cap space by letting him go this off-season. Obviously, it’s much easier to give up on him if they are able to re-sign Revis. I’d like to see them keep Revis, let Browner go and go forward with Revis, Logan Ryan, and Kyle Arrington as their top-3 cornerbacks in 2015.

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Seattle Seahawks 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Position of Need

Wide Receiver

The Seahawks traded Percy Harvin to the Jets mid-season. It was a good move, as he was reportedly a team cancer and either way they were probably going to cut him this off-season, as his play on the field was not living up to his non-guaranteed 10.5 million dollar salary for 2015. Credit them for getting something for him. However, whiffing on the trade that sent Harvin to the Seahawks from the Vikings for a 1st and 3rd round pick has left them stuck with Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse as their top-2 wide receivers. Baldwin is a solid player, but Kearse can be upgraded and neither is a #1 receiver. The Seahawks like 2014 2nd round pick Paul Richardson’s long-term potential, but, he tore his ACL late in 2014 and his 2015 is in doubt as a result.

Guard

Left guard James Carpenter is a free agent this off-season and, after grading out below average in all 4 seasons he’s been in the league since the Seahawks drafted him in the 1st round in 2011, he could easily not be back in 2015. Meanwhile at right guard, JR Sweezy has graded out below average in all 3 seasons he’s been in the league since being drafted in the 7th round in 2012. Guard help is needed this off-season.

Defensive Tackle

Kevin Williams, Tony McDaniel, Jordan Hill, and Brandon Mebane were the Seahawks’ top 4 defensive tackles in terms of snaps played in 2014 and all 4 graded out below average, a weakness on an overall strong Seattle defense. Williams is a free agent going into his age 35 season. McDaniel and Mebane could be cap casualties, as the Seahawks would save 3 million and 5.5 million respectively on the cap by letting them go, though both were significantly better in 2013. Hill, meanwhile, is a 2013 3rd round pick with only 431 career snaps in 2 seasons. This is easily somewhere they could add this off-season.

Cornerback

Byron Maxwell is widely expected to be out of the Seahawks’ price range as their #2 cornerback opposite Richard Sherman. With Jeremy Lane doubtful for the start of next season after somehow breaking his arm and tearing his ACL on the same play in the Super Bowl, cornerback help is needed this off-season. Tharold Simon is a 2013 4th round pick with 305 career snaps in 2 seasons and was horrible in the post-season for the Seahawks, while Marcus Burley has played 328 snaps in 2 seasons since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013. The Seahawks usually rely on the draft and promoting from within at cornerback, but they could sign someone like Tramon Williams in free agency. The veteran would come relatively cheap and John Schneider was in Green Bay when the Packers brought him to town.

Tight End

Zach Miller missed 13 games with injury in 2014 and is expected to be a cap casualty this off-season. In his absence, Luke Willson, Tony Moeaki, and Cooper Helfet saw the majority of the snaps at tight end. Willson has been solid thus far in his career, grading out around average on 415 snaps as a 5th round rookie in 2013 and on 579 snaps in 2014, but they need another tight end. Moeaki was signed mid-season and will be a free agent this off-season, while Helfet has played 249 snaps in 3 seasons since going undrafted in 2012. When the Seahawks were trying to trade Percy Harvin, they tried to get Julius Thomas from Denver and Jordan Cameron from Cleveland. Both of those players will be free agents this off-season so the Seahawks could make a run at one or both of them to pair with Willson.

Offensive Tackle

Center Max Unger was the only Seahawks offensive lineman to play a snap last season and grade out above average, so guard isn’t the only problem spot on Seattle’s offensive line. Russell Okung is probably locked into the left tackle position for his contract year in 2015, though there’s a small chance that the oft injured former 1st round pick could be a cap casualty. Justin Britt was a 2nd round pick in 2014 and will probably get another chance at right tackle. However, Okung has graded out above average on Pro Football Focus just once in 5 seasons and has missed 21 games in those 5 seasons with injuries, while Britt was Pro Football Focus’ 74th ranked offensive tackle out of 84 eligible in 2014.

Key Free Agents

CB Byron Maxwell

The “other” member of the Legion of Boom, Maxwell broke into the starting lineup in 2013 in the middle of the 2011 6th round pick’s 3rd season in the NFL. Maxwell played 494 snaps in 2013, made 5 starts in place of a suspended Brandon Browner, and graded out 16th among cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus. The Seahawks let Browner walk the following off-season and Maxwell became a full-time starter in 2015, making 13 starts (missing 3 with injury). However, he was only a league average starter when on the field, according to Pro Football Focus. Widely considered the top cornerback on the open market, Maxwell is expected to get more than 10+ million dollars annually, which would be a massive overpay. He’s still inexperienced. He hasn’t played as well as people think. And he could easily struggle outside of Seattle’s system and supporting cast.

OLB Malcolm Smith

Malcolm Smith was Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl 47, one of the more anonymous Super Bowl MVP’s in NFL history. Smith played a good game, but there were more deserving candidates, as Smith didn’t even play half the snaps in that game (34 of 71). He just happened to make a few splash plays that we remember. Smith also wasn’t even a starter that season, playing just 490 snaps. However, he was still Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker that season, despite the limited action, with no one playing more snaps and grading out better. He’s still inexperienced and he struggled in 2014, but he’s overall played well when given a chance and could be starting somewhere next season.

DT Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams was available into June last off-season, even though he had graded out above average in 7 straight seasons on Pro Football Focus, including in the top-9 from 2007-2012 and 27th in 2013. The reason for that is because he was going into his age 34 season and had a hard time finding someone who would pay him what he wanted. He eventually agreed to a 1-year, 2.1 million dollar deal with the Seahawks. He came within a play of his first Super Bowl victory, but he graded out below average for the first time in Pro Football Focus’ existence (since 2007) and played just 445 snaps. Now going into his age 35 season, he could be close to the end of the line. He’ll have to settle for a cheap, one-year deal somewhere this off-season if he wants to keep playing.

G James Carpenter

James Carpenter was a surprise 1st round pick by the Seahawks in 2011 and he’s been a rare mistake of the John Schneider front office. He’s started just 39 games in 4 seasons (31 at left guard, 8 at right tackle, where they originally wanted him to play). That’s a result of several injuries and overall poor play, as he’s graded out well below average in all 4 seasons. His versatility could serve him well on the open market, but it’s debatable whether struggling at multiple spots counts as versatility. He shouldn’t be guaranteed a starting spot for 2015.

Cap Casualty Candidates

TE Zach Miller

Zach Miller was signed to a 5-year, 33 million dollar deal four off-seasons ago, but he was forced to take a pay cut down to 6 million over the final 2 years of the deal last off-season. Miller followed that up by missing 13 games with injury in 2014. Owed 3 million non-guaranteed in 2015, Miller is not expected to be back in his age 30 season. The Seahawks can save that whole amount on the cap by letting him go.

DT Brandon Mebane

The Seahawks signed Mebane to a 5-year, 25 million dollar deal four off-seasons ago. He was great in 2013 on the Super Bowl team, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked defensive tackle, but that wasn’t the norm for him, as he graded out below average in the other 3 seasons of the contract. In 2014, he missed 7 games with a torn hamstring and played just 289 snaps. Going into an age 30 contract season, Mebane is owed 5.5 million guaranteed, which might just be too much for him, as good as he was in 2013. The Seahawks would save that entire amount on the cap by letting him go.

DT Tony McDaniel

Like Mebane, McDaniel had a strong 2013 season that looks fluky when you look at the rest of his career. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 15th ranked defensive tackle in 2013, but that’s one of just two seasons where he’s graded out above average in the last 8 years. In 2014, he ranked 72nd out of 81 eligible defensive tackles. All of the guaranteed money on the 2-year, 5.75 million dollar deal he signed last off-season has been paid out, so the Seahawks can cut him ahead of an age 30 contract year and save 3 million in cash and cap space.

OT Russell Okung

Russell Okung was the 6th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft and he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 8th ranked offensive tackle, but that type of dominance has been rare from him and he generally hasn’t lived up to his potential. He’s graded out below average in his other 4 seasons in the NFL, never played all 16 games in a season, and missed 21 games in 5 seasons with injury. He’ll probably be back for his contract year in 2015, but the Seahawks can save 5 million in cash and cap space by letting him go, so it’ll probably be a consideration.

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Green Bay Packers 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Middle Linebacker

AJ Hawk and Brad Jones were the week 1 starters for the Packers at middle linebacker last season, but both had atrocious seasons. Hawk was the starter the whole season, but graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 52nd ranked middle linebacker out of 60 eligible. Jones only made the one start and played just 211 snaps on the season so he didn’t qualify for Pro Football Focus’ middle linebacker rankings, but no middle linebacker played fewer snaps than he did and graded out worse. Both could be cap casualties this off-season, while reserve Jamari Lattimore, who played 366 snaps last season, is a free agent this off-season. Sam Barrington is a young player they like, but he struggled on 285 snaps in 2014, after playing just 1 snap as a 7th round rookie in 2013. Things were so bad at the position that they played Clay Matthews inside from time to time this season, but he’s much better outside so that’s not a long-term solution. They need help at this position badly this off-season.

Defensive Tackle

BJ Raji missed the entire 2014 season with a torn biceps, leaving mediocre journeyman Letroy Guion to man the nose. Guion predictably struggled, grading out below average, and he was also arrested in the off-season for possession of marijuana and a firearm. He’s a free agent this off-season, as is Raji. This is a position they’ll need to find help at this off-season.

Tight End

As good as the Packers’ receiving corps is, they really didn’t get anything from the tight end position last season. Andrew Quarless led the team with 29 catches for 323 yards and 3 touchdowns from the tight end position. Richard Rodgers, a 2014 3rd round pick, could be better in his 2nd season in the league in 2015, but this is still somewhere they could add this off-season.

Offensive Tackle

At left tackle, David Bakhtiari has made all 32 starts over the past 2 seasons, since the Packers drafted him in the 4th round in 2013, but he’s graded out below average in each of those 2 seasons. Meanwhile, right tackle Bryan Bulaga is a free agent and could easily not be back next season. If he leaves, they could move Bakhtiari to right tackle, where he might find life easier, but they would need to find a new left tackle, which won’t be easy this off-season. Either way, offensive tackle help will be needed if Bulaga isn’t retained.

Wide Receiver

If the Packers are able to bring Randall Cobb back, they’ll have a strong trio with him, Jordy Nelson, and Davante Adams, a 2014 2nd round pick. If Cobb isn’t back, all of a sudden, they’ll have problems. Adams flashed as a rookie, but overall graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 99th ranked wide receiver out of 110 eligible. He could be a lot better in his 2nd year in the league, but he’ll be tough to trust as a starter and their depth behind him is suspect.

Defensive End

Mike Daniels has been fantastic as a starting 3-4 defensive end over the past 2 seasons, but they need help opposite him. Datone Jones was drafted in the first round in 2013 to be a starter and he flashed last season, but he’s played just 586 snaps in 2 seasons. He should have a bigger role in 2014, but their depth is suspect. Josh Boyd struggled in 2014 and might be moving to nose tackle in 2015.

Key Free Agents

WR Randall Cobb

Randall Cobb didn’t see a ton of action as a 2nd round rookie in 2011, but he had a strong, efficient 2012 season, catching 80 passes for 954 yards and 8 touchdowns on 102 targets (78.4%) and 422 routes run (2.26 yards per route run). He was Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked wide receiver that season. Cobb was set for a bigger role in 2013 and everyone expected a breakout year. He was on his way to that before missing 10 games with a broken leg and finished the season with 31 catches for 433 yards and 4 touchdowns in just 6 games. In 2014, he played all 16 games and picked up right where he left off. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked wide receiver and caught 91 passes for 1287 yards and 12 touchdowns on 125 targets (72.8%) and 574 routes run (2.24 yards per route run). Only going into his age 25 season, Cobb is going to get paid a lot of money on his next contract, wherever he ends up signing.

OT Bryan Bulaga

Bulaga has been a starter for the Packers since they drafted him in the 1st round in 2010, making his debut as a starter in week 5 of 2010. However, despite that, he’s only made 48 starts in 5 seasons, as he’s missed 30 games with injuries over that time period, including all of 2013 with a torn ACL. When on the field, he’s been up and down. He struggled mightily as a rookie, grading out 71st out of 78 eligible in 2010, but he ranked 7th among offensive tackles on 12 starts in 2011. In 2012, he graded out below average in 9 starts before missing all of 2013, but he returned in 2014 to make 15 starts and grade out 16th among offensive tackles. He’s easily the best offensive tackle available on the open market, despite his inconsistent past, and he’ll get a good amount of money on the open market, but he’ll be a risky signing for whoever signs him.

CB Tramon Williams

Williams is going into his age 32 season so he won’t command a huge annual salary or much if any guaranteed money beyond 2015, but he should still be a solid starter next season. He’s not the player he was in 2009, when he graded out 9th, or 2010, when he graded out 8th, but he’s graded out above average in 6 straight seasons and made 95 of 96 starts over that time period. Something around 3 years, 17 million, with 7 million guaranteed would be appropriate for him. Seattle has been rumored to be interested in him, as they have a cornerback need and GM John Schneider was part of the team that originally brought Williams to Green Bay. A return to Green Bay is also an option.

CB Davon House

House, a 2011 4th round pick, has been buried on the depth chart in Green Bay over the past 4 seasons, playing just 1201 defensive snaps combined over that time period, all over the past 3 seasons. However, he’s flashed whenever he’s been on the field, grading out either above average or just slightly below average in each of the last 3 seasons. House reportedly is looking for 7 million dollars annually on the open market. I don’t expect him to get that, even on a weak cornerback market, but I do expect him to be starting somewhere next year to be compensated accordingly.

DE BJ Raji

BJ Raji was reportedly offered a 5-year, 40 million dollar extension two off-seasons ago, heading into his contract year, after a 2012 season in which he graded out 7th among 3-4 defensive ends, and turned it down. He has to be kicking himself now. Raji had a horrible contract year, grading out dead last among 3-4 defensive ends in 2013. As a result, he had to settle for a one-year, 4 million dollar prove it deal with the Packers, after not finding anything to his liking on the open market. Things went from bad to worse for Raji, as he tore his biceps and missed the entire 2014 season. Versatile enough to play anywhere on a 3-man defensive line, inconsistency has always been an issue for Raji. After barely playing as a rookie, he ranked 35th out of defensive tackles in 2010, had a strong playoff run en route to the Packers’ Super Bowl victory, but ranked 87th out of 88 eligible defensive tackles in 2011, before that strong 2012 campaign. Now he has a serious injury on his resume. He won’t have a big market this off-season.

DT Letroy Guion

With Raji out for the season, Guion started 15 games at nose tackle, but he struggled, grading out 61st out of 81 eligible defensive tackles. This is nothing new for him. He’s graded out below average in 6 of 7 seasons since he came into the league as a 5th round pick in 2008, including 5 straight. In 2012, he ranked 86 out of 86th eligible defensive tackles and in 2013 he was 60th out of 69 eligible. Especially after getting arrested for possession of marijuana and a firearm this off-season, he won’t draw big market.

Cap Casualty Candidates

MLB Brad Jones

Brad Jones was drafted in the 7th round in 2009 by the Packers as an outside linebacker, but, after playing a combined 763 snaps in the first 3 years of his career at outside linebacker, the Packers moved him inside in 2012 and he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked middle linebacker on 687 snaps. That earned him a 3-year, 11.75 million dollar deal, but he’s been a massive disappointment since signing that deal, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 28th ranked middle linebacker out of 55 eligible in 2013 and playing just 211 snaps in 2014. In 2014, no one played fewer snaps and graded out worse than Jones at middle linebacker. He’s not a serious candidate to be a starter inside next season so the Packers will probably let him go to save 3.75 million in cash and cap space for 2015.

MLB AJ Hawk

AJ Hawk has made 139 starts for the Packers since they drafted him 5th overall in 2006, but he’s only graded out above average once on Pro Football Focus in their 8 year history and the Packers have cut his salary and renegotiated his contract several times. He might be at the end of his line with the Packers, going into his age 31 season. He came off the bench 3 times last season, the first time he played in a game in which he wasn’t a starter in his career, and he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 52nd ranked middle linebacker out of 60 eligible. The Packers can save 3.5 million in cash and cap space by letting him go this off-season.

OLB Mike Neal

Mike Neal, a 2010 2nd round pick, started his career as an oft used 3-4 defensive end, but the Packers moved him to 3-4 outside linebacker for 2013, a weird move considering his 6-3 294 pound size. Neal struggled in his first season at outside linebacker, grading out 40th out of 42 eligible, but the Packers gave him a 2-year, 8 million dollar deal last off-season. He wasn’t better in 2014, grading out 46th out of 46 eligible. With Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and Nick Perry all under contract for 2015, the Packers don’t need to bring Neal back at a non-guaranteed 3 million dollar salary. They’d save that entire amount on the cap by letting him go this off-season.

OLB Julius Peppers

When the Packers signed Julius Peppers to a 3-year, 26 million dollar deal last off-season, it was more of a 1-year, 8.5 million dollar prove it deal for an aging future Hall-of-Famer, who graded out below average in 2013 with the Bears and got released. That was all that was guaranteed in that deal. Peppers certainly did prove it, flashing vintage form in his first experience in a 3-4 as a much needed edge rusher opposite Clay Matthews. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker. Still, he’s going into his age 35 season so he’s no guarantee to be back at his non-guaranteed 9.5 million dollar salary for 2015. The Packers could save 7 million on the cap by letting him go this off-season and have him off their cap completely for 2016. A restructured deal is also an option.

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Indianapolis Colts 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Running Back

The Colts thought they were set at running back when they traded a 2014 1st round pick for Trent Richardson, who went 3rd overall in 2012. That pick ended up being 26th overall and you could argue the Colts were buying low on Richardson at the time, but it turns out Cleveland sold them a dud. Richardson has rushed for 977 yards and 6 touchdowns on 316 carries (3.09 YPC) in his 2 years with the Colts. He also has had issues with the coaching staff, which got him suspended for their playoff game against New England and the first week of next season. The Colts will try to get out of his fully guaranteed contract for 2015, but even if they don’t, I expect them to just let him go and eat the money. They don’t see Richardson as being worth their 53 man roster. Ahmad Bradshaw led the Colts in total yards per game by a running back last year and was a fantastic overall player. He rushed for 425 yards and 2 touchdowns on 90 carries (4.72 YPC) and added 38 catches for 300 yards and 6 more touchdowns through the air. However, he went down for the season with a season ending injury once again. Bradshaw has had injury problems his whole career, missing 25 games in the last 4 seasons combined. He’s also a free agent going into his age 29 season. They can’t trust he’ll be their lead back again 2015. Boom Herron rushed for 4.50 YPC on 78 regular season carries, but saw that figure dip to 3.78 YPC on 45 post-season carries. He also fumbled 4 times on 166 touches in the regular and post-season combined. He’s best as a complementary #2 back behind another back they add this off-season. They’ve been linked to Frank Gore, DeMarco Murray, and a reunion with Ahmad Bradshaw. It’s also a deep running back draft.

Center

AQ Shipley began the season as the starting center and, even though Pro Football Focus gave him positive marks, he was benched for undrafted rookie Jonotthan Harrison. Shipley is expected to be non-tendered as a restricted free agent this off-season. Harrison played about as you’d expect from an undrafted rookie, grading out 35th out of 41 eligible. Khaled Holmes was drafted in the 4th round in 2013 to be the center of the future, but he’s struggled on 193 snaps thus far in his career. Help is needed at the position.

Guard

Jack Mewhort did a solid job as a rookie, grading out about average in 14 starts, 13 at left guard and one at right tackle. He should be locked in as the starter at left guard going into 2015. However, right guard is a huge hole. Lance Louis and Hugh Thornton split time there last season and, despite limited action, graded out 62nd and 48th respectively out of 78 eligible guards on Pro Football Focus. Louis has struggled throughout his career, never grading out above average in any season since entering the league in 2009, was out of the league entirely in 2013, and now is going into his age 30 season. Thornton, meanwhile, has shown nothing since the Colts drafted him in the 3rd round in 2013, struggling last year and grading out 69th out of 81 eligible on 889 snaps as a rookie. Neither one is a long-term starting option and the same is true of Donald Thomas, who has played 2 games over the last 2 seasons thanks to injury and could be a cap casualty this off-season. They need to find a long-term starter this off-season.

Outside Linebacker

Robert Mathis had a strong 2013 season, but he missed all of 2014 with a torn Achilles and he’ll be in his age 34 season in 2015. It’s very possible he’s near the end of the line. The Colts predictably didn’t get any pass rush in his absence, as Bjoern Werner was inconsistent in his 2nd season in the league, after being drafted in the first round in 2013, and Erik Walden also struggled. Both players graded out below average. Edge rush is a need. The connection between Chuck Pagano, former Ravens’ offensive coordinator, and Pernell McPhee, a top free agent edge rusher formerly of the Ravens, is obvious.

Cornerback

Vontae Davis and Greg Toler seem locked in as the Colts’ starting cornerbacks for 2015, even though the latter graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 99th ranked cornerback out of 108 eligible in 2014. However, they need to add depth at the position and competition for Toler as #3 cornerback Darius Butler is a free agent this off-season and might not be back. He’s graded out below average in each of the last 2 seasons, so maybe they should bring in an upgrade in his place.

Defensive End

Arthur Jones had a rough first year in Indianapolis, after signing a 5-year, 33 million dollar deal in free agency last off-season. Jones missed 7 games with injury and struggled when on the field, grading out 40th out of 47 eligible 3-4 defensive ends on just 371 snaps. He could bounce back in his 2nd season with the Colts in 2015, but Cory Redding, arguably their best defensive lineman, is a free agent going into his age 35 season this off-season. If he retires or leaves as a free agent, they’ll need to replenish depth. Adding more depth isn’t a bad idea either way.

Wide Receiver

TY Hilton is arguably one of the best receivers in the game and Donte Moncrief is a promising 2014 3rd round pick who will have a bigger role in his 2nd year in the league after flashing as a rookie, but the Colts need depth at the position. Hakeem Nicks and Reggie Wayne are both coming off of awful seasons in which they graded out 105th and 106th respectively out of 110 eligible wide receivers. Both are free agents and I don’t expect either one to be back. They’ve already said that they won’t be bringing Wayne back. That will leave them devoid of wide receivers with any sort of experience after Hilton.

Safety

La’Ron Landry was a starter for the Colts at safety going into last season, but he was suspended for 4 games due to performance enhancing drugs and didn’t regain his starting job upon return. He graded out slightly above average on 417 snaps, but he was below average on 799 snaps in the first year of his 4-year, 24 million dollar deal in 2013. He’s a cap casualty candidate, while Mike Adams and Sergio Brown, who finished the season as the starters, are both free agents this off-season, Adams going into his age 34 season. Depending on what happens at this position this off-season, this could be somewhere they need to add.

Offensive Tackle

Gosder Cherilus will be back in 2015 in the 3rd year of a 5-year, 34.5 million dollar deal he signed two off-seasons ago. The Colts would take a 1.8 million dollar cap hit by letting him go. However, Cherilus graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 70th ranked offensive tackle out of 84 eligible on the right side this season and finished the season on IR with a groin and shoulder injury and had off-season knee surgery. Cherilus is going into his age 31 season and the Colts need competition for the injury prone player who struggled in 2014.

Key Free Agents

S Mike Adams

Mike Adams has been in the league for 11 years, since 2004, but last season was arguably the best of his career, as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked safety and made the first Pro-Bowl of his career. This is the same guy whose career looked like it could have been over until the Colts signed him in June of last off-season. He’s going into his age 34 season and anyone who signs him this off-season can’t expect him to repeat the best season of his career again, but he was a solid starter in 2011, 2012, and 2013, grading out above average in 2011 and 2012 and only slightly below average in 2013. He should still be considered a starting caliber safety for 2015. There’s reportedly a lot of mutual interest between Adams and the Colts in a reunion.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw

Bradshaw’s 4.60 career YPC is very impressive and he’s also very useful on passing downs, both as a pass catcher and a pass blocker. However, injuries have been a serious problem for him. He’s always dealt with nagging injuries throughout his career, only playing all 16 games once in 8 seasons, but over the past 4 seasons they’ve especially cost him, as he’s missed 25 games combined in that time period. Last season, he was off to a great start to his season, rushing for 425 yards and 2 touchdowns on 90 carries (4.72 YPC) and added 38 catches for 300 yards and 6 more touchdowns through the air. However, he broke his ankle and missed the final 6 games of the season. Despite just 391 snaps, he was Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked running back overall. Going into his age 29 season, Bradshaw is a serious injury risk, but he could be a solid buy low candidate on a buyer’s market for running backs.

DE Cory Redding

Redding was arguably the best defensive lineman the Colts had last season, at least he was in terms of Pro Football Focus grade. He finished the season as their 18th ranked 3-4 defensive end, struggling against the run (just like the rest of the front 7), but getting good pass rush. The problem is he’s going into his age 35 season so it’s hard to trust him going forward. The 12-year veteran also had a strong season in 2013, grading out 11th at his position, but he ranked 27th out of 34 eligible in 2012 and could regress to that level in 2015 given his age. Still, he’s graded out above average in 3 of the last 4 seasons and he won’t break anyone’s bank so he’ll be a solid, cheap signing for a team with a need on the defensive line. There’s mutual interest between him and the Colts in a reunion. A reunion with his former team the Baltimore Ravens, who have a depth need on the defensive line, is another option.

S Sergio Brown

Sergio Brown was an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2010 and flashed on 94 snaps as a rookie with the Patriots. As a result he was given a starting job in 2011, but quickly lost it for poor performance and went on to play just 61 snaps over the next 2 seasons, both with Indianapolis. However, Brown got another chance at a starting job in 2014 when Laron Landry got suspended and made the most of it, playing well and keeping the job after Landry’s return. All in all, he made 8 starts and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 24th ranked safety. He might get some looks as a starter on the open market this off-season, but any team that signs him needs to remember his history prior to 2014 isn’t great.

CB Darius Butler

Butler was a 2nd round bust of the Patriots in 2009 and bounced around from the Patriots to the Panthers to the Colts by 2012. Butler graded out below average in 2 of his first 3 seasons in the league, but had the best season of his career in 2012 with the Colts, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 31st ranked cornerback on 380 snaps, earning a 2-year deal worth 4 million that off-season. Butler remained inconsistent though, grading out below average in each of the last 2 seasons. Butler has never played more than 704 snaps in a season, averages 501 snaps a season, and has graded out below average in 4 of 6 seasons in the NFL. He’s a purely a depth cornerback and should come cheap this off-season.

WR Hakeem Nicks

Nicks is only going into his age 27 season, but he’s had a swift fall from grace thanks to leg injuries and will have a hard time finding work this off-season. Nicks, a 2009 1st round pick, looked like one of the best young receivers in the NFL from 2009-2011. He averaged 2.30 yards per route run in 2009 on 344 routes run, 2.32 yards per route run in 2010 on 453 routes run, and 2.08 yards per route run in 2011 on 572 routes run. However, those averages fell to 1.74 yards per route run on 398 routes run in 2012 and 1.70 yards per route run on 527 routes run in 2013. He was forced to settle for a 1-year, prove it deal with the Colts last off-season, worth 3.6 million, and he didn’t even come close to being worth that in easily the worst season of his career. Nicks was Pro Football Focus’ 105th ranked wide receiver out of 110 eligible. He caught 38 passes for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns on 68 attempts (55.9%) and 425 routes run (0.95 yards per route run). He was benched down the stretch for rookie Donte Moncrief and saw just 17 snaps in the AFC Championship. Injuries have completely sapped his explosiveness. He’ll have to settle for another one-year deal this off-season and won’t come close to getting 3.6 million.

WR Reggie Wayne

Reggie Wayne has had a fantastic career could be bound for the Hall-of-Fame, but when he suffered a torn ACL in the middle of his age 35 season in 2013, it was a death sentence for his career. Even the average top-20 receiver (in terms of yardage all-time) has his last 1000 yard season at age 34-35, averages 48 catches for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns for 2 more seasons after age 34-35, and is done playing by age 36-37. It looks like Wayne’s last 1000 yard season will be 2012, looking back at his career. His 2013 and 2014 seasons were the two lowest yardage totals of his career since 2003. It was understandable in 2013, as he only played 7 games, but in 2014 he played 13 and just did not even resemble himself. He caught 64 passes for 779 yards and 2 touchdowns on 110 attempts (58.2%) and 570 routes run (1.37 yards per route run) and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 106th ranked wide receiver out of 110 eligible. Going into his age 37 season, Wayne has already been told by the Colts that he will not be back in 2015. He reportedly wants to keep playing, but the call might never come.

Cap Casualty Candidates

RB Trent Richardson

Trent Richardson’s tenure with the Colts went about as bad as it could have. After they acquired him mid-season in 2013 for what turned out to be the 26th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, Richardson rushed for 977 yards and 6 touchdowns on 316 carries (3.09 YPC) in his 2 years with the Colts. He also has had issues with the coaching staff, which got him suspended for their playoff game against New England and the first week of next season. The Colts will try to get out of his fully guaranteed contract for 2015, but even if they don’t, I expect them to just let him go and eat the money. They don’t see Richardson as being worth their 53 man roster.

OLB Shaun Phillips

The Titans signed Phillips to a 2-year, 4.5 million dollar deal last off-season, but ended up waiving him mid-season after he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 43rd ranked 3-4 outside linebacker out of 46 eligible on 362 snaps. No one played fewer snaps and graded out worse at his position. The Colts claimed him on waivers, but he played 98 nondescript snaps for the Colts. He’s not worth the 2.65 million non-guaranteed he’s owed next season and the Colts can save that entire amount on the cap by letting him go.

G Donald Thomas

The Colts signed Thomas to a 4-year, 14 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago, which looked like a good idea at the time as Thomas graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 21st ranked guard in 2012 in 7 starts with the Patriots and looked like a budding starter. However, Thomas played just 72 snaps in 2 seasons with the Colts, missing 30 games with injury. The Colts can save 3.25 million on the cap and 3.5 million in cash this off-season by letting him go.

S LaRon Landry

The Colts signed Landry to a 4-year, 24 million dollar deal two off-season, but Landry graded out below average in 2013 on 799 snaps (he missed 4 games with injury). He entered 2014 as the starter, but lost his starting job after he got suspended for 4 games for performance enhancing drugs. He overall graded out above average on 417 snaps in 2014 and Mike Adams and Sergio Brown, who ended the season as the starters, are both free agents, and the Colts aren’t in dire need of cap space, but they could still cut Landry to save 2.25 million in cap space and 4 million in cash this off-season. He’ll also be off their cap entirely next off-season if they do that, which could help them extend Andrew Luck long-term. He’s going into his age 31 season in 2015 anyway.

OLB Robert Mathis

Robert Mathis graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in 2013, as he led the NFL in sacks with 19, but he missed all of 2014 with a torn Achilles and is now going into his age 34 season. The Colts gave him a 1-year, 4 million dollar extension mid-season to keep him from being a free agent this off-season, but it was really more of an option for them because it didn’t give him any guaranteed money. The Colts could cut Mathis this off-season and save 4 million in cash and cap space. They probably won’t do that, but he reportedly had a setback with his recovery (no surprise given his age) and there’s a chance they could pull the trigger at some point.

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Denver Broncos 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Offensive Tackle

Ryan Clady missed essentially the whole 2013 season with a foot injury, but Chris Clark played well in Ryan Clady’s absence in 2013 and the Broncos were very excited about their offensive line with Clady returning in 2014. They moved Clark to right tackle and Orlando Franklin inside to left guard, where he would replace the overrated Zane Beadles, who signed in Jacksonville. However, the only player who really worked out was Franklin, who played well in his first season at left guard. Clady graded out slightly below average in his first season back. He’ll be given another chance in 2015, but the Broncos need right tackle help. Chris Clark graded out 52nd out of 84 eligible before being benched. Louis Vasquez moved from right guard to right tackle and played alright, but he’s one of the league’s best guards so they should keep him there long-term. Finding a new right tackle who could possibly play left tackle in 2016 and beyond should be a priority of their off-season and somewhere they could go in the first round.

Tight End

Julius Thomas and Virgil Green were #1 and #2 on the Broncos in snaps played by tight ends, but both are free agents this off-season. Green could easily be back, but he’s only a blocking tight end. Julius Thomas has been their primary pass catching tight end over the past 2 seasons, but he’s not expected to be back as a free agent. Finding a pass catching replacement will be a need this off-season, assuming he does, in fact, leave.

Defensive Tackle

The Broncos will be moving from a 4-3 to a 3-4 under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips. They have good personnel for it. DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller will play outside linebacker. Malik Jackson, Derek Wolfe, and Sylvester Williams will rotate at defensive end. Brandon Marshall and Danny Trevathan will be the middle linebackers. Their only hole is nose tackle. Re-signing Terrance Knighton would fill that hole, but it sounds like he’s going to chase the money and go elsewhere. He probably wants to play in a 4-3 that would give him more pass rush opportunities anyway. Finding a true nose tackle will be on the Broncos’ list this off-season.

Center

Manny Ramirez struggled last season at both center and right guard. If he’s back as a starter at center next season, it will be at a position where he graded out 28th out of 41 eligible in 2014 in 8 starts. He’s also going into his age 33 season. They should try to find an upgrade. He could also be a cap casualty, a move that would save them 3 million in cash and cap space in 2015. Will Montgomery played well at center in his absence last season, but he’s a free agent and he’s also aging, going into his age 32 season.

Safety

Rahim Moore is a free agent. With the Broncos having already committed significant money to Aqib Talib, Chris Harris, and TJ Ward in their secondary, it’s widely assumed they won’t outbid the highest bidders on the open market and that Moore will not be back in Denver. They’ll need to find a replacement safety in that case.

Guard

As I mentioned earlier, I expect the Broncos to move Louis Vasquez back to right guard in 2015, not because he was bad at right tackle, but because he’s so much better at right guard. However, the Broncos will still have a problem at guard if left guard Orlando Franklin leaves as a free agent, which he could easily do.

Wide Receiver

Wes Welker is not expected back as a free agent, going into his age 34 season, coming off of a down season thanks to age and injury. 2014 2nd round pick Cody Latimer will play a bigger role in his absence, with Emmanuel Sanders picking up more snaps in the slot. The bigger issue would be if, for whatever reason, the Broncos don’t bring back Demaryius Thomas, as they’d have to find some way to replace him. He’s widely expected to be franchise tagged though so that almost definitely won’t be an issue. Thomas, Sanders, and Latimer are expected to be their top-3 wide receivers in 2015.

Key Free Agents

WR Demaryius Thomas

Demaryius Thomas has put up absurd numbers over the past 3 seasons, playing all 48 games, catching 297 passes for 4483 yards and 35 touchdowns. Playing with Peyton Manning at quarterback and being a target monster has definitely helped him, but he’s graded out 2nd, 5th, and 5th among wide receivers on Pro Football Focus in his own right in 2012, 2013, and 2014 respectively. No other wide receiver has graded out in the top-5 in all 3 of those seasons. The 2010 1st round pick was also productive with Tim Tebow in 2011, as he had 35 catches for 745 yards and 4 touchdowns in his final 7 games, including playoffs. That’s 80 catches for 1703 yards and 9 touchdowns extrapolated over 16 games. Along with Antonio Brown and Calvin Johnson, you can make a case for him as the best wide receiver in football. He’s widely expected to be franchise tagged so he’ll be back in 2015. He’s also a candidate for a massive long-term deal.

DT Terrance Knighton

Knighton was a 3rd round pick by the Jaguars in 2009. He started 49 games in 4 seasons with the Jaguars, but ended up grading out slightly below average in all 4 seasons. Knighton signed a 2-year, 4.5 million dollar deal with the Broncos in his first trip to free agency two off-seasons ago, a move that paid off in a big way for the Broncos. Knighton proved to be a late bloomer, grading out 9th in 2013 and proving himself again in 2014, grading out 12th. The 6-3 330 pounder is a fierce run stopper and can rush the passer as well. His 2nd trip to the open market should be much more lucrative than his first and he’s expected to be priced out of the Broncos’ budget. He’ll probably want to stay in a 4-3 where he can get more pass rush opportunities anyway and the Broncos are moving to a 3-4 and need more of a true nose tackle. A reunion with Jack Del Rio in Oakland makes a lot of sense. The Raiders have a ton of cap space and a huge need at defensive tackle and Knighton has played his entire career with Del Rio, first when he was Jacksonville’s head coach and then when he was Denver’s defensive coordinator. Del Rio is now the head coach in Oakland.

TE Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas played 50 snaps in his first 2 seasons in the league, catching 1 pass, after the incredibly athletic former basketball player was drafted in the 4th round in 2011. He broke out in 2013, catching 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he was limited by injuries in 2014, catching 43 passes for 489 yards and 12 touchdowns in 13 games. Thomas is a poor run blocker, has never played all 16 games in a season, and a lot of his passing game production was the result of getting to play with Peyton Manning. He’s a candidate to be overpaid on the open market this off-season.

G Orlando Franklin

Orlando Franklin has started 63 games since the Broncos drafted him in the 2nd round in 2011, 47 at right tackle from 2011-2013 and 16 at left guard last season. His versatility will serve him well on the open market, as will his abilities, as he’s graded out above average in each of the last 3 seasons, 12th among offensive tackles in 2012, 17th among offensive tackles in 2013, and 13th among guards in 2014. He should make upwards of 6+ million dollars on his next deal. Zane Beadles, another former Bronco offensive lineman, got 5-year, 30 million from the Jaguars last off-season. I think Franklin is a better player and that deal will be a floor for what he’ll get this off-season.

S Rahim Moore

Rahim Moore struggled as a rookie, but he had a fantastic 2012 season (the gaffe in the playoff loss to Baltimore aside), grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked safety. He still looked like one of the league’s better young safeties going into his 3rd year in the league in 2013, but he was only a league average starting safety that year before going down for the season with a frightening, rare injury that almost cost him his leg and his life. Moore returned in 2014, but was once again only an average starter. It’s obviously great that Moore has been able to resume his life and his career, but he goes to the open market as only a league average starter. He’ll make a good amount of money in a weak safety market though.

C Will Montgomery

With the Redskins, Montgomery graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 18th ranked center in 2011, 5th in 2012, and 15th in 2013. However, he was still released by the Redskins last off-season with a new regime coming in with a new blocking scheme and he only got a cheap, 1-year deal from the Broncos. Montgomery made 8 starts down the stretch for the Broncos and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 15th ranked center. He’s going into his age 32 season and he’s not a good fit for a power blocking scheme, but he deserves to be a starter somewhere in the NFL in 2015. A return to Denver could make sense as Gary Kubiak is a Mike Shanahan disciple and Montgomery had his best years under Shanahan in Washington.

TE Virgil Green

Green, a 2011 5th round pick, has played 1127 snaps in the last 4 seasons combined, serving as a valuable run blocking tight end, grading out above average as a run blocker in all 4 seasons. However, he’s graded out below average in 3 of those 4 seasons in pass catching grade, totaling 23 catches for 206 yards and a touchdown. He’ll come cheap this off-season and could easily return to the Broncos as a blocking specialist.

WR Wes Welker

Once again, the Patriots cut ties with a player at the perfect time. Letting Welker go looked like a mistake in 2013, when the Broncos were breaking records and beat the Patriots easily in the AFC Championship, but that was largely because of Peyton Manning’s huge season, Julius Thomas’ breakout year, and the loss of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez by the Patriots. Obviously, that script flipped in 2014. Overall, over the course of his 2-year, 12 million dollar deal, Welker caught 122 passes for 1242 yards and 12 touchdowns, missing 5 games with injury. His replacement in New England, Julian Edelman, had 197 catches for 2028 yards and 10 touchdowns over that time period. Statistically, Welker had the worst season of his career since 2005 last season, catching 49 passes for 464 yards and 2 touchdowns. Now he hits free agency, going into his age 34 season, with a serious concussion history, and coming off an awful season and the Broncos have already said they won’t be bringing him back. If he decides to keep playing, it’ll be on a cheap, one-year deal and he could have to wait a while. Retirement, either unforced or forced, is another possibility.

Cap Casualty Candidates

C Manny Ramirez

Ramirez struggled at both guard and center last season, including 28th out of 41 eligible centers in 8 starts. He’s been better in the past, but he’s going into his age 33 season. If the Broncos aren’t planning on bringing him back as a starter at any position, they’ll probably cut him and save 3 million in cash and cap space, which will be very valuable, given how many free agents they have to either lock up or replace.

OT Ryan Clady

Clady will probably be back, but moving on from him wouldn’t be a terrible move. He missed 14 games with a foot injury in 2013 and wasn’t the same in 2014, grading out below average. The Broncos can save 10 million in cash and 8.8 million on the cap by letting him go. He’s a good fit for new Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s blocking zone scheme, so, more likely, he’ll be given a chance to bounce back in 2015 and cut before 2016 if he struggles again.

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Dallas Cowboys 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Defensive Tackle

Nick Hayden and Henry Melton played 585 and 433 snaps respectively at defensive tackle last season, but both might not be back in 2015. Hayden is a free agent and should not be welcomed back as a starter, after grading out as Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked defensive tackle in 2014 and their 2nd worst in 2013. Melton was significantly better, grading out 14th at his position in 2014, but he’s had recurring knee problems and the Cowboys are not expected to pick up his 3-year, 24 million dollar option this off-season. He could be back on a cheaper deal, but as it currently stands, the Cowboys need to add at least one, if not two new defensive tackles to the mix to go with budding young star Tyrone Crawford, who graded out 13th at the position on 536 snaps in 2014.

Running Back

DeMarco Murray was such a big part of their offense in 2014 with 392 carries, but the Cowboys only offered him a 4-year, 16 million dollar deal before free agency so it sounds like Murray will test the open market and likely chase the money. Their depth behind him is less than ideal as Lance Dunbar, Joseph Randle, and Ryan Williams have 80, 105, and 58 career carries respectively. They’ll need to find a replacement for Murray in the likely event he leaves. Melvin Gordon and Todd Gurley will both be options 27th overall.

Outside Linebacker

Justin Durant, Bruce Carter, and Rolando McClain combined to make 27 starts at linebacker for the Cowboys in 2014 and all three are free agents. Anthony Hitchens, who played 541 snaps and made 8 starts, returns, but he struggled mightily as a 4th round rookie, grading out 35th out of 40 eligible 4-3 outside linebackers, including 40th in coverage grade. He shouldn’t be anything more than a 3rd linebacker going forward. Sean Lee will be back in 2015 as well, moving to outside linebacker, but he missed all of the 2014 season with a torn ACL. One of the most injury prone players in the NFL, Lee has missed 31 games in 3 seasons and can’t be trusted to stay healthy going forward. They’ll need to sign someone else at the outside linebacker position.

Defensive End

Jeremy Mincey did a solid job as a starting defensive end for the Cowboys in 2014, while DeMarcus Lawrence flashed in limited action as a 2nd round rookie and should be ready for a bigger role in 2015. However, with both George Selvie and Anthony Spencer set to hit free agency, they’ll need to add depth if they aren’t able to re-sign one or both of them. Lawrence is still unproven, while Mincey is going into his age 32 season and was cut mid-season by the Jaguars as recently as 2013.

Middle Linebacker

I mentioned above that Rolando McClain is a free agent this off-season. The Cowboys are expecting him back as they’ve moved Sean Lee to outside linebacker, but if he doesn’t re-sign, they’ll need a replacement. Lee could move back to the middle, but he’s incredibly injury prone and that would leave a huge hole at outside linebacker. Even if McClain returns, there’s no guarantee he can stay out of trouble, given his past. Depth needs to be added here at the very least.

Cornerback

Brandon Carr, Orlando Scandrick, and Sterling Moore were the Cowboys’ top 3 cornerbacks in 2014 in snaps played. Scandrick and Moore graded out 10th and 22nd respectively among cornerbacks, but Carr graded out 90th out of 108 eligible and Moore is a free agent this off-season. Carr is a cap casualty candidate, while Moore might not be back. Morris Claiborne will be back from injury in 2014, but he’s coming off of a torn patellar tendon and hadn’t shown much in 3 years before that, since being drafted 6th overall in 2015. Help could be needed at the position.

Offensive Tackle

Doug Free played well at right tackle last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 21st ranked offensive tackle, while reserve Jeremy Parnell played very well in 5 starts when Free was hurt, grading out 20th overall at his position on just 388 snaps. However, both those players are free agents so they’ll need to re-sign one of them or find a replacement. If I were them, I’d go with Parnell, who is younger (age 28 vs. age 31) and will likely come cheaper.

Wide Receiver

If, for whatever reason, the Cowboys don’t bring back Dez Bryant in 2015, they’ll need to replace him somehow.

Key Free Agents

WR Dez Bryant

Dez Bryant has always been productive, with 381 career catches for 5424 yards and 56 touchdowns in 75 career games in 5 seasons, since being drafted in the first round in 2010. He’s been especially good over the past 3 seasons, as he’s had 3 straight seasons of at least 80 catches for 1200 yards and 12 touchdowns. He hasn’t missed a game in those 3 seasons and has caught 273 passes for 3935 yards and 41 touchdowns in that time period, which are video game numbers. However, 2014 was easily his best season. After grading out 39th among wide receivers on Pro Football Focus in 2010, 10th in 2011, 52nd in 2012, 27th in 2013, Bryant graded out 2nd in 2014. He’ll almost certainly be given the franchise tag and cost a boatload to re-sign long-term. The Cowboys seem prepared to meet his demands. They better hope Bryant doesn’t regress or let himself go once he’s gotten his boatloads. Drops have been a serious issue for him in the past and he’s always been a target monster so he hasn’t always been the most efficient player.

RB DeMarco Murray

The Cowboys tried a very interesting approach with DeMarco Murray in 2014. Knowing he likely wouldn’t be back as a free agent at the end of the season, the Cowboys decided to ride DeMarco Murray into the ground, giving him 392 carries and not caring if it destroyed his body long-term. The results were very good as the Cowboys went 12-4 and won a playoff game on the back of Murray and his 1825 rushing yards. However, he’s a very risky signing this off-season for a variety of reasons, especially in a league where running backs are getting decreasingly valuable every year. For one, since 1988, only 4 of 26 running backs who led the league in carries surpassed their rushing yards total the following season. Those 26 backs averaged 365 carries per season, rushed for 1612 yards, and scored 14 touchdowns in the season they led the league in carries. The following season, they averaged 262 carries per season, rushed for 1053 yards, and scored 8 touchdowns. Murray already saw his YPC drop from 5.14 in the first 8 games of the season to 4.23 in the final 8. There’s a reason backs are rarely given more than 350 carries, as teams don’t want to ruin that player for the following season. The Cowboys knew Murray wasn’t coming back in 2015 though so they didn’t care. They offered him a mere 4-year, 16 million dollar deal this off-season. Murray has an injury history dating back to his collegiate days too. He made it through all 16 games in 2014 (not without a broken hand), but he missed 11 games in first 3 seasons and fell to the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft because of injury concerns. Even if Murray stays healthy in 2015, he’s highly unlikely to even come within 50 carries of his 2014 total, a problem as his 4.71 YPC in 2014 was good, but not outstanding or anything. He got to 1800 yards on volume largely. He also won’t be able to bring the Cowboys’ offensive line to his next destination so his efficiency should go down too. The Cowboys were Pro Football Focus’ 2nd ranked team in run blocking grade. Murray should have a huge buyer beware stamp on his head.

MLB Rolando McClain

Rolando McClain has a crazy story. Drafted 8th overall in 2010 by the Raiders, McClain came into the league with a ton of potential. McClain showed that potential early in his career, grading out above average in each of his first 3 seasons in the NFL, including 14th ranked in 2010 and 11th ranked in 2012. However, he was kicked off the Raiders in the middle of his strong 2012 season because of issues with the coaching staff and then, after briefly resurfacing in Baltimore, was out of football entirely in 2013. He’s been arrested 3 times already since he’s been in the NFL. However, the Cowboys took a shot on him in 2014 and that talent was still there after all that, as he graded out 8th among middle linebackers in 2014, serving as a savior on the Dallas defense. McClain is obviously going to be a risky guy to pay on the open market, but he’s only going into his age 26 season and he’s plenty talented so someone will give him a big deal with minimal guaranteed money. Dallas would welcome him back.

OT Doug Free

Free has been with the Cowboys since they drafted him in the 4th round in 2007, 8 years ago. He played just 17 snaps in his first 2 seasons in the NFL, but jumped into the starting lineup for 8 starts in 2009 and graded out 30th among offensive tackles. He followed that up by starting 16 games in 2010, grading out 5th among offensive tackles, and getting a 4-year, 32 million dollar deal out of it. That contract didn’t start great though, as he graded out below average in each of the first 2 seasons of the deal, including 68th out of 80 eligible in 2012. Things got so bad he moved to left tackle to right tackle to the bench by the end of 2012. Rather than cutting him the following off-season, the Cowboys agreed to a reduced salary in 2013 and it paid off. Free graded out 20th in 2013 and 21st in 2014. He’s going into his age 31 season, so he won’t get a long-term deal really, but he should be someone’s starting right tackle next season and he should get paid reasonably well.

OT Jeremy Pernell

Pernell has a chance to be this off-season’s Anthony Collins, an inexperienced offensive linemen who has flashed when given a chance that gets a significant amount of money as a starter on the open market. Pernell was a 2009 undrafted free agent coming into this season that had played 294 snaps in 5 seasons in the NFL coming into 2014, but he ended up playing 388 snaps, making 5 starts, and grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 20th ranked offensive tackle in 2014. No one played fewer snaps and graded out better than him. He won’t quite get the 5-year, 30 million dollar deal Collins got last off-season, as his history isn’t quite as clean as Collins’ was, but Pernell could easily be making starter’s money to start somewhere next season. That somewhere could be Dallas if they decide he’s a younger, cheaper version of Doug Free.

DE George Selvie

George Selvie played just 662 snaps in the first 3 seasons of his career combined from 2010-2012, after being drafted in the 7th round, but he’s found a starting job in Dallas over the past 2 seasons, making 29 starts over that time period. However, with Jeremy Mincey locked in as one starter and DeMarcus Lawrence likely moving into the starting lineup in his 2nd season in the league in 2015, the Cowboys might not have a starting job for Selvie in 2015. Given that he graded out slightly below average in each of the last 2 seasons, he might be better off as a 3rd rotational defensive end. He’s a borderline starter wherever he goes and shouldn’t break anyone’s bank.

DE Anthony Spencer

Anthony Spencer, at one point, was given the franchise tag in back to back seasons and was one of the best 3-4 outside linebackers in the game. From 2007-2012, Anthony Spencer, a first round pick in 2007, was a top-11 3-4 outside linebacker on Pro Football Focus in all 6 seasons, including 4 as an every down starter and maxing out at #1 overall in 2012. After playing so well on the franchise tag the first time in 2012, he was tagged again in 2013, but it didn’t go so well as he played just 1 game thanks to a serious knee injury that required microfracture surgery. Spencer was back for 13 games in 2014, but he played just 384 snaps, though he did grade out slightly above average. Going into his age 31 season, it’s very possible he’ll never be the same player again, but he’ll be another year removed from the injury in 2015 and he’s a nice buy low option for a team with a pass rush need on a tight budget. Pittsburgh comes to mind and a return to Dallas is also an option. He’s probably a better fit for his natural 3-4 system, but he played in a 4-3 in college and in the past 2 seasons in limited action in Dallas.

OLB Justin Durant

Justin Durant was drafted in the 2nd round in 2007 and has quietly had a very solid career, grading out above average in 7 of the 8 seasons he’s been in the NFL. However, he’s averaged just 585 snaps per season, often playing as purely a two-down run stopper, a role he excels in. Over the past 2 seasons, he’s played just a combined 538 snaps and he’s going into his age 30 season, coming off a torn biceps injury. He’ll come cheap this off-season, but he still can play a role for a team next season.

OLB Bruce Carter

The Cowboys drafted Bruce Carter in the 2nd round in 2011 despite the fact that he tore his ACL late in his final collegiate season at North Carolina. Carter was limited to 41 snaps as a rookie, but he looked on his way to a breakout 2nd season before a serious arm injury cut his season short. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 16th ranked middle linebacker on 625 snaps and 11 starts. Moving back to his natural position of 4-3 outside linebacker in 2013, many expected him to have a great season, but he did the opposite, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 32nd ranked 4-3 outside linebacker out of 35 eligible. In 2014, he was limited to 8 starts in 13 games and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 34th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker out of 40 eligible. The potential he once appeared to have seems to have dissipated and he heads into free agency as a borderline starting outside linebacker and an injury prone one at that, with 15 missed games in 4 seasons. His best role might be as a two-down run stopping 4-3 outside linebacker. A move back to middle linebacker is also an intriguing option.

DT Nick Hayden

Hayden has made 32 starts over the past 2 seasons, but he’s been a major liability on the field, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked defensive tackle in 2013 and their worst ranked defensive tackle in 2014. This should come as no surprise considering he was out of the league entirely in 2012 and played just 33 snaps in 2011. Wherever he ends up next, he should not be a starter. I’m not even sure he should be in the league. He’s started out of necessity for the Cowboys over the past 2 seasons and they should focus this off-season on finding an upgrade.

Cap Casualty Candidates

DT Henry Melton

Henry Melton was Pro Football Focus’ 14th ranked defensive tackle in 2011 and 6th ranked in 2012, but he was limited to 125 snaps in 3 games in 2013 by a torn ACL. As he was playing on the franchise tag in 2013, he hit free agency last off-season and signed with the Cowboys. The Cowboys only paid 2.25 million plus incentives for Melton in 2014, but he has a 3-year, 24 million dollar option that the Cowboys have to make a decision on this off-season. He wouldn’t technically be a cap casualty, but I expect the Cowboys to decide against bringing him back for the rest of his contract. Melton played well when on the field in 2014, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 14th ranked defensive tackle, but he had recurring knee problems and played just 433 snaps. There’s still a chance the Cowboys bring him back on a renegotiated deal. He’s had the best years of his career under Dallas defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli, who was previously in Chicago, he’s still relatively young (going into his age 29 season), he played well last season, and he could bounce back in his 2nd year since the injury.

CB Brandon Carr

Brandon Carr signed a 5-year, 50.1 million dollar deal three off-seasons ago. However, he’s only graded out 52nd, 58th, and 90th among cornerbacks in 2012, 2013, and 2014, showing middling play at best and not living up to his contract whatsoever. The Cowboys would only save 566K on the cap by letting Carr go, as they’ve kicked a lot of money forward on his contract already, but they could make him a post-June 1st cut and save more on this year’s cap at the expense of next season’s, or agree to a pay cut with him. Anything would be better than paying him another 8.5 million in 2015.

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Baltimore Ravens 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Cornerback

Things were so bad at cornerback for the Ravens that Rashaan Melvin, a 2013 undrafted free agent who was signed mid-season and made his NFL debut week 15, drew the start for them in the playoffs. Jimmy Smith’s injury was a big part of the problem, but the problem has been there since last off-season, when they failed to find a replacement for Corey Graham, their talented #3 cornerback who signed with Buffalo. Their depth was shaky coming into the season (#3 cornerback Asa Jackson had never played a defensive snap in the NFL coming into this season) and this kind of situation was foreseeable. Smith will be back healthy next year, but Lardarius Webb could be an off-season cap casualty. He hasn’t been the same since a 2012 ACL tear and the Ravens would save 2 million on the cap and 8 million in cash by cutting him this off-season. Even if he sticks around, they need a 3rd cornerback.

Wide Receiver

The Ravens are pretty backed up against the cap so re-signing Torrey Smith is a luxury they probably won’t be able to afford. Steve Smith led the team in receiving with 79 catches for 1065 yards and 6 touchdowns. However, there’s a very good chance that’s his last 1000 yard season and that he’s due for a big dropoff in production soon, as he’s going into his age 36 season. Even the average top-20 receiver (in terms of yardage all-time) has his last 1000 yard season at age 34-35, averages 48 catches for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns for 2 more seasons after age 34-35, and is done playing by age 36-37. Marlon Brown could start in Torrey Smith’s absence, but the 2013 undrafted free agent graded out 82nd out 111 eligible wide receivers as a rookie in 2013 and then proceeded to play just 379 snaps in 2014. Depth is definitely needed at the position.

Tight End

Given how thin the Ravens are at wide receiver, their lack of tight end depth is especially concerning. Dennis Pitta caught 61 passes for 669 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2012, but has played just 7 games since then thanks to a hip injury. He’ll be back as his 5 million dollar salary is fully guaranteed, but there’s no guarantee he can stay healthy, play a big role, or play well, as he’s going into his age 30 season having suffered two hip dislocations. Owen Daniels was the starter in his absence in 2014, but he might not be back, as a free agent going into his age 33 season. Michael Campanero was drafted in the 3rd round in 2014 and could be ready for a bigger role in 2015, after grading out above average on 376 snaps as a rookie, but they should still add at the position this off-season.

Running Back

Justin Forsett was a godsend at running back for the Ravens after the Ray Rice incident, rushing for 1266 yards and 8 touchdowns on 235 carries, an average of 5.39 YPC. However, he’s a free agent now and might not be back. There’s also debate about whether or not they should even bring him back as offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was largely responsible for his success and now he’s gone. He’s also going into his age 30 season already and has only surpassed 118 carries and 627 yards once in his career. Behind him, Lorenzo Taliaferro is an unproven 2014 4th round pick with 68 career carries, while Bernard Pierce has a mere 3.78 YPC average in his career.

Defensive End

Haloti Ngata and Chris Canty led the Ravens in snaps played by 3-4 defensive ends last season, but they are going into their age 31 and age 33 seasons respectively in 2015, both of which happen to be contract years. Both players are cap casualty candidates because the Ravens are backed up against the cap and can save a significant amount of cap space by letting one or both of these players go.

Key Free Agents

OLB Pernell McPhee

Pernell McPhee graded out as Pro Football Focus’ #2 ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in 2014 despite playing just 540 snaps. He was 2nd in the NFL behind only JJ Watt with 21 quarterback hits. He’s not a one year wonder as that type of player either as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked defensive tackle as a 5th round rookie in 2011 on just 348 snaps and has graded out above average in all 4 seasons he’s been in the league. Supremely versatile with experience as a 3-4 outside linebacker, a 4-3 defensive end, a 3-4 defensive end, and a 4-3 defensive tackle, McPhee is only going into his age 27 season and could break out as one of the best edge rushers in the game in his next home if he’s given a bigger role. At the same time, he’s still never played more than 540 snaps in a season so he’s still unproven as a full-time starter and he’s still unproven outside of Baltimore, where they have such great supporting talent defensively. He’s a high risk, high reward signing at 8 million dollars per year. The Ravens have good depth at 3-4 outside linebacker with Terrell Suggs, Elvis Dumervil, and Courtney Upshaw so they’re unlikely to bring McPhee back, given how little cap space they have.

WR Torrey Smith

Torrey Smith has played all 64 games since he’s been in the NFL, starting the last 62 of them, and he’s been decently productive with 213 catches for 3591 yards and 30 touchdowns. Only going into his age 26 season, Smith is a fantastic deep threat, but he’s not particularly good at anything else. He’s still an inconsistent route runner and has caught just 117 passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. He’s also never graded out higher than 37th among wide receivers on Pro Football Focus in any of his 4 seasons in the league. He’ll probably be paid around 7 million dollars annually (between what Golden Tate and Eric Decker got last off-season) and that’s probably a little rich for him. He’s probably out of the Ravens’ price range too.

RB Justin Forsett

Coming into 2014, Justin Forsett was a 2008 7th round pick who had never played more than 118 carries in a season in 6 seasons in the league and had 6 carries the prior season in Jacksonville. However, Forsett took advantage of the Ray Rice situation and rushed for 1266 yards and 8 touchdowns on 235 carries (5.39 YPC), grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked running back. His 5.08 career average is very nice, but he’s already going into his age 30 season and he’s a one-year wonder. After breaking out in Gary Kubiak’s offensive scheme in 2014, a union with the Atlanta Falcons makes sense for both sides. The Falcons have a running back need after cutting Steven Jackson and Kubiak disciple Kyle Shanahan is the offensive coordinator there.

TE Owen Daniels

Owen Daniels hasn’t played all 16 games in a season since 2008 and has missed 27 games over the past 6 seasons combined. He’s also going into his age 33 season. However, he had a decent season in 2014, catching 48 passes for 527 yards and 4 touchdowns on 72 attempts (66.7%) and 410 routes run (1.29 yards per route run) in 15 games. He’s graded out above average as a pass catcher in each of the last 4 seasons and he’s a decent run blocker too. He’s a borderline starter with little long-term upside and should be paid like one, but he could still be a solid veteran addition for a team. He’s played his whole career for Gary Kubiak, first in Houston where he was head coach and then Baltimore where he was offensive coordinator, and could follow Kubiak to Denver, where the Broncos are in need of a tight end with Julius Thomas likely to leave in free agency.

S Darian Stewart

Stewart is a 2010 undrafted free agent who impressed on 196 snaps as a rookie, grading out above average, but was forced into a starting role too early in 2011, as he graded out 82nd out of 87 eligible safeties that season. As a result, he played just 82 snaps in 2012, but he’s rehabbed his value in the last two seasons. In 2013, he graded out only slightly below average on 583 snaps and then in 2014 he graded out above average for the first time since his rookie season on 782 snaps (14 starts). Stewart is an unspectacular player, but he hits the open market as a fringe starter in a league with lack of depth at the safety position and could make a decent amount of money on the open market. With Will Hill, Matt Elam, and Terrence Brooks under contract for 2015, the cap strapped Ravens will likely not be bringing him back this off-season.

Cap Casualty Candidates

DE Chris Canty

Chris Canty was Pro Football Focus’ 15th ranked defensive tackle as recently as 2012 and graded out above average as recently as 2013, but he graded out below average on just 360 snaps in 2014. That’s especially concerning considering he’s entering his age 33 season. Also concerning is the fact that he missed 5 games with injury. The last season he played all 16 games was 2011 and he’s missed 13 games over the past 3 seasons combined. The Ravens would save 2.66 million by cutting him. They wouldn’t miss him much and need to cut unnecessary players with significant cap numbers.

CB Lardarius Webb

Lardarius Webb was given a 6-year, 52.742 million dollar deal three off-seasons ago after he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked cornerback in 2011. However, Webb tore his ACL in 2012, seemed to bounce back in 2013, grading out 19th, but regressed mightily in 2014, grading out 78th out of 108 eligible cornerbacks. He missed 3 games with injury and was limited in countless others with back problems. Webb has missed 16 games in 6 seasons and has injury issues that date back to his collegiate days so he’s an injury risk going forward. He could bounce back next year, but the Ravens are backed up against the cap and might opt to let him go. The Ravens can only save 2 million on the cap by letting him go this off-season, but they’d save 8 million in cash and have him off their cap completely for 2016. Designating him as a June 1st cut another option. That would free up more cap space this year, but he’d still be on their cap for 2016.

DE Haloti Ngata

Haloti Ngata’s name has been mentioned as someone who could be cut. The Ravens are backed up against the cap and can save 8.5 million on the cap and in cash by cutting Ngata ahead of his contract year. A better solution would be to give him an extension that immediately lowers his contract number and keeps him under contract for 2016 and beyond, as they did with Terrell Suggs last off-season. Ngata is going into his age 31 season, but he’s still a very valuable player. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2014 and he’s graded out as a top-18 player at his position in every season since Pro Football Focus’ inception in 2007.

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