Cleveland Browns 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Wide Receiver

Josh Gordon has been suspended for the entire 2015 season and the Browns weren’t expected to keep him even before that. As talented as he is, the Browns seem to have grown tired of all the off-the-field issues and he seems to be out of chances. The Browns’ receiving corps wasn’t terrible in Gordon’s absence, as free agent signing Andrew Hawkins, veteran Miles Austin, and undrafted rookie free agent Taylor Gabriel all exceeded expectations, but Austin is a free agent going into his age 31 season this off-season and none of those guys are the #1 receiver they need. With two first round picks, I’d be surprised if they didn’t use one on a wide receiver.

Quarterback

This seems to always be on the Browns’ list. The Browns paid 100K for a study that determined that Teddy Bridgewater was the best quarterback in last year’s draft class and lo and behold he was easily the best rookie quarterback in 2014. The only problem is the Browns chose to ignore that study and draft Johnny Manziel and his rookie year went about as bad as possible. Manziel struggled to learn the playbook and make it on the field, even though veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer was flopping as a starting quarterback, finishing the season with 55.3% completion, 7.59 YPA, 12 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions in 13 starts. When Manziel did make it onto the field, he was worse than Hoyer, completing 51.4% of his passes for an average of 5.00 YPA, 0 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions. After the season, reports about his behind the scenes issues started coming out, ultimately culminating with a report that Manziel checked himself into a rehab facility a few weeks after the season ended. The Browns will obviously hope their 2014 1st round pick can turn it around, but they obviously need competition for him. Bringing back Hoyer is an unspectacular, but realistic option.

Defensive End

The Browns’ defense overall was solid, but they were weak on the defensive line. Desmond Bryant hasn’t really lived up to his 5-year, 34 million dollar contract yet, after signing two off-seasons ago. I don’t expect them to let him go yet because they have so much cap space, but they still need help on the defensive line. Phil Taylor is coming off of a rough year and might not be back in 2015 at his scheduled 5.5 million dollar salary, as his 4-year career has been full of inconsistency and injuries. Even if Taylor is back, he could move back to his natural position of nose tackle, with Athyba Rubin headed to free agency. Billy Winn struggled at the other 3-4 defensive end spot in Taylor’s absence in 2014.

Defensive Tackle

As I just mentioned, nose tackle Athyba Rubin is a free agent this off-season. He probably won’t be back as a starter, if he’s back at all, because he was horrible in 2014, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 74th ranked defensive tackle out of 81 eligible. Taylor could move inside to nose tackle, but, like I said, he might not be back either. The Browns have to add on the defensive line both at defensive end and defensive tackle.

Tight End

Jordan Cameron missed 6 games with injuries in 2014 and the Browns showed their lack of depth at the position when that happened, as neither Jim Dray nor Gary Barnidge showed much in the passing game. This is a problem as Jordan Cameron is heading into free agency. If he’s not re-signed, he’ll need to be replaced.

Center

Alex Mack suffered a horrible leg injury in 2014. He should be back in 2015 and he’s never missed a game in his career with injuries other than that one. However, the Browns’ depth in Mack’s absence was so bad that they might want to consider adding to this position this off-season. Paul McQuistan, Nick McDonald, and Ryan Seymour were all horrific in Mack’s absence and were big parts of the reason why their offense was so terrible down the stretch.

Key Free Agents

OLB Jabaal Sheard

Sheard, a 2011 2nd round pick, has emerged as a solid edge rusher, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in 2013 and 16th ranked in 2014. He has experience playing in both a 4-3 and 3-4. He graded out below average in both of his seasons as a 4-3 defensive end, but those were also his first two seasons in the league, so he necessarily wouldn’t be a bad signing for a 4-3 team. Either way, Sheard should get a decent amount of money on the open market, in the 6-7 million dollars per year range, assuming the Browns let him. The Browns have a ton of cap space so they could easily re-sign him before free agency.

TE Jordan Cameron

Jordan Cameron had a breakout year in 2013, catching 80 passes for 917 yards and 7 touchdowns, after playing just 398 snaps and catching 26 passes in his first 2 seasons in the league. Cameron didn’t match that production in 2014 though, as he missed 6 games and caught just 24 passes for 424 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cameron heads into free agency as a one year wonder with a concerning concussion history and no full 16 game seasons played. Even his 2013 season wasn’t as good as his numbers looked as he was fortunate enough to be on one of the pass heaviest teams in the NFL. His 1.47 yards per route run was 19th among eligible tight ends. He’s also graded out below average as a run blocker in each of the last 3 seasons, including 60th out of 67 eligible in that facet in 2014. He could be overpaid this off-season.

DT Athyba Rubin

Rubin was one of the worst defensive tackles in the NFL last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 74th ranked defensive tackle out of 81 eligible. He did that at the wrong time as the veteran is going into free agency this off-season. He’s not generally this bad, but the last time he graded out above average on Pro Football Focus was 2009, so he’s not great. He won’t get a ton of money this off-season, even only going into his age 29 season.

QB Brian Hoyer

Hoyer had his moments in the first extended starting experience of his career in 2014, but ultimately proved to not be anything more than a solid backup caliber quarterback. He completed 55.3% of his passes for 7.59 YPA, 12 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions, while grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 35th ranked quarterback out of 39 eligible. The former undrafted free agent’s career numbers aren’t much different, as he’s completed 56.5% of his passes for an average of 7.23 YPA, 19 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions on 630 career attempts. He’ll probably get a chance to compete for the starting job wherever he goes next and he’ll be paid decently, but he’s not a long-term option, especially since he’s already going into his age 30 season. As I said earlier, a reunion with the Browns would be unspectacular, but practical.

WR Miles Austin

Austin had somewhat of a bounce back year last year, catching 47 passes for 568 yards on 67 attempts (70.1%) and 314 routes run (1.81 yards per route run) with the Browns. This was after catching 24 passes for 244 yards on 46 attempts (52.2%) and 323 routes run (0.76 yards per route run) in 2013 with the Cowboys. However, he’s going into his age 31 season, has missed 15 games in his last 4 seasons, and last had 1000+ yards in 2010. He won’t draw a ton of interest on the open market this off-season and should only be a depth receiver. A reunion with the receiver needy Browns in that role would make a lot of sense.

CB Buster Skrine

Skrine was just a 5th round pick of the Browns’ in 2011, but he made 37 starts in 4 seasons with the Browns and started 31 of 32 games over the past 2 seasons. The problem is he’s not very good, grading out below average in all 4 seasons, with his worst year coming in 2013, when he graded out 105th out of 110 eligible, leading the position in both missed tackles and touchdowns allowed. The Browns drafted Justin Gilbert in the first round in 2014 to be an upgrade over him, but Gilbert struggled to get on the field as a rookie. Gilbert should see more playing time in his 2nd year in the league in 2015 though and, with fellow 2nd year players Pierre Desir and K’Waun Williams also in the mix, the Browns could easily move on from Skrine. Wherever he ends up, his market won’t be strong and he’ll struggle to find another starting job.

Cap Casualty Candidates

WR Josh Gordon

At the end of the season, it looked like Josh Gordon was done with the Browns. He had one last chance with the team and he appeared to use it up when it he was late to a practice and got suspended for week 17. Then he got suspended for the entire 2015 for failing an alcohol test, after being prohibited from drinking as the terms of his DUI agreement. Weirdly enough, that actually makes it less likely they cut him loose, because they won’t have to pay for him 2015. However, he’s on very, very thin ice with the team and, despite his talent, could be let go.

G Paul McQuistan

McQuistan’s salary isn’t very big, as he’s owed 1.395 million for 2015, but he’s not a very valuable backup. McQuistan made one start in 2014, slotting in at guard with John Greco moving to center after Alex Mack went down. He was so bad that he didn’t make another start, even though Nick McDonald and Ryan Seymour were both horrible in Mack’s absence. McQuistan is going into his age 32 season and was horrible in 2013 too, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 71st ranked offensive tackle out of 76 eligible with the Seahawks that season. He’s close to the end of the line.

DT Phil Taylor

The Browns picked up Taylor’s 5th year option for 2015 last off-season and will owe him 5.477 million in 2015. That 5th year option money is not guaranteed so teams still have the option to go back on their option. I don’t think that will happen very much as this new process moves into the future, but one team that could change their mind is the Browns with Phil Taylor. Taylor struggled on 133 snaps this season thanks to injuries. He’s now missed 20 games in 4 seasons in the NFL since getting drafted in the first round in 2011 and only graded out above average once, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 25th ranked defensive tackle in 2013. Overall, he doesn’t seem to be worth his salary for 2015 so the Browns could easily cut him loose or ask him to take a paycut.

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Minnesota Vikings 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Guard

The Vikings need an upgrade over Charlie Johnson at left guard. He’s struggled there for 3 years. He was Pro Football Focus’ 61st ranked guard out of 81 eligible in 2012, 52nd out of 81 eligible in 2013, and 56th out of 78 eligible in 2014. Prior to that, he was 53rd out of 76 eligible offensive tackles on the blindside in 2011. Going into his age 31 season, owed 2.5 million non-guaranteed, I don’t expect him back this off-season.

Offensive Tackle

Matt Kalil, the 4th overall pick in 2012, had a great rookie year, grading out 21st at his position. He slipped to 51st in 2013, but a knee injury was blamed as the culprit. I don’t know what happened in 2014 though, as he graded out 81st out of 84 eligible, allowing 12 sacks and committing 12 penalties. Going into his contract year, the Vikings have a huge decision to make on Kalil. Do you pick up his 5th year option? Do you let him go into his contract year? Do you leave him at left tackle? Do you move him to left guard? Even if they don’t move him, I expect them to add someone who could take his job this off-season. Drafting someone with the 11th overall pick who can play both guard and tackle makes a lot of sense.

Defensive End

Brian Robison has generally been a solid starter, but he was Pro Football Focus’ 52th ranked 4-3 defensive end out of 59 eligible in 2014. He’s going into his age 32 season in 2015 so it’s time to start looking at long-term help at the position opposite Everson Griffin. Griffin and Robison ranked 2nd and 5th in snaps played by 4-3 defensive ends last season, so their 3rd defensive end, Corey Wootton, only played 275 snaps and still managed to grade out 55th out of 59 eligible 4-3 defensive ends. He’s a free agent this off-season.

Wide Receiver

Two off-seasons ago, the Vikings committed to rebuilding their receiving corps, taking Cordarrelle Patterson in the first round and giving Greg Jennings a 5-year, 45 million dollar deal. Neither of those has really panned out. Patterson has managed 78 catches for 853 yards and 5 touchdowns combined in 2 seasons, while Jennings has a combined 127 catches for 1546 yards and 10 touchdowns. Patterson will get another chance in his 3rd season in the league in 2015, though maybe not as a starter after losing his starting job to Charles Johnson down the stretch. However, Jennings is owed 9 million non-guaranteed and the Vikings can save 5 million on the cap by cutting him. The Vikings like Johnson’s upside, but they need to add to the mix, especially if Jennings is let go.

Middle Linebacker

Middle linebacker was only a two-down position for the Vikings last season as Chad Greenway, Anthony Barr, and even reserve Gerald Hodges played most of the sub package snaps at linebacker last season. Because of that, it’s not that important of a positon. However, they could still need help at the position this off-season because Jasper Brinkley, the starter last season, is a free agent. Hodges could be an option to play in the middle linebacker next season, but Chad Greenway could be a cap casualty this off-season so Hodges might have to replace him there.

Running Back

There’s a good chance that Adrian Peterson is released by the Vikings this off-season, going into his age 30 season with 2054 career carries, coming off of a season in which he missed 15 games with suspension for child abuse. The Vikings like Jerrick McKinnon, their 3rd round pick in 2014. As a rookie, he rushed for 538 yards on 113 carries (4.76 YPC), while catching 27 passes for 135 yards. They’ll need some competition for him though, if they let Peterson go. Matt Asiata, is their other running back, and he has a career average of 3.53 YPC.

Key Free Agents

FB Jerome Felton

Jerome Felton has a 2.45 million dollar player option for 2015, but he’s expected to decline it and head into free agency. The reason behind this is underuse as the Vikings used way more one-back sets under new offensive coordinator Norv Turner in 2014. Felton played just 175 snaps, after playing 304 in 2013, and 402 in 2012. He still graded out above average (7th at his position) and, when used properly, he’s one of the best fullbacks in the NFL, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked fullback in both 2012 and 2013.

MLB Jasper Brinkley

Brinkey’s 2nd stint as the Vikings’ starting middle linebacker went better than the first. Brinkley was Pro Football Focus’ 50th ranked middle linebacker out of 53 eligible in 2012 and only played 210 snaps in Arizona in 2013 as a result. Brinkley was brought back by the Vikings last off-season and given another chance in the middle and fared better, grading out slightly above average. The reason for this is that he wasn’t an every down player and didn’t have to cover much. He did struggle in coverage when he was asked to do that, but it wasn’t often and he did well enough against the run to make up for it. He’s purely a two-down player, but should have a role wherever he goes.

DE Corey Wootton

Wootton was a 4th round pick in 2010 by the Bears and graded out below average in all 4 seasons in Chicago, playing both defensive end and defensive tackle. He got a cheap one-year deal to be a reserve in 2014 with the Vikings, but struggled mightily. He was Pro Football Focus’ 55th ranked 4-3 defensive end out of 59 eligible in 2014, despite playing just 275 snaps. No one played fewer snaps and graded out worse. He’ll have to settle for a minimum deal this off-season.

QB Christian Ponder

Ponder was a bust as the 12th overall pick in 2011. He made 36 starts in 4 seasons, but struggled mightily, completing 59.8% of his passes for an average of 6.30 YPA, 38 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. 2014 was his worst season as he entered the year as the 3rd quarterback behind Teddy Bridgewater and Matt Cassel and made just one start, completing 22 of 44 for 222 yards and 2 interceptions in a 42-10 loss in Green Bay. He’ll look for backup work this off-season and could have trouble finding it.

Cap Casualty Candidates

G Charlie Johnson

The Vikings really need an upgrade over Johnson at left guard and he’s not worth his 2.5 million dollar non-guaranteed salary for 2015. He was Pro Football Focus’ 61st ranked guard out of 81 eligible in 2012, 52nd out of 81 eligible in 2013, and 56th out of 78 eligible in 2014. Prior to that, he was 53rd out of 76 eligible offensive tackles on the blindside in 2011. Going into his age 31 season in 2015, I don’t expect him to be back.

RB Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson is one of the best players in Vikings history, but all good things come to an end. Peterson’s 13 million dollar salary is non-guaranteed for 2015 and Peterson is going into his age 30 season with 2054 career carries. In today’s NFL, he’s simply not worth that kind of money, and that’s before you even get into the fact that he missed 15 games with suspension last season for child abuse. The Vikings have said they’d welcome him back, but, financially, it just might not make sense.

QB Matt Cassel

Matt Cassel isn’t necessarily not worth his non-guaranteed 4.75 million dollar salary, but he isn’t really needed by the Vikings the way they needed him last off-season, when they signed him to compete for the starting job with a rookie quarterback. That rookie quarterback turned out to be Teddy Bridgewater, who completed 64.4% of his passes for an average of 7.26 YPA, 14 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions after Cassel went down for the season with a foot injury. Bridgewater is the clear cut starter heading into 2015 so they don’t need to be paying top dollars for a backup quarterback. Even going into his age 33 season and coming off of a lost season with a foot injury, Cassel would draw interest as a backup on the open market. In his career, he’s completed 59.0% of his passes for an average of 6.64 YPA, 96 touchdowns, and 70 interceptions.

WR Greg Jennings

The Vikings signed Jennings to a 5-year, 45 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago, expecting to get the guy who had 3 seasons of 1000 yards or more in Green Bay. However, Jennings hasn’t been able to come close to those numbers without Aaron Rodgers. He’s now going into his age 32 season and hasn’t had a 1000+ yard season since 2010. All of the guaranteed money on Jennings’ deal has been paid out and the Vikings can save 5 million on the cap immediately by cutting him, rather than paying him 9 million dollars in 2015.

OLB Chad Greenway

Greenway signed a 5-year, 40.6 million dollar deal after the 2010 season, but he hasn’t graded out above average since then. He’s been especially bad over the past 2 seasons, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in 2013 and their 3rd worst ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in 2014. The Vikings can save 7.1 million in cash and cap space by cutting him this off-season, ahead of his age 32 contract year. Gerald Hodges showed well in limited action at outside linebacker last off-season and could be an in house replacement.

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St. Louis Rams 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Center

Despite all the money and resources they put into it, the Rams still have massive issues on the offensive line. Nowhere on the offensive line do they have bigger issues than at center. The Rams gave Scott Wells a 4-year, 24 million dollar deal three off-seasons ago, after he was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked center in 2011 with the Packers, but it didn’t pan out at all. Wells missed 13 games in 3 seasons, graded out below average all 3 times, including a 2014 season in which he was Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked center, the only season in which he played all 16 games. Owed 3.75 million in 2015, he’s not expected back. The Rams will need a replacement. 2013 4th round pick Barrett Jones is one option, but he’s managed just 23 snaps in 2 seasons behind Wells and they’ll need competition for him at the very least.

Quarterback

Sam Bradford is owed a 12.985 million dollar salary in 2015, so the Rams have a very big decision to make. Bradford hasn’t lived up to his billing as the #1 overall pick in 2010, completing 58.6% of his passes for an average of 6.29 YPA, 59 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions in his career, while missing 31 of 80 games with injuries. However, he might still be the best quarterback they have on the roster. The Rams may try to negotiate a paycut with him or cut him outright and even if they keep him, they need to add competition. With Bradford missing all of last season, Shaun Hill and Austin Davis split starts. Hill completed 63.3% of his passes for an average of 7.24 YPA, 8 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions, while Davis completed 63.4% of his passes for an average of 7.05 YPA, 12 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. Hill is a free agent, going into his age 35 season, while Davis has the look of a long-term backup.

Guard

As I mentioned, the Rams have serious issues on the offensive line and guard is no different. When Jake Long tore his ACL mid-season, Greg Robinson, the 2nd overall pick in 2014, moved to left tackle, leaving a huge hole at left guard. Veteran Davin Joseph moved into the starting lineup, but ended up grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 75th ranked guard out of 78 eligible. A free agent going into his age 32 season, he won’t be back as a starter in 2015. Robinson is expected to stay at offensive tackle long-term, with Jake Long’s future in doubt with injury and Joe Barksdale headed to free agency, so the Rams will need to find a long-term solution at left guard this off-season.

Wide Receiver

Like the offensive line, the Rams have put a lot of resources into the receiving corps and it hasn’t really panned out. They’ve used 7 picks in the first 4 rounds on wide receivers since 2010 and it’s yielded Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Chris Givens, Austin Pettis, Greg Salas, Mardy Gilyard, and Brian Quick. Kenny Britt’s 748 yards last season were the most by a Rams receiver since 2008 and he was signed for the veteran’s minimum. He’s a free agent this off-season and, even if he’s brought back, he’s not the #1 receiver they need. After Britt, their next best wide receiver was Stedman Bailey with 30 catches for 435 yards and a touchdown. Brian Quick was having a decent year before a season ending shoulder injury. He’ll be back in 2015, but that will be his contract year and he doesn’t have #1 receiver abilities. Tavon Austin was the #8 overall pick in 2013. There’s still time for him to turn it around, but after a 31/242/0 sophomore campaign, he is looking like a bust.

Offensive Tackle

Like guard and center, the Rams have issues at offensive tackle. Jake Long could be cut or retire this off-season, after tearing his ACL twice in less than a calendar year. He had injury issues before that and might not be able to make it back. Meanwhile, right tackle Joe Barksdale will be a free agent this off-season. Greg Robinson is expected to play one offensive tackle spot long-term, but he’s only one player and he struggled mightily as a rookie, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 78th ranked offensive tackle out of 84 eligible.

Middle Linebacker

James Laurinaitis signed a 6-year, 42.12 million dollar deal three off-seasons and has graded out below average in all 3 seasons since, including 45th out of 60 eligible in 2014, the worst season of his career. His 3.625 million dollar salary for 2015 isn’t guaranteed so the Rams could move on from him, though it’s unlikely. If they did, they’d need an immediate replacement and I think either way they need a long-term replacement. Laurinaitis, as much as the organization likes his leadership, isn’t that good.

Outside Linebacker

Both of the Rams’ starting outside linebackers graded out below average last season. Alec Ogletree was a first round pick in 2013 so he still has job security, but an upgrade is needed over JoLonn Dunbar, who graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 37th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker out of 40 eligible in 2014 and is going into his age 30 season in 2015.

Key Free Agents

OT Joe Barksdale

Barksdale was a 3rd round pick of the Raiders in 2011, but he barely played in his first 2 seasons in the league, playing 282 snaps in 2011-2012 combined. He became a starter in 2013 with the Rams, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 25th ranked offensive tackle in 13 starts. He couldn’t quite match that in 2014, grading out slightly below average in 16 starts, but he should be looking at starter’s money this off-season. The Rams would be wise to bring him back because, even though he’s not great, but might be their best healthy offensive linemen.

WR Kenny Britt

The 2009 1st round pick looked on his way to a promising career in 2010 and 2011. After averaging 1.86 yards per route run as a rookie in 2009, Britt averaged an absurd 3.07 yards per route run in 2010 and 2011, catching a combined 59 passes for 1064 yards and 12 touchdowns on a combined 347 routes run. However, a torn ACL suffered 3 games into 2011 derailed his career big-time. He averaged just 1.49 yards per route run in 2012, his first year back after the injury. In 2013, his final year in Tennessee, he was a train wreck. He only caught a third of his 33 targets, with 11 catches for 96 yards and he dropped 7 passes. He averaged just 0.48 yards per route run on 201 routes run. He bounced back in 2014 with the Rams, catching 48 passes for 748 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he still won’t draw much interest on the open market with his injury history and his 9 career arrests. He’d be wise to re-sign in St. Louis and stick with Jeff Fisher, who was his coach in Tennessee and under whom he’s always played his best football.

TE Lance Kendricks

Lance Kendricks was a 2nd round pick in 2011, but only caught 129 passes for 1388 yards and 13 touchdowns in 4 seasons with the Rams. He maxed out with 42 catches for 519 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2012, when he played 875 snaps, and largely served as a #2 tight end and blocking tight end over the past 2 seasons with Jared Cook in town. He’ll probably serve a similar role in his next destination and won’t command a lot of money on the open market.

QB Shaun Hill

Shaun Hill’s career numbers aren’t bad. He’s completed 62.2% of his passes for an average of 6.80 YPA, 49 touchdowns, and 30 interceptions. However, he’s going into his age 35 season and wasn’t overly impressive in 2014, his first extended action since 2010. He completed 63.3% of his passes for an average of 7.24 YPA, 8 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 26th ranked quarterback out of 39 eligible. He’ll have to sign as a cheap backup somewhere, if he wants to continue his career.

G Davin Joseph

Joseph is going into his age 32 season and has really struggled over the past few seasons. He was Pro Football Focus’ 82nd ranked guard out of 82 eligible in 2010, missed all of 2012 with injury, and then graded out 80th out of 81 eligible upon his return in 2013, leading to his release from Tampa Bay. He signed as a backup in St. Louis last off-season, but ended up starting 13 games because of injury and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 75th ranked out of 78 eligible. He had to wait until the summer to sign last off-season and could have to wait a while for the phone to ring this off-season, if it ever does.

Cap Casualty Candidates

C Scott Wells

Wells was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked center in 2011, which led to him getting a 4-year, 24 million dollar deal from the Rams the following off-season. He hasn’t lived up to that deal at all though, missing 13 games in 2012 and 2013 combined, grading out worst at his position in 2014, and not grading out above average once. Owed a non-guaranteed 3.75 million in 2015, he’s expected to be released this off-season, which would save that amount on the cap immediately.

OT Jake Long

Long, the 1st overall pick in 2008, was arguably the best offensive tackle in the game from 2008-2010, grading out 10th, 2nd, and 3rd respectively on Pro Football Focus in those 3 seasons. However, back problems slowed him in 2011 and 2012, causing him to finish 20th and 46th in those 2 seasons respectively and miss a combined 6 games. As a result of these back problems, Long had to settle for a 4-year, 34 million dollar deal from the Rams, when he could have gotten upwards of 10-12+ million dollars yearly if he had continued to play as well as he did from 2008-2010. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked offensive tackle in 2013, in his first year with the Rams, but he tore his ACL week 17 and then tore it again week 8 in 2014, leaving his future in serious doubt. The Rams can save 9.25 million in cash and 8 million in cap space by releasing him this off-season and they’re reportedly seriously considering it. He could also retire, even only going into his age 30 season.

QB Sam Bradford

Sam Bradford is going to be a tough decision for the Rams this off-season. He’s the best quarterback they have on their roster, but he’s owed 12.985 million in non-guaranteed salary and he’s not worth that. In 5 seasons in the NFL, he’s missed 31 games (including 25 over the past 2 seasons with a twice town ACL), completed 58.6% of his passes for an average of 6.29 YPA, 59 touchdowns, and 38 interceptions. Some sort of paycut/cheaper extension might be the best move for both sides.

DT Kendall Langford

Langford is a decent player, but he’s owed a non-guaranteed 6 million dollars in his contract year in 2015, after signing a 4-year, 24 million dollar deal three off-seasons ago. He’s simply not worth that kind of money in his current role, playing 494 snaps in 2014. He played well and is probably still a starting caliber player, but he’s stuck between former first rounders Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald, both of whom are coming off of strong seasons, and Langford just isn’t worth it to the Rams.

MLB James Laurinaitis

Laurinaitis signed a 6-year, 42.12 million dollar deal three off-seasons ago, but hasn’t been worth it, grading out below average in all 3 seasons. He was Pro Football Focus’ 33rd ranked middle linebacker out of 53 eligible in 2012, 31st out of 55 in 2013, and 45th out of 60 in 2014. The Rams probably won’t cut him yet because they like his leadership, but they can save 2.725 million on the cap and 3.625 million in cash by doing so.

DE Chris Long

This one is a long shot, but Long is owed 10 million in cash in 2015 and the Rams can save 7.5 million on the cap by cutting him this off-season and have him off their cap completely next off-season. Long graded out above average in every season from 2010-2012, but he’s graded out below average in each of the last 2 seasons, including a 2014 season in which he was limited to 238 snaps by injuries and struggled mightily. I do expect them to bring him back though, even going into his age 30 season.

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New York Giants 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Outside Linebacker

With Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich heading into free agency, the only linebackers the Giants have for 2015 are Jameel McClain, Jon Beason, and Devon Kennard. McClain and Beason are overpaid and could both be cap casualties. Beason can never stay healthy anyway. Kennard flashed in limited action as a 5th round rookie and could be ready for a bigger role in 2015, but the Giants still need help throughout their linebacking corps, especially on the outside.

Safety

Antrel Rolle, Quentin Demps, and Stevie Brown were the Giants’ top-3 safeties in 2014, but all three are free agents this off-season. Brown is the only one of the three who graded out above average and the only one who isn’t going into an age 30+ season, but he played the fewest snaps of the trio, getting benched for 8 games mid-season. The Giants’ safety position is very much in flux and they could easily have to add to it this off-season.

Offensive Tackle

William Beatty signed a 5-year, 37.5 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago and proceeded to grade out as Pro Football Focus’ 64th ranked offensive tackle out of 76 eligible in 2013. He was a lot better in 2014, grading out 14th at his position, but 2015 is the final season that he has guaranteed money and, with his history of inconsistency and injury, he might not be around much longer. On the right side, the Giants are expected to move Justin Pugh inside to guard this off-season. They could go offensive tackle at 9, plug their draft pick in at right tackle immediately, move Pugh to guard, and then eventually move their draft pick over to the blindside.

Middle Linebacker

As I mentioned under the outside linebacker blurb, the linebacker situation in New York isn’t great. Jon Beason was signed to a 3-year, 19 million dollar deal last off-season to be their middle linebacker, but he played just 4 games thanks to injury, which shouldn’t be a surprise considering his injury history. He’s now played in just 24 games over the past 4 seasons combined. In 2013, when he was healthy, he was Pro Football Focus’ 48th ranked middle linebacker out of 55 eligible. Jameel McClain was the replacement in 2014 and he too struggled, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 51st ranked middle linebacker out of 60 eligible. The Giants can save 3.53 million and 3.1 million on the cap by cutting Beason and McClain respectively and they could easily pull the trigger on one or both of those moves.

Guard

Weston Richburg and John Jerry were the Giants’ starting guards in 2014 and they struggled, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 62nd and 66th ranked guards respectively out of 78 eligible. Jerry is a free agent this off-season and won’t be back in a starting role, while Richburg, a 2014 2nd round pick, is expected to move back to his natural position of center for his 2nd season in 2015. Geoff Schwartz should be back from injury in 2015, after playing just 93 snaps in 2014, but his injury history isn’t exactly clean and they’d still need one more starter. As I mentioned under the offensive tackle write up, Justin Pugh is a strong candidate to move from tackle to guard this off-season.

Defensive Tackle

Johnathan Hankins had a breakout year in his first year as a starter in 2014 and the Giants also have 2014 3rd round pick Jay Bromley ready for a bigger role in 2015, but he was just a 3rd round pick and saw just 113 snaps as a rookie, so he’s completely unproven. Their depth at the position is suspect as well as Cullen Jenkins and Mike Patterson are going into their age 34 and age 32 seasons respectively. Patterson is a free agent, coming off a season when he was Pro Football Focus’ 73rd ranked defensive tackle out of 81 eligible, while Jenkins could be a cap casualty. They need to add young depth at the position this off-season.

Defensive End

The Giants have a minor need at defensive end that will become a major need if Jason Pierre-Paul leaves as a free agent. Robert Ayers had a strong season this year, but Mathias Kiwanuka is expected to be a cap casualty this off-season, owed a non-guaranteed 4.775 million in an age 32 contract year in 2015, after two straight poor seasons, while Damontre Moore hasn’t really shown much in two years since being drafted in the 3rd round in 2013.

Cornerback

The Giants signed Walter Thurmond to a one-year deal to be their nickel cornerback last off-season, a role he thrived in when healthy in Seattle. However, he played just 67 snaps in 2 games before going down for the season with injury. Injuries have been a huge problem for him in the past, as he’s played in just 36 of a possible 80 career games, and the Giants might not bring him back for a 2nd shot as a free agent this off-season. Depth is needed at the position behind Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara.

Key Free Agents

DE Jason Pierre Paul

After being eased in as a rookie, playing 410 snaps, JPP has graded out as a top-7 4-3 defensive end in 3 of the last 4 seasons. The only season he didn’t was 2013, when he missed 5 games and was limited to 583 snaps by back problems. However, when healthy, he’s one of the better 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL, getting consistent pass rush despite what sack totals might show and playing strong run defense. He should command a significant contract on the open market.

S Stevie Brown

Stevie Brown, a 2010 7th round pick, played just 151 snaps combined in 2010 and 2011, but had a breakout year in 2012, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 27th ranked safety. Unfortunately for him, he tore his ACL and missed his entire contract year in 2013 and was forced to settle for a one year deal back with the Giants to rehab his value. His 2014 season was a mixed bag. He graded out about average and played all 16 games, but he made just 8 starts and played just 559 snaps as he was benched for a stretch in the middle of the season. He shouldn’t get a ton of interest on the open market, as he’s still a one year wonder.

OLB Jacquian Williams

Williams has been a marginal starter over the past 4 seasons, since the Giants drafted him in the 6th round in 2011. He’s never played more than 622 snaps in a season and he’s graded out below average in 3 of those 4 seasons. The Giants could bring him back on a small deal given the significant issues they have in their linebacking corps, but he’s not guaranteed to be a starter in 2015, wherever he ends up.

S Quentin Demps

Demps is also a marginal player. He’s graded out below average in 5 of the 7 seasons he’s been in the league since he was drafted in the 4th round in 2008 and he’s never played more than 655 snaps in a season. This past season, he was Pro Football Focus’ 71st ranked safety out of 87 eligible on 641 snaps. He’ll look for work as a 3rd safety again this off-season.

CB Walter Thurmond

Thurmond was seen a potential hot commodity on the open market last off-season, after he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 33rd ranked cornerback in 2013. However, the league felt otherwise, wisely being wary of his injury history, and he was forced to sign a one-year deal with the Giants as their #3 cornerback. That turned out to be wise as Thurmond played just 67 snaps in 2 games before going down with a season ending injury. He’s now played just 36 of a possible 80 games in 5 seasons since the Seahawks drafted him in the 4th round in 2010. He’s never played more than 480 snaps in a season. He’ll once again have to settle for a one year deal this off-season.

G John Jerry

Jerry has started 61 games in 5 seasons in the league since the Dolphins drafted him in the 3rd round in 2010, including all 48 games over the past 3 seasons combined, but he’s never been particularly good. He graded out below average in all 4 seasons he was in Miami and ended up having to sign for near the minimum last off-season in New York, after being one of the guys involved in the Dolphins bullying scandal. Jerry ended up starting 16 games because of injuries, but he turned in the worst season of his career, as he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 66th ranked guard out of 78 eligible. Heading into free agency again, with a history of struggles and off-the-field controversy, Jerry will likely have to settle for a backup deal near the veteran’s minimum.

S Antrel Rolle

Antrel Rolle has been overrated for a while, grading out below average in 5 of the last 6 seasons, but now he’s going into his age 33 season and coming off of one of the worst seasons of his career, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 81st ranked safety out of 87 eligible. Any contract he gets this off-season won’t have any guarantees beyond 2015 and he won’t be a hot commodity on the open market.

DT Mike Patterson

Patterson could be at the end of his line, going into his age 32 season. He was Pro Football Focus’ 73rd ranked defensive tackle out of 81 eligible in 2014 and he’s graded out below average in each of the last 3 seasons, coinciding with a brain operation he had 3 years ago. If he gets picked up this off-season, it’ll be on a minimum deal with little guaranteed money.

Cap Casualty Candidates

DE Mathias Kiwanuka

Kiwanuka has had a significant role for the Giants in each of the last 2 seasons, but he’s been one of the worst 4-3 defensive ends in the NFL to have a significant role over that time period, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2013 and their 3rd worst in 2014. He hasn’t graded out above average since 2011, when he was still playing outside linebacker and before he signed a 4-year, 21.75 million dollar extension. He’s now going into his age 32 season and the Giants will almost definitely cut him, to save 4.825 million in cash and cap space, ahead of Kiwanuka’s contract year.

OLB Jameel McClain

McClain filled in for the injured Jon Beason at middle linebacker this season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 51st ranked middle linebacker out of 60 eligible. Those struggles shouldn’t have been a surprise as he’s struggled throughout his career. He’s graded out below average in 4 of 7 seasons in the league, including each of the last 3 seasons, playing both inside and outside linebacker. Now he’s owed a non-guaranteed 3.1 million in his age 30 season in 2015, so he very easily could be cut. It’s unlikely that both he and Beason are brought back at their scheduled salaries.

C JD Walton

Walton made all 16 starts at center in 2014 in his first season in New York, giving the Giants some much needed continuity on an offensive line that has had all kinds of shake ups over the past two seasons thanks to injury and poor performance. However, Walton graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 38th ranked center out of 41 eligible. This shouldn’t be a surprise because he ranked 31st out of 34 eligible centers in 2010, 35th out of 35 eligible (dead last) in 2011, and then played in just 4 games from 2012-2013 thanks to injuries. The Giants have an internal replacement in place in the form of 2014 2nd round pick Weston Richburg so Walton should be cut ahead of the 2nd year of a 2-year, 6 million dollar deal. The Giants would save 3 million in cash and cap space by doing so.

MLB Jon Beason

It’s been a never ending struggle for Beason to even get on the field over the past 4 seasons. Beason hasn’t played all 16 games since 2010, when he conveniently signed a 5-year, 50 million dollar deal, and he’s missed 42 of a possible 64 games over that 4 year stretch. He played in a combined 5 games from 2011-2012 with the Panthers and he was forced to renegotiate his contract down to a cheap one year deal for 2013. Beason was then moved to a two-down role, benched, and eventually traded to the Giants for cheap. With the Giants, he started 12 games, but graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 48th ranked middle linebacker out of 55 eligible. Desperate for linebacker help, the Giants re-signed Beason for 19 million over 3 years, but he proceeded to play in just 4 games thanks to injuries. The Giants can cut him this off-season, a move that would save them 5 million in cash and 3.533 million in cap space.

DT Cullen Jenkins

Jenkins seems to be nearing the end of his line. He played just 366 snaps in 12 games last season and now he’s going into his age 34 season. He’s graded out slightly above average in 2 seasons in New York, but the Giants don’t seem to think of him as much more than a backup and for a backup, especially an aging backup, he’s overpaid. The Giants can save 2.25 million in cash and cap space by cutting him this off-season and then they can find a replacement for about half the price.

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Atlanta Falcons 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Defensive End

Kroy Biermann, Malliciah Goodman, and Osi Umenyiora were their primary edge rushers last season and only Umenyiora graded out above average on Pro Football Focus and he did so on just 347 snaps. Now he’s a free agent going into his age 34 season. Biermann is a free agent as well and Goodman, the only one under contract, was their worst last season, grading out 54th out of 59 eligible 4-3 defensive ends. New Head Coach Dan Quinn has coached guys up before, but he’s not a miracle worker. Tyson Jackson will fit the Red Bryant run stopping defensive end role well in their new Seattle style front, but they need to add at least one, if not two new edge rushers this off-season because they don’t have anyone who can get to the passer from the outside. The Falcons reportedly love Shane Ray, who could be available 8th overall. He’d fit in well.

Tight End

The Falcons used two tight ends less frequently than any other team in the league last year. #2 tight end Bear Pascoe played on just 148 snaps. Levine Toilolo started 16 games and played 958 snaps, but he was one of the worst tight ends in the NFL who played a significant amount of time. He was Pro Football Focus’ 4th worst ranked tight end, catching 31 passes for 238 yards and 2 touchdowns on 457 routes run and struggling as a run blocker. The 2013 4th round pick is a #2 tight end at best. They need a starting caliber tight end who can give them a big receiving threat over the middle. This could be somewhere they look in round 2.

Running Back

Steven Jackson is about done. He’s going into his age 32 season with 2743 career carries. He had a great career, but those are serious red flags, as is the fact that he’s averaged just 3.60 YPC (1250 yards on 347 carries) in 2 seasons in Atlanta. Owed a non-guaranteed 3.75 million in 2015, I don’t expect the Falcons to bring him back and he might just opt to retire. They drafted Devonta Freeman in the 4th round in 2014, but he didn’t show much as a rookie, rushing for 248 yards on 65 carries (3.82 YPC). Jacquizz Rodgers was third on the team in carries, but he’s a free agent with a 3.66 career average. There’s not really a starting caliber back here so this is somewhere else they could target on day 2.

Middle Linebacker

The old regime really liked Paul Worrilow, but it’s unclear what the new regime will think of him. After all, he went undrafted in 2013 and has largely struggled on the field over the past 2 seasons. He was Pro Football Focus’ 45th ranked middle linebacker out of 55 eligible in 2013 and in 2014 he was even worse, grading out 2nd worst at his position, thanks in large part to 21 missed tackles, tied for 2nd most in the NFL regardless of position. They could easily bring in some competition for him this off-season.

Center

The Falcons signed Joe Hawley to a 2-year, 6 million dollar deal last off-season to be their center of the future, but he played just 4 games before tearing his ACL and he graded out below average in the limited action he did see. Prior to 2014, he was a decent, but unspectacular player, grading out below average in 2011 and above average in 2013, while seeing little action in 2010 and 2013. He’s owed a non-guaranteed 3 million in 2015 and might not be brought back. Even if he is brought back for his contract year, they need competition for him because James Stone was horrible in his absence. Stone was Pro Football Focus’ 34th ranked center out of 41 eligible.

Cornerback

The Falcons have a keeper in Desmond Trufant, who has graded out 7th and 6th in 2013 and 2014 respectively since the Falcons drafted him in the first round in 2013. He’s been one of the few bright spots for this team over the past 2 seasons. However, their depth after him is pretty shaky. Robert McClain, Robert Alford, and Josh Wilson were 2nd, 3rd, and 4th on the team in snaps played at cornerback and all 3 graded out below average. McClain and Wilson are free agents anyway. Alford was a 2013 2nd round pick so he still has some potential, but he’s struggled so far in the NFL and even if he develops into a starter, they need depth behind him.

Key Free Agents

S Dwight Lowery

Dwight Lowery has always been a solid starting safety when healthy. The Falcons signed Lowery cheap last off-season and there was a reason he was available so cheap, even though he graded out above average in every season from 2008-2012, including 18th among safeties in 2012. Lowery missed 20 games in 2012-2013 combined and he hadn’t played all 16 games since his rookie year in 2008. Lowery proved to be a smart signing by the Falcons, as he graded out above average again and, more important, made all 16 starts. He’s worth a multi-year deal on the open market, but his injury history can’t be ignored.

DE Kroy Biermann

Biermann, a 2008 5th round pick, started his career well, grading out above average in each of his first 3 seasons in the league, including Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked 4-3 defensive end in 2009 and their 19th ranked in 2010. However, he graded out 57th out of 67 eligible in 2011, below average again in 2012, was limited to 2 games by a torn Achilles in 2013, and then graded out below average again in 2014. Now Biermann heads into free agency, going into his age 30 season. He’s still capable of a significant role, but he’s an unspectacular player and won’t draw a significant deal on the open market.

DT Corey Peters

Peters tore his Achilles in 2013 at the worst possible time, in a meaningless week 16 game, just before he was set to hit free agency. Peters was forced to settle for a cheap one year deal back in Atlanta in an attempt to rehab his value and he did a decent job. He played 15 games (except week 1 when he was kept out for precautionary reasons) and graded out about average on 535 snaps. Other than that Achilles tear, he doesn’t have a significant injury history, as he’s missed just 9 games in 5 seasons combined since the Falcons drafted him in the 3rd round in 2010. Peters struggled in the first 3 seasons of his career, grading out below average in all 3 seasons, including a 2010 season in which he graded out 62nd out of 76 eligible and a 2012 season in which he graded out 83rd out of 85 eligible, but he’s graded out right about average in each of the last 2 seasons. Only going into his age 27 season, he could get a multi-year deal this off-season.

CB Josh Wilson

It’s hard to believe that Josh Wilson was Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked cornerback in 2010. Wilson has never done anything like that other than that season, but he did grade out above average in each of the first 6 seasons of his career, from 2007-2012. However, he’s graded out below average in each of the last 2 seasons and is arguably coming off of the worst season of his career in 2014, as he played just 458 snaps, 4th among Falcon cornerbacks. Going into his age 30 season, he’s purely a depth cornerback on the open market, but he should draw interest.

OLB Sean Weatherspoon

It’s been a steep drop off for Weatherspoon since he was Pro Football Focus’ 5th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in his 2nd year in the league in 2011 after being drafted in the 1st round in 2010. He’s played in just 20 of 48 games combined over the past 3 seasons, grading out below average in 2012 and 2013 and missing all of 2014 with a torn Achilles. 2011 remains the only season in his career that he’s played all 16 games and the only season in his career that he graded out above average as he missed 5 games as a rookie and graded out below average when on the field. He’s missed 33 games in 5 seasons. Now going into free agency, he’ll have to settle for a one-year prove it deal.

DE Osi Umenyiora

Umenyiora graded out above average last season, but on only 347 snaps and now he heads into free agency going into his age 34 season. He graded out below average in both 2012 and 2013 and the last time he played more than 500 snaps in a season and graded out above average was 2010. He’s close to the end of the line, but he might have one more season left in him as a reserve on a one-year minimum deal.

CB Robert McClain

Robert McClain had a breakout year in 2012, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 14th ranked cornerback, but he proved to be a one year wonder (the 2010 7th round pick played a combined 134 snaps in 2010-2011). He graded out below average in both 2013 and 2014, with his worst season coming in 2014, when he graded out 90th out of 108 eligible cornerbacks. He won’t draw much interest on the open market.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers

Rodgers has seen a decent amount of action in 4 years with the Falcons since they drafted him in the 5th round in 2011, carrying the ball 305 times, but that’s more out of need than anything and he’s averaged just 3.66 yards per carry. He was a young rookie so he’s only going into his age 25 season and he provides value as a pass catcher, catching 155 passes in 63 career games in 4 seasons, but he’s nothing more than a backup at best.

OT Gabe Carimi

Carimi was a massive bust as a 2011 1st round pick. He played just 2 games as a rookie thanks to a massive knee injury and was never the same. He was Pro Football Focus’ 72nd ranked offensive tackle out of 80 eligible in 2012, leading to the Bears letting him go for a 6th rounder after just 2 seasons. In Tampa Bay in 2013, he played just 218 snaps at left and right guard and was promptly released after the season. Last year in Atlanta, he played left tackle, left guard, right guard, and right tackle and generally struggled, particularly at tackle, where he was 59th out of 84 eligible offensive tackles on 425 snaps. Heading to free agency again, Carimi is probably going to be limited to minimum deals.

Cap Casualty Candidates

RB Steven Jackson

Of the top-25 all-time leading rushers who have played in the last decade, the average one has his last 1000 yard season in his age 30 season at 2602 carrier carries. The Falcons probably should have paid attention to that stat before giving Steven Jackson a 3-year, 12 million dollar deal 2 off-seasons ago, coming off a 1000+ yard year with the Rams, but going into his age 30 with 2396 career carries. Jackson has rushed for 1250 yards on 347 carries (3.60 YPC) in 2 seasons with the Falcons and is fully expected to be released this off-season, owed a non-guaranteed 3.75 million in 2015. He’ll have a hard time finding takers on the open market and might just opt to retire. 16th all-time in rushing yards, only three players all-time have more rushing yards than him and aren’t in the Hall of Fame. Two of those three aren’t Hall eligible yet, while the 3rd (Jerome Bettis) is expected to be enshrined very soon, possibly this year.

C Joe Hawley

The Falcons re-signed Joe Hawley to a 2-year, 6 million dollar deal last off-season. Hawley, 2010 4th round pick, played 40 snaps in 2010 and 2012 combined, but he played 876 snaps in 2011 and 553 snaps in 2013, splitting time at right guard and center in both seasons. In 2011, he struggled mightily at center, grading out as Pro Football Focus 6th worst center despite playing just 230 snaps there, with no one playing fewer snaps and grading out worse. He then moved to right guard, where he graded out slightly above average. In 2013, he also graded out below average at center and among above at right guard. In 2014, he graded out slightly below average at center through 4 games before tearing his ACL. Owed a non-guaranteed 3 million in 2015, there’s a chance the Falcons move on from him.

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Chicago Bears 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Middle Linebacker

Linebacker was a big problem for the Bears last season, as no one played more than 696 snaps and only one player (Jon Bostic) played more than 461 snaps. Bostic was decent in his 2nd year in the league in 2014, after struggling in 2013 as a 2nd round rookie (51st out of 55 eligible middle linebackers). He’ll start at one of the two middle linebacker spots for the Bears, but they need someone else in there inside with him. Christian Jones, a 2014 undrafted free agent, who struggled on 443 snaps at outside linebacker as a rookie, is currently penciled in at that spot.

Defensive End

LaMarr Houston is expected to start at one defensive end spot in the Bears new 3-4 scheme under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He tore his ACL week 8 in 2014, but he’s young enough with no real injury history that he should be fine for week 1. Jay Ratliff then seems like a natural fit at nose tackle, where he played in Dallas for many years. He’s an undersized nose tackle, but Fangio worked with undersized nose tackles in San Francisco, particularly Glenn Dorsey, who Ratliff compares favorably too. That just leaves them needing one more starter on the defensive line. Stephen Paea could be an option, but he’s a free agent and not a natural fit for a 3-4. Will Sutton and Ego Ferguson were 3rd and 2nd round picks respectively in 2014, but both struggled as rookies and neither is an ideal fit for a 3-4 either.

Offensive Tackle

The Bears signed Jermon Bushrod to a 5-year, 36 million dollar deal two off-seasons ago, even though Drew Brees always made him look better than he was when he was protecting Brees’ blindside in New Orleans. He’s predictably graded out below average in each of the last two seasons and if he doesn’t turn it around, with a new regime in town, he could be gone next off-season, rather than receiving a non-guaranteed 6.4 million dollar salary in 2016. Meanwhile at right tackle, Jordan Mills was Pro Football Focus’ 74th ranked offensive tackle out of 76 eligible in 2013 as a 5th round rookie and he was only slightly better in 2014, grading out 66th out of 84 eligible. The old regime really liked him for some reason, but the new regime will have no allegiance. Michael Ola, their 6th offensive lineman, struggled last season and the Bears don’t have another good option at tackle on their roster so this is somewhere they should invest this off-season.

Center

Roberto Garza was limited to 12 games thanks to injuries in 2014 and graded out slightly below average when he was on the field. He’s going into his age 36 season in 2015 and Brian De La Puente, who played well in Garza’s absence, is a free agent this off-season. They need to add a center in the mid rounds so they’ll have a long-term starter at the position.

Cornerback

Kyle Fuller was the Bears 1st round pick in 2014. He played well to start the season, but dealt with nagging injuries all year, which proved to be too much for him as he tried to adjust to the NFL and he ended up grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked cornerback. Still, he has long-term potential and could easily bounce back in 2015 when he’s healthy. Opposite him, Tim Jennings is still playing well, but he’s going into his age 32 season. They also don’t really have that much depth at the position so this is a need for them this off-season.

Safety

The Bears need help at safety. Chris Conte, who has been there as a starter for the past 4 seasons, has never really been that good and now he’s a free agent. Brock Vereen, a 2014 4th round pick, was decent in limited action last season, but he’s still unproven. Meanwhile, Ryan Mundy was solid as the other starter, but he’s a veteran journeyman going into a contract year. This is somewhere they’ll have to add at some point this off-season.

Running Back

Matt Forte has been incredibly durable in his 7 year career at a positon where it’s really tough to do that, playing all 16 games 5 times and missing a combined 5 games in 7 seasons. However, he’s going into his age 30 season with 1817 career carries so it’s time to start thinking about a long-term successor. They really have no depth behind him as other Bear running backs combined for 36 carries last season. The Bears will run the ball more under John Fox so they’ll need to add depth. Ka’Deem Carey, a 2014 4th round pick, didn’t show much as a rookie.

Defensive Tackle

Assuming Jay Ratliff does play at nose tackle next season, the Bears will need a long-term successor. Ratliff looked done coming into this season, but he ended up grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked defensive tackle in 2014. He’s going into his age 34 season so it’s hard to trust him going forward though and the Bears don’t have anyone else who fits that position.

Quarterback

Jay Cutler is coming off arguably his worst season in the NFL. His numbers didn’t look terrible, as he completed 66.0% of his passes for an average of 6.80 YPA, 28 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions and the Bears finished 15th in rate of moving the chains, moving them at a 73.17% rate. However, much of that was because of his offensive supporting cast (guys like Forte, Marshall, Jeffery, and Bennett) and Marc Trestman’s system. Cutler actually finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ 32nd ranked quarterback out of 39 eligible, after ranking 10th at his position in 2013 and 17th in 2012. Unfortunately, the Bears didn’t have anyone else other than Jimmy Clausen to turn to when they decided it was time to bench Cutler and that predictably didn’t work out. Cutler will be the Bears’ starter in 2015 and that’s the right move. They have no one of getting out of his contract and he’s shown in the past that he can be much better than he was last season, but they need someone better to turn to in case Cutler needs to be benched again.

Key Free Agents

DT Stephen Paea

Paea, a 2011 2nd round pick, had the best season of his career in 2014 and at the perfect time, as he was in a contract year. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked defensive tackle this year. However, teams should be wary about giving him too much money as he’s still a one year wonder. Paea graded out below average in each of the first 3 seasons of his career from 2011-2013, before 2014. I don’t expect him back with the Bears as he wouldn’t be a great fit for the new 3-4 defense they will be implementing under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

OLB Lance Briggs

Briggs is a potential future Hall of Famer and he’s spent all 12 seasons of his career with the Bears, since they drafted him in the 3rd round in 2003, making 7 Pro-Bowls, 3 All-Pros, and starting 170 games. However, he could very easily be done with the Bears as he heads into free agency. Briggs is going into his age 35 season and has missed a combined 15 games with injuries over the past 2 seasons. He could retire this off-season. If he wants to keep playing, he’s played well enough when on the field to suggest that he still has something left in the tank, as he’s still graded out above average in each of the last 2 seasons. He’ll probably have to settle for a 1-year deal though and have to wait a little bit into free agency.

C Brian De La Puente

De La Puente started 47 games for the Saints from 2011-2013 and graded out 13th, 4th, and 16th among centers in 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively. Still, despite that, he was forced to settle for a cheap one-year deal in free agency last off-season and didn’t have a guaranteed starting role. He ended up making 6 starts between center and left guard as injuries hit the Bears on the offensive line this year and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked center despite the limited action. No one played fewer snaps and graded out higher among centers. Only going into his age 30 season, he deserves a starting job and a multi-year deal in free agency this off-season.

CB Charles Tillman

Like Briggs, Tillman has been with the Bears for 12 seasons since they drafted him in the 2nd round in that same 2003 draft (if it wasn’t for the fact that they drafted Rex Grossman and Michael Haynes in the first round that year, it would have been an outstanding draft). However, like Briggs, Tillman has missed significant time with injury over the past 2 season and probably won’t be back with the Bears in 2015. Tillman was Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked cornerback in 2012, but he’s missed 22 of 32 games with injuries over the past 2 seasons, has graded out below average when on the field in each of the last 2 seasons, and is now going into his age 34 season. He’ll probably have to wait longer than Briggs for a deal if he wants to keep playing. A move to safety has been discussed in the past.

S Chris Conte

Conte was a 3rd round pick in 2011 and he made 52 starts in 4 seasons with the Bears, but he graded out below average in all 4 seasons, with his worst season coming in 2013, when he graded out 82nd out of 86 eligible safeties. He shouldn’t be looked at as a starter on the open market this off-season and will probably have to settle for backup work.

QB Jimmy Clausen

Jimmy Clausen was one of the worst starting quarterbacks in recent memory as a 2nd round rookie in 2010 with the Panthers, completing 52.5% of his passes for an average of 5.21 YPA, 3 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions on 299 attempts. He understandably didn’t attempt another pass until in 2014 with the Bears, where he actually started week 16 in place of a benched Jay Cutler, before missing week 17 with a concussion. Clausen was facing a tough Detroit defense, but didn’t look good, completing 23 of 39 for 181 yards, 1 touchdown, and an interception.

MLB DJ Williams

DJ Williams graded out above average as a starter in 2010, but it’s been all downhill since then. He graded out 33rd out of 45 eligible 4-3 outside linebackers in 2011 and played a combined 785 snaps in the last 3 seasons from 2012-2014. Now going into his age 33 season, Williams could be at the end of his run in the NFL.

Cap Casualty Candidates

DE LaMarr Houston

The Bears don’t have any real cap casualty candidates, but there’s a slight chance that they move on from Houston, who struggled by his standards early in 2014 before missing the final 8 games of the season with a torn ACL. He’s expected to be back by week 1, but there are no guarantees that he’ll be right away immediately and the Bears could save 6 million in cash and 3.03 million in cap space by cutting him. However, when healthy, he’s the kind of talented defensive player that the Bears are short on and he’d be an ideal fit as a defensive end in Fangio’s new 3-4 so I expect them to keep him.

G Matt Slauson

Slauson is also coming off a significant injury, missing 11 games with multiple injuries, including a season ending torn pectoral. The Bears can save 2.815 million in cash and 2.015 million on the cap by cutting him this off-season, but, when healthy he’s a very solid offensive lineman. He graded out above average in every season from 2010-2013, making all 64 starts, maxing out as Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked guard in 2013.

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New York Jets 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Quarterback

Geno Smith didn’t really work out. In 2 seasons with the Jets, he completed 57.5% of his passes for an average of 6.88 YPA, 25 touchdowns, and 34 interceptions on 810 pass attempts, while rushing for 604 yards and 7 scores on 131 carries, an average of 4.61 yards per carry. This shouldn’t be a surprise as the track record of quarterbacks drafted in the 2nd and 3rd round over the past decade and a half isn’t much better than the track record of guys selected in the 4th round or later. With both Rex Ryan and John Idzik gone, the current regime has no loyalty to Smith and will try hard to replace him this off-season. Unfortunately, they might have won too many games at the end of the season to get either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston, but if one of those two falls to them at 6, I expect them to pull the trigger and either way this is going to be tops on their to do list.

Cornerback

Gone are the days of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. This year, Darrin Walls led all Jets cornerbacks in snaps played with 776. Going into this season, he was a 2011 undrafted free agent who has played 391 snaps in 3 seasons combined and he predictably struggled in 2014. After him, their next three players in terms of snaps played at cornerbacks were converted safety Antonio Allen, undrafted rookie Marcus Williams, and journeyman Philip Adams, all of whom also graded out below average. Dee Milliner was drafted 9th overall in 2013 to be a long-term starter at cornerback, but he’s played in just 16 games in 2 seasons combined thanks to injuries and hasn’t been that good when he’s been on the field. He could put it together in his 3rd year in the league in 2015, but there are no guarantees, especially since he’s coming off of a torn Achilles tendon. Even if he does, they’ll need another cornerback this off-season. A reunion with Cromartie would make sense, as Cromartie was dominant for new Jets head coach Todd Bowles last season when Bowles was the defensive coordinator in Arizona.

Guard

Right guard Willie Colon struggled last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 66th ranked guard out of 78 eligible. After missing 36 out of a possible 48 games from 2010-2012 with injuries, Colon has made all 32 starts over the past 2 seasons, but it’s very possible that he’s simply not a starting caliber player anymore psychically, with his injury history and going into his age 32 season. He’s a free agent this off-season and the Jets should not bring him back as a starter. Meanwhile, at left guard, Brian Winters has been a disaster since they drafted him in the 3rd round in 2013. He was Pro Football Focus’ 77th ranked guard out of 81 eligible as a rookie and last year he was 65th out of 78 eligible, despite playing just 381 snaps. Oday Aboushi, a 2013 5th round pick, took over the starting job from him week 7 and was better, but only by default. Guard help is needed this off-season.

Wide Receiver

The Jets have made two big moves to add to their receiving corps over the past year. They signed Eric Decker to a 5-year, 36.25 million dollar deal with 15 million guaranteed and they traded a mid-round pick to the Seahawks for Percy Harvin mid-season. Decker has worked out fine, catching 74 passes for 962 yards and 5 touchdowns in his first season in New York, despite horrible quarterback play, but Harvin was a weird move to begin with and could easily be an off-season cap casualty. Harvin was traded by the Seahawks mid-season even though they were contenders because he missed 15 games with injury in 2013, got into conflicts with his teammates, and had just 22 catches for 133 yards and no scores in 5 games to start 2014. The Jets traded for him even though they were out of the mix and even though he had a non-guaranteed 10.5 million dollar salary schedule for 2015. Harvin wasn’t bad, catching 29 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown, but the regime that brought him in is gone and he’s not worth 10.5 million. He could easily be cut if he doesn’t agree to a paycut and if the Jets do that, they’ll need to add another receiver so they can keep Jeremy Kerley in the slot. Amari Cooper makes a lot of sense at 6th overall if he’s still available.

Safety

Calvin Pryor looked like a keeper in his first year with the Jets, after they drafted him 18th overall in 2014, but they have a hole next to him at safety. Dawan Landry was Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked safety in 2014, but he has an inconsistent past and he’s a free agent going into his age 33 season. If he’s not brought back, he’ll need to be replaced and even if he is brought back, adding depth and a long-term successor makes sense.

Middle Linebacker

Another veteran who is a free agent this off-season is David Harris, who is going into his age 31 season. Harris finished up a 4-year, 36 million dollar deal in 2014, but he was never really worth that kind of money, grading out below average in 2 of 4 seasons and maxing out as Pro Football Focus’ 18th ranked middle linebacker in 2013. Even if he’s brought back, depth and a long-term successor opposite Demario Davis are needed.

Outside Linebacker

Quinton Coples, Calvin Pace, and Jason Babin were their primary edge rushers last season. Babin played very well in 2014, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker, despite playing just 470 snaps, with no one playing fewer snaps and grading out better than Babin at his position. However, he’s going into his age 35 season, as is Pace, who struggled in 2014. Coples, meanwhile, has been decent in 3 years with the Jets, but he hasn’t quite lived up to his billing as the 16th overall pick in 2012 and the Jets have a big decision to make on his future this off-season, as he heads into a contract year. Long-term depth is needed at the position.

Running Back

The Jets signed Chris Johnson to a 2-year, 8 million dollar deal last off-season and it didn’t really work out. Johnson finished 2nd on the team to Chris Ivory in both carries (155) and rushing yards (663). Owed a non-guaranteed 3.5 million this off-season, the Jets could easily cut him and add a cheaper complement to Ivory, who rushed for 821 yards and 6 scores on 198 carries, but is useless outside of the tackles and in the passing game.

Key Free Agents

MLB David Harris

As I mentioned earlier, Harris signed a 4-year, 36 million dollar deal 4 off-seasons ago and played out the entirety of the contract despite never really being worth that money, grading out below average in 2 of 4 seasons and maxing out as the 18th highest ranked middle linebacker in 2013. Now he hits free agency going into his age 31 season. He’s still a starting caliber player, but he’s on the decline and shouldn’t be given a deal with much if not any guaranteed money beyond 2015.

S Dawan Landry

Landry was Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked safety in 2014, but I have skepticism over his ability to keep that up. For one thing, he’s going into his age 33 season. He also graded out below average in 4 of 5 seasons from 2009-2013 before last season, though he did rank 4th in 2010 and he’s played in all 96 games over the last 6 seasons. He should still be a starter next season, but, like Harris, he shouldn’t be guaranteed anything beyond 2015 on his next deal.

QB Michael Vick

Strictly a backup at this stage in his career, Vick completed 52.9% of his passes for an average of 4.99 YPA, 3 touchdowns, and 2 interceptions last season on 121 attempts. Going into his age 35 season, he isn’t going to draw much interest as a starter and will likely have to be a backup somewhere again and won’t make nearly the 5 million he made in 2014.

G Willie Colon

Colon could be done as a starting caliber player in the NFL. He’s going into his age 32 season and coming off of a season in which he graded out 66th out of 78 eligible guards. He’s made all 32 starts over the past 2 seasons combined, but he has the type of injury history (36 games missed in 2010-2012 combined) where it’s definitely plausible that he could be done at his age. He’ll probably be signed at some point, but he could have to wait a while and he won’t get a guaranteed starting job or more than a one year deal.

DE Leger Douzable

Douzable has never played more than 423 snaps in a season (which he did in 2011) and he didn’t even play in 2012, but he’s graded out above average in every season in his career other than that 2012 season when he didn’t play and 2010. Only going into his age 29 season, Douzable is a valuable reserve who specializes in stopping the run. He’d be a solid cheap signing for a team.

CB Kyle Wilson

Wilson was a bust as a 2010 1st round pick. He’s graded out below average in each of the last 4 seasons and made just 27 starts in 5 years with the Jets, including just 1 over the last 2 seasons combined as he could barely get on the field, despite massive issues at the cornerback position. 2012 was his only season as a starter, as he played 966 snaps and made 15 starts, and he graded out 72nd out of 115 eligible that season. He’s going to have to look at short-term deals with little guaranteed money this off-season.

Cap Casualty Candidates

WR Percy Harvin

This seems logical. Harvin is owed a non-guaranteed 10.5 million in 2015 and hasn’t been close to worth that over the past 2 seasons since signing a 6-year deal worth 63 million 2 off-seasons ago. He missed all but 1 game with injury in Seattle in 2013, reportedly caused locker room problems that got him kicked out of Seattle, and combined for 51 catches for 483 yards and a touchdown in 2014 between the Seahawks and the Jets. Even in brighter times in Minnesota, he never went over 1000 yards in a season, missed 10 games in 4 seasons with injury, and had issues at times with his coaching staff. Some kind of restructured contract could be in order, but the Jets would only owe the Seahawks a 6th round pick if they cut him, whereas they’d owe them a 4th rounder if they keep him on the roster.

RB Chris Johnson

CJ2K is long gone. He’s still incredibly durable, having missed just one game in 7 seasons in the league, and he totaled 1000+ rushing yards in 6 straight seasons from 2008-2013, but, by the end of his time in Tennessee, that was mostly on volume than anything. In his final season in Tennessee, before they cut him, he averaged just 3.9 yards per carry, including just 1.8 yards per carry after contact. In his first year in New York, he was more efficient, averaging 4.28 yards per carry, but that was because of decreased volume as he had just 155 carries. Going into his age 30 season, with 1897 career carries, he’s only a part-time player at this stage of his career and he’s not worth the non-guaranteed 3.5 million dollar salary he’s owed in 2015. He was also recently arrested.

TE Jeff Cumberland

Cumberland played all 16 games in 2014, playing 926 snaps, but he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ worst overall tight end. He caught just 23 passes for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns on 369 routes run and struggled as a run blocker as well. Cumberland is owed a non-guaranteed 1.9 million dollars in 2015 and could be cut, a move that would save that total amount on their cap immediately. With 2014 2nd round pick Jace Amaro set to have a bigger role in 2015, the Jets could easily let Cumberland go.

OLB Calvin Pace

Pace wasn’t horrible last season, grading out 39th out of 46 eligible 3-4 outside linebackers, but he wasn’t very good and he’s going into his age 35 season. He’s graded out below average in each of the last 3 seasons so the Jets could cut him and save 2.125 million in cash and cap space immediately. They might also opt to keep him for the final year of his contract or he could just outright retire.

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Washington Redskins 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Positions of Need

Cornerback

You know things are bad at cornerback when you desperately miss DeAngelo Hall, who missed 13 games. Hall isn’t great, but those 3 games he played were the only 3 games the Redskins had anyone resembling an NFL starting cornerback out there. David Amerson has been a massive disappointment a 2013 2nd round pick, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 84th ranked cornerback out of 110 eligible as a part-time player as a rookie and then grading out dead last at his position as a starter this season. Bashaud Breeland was a 4th round rookie and looked the part in 2014, grading out 99th out of 108 eligible. EJ Biggers, a mediocre at best veteran journeyman, was their 3rd cornerback and graded out 102nd at the position, giving them 3 of the worst 10 eligible cornerbacks in the NFL. Biggers is a free agent and should not be welcomed back, while the other two should not be guaranteed playing time. There’s also doubt about whether or not Hall will be back in 2015, going into his age 32 season, owed a non-guaranteed 4 million, coming off of a significant injury. He might be back out of sheer necessity, but, either way, they need to add at least two new cornerbacks to the mix this off-season.

Safety

As bad as things were at cornerback, things at safety might be equally bad. Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark were the starters last season and both are free agents this off-season. Meriweather has always been pretty mediocre and has missed 29 games over the past 4 seasons combined. Clark, meanwhile, is expected to retire this off-season, rather than play his age 36 season. That’s a good idea, considering he graded out dead last among safeties this year, as age finally caught up to the long-time solid safety. The Redskins will need either one or two new safeties this off-season as they don’t really have any internal options. Their secondary is a complete mess. With limited draft picks because of the RG3 trade, the Redskins couldn’t afford to miss on Amerson, Breeland, Phillip Thomas (2013 4th round), and Bacarri Rambo (2013 6th round) the way they did.

Offensive Tackle

The secondary is the Redskins’ biggest need, but any defensive back might be a reach at #5 (Alabama safety Landon Collins seems like the most logical option if they went that direction). If they can’t trade down, I could definitely see them taking someone like Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley, even though he isn’t a defensive back, as right tackle is a serious need too. The Redskins drafted Morgan Moses in the 3rd round last year, but he barely saw the field as a rookie and struggled mightily when he did, filling in for an injured Trent Williams at left tackle. The Redskins need right tackle help as Tom Compton and Tyler Polumbus both struggled mightily there this season, but 3rd rounders often don’t pan out and the Redskins are in no way married to Moses, as evidenced by the fact that he couldn’t get on the field over Compton and Polumbus. Even if they don’t go right tackle at 5, it’s still one of their bigger needs.

Defensive End

Jason Hatcher was a good pickup in the off-season, as the veteran graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked 3-4 defensive end, one of the Redskins’ few good defensive players, but they desperately need help opposite him. Jarvis Jenkins, the other starter, was basically Hatcher’s polar opposite, grading out 3rd worst at his position. He’s a free agent anyway, while veterans Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield both struggled mightily in limited action last season and are expected to be cap casualties. If Leonard Williams manages to fall to them at 5, I can’t see them passing on him.

Quarterback

Jay Gruden obviously isn’t sold on RG3 long-term, while backups Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy didn’t prove they were anything more than backups this season. McCoy, the better of the two last season, is a free agent anyway. RG3 is their best long-term solution. He was so good in college and as a rookie in 2012 that I’m not ready to give up on him just because he’s had injuries and isn’t an ideal fit for Gruden’s scheme. The Redskins shouldn’t give up on him either and should instead tailor their offense to fit his skill set better, the way Shanahan did in 2012. The Redskins will almost definitely add competition at some point this off-season though.

Middle Linebacker

Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley were Pro Football Focus’ 44th and 48th ranked middle linebackers out of 60 eligible in 2014, so they could add competition at this position. The Redskins really like Riley and he has a long-term deal, so he’s kind of locked in to a starting job, but getting someone to push Robinson, a 2012 4th round pick and a first year starter in 2014, isn’t a bad idea.

Running Back

Roy Helu is a free agent this off-season and, if he leaves, they’ll need a new pass catching running back. Jay Gruden really likes having a running back he can trust in pass protection and as a pass catcher and that’s what Helu was. As good as Alfred Morris is as a runner, he’s not that type of player and he’s strictly a two-down running back.

Key Free Agents 

OLB Brian Orakpo

Orakpo was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in 2013 and was franchised tagged as a result. However, Orakpo ended up missing 9 games with a torn pectoral in 2014, the 3rd time in his career that he’s torn his pectoral in his career. Now he hits free agency again having missed 24 of 48 games over the past 3 seasons with torn pectorals. He’s very talented when he’s on the field; in addition to his strong 2013, the 2009 1st round pick also ranked 7th at his position in 2011. However, injuries will put a big buyer beware stamp on him this off-season. The Redskins don’t seem like they’re going to bring him back, opting to move forward with Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy.

S Brandon Meriweather

Meriweather made two Pro-Bowls in New England, but, as they tend to be, the Patriots were right to release him before the 2011 season. In 4 years since the Patriots have let him go, he’s missed 29 games and the only season he graded out above average was his 2012 season, which lasted just 1 game. Sadly, he’s the Redskins’ best safety, so they’ll probably try to bring him back this off-season, but he’s barely starting caliber.

TE Niles Paul

Niles Paul was a 5th round pick of the Redskins’ in 2011 and turning the big bodied wide receiver into a pass catching tight end was always kind of a pet project of Mike Shanahan’s. Ironically, Paul didn’t really produce until this year, when Jay Gruden came in. Paul caught 39 passes for 507 yards and a touchdown on 280 routes run, largely in the absence of oft injured tight end Jordan Reed. The 6-1 241 pounder predictably struggles as a run blocker (62nd out of 67 eligible in that aspect this season), but has a role in the league as a #2 move tight end.

RB Roy Helu

Roy Helu only has 255 carries in 4 seasons since the Redskins drafted him in the 4th round in 2011, but he’s averaged 4.44 yards per carry and where he really provides value is as a 3rd down back. In 48 career games, Helu has 129 catches for 1152 yards and 3 touchdowns and he’s been a top-5 pass blocking running back in 2 of the 4 seasons he’s been in the league. In a league that’s becoming increasingly pass heavy, Helu will have plenty of suitors for a backup job this off-season.

QB Colt McCoy

McCoy, a 2010 3rd round pick, was on his 3rd NFL team this year in Washington. He drew a few starts, but once again showed what’s been clear for his whole career, dating back to his time at the University of Texas, that he isn’t anything more than an NFL backup. He’s completed 60.3% of his passes for an average of 6.57 YPA, 25 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions in the NFL. He’ll sign with someone as a backup this off-season.

DE Jarvis Jenkins

Jenkins was yet another draft pick that didn’t work out by the Redskins over the past few years. After missing his entire rookie year with injury, the 2011 2nd round pick graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 23rd ranked 3-4 defensive end out of 34 eligible in 2012, 35th out of 45 eligible in 2013, and 45th out of 47 eligible in 2014. He’s a backup at best and shouldn’t draw much attention on the open market.

OT Tyler Polumbus

Polumbus was randomly Pro Football Focus’ 18th ranked offensive tackle in 2013, but he’s generally been a very poor right tackle for the Redskins. Despite making just 7 starts, he was Pro Football Focus’ 62nd ranked offensive tackle out of 84 eligible in 2014. In 2012, he ranked 77th out of 80 eligible and, in 2011, no one played fewer snaps than his 216 and graded out worse. He shouldn’t be a starter next season.

S Ryan Clark

Clark was a solid safety in Pittsburgh for a number of years, grading out 22nd, 21st, 19th, 24th, 9th, and 45th among safeties in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 respectively, but age finally caught up to him this season, as he graded out dead last at his position. He’ll turn 36 in 2015 and it sounds like he’s going to hang them up, rather than giving another NFL season a try. Even if he doesn’t retire, he might not get any offers.

CB EJ Biggers

Biggers, a 2009 7th round pick, has been in the NFL for 6 years and has only once graded out above average. Some of his bad seasons have been pretty bad as he graded out 107th out of 109 eligible cornerbacks in 2011, 80th out of 86 eligible safeties in 2013, and 102nd out of 108 eligible cornerbacks in 2014. Biggers is a fringe NFL talent and may have run out of chances.

Cap Casualty Candidates

DE Stephen Bowen

Bowen signed 5-year, 27.5 million dollar deal 4 years ago, but hasn’t really lived up to it. He’s graded out below average in all 4 seasons. He was Pro Football Focus’ 27th ranked 3-4 defensive end out of 32 eligible in 2011 and their 26th ranked 3-4 defensive end out of 34 eligible in 2012. He hasn’t graded out quite as low in the last 2 seasons, but that’s mostly because he’s missed 14 games over those 2 seasons combined with injuries. Going into his age 31 season, with serious injury problems, there’s almost no chance the Redskins bring him back at his scheduled 5.5 million dollar non-guaranteed salary. They can save all that money on the cap immediately by letting him go.

CB Tracy Porter

Porter had a pick six in the Super Bowl during the 2009 season, but his career has gone severely downhill since then. He was Pro Football Focus’ 106th ranked cornerback out of 110 eligible in 2013 with Oakland and 91st out of 109 eligible in 2011 with New Orleans, with an injury plagued season in Denver in between (316 snaps in 6 seasons). Still, the Redskins gave him a 2-year, 6 million dollar deal last off-season, but he played just 89 snaps this season, thanks to injuries and poor performance. Cutting him, to save 2.8 million in cash and cap space, should be a no brainer.

DT Barry Cofield

Cofield was signed the same off-season as Bowen and he too has been a disappointment. Signed to a 6-year, 36 million dollar deal, Cofield has graded out above average in just 1 of 4 seasons. He hasn’t been as bad as Bowen, but he’s going into his age 31 season in 2015 and missed 8 games last season with injuries, so the Redskins could easily cut him to save 5 million in cash and 4.1225 million in cap space.

DE Kedric Golston

Kedric Golston has graded out below average in every season he’s been in the league since 2006, with his worst years coming in 2008 (66th out of 86 eligible defensive tackles), 2010 (37th out of 42 eligible 3-4 defensive ends), and 2013 (40th out of 45 eligible 3-4 defensive ends). On top of that, this year he would have been the fifth worst 3-4 defensive end if he played enough snaps to qualify. No one played fewer snaps and graded out worse. Coming off of a year in which he played 182 snaps and going into his age 32 season, he’s pretty useless and the Redskins can save 1.1 million on the cap and in cash. There’s a good chance they let him go and his career is over.

CB DeAngelo Hall

Two off-seasons ago, DeAngelo Hall was cut from his large contract by the Redskins and brought back on a cheap one-year deal worth about a million dollars. It made sense. He was going into his age 30 season and had graded out below average on Pro Football Focus in 4 of his last 5 seasons, dating back to 2008. The only season he graded out above average was 2010. In 2011, he was Pro Football Focus’ 67th ranked cornerback out of 109 eligible and in 2012 he was 64th out of 115 eligible. He struggled again in 2013, grading out 85th out of 110 eligible and, last off-season, going into his age 31 season, I thought he’d have to settle for another cheap one year deal on the open market. I guess the Redskins had different idea as they gave him a 4-year, 17 million dollar deal. Hall proceeded to struggle in limited action and then tear his Achilles. The Redskins can save 4 million in cash by cutting him this off-season. It would only free up 2.375 million on the cap immediately, but he’d be completely off their cap in 2016 and they’d avoid salaries of 4.25 million in 2016 and 2017. However, with the Redskins as thin as they are at cornerback, I expect they’ll bring him back, even as a player going into his age 32 season coming off of a torn Achilles.

Oakland Raiders 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Needs

Defensive Tackle

The Raiders’ current trio of Antonio Smith, Justin Ellis, and Pat Sims at defensive tackle is underwhelming. On top of that, Smith is going into an age 34 contract year, while Sims is a free agent this off-season. Ellis has the best long-term potential, as he was a 4th round rookie in 2014 and has 3 three years on his deal, but he still graded out slightly below average last season. They need to add someone else to the mix. They won’t pass on Leonard Williams if he falls to them at 4, assuming Williams’ stock doesn’t fall before the draft and assuming the Raiders are unable to sign Ndamukong Suh, an elite defensive tackle who is expected to be their focus of free agency.

Guard

The Raiders signed Austin Howard to a 5-year, 30 million dollar deal last off-season and made a weird decision to move him from right tackle to right guard. Howard struggled mightily in his first season at his new position, grading out 59th out of 78 eligible guards. The Raiders should move him back to right tackle, where he was Pro Football Focus’ 32nd and 47th ranked offensive tackle in 2012 and 2013 respectively, and where Khalif Barnes and Menelik Watson combined to split starts and be an absolute train wreck for the Raiders in 2014. Look for the Raiders to be on the lookout for a new right guard this off-season.

Cornerback

DJ Hayden hasn’t been what the Raiders expected of him, when they drafted him 12th overall in 2013. He’s missed a combined 14 games in his first 2 seasons in the league and has graded out below average in both seasons when on the field. It’s too soon to write him off as a bust, but he shouldn’t be guaranteed a starting role going into 2015 and they definitely can’t count on him for 16 starts. Meanwhile, Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers are both free agents, so the Raiders will need another cornerback to go with Hayden and promising 2014 7th round pick TJ Carrie.

Defensive End

The Raiders struck gold with Khalil Mack 5th overall in last year’s draft. He was arguably the best defensive rookie in the league and, while he technically played outside linebacker in base packages, he rushes the passer off the edge in sub packages. However, the Raiders need an edge rusher opposite him for the future. Justin Tuck was solid as a starting defensive end last season, but he’s going into an age 32 contract year and often rushes the passer from the interior in sub packages. LaMarr Woodley was supposed to provide help at the defensive end position, but he struggled before predictably going down for the season with injury, leaving the underwhelming duo of CJ Wilson and Benson Mayowa to play in his absence. Woodley is going into an age 31 contract year and could easily be a cap casualty, coming off of the worst season of his career and with a significant injury history. Randy Gregory makes a lot of sense 4th overall if he’s still available and Leonard Williams isn’t.

Middle Linebacker

Nick Roach missed all of 2014 with concussion problems, leaving the incredibly overmatched Miles Burris to start in his absence. He made all 16 starts for the Raiders, despite grading out as Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked middle linebacker by a mile. Roach is expected to be back in 2015, but you never know with concussion problems. They should bring in better insurance than Burris, because he was horrible. Roach wasn’t exactly a great player before the injury either, serving as a solid run stopping 3rd linebacker in Chicago with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs early in his career, but grading out slightly below average in each of his last two healthy seasons in Oakland as an every down player.

Wide Receiver

Wide receiver isn’t the Raiders’ biggest need, but Amari Cooper still makes a lot of sense for them at #4 overall if Gregory and Williams aren’t available. The Raiders have some decent players at wide receiver, but none of James Jones, Andre Holmes, Kenbrell Thompkins, or Brice Butler is the #1 receiver that young quarterback Derek Carr needs. They can get away with going into 2015 without adding significantly at the position, but it’s not an overall strong group.

Tight End

Mychal Rivera was a decent pass catcher last year, but he wasn’t that good, catching 58 passes for 534 yard and 4 touchdowns, hardly enough to make up for the fact that the 6-3 245 pounder is a horrific run blocker. Overall, he was Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked tight end last season, including dead last in run blocking grade. The Raiders don’t have much depth behind him on the depth chart so they should add competition for him this off-season.

Running Back

The Raiders offense was noticeably better down the stretch, allowing them to actually win some games. Part of the reason for that was the emergence of Latavius Murray. His 5.17 YPC was a big upgrade over Darren McFadden, who averaged just 3.45 YPC. Murray is very talented, but the 2013 6th round pick is still unproven with only 82 career carries and only averaged about 4.12 YPC aside from one 90-yard run against Kansas City. Some competition should be added because McFadden is unlikely to be back as a free agent this off-season, not that the Raiders should want him back anyway.

Safety

Charles Woodson is a free agent heading into his age 39 season and, while he’s expressed interest in returning and showed enough last season that the Raiders should welcome him back if he wants to play, no one should be surprised if he decides to hang them up or sees his abilities drop off significantly next season. He’s certainly not a long-term solution. Meanwhile, opposite him, Tyvon Branch has missed 28 of 32 games over the past 2 seasons combined and his replacement, Brandian Ross, has not proven to be starting caliber. They should add at this position this off-season.

Center

Stefen Wisniewski has been a solid starter at center for the Raiders over the past 3 seasons, but the 2011 2nd round pick is a free agent this off-season. If he’s not retained, he’ll need to be replaced as the Raiders don’t seem to have an internal replacement.

Key Free Agents

C Stefen Wisniewski

Stefen Wisniewski graded out slightly below average in 2014 (22nd out of 41 eligible centers), but he’s still one of the Raiders’ few talented young starters. After struggling at guard as a rookie, the 2011 2nd round pick moved to center in 2012 and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 17th and 11th ranked center in 2012 and 2013 respectively. They’d be wise to try to re-sign him as he’s not the type of player who is going to break the bank.

DT Pat Sims

An underwhelming reserve in Cincinnati from 2008-2012, after they drafted him in the 3rd round in 2008, Sims had a breakout year in 2013 with the Raiders, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 18th ranked defensive tackle, showing above average abilities as both a pass rusher and a run stopper. The Raiders smartly re-signed him to a cheap 1-year deal for 2014, but he proved to be a one year wonder, grading out below average. Still, with depth problems at defensive tackle, bringing Sims back for a 3rd year in Oakland on another 1-year deal wouldn’t be a bad move. If the Raiders don’t bring him back, expect him to end up with a 1-year reserve deal elsewhere.

CB Tarell Brown

Brown was a 3-year starter in San Francisco, grading out 32nd, 13th, and 31st in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Brown turned down a 3-year, 10 million dollar deal from the 49ers last off-season, instead choosing to bet on himself and rehab his value after missing 3 games and being limited in others by rib problems in 2013, but that seems to have been a mistake. Brown made 3.5 million over 1 season in Oakland, missed another 2 games with injury, and graded out below average. He’d be an intriguing pickup as a cheap starter for a team, but, going into his age 30 season after two down seasons, he won’t command much on the open market.

S Charles Woodson

Woodson looked done after a 2012 season in which he missed 9 games in Green Bay with injury, going into what was an age 37 season in 2013, but, remarkably, Woodson has played at a solid level over the past 2 seasons in Oakland and has made all 32 starts. No longer the shutdown cornerback he once was, Woodson has reinvented himself as a safety and the Raiders seem open to his return as a starter for his age 39 season in 2015. A future Hall-of-Famer, Woodson will contemplate retirement this off-season and it seems like he’d only play for the Raiders, the team with whom he started his career, if he does return, but there’s a decent chance we see Woodson on the field again for an 18th season in 2015.

CB Carlos Rogers

Rogers was a bust of a first round pick in Washington for 6 years from 2005-2010, grading out about average pretty much every season, but the 49ers picked him up on a 1-year deal in 2011 and he responded by grading out 7th among cornerbacks that season. The 49ers rewarded him with a 4-year, 28 million dollar deal, but Rogers did not reward them, ranking 46th in 2012 and 71st in 2013 (below average), which led to his release last off-season. The Raiders picked him up cheap to be their 3rd cornerback, but he struggled in 7 games, before going down for the season with a knee injury. Going into his age 34 season, coming off of that injury, he might have to wait a bit to get signed this off-season. Outside of 2011, he’s never been a particularly effective player in the NFL.

WR Denarius Moore

Moore looked like a steal of a 2011 5th round pick as a rookie, as he caught 33 passes for 618 yards and 5 touchdowns in 13 games, including 19 catches for 406 yards and 3 touchdowns during a 6 game stretch to end the season. However, despite ESPN.com AFC West reporter Bill Williamson saying that Moore would be the best receiver in the AFC West in 3 years, Moore never really progressed, averaging 36 catches for 517 yards and 4 touchdowns over the next 3 seasons, including a very disappointing 12/115/0 2014 season after he fell out of favor with the coaching staff. Purely a deep threat that the NFL figured out very quickly, Moore will have a hard time finding playing time this off-season.

RB Darren McFadden

McFadden has never been able to live up to his billing as the 4th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and was never able to live up to his huge 2010 season, in which he rushed for 1157 yards and 7 touchdowns on 223 carries (5.19 yards per carry) and added 47 catches for another 501 yards and 3 scores. In 4 seasons since, he’s played a total of 45 games out of 64 and rushed for just 2234 yards and 13 touchdowns on 601 carries (3.72 yards per carry) and he’s been under 3.4 yards per carry in each of the last 3 seasons. A change of scenery and better blocking could help him, but he’s not going to be a hot commodity on the open market whatsoever this off-season.

Cap Casualty Candidates

RB Maurice Jones-Drew

MJD is about as done as they come. It’s been a steady decline for the ex-Jaguar since he led the NFL in rushing in 2011, rushing for 1606 yards and 8 touchdowns on 343 carries (4.68 YPC) He averaged a solid 4.81 yards per carry in 2012, but he was limited to 84 carries in 6 games by a foot injury and was never the same. He rushed for just 803 yards and 5 touchdowns on 234 carries in 2013, a 3.43 yards per carry average. The Raiders took a flier on him last off-season, but it didn’t pan out, as he rushed for just 96 yards on 43 carries. The Raiders can save 2.5 million in cash and on the cap by cutting him this off-season and, even with minimal depth at the running back position, they won’t think twice about doing so. Even though he’s only going into his age 30 season, his career is probably over.

QB Matt Schaub

Here’s another guy who had a steady decline. Schaub completed 64.3% of his passes for an average of 7.37 YPA, 22 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions for a 12-4 Texans team in 2012, but in 2013, he completed just 61.2% of his passes for an average of 6.45 YPA, 10 touchdowns, and 14 interceptions for a 2-14 Texans team. The Raiders traded a 6th round pick for him last off-season and reworked his contract with the goal of having him as their starting quarterback, but he lost the starting job to 2nd round rookie Derek Carr in training camp and ended up just throwing 10 passes, completing 5 for 57 yards and throwing 2 interceptions. Owed a non-guaranteed 5.5 million dollars, I don’t expect the Raiders to keep him around. Going into his age 34 season, Schaub will have to look for backup work at a cheaper salary elsewhere.

DE LaMarr Woodley

The Raiders signed LaMarr Woodley to a 2-year, 12 million dollar deal last off-season, but he ended up missing 10 games with injury and struggled while on the field. Woodley showed pass rush ability in Pittsburgh, grading out above average there as a 3-4 outside linebacker in every season from when they drafted him in 2007 to when they let him go in 2013, including 6 years as a starter from 2008-2013. However, he missed 14 games in his final three seasons in Pittsburgh and there was serious concern about his durability and conditioning, part of why they released him. Now he’s coming off of the worst season of his career, another injury, and is going into his age 31 season in 2015, owed a non-guaranteed 5.35 million dollar salary. They could easily let him go.

G Kevin Boothe

The Raiders brought in Boothe last off-season to compete for potentially a number of starting jobs on the offensive line, but he ended up only playing 19 snaps. He’s a versatile reserve but, owed 1.7 million next season, his age 32 season, he could easily be cut and replaced with someone who can provide similar depth for half the price.

S Tyvon Branch

Branch has the Raiders’ top cap number for 2015 at 9.657 million. The Raiders can only save 2.986 million on the cap immediately by cutting him, but doing so would get them out of salaries of 5.5 million in 2015 and 6.5 million in 2016 and 2017 and he’d be completely off of their cap by 2016. Branch was once a solid safety, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked safety in 2011 and their 30th ranked safety in 2012, but he’s missed all but 4 games with injuries over the past two seasons combined and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever be the same player again.

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Jacksonville Jaguars 2015 NFL Off-Season Preview

Needs

Defensive End

The Chris Clemons signing didn’t really work out for the Jaguars. Clemons was dominant in Seattle when Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley was the defensive coordinator, but he’s over the hill. He was Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked 4-3 defensive end last season and isn’t going to get any better, going into his age 34 season in 2015. With all of his guaranteed money already paid out, Clemons could easily be cut this off-season, owed 4.5 million in salary and bonuses next season. The Jaguars really need to find a long-term edge rusher who can be what Clemons was in his prime in Seattle. Nebraska’s Randy Gregory could be very intriguing at #3 overall in the 2015 NFL Draft.

Offensive Tackle

Luke Joeckel has been a disappointment as the 2nd overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. He struggled at right tackle as a rookie before going down with an ankle injury. In 2014, his first season at left tackle, he was even worse, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 67th ranked offensive tackle out of 84 eligible. He could still pan out and it’s too early to write him off as a bust, but he might be better off moving to right tackle. The Jaguars could target a blindside protector in free agency or in the draft and move Joeckel to the right side. Even if they don’t do that, they’ll need a new right tackle as Austin Pasztor, Sam Young, and Cameron Bradfield all struggled there this season.

Middle Linebacker

5th round rookie Telvin Smith was a surprise this year, playing 723 snaps, grading out right around average, and looking like a long-term starter. He also showed some versatility, playing both inside and outside linebacker. However, both Geno Hayes and JT Thomas are free agents this off-season (the latter was horrible this season anyway), while Paul Posluszny could be a cap casualty this off-season, after missing 9 games with injury last season. If all three aren’t brought back, the Jaguars will need someone to play every down linebacker inside if they keep Smith outside or someone to play every down outside if they move Smith inside. If they bring some of them back, linebacker is still a need because Smith is the only one who projects as a long-term every down starter.

Tight End

Marcedes Lewis was limited to 8 games and 443 snaps last year by injury. Coming off the worst season of his career, he could easily be cut, going into his age 31 season. He’s owed 6.8 million in salary and bonuses in 2015 and the Jaguars can save that amount on the cap immediately by cutting him. If they do that, they’ll need another tight end because Clay Harbor wasn’t very good in his absence.

Safety

John Cyprien and Josh Evans have been their starters at safety over the past two seasons. Both struggled as rookies in 2013, but Cyprien improved in 2014. Evans, however, did not, as he was Pro Football Focus’ 85th ranked safety out of 88 eligible in 2014 and their 78th ranked safety out of 86 eligible in 2013. This should not be a surprise because, unlike Cyprien, a 2nd round pick, Evans was available in the 6th round. They should find an upgrade on him this off-season.

Center

The Jaguars were forced to start 6th round rookie Luke Bowanko at center this season and he predictably struggled, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 29th ranked center out of 41 eligible. As is the case with Evans, if you’re starting a 6th round rookie, it’s generally a bad sign. 6th round picks rarely become starters in the NFL (hence why they fall to the 6th round). The Jaguars should bring in some competition for him this off-season.

Running Back

Denard Robinson flashed in his first season of significant action, making 9 starts and rushing for 582 yards and 4 touchdowns on 135 carries (4.31 YPC). However, he’s still unproven, with just 155 career carries and it’s still unclear if the 6-0 197 pound former quarterback can handle the load long-term. There’s a reason he fell to the 5th round in 2013 and he didn’t do anything to quell durability concerns by ending the season on injured reserve with a significant foot injury. They should add another running back this off-season because they have absolutely nothing behind him and would be in trouble if he got hurt again.

Notable Unrestricted Free Agents

WR Cecil Shorts

Cecil Shorts, a 2011 4th round pick, once looked like a very promising young receiver. After a rookie year where he didn’t see the field much (179 total snaps and 2 catches), Shorts caught 55 passes for 979 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2012. He was even better than those numbers suggested, as he did that despite missing 2 games with injuries and not playing more than 50% of his team’s snaps until the team’s 6th game of the season. He ran 423 routes on the season, giving him 2.31 yards per route run, 8th in the NFL, and he did that despite playing with the likes of Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne at quarterback. However, injuries prevented him from taking that next step. He missed 6 games with injury in 2013 and 2014 combined and averaged 60 catches for 667 yards and 2 touchdowns per season. He’s never played a 16 game season in his career, playing 50 out of a possible 64 games in his career and being limited in many others. He’s talented and could post solid numbers somewhere with a better quarterback, but durability is a big concern.

OLB Geno Hayes

Geno Hayes was once one of the better young linebackers in the NFL, as the 2008 6th round pick graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 5th and 11th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in 2009 and 2010 respectively. However, he struggled in his contract year in 2011, grading out 40th among 45 at his position. He was forced to take a one year deal with the Bears in free agency and ended up playing just 141 snaps with them in 2012, but he’s had somewhat of a career revival in Jacksonville over the past two seasons, making 25 starts. He graded out slightly below average in 2013, but he was Pro Football Focus’ 12th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker last season. Only going into his age 28 season, he deserves to be a starter in 2015.

CB Alan Ball

Ball came to the Jaguars as a 6-year veteran two off-seasons ago. The hybrid cornerback/safety had graded out below average in 5 of those 6 seasons. The only season he had graded out above average prior to 2013 was 2009, when he played just 303 snaps and he played a combined 598 snaps in 2011-2012. The only season he was ever a starter during that time span was 2010, when he was Pro Football Focus’ 78th ranked safety out of 85 eligible. However, his tenure in Jacksonville was pretty solid, as he was Pro Football Focus’ 22nd ranked cornerback in 2013, making all 16 starts. He wasn’t quite as good in 2014, but he still graded out about average on 508 snaps as the #3 cornerback. He’d be a solid depth signing for a team.

OLB JT Thomas

Thomas, a 2011 5th round pick, played 202 snaps in his first 3 seasons in the league before being forced to make 10 starts in 2014 because Paul Posluszny missed significant time with a torn pectoral. He predictably struggled, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 55th ranked middle linebacker out of 60 eligible, with no one playing fewer snaps at the position and grading out worse. He shouldn’t be anything more than a reserve.

DE Tyson Alualu

Alualu was a surprise pick as the 10th overall pick in 2010 and he was a massive bust, with the likes of Anthony Davis, Ryan Matthews, Brandon Graham, Earl Thomas, and Jason Pierre-Paul going 11-15 after him. He was Pro Football Focus’ 66th ranked defensive tackle out of 76 eligible in 2010, 88th ranked out of 88 eligible in 2011, and 84th ranked out of 85 eligible in 2012. The Jaguars then converted him to 4-3 defensive end, but he wasn’t any better there, grading out 48th out of 52 eligible at the position in 2013 and 50th out of 59 eligible in 2014. Few players have seen regular snaps and been worse than him over the past 5 years at any position. He shouldn’t be considered a lock to make anyone’s 53 man roster in 2015.

Cap Casualty Candidates

DE Chris Clemons

Chris Clemons had a strong stretch in Seattle from 2010-2012, grading out as a top-12 4-3 defensive end in all 3 seasons on Pro Football Focus, excelling at getting to the quarterback. However, he tore his ACL in the post-season in 2012 and hasn’t been the same since. He was Pro Football Focus’ 43rd ranked 4-3 defensive end out of 52 eligible in 2013 and he was even worse in 2014 as even former defensive coordinator Gus Bradley couldn’t get it back out of him. He was the 2nd worst ranked player at his position this year. The Jaguars can save 4.5 million in cash and immediate cap space by cutting him this off-season.

TE Marcedes Lewis

Lewis, a 2006 1st round pick, has been one of the most underrated and underappreciated players of the last decade or so. Lewis hasn’t put him big numbers in the passing game, catching 315 passes for 3789 yards and 27 touchdowns in 128 career games, maxing out with a 58/700/10 line in 2010. However, that’s largely because he’s been stuck with terrible quarterbacks and been asked to stay in to pass protect more than any tight end in the league over that time period, something he excels at. He doesn’t excel as a pass catcher, but he’s been decent and he’s a dominant blocker both in the run game and the pass game. However, he’s coming off of the worst season of his career, grading out below average for the first time since 2008 and missing 8 games with injury. He’s missed a combined 13 games over the past 2 seasons and hasn’t been the same player on the field. Going into his age 31 season, owed 6.8 million, the Jaguars could easily cut him loose. They’d save that amount on the salary cap immediately by cutting him.

MLB Paul Posluszny

Paul Posluszny is the Jaguars’ highest paid player, making 7.5 million next season, and he’s not worth it as he’s largely been an average starter overall in Jacksonville over the past 5 seasons. He had a good start to his tenure in Jacksonvillle, grading out above average in both 2010 and 2011, including 7th in 2011, but he’s graded out below average in each of the last 3 seasons. He’s a team leader and the Jaguars aren’t strapped for cap space so they could keep him, but he’s going into his age 31 season, he missed 9 games with a torn pectoral last season, his best years are behind him, and the Jaguars can save all 7.5 million of that immediately in cap space so they could pull the trigger.

RB Toby Gerhart

The Jaguars signed Gerhart to a 3-year, 10.5 million dollar deal last off-season, hoping that the 2010 2nd round pick could emerge as a starter, out of Adrian Peterson’s shadow. Instead, he flopped, rushing for 326 yards and 2 touchdowns on 101 carries (3.23 YPC). Part of that had to do with the offensive line’s ineffectiveness, as well Gerhart’s nagging injuries, but he’s been passed by Denard Robinson on the depth chart and the Jaguars can avoid paying him 3 million in non-guaranteed money if they cut him this off-season.

DE Red Bryant

Red Bryant didn’t flop nearly as badly as fellow ex-Seahawk Chris Clemons did in his first season in Jacksonville. He did what he was brought in to do, stop the run, as he was Pro Football Focus’ 3rd best at his position in that aspect. However, he once again got no pass rush and the Jaguars might not want to pay 4.25 million non-guaranteed to an aging two-down player. He’ll turn 31 in 2015.

WR Justin Blackmon

It’s easy to forget that Justin Blackmon is still on the Jaguars’ roster as he hasn’t been on the field since week 8 of 2013. Blackmon has missed 28 games combined over the past 2 seasons with drug abuse related suspensions. Though he’s tentatively expected to be reinstated for the 2015 season, his 2.9 million dollar salary for 2015 is non-guaranteed as a result of the suspension so he could be let go. However, his natural talent should get him a 2nd chance (or 3rd or 4th at this point). The 5th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Blackmon had a solid rookie season, catching 64 passes for 865 yards and 5 touchdowns and then excelled in 4 games as a sophomore in 2013 before getting suspended. His 2.58 yards per route run was 4th best in the NFL among eligible receivers as he caught 29 passes for 415 yards and 1 touchdown on 161 routes run in those 4 games.

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