Free Agency In Review (Day 4)
By Sigmund Bloom
August 1st, 2011

Most of the big fireworks went off during the first three days of free agency, but there was still plenty of noise left to be made this weekend with the open of many camps and more interesting situations to monitor presenting themselves...

Quarterback

Orton still in Denver: When we last checked in, Denver had just rolled Kyle Orton out as the #1 QB on the first day of camp, possibly to make Miami scared that they were comfortable with the prospect of going into the season with Orton on the roster. Miami called their bluff and signed Matt Moore. While Moore is no Orton and not even a Henne, he is an ultimatum from the Dolphins to the Broncos to come down to their bottom line or risk being saddled with Orton's 8+ million dollar cap number. Reports range from the deal is "dead" to still possible. We're hearing that Miami never even actually made an offer, and that Orton wanted a long-term deal in exchange for restructuring this year. Stranger things have happened, so we can't completely close the door on this, but it sounds like the Broncos overplayed their hand and they may have to block the QB they really want to see, Tim Tebow. It doesn't sound like they'll cut Orton to save the four million or so the move would open up under the cap. Josh McDaniels last-second extension last summer is haunting the Broncos.

Fantasy Fallout: Tim Tebow was an enticing fantasy backup QB with major upside after QB15, but he may take some patience to reap rewards and require carrying a third QB if you have a starter with an early bye. Brandon Marshall is less likely to get a bump from a QB improvement in Miami.


No timeline for Peyton's return, gets new contract: Peyton Manning's neck surgery recovery has landed him on the PUP. He didn't give a timeline for his return, saying he has "some work" to do. The Colts did just sign him to 90 million dollar, five-year deal over the weekend, so they don't seem to be worried about his neck.

Fantasy Fallout: Manning looks like the #3 QB to me, but strong enough cases can be made for Brady, Brees, and Rivers to move him down as far as #6 just to avoid any uncertainty about Manning's neck.


Elsewhere: Tarvaris Jackson was named the starter in Seattle. He's only of interest in 2 QB and full-flex leagues...Brad Smith was signed to a curious four-year, 15 million dollar deal by the Bills and listed as a QB. Chan Gailey is trying to stir memories of Kordell Stewart in Pittsburgh...Rex Grossman should be signed by the Redskins any second now. He'll give John Beck a run for his money if he plays the way he did last December unless Beck has a very strong camp and preseason.

Running Back

Bradshaw still a free agent - It appears that the Giants aren't offering near what Ahmad Bradshaw (read: Drew Rosenhaus) thinks he is worth, but no one else is either. Bradshaw had a visit planned with Cincinnati, but they signed Cedric Benson on Sunday. Washington was reportedly in the mix, but they traded for Tim Hightower. There are no big running back jobs open except possibly Denver if they can trade Kyle Orton. The Giants are visiting with Jason Snelling as Bradshaw loss insurance.

Fantasy Fallout: Brandon Jacobs could still get a big jump in value (Snelling too), while Bradshaw might have left himself stranded with unrealistic salary expectations. Still feels like he'll go back to New York though.


Holdout watch: Frank Gore is coming to 49ers camp, and Matt Forte decided to show up to Bourbonnais for Bears camp. Arian Foster signed his paltry 525,000 deal and did not hold out despite being the #1 running back in the league last year. The lone stud RB holdout is Chris Johnson, although the Titans said they won't talk contract with him unless he shows up to camp.

MJD limited: Maurice Jones-Drew was limited to open camp because offseason knee surgery. This was expected, but it is still a reminder that we won't get much in the way of reassurances about that knee in camp and preseason this year. It's hard to like MJD in the top 10 right now.

Choice out at least two weeks: Tashard Choice hurt his calf, sidelining him 2-4 weeks. This means both of the main competitors to Felix Jones will be out for most of camp. Lonyae Miller should get more reps in their place.

Fantasy Fallout: It is a pretty steep drop from the top 20-25 RBs to the next tier, but Jones could bridge it, especially in PPR leagues. His stock is rising.


Grant takes first carry of camp: Ryan Grant strode into Green Bay camp the starter and he is exuding the confidence of someone with a firm hold on that job. After collecting his roster bonus early, Grant is building momentum.

Fantasy Fallout: James Starks was speculated to be a big factor in this backfield all offseason, but that doesn't seem to be taking hold in camp. Grant is looking like a solid sixth round pick and low-end RB2 with upside.


Addai re-signed: After Peyton Manning was re-signed the Colts took care of Joseph Addai to the tune of three years and 14 million dollars. This could have been a fun situation to watch in camp if the team had been forced to settle for Ronnie Brown or another third-tier back, but they got Manning's right-hand man back on the roster.

Fantasy Fallout: Addai is a boring, but productive RB3 pick in the 7th or 8th round, but Delone Carter is still a name you need to know. Donald Brown is fading fast.


Benson back with Cincinnati: You knew this one was coming. Cheapskate Mike Brown brought Cedric Benson back with a one-year deal.

Fantasy Fallout: The Bengals had the money to make a run at Ahmad Bradshaw, but they stuck with the guy who was pedestrian or worse most of the time last year. Head coach Marvin Lewis took the blame for not getting Bernard Scott more touches last year, so Scott is on the rise, although he is nursing a sore hamstring right now.


Tolbert favorite for passing down work, Mathews not on field yet - Ryan Mathews failed his speed test, then passed it, but was sore and still hasn't practiced. It's a minor thing, but not the note Mathews express drivers were hoping to get started on. Mike Tolbert is the favorite to take over the passing-down work vacated by Darren Sproles.

Fantasy Fallout: Mathews just looks too risky to me at his third-round ADP. I'll take Mark Ingram a round later any day. Tolbert is going to have value, and not just in TD-heavy leagues. If Mathews struggles to stay healthy again, Tolbert could be one of the steals of the draft.


Who's left?: Jason Snelling, who has moved on from the Rams to visit the Giants as a pawn in the Ahmad Bradshaw game. So curious that the Falcons aren't making a strong move for him in a win now year. Ronnie Brown, who is also a candidate to land in St. Louis, or possibly Denver if they can free up some cap room, according to our insider Cecil Lammey. Jerome Harrison, who was briefly mentioned in connection with St. Louis, and fullback/tailback LeRon McClain, who continues to be linked to Kansas City.

Elsewhere: Willis McGahee signed a four-year, 10 million deal with the Broncos. He'll be a good late handcuff for Knowshon Moreno drafters if Denver doesn't sign anyone else....The Redskins acquired Tim Hightower from the Cardinals for Vonnie Holliday and a late pick. A crowded backfield gets even more cramped...Marion Barber signed a two-year, five-million dollar deal with Chicago. Probably very little value there even if Matt Forte gets hurt.

Wide Receiver

Braylon Edwards to Arizona?: Braylon Edwards value seems to be continuing to drop, as his top destination now seems to be Arizona on a short-term deal. Minnesota, Chicago, and St. Louis are all seemingly out of the running despite signing wideouts who seem inferior to Edwards.

Fantasy Fallout: At one time, Edwards looked like a budding uberstud WR, now he's lucky to occupy the last spot on your bench


Conflicting reports about Jackson holdout, Maclin ill: There were conflicting reports about DeSean Jackson's holdout ending early this week or continuing, and the other Eagle starting wideout, Jeremy Maclin, is out with an unspecified illness. There is no word whether it is related to an offseason battle with mononucleosis that caused Maclin to lose 15 pounds.

Fantasy Fallout: Nothing to worry about yet, but if either of these situations get worse, Jason Avant, Brent Celek, and even Riley Cooper become more interesting players to track.


Marshall on the borderline: Brandon Marshall disclose that he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which explains his relationship trouble and impulse control issues. He said that he has been undergoing treatment and therapy for the problem.

Fantasy Fallout: Maybe the placebo effect can boost Marshall? He's hard to resist in the third round of PPR leagues.


Britt missing practices with hamstring: Kenny Britt probably won't get suspended by the Titans for his offseason misadventures (no word yet on the NFL), but he is missing time of his own making anyway, this time from a hamstring injury. The Titans were rumored to be looking at Braylon Edwards for a moment, which would indicate some misgivings about Britt, but there were no legs to the rumor.

Fantasy Fallout: Like Mathews, it's way too early to put that much stock in this, but it bears watching. Britt's risk is pretty well priced into his sixth-round ADP, so if you like him, go for it while this just seems like a minor issue.


St. Louis wide receiver update: This weekend saw a ton of news on Rams receivers, which is one of the most mysterious and potentially productive WR corps in the league. Mike Sims-Walker was signed to a 1 year, 3.7 million dollar "show me" deal in the show me state. The Rams take on zero risk. Sims-Walker seemingly could end up anywhere from the #1 receiver to not even on the team. He'll be a good late pick as long as he has a good camp and preseason. Head coach Steve Spagnuolo said the knee of the Rams #1 receiver in September last year, Mark Clayton, is not ready after a patellar tendon tear. Clayton remains unsigned. The first wide receiver taken in the 2008 draft, Donnie Avery, was not running with first team. Instead, it was Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson, although reports had Avery running "effortlessly". 2010 fourth-round pick Mardy Gilyard is making plays after many had him ticketed for the waiver wire this offseaosn. In other words, this situation is getting less, not more, clear.

Fantasy Fallout: Just keep paying attention here. My gut says Avery, but I am open to MSW or Alexander seizing the #1 job. Whomever it is, they'll come at a value in fantasy drafts.


Ford out two weeks w/ broken hand: 2011 breakout candidate (well, second-half breakout star of 2010) Jacoby Ford suffered a broken hand and he'll be out at least two weeks.

Fantasy Fallout: There's no one else in the Raiders WR corps that I really care about. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise and it causes Ford to fall even farther than his 10th round ADP. I still plan on having him on all of my redraft teams this year.


Who's Left?: Other than Edwards, Malcom Floyd, who needs to come down from too high salary demands. He could still return to San Diego if he comes down enough. Steve Smith (NYG) who reportedly will miss at least the first month of the season, hence the Giants lack of urgency in re-signing him. Derrick Mason, who continues to be linked to his old team, the Titans, and Randy Moss, who was loosely linked to the Eagles, which could be interesting if they continue to have issues with their starting wide receiver.

Elsewhere: Eddie Royal ran as the #2 wide receiver and looked good doing it. He could have PPR value if Kyle Orton remains a Bronco... Plaxico Burress signed a one year, three million dollar guaranteed deal with the Jets. He could start and be a decent PPR WR3/WR4 in a best-case scenario. Don't worry about Santonio Holmes value in the wake of the signing... The Packers signed James Jones to a three-year deal. Jordy Nelson is a rotation wide receiver, no breakout this year... Michael Jenkins goes to Minnesota, he could start, but if he wasn't productive enough to matter with Matt Ryan, he won't be with an aging Donovan McNabb... Roy Williams is re-united with Mike Martz, but he's unlikely to beat out Earl Bennett to start.

Tight End

Miller market curiously quiet: Zach Miller is clearly the prize of the free agent TE class, and yet we hear nothing from him or the Raiders about his future. Head coach Hue Jackson laughed about Miller when asked about him. One report said that since no one is willing to pay TEs big bucks, so Miller waits.

Fantasy Fallout: There are better places for Miller to be than Oakland, but it appears that he'll stay there. He's still a fine bargain TE1 if you can get him in the ninth round or later in PPR leagues.


Lewis will report: Marcedes Lewis will report to camp this week, ending his brief holdout. No reason to move him down your board at all.

Elsewhere: Jared Cook was spotted splitting out wide often at Tennessee camp, fitting the profile of a potential breakout fantasy TE...Todd Heap was signed in Arizona, making him possibly the second target in the passing game and helping the offensive line with his underrated blocking ability.

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