The Week in NFL News - 3/21

The week in NFL news and why each item matters


Cincinnati - released LB Vontaze Burfict, re-signed TE Tyler Eifert to a one-year deal, signed OL John Miller (Buffalo) to a three-year, $16.5 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Burfict is finally gone in a widely predicted move. Preston Brown and Jordan Evans become more interesting in IDP leagues, but watch out for 2018 third-round pick Malik Jefferson. Eifert had a freak injury last year and was just starting to regain form. He could still be relevant for fantasy leagues this year. Miller should start at right guard and be adequate. The right side of the line is a potential achilles heel for this offense.

Cleveland - RB Kareem Hunt was suspended for eight games under the league’s personal conduct policy

Why It Matters: The Browns only other proven back on the roster is Duke Johnson Jr. A suspension of this length was expected, so the Browns must have factored that in when shopping Johnson earlier this month. They could select a back in the draft or sign a cheaper veteran than Johnson if they are able to trade him. Chubb will have half of the season to amass stats without Hunt, so his top 15 ADP is still justified. Hunt is going in the bench-filling rounds, and there will someone in most leagues that drafts and holds him to see if he can turn this backfield into a committee in the second half of the season.

Denver - re-signed TE Jeff Heuerman to a two-year, $9 million dollar deal, signed CB Bryce Callahan (Chicago) to a three-year, $21 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Heuerman could start in an offense that should improve incrementally with Joe Flacco. The wide receivers are still mostly inexperienced, so there might be streaming value there at some point. Callahan is a strong slot corner who will be reunited with head coach Vic Fangio, who was his defensive coordinator in Chicago. He’ll be starting there with fellow new addition Kareem Jackson likely replacing Bradley Roby, who signed with Jackson’s old team, the Texans.

Houston - signed QB AJ McCarron (Oakland)

Why It Matters: Let’s hope the Texans do a better job protecting Deshaun Watson this year. If Watson goes down, the offense will likely crater with McCarron at the helm. They have done little to improve the offensive line in free agency and will have to focus on that unit in the draft. The offense should also tilt more towards the run to take heat off of Watson, which could necessitate a running back in the first 3-4 rounds of the draft.

Jacksonville - Tom Coughlin said he has “full confidence” in RB Leonard Fournette… the team also signed WR Chris Conley (Kansas City)

Why It Matters: The Jaguars released Carlos Hyde and signed only Thomas Rawls so far this offseason, making no effort to keep TJ Yeldon or Corey Grant. Fournette is still the centerpiece of the offense and will get every opportunity to touch the ball 300+ times as long as he stays healthy. The team is expected to take a running back later in the draft, but not one that will be a threat to Fournette. Conley becomes the fourth receiver in a pass offense that should be better with Nick Foles at quarterback, but it would take multiple injuries to Jaguars wide receivers for him to matter in fantasy leagues. Something to file away - Foles recruited his former Kansas City teammate Conley to come to the Jaguars.

Kansas City - signed EDGE Alex Okafor (New Orleans) to a three-year deal worth up to $24 million dollars, signed CB Bashaud Breeland (Green Bay) to a one-year deal worth up to $5 million dollars. WR Tyreek Hill is under investigation for alleged battery of a child

Why It Matters: Okafor helps stop the bleeding on the edge after Justin Houston was released and Dee Ford was traded to San Francisco for a 2020 second-round pick. Breeland is at best a replacement level corner, but is in line to start for the Chiefs in another sign of just where their defense is at this moment. The state of the defense becomes much, much more worrisome if Hill is suspended or put on the commissioner’s exempt list. The investigation will run its course, and the public perception of the findings, especially via release of video or photos will affect Hill’s eventual punishment as much as the facts. The Chiefs released Kareem Hunt last year, but Hill is much more crucial to their success. We’ll have to read their internal assessment of the likely coming punishment via their moves at wide receiver, which at this moment have been zero. Sammy Watkins would become the #1 for any games Hill misses, and Travis Kelce can handle even more targets, but after that the Chiefs have Demarcus Robinson, Gehrig Dieter, Byron Pringle, Sammie Coates Jr, and Marcus Kemp

Miami - traded QB Ryan Tannehill and a 2019 sixth-round pick to Tennessee for a 2020 fourth-round pick and a 2019 seventh-round pick, signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick (Tampa Bay) to a two-year, $11 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Miami was going to take on a cap hit of almost 13.5 million dollars if they released Tannehill, and he wasn’t in their 2019 plans. They paid five million of Tannehill’s seven million dollar renegotiated salary this year just to avoid the bigger cap hit. Miami saves 8.5 million in cap room and adds a fourth-round pick while losing an insignificant amount of draft capital this year. Fitzpatrick is very cheap for a starting quality quarterback and he’ll keep the team in more games than any quarterback on their roster would have. While this could cost them some draft slots, it will also prevent a losing culture from taking hold. Kenny Stills, Albert Wilson, DeVante Parker, and the Miami offense in general has a pulse for fantasy now.

New York Jets - signed QB Trevor Siemian (Minnesota) to a one-year, $2 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Jets don’t seem to be planning on Josh McCown’s return. Siemian is a safe passer who will make the Jets offense less vertically oriented if he has to start. The Jets at least have a credible backup quarterback, which is more than some teams can say.

Oakland - signed LB Vontaze Burfict (Cincinnati) to a one-year contract, signed CB Nevin Lawson (Detroit) to a one-year, $3.05 million dollar contract

Why It Matters: Burfict is now teammates with Antonio Brown after his concussion-causing hit might have changed the course of Brown’s career (some say “he hasn’t been the same” since the hit). He’ll start and retain strong IDP value when he’s not suspended. Lawson should see a lot of snaps. While he’s not a liability, he’s really better suited to be depth than a core contributor, highlighting the Raiders deficiency at corner.

Pittsburgh - signed LB Mark Barron (Los Angeles Rams) to a two-year, $12 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Steelers had a rough few weeks, but between this and the very reasonable two-year, $9 million dollar deal for Donte Moncrief, they are turning the tide. Barron’s best football came at the end of the year, and he has great range and activity vs. the run, while still being able to cover vs. the pass. He’ll be an upgrade at inside linebacker next to Vince Williams and should have significant IDP value.

Tennessee - traded a 2020 fourth-round pick and 2019 seventh-round pick to Miami for QB Ryan Tannehill and a 2019 sixth-round pick

Why It Matters: This is a brilliant move by Titans general manager Jon Robinson. Tannehill might be a bottom half of the league starter, but he’s an excellent backup, and he’ll give the team insurance if Marcus Mariota’s injury woes continue. Mariota is also not signed after this season - if he fails spectacularly, the team can turn to Tannehill as a bridge quarterback and re-sign him in 2020 if they like what they see this year. Miami was desperate to avoid a 13+ million dollar cap hit for releasing Tannehill and paid five of Tannehill’s seven million dollar salary, making Tannehill one of the cheapest backup quarterbacks in the league. If the Titans don’t keep Tannehill next year, they’ll likely get a third-day compensatory pick to ease the pain from giving him the 2020 fourth-round pick to get him. A true win-win deal.


Arizona - GM Steve Keim and HC Kliff Kingsbury met with QB Kyler Murray on the Oklahoma campus

Why It Matters: Eyebrows were raised when the Cardinals brass didn’t show at Murray’s pro day, but this dispels the idea that we should read anything into that absence. Murray going #1 to them (or another team like Oakland) is still very much in play, which would of course mean that Josh Rosen would probably be available for trade. Murray has as much fantasy potential as any quarterback on an NFL roster right now with his top-end athleticism, arm talent/strength, and creativity/boldness as a passer.

Dallas - signed WR Randall Cobb (Green Bay) to a one-year, $5 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: Hopefully between Cobb and Allen Hurns, the Cowboys will get 16 healthy-ish games from their slot receiver. Jason Witten is back and Michael Gallup is on the rise, so the slot is not going to be a place to look for fantasy relevant production in the Cowboys passing game. The second big deal many expected when Cobb signed a four-year deal at age 24 never materialized as Cobb has struggled with injuries in recent years.

Detroit - signed RFA RB Malcolm Brown (Los Angeles Rams) to a two-year, $3.25 million dollar offer sheet with one million guaranteed.

Why It Matters: Brown would help take some of the load off of Kerryon Johnson. It appears the Lions are going to add another formidable back to the backfield whether the Rams match this or not. The Lions had Spencer Ware in for a visit and could also dip into the draft running back class, so Johnson’s value is in for a hit sooner than later. The Rams have their own running back questions after the specter of arthritis in Todd Gurley’s surgically repaired knee was raised. This would actually be cheaper for the Rams than if Brown played under the two million dollar original round RFA tender they extended to him. They would get no compensation if they pass on matching as Brown was undrafted.

Green Bay - re-signed WR Geronimo Allison to a one-year deal

Why It Matters: He was originally signed to a $2.025 million RFA tender, but this one-year deal will pay him a little more and acted as protection from interest coming from other teams. They would have received no compensation if Allison was signed and the Packers chose not to match the offer. He’s almost surely going to make the team now, and could even start, but will face competition from the trio of 2018 draft picks and Jake Kumerow. The Packers wide receiver depth chart will one to watch this summer.

Los Angeles Rams - signed EDGE Clay Matthews (Green Bay) to a two-year contract worth up to $16.75 million, signed QB Blake Bortles (Jacksonville) to a one-year, $1 million dollar contract

Why It Matters: Matthews will be an excellent addition to a Wade Phillips defense and might be allowed to concentrate again on rushing the passer after playing more inside linebacker in Green Bay. He returns to Southern California after playing at USC. Bortles could have more success with the Rams in a highly structured system and experience a bit of a career revival like Blaine Gabbert did after landing in San Francisco after failing in Jacksonville. The Rams also need to make a decision on whether to match the Lions offer sheet for RB Malcolm Brown. They should make another move at running back if they decline, which would be a curious decision since they would actually save money this year by doing it.

Minnesota - re-signed RB Ameer Abdullah to a one-year deal, signed OL Josh Kline (Tennessee) to a three-year, $15.75 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Vikings aren’t quite ready to trust 2018 undrafted free agent Mike Boone to be the sole backup. Abdullah and Boone will compete to be the primary backup to oft-injured starter Dalvin Cook, although the team would likely use a committee if Cook misses time this year. Kline wouldn’t take a pay cut from the Titans, so he became available for the Vikings. He’ll be adequate at best as the interior line remains a sore spot for the Minnesota offense.

New Orleans - announced retirement of C Max Unger, signed OL Nick Easton (Minnesota) to a four-year, $24 million dollar deal, signed TE Jared Cook (Oakland), agreed with WR Cameron Meredith to a 2.1 million dollar pay cut

Why It Matters: Unger is a big loss, but if Easton’s neck is okay and he holds up better than he has the last two years, he can be a suitable replacement. Cook might finally be the hit in the Saints passing game at tight end that we’ve been waiting for since they traded Jimmy Graham to the Seahawks. This destination is a boon for his fantasy value. Meredith’s knee is still not trustworthy. The Saints are admitting they overpaid him in their offer sheet last year, and Meredith is admitting that he’d rather take less money and stay with the Saints than let the market determine his 2019 team and pay. The Saints depth chart at wide receiver gives Meredith the opportunity to be as high as third at the beginning of the season, but Cook’s presence will lower the ceiling of Saints receivers not named Michael Thomas.

New York Giants - sent a large contingent to the pro day of Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins, including head coach Pat Shurmur and offensive coordinator Mike Shula

Why It Matters: The Giants also sent a large group to Kyler Murray’s pro day and had extensive meetings with Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen last year, so this isn’t proof of anything but due diligence, but it certainly shows interest. With more and more buzz that Murray will go #1, Haskins will be the consolation prize in the top 10. Another team could still attempt to leapfrog the Giants for him (or Murray if he falls). The Giants also have #17 now to land a prospect like Daniel Jones (Duke), and they could trade for Rosen if the Cardinals opt for Murray. There should be a lot of suspense leading up to their decision (or denial) to address their lack of a long-term quarterback.

Philadelphia - signed DE Vinny Curry to a one-year, $2.25 million dollar deal, signed CB Ronald Darby to a one-year, $6.5 million dollar deal, signed S Andrew Sendejo (Minnesota) to a one-year deal

Why It Matters: The Eagles continue to rack up “smart moves”. Curry was worth 11.5 million guaranteed to the Bucs last year. He was battling an injury last year and should improve back with the team that developed him. His addition helps with the loss of Michael Bennett, in symmetry with how Bennett helped them cope with the loss of Curry last year. Darby is a top corner when healthy. The modest price paid for his services this year is well worth the risk involved in ACL surgery recovery. Sendejo was cheap and will help provide quality snaps and depth.

San Francisco - re-signed RB Raheem Mostert to a three-year contract

Why It Matters: Even though this deal could increase speculation that the 49ers are going to release Jerick McKinnon, head coach Kyle Shanahan said recently that it might make sense for the team to have four backs active on gameday. Mostert’s special teams ability helps his case to be active, and he has been surprisingly good when he has gotten a chance to run the ball. His dynasty value is inching up and we should remember him in redraft considering the injury history of the other backs on the roster.

Seattle - WR Doug Baldwin said he has more surgeries scheduled this offseason

Why It Matters: Baldwin had knee and shoulder surgeries earlier this offseason. The upcoming procedures could be related to a sports hernia he played through. The Seahawks haven’t made any big moves at wide receiver that indicate worry about Baldwin’s status, but this still has to be seen as a plus for Tyler Lockett and David Moore and negative for Baldwin, and Russell Wilson to a lesser extent

Tampa Bay - signed EDGE Shaq Barrett (Denver) to a one-year, $5 million dollar deal

Why It Matters: The Bucs should be playing more 3-4 this year under Todd Bowles, and Barrett will provide a boost to the edge rush. He was behind Von Miller and Bradley Chubb last year and should be fresh and ready to show that he’s got more to contribute to his second team.

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