Baltimore - signed WR Seth Roberts (Oakland) to a one-year deal
Why It Matters: Well someone has to catch the ball at wide receiver for the Ravens. Roberts is a bit redundant with Willie Snead IV, which hurts Snead’s already modest ceiling for this season. Chris Moore is the most experienced outside receiver on the roster. Baltimore has work to do at wide receiver in the draft or free agency, or perhaps they are really de-emphasizing the position to the point that they feel no need to invest in it, which has as much (or more) chance of being disastrous as it does of being brilliant
Buffalo - signed RB Christian Wade (Rugby), OL Quinton Spain (Tennessee)
Why It Matters: Wade is an import from Great Britain and former rugby player who was signed as part of the International Player Pathway program, which gives teams 90-man roster and practice squad exemptions to foster the growth of foreign athletes who want to pursue NFL careers. The AFC East teams are the participants this year. Wade is notable only because the Bills lack a long-term answer at running back on the roster right now. Spain was a starter for the Titans and he’ll help bolster what has turned into a nearly complete overhaul of the Bills offensive line.
Cleveland - signed S Morgan Burnett (Pittsburgh) to a two-year deal with a maximum value of $9 million dollars with four million guaranteed
Why It Matters: After trading away Jabrill Peppers and two top 100 picks, the Browns were left with scant options at safety and less ammunition to address the position in the draft this year. Burnett was a role player in the Steelers so-so secondary last year, but the team didn’t see him fit to bring back. The guaranteed money indicates that Burnett will play a large role for the Browns defense this year.
Cincinnati - waived RB Mark Walton
Why It Matters: Walton had been arrested three times this year and the Bengals decided they could take no more from their 2018 fourth-round pick. Walton could resurface after clearing up his legal problems. Converted QB Quinton Flowers is now the team’s third-string running back, but they could look to the draft to build depth from a good class of third-day contributors at the position.
Houston - head coach Bill O’Brien said there is a chance WR Will Fuller V will be ready to return from ACL surgery by the open of training camp and that the team feels good about where he is at
Why It Matters: Fuller has been anything but durable so far in his career, so his recovery is not a given more than other players, and big for projecting Keke Coutee and Deshaun Watson in fantasy leagues. If we get to see him play in the preseason that will be a win for Fuller’s outlook, but it is more likely that we won’t see him in game action until Week 1
Jacksonville - RB Leonard Fournette was arrested for speeding and driving with a suspended license
Why It Matters: If it was any other starting running back, we would chalk this up to poor driving choices, but Fournette was already on thin ice after having his guarantees revoked after last year’s suspension. With only Alfred Blue as a credible backup on the roster, we’ll look to the draft as the best sign of where the organization stands with Fournette.
Why It Matters: Mike Williams will get more snaps and targets with Tyrell Williams gone, but Mike had back problems that were not surgically corrected in 2017. Benjamin is the best replacement in the deep passing game, but Cantrell is an intriguing deep dynasty stash with great agility and size and a zest for blocking. Davis is more of a core special teamer, but he’ll have an opportunity to prove he is more.
Miami - signed RB Kenneth Farrow
Why It Matters: Farrow is one of many AAF refugees who landed on a roster this week. He instantly becomes the #3 back behind Kenyan Drake, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, and Kalen Ballage, who is still unproven. The new regime should be open to Farrow sticking as depth. He hung around the Chargers roster for a bit and can be functional in a pinch.
Why It Matters: Once the 49ers started showing interest in Gostkowski, the Patriots must have decided to not leave him exposed in the free agent market for much longer. He is one of the few perennially relevant kickers and that shouldn’t change this year. Seferian-Jenkins isn’t a field stretcher, but he is huge and reliable in the short zones. He could lead the team’s tight end group in targets if he stays healthy and makes the team.
New York Jets - claimed WR Quadree Henderson, who was released by the Giants
Why It Matters: Henderson is going to be the top candidate to replace the return game punch lost when Andre Roberts signed with Buffalo. The Jets made use of their high position in the waiver order to secure the rights to Henderson, which is noteworthy for return yardage leagues.
Oakland - WR Antonio Brown announced that he is logging off of social media
Why It Matters: In related news, Steelers OL Ramon Foster put out a “PSA” that basically asked Pittsburgh players with problems to bring them to him or Maurkice Pouncey instead of airing them publicly. The Raiders can’t be happy with Brown still picking fights with Juju Smith-Schuster, but the Steelers have to be livid that he is still causing waves on a team he willed himself off of with selfish behavior and salary demands. We have our doubts that Brown will stick to his promise.
Arizona - QB Josh Rosen was not made available to the media after the open of the Cardinals offseason program. Kyler Murray and his agent Erik Burkhardt also visited the team this week
Why It Matters: Murray’s visit is notable because agents don’t usually accompany players on visits and the Cardinals are the only team that can start negotiating a contract with their first round pick. Combine that with Rosen being out of the media’s view and speculation that Rosen is all but traded and Murray is all but drafted will only increase. Roger Goodell doesn’t want any draft spoilers revealed with the event on ABC this year, but this not so well kept secret may ruin any chance there is of suspense leading up to the #1 pick.
Atlanta - signed DE Adrian Clayborn (New England) to a one-year deal worth up to $4 million
Why It Matters: Clayborn got his ring and is now back with the Falcons. He’ll provide strength on early down snaps and solid depth if either of Vic Beasley Jr or Takk McKinley miss time this year. Clayborn was released, so this won’t help the Patriots comp pick haul next year.
Carolina - signed WR Rashad Ross
Why It Matters: Ross stood out in the short-lived AAF as one of the players that clearly deserved another shot in the NFL. He can give the team even more vertical speed in their wide receiver group and should be considered a viable contender for the #5 wideout job.
Dallas - DE Demarcus Lawrence signed a five-year, $105 million dollar deal. He underwent shoulder surgery this week
Why It Matters: Lawrence insists that he’ll be ready for Week 1, but the surgery has a 4-6 month timeline and it puts his Week 1 and really all of September in jeopardy. The Cowboys could have avoided this with more urgency in negotiations, but at least this didn’t stretch out until July. The team didn’t want Lawrence to have the surgery until he was under contract, so it would have been off of the table if the new deal wasn’t signed until the eve of camp.
Green Bay - a Tyler Dunne story in Bleacher Report detailed problems between former head coach Mike McCarthy and QB Aaron Rodgers, including McCarthy’s lack of innovation and Rodgers freezing out Marquez Valdes-Scantling after he ran the plays as designed, Rodgers also revealed that he suffered a tibial plateau fracture and sprained MCL in the season opener last year
Why It Matters: Surely many players would have missed significant time with those injuries, and it explains part of why his play fell off last year. Dunne’s article also adds pieces to the puzzle by documenting McCarthy’s lack of innovation/change and Rodgers resistance to running the plays that were called. We also have a possible explanation for Valdes-Scantling’s dropoff at the end of the season. All eyes will be on Rodgers and this offense to determine who should shoulder more of the blame for the 2018 failures. Rodgers could have a resounding bounceback season or just confirm that 2018 was just the beginning of the erosion of his play.
Los Angeles Rams - a TMZ sports video showed RB Todd Gurley with what some have interpreted as a limp while he was out on the town
Why It Matters: The word arthritis has been brought up, and the usage and effectiveness of Gurley’s play late last season didn’t match with team assertions that he wasn’t hurt. The team hasn’t made any dramatic moves that indicate that they are planning on a shortened peak of Gurley’s career, but we’ll have to remain skeptical about Gurley’s returning to form until we see it, or at least until we see him fully taking part in team activities.
Minnesota - signed QB Sean Mannion (Los Angeles Rams), the league suspended CB Holton Hill for four games for violating the PED policy
Why It Matters: The Vikings will have Mannion battle it out with Kyle Sloter to back up Kirk Cousins after the Rams chose Blake Bortles over him from the backup market. Hill was a talented corner who fell out of the draft because of character concerns, but actually did well enough to get a handful of starts for Minnesota last year. Their depth at corner will suffer early in the season.
New Orleans - re-signed CB PJ Williams to a one-year deal
Why It Matters: Williams is back and he will fight for a job in the secondary that was strengthened by a mid-season trade for Eli Apple. His 2.25 million dollar, one year is fully guaranteed, so he’ll make the team, but he could lose the nickel back job he inherited when Patrick Robinson went out last year if he can’t outperform Robinson this summer. The Saints pass defense should be stronger this year.
New York Giants - signed WR Sterling Shepard to a four-year, $41 million dollar extension
Why It Matters: Shepard and big free agent signing Golden Tate have some overlap in their games, so this probably signifies more snaps outside at receiver for him over the long haul. He does have inside-outside ability and this contract looks reasonable when compared to slightly lesser deals in free agency for some talents that are clearly less valuable than Shepard. Teams usually get more mileage out of their dollars by extending their own, and that applies to this contract.
Why It Matters: The Eagles went on an AAF shopping spree, adding the speedy Johnson, who was once coveted in fantasy leagues, the converted quarterback Ward, who has turned heads in previous Eagles camps, and Perez, who might have a chance to make the team as a third quarterback behind Carson Wentz and Nate Sudfeld. Perez won the Harlon Hill award as the best player in Division II college football in 2017.
San Francisco - head coach Kyle Shanahan said backfield roles “will be up to the players”
Why It Matters: Just another update on the most vexing backfield in fantasy football this year. The skillsets and talents are similar and all have had at least some success, so this is going to be fluid. Shanahan is letting us know that nothing is set in stone or going to be pre-determined in this situation, and we should believe him. All of Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, and Matt Breida are worth bench spot, with Coleman probably costing the most, and keep Raheem Mostert on waiver wire speed dial.
Seattle - The Seattle Times reports that there has been “very little progress” in contract talks with Russell Wilson
Why It Matters: If Wilson plays out the final year of his deal without an extension, the Seahawks could shop him or tag him for 2020. We saw how choosing the tag over a market contract worked out for Washington when they were unsure about committing to Kirk Cousins. The Seahawks have no plan B for a future without Wilson right now, but it also seems like they don’t have a plan A for making a Seahawk for the foreseeable future.
Tampa Bay - according to The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi the team is aggressively shopping DL Gerald McCoy
Why It Matters: McCoy could be part of a larger deal if the team trades out of their pick at #5 to another team coveting a quarterback. He hasn’t shown up for offseason workouts, and his $13 million price tag is tough to swallow for a team that has some cap issues. Look for McCoy to find a new home in two weeks.
Washington - NBC’s Peter King believes Washington is the “favorite in the clubhouse” to trade Arizona QB Josh Rosen, ESPN’s John Keim believes there is a “solid chance” Washington trades for Rosen
Why It Matters: Washington made a smaller deal for Case Keenum earlier in the offseason, but that shouldn’t take trading for Rosen off of the table. He’s a good fit for Jay Gruden’s offense and he would likely only cost the #46 pick, unless the Giants are willing to pony up #37. The big unknowns here are what Washington thought of Rosen last year when they believed Alex Smith had solved their quarterback issue for at least a few years, and what is known around the league about Rosen behind the scenes last year that we aren’t privy to. In any event, if Arizona takes Kyler Murray and deals Rosen, it seems unlikely that they will recoup a first round pick.
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