LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, who excels on special teams, are going to be on next year's roster. There will be one pass-catching back; whether that player is Shane Vereen or James White or someone else remains to be seen. If Stevan Ridley is re-signed, that's four running backs. There will also be competition from Tyler Gaffney, a 6-foot-1, 227-pound back who spent his rookie season on injured reserve. So Gray will probably have to prove himself in the offseason.
Vereen, who had 11 receptions in the Super Bowl, is a free agent. He probably won't cost the team a ton (for reference, Danny Woodhead got a two year, $3.5 million contract from San Diego in 2013).
The Patriots let Woodhead walk because they also had Vereen, so their decision may be based on their depth at the position. If they feel confident that rising second-year pro James White can fill Vereen's spot, you might not see No. 34 in a Pats uniform come next fall.
Part of Vereen's appeal is that he plays in a friendly system, but he lacks consistency, even in PPR formats. The team's willingness to re-sign Vereen will likely come down to price.
The rocky relationship between the Indianapolis Colts and running back Trent Richardson built up over time during the 2014 season because of weight issues, accessibility and an absence, multiple sources told ESPN.com.
Richardson, whom the Colts acquired from Cleveland in September 2013, had weight issues during the season, was difficult to get in touch with and didn't tell the team he wouldn't be at the walk-through the day before the AFC Championship Game, a source said. He was suspended two games by the team for missing the walk-through.
He served the first game of the suspension during the AFC Championship Game against New England. His second game will be served next season -- if he's still with the Colts.
Because of default language in his contract, the Colts could exercise an option to void $3.1 million in guaranteed money owed to Richardson next season. The NFL Players Association would likely challenge that ruling if it occurs.
It's unlikely that Richardson will be back with the Colts next season. The team is likely to (finally) admit its mistake and move on.
Eagles beat writer Sheil Kapadia on the state of the team's tight end corps:
Brent Celek played 69 percent of the snaps last year and finished with 32 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown. Celek was very good as a run blocker, and it's no secret that Chip Kelly thinks the world of him.
Zach Ertz is one of the best receiving options on the team, having finished with 58 grabs for 702 yards. The feeling here is that he was underutilized (50 percent of the snaps) in 2014.
Celek is 30 years old and certainly does not provide the same threat as a receiver that he once did. But it's impossible to overstate how much Kelly loves him. This is still a run-based offense, and Celek is the best blocking tight end on the roster. He carries a $5 million cap hit, which doesn't seem unreasonable. In other words, I don't think he's going anywhere.
Many (including yours truly) thought Ertz would take a bigger chunk out of Celek's snaps last year. Ertz will have to continue to improve his run blocking to earn Kelly's trust. But his role should continue to expand in his third season.
Ertz's run blocking improved dramatically this year, per the grading of the analytics sites. Still, Kapadia's comments about Kelly's affection for Celek do not indicate that the team is ready to give Ertz significantly more playing time. Ertz finished as the #13 TE in standard formats even though he played just 50 percent of his team's snaps.
Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson on the team's running back situation: Jeremy Hill may be the bell cow next year, but Giovani Bernard is still going to get a lot of key touches as the change-of-pace guy. If Hill gets 15-to-20 touches a game, Gio gets 8-11. The only question is how. I think Hue Jackson uses him a lot more in the pass game this year. With Jermaine Gresham expected to be gone, I’m going to write in Gio for 60 catches.
Over the first seven weeks, Bernard averaged 18.7 touches compared to 9.0 for rookie Jeremy Hill. The script flipped once Bernard missed three games in the middle of the season due to injury. Hill averaged 22.0 touches for nearly 130 yards during that span and took over as the team's primary runner. Then, over the final six games, Hill averaged 20.0 touches for 104 total yards, while Bernard saw 13.3 touches for 67 total yards. Bernard averaged 12.2 PPR FP in that span, so he should still be a solid RB2 in PPR formats, even in a reduced role.
Bengals.com writer Geoff Hobson on the team's TE situation: It looks like there is a very good possibility they won’t re-sign Jermaine Gresham, but it’s not a pass catcher they need to replace. They’ve got that in Tyler Eifert. They’re going to need a big guy that can block the tall, lean, big pass rushers like Terrell Suggs. Gresham did a good job with that and I suspect they’ll have an easier time finding that guy in free agency rather than the draft. The guy won’t be the target that Gresham is, but they’ll still be able to play double tight end sets.
If Gresham is out of the way, Eifert should be a nice late-round pick provided he can stay healthy. He has good size and speed, and showed pretty good hands as a rookie. He only played about 60 percent of the snaps in 2013, and averaged 0.14 FP (PPR) per snap. Extrapolate the same production to 90 percent of the snaps (which is typical for a starting tight end), and Eifert shouldn't have any problem posting top 15 numbers. With solid improvement, he could very well be this year's Jordan Cameron (2013) or Travis Kelce (2014).
Saturday, February 7, 2015, 11:38am
The Seattle Seahawks have picked a new defensive coordinator from within the team, promoting defensive backs coach Kris Richard to the open position, according to KING/5 TV.
KING’s Alex Rozier was first to report Friday that the Seahawks have hired Richard, 35, after three years coaching Seattle’s lauded Legion of Boom secondary. Richard would replace former defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who accepted a job this week as the new head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
“I’ve got the green light to do anything and everything I need to do to get back to where I need to be,” Bengals WR Marvin Jones texted Thursday after another workout. “I’ve been surprised at the progress I’ve made in only going on my second week training and at the rate I’m going I’m sure I will be in game shape very soon.”
Jones was one of our favorite sleepers heading into the season, but ankle and foot injuries made it a "lost year" for the talented wideout. Mohamed Sanu stepped in and shined as the team's WR2 opposite A.J. Green. If Jones and TE Tyler Eifert make a full recovery, Andy Dalton will have a nice group of receivers to target in 2015.
Lions RB Joique Bell, who underwent minor offseason surgery, said everything was good from a health standpoint and that he’s started working out. He plans to be back for organized team activities (OTAs) in April, but couldn’t commit to being 100 percent for them just yet.
It sounds like he's on a path to a full recovery. Bell was the #17 RB in standard formats (#13 in PPR), while racking up 257 touches in 15 games. That works out to a 17.1-touch average. While he certainly benefited from Reggie Bush's injury-plagued season, Bell dominated the touches even when Bush was active and playing. Bell should continue to see RB1-type touches in 2015, though we'd feel better about his situation if Bush were out of the way. Bush is signed for two more seasons and is a cut candidate heading into the offseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers running back LeVeon Bell will spend 15 months on probation in a first-offender's program stemming from his arrest on marijuana possession and DUI charges with former teammate LeGarrette Blount.
Bell may face a two-game suspension from the league as a first time DUI offender.
Frank Cignetti is in line for a promotion in St. Louis.
Cignetti, currently the Rams’ quarterbacks coach, is expected to be promoted to offensive coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The announcement is expected next week.
Cignetti was hired when Fisher first took the Rams’ head-coaching job and has been the quarterbacks coach the last three seasons. He’s never been an offensive coordinator in the NFL before, but he’s been the offensive coordinator for six different college teams: Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Cal, North Carolina, Fresno State and Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
With the Broncos' return to zone blocking in 2015 under Head Coach Gary Kubiak and Offensive Coordinator Rick Dennison, C.J. Anderson's rampage through opposing defenses could be just the beginning. Kubiak and Dennison's penchant for extracting career seasons from running backs continued last year in Baltimore, when they helped craft an offense that turned Justin Forsett loose.
"I just can't wait to get to work, to be honest," Anderson said.
Anderson began to see starter-type touches in Week 10 with 17 touches for 163 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders. Over the final eight weeks, he averaged 24.0 touches for 132 yards and 1.3 TD, and was the #1 RB in that span. If the Broncos commit to Anderson (and why wouldn’t they?), he should thrive under new Kubiak, who just coaxed a career year out of journeyman Justin Forsett. Provided QB Peyton Manning returns for another season, Anderson’s production should continue.
Jets beat writer Rich Cimini identifies two potential cap cuts:
Percy Harvin, wide receiver ($10.5 million cap charge): Former general manager John Idzik executed a desperation trade last October that made sense on the risk-reward scale, but the landscape has changed. Not only is $10.5 million too much money for a player of Harvin's ilk, but there's also draft-pick compensation to consider. The Jets owe the Seattle Seahawks a conditional sixth-round pick that improves to a fourth-rounder if they keep him on the roster until March 19. The X factor is offensive coordinator Chan Gailey; his spread offense would be a nice fit for Harvin (if that's the system they choose to run). The March 19 deadline allows the Jets to explore free agency before making a decision on Harvin, who hasn't been an impact player since 2011.
Chris Johnson, running back ($5.25 million): The Jets have until Feb. 16 to decide whether to pay a $500,000 option bonus, part of the two-year, $8 million contract Johnson signed last April. The amount of the bonus isn't prohibitive, but the cap charge is steep for a player who would be no more than a part-time back again. Johnson was a worthwhile signing a year ago, but he'll be 30 in September and isn't close to being the player he once was. The Jets can save $3.5 million by parting ways with Johnson. That probably will be the outcome.
Johnson averaged 4.3 YPC in his first season with the Jets. He and Harvin were two high-profile acquisitions last season, but there's a new regime in town, so expect plenty of change.
The Falcons reached an agreement in principle for Dan Quinn to be their next coach, source said. It’s a 5-year deal.
Dallas Cowboys running back and Wichita native Joseph Randle was arrested in Wichita early this morning, police said. Randle was arrested after police responded to a domestic violence call in the 700 block of South Main at about 3:00 a.m.
Police said a 22-year-old woman reported she and Randle were arguing in a hotel room. Officers found marijuana in the room, and arrested Randle on a drug charge.
Randle's offseason is not off to a good start. There was an outside chance that he would take over as the starter in Dallas if the team couldn't come to terms with DeMarco Murray, but that's looking like a serious long shot after this arrest.
Ray Horton ran the defense last season but hasn't been fired, so he's likely to work under LeBeau in 2015.