If they can bring back Justin Forsett, the Ravens are expected to pair him with a young running back. They met with Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin), David Johnson (Northern Iowa) and Duke Johnson (Miami) at the NFL scouting combine.
"He doesn’t have the wear and tear, and Justin did a very good job of coming in, competing and then being our bell cow," GM Ozzie Newsome said. "We would like to retain Justin, but I’ve learned something since the end of the season about Justin that I didn’t really know. He has mentored some very good, young backs, starting with Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Maurice Jones-Drew when he was in Jacksonville.
"Having Justin here, and with the opportunity also bringing in hopefully another young running back, to have Justin be around that guy would be an asset also. So, we will work to try to retain Justin.”
Under OC Marc Trestman, Matt Forte caught 176 passes in the last two seasons, including 102 catches in 2014. Forsett caught 44 passes last season, and could potentially see that number double if he's the RB1 for the Ravens in 2015. Depending on his asking price, re-signing the 29-year-old Forsett isn't a no-brainer for the Ravens, though he's not likely to garner a huge contract in free agency. As the #8 RB in both standard and PPR formats in 2014, he'll likely hold RB2-type draft value if he stays in Baltimore. If the Ravens draft a running back early, it would certainly damper Forsett's outlook in 2015.
Jordan Raanan on the Giants' receiving corps:
This has nothing to do with free agency, but wide receiver Rueben Randle remains part of the Giants plans despite a season where he was twice benched for a quarter because of tardiness to meetings. Randle is not being shopped after multiple run-ins last season with Coughlin.
The Giants are moving forward as if Randle is part of the future, with the hope that he can excel next season playing alongside Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz. Randle is still just 23 years old and the team was happy with the way he played late in the season, when they used him more as a downfield threat instead of the possession-receiver role he filled early in the season.
"I think Rueben gets banged on a lot. Sometimes he should get banged on, but I think he gets banged on sometimes a little too much," general manager Jerry Reese said. "I think he is a good, young player and all he needs are some chances. With Odell and Victor, I think he will get plenty of chances."
But if things don't work out with Randle or Cruz (returning from a serious injury), one player I was told to keep an eye out for was Marcus Harris. The Giants were close to using Harris as a starter (in three-wide-receiver sets) last year before injuries shut him down at the end of the summer for the season. The 25-year-old really impressed the Giants last spring and summer.
Randle finished #32 in PPR formats and #37 in standard despite seeing the 20th-most targets (127) on the year, so he wasn't very efficient in his targets. He finished the season with 12 catches for 290 yards and a touchdown in the final two games. He's probably not going to finish in the top 30 in 2015 if Cruz comes back healthy since Cruz and Beckham will likely dominate the targets.
Monday, February 23, 2015, 5:15pm
Ted Ginn, who signed a three-year free-agent contract in 2014, was released by the Cardinals Monday after a disappointing year both as return man and wide receiver. The Cards will absorb $1.5 million in dead salary cap money, although they will save $2.5M in cap space that would have been spent if Ginn stayed.
Williams told WBTV in an exclusive interview Monday that he was cut by the Panthers last week during a meeting with coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman.
"We sat down, and he told me, 'The fact of the matter is we're going to have to release you,'" Williams told the station. "I said, you know, 'Why?' and he said, 'Because we don't run the ball enough. Just like you said back before the season started, we don't run the ball enough to keep you and [Jonathan Stewart] both, so we're going to release you.'"
Carolina will save $2 million in salary-cap space by designating Williams as a post-June 1 cut. Williams has one year left on his deal and is scheduled to count $6.3 million against the 2015 salary cap.
Jonathan Stewart was tremendous down the stretch, averaging 105 total yards (97.0 rushing) in the final seven games, including two playoff games. He averaged 5.30 YPC in that span, including 5.13 YPC versus Arizona and 5.38 YPC against Seattle in the playoffs. Over the final five games of the regular season, he was the #10 fantasy running back. He turns 28 in March, so there is definitely some tread left on his tires. Even though he has missed 20 percent of his team's games due to injury throughout the career, he'll be a high-upside pick with Williams out of the way.
"I think any time a player reaches that age of 30 or close to that age of 30, and you know that the guy can still play, you know that he is a very talented player," O'Brien said at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Arian is a very talented guy in a lot of phases. He can run the ball, he can catch the ball, he's a good pass protector, he's a smart football player, but you've got to manage him. How do you manage that? You manage him in practice. You manage him in the games.
"That's something we'll always take into account. We communicate with the player. We communicate with Arian. How are you feeling this week? What's ailing you? Things like that. You take a lot of hits at running back in this league. I think we just continue to communicate with Arian and manage it. He's got a lot of good football yet."
Foster averaged 22.9 touches per game (the 4th-highest workload in the league) and scored 0.79 fantasy points per touch (13th among the top 60 running backs). From a fantasy points per game standpoint, he was #2 in standard formats and #4 in PPR, so he's still playing at a very high level when healthy. However, he missed three games in 2014 and eight more in 2013, and has only played 14 or more games once in his last four seasons. Alfred Blue averaged 23.0 touches for 103 total yards in the three games that Foster missed, so unless the Texans go another direction at the position, Blue is a must-handcuff for Foster owners. It sounds as if the team will try to limit Foster’s workload as he enters his age 29 season, but he should easily average 18-20 touches when healthy.
Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins had 76 catches for 1,210 yards and six touchdowns and his numbers would have been even better if he hadn’t slumped to the finish line with two catches for five yards in Week 17. Hopkins had a decent excuse for the poor finish to the year, though.
He was listed on the injury report with a wrist injury and revealed during an interview with Sports Radio 610 in Houston that he had surgery to repair a torn ligament after the season. Hopkins said that he had a pin and rod inserted into the wrist that was set to be removed on Saturday and that he expects to get back to regular activities in a couple of weeks.
Hopkins finished as the #14 WR in both standard and PPR formats even though the Texans’ quarterbacks finished 17th in both touchdowns thrown and yards per attempt. Assuming the team gets similar play from the position in 2015, Hopkins should continue to produce solid to high-end WR2 numbers even though he continues to play second-fiddle to Andre Johnson in the passing game.
Mettenberger averaged 272 yards, 1.8 touchdowns and 1.0 interception in the four games that he started and finished. He was also on pace for 329 yards and 1.8 TD against the Texans in Week 13 before missing nearly half the game with a shoulder sprain. He wasn’t effective against the Giants in Week 14 before re-injuring his shoulder. For the most part, what we saw was encouraging, especially since he was just a rookie. If the Titans enter the season with Mettenberger as the starter, then we can expect the solid QB2 numbers that he posted in 2014 -- he’ll be a committee and/or streaming candidate.
CFL WR Duron Carter has generated interest in dynasty leagues since signing with Indianapolis, but general manager Ryan Grigson made it clear he hasn’t done anything yet in the NFL. 2nd year WR Donte Moncrief has already showed fantasy potential as a rookie. Head coach Chuck Pagano said he expects a “big second year” from Moncrief and the “sky is the limit”. In the early offseason, Moncrief is definitely ahead of Carter in the fantasy pecking order, with both obviously behind T.Y. Hilton.
Moncrief played at least 50 percent of his team’s snaps in six games as a rookie. In those games, he averaged 3.0 catches for 50 yards and 0.50 touchdowns, but that split includes both huge games (3-134-2 vs. Washington, 7-113-1 vs. Pittsburgh) and disappearing acts (a goose egg vs. Houston, 2-5 vs. Dallas, 3-16 vs. Tennessee), so his production was all over the place. With a year of growth and (potentially) starter’s snaps, Moncrief is a breakout candidate in 2015, provided he can hold off Carter.
Bills RB Bryce Brown – who played in just seven games, rushing 36 times for 126 yards in 2014 – GM Doug Whaley said he’s got a “clean slate” with a new coaching staff led by Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Greg Roman.
“We’re excited to see him come in with a clean slate like everybody else and perform like we think he should,” Whaley said.
It doesn't sound as if Whaley is particularly excited about Brown's prospects if C.J. Spiller walks this offseason.
Mike McCarthy understands why a certain segment of the Green Bay Packers fan base loves wide receiver Jeff Janis so much. After all, the Packers head coach likes the 2014 seventh-round draft pick’s talent and potential as much as anyone.
But, McCarthy said Thursday at the annual NFL Scouting Combine, although Janis certainly made a splash in preseason, he needs to make a jump in the offseason and develop his raw football talent in order to be a contributor in 2015.
And McCarthy believes that’s going to happen.
“I think Jeff is going to take a big step,” McCarthy said during a nearly hour-long session at a hotel restaurant with reporters who regularly cover the team. “He’s got a big catching radius, and he needs to utilize it. Obviously, I think we all saw his vertical speed. He’s an extremely physical young man. He’s an Olympian in the weight room. He’s got a lot of raw skill, and I look for him to make that jump.”
“I thought probably after Thanksgiving, I thought Jeff really picked it up [in practice]. He was more comfortable, and so I look for him to take a step. He’s got to play with extension. That’s the one thing he has to do a better job of. But you can see it on the scout team, and at the end of the year he was running some really good routes. Really good routes.”
Thursday, February 19, 2015, 9:06pm
"The first time in a couple of years that he's been able to go through the offseason program, I think that will really help him," Garrett said. "He's worked very hard to come back from some injuries that he's had and handled himself really well once the season started to play as much football as he has coming of those injuries. But I think he's going to feel better having that foundation that everybody else gets by going through an offseason program."
Looking at the running back position, new OC Kyle Shanahan presided over three stellar fantasy seasons in his seven years as an offensive coordinator. In 2008, while Shanny was the OC of the Texans, Steve Slaton turned 327 touches (50 receptions) into 1,659 yards and 10 touchdowns. (Slaton averaged 77.6 total yards on 15.9 touches in 2009.) In 2012, rookie Alfred Morris racked up 1,690 total yards and 13 touchdowns. He followed it up with 1,353 total yards and seven scores in 2013. Shanahan even coaxed 86.7 total yards (on 18.2 touches) from Ryan Torain in 2010 and 67.9 yards on 13.3 touches from Roy Helu in 2011. Freeman wasn't terribly impressive as a runner in his rookie season (248 yards rushing, 3.8 YPC), but he was active and effective in the passing game (30 catches for 225 yards), so a Slaton-esque season isn't out of the realm of possibility. If the Falcons stand pat at running back, he'll have some middle round appeal, assuming his role looks to be bigger than Steven Jackson's.
While the Minnesota Vikings have tried to pave the way for Adrian Peterson's return to the team through numerous comments from top officials in the last week, the running back remains undecided about his future with the team.
Peterson told ESPN on Thursday night he is "still uneasy" about the prospect of returning to the Vikings in 2015, saying the organization working with the NFL to put him on the commissioner's exempt list last September made him question how much support he had from the team for whom he has played his entire career. The 2012 NFL MVP called that decision an "ambush," adding, "There were people (in the organization) that I trusted, who knew exactly what was said, that weren't heard from" in the decision-making process.
"I know there are a lot of people in the organization who want me back," he said. "But then again, I know the ones who don't. It's a difficult transition, and it's not just about me. I have a wife who was able to sit back and see how people in Minnesota said this and said that, how media in Minnesota took the head of the situation with my child, and were digging into things that weren't even relevant. That wasn't people in Texas -- it was people in Minnesota that dug in and brought things out. That impacted me, but most importantly, it impacted the people around me -- my family, my kids. This came from the state I love so much, that I wish to bring a championship to? This is how they treat me when I'm down and out? You kick me? My wife (and I), we've had several conversations about me returning to Minnesota, what the best options are. If I left it up to her, I'd be somewhere else today, and that's with her weighing everything. It's a lot for me to weigh; she understands that. But there are some things that I'm still uneasy about."
It sounds as if Peterson isn't happy with the way things went down last season, and is partly blaming the Vikings. In the end, it's his own fault, but he's not happy with the way the Minnesota media handled the fallout. The team wants to reduce his cap charge, but it doesn't sound like he's too interested in making amends.
"He was a pleasant surprise for us [in 2014] after his first year. He came back stronger and bigger and really shocked us. He had a couple of games in a row [of 100 yards rushing] where he did some really nice things for us and it was unfortunate he had the [foot] injury at the end. We’re really pleased with his progress and we’re hopeful that he takes the next step. Where that takes him in the rotation, that’s yet to be seen. He’s doing a great job coming back from his injury. The future is bright for him."
(on running back Toby Gerhart and if he can salvage a role in 2015 after a non-productive 2014)
"He’s done a good job. With a new offensive staff, that’s what we’re in the process of doing right now – looking at everybody’s strengths and how to best utilize those. Toby’s done a nice job for us. I know people may consider him a third down-type back or a short-yardage, situational back but we saw him do enough good things on first and second downs that he’ll have a place with us. He is a different style of back and we’re putting tougher an offense that best utilizes his strength."
Robinson averaged a solid 4.3 YPC on 135 carries, while Gerhart struggled to 3.2 YPC after suffering an early season foot injury. He did average 3.9 YPC from Week 9 on, and 4.0 YPC over the final six games, so things improved as he started to get healthy. Gerhart has a career 4.3 YPC, so he's probably better than he showed last season. We're currently expecting a RBBC with Gerhart and Robinson each getting a fair share of the workload.
Even after a down year that had the two-time Pro Bowl tight end rated as a “bad” player in a joint ESPN NFL Nation/Pro Football Focus project last month.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Niners general manager Trent Baalke told a group of Niners reporters Tuesday, per the Bay Area News Group, at the NFL combine in Indianapolis when asked if he envisioned Davis on the team next season.
Davis is a talent, but the team didn't do a good job of using him last season. His 50 targets were his fewest since 2008, and his usage was way too low considering he has finished in the top 8 at his position in four of the last six seasons. He was targeted just once in the red zone after seeing 20 red zone targets in 2013. It's up to new OC Geep Chryst (formerly the team's QB coach) to get Davis more involved in the offense.