Pierre Thomas, Darren Sproles and Lance Moore combined for 185 receptions and more than 2,800 all-purpose yards last season for the New Orleans Saints. Now, all three could be on the trade block.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Saints are “shopping” Thomas and Moore and “even could be open to trading” Sproles. The main motivation here comes from the salary cap: Combined, that trio could save the Saints $7 million next season by being either traded or released.
The most valuable, financially and within the framework of the Saints’ roster, is Sproles. He will carry a cap number of $4.25 million into 2014, which is his final season under contract — just $750K of that total would settle as dead money on the Saints’ books should he be moved prior to next season.
Though he remains a unique talent out of the backfield, Sproles is coming off the worst statistical season of his career. His 1,273 all-purpose yards fell 304 shy of his 2012 total (1,577) and were less than half of what he accumulated during an incredible 2011 campaign (2,696).
The Houston Texans have gone back and forth with what they might do with the No. 1 overall pick in May’s NFL draft, as there are numerous options for a team that ended last season losing its last 14 games.
According to Lance Zierlein, a sports talk radio host in Houston, the Texans are leaning toward taking former South Carolina All-America Jadeveon Clowney with the first pick and will look at drafting a quarterback later in the draft.
Inside and outside, the face of the modern linebacker has changed. Inside guys were once able to get by on a primary skill — either an ability to move up against the run, or cover tight ends and slot receivers in a rudimentary fashion. But now, the best interior linebackers are 360-degree players, required to take on more responsibility with modern passing games expanding.
And outside linebackers, usually the specialists depending on scheme, also have had to think outside the box. Weakside and strongside linebackers in a traditional 4-3 defense are dinosaurs unless they can move out in space in nickel and dime defenses. And those edge rushers in 3-4 fronts must also be able to man up against guards and tackles when playing end roles in hybrid fronts.
And with that in mind, the list of top linebackers ready for 2014 free agency on March 11 presents a mixed bag. With precious few exceptions, those left on the market will be old-school specialists, which means that they won’t ideally be starters. However, the top inside linebacker should be a major priority for just about any team that can get him. Continue Reading
Stopping the league’s onslaught of offense has become a real headache for just about every team outside of Seattle. Accomplishing the task, with teams spreading the field in three-, four- and even five-wide sets, requires a deep secondary.
Both the cornerback and safety markets are chock-full of talent headed into free agency. Who stands out?
Five days before NFL free agency opens in full, the recently cut D’Qwell Jackson landed in Indianapolis as the first significant signing of the offseason. Jackson was released in a salary-cap move by the Browns, with whom he had played his entire career after entering the league in 2006.
Having averaged 139 tackles over the past three seasons, the 30-year-old Jackson quickly found himself a coveted free agent. The Colts pounced with a four-year offer reported to be worth $22 million with $11 million guaranteed. Indianapolis had more than $40 million free under the $133 million salary cap, so those numbers represent only a fraction of their available cash, but it still looks to be an oversized investment in Jackson.