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.
University of Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray has interviewed with several NFL teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, despite not being able to participate in the recent scouting combine because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Murray told Carlos Holmes of the Dayton Daily News that it’d be an “incredible” opportunity to play again with Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, who Cincinnati selected out of Georgia with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft. The pair connected on nine touchdowns during the 2010 season at Georgia, something Murray would love to repeat in the NFL.
With free agency looming, it’s entirely possible that the Buffalo Bills have decided to change the face of their safety rotation — and quite drastically at that.
General manager Doug Whaley announced Monday that the Bills would not place the franchise tag on free safety Jairus Byrd for the second straight season, meaning that if the player and the team can’t come to an agreement by Monday, March 11, Byrd might be the most highly-prized player on the open market.
And on Wednesday, the Bills announced that they had signed strong safety Aaron Williams to a four-year, $26 million contract extension with $14.625 million guaranteed and a $6.5 million signing bonus. It’s not automatic that Williams’ new deal precludes Buffalo from getting Byrd back in the fold as well, but the Bills may want to see how Williams can perform in Byrd’s old center-field role. Continue Reading
Running back Tre Mason had been up on Podium C inside Lucas Oil Stadium’s media workroom for several minutes — five, maybe 10; time blends together at the combine — before anyone managed to ask him about his former Auburn teammate, offensive tackle Greg Robinson. As Mason turned to answer, the set of televisions hanging from the ceiling caught his eye. There, in a bit of timing so serendipitous it bordered on looking staged, the NFL Network had started rolling highlights from Robinson’s combine workout.
Mason paused to watch for a second. One more time, Robinson was out in front of him.
The 2013 SEC Offensive Player of the Year was quite familiar with the sight. Not every one of Mason’s 317 carries, nor all of his 1,816 yards came running behind the hulking Robinson. It only felt that way.
“He demolished people,” Mason said. “He just straight manhandled [defenders]. As soon as the ball was hiked, he was five yards down the field with a guy in his hands.”
Some writers and broadcasters may demean the scouting combine as the “underwear Olympics,” insisting that you can’t tell much from watching a bunch of guys run around against no competition on a quiet field in Indianapolis. It’s a cute conceit, but it’s not true at all — to a greater or lesser degree, every NFL franchise takes the combine very seriously. It’s a place to get a good bead on how that prospect you love will show up in a one-on-one interview, or how he’s recovered from that injury, or how he’ll try to explain away that mysterious escapade with the law.
Most importantly, it’s a place and time where players can show that there are aspects to their games that aren’t quite so evident on tape, for a multitude of reasons. And because of the combine’s true importance, mock drafts generally take on a different look once it’s done. And with the 2014 combine in the books, here’s how things have changed for the 32 prospects I think the NFL will take in the first round of the upcoming draft. Continue Reading