49ers

Big names highlight 2017 crop of NFL free agents

Big names highlight 2017 crop of NFL free agents

NEW YORK -- Free agency is not the lifeblood of NFL teams. The draft remains the most significant means by which to build and fortify a franchise.

Yet, as the salary cap increases exponentially each year under the 10-year labor agreement reached in 2011, the lure of veterans on the open market can be powerful. Not only do clubs who manage their financial structure wisely have increased funds to spend, they can get quick improvement that doesn't normally come from rookies.

To Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman, it's unusual to see how much money is available for spending, and not just in Carolina.

"Different since I got here," he said. "We had to cut guys to get under, then the next year I think we had to touch one or two contracts to get under, then the last three years we've been able to create separation, sort of.

"Meanwhile, you've got teams that have got crazy money under the cap. It gives you flexibility. It allows you, for lack of a better term, it allows you to expand your thought process."

The Falcons (Alex Mack, Mohamed Sanu), Giants (Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins) and Raiders (Bruce Irvin, Kelechi Osemele, Donald Penn) scored in a big way in 2016. The Bears (Danny Trevathan), Dolphins (Arian Foster) and Texans (Brock Osweiler) not so much.

With the 2017 crop lacking big-time difference makers, that extra $12 million each team has to spend might get spread around a bit more. Then again, overspending has become second nature in free agency for far too many teams.

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HEAD OF THE CLASS

There were four All-Pros whose contracts were up after the 2015 season. Von Miller, Eric Berry and Doug Martin returned to their teams. Josh Norman had the franchise tag dropped by Carolina and scored big with a five-year, $75 million deal in Washington.

Four top guys who won't be going anywhere:

Le'Veon Bell , RB, Pittsburgh - The Steelers tagged their all-world back and he won't be leaving Steel City.

Eric Berry, S, Kansas City - He threatened to sit out 2017 rather than be tagged again and he won, getting a long-term deal as the league's highest-paid safety.

Kirk Cousins, QB, Washington - When a good but not great quarterback such as Cousins is making more than Super Bowl winners, it shows how valued (and overvalued) the position can be.

Jason Pierre-Paul , DE, New York Giants - The Giants are convinced he's found ways to be consistently dangerous despite his hand issues from 2015 fireworks accident.

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Still on teams' radars:

Alshon Jeffery, WR, Chicago - If he stays healthy, Jeffery can be a No. 1 target. In this pass-first league, that's a must-have commodity.

Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland - Teams outside of Dallas have discovered the need for two running backs. Murray pretty much would fit anywhere.

Andrew Whitworth, OT, Cincinnati - Veteran left tackles with versatility, leadership skills and intelligence are difficult to find.

Dont'a Hightower, LB, New England - Probably the best defender on the NFL champions, and a good locker room guy.

Dontari Poe, DT, Kansas City - If he isn't the best at his position in the NFL, he's close.

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Superstars without a home:

Adrian Peterson, RB: Surely the former Viking will get a nice, if short, deal from a club in dire need of a ground threat who could put it over the top.

Darrelle Revis, CB: He might have legal issues, and he slipped badly in his return to the Jets. If he has anything left, Revis is a find for someone - with a short-term contract.

Jamaal Charles, RB: One of the league's most gallant and versatile players, but his knee problems might be too much to overcome.

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NEXT IN LINE

These players are not far behind those above, but some come with significant questions marks. Listed alphabetically:

A.J. Bouye, CB, Houston; Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona; Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington; DeSean Jackson, WR, Washington; Tony Jefferson, S, Arizona; Trumaine Johnson (non-exclusive tag), CB, Los Angeles Rams; Chris Long, DE, New England; Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets; Alex Okafor, LB, Arizona; Nick Perry, LB, Green Bay; Terrelle Pryor, WR, Cleveland; Kawann Short (non-exclusive tag), DT, Carolina; Brandon Williams, DT, Baltimore; Kevin Zeitler, G, Cincinnati.

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SECOND WAVE

Some of these players might get quick deals more because of the position they play than their overall production. Some have excellent timing, hitting free agency after effective seasons. Listed alphabetically:

Kamar Aiken, WR, Baltimore; Martellus Bennett, TE, New England; Zach Brown, LB, Buffalo; Trent Cole, LB (edge rusher), Indianapolis; Jared Cook, TE, Green Bay; Patrick DiMarco, FB, Atlanta; Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis; Stephon Gilmore, CB, Buffalo; Mike Glennon, QB, Tampa Bay; Micah Hyde, S, Green Bay; Melvin Ingram (non-exclusive tag), LB, Los Angeles Chargers; Chandler Jones (non-exclusive tag), LB, Arizona; Matt Kalil, LT, Minnesota; Dre Kirkpatrick, CB, Cincinnati; Eddie Lacy, RB, Green Bay; T.J. Lang, G, Green Bay; Kelvin Sheppard, LB, New York Giants; Logan Ryan, CB, New England; J.C. Tretter, C, Green Bay; Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee.

Shanahan: Carradine could be heading to IR

tank-carradine-49ers-injury.jpg
AP

Shanahan: Carradine could be heading to IR

Defensive lineman Tank Carradine will miss an extended period of time with a high ankle sprain sustained in the fourth quarter of the 49ers’ 41-39 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said on Friday the team was awaiting the results of an MRI examination. The 49ers could decide to place Carradine on injured reserve, which would make him eligible to return to action later in the season.

“We’re going to have to get that and really decide whether IR or not,” Shanahan said. “Because any time you have a high ankle sprain it’s going to be a while. We’re not exactly sure how long that’s going to be, but we’ll have to decide that probably Monday.”

The 49ers expect to be without the services of linebacker Reuben Foster and safety Eric Reid, too.

Also, fullback Kyle Juszczyk, safety Jaquiski Tartt and linebacker Brock Coyle are in the concussion protocol after sustaining head injuries on Thursday.

Although the 49ers’ medical staff no longer requires Foster to wear an orthopedic boot for his high ankle sprain, Shanahan said he would be shocked if the rookie is able to return to action Oct. 1 against the Arizona Cardinals.

“I’d be shocked if he came back this week,” Shanahan said. “I’d be surprised. We’re taking it week to week. I’m not really expecting him this week but You never know with some of these athletes. He might be there, but I’m not expecting it right now.”

Reid’s rehab is behind Foster’s, according to Shanahan. Reid sustained a left knee injury Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks and is expected to miss multiple games.

Speaking at his day-after-game press conference, Shanahan said he was disappointed that the 49ers’ pass rush did not apply more pressure to Rams quarterback Jared Goff.

“We didn’t affect the quarterback enough,” Shanahan said. “I thought we did a very good job against Seattle and we took a step back on that last night.”

When asked what he saw on the critical late-fourth-quarter play on which rookie receiver Trent Taylor was called for pass interference, Shanahan said, “I saw a very good route.“

 

Controversial pass-interference call derails 49ers comeback

Controversial pass-interference call derails 49ers comeback

SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers had momentum and field position on their side when Trent Taylor made a sprawling catch at the Los Angeles Rams' 39-yard line.

The 49ers, down by two points, were nearing field-goal range on the first play after the two-minute warning. But the momentum was quickly halted.

Taylor was called for offensive pass interference as he broke to the outside against the coverage of Rams cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman. TV replays were inconclusive whether Taylor extended his right arm to push off.

“I ran the route the way it was called, the way that I always run it,” Taylor told NBC Sports Bay Area afer the game. “Felt good about it, and it was a great play call. But the ref’s decision on that, that’s nothing I can comment on. So I’ll just leave it as it is.”

The penalty set back the 49ers 10 yards. Brian Hoyer’s third-and-20 pass was incomplete, and he was sacked on fourth down to end any hope of a 49ers comeback victory.

“In that time of the game I would think you would let people play,” said Hoyer, prefacing his remarks with his intention to not say anything would warrant a fine.

“But I haven’t seen it. I have to go and watch the film. You know what, you don’t want to leave it up to the refs anyways. You hope you make a few plays earlier in the game to change the outcome. If it comes down to that, then that’s what it is. That’s what the guys job is to do.”

Taylor caught three passes for 32 yards, including his first NFL touchdown. He was also involved in another key play just moments earlier as the 49ers sought to tie the game. Hoyer’s two-point conversion pass attempt was tipped by Los Angeles cornerback Troy Hill and intercepted by defensive tackle Michael Brockers.

Coach Kyle Shanahan said Taylor was the third option on the play. Pierre Garçon and Marquise Goodwin were both well-covered on their inside-breaking routes. Taylor initially had separation against Hill, but that was a problem for the 49ers. The route called for Taylor to cut it back inside. Hoyer and Taylor teamed up for a touchdown on the exact same route on the other side earlier in the game against Hill.

“They got lucky and guessed the play,” Taylor said. “They were on it, so there was nothing we could do about it.”