Busy day, eh? With the Franchise Tag deadline looming in just two days, I suppose that was to be expected.
Already, we work up to word that the Bears would not be franchising Alshon Jeffery, and then we wondered what the means for the wide receiver and the Bears. Then, two more franchise decisions rolled in – both affirmative – on Chandler Jones and Kawann Short.
And now I’m hoping to sneak a quick pass around the rumor mill before more news breaks …
- Speaking of which, this dropped as I started typing:
The #Steelers have placed the exclusive franchise tag on RB Le'Veon Bell, source says. Same number as non-exclusive tag.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 27, 2017
- That was the expectation, assuming a longer-term deal wasn’t worked out first. Bell, 25, was among the best all-around backs in the game, and rushed for the fifth most yards in the league despite sitting out three games for missing a drug test. He’ll make around $12 million via the exclusive franchise tag, and the sides will presumably keep negotiating. Given the presence of Jordan Howard, there’s no direct impact to the relevant free agent market for the Bears, mind you.
- Elsewhere on the franchise front:
Current expectation is that unless they sign one of them next 48 hours, #Chiefs will franchise tag Eric Berry and let Dontari Poe be UFA
— Ed Werder (@EdwerderRFA) February 27, 2017
- Berry, among the best safeties in the game (and an obvious fit for the Bears in that regard), has previously said that he wouldn’t play a second straight year on the one-year franchise commitment, so we’ll see if the Chiefs follow through on an approach that could leave them with an unhappy star safety – and might leave them a bit cornered until they can sign him to a satisfactory multi-year deal. As for Poe, if he does in fact reach unrestricted free agency, he could be an intriguing play for the Bears, too, depending on how they decide to structure their defensive line heading into 2017. He wouldn’t come cheap, though.
- Berry does not show up on Adam Schefter’s latest, for what it’s worth (which might not be much, given the limitations of the Twitter medium):
Other players expected to be tagged by Wednesday deadline include Kirk Cousins, Le'Veon Bell, Kawann Short, Melvin Ingram, Trumaine Johnson.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 27, 2017
- New 49ers GM John Lynch is already signaling a willingness to trade down in the draft from the number two pick, perhaps suggesting that they’re not enamored with the quarterbacks available in the draft (or any of the other non-Myles Garrett options). Trading down is more easily-suggested than pulled off, of course, especially in a draft where the very reason you’d want to trade down is because there’s not a clear “next best” player available. In that respect, you can see plenty of parallels here for the Bears, should they, too, look to go the trade down route. Obviously getting the same quarterback at pick 10 as you’d get at 2, for example, and adding additional picks in the process, sounds like a dream come true. Finding that team that desperately wants to trade up to number 2 or number 3, though, is going to be more difficult. We’ll see what shakes out at the Combine, though, as it’s possible some players will start making clear moves up and down the board.
- The Chiefs are not infrequently mentioned as among the teams possibly looking for a quarterback upgrade this offseason, but not so, according to owner Clark Hunt, who is backing Alex Smith as the quarterback for the team heading into 2017. The Chiefs have been perfectly successful under Smith’s stewardship, but have failed to advance past the divisional round of the playoffs in all of his four seasons with the team.
- Rob Gronkowski hopes teammate and fellow tight end (and former Bear) Martellus Bennett breaks the bank in free agency.
- In addition to tagging Short, the Panthers announced two defensive end signings, taking a couple possible free agents off the board: the team’s sack leader Mario Addison gets a three-year deal, and emerging depth/borderline starter Wes Horton gets a two-year deal.
- Antonio Brown might land a big new deal, and give Alshon Jeffery a contract target to dream about in free agency:
#Steelers & reps for WR Antonio Brown are making significant progress toward a big-$ extension, sources say, with the goal of a deal by 3/9.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 27, 2017