News from Yahoo.com and Bengals.com
News from Yahoo.com and Bengals.com
(Reuters) - The Baltimore Ravens on Monday cut Victor Hampton after the cornerback was charged over the weekend in North Carolina with drunken driving. Hampton, 22, was stopped by police on Saturday in Charlotte driving 100 miles per hour (160 kph) in a 55 mph (89 kph) zone on Interstate 77, police said, adding that he was charged with driving while impaired. Two passengers in Hampton’s vehicle were arrested after police officers said they saw them trying to conceal weapons under the passenger seat. Hampton, signed by the Ravens in January, had a 0.10 blood-alcohol level, police said.
NFL free agency starts on March 10, with teams hoping to find the next star who can push them to the next level. Here are Shutdown Corner's free-agency rankings for defensive players and specialists, with every relevant unrestricted free agent set to hit the market ( for offensive players, click here ) : DEFENSIVE ENDS 1. Jerry Hughes: Hughes never panned out for the Colts, but two 10-sack seasons in Buffalo have put him in great position as he heads into free agency before his age-27 season. 2. Greg Hardy: This one is complicated. He’s a tremendous talent and won’t turn 27 until July. He also had a domestic violence incident that landed him on the NFL’s exempt list. If not for that he’d get an enormous contract. He might still get it. 3. Jabaal Sheard: Sheard was a better fit as a 4-3 end, but the Browns switched to a 3-4. Sheard’s sack totals have slipped every year since his rookie season. Maybe he can find the right fit in free agency. 4. Adrian Clayborn: The former Buccaneers’ first-round pick has been plagued by injuries – he played in just one game last year – but has been a solid 4-3 end when healthy.
NFL free agency starts on March 10, with teams hoping to find the next star who can push them to the next level. Here are Shutdown Corner's free agency rankings for offensive players ( for defensive players and specialists, click here ) , with every relevant unrestricted free agent set to hit the market: QUARTERBACKS 1. Brian Hoyer: Like most years, there are no great free-agent options at quarterback. Hoyer has looked good in a few spurts. He also got benched for Johnny Manziel last season when the Browns were still in the playoff race. With Cleveland signing Josh McCown, it appears Hoyer will hit the open market. 2. Mark Sanchez: On the bright side, he had eight starts with the Philadelphia Eagles last season and posted an 88.4 rating, and he has good experience with 70 NFL starts. But he has also shown he is mistake-prone, and that’s unlikely to change. 3. Jake Locker: Injuries and inaccuracy ruined his Tennessee Titans career. But he was the No. 8 pick of the 2011 draft, and someone will talk themselves into him having a successful second act if he stays healthy (enormous “if”) as he enters his age 27 season. 4. Ryan Mallett: Tom Brady’s backups get overrated; being a great player’s backup doesn’t make one great by osmosis. Mallett is a big-armed, unproven commodity with 79 career passes and an unimpressive 61 rating in four seasons. 5. Matt Moore: He had a good season starting for Miami in 2011. He has thrown 29 passes in three seasons since. His past success hasn’t been totally forgotten. 6. Tarvaris Jackson: He hasn’t played meaningful snaps since 2011, but has settled in nicely to his new career as a solid, dependable backup. 7. Michael Vick: Vick brings a big name and that’s about it at age 35. It has been a while since he was a legitimate option as a starter, but you could do worse as a backup option. 8. Colt McCoy: If you want to be optimistic, you chalk up his Cleveland struggles to it being the curse of the Browns, and focus on a decent four-start stint with the Washington Redskins last season. 9. Shaun Hill: At age 36, Hill is better suited as a backup, a role he was forced into with the St. Louis Rams last season. But he can still be an effective backup. 10. Christian Ponder: One would think that disastrous start at Green Bay eliminated all hope the former first-round pick could rebound in his second NFL stop. But he’ll get a shot somewhere. Others worth noting: Jason Campbell, Jimmy Clausen, Matt Flynn, Blaine Gabbert, Ryan Lindley, Tyrod Taylor, Scott Tolzien and T.J. Yates RUNNING BACKS 1. DeMarco Murray: No other free agent got MVP votes after last season (Murray got two of 50) or won a major award like Murray’s NFL offensive player of the year award (unless you count Justin Houston’s Deacon Jones award for leading the NFL in sacks). So Murray should be a hot commodity, right? Maybe not. The market for running backs is depressed with teams looking for cheaper options in the draft. Murray’s free agency will be interesting to watch. 2. Ryan Mathews: A fantastic back with two 1,000-yard seasons in San Diego, Mathews also is a constant injury concern. His ceiling is high -- if he can stay healthy. 3. Justin Forsett: Behind offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s zone-blocking attack with the Baltimore Ravens, Forsett had 1,266 yards and a great 5.4-yard average. He never had more than 619 yards in any of his first six NFL seasons. He’ll turn 30 in October, so will teams be willing to gamble on a repeat? 4. C.J. Spiller: The Bills didn’t get anything near what they paid for with Spiller, after they made him the ninth overall pick. He rarely got regular touches, and also dealt with plenty of injuries. He is still an intriguing talent who might benefit from a change in scenery. 5. Mark Ingram: After he looked like a first-round bust, Ingram emerged in his fourth season as a tough, productive runner. He has durability concerns but he should be a solid option for a running back-needy team, and it might be hard for the Saints to bring him back given their salary cap problems. 6. Frank Gore: One of the great San Francisco 49ers, Gore has 11,073 career yards on 2,442 carries. He is the epitome of toughness at the position, and last year had a good 4.3-yard average at age 31. Will the 49ers re-sign him? It seems like he still has something left. 7. Shane Vereen: Vereen is probably more valuable to the Patriots, who know how to use his talents as a receiver out of the backfield, than anyone else. 8. Stevan Ridley: Ridley tore his ACL in October, which complicates matters. He’s a powerful back who also has a fumbling problem and is a non-factor in the passing game. But he’s good between the tackles. 9. Reggie Bush: Even though he’ll be 30 before next season, Bush still has a lot of value. He’s great out of the backfield as a receiver and can still break a big run. 10. Roy Helu: He never established himself as a top option in Washington’ running game, but was great catching balls out of the backfield and doesn’t have many miles on his legs. 11. Ahmad Bradshaw: Bradshaw can still be an effective back when he’s healthy. That’s the problem: He’s rarely healthy. He hasn’t played 16 games since 2010 and he will be 29 next season. 12. Knowshon Moreno: The Broncos moved on from Moreno after a 1,000-yard season in 2013, and the Dolphins got just three games and 31 carries out of him because of injuries. He’s a solid all-around back and some team should get him at a discount. 13. Ben Tate: Tate was the top back in last year’s free-agent class, but that seems like decades ago. He was on three different teams last year, and if he signs somewhere this year he’ll have to prove he’s worth a regular role.
It’s time to revive the need-vs.-BPA (best player available) debate, with an eye on this year’s draft. I was stunned at how many comments, Twitter remarks and emails I got after my post-combine mock draft that were something along the lines of “[insert their favorite team] won’t do that … they have bigger needs.” Knowing that my mock will be torn to shreds after the first round of free agency, I won’t defend the picks — but rather my method. Think of it this way: If you were to go back and do a redraft from three, four, seven, heck, 10 years ago, what are you going to do? You’re going to look at the best players and not even think about need. It’s not the most scientific way to approach it, but the point is this: Talent trumps all, and need should only be a tiebreaker. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] So let’s take a look at the first-round draft order and examine some teams’ big, pressing needs — and implore them to wait on filling them if the right player isn’t available. 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: What don’t they need? Well, certainly most of the free world believes that Jameis Winston will be their choice at No. 1 overall, so we’ll assume that the Bucs go that direction and know that they can come back and address their needs for a pass rusher or an offensive lineman (or two) later on, starting with the second pick of the second round. 2. Tennessee Titans: Do they draft Marcus Mariota? I had the Titans taking him second, but I am starting to get the idea that they’ll listen to offers from desperate teams such as the Cleveland Browns or Philadelphia Eagles, if for no other reason than to see what they might fork over. That makes this tough to project, but we can say this: There is no offensive lineman — and they still need some — or defensive back worth taking at No. 2. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags are in a great spot here, able to let the top two picks play out and still likely get either Leonard Williams or a pass rusher. The need they can wait on is an offensive tackle, which could come later on. 4. Oakland Raiders: It’s looking like it is coming down to a receiver or a pass rusher, depending on what happens in free agency; Williams wouldn’t be bad, either. But as badly as they need another cornerback or an offensive lineman, this too can wait. 5. Washington Redskins: A bulldog guard with some size and grit would really help spur this run game. But you’re not drafting guards with the fifth pick too often and hitting home runs. This year is no exception. They can get their guy in Round 2 and still find a starter. 6. New York Jets: Broken record here. Cornerback and offensive tackle are two spots they’d love to fill in the draft. But taking D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s eventual replacement shouldn’t come with the sixth pick, no matter what happens in the top five. 7. Chicago Bears: For all of their defensive needs (and they have plenty), the Bears also have a sneaky shortcoming at wide receiver — especially if Brandon Marshall doesn’t figure into their plans. But with this draft class, some good receivers will be pushed down, maybe even into Rounds 3 and 4. 8. Atlanta Falcons: With the way the Falcons are cutting veterans left and right, their needs grow — proportionally to the speculation that they might be players in free agency. So it’s tricky to say which needs will be filled in late April and which won’t. But based on our best speculation, it would be unlikely for the Falcons to go the veteran free-agent route to add a running back, which they need, and more likely they’ll mine one from the draft. And we know it won’t be at No. 8. Could they steal Melvin Gordon at No. 41 overall? Get lucky to land Jay Ajayi near the top of Round 3? They might. 9. New York Giants: Is this too high to take an offensive tackle? We would understand the thinking if they went that route. A pass rusher? That we certainly can get on board with, assuming there’s still one worth taking (Vic Beasley? Bud Dupree?) still on the board. But we would implore the Giants to resist their defensive back need here, even if you’re talking Landon Collins or Trae Waynes or whomever. It just feels a bit too high for that position. 10. St. Louis Rams: Tricky spot to forecast here. They might need a receiver, and what if, say, either Kevin White or Amari Cooper slip? They might have to pounce. Offensive line looms as a sore spot still, and it wouldn’t be offensive to start (or continue) the run at that position for the right player. But a tight end? A cornerback? A quarterback? We say pass here. 11. Minnesota Vikings: This all changes if Adrian Peterson isn’t back, but we’re still not on board — yet — with Todd Gurley going at this point, even though, boy, what a potential replacement he might be. The beautiful thing seems to be that most of the team’s main needs (offensive line, cornerback, receiver) have players who could fit into this range. But linebacker, especially the kind they need, shouldn’t be the choice here. They can find one or two later on. 12. Cleveland Browns: Predicting Browns behavior is risky business, and we don’t recommend it for the faint of heart. But one thing is for certain: Taking a quarterback — assuming Marcus Mariota doesn’t embark on an Aaron Rodgers-esque slide — doesn’t feel wise. We’ll stop there for now, with the Browns back on the clock seven picks down the chain. 13. New Orleans Saints: You might be surprised to read how much we think the Saints need to consider a quarterback, and perhaps relatively high, too. But not here. No way. They can land a good pass rusher or cornerback at this spot and wait on QB. Maybe Garrett Grayson in the third? 14. Miami Dolphins: Our thinking here is that they could address the receiver position if someone like DeVante Parker remains undrafted, or perhaps nabbing a cornerback, although we’re bearish on the top-end talent. Same with linebacker. And they drafted an offensive lineman in Round 1 a year ago — would they go back and take another one this high? 15. San Francisco 49ers: I believe they’ll draft a quarterback. Boy, they’d rock the boat with a Brett Hundley pick, wouldn’t they? It’s not likely, but it’s fun to ponder. They also need receivers, offensive and defensive linemen, cornerbacks and a tight end. That last position can be filled down the line. 16. Houston Texans: Yes, we’d love to see long-term clarity at the QB spot, but Hundley and Bryce Petty are no-nos here. Solve the cornerback/wide receiver/offensive line issue instead. A sleeper first-round position could be nose tackle, unless they suddenly feel better about Louis Nix III. 17. San Diego Chargers: If a pass rusher fell here, they could grab him and help fill the veteran voids of Dwight Freeney and/or Jarrett Johnson, even with Jeremiah Attaochu in the wings. An offensive or defensive lineman could work here, too. But a running back — even if Ryan Mathews leaves — can wait. This draft is loaded at the position. http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nfl-shutdown-corner/post-nfl-combine-two-round-mock-draft-155706803.html 18. Kansas City Chiefs: No, we’re not going to further alienate our Chiefs readers by suggesting they pass on a wide receiver here (as we did in our most recent mock draft). An offensive lineman makes perfect sense as well. A corner would be OK if the right-sized and skilled player is here. But a linebacker can wait for later on in the draft. 19. Browns (from the Buffalo Bills): It all depends on what happens at 12. Heck, they could trade these two picks for Mariota for all we know. The only positions we’d urge them to wait on would be a linebacker or a tight end (if Jordan Cameron is gone). 20. Philadelphia Eagles: Like the Browns, we’re not super keen on them going quarterback here, short of finding a way to get up for Mariota. Corner and offensive line, if they stay here, would be two areas to consider. But safety would be a reach, even with Landon Collins fitting the Brian Dawkins-like physical mold. This Eagles defense relies on range, which might not be Collins’ forte. 21. Cincinnati Bengals: No kickers here, please! We’re only half kidding. Same with quarterback, even though we’d love to provide some Andy Dalton alternatives for the future. We feel confident they can find a linebacker, pass rusher, defensive back or receiver here whose value makes more sense. 22. Pittsburgh Steelers: Will there be a pass rusher worth taking at 22? Too early to tell. We think there will be a corner or a defensive lineman they like in this spot if not. Certainly, there’s zero need to add a running back now, even with Le’Veon Bell’s looming two-game suspension and zero reliable depth behind him. That can wait — perhaps even until Day 3 of the draft. 23. Detroit Lions: Releasing Reggie Bush means they could use another running back. But please, for all that is right, don’t start projecting them to take Gurley or Gordon. It’s not happening here. We’d love them to help out the offensive line, or the defensive line if they can’t keep Ndamukong Suh and/or Nick Fairley. 24. Arizona Cardinals: Funny to say for an offensively limited team by season’s end, but there might actually be more tangible needs on the defensive side of the ball — perhaps with all three levels needing some help. The inside linebacker can wait. We actually would be on board with taking Gurley here, too; that might be a fantastic move. 25. Carolina Panthers: Doesn’t this have to be an offensive tackle here? If not, maybe a receiver, but they did take Kelvin Benjamin in Round 1 last year, making it less likely in our minds. A cornerback would be better addressed later, we think, but the top ones will go quickly in this range. 26. Baltimore Ravens: This is a team that stands to lose some players for monetary reasons, and of their clear needs right now, we think they might be forced to wait on an outside rusher until later in the draft. It’s unlikely the right fit will be here at this spot, and there are plenty of other spots they can address nicely with the talent expected to be available here. 27. Dallas Cowboys: They could use another tight end to replace Jason Witten one day, and as much as Maxx Williams reminds us of Witten, we say pass here. There are a surprising number of areas that could improve on this 12-4 squad. 28. Denver Broncos: Like we’ve said above, the linebacker crop is not chock full of top-end talent, so this is a position they might be able to hit the snooze bar on for a round unless a top talent such as Shaq Thompson slides unexpectedly. 29. Indianapolis Colts: They need a safety, but if Collins is gone … we say wait. There might only be another one or two worth taking in the first 75 picks of the draft or so. We also think drafting a running back this high might not be the wisest move. Get another offensive lineman or a pass rusher instead. 30. Green Bay Packers: Why is everyone panicking about inside linebacker? Yes, Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk are gone, but that’s not a first-round position in this defense, we don’t believe. Ted Thompson is among the strictest best-player-available drafters in the game. We think he’ll look elsewhere. 31. Seattle Seahawks: Wide receiver is tempting, but the depth of this class suggests they might be able to be patient and wait; besides, they traded down and made Paul Richardson their top pick a year ago, even if he is coming off a torn ACL. 32. New England Patriots: Why does everyone want them to draft a receiver so high? They never have used a first-rounder on one under Bill Belichick, and they likely won’t start now. The offensive and defensive lines make more sense to address. The receiver can wait. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
It might come as a surprise, but the Arizona Cardinals released defensive tackle Darnell Dockett, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. Cardinals announced they released Darnell Dockett. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 27, 2015 Dockett tore his ACL prior to last season and missed the entire 2014 campaign. The colorful and outspoken defensive lineman turns 34 in May and was scheduled to hit for nearly $9 million on this year's salary cap. Dockett signed a four-year, $35.3 million deal prior to the 2010 season and has spent his entire career with the Cardinals until now. Although injury and age work against him, Dockett still should garner solid attention on the free-agent market. This feels like a salary cap-related move by the Cardinals, who previously were projected to have about $5 million in space to operate. 'Tis the season for NFL teams to hack veterans, and Friday brought a slew of financially motivated cuts. The Miami Dolphins cut receivers Brian Hartline and Brandon Gibson. The Atlanta Falcons cut receiver Harry Douglas and offensive lineman Justin Blalock one day after chopping Steven Jackson. The Washington Redskins cut defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. The Cincinnati Bengals parted ways with wideout Greg Little and defensive lineman Robert Geathers. It's all part of the fat-trimming teams are doing with the start of the new league year and free agency nearly upon us (March 10, officially). Dockett is the biggest name of the bunch, and he should find work elsewhere. As for some of the others, it's not clear that will happen, at least not immediately. - - - - - - - Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Eric_Edholm
The Bengals released defensive end Robert Geathers - one of Cincinnati's most tenured players - and receiver Greg Little on Friday. Geathers played 11 seasons with Cincinnati, a span of 152 career games that ranks third in franchise history for a defensive lineman. Only Tim Krumrie (188) and Eddie Edwards (170) have played in more games for the Bengals.
The Bears have outstanding offensive skill-position personnel which will make Mariota's transition easier.
Connecting the dots on a mock draft three weeks before the start of free agency proves to be difficult, especially with more health and workout information needed on a few key injured draft prospects. But we’ll take a crack with the NFL scouting combine in the rearview mirror and the bulk of the draft information in the tank. Here’s how we think the first two rounds looks as things stand now. 1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Florida State QB Jameis Winston Head coach Lovie Smith says he’s OK with Winston’s character, which would be the only real roadblock to welcoming him in the building. Offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter won’t have to dig deep in his playbook to find a system that fits Winston’s skills, having coached similar physical types in Byron Leftwich and Matt Ryan in Jacksonville and Atlanta, respectively. The stars are starting to line up for this marriage. [All Draft News, All The Time: Follow Shutdown Draft 365 on Tumblr ] 2. Tennessee Titans — Oregon QB Marcus Mariota Our best comp for Mariota since last fall has been Alex Smith, who has been a good but hardly transcendent quarterback. Mariota’s strong workouts this weekend only reinforce that. Titans OC Jason Michael spent two years as Smith’s QB coach in San Francisco and certainly can draw on that experience to find a way to get the best from Mariota. Are we certain Mariota will go second? No, but the Titans’ lukewarm defense of Zach Mettenberger in Indy makes us think this could happen. Otherwise, the Titans might be open for business at No. 2 if the right team blows them away with a trade offer. 3. Jacksonville Jaguars — USC DT Leonard Williams The Daytona Beach native might be the perfect force player for Gus Bradley’s defense, even if an interior player isn’t the most pressing need. Who cares? Williams might be the cleanest prospect available and could give the Jaguars another horse up front to control the action.
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