Free Agent Update: Options Open For Byrd, Ward

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills

As recently as a couple days ago, it appeared the top two potential free-agent safeties would never get a chance to test the market.

But things have changed.

The Bills and Browns opted not to tag safeties Jairus Byrd and T.J. Ward, respectively. Both players can continue to work on negotiating long-term deals with their teams. But neither will be hand-cuffed. In other words, if they want to test the market, they will be allowed to do so. Read more »

On Thornton, Verner And Orakpo

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles announced today that they’ve signed Cedric Thornton to a one-year contract.

Thornton was an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he was under team control. If the Eagles wanted him back, his options were to either take the deal or not play at all. In other words, he was not allowed to negotiate with other teams on the open market.

Next year, Thornton will be a restricted free agent, meaning the Eagles will be in great position to retain him once again. Read more »

Three Free Agents That Fit

USATSI_7631382_168380503_lowres
We asked NFL analyst Brian Baldinger to identify three free agents that are a match for the Eagles in terms of both need and scheme fit. Here are the three players he would go after (assuming they hit the market):

OLB Brian Orakpo

Baldinger: I think he’s just a solid outside linebacker. I believe he’d be a great fit opposite Connor Barwin. He plays the run well, he’s strong at the point. I know in 2012 he got hurt but for the most part he’s been very durable. And when he’s durable he’s giving you 10 sacks or more a year and I think that’s what you’re looking at. I think Connor and Orakpo, if they lined up and played 80 percent of the snaps next year, I think you would get 20 sacks out of those guys. Read more »

Eagles Wake-Up Call: What About Orakpo?

USATSI_7561359_168380503_lowres
The Eagles need to improve their pass rush and Brian Orakpo is largely considered the top outside linebacker on the free-agent market, so we figured we would take a closer look to see if this is a potential fit.

Why it works

Orakpo (6-4, 257 pounds) is 27 years old, which falls within  Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman‘s preferred age range.  They want to bring in players who can not only contribute now but also be a part of the core moving forward, and Orakpo seemingly fits the bill. After dealing with a pec injury that cost him most of 2012, he played in 15 games this past season and finished with 10 sacks, nine stuffs, two fumble recoveries and 29 hurries. He was named to his third Pro Bowl. Read more »