Dez Bryant - WR - Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant will receive the franchise tag by the deadline Monday, March 2, executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed Saturday, Feb. 28. The move will guarantee Bryant roughly $13 million in 2015.
Huddle Up: The tag doesn't preclude the Cowboys from hammering out a long-term deal with Bryant, but they may be apprehensive about a commitment given Bryant's checkered off-the-field history. Bryant getting the tag also means the Cowboys are unlikely to retain DeMarco Murray, as the anticipated plan was to sign Bryant to a long-term deal and franchise the oft-injured running back coming off a career-high workload.
Josh McCown - QB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Updating previous reports, Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown has $6.25 million in guarantees in his three-year deal, and he'll make $5.25 million in 2015. The value of his deal is $14 million with the chance to make $20 million, according to a source that has seen the contract.
Huddle Up: The Browns didn't break the bank for McCown, but that's enough to suggest the team won't be pursuing Brian Hoyer in free agency. That leaves McCown to battle Johnny Manziel and Connor Shaw for the starting gig.
Vincent Jackson - WR - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Vincent Jackson was not asked to take a pay cut this season, despite a previous report that he had been asked to do so. Jackson is still expected to return this season.
Huddle Up: Seems silly for the Bucs to jettison a veteran receiver when they're likely adding a rookie quarterback with the first overall pick. There appear to be no cap hurdles to keeping V-Jax, so unless the Bucs start spending in free agency and need to create more room expect Jackson to play under his existing deal.
Stevie Johnson - WR - San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers WR Stevie Johnson is expected to be released this offseason, according to sources. The 49ers would save $5.5 million in salary cap space.
Huddle Up: If Johnson departs and the Niners are unable to re-sign Michael Crabtree, it's all but assured they'll use their mid-first round selection to address the wide receiver position. Either that or they're fully committing to Colin Kaepernick running the option and not throwing much at all.
Julius Thomas - TE - Denver Broncos
Denver Broncos impending free-agent TE Julius Thomas is drawing interest from the Oakland Raiders, according to NFL.com's Ian Rapoport.
Huddle Up: Was Tim Brown the Raiders' last big-time play-making pass-catcher? It sure seems like it as second-year QB Derek Carr can use some weapons. Look for the Silver & Black, the Jaguars and possibly the Falcons to be among the front-runners if Thomas hits the open market.
Devonta Freeman - RB - Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons RB Devonta Freeman could be the full-time back in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme next season, according to general manager Thomas Dimitroff. 'My first impression of him is that you can feel the quickness. In our outside-zone-system, I feel like this is tailor-made for a guy who can really explode off the edge,' head coach Dan Quinn said.
Huddle Up: Freeman, a fourth-round pick last season, rushed for 248 yards and a TD on 65 carries and added 225 yards and a score on 30 receptions and right now, he's the front-runner for the starting job next fall with the team releasing veteran Steven Jackson on Friday. Still, the free-agent and 2015 draft RB classes are well-stocked, and don't be surprised if the Falcons add a back to compete for the No. 1 gig.
Josh McCown - QB - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Free-agent QB Josh McCown (Buccaneers) signed a three-year deal with the Cleveland Browns on Friday, Feb. 27, according to his agent. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Huddle Up: McCown -- who had also visited with the Bills, Jets and Bears -- will join his seventh NFL team in 13 seasons and gives the franchise a veteran option with 2014 first-round pick Johnny Manziel trying to straighten up his on- and off-field lives and Brian Hoyer headed to free agency. McCown stood out with the Bears in 2013 but was 1-10 as a starter with 11 TD passes, 14 interceptions and a 70.5 rating last year in Tampa.
Reggie Wayne - WR - Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent WR Reggie Wayne (triceps) recently underwent surgery on his triceps and has started his rehab. Wayne still has not decided if he will play in 2015.
Huddle Up: Wayne, who will be 37 in November, figures to be welcomed back as a reserve WR and veteran presence in Indy if he chooses to play another season, but it's certainly a wait-and-see proposition for the time being.
Brandon Gibson - WR - Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins WR Brandon Gibson was released Friday, Feb. 27.
Huddle Up: The Dolphins are emptying the WR depth chart and clearing cap space, also waiving Brian Hartline on Friday. Gibson spent two mediocre, injury-marred two seasons in South Beach, starting eight games and catching 59 passes for 621 yards and four TDs. Gibson started the first five games in the slot last season before being bumped by rookie standout Jarvis Landry, who went on to lead the team in receiving with 84 grabs.
Adrian Peterson - RB - Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson could be a trade target for the Indianapolis Colts. QB Andrew Luck hasn't had a successful running game behind him so far in Indianapolis. However, Colts running backs not named RB Trent Richardson averaged close to 5.0 yards per carry in the last two seasons.
Huddle Up: Arizona and Dallas (still) also are mentioned as trade destinations for Peterson as signs are starting to point that his run in the Twin Cities might be finished once he's reinstated by the league. A Luck-Peterson pairing would most definitely be juicy, and Indy is certainly in need of a RB after the first-round-pick-for-Richardson trade proved to be a colossal flop. Stay tuned ...
Cole Beasley - WR - Dallas Cowboys
Free-agent WR Cole Beasley (Cowboys) and the Dallas Cowboys are discussing a contract extension that would keep Beasley under control for multiple seasons.
Huddle Up: The 5-8, 175-pound Beasley actually had more targets (54-49) and receptions (39-37) in 2013 than he did a season ago but doubling his TD output (4-2) attracted more fantasy attention. He's a decent -- but not great -- slot WR target for Tony Romo whose numbers should see modest increases.
Steven Jackson - RB - Atlanta Falcons
Free-agent RB Steven Jackson (Falcons) plans to continue playing, according to a statement posted on his website.
Huddle Up: Jackson, who will turn 32 in July, had seen his rushing yards decline in each of the four previous seasons before seeing a slight increase from 543 to 707 last year. He may have a season or two left in the tank but he clearly no longer fits the starting RB profile.
Tre Mason - RB - St. Louis Rams
St. Louis Rams RB Tre Mason didn't play until Week 6 of last season because of his issues with pass protection, according to head coach Jeff Fisher.
Huddle Up: Mason, a 2014 third-round pick, had 116 of his 179 rushes, 495 of his 765 yards and three of his four rushing TDs over the final seven games of the season and looks to be the be the Rams' clear No. 1 back entering the 2015 season. Still, be somewhat wary as we were saying the same things about Rams' 2013 rookie Zac Stacy a year ago.
Harry Douglas - WR - Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons WR Harry Douglas was released Friday, Feb. 27.
Huddle Up: Douglas, a 2003 third-round pick, is the latest cap casualty in Atlanta. He had a career year in 2013, catching 85 passes for 1,067 yards and two scores with Julio Jones missing most of the season and slipped to 51-556-2 last year while dealing with a nagging foot injury. Look for him to hook on somewhere as a backup WR, but the fantasy impact will be minimal.
Brian Hartline - WR - Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins WR Brian Hartline was released Friday, Feb. 27.
Huddle Up: After back-to-back 70-catch, 1,000-yard seasons in 2012-13, Hartline had a disappointing 39-474-2 campaign last fall and became a cap casualty. He still has No. 2 or 3 WR potential, though, and could return to decent numbers if he hooks up with the right team/passing game.
Kevin Dorsey - WR - Free Agent
Free-agent WR Kevin Dorsey (Packers) has interest from at least three other teams than the New England Patriots. The other teams were not specified.
Huddle Up: Dorsey, a seventh-round pick of the Pack in 2013, has caught one career pass for four yards. He has been buried at the bottom of the team's deep WR corps but has evidently caught more than one set of eyes around the league.
Antone Smith - RB - Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons impending free-agent RB Antone Smith is a priority for the team to re-sign this offseason, but the Falcons could add another running back in free agency instead.
Huddle Up: Smith had a career year in only 10 games last season, finishing with 366 total yards and scoring five TDs on 36 touches before a broken leg prematurely ended his season. With the Falcons set to release Steven Jackson, the Falcons will likely re-sign Smith to pair with second-year back Devonta Freeman, but definitely don't be surprised if they also add a veteran free agent or select another RB in the draft.
Matt Hasselbeck - QB - Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts impending free-agent QB Matt Hasselbeck was re-signed to a one-year deal Thursday, Feb. 26. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Huddle Up: Hasselbeck will turn 40 in September but he evidently has the confidence of the Colts as he's slated to back up Andrew Luck for the third straight season. It's a good gig, though, as Hasselbeck has only had to attempt 56 passes over the last two seasons.
Steven Jackson - RB - Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons RB Steven Jackson will reportedly be released Friday, Feb. 27.
Huddle Up: If it's not the end of the NFL road for the soon-to-be 32-year-old Jackson, he can at least see it from here after he averaged 3.6 yards per carry and ran for 12 TDs in two disappointing seasons with the Falcons.
Adrian Peterson - RB - Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson's suspension was overturned by U.S. District Judge David S. Doty on Thursday, Feb. 26. However, the NFL also announced that they will appeal the ruling, and Peterson will return to the Commissioner's Exempt List. 'Judge Doty's order did not contain any determinations concerning the fairness of the appeals process under the CBA, including the commissioner's longstanding authority to appoint a designee to act as hearing officer,' the league said in a statement.
Huddle Up: The Vikings and Peterson cannot have contact with each other and nothing can happen until he is formally reinstated by the league -- and who knows when that will happen if it carries through with the appeal. At least (we believe) the latest it will be is April 15 -- the date when his suspension was originally due to end. Just don't say we didn't warn you that this would be a true soap opera.
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