Robert MeachemNO -WR Saints re-sign Meachem
The Saints have re-signed WR Robert Meachem to a 1-year deal. He tallied a 16-324-2 line in a situational deep threat role last season. That 20.3 yards-per-catch average was tops among WRs with at least 10 grabs. Meachem also received positive overall and receiving grades from Pro Football Focus. He's a valuable asset to New Orleans' passing game but is unlikely to see enough action to be a reliable fantasy option in 2014. Meachem will compete with Joe Morgan, Nick Toon and possibly a rookie for #3 WR duties.
Chris JohnsonNYJ -RB Johnson prepared to share carries
RB Chris Johnson averaged 290 carries across 6 seasons in Tennessee. He wasn't happy when the Titans added RB Shonn Greene last offseason. But he's prepared to share carries in New York. Johnson even admitted that the Jets coaches have already told him he'll be used as part of a committee. "This year, it’s about winning," Johnson said. "I want to come into a program where I think we could win. And if that’s what the coach feels we [have to do to] win, then that’s what we have to do." Johnson and RB Chris Ivory will form a "thunder and lightning" duo. For more on the Jets' 2014 backfield, check out our Tale of the Tape.
Trent RichardsonIND -RB Colts still high on Richardson
The Colts remain committed to RB Trent Richardson, despite his ugly 2013 season. “He wants to be great. He’s got all the talent. He’s got all the ability," HC Chuck Pagano said. "We would have never done what we did [trade a 1st-round pick for him] if we didn’t believe that deep down in our core. So we look for him to have a great offseason and to have a great 2014 campaign.” The Colts' offseason moves -- letting RB Donald Brown walk and only re-signing RB Ahmad Bradshaw -- confirms their continued faith in Richardson. He'll enter the season as the team's clear lead back. That's at least part of the equation for a bounce-back campaign. We'll see if T-Rich can capitalize on the big workload in an explosive offense.
Sidney RiceSEA -WR Rice re-signs with Seahawks
WR Sidney Rice has agreed to a 1-year deal to re-join the Seahawks. It's one of the best landing spots for his 2014 fantasy football value. Rice is familiar with Seattle's offense and won't have trouble finding playing time for a team with Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse as its top 3 WRs. Of course, Rice's first task will be staying healthy. He's missed 15 games over the past 3 years in Seattle, including 8 last year with a torn ACL. Rice has been medically cleared from that injury and should be a full-go for training camp.
Chris JohnsonNYJ -RB Johnson lands with the Jets
RB Chris Johnson has agreed to a 2-year deal with the Jets. Per Pro Football Talk, it's an $8 million contract with another $1 million available through incentives. That makes it the most lucrative deal given to a RB this offseason. The Jets were the only team that showed strong interest in Johnson. That's not a major surprise considering he turns 29 in September, underwent offseason knee surgery and is coming off a career-worst 3.9 yards per carry. Johnson will serve as the "lightning" to RB Chris Ivory's "thunder" in New York's committee backfield. We're expecting the carries to be split pretty evenly. Ivory will be the better TD bet, but Johnson will handle the passing-down work. Both guys figure to struggle even for RB2 fantasy value.
Tom BradyNE -QB Brady "only has a few years left"
The Patriots "truly feel that Tom Brady only has a few years left," according to insider Mike Freeman. No surprise there. Turning 37 in August, Brady is the 2nd-oldest starting QB in the league. He's still one of the best, but his completion rate has dipped in 4 straight seasons. His 6.9 yards-per-attempt average was his worst mark in a full season since 2006. New England is expected to add a QB -- potentially Brady's successor -- in next month's draft. QB Ryan Mallet is a free agent next offseason.
Rob GronkowskiNE -TE Gronkowski will "take his time" with rehab
NFL insider Mike Freeman hears that Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski will "take his time and then take more time" in his return from last December's torn ACL. Gronk underwent surgery on January 9th, and a recent report had his rehab on track. But remember that he took his time returning from back and forearm injuries last offseason, missing the season's first 6 weeks. Gronk isn't a lock to be on the field for the start of the 2014 campaign.
Mike JamesTB -RB James' rehab "going well"
Bucs RB Mike James is encouraged by his recovery from last November's broken ankle. "The healing process is going well," he said. "I've got a good opportunity to do what I need to do to get back in the swing of things and get acclimated with everything." James has resumed running and cutting. It's unclear how much he'll do in OTAs, but he should be a full-go for training camp. James averaged 4.9 yards on his 60 carries last year and is the favorite for #2 RB duties in Tampa this season. That'll likely only mean a handful of touches per game, though, leaving James as just a handcuff to Doug Martin.
Josh FreemanNYG -QB Freeman latches on with Giants
QB Josh Freeman has signed a 1-year deal with the Giants. The 26-year-old was met with an ice cold free-agent market, which isn't surprising considering how awful he looked last year. Freeman's completion rate has dropped in 3 straight seasons, bottoming out at 42.9% in 4 games last year. He'll compete with 2nd-year QB Ryan Nassib for the Giants' backup job behind Eli Manning.
Montee BallDEN -RB Ball gets vote of confidence from Manning
Broncos QB Peyton Manning confirmed that he believes Montee Ball is ready to become the team's starting RB. The front office surely checked in with Manning before letting RB Knowshon Moreno go in free agency. Ball struggled learning the offense, protecting the QB and with ball security early in 2013. But he was the team's best RB over the 2nd half of the season. He averaged 5.9 yards per carry, didn't allow a single sack and lost just 1 fumble over Denver's final 8 regular-season games. Ball is a good bet for 300+ touches in 2014, giving him clear RB1 upside.
Malcom FloydSD -WR Floyd will participate in OTAs next week
Chargers WR Malcom Floyd is expected to be a limited participant when OTAs begin next week, according to insider Michael Gehlken. Floyd has been running and lifting for a few weeks now, and the OTAs are the next step in his bid to return from last September's serious neck injury. Gehlken notes, though, that it's still unclear whether Floyd will be able to continue his football career. We'll continue to monitor his status over the next few months. San Diego has an opening in its starting lineup opposite WR Keenan Allen.
Brandon LloydSF -WR Lloyd signs with 49ers
WR Brandon Lloyd has inked a 1-year deal with the 49ers. He was cut by the Patriots last summer and spent 2013 out of football. He posted 70+ catches and 900+ yards in each of the previous 3 seasons. At 33 years old, though, it's tough to believe Lloyd has much left in the tank. We wouldn't even consider him a lock to make the 49ers' Week 1 roster. Lloyd is a long shot for fantasy value in 2014.
Brandon GibsonMIA -WR Gibson expects to be ready for Week 1
Dolphins WR Brandon Gibson recently told ESPN that he "definitely" expects to be ready for the season opener. Gibson went down with a torn patellar tendon in Week 8. He recently resumed "light jogging" but is unlikely to do anything in OTAs. We'll see if Gibson can get on the field in training camp. Due $3.7 million this season, he's been rumored as a potential release candidate. He racked up 29 catches in his 6 full games last year, but replacement Rishard Matthews fared well in Gibson's absence. Neither guy is likely to be a fantasy asset in 2014.
Sidney RiceSEA -WR Rice medically cleared
Pro Football Talk reports that WR Sidney Rice has been cleared to resume football activities after last October's torn ACL. That should increase the interest in his services on the free-agent market. PFT hears that the Seahawks, Saints, Giants and Panthers have sniffed around Rice. Carolina would be his best bet for playing time. Rice has been incredibly injury prone throughout his NFL career, but still goes 6'4 and doesn't turn 28 until September.
Doug MartinTB -RB Martin still a "fantasy force"
ESPN's Pat Yasinskas penned a post touting Bucs RB Doug Martin's 2014 fantasy value. Yasinskas believes Martin will once again be a "fantasy force" this season. "[Mike] James and [Bobby] Rainey aren’t quite in Martin's class and that means the rotation isn't going to split up the carries too much," Yasinskas writes. "Martin still will get the bulk of the carries and he’s shown he can produce in fantasy and real life." Yasinskas adds that the Bucs might run even more under the new coaching staff than they did under former HC Greg Schiano. And mixing in James and Rainey will "help keep Martin fresh." Martin probably won't reach the 368 touches he totaled in 2012, but he shouldn't have trouble topping 300 this year. That'll put him in the RB1 mix.
Aldon SmithSF -LB Smith arrested for making bomb threat
49ers LB Aldon Smith was arrested at Los Angeles Airport after allegedly yelling "bomb" near the security gate. Smith reportedly got upset that he was randomly selected for additional screening. Police claim Smith became "belligerent and uncooperative" with TSA. Sources also note the pass-rushers "appeared to be drunk." That, of course, has been a major issue for Smith. He's been arrested for DUI twice since entering the league in 2011 and missed 5 weeks for rehab this past year. Smith is also still facing illegal weapons charges from a 2012 incident at his home. Neither the 49ers nor fantasy owners can be counting on Smith this coming season.
Eli ManningNYG -QB Giants worried Manning is in decline
ESPN's Dan Graziano hears that some in the Giants organization are questioning whether QB Eli Manning is "a player in decline." The numbers certainly support that notion. Manning's completion rate sunk for the 3rd straight year in 2013. His 57.5% mark was his worst since 2007. His 3,818 passing yards were his fewest since 2008. His 18 TDs were his fewest as a full-time starter, and his 27 INTs were a career high. Manning turned 33 in January, will be in a new offense in 2014 and is now rehabbing a surgically repaired ankle. He has a long road back to QB1 territory. We're not betting on him getting there.
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