Shark Bites

11 hours ago

The Saints have released RB Pierre Thomas.  New Orleans is currently about $20 million over the cap, but this only saves them $1.7 million, so the move isn't only about money.  Thomas remained an effective player last year (4.9 yards per carry, 8.9 yards per catch).  But he missed 5 games and turned 30 this past December.  New Orleans has a potential passing-game replacement in RB Travaris Cadet.  With RB Mark Ingram likely to depart via free agency, RB Khiry Robinson is set up for a big workload.

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Broncos QB Peyton Manning has agreed to take a $4 million pay cut, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen.  He'll still make $15 million in 2015, so don't feel too bad for him.  It's obviously confirmation that Manning will play another season -- and that Denver wants him back.  The future Hall-of-Famer has faded down the stretch in 2 straight years and turns 39 later this month.  But he's still finished as a top-6 fantasy QB in all 3 seasons in Denver.  Manning is coming off the board in the 6th round of early MFL10 drafts.

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14 hours ago

The Bills have acquired QB Matt Cassel from the Vikings.  Minnesota also ships its 2015 6th-round pick to Buffalo in exchange for a 2015 5th-rounder and 2016 7th.  With no 1st-round pick and a weak free-agent crop, this is as good as Buffalo could do for a QB upgrade.  Cassel had an impressive 2008 campaign in New England but has completed just 57.8% of his passes with 73 TDs and 57 INTs in the 6 years since.  He'll compete with E.J. Manuel for the starting job this offseason.  The winner will only be asked to manage an offense that will rely on its running game.

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Texans WR Andre Johnson has asked the team to be released, according to Pro Football Talk.  Johnson knows that a trade won't happen because of his bloated salary, so he's hoping to expedite the divorce.  Although he turns 34 in July, Johnson won't hurt for suitors on the open market.  We'd consider him the #3 free-agent WR behind Randall Cobb and Jeremy Maclin.

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1 day ago

The Eagles on Tuesday released OLB Trent Cole. The 10-year veteran had been with the team since Philly drafted him in the 5th round back in 2005. The 2 sides reportedly discussed a contract restructuring but apparently couldn't reach a deal. With the Eagles also apparently unlikely to re-sign OLB Brandon Graham before he reaches free agency, Philly suddenly faces a big need on the edge. Marcus Smith, last year's 1st-round pick, proved unready to contribute at all as a rookie, so it's tough to expect him to fill a big role in 2015. The Eagles could be looking at 1 of the 1st-round edge-rushers in this year's NFL draft and/or could look to players such as Pernell McPhee, Jabaal Sheard, Jason Worilds or Akeem Ayers in free agency.

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The Eagles will trade RB LeSean McCoy to the Bills in exchange for LB Kiko Alonso, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.  It's a massive blockbuster that comes out of nowhere.  There were whispers that Philly didn't want to take on McCoy's $11.95 million cap charge in 2015.  And he was phased out of certain parts of the game plan last season.  So the Eagles ship the ultra-talented 26-year-old to Buffalo.  Shady will clearly be the focal point of the Bills offense under run-minded HC Rex Ryan and OC Greg Roman.  But the downgrade in supporting cast is steep.  McCoy's short and long-term fantasy value takes a hit with the move.  The Eagles, meanwhile, are left with Darren Sproles and Chris Polk as their top 2 RBs.  We'll see if they add to the group in free agency and/of the draft.  Philly also acquires a defensive building block in LB Kiko Alonso, who racked up 159 tackles in his 2013 rookie season before missing this past year with a torn ACL.

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The Cowboys re-signed WR Cole Beasley to a 4-year deal worth $13.6 million.  It's a fair deal for a guy who has emerged as a reliable short-range, slot receiver.  Beasley has totaled 76 catches on 104 targets (73% catch rate) over the past 2 seasons.  He's averaged just 10.4 yards per catch, though, and scored only 6 TDs.  Beasley is much more valuable to the Cowboys than he is to fantasy teams.

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2 days ago

The Giants on Monday applied the franchise tag to DE Jason Pierre-Paul. It's not a surprising move, especially after JPP posted easily his most productive season since his 2011 breakout. His 12.5 sacks in 2014 marked the 2nd-best total of his career, and he produced his 2nd top-3 finish among fantasy D-linemen. There have been questions about his drive previously, which leaves us hoping he won't get too comfy with a big new contract. But we're strongly behind JPP as an IDP factor going forward.

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The Tennessean reports that the Titans informed S Bernard Pollard on Monday that they'll release him Tuesday. Pollard requested as much after the season but already looked like a strong candidate to be cut. The veteran turned 30 in December, about 2 months after a ruptured Achilles' tendon landed him on IR. Pollard's no lock to get back to full speed at any time in 2015 and has always been more of a thumper with limited coverage skills. Don't be surprised if he lands a new gig, but finding a full-time starting job figures to prove a little tougher.

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John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports that the Texans have given WR Andre Johnson permission to seek a trade and said they'll release the veteran if they can't find a trade partner. Johnson reportedly requested that scenario when the team told him it would reduce his role in 2015. Johnson's contract features base salaries of $10.5 million and $11 million for the next 2 seasons, so it's tough to imagine another team trading for the 34-year-old wideout. But we'd expect Johnson to find a new team on the open market and potentially remain a valuable PPR option in the right situation. Leaving Houston probably helps his value, given the team's weakness at QB and plan to shrink his role. We'll certainly be watching to see where Johnson lands.

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2 days ago

The Steelers cut veteran WR Lance Moore. The former Saint posted just 14 catches, 198 yards and 2 TDs last season, his first with Pittsburgh. Turning 32 in August, Moore’s highly unlikely to reemerge as a fantasy factor.

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The Dolphins have used their transition tag on TE Charles Clay.  It guarantees the Fins the right to match any offer Clay gets in free agency.  If he remains in Miami under the tag, Clay will make $7.1 million in 2015 (as opposed to $8.4 under the franchise tag).  Clay struggled through a knee injury all last season but posted a 69-759-6 line in 2013.  He figures to be no worse than the #3 option in Miami's passing game this coming year and could be a value pick in 2015 fantasy football drafts.

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The Patriots have placed their franchise tag on K Stephen Gostkowski.  It nets him a 1-year, $4.1 million deal.  Gostkowski has connected on an impressive 93.6% of his FGs over the past 2 seasons, including 87.9% from 40+ yards.  He's led all Ks in fantasy points in both of those years.

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As expected, the Cowboys have used their franchise tag on WR Dez Bryant.  The move locks up the #1 WR on a 1-year, $12.8 million deal while the 2 sides continue to work on a long-term contract.  The news is also confirmation that RB DeMarco Murray will hit the free-agent market.

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The Chiefs have applied their franchise tag to OLB Justin Houston, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The move comes as no surprise. No one expected K.C. to let the 26-year-old pass-rusher reach the open market. Over the past 3 seasons, only J.J. Watt has racked up more sacks than Houston's 43. He'll remain a strong IDP factor going forward.

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ESPN's Adam Schefter confirms that Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas will be franchise-tagged today.  DT and the Broncos have been unable to agree on a long-term deal, but the team was never going to let him hit the open market.  The franchise tag will pay Thomas about $12.8 million in 2015.  That hefty number will make it difficult (impossible?) for Denver to re-sign TE Julius Thomas.

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