Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 28, 15 days before NFL free agency starts.
Up in the air—Wide receiver-tight end
As free agency approaches, some players are locked in for 2018. We’re going to look at some others who have little certainty about where they will be playing when the coming season starts. So far we’ve looked at the offensive line and linebackers. Today it’s the pass catchers.
Last summer, you could have gotten some pretty good odds setting up a parlay bet that in 2018 Grant would end up with more than double Terrelle Pryor’s receptions and yards and four times Pryor’s touchdowns. You would have cashed in big as Grant rebounded from his “missing in action” 2016 season (9 receptions, 76 yards) to become the team’s second-leading receiver.
Even with his solid 2017 slash line of 45/573/4, it remains to be seen how much the league will value him in a free agent deal. Potential employers will bring up that nine-catch season (in 16 games) in contract negotiations. He is not particularly fast or physically imposing (6-0, 204). But when they look on film they will see a versatile player who is fundamentally sound and who plays every play like it’s a tie game in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
High-effort guys like Grant are generally more valuable to their current teams. The Redskins can see him in practice and appreciate the work he gets done there. If the Redskins come forth with a reasonable offer he likely will stay.
It’s hard to find a comparable player to Grant for the purposes of coming up with what would define a “reasonable” offer. His back-to-back seasons with 9/76/0 in 16 games and 45/573/4 the next year has few precedents. I’ll take a stab and say that two years for $5 million with $3 million guaranteed will get it done.
After missing one entire season with an ankle injury and half of the next with a shoulder issue, Paul stayed healthy last year. He didn’t put up impressive receiving stats (19/94/0) but that is not what the team was looking for out of him. Paul played some fullback, blocking tight end, and a lot of special teams. The seven-year veteran serves as an example of how a player can carve out a good career with only a handful of starts.
One factor the Redskins will consider in deciding whether they should offer Paul a contract is their 53-man roster. They carried four tight ends last year with Paul, Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, and rookie Jeremy Sprinkle. That’s one more than teams usually carry and they may wonder if they want to commit to keeping four again this year.
Paul just finished a contract that paid him $6 million over three years. Something similar should get it done this time around.
This is here only in the “never say never” category. The only doubt about Pryor seems to be which of the other 31 NFL teams he will play for in 2018. But perhaps the door should be left open a crack. Was his huge drop off in productivity due to a lack of chemistry with Kirk Cousins? Does Jay Gruden think that Pryor might click better with Alex Smith? Certainly there would be no reason to run him out of town based on any attitude issues; he was good in the locker room and to the media. Again, a second time around for Pryor is very unlikely but you can’t rule it out.
—NFL Combine (3/1) 1
—NFL Draft (4/26) 57
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 193
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