With free agency set to begin in just few weeks, it appears that NFL teams finally have a set salary cap number to work with: $133 million, according to NFL.com's Albert Breer. The number isn't yet official -- an announcement could come Friday -- but Breer reported the figure based on the input of union and team sources.
The reported number would be a roughly $10 million increase over the 2013 salary cap. The rumored figure had been $132 million, at least per ESPN's John Clayton, so it appears that teams looking to barely sneak under the cap received some much-needed reprieve.
Currently, the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only two teams still above the salary cap, according to Spotrac. The Cowboys are in the most trouble with nearly $18 million still to clear before reentering the black. The Steelers have just under $6 million to clear.
Dave Halprin at Cowboys blog Blogging the Boys isn't panicking just yet, and wants to remind other Cowboys fans that they shouldn't be either, even in the face of suggestions that Dallas might cut DeMarcus Ware:
For months, we thought it would be $126 million. Over the last couple of weeks that number has migrated north to $133 million. That's $7 million more dollars the Cowboys have if the $133 million turns out to be accurate. The same source who gave the Washington Post that number says the cap will be decided in the next couple of days. We'll see if it is that soon, but we'll definitely know by March 11th, the start of the new calendar year.
In the meantime, I'm sure Jerry Jones and Stephen Jones and the rest of the guys are running through multiple scenarios concerning Ware. Keep him, restructure him, ask him for a pay cut and then decide to keep or cut him. As of this point, the Cowboys are in no hurry. They haven't even talked to Ware's agent yet. And I guarantee you they will not cut Ware, if that's the direction they are headed, before asking for at least a pay cut.
Andrew Luck would welcome Jonathan Martin to Colts
Andrew Luck stuck up for his former Stanford teammate Thursday, telling Mike Florio on the NBC Sports Network on Thursday that he would be in favor if the Indianapolis Colts wanted to sign Jonathan Martin.
The discussion was somewhat moot, with Luck clarifying that the Colts have not had discussions bring in the Miami Dolphins left tackle. Brad Wells at Stampede Blue points out that Martin wouldn't help the Colts much from a team perspective:
As for Martin potentially joining the Colts, Florio thinks it a possible scenario. I do not. My reasons:
- The Colts have a ton of money invested in Gosder Cherilus and they are very high on left tackle Anthony Castonzo, who is a better player overall than Martin at this point.
- Martin can't play guard. Or, if he's willing, there would need to be some development time.
- Why trade a valuable pick (or picks) in a deep draft for a potential back-up in Martin? It makes no sense.
D'Qwell Jackson sets up visits
On the exact opposite side of the cap spectrum are the Cleveland Browns, who now have over $50 million in cap space after releasing linebacker D'Qwell Jackson earlier this week. As SB Nation's Mike Kaye pointed out, the move was part of a total philosophical change for the Browns, who are poised to be major players on the free agent market this offseason.
Which is well and good for them, but it leaves Jackson without a job in the mean time. Fortunately for him, suitors are already lining up. According to NFL.com, Jackson has already scheduled visits with five teams, including the Tennessee Titans and the Denver Broncos.
Both the Titans and the Broncos need help in the front seven, and Jackson was a productive player for the Browns on top of being team captain. Titans blog Music City Miracles and Broncos blog Mile High Report both stated their cases why Jackson would be good fit for their respective teams. Oddly, their reasoning had to do with his fit in two opposing defensive schemes.
The Cleveland Browns released inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson yesterday. I hate to use the word perfect, but Jackson is THE PERFECT target for theTitans. He was the defensive captain for the Browns last season. The same Browns defense that was coached by new Titans defensive coordinator Ray Horton.
It is tough for a team to transition from a 4-3 to a 3-4 as the Titans will try to do this year. Adding Jackson to the mix would give Horton someone who already knows his defense. That would be an invaluable resource on the field.
Jackson would be a great fit for the Broncos who man a 4-3 base defense. That last two seasons, Jackson played in a 3-4 front and struggled, but in 2011 when he played in a 4-3 defense Jackson had a very good season for the Cleveland Browns. Pro Football Focus ranked Jackson as the 13th-best inside linebacker in football during the 2011 season. He dipped to 41st overall in 2012 and 42nd in 2013.
Whether for a 3-4 or a 4-3 defense, Jackson is clearly a wanted man.
Charles Woodson giving retirement 'serious consideration'
Charles Woodson will be turning 38 in October, so it's no surprise that he gets asked about retirement often. He reportedly told SiriusXM radio (via CSN Bay Area) that he will consider hanging up his football career if the Oakland Raiders don't give him a contract worth playing for:
"If the right numbers don't come across for myself and from the team standpoint, it's a serious consideration, at this point, that I could've played my last season in the NFL," Woodson said. "That's something that I think about. I do plan on playing another year. Hopefully something can get done with the Raiders and, if not, I would have to take a hard look at last year being the last one."
Woodson has said in the past that he would like to return with the Raiders, and it certainly appears that the team's young defenders would love to have him around again. Woodson was still an effective player on the field last season, as well, finishing third on the team with 97 tackles in addition to two sacks, one interception, eight passes defended, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
Woodson wasn't a perfect player last season, however and may struggle to live up to another incentive-driven one-year contract. Unless, of course, he's RoboCop, as Levi Damien at Silver and Black Pride suggests.