Late For Work 2/23: Falcons Have 'Strong Interest' In Justin Forsett. McPhee Expected To Leave

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Falcons Have 'Strong Interest' In Justin Forsett

There's been looming curiosity as to how much interest the market would show 29-year-old running back Justin Forsett, and we may be getting a small glimpse of what it could be two weeks ahead of free agency.

The Atlanta Falcons are expected to have "strong interest" in Forsett should he not get a deal done before hitting the open market on March 10, according to ESPN's Vaughn McClure. The Falcons finished 24th in rushing last season.

Forsett has a connection to the new coaching staff in Atlanta. While playing in Seattle for four years, Forsett spent time with Seahawks' Assistant Head Coach Dan Quinn, who has taken over the head job in Atlanta.

The Falcons plan on using a zone blocking system under Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan, the same scheme in which Forsett excelled last season and garnered a career-high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns.

If he went to Atlanta, it doesn't sound like Forsett would be the only featured back the way he was with the Ravens last season.

"The Falcons want to upgrade the running back position, with aging veteran Steven Jackson expected to be released," wrote McClure. "[Falcons executives] expressed confidence in second-year player Devonta Freeman to handle the load. But the Falcons need more bodies at the position regardless, with Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith headed to free agency. Freeman and Forsett would be a nice one-two combination."

What are the chances the Falcons swoop in and snag Forsett should he officially become an unrestricted free agent? CSNBaltimore.com's Clifton Brown doesn't see it happening.

"If Forsett doesn't re-sign with the Ravens, I don't think he's going to the Falcons," Brown wrote. "Even if the Falcons don't bring back Steven Jackson, they have three younger backs with ability – Jacquizz Rodgers, DeVonta Freeman and Antone Smith. I think Forsett's best move, money aside, would be to re-sign with the Ravens."

Brown could still see Forsett leaving, but he just thinks the veteran would land with a more running back-needy team like the Indianapolis Colts or New York Jets. Brown also thinks the Denver Broncos are in the conversation simply because of his connection to Gary Kubiak.

McPhee Expected To Leave Ravens And Cash In

It's Déjà vu.

Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee looks like the latest in a long of line of Ravens to develop in Baltimore and then cash in as a free agent.

The pass-rush specialist is expected to command an annual salary of $8 to $10 million on the open market, according to The Baltimore Sun's Aaron Wilson. To put that number in perspective, McPhee would make more than Elvis Dumervil and would be on par with Marshal Yanda if he were to get $8 million in 2015.

"McPhee, 26, is considered a luxury item the Ravens probably can't afford to retain as his four-year, $2.2 million rookie contract expires," wrote Wilson. "The Ravens are dealing with a tight salary cap situation and have pressing needs at other positions. …

"This is not an unfamiliar situation for the Ravens, who have regularly developed young defensive players, only to lose them in free agency."

Former Ravens to recently price themselves out of Baltimore are Arthur Jones (five years, $33 million), Paul Kruger (five years, $40.5 million) and Dannell Ellerbe (five years, $35 million).

Wilson noted that some possible suitors for McPhee are the Oakland Raiders, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts.

S Jeromy Miles Expected To Stay

While McPhee appears as good as gone, safety Jeromy Miles is expected to remain with the Ravens, per Wilson.

"Miles remains in the Ravens' plans for next season and is expected to be signed to a new contract this offseason," he wrote.

Miles is a pending unrestricted free agent, who signed with Baltimore two years ago mainly as a special-teams contributor. But as the Ravens struggled to find a partner to pair with Will Hill, Miles saw increased time on defense. He played in every game, including two starts at safety.

Of the Ravens safeties that had at least 300 snaps, Miles seemed to fare the best behind the only regular starter, Hill. Below are their Pro Football Focus (PFF) overall league rankings and stats from the 2014 season:

No. 14 Will Hill (plus-9.3 overall grade)
584 snaps, 30 tackles, 1 INT, 3 PDs            
42.1% of the 19 passes thrown at him were completed for 83 yards and 2 TDs

No. 23 Jeromy Miles (plus-5.4 overall grade)
335 snaps, 18 tackles, 1 INT, 0 PDs
33.3% of the 9 passes thrown at him were completed for 31 yards and 0 TDs

No. 30 Darian Stewart (plus-3.0 overall grade)
782 snaps, 45 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PDs
72.4% of the 29 passes thrown at him were completed for 293 yards and 2 TDs

No. 78 Matt Elam (minus-11.1 overall grade)
439 snaps, 18 tackles, 0 INTs, 1 PDs
73.9% of the 23 passes thrown at him were completed for 277 yards and 1 TD

Price For Free-Agent CBs Expected To Be Inflated

If the Ravens want to add more cornerbacks to a group that saw seven starters last season, they might have to pay a pretty penny for a free agent.

The supply of cornerbacks headed for the market isn't expected to meet the demand of teams that are looking to upgrade the position, which means the price for a corner could be inflated.

"The market ceiling will probably be established by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Byron Maxwell, with an annual average salary of $8 million to $10 million predicted," Wilson wrote.

"That could boost contract offers for teams that don't land Maxwell, helping the Houston Texans' Kareem Jackson, San Diego Chargers' Brandon Flowers, Cleveland Browns' Buster Skrine and Green Bay Packers' Davon House. Those players could be in line for deals ranging between $5 million and $7 million annually."

Quick Hits

  • "The most interesting development recently in terms of the 2015 free-agency class is the acknowledgment in Denver that there's a legitimate chance that the Broncos don't want to pay tight end Julius Thomas fair market value for his services," wrote Peter King. "Thomas' agent, veteran contract negotiator Frank Bauer, told the Denver Post on Friday that he felt the Broncos were 'pushing him away' after Thomas declined the team's offer of five years and $40 million. … This is a situation that bears watching over the next two weeks as the league prepares for free agency." [MMQB.com]
  • Clifton Brown names three possible landing destinations for Torrey Smith should he not re-sign with the Ravens: Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks. [CSNBaltimore.com]
  • Jamison Hensley continues his free-agent rankings and tackle Jah Reid comes in at No. 12. Will he be back in Baltimore? "Injuries and underwhelming play led to Reid being a major disappointment," Hensley wrote. "The Ravens invested a third-round pick in Reid as well as $2.6 million over four years. All they received in return was seven starts. Reid was beaten out by undrafted rookie James Hurst as the team's No. 3 tackle. The Ravens return their top seven offensive linemen, and they likely can find a late-round draft pick to fill Reid's spot as the No. 8 lineman. Reid will likely get signed to a veteran minimum deal to compete for a backup job somewhere else." [ESPN]
  • The Ravens had the seventh-most players on injured reserve last season with 19 players lading on the season-ending list. The New York Giants led the league with 26 players on IR. [ESPN]
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