Posts Tagged ‘Free Agency’

Colin Kaepernick may have taken a big step forward in his attempt to prove that NFL teams colluded to keep him out of the league.

Depositions in the quarterback’s collusion case have produced internal franchise documents from the 2017 free-agent evaluation process – along with witness testimony – which establish that teams around the league viewed Kaepernick as not just worthy of a roster spot, but as a starting-caliber player, a source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

While Kaepernick’s legal team will likely need more to prove that teams actively coordinated against him following his protests during the national anthem in 2016, this evidence is a blow to the league’s argument that the quarterback remained unemployed due entirely to his on-field ability.

The Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks are the only teams known to have been actively interested in signing Kaepernick.

The Seahawks had scheduled a workout with Kaepernick this offseason, but opted to sign journeyman quarterback Austin Davis instead after postponing the visit. That was reportedly because Kaepernick declined to say for certain whether he’ll stop his anthem protests moving forward.

Meanwhile, the Ravens looked into Kaepernick when Joe Flacco suffered a back injury near the start of the 2017 campaign. However, the team passed on signing him and then did so again this offseason, instead bringing in Robert Griffin III – who was also considered when Flacco was sidelined – to bolster the depth chart.

Teams and their head coaches were both deposed in Kaepernick’s case.

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Joe Thornton would like to remain in San Jose, and he’s open to some concessions if that’s what it takes to make it happen.

“I want to come back, and I’m sure we’ll try to work something out. It’s no secret I’m a Shark,” the veteran forward said Tuesday at the club’s clean-out session. “I bleed teal, and I want to come back. I know I’m going to be healthy when I come back, so I’m sure we can figure something out, but I want to come back.”

When asked if the one-year deal he signed last summer is where he is “at” in terms of a potential contract, Thornton said that’s something to which he’d be amenable.

“Yeah, I’m comfortable signing one-year deals, and it’s fine.”

The 38-year-old also took a selfless approach when asked if he’d be open to taking less money if that allowed the Sharks to pursue a “big fish” in free agency.

“Absolutely, there’s enough money around for everybody … I want this team ultimately to win the Stanley Cup,” he said. “This city deserves it and these guys deserve it, so whatever we decide, (what’s) going to be in the back of my head is just making this team better.”

Thornton agreed to a one-year, $8-million deal with the Sharks last July after appearing in all but three regular-season games and four of San Jose’s six playoff contests.

He played 47 games in 2017-18 before sitting out the final 35 in the regular season and all 10 in the postseason with what he revealed Tuesday to be MCL and ACL tears in his right knee, the same injuries he endured in his left knee last season.

Thornton is the Sharks’ all-time assist leader, and he ranks second in points and games played behind Patrick Marleau.

Free-agent wide receiver Dez Bryant has received a strong endorsement from another one of his former quarterbacks.

Former Dallas Cowboys‘ signal-caller and current CBS analyst Tony Romo offered a referral for Bryant to teams that may have interest in the star receiver.

“There’s a ton of teams he could help,” Romo said, according to Todd Archer of ESPN. “One thing, I don’t know how many teams will do their homework on it, but Dez is a good teammate and I think sometimes that might get lost in the way that the emotional aspect of things. If I was talking to any of the GMs or coaches, I would tell them he’s not going to hurt the locker room in any possible way.”

Bryant was released from the Cowboys on April 13, following a 2017 season in which he caught 69 passes for 838 yards and six touchdowns. Romo was his quarterback for the last season he topped both 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns.

While Bryant reportedly turned down a multi-year contract offer from the Baltimore Ravens, interest in the eight-year veteran has seemingly been rather low. Now that teams can reevaluate their needs following the draft, Romo expects the market to pick up.

“He’s going to come out and he’ll be a great teammate when he gets there. I think he’ll have a couple options here soon,” he said.

The Oakland Raiders agreed to terms Friday with free-agent linebacker Derrick Johnson, a longtime member of the rival Kansas City Chiefs, according to NFL Network’s Michael Silver.

Johnson had spent all 13 seasons of his NFL career in Kansas City, earning four trips to the Pro Bowl over that span. The 35-year-old saw action in 15 games last year, registering 71 tackles and one forced fumble.

The Raiders signed veteran linebacker Tahir Whitehead in free agency, but the position remains one of concern for Jon Gruden’s crew as the offseason crawls along.

Dale Tallon will have money to spend this summer.

The Florida Panthers general manager confirmed Tuesday that he’ll be able to pursue major free agents once the signing period begins July 1.

“We’ve identified and we like certain players,” Tallon told Matthew DeFranks of the Sun-Sentinel. “We have it in our budget. We’re going to do what we can to improve our team.”

His statement comes as the expansion Golden Knights roll on in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, with two former Panthers on the top line, namely Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault. The latter was believed to have been offered to Vegas as an incentive to take on the former’s cap hit, leading to fears of a self-imposed salary cap.

That appears neither here nor there at the moment for Tallon, who’ll be looking to upgrade both up front and on the blue line.

“My preference would probably be both, but it depends on what it is, and who it is, and when it is,” he qualified. “I think our goals against has got to get better as well. I think it can improve. I guess defense, probably. I would like to address both needs possibly.”

Florida finished 16th overall in the NHL standings but failed to clinch an Eastern Conference playoff spot, finishing a point behind New Jersey.

The New York Rangers have gauged Ilya Kovalchuk’s interest in bringing his show to Broadway.

The Russian superstar, now an unrestricted free agent, has expressed interest in returning to the NHL after spending the past five seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, and could find a fit with the Rangers.

“We’ve checked in with him. It’s fair to say that’s something we’re going to look at again further and see what’s going on,” Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton told Larry Brooks of the New York Post.

Kovalchuk last suited up in the NHL for the New Jersey Devils, but retired following the 2012-13 campaign in order to return to Russia. He had 12 years remaining on his contract at the time of his retirement.

Had Kovalchuk opted to return to the NHL prior to the coming season, the Devils would have retained his rights. However, now that his 35th birthday has passed, he is removed from the NHL’s voluntary retired list and free to sign with any team.

As of April 15, Kovalchuk can hold talks with interested teams, but cannot put pen to paper until free agency opens on July 1.

In 55 appearances with St. Petersburg SKA this season, Kovalchuk tallied 32 goals and 33 assists. The former Devil and Atlanta Thrasher also notched 816 points in as many NHL games.

Pending unrestricted free agent Tyler Bozak would prefer to return to the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.

“It would be my top priority to stay here,” Bozak said, according to TSN’s Kristen Shilton. “My family loves it here, my kid loves it here, he thinks he owns the place. It’ll be tough on him if I’m not back.”

Bozak has spent his entire nine-year career with the Maple Leafs after signing with the club as a college free agent out of Denver University in 2009.

The 32-year-old is coming off the final season of a five-year, $21-million contract, in which he put up his lowest goal total (11) since his rookie campaign and 12 fewer points (43) than he had in three fewer games last season.