Duke Williams DB BUF 7 Hrs
With the recent departure of Da'Norris Searcy in free agency, Williams could get the opportunity to start at the open spot at safety this season across from Aaron Williams, BuffaloBills.com reports.
He's the frontrunner right now, maybe a clear one, as the Bills used their big free agent money on offense and don't have a lot left to spend. They also likely won't trust a rookie in that spot. Williams could get some competition from Bacarri Rambo, Jonathan Meeks, and Kenny Ladler, but the Bills seem to like Williams and it looks like the third-year player might get his shot in 2015. Williams logged 52 total tackles and a pick while playing a modest 49 percent of the defensive snaps last season, so he merits some watching if he does win a starting gig.
Jonathan Martin CAR 18 Hrs
Martin was claimed off waivers by the Panthers on Friday.
Martin was waived by the 49ers on Thursday after a season in which he made nine starts at right tackle. Although his performance level was inconsistent, the former second-round pick could be a nice addition for the Panthers. Martin brings some versatility to a Carolina offensive line that already signed veteran tackle Michael Oher this offseason, giving the Panthers options on both sides as they aim to better protect quarterback Cam Newton this upcoming season.
Jarrett Boykin WR CAR 20 Hrs
Boykin signed a one-year contract with the Panthers on Friday, ESPN's David Newton reports.
Boykin caught just three passes for the Packers in 2014, after hauling in 49-of-82 targets for 681 yards and three touchdowns the previous season. He did well to land with a team that lacks complements to Kelvin Benjamin and Greg Olsen, but Boykin will still have to prove in training camp that he's worthy of a role in the Carolina offense. With Benjamin locked in as the No. 1 wideout, the likes of Boykin, Jerricho Cotchery, Philly Brown, Ted Ginn and Brenton Bersin could all be part of a wide-open competition for snaps. Of course, the Panthers may still opt to address the position in April's draft.
Alan Ball DB CHI 22 Hrs
Ball signed a one-year contract with the Bears on Friday, ESPN's Jeff Dickerson reports.
The 29-year-old Ball has played in 93 NFL games, getting the start in 44 of those contests. He largely struggled in Jacksonville the past two seasons, and he'll now join a team that has Tim Jennings and Kyle Fuller on the roster. Ball could compete with incumbent Demontre Hurst for the nickelback role.
Terence Newman DB MIN 2 Days
Newman agreed to a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Vikings on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.
Newman will likely compete with Captain Munnerlyn and Xavier Rhodes for a starting spot at corner, but will give the Vikings extra depth at the position wither way.
Matthew Stafford QB DET 2 Days
Lions head coach Jim Caldwell wants Stafford to throw the ball less frequently in 2015, the Detroit Free Press reports. "When I tell you that we're not going to throw the ball any more than we threw it (last year), that's a fact," Caldwell said. "We're probably not going to throw it (more). If we do throw it more, that means we're behind, we're struggling, we're not winning, we're not a very good football team, plain and simple."
This isn't much more than the typical offseason coach-speak about maintaining a balanced offense, and while there's little doubt coach Caldwell wants to run more often, game situation and personnel tend to trump all else. Not only do the Lions have far more invested in their passing-game personnel, but they'll also be one of the more popular candidates to regress from their 2014 record (11-5).
Derrick Shelby DL MIA 2 Days
Shelby signed a second-round restricted free agent tender, ESPN's Field Yates reports.
A 2012 UDFA, Shelby emerged as a key reserve over the past two seasons, averaging 22 tackles and 2.8 sacks. He'll likely fill a similar role in 2015, given that Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon are locked in as the starting defensive ends.
Brian Quick WR STL 2 Days
Quick is progressing in his recovery from the torn rotator cuff and separated shoulder that he suffered back in October, ESPN.com reports. "He's coming [along]," coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday. "Making progress. It was a very, very difficult early rehab process. It was an extensive, extensive injury. He's starting to see the light now. He's doing good. He's worked hard."
With that in mind, it's unclear if Quick will be ready in time for training camp in July. "There will be some question marks there," Fisher acknowledged. "He may be. I can't say. The next three or four months are going to be important." Prior to sustaining his injury, Quick had recorded 25 catches for 375 yards and three touchdowns in seven games for the Rams, and once he is up to speed this summer the fourth-year wideout will look to reclaim a key role in the team's 2015 passing attack, which will be helmed by newcomer Nick Foles.
Jonathan Martin CAR 2 Days
Martin was CSN Bay Area by the 49ers on Thursday.
The former second-round draft pick struggled in his nine starts at right tackle last season, but he shouldn't have too hard of a time finding another team to bring him in for depth.
Eric Ebron TE DET 2 Days2 Comments
Coach Jim Caldwell is optimistic that Ebron is poised to improve significantly in his second season with the Lions, the Detroit Free Press reports. "His off-season, to this point, has been pretty impressive," Caldwell said of Ebron on Wednesday. "Now, I'm anticipating, just because I know kind of what he's been doing, working at it, I'm anticipating to see a pretty significant rise in his performance."
While Caldwell didn't get overly specific about Ebron's offseason activities, it's not hard to imagine the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft improving on his first-season numbers; 25 catches for 248 yards in 13 games. Per the report, as a rookie, Ebron was slow to pick up the Lions' playbook out of training camp. Moreover, Ebron had issues with drops early on, eventually missing three games with a hamstring injury. When the Lions selected Ebron last year, they envisioned him as a big, athletic pass catcher to provide a red-zone receiving threat opposite WR Calvin Johnson. In his second year as a pro, Ebron should have more opportunities on that front, thus making him a candidate to enter the fantasy lineup equation in 2015.