NFL Rumor Roundup, Pre-Free Agency Edition: Robert Griffin III Interest, and Martellus Bennett


NFL teams can begin negotiating with players on Monday, and the league’s official free agency frenzy will officially open on Wednesday. As those dates approach, rumors about who will go where are flying as teams jockey for position with the best unattached players available.

Here is a roundup of the latest rumors from around the NFL as we head into the weekend.

Lots of Interest in RG3

Robert Griffin III is about to hit free agency for the first time and according to Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman, “There are at least 10 teams giving Griffin a hard look.” The former No. 2 overall pick had a phenomenal rookie campaign in 2012, was named to the Pro Bowl, then destroyed his knee in a playoff game. Since then his career has been an absolute mess.

Washington is letting Griffin walk, and the 25-year-old will have his pick of a new destination it seems. Rumors suggest that he would like to wind up back in Texas, and the Houston Texans seem like a logical fit for both parties.

Griffin didn’t play at all in 2015, and in 22 starts during the 2013 and 2014 seasons he completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 4,897 yards, with just 20 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. His quarterback rating was a combined 83.7 over that time, and he had a 5-15 record as a starter. Whoever gets him will have serious work to do, but there is no denying his talent.

Bruce Irvin wants to stay in Seattle

Free agent linebacker Bruce Irvin has been open about his desire to return to the Seattle Seahawks. The 28-year-old has spent his entire four-year career with the franchise and claims it would be hard to leave the city and the team. He says he would prefer to spend the rest of his career there.

In 58 NFL games, Irvin has 22 career sacks and only posted 5.5 in 2015. Still, at 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds he has ideal size for an edge rusher and also has the speed and athleticism to make an impact. The Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons could be ideal fits for his skill set.

He could be looking at a big payday on the open market, potentially in the $8-$10 million range per year. He would have to give Seattle a hefty hometown discount to remain with the club.

Marvin Jones is the hottest receiver on the market

Bengals wideout Marvin Jones has been overshadowed by teammate A.J. Green for years, but he’s finally about to get his spotlight. The 25-year-old will hit free agency next week and he should land a huge contract. Most teams reportedly have him as their top target available.

Jones has been remarkably consistent since Cincinnati made him a fifth-round pick out of Cal during the 2012 NFL Draft. Ankle and foot injuries kept him out for the entire 2014 season, but he played in 43 of a possible 48 games during his other three years in the league. As the Bengals’ No. 2 target, he has racked up 134 receptions, 1,729 yards and 15 touchdowns during those three seasons.

At 6-foot-2 and around 200 pounds, Jones is a big target, has strong hands and is always reliable. In 2015 he posted career highs in receptions (65) and yards (816) and is poised to do even more going forward. He could be a fit in Detroit if Calvin Johnson winds up retiring, but a number of clubs would be thrilled to land him.

Dolphins still working on Lamar Miller deal

Lamar Miller is a durable running back who has finally come into his own over the past two seasons. While splitting carries with other ball carriers, Miller combined to rush for 1,971 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2014 and 2015. He has averaged 4.8 yards per catty, while also catching 85 passes for 672 yards and three scores. Despite those numbers, Miami has yet to lock him up.

Miller has played in all 48 games during the past three seasons, starting 47 of them, and has only missed three games in his entire career. He won’t turn 25 until April and appears to have a lot of years left in the league. Given that new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase wants a balanced attack with a versatile running back, it would make sense for Miami to give Miller a good deal.

According to Barry Jackson, the issue here is whether or not the Dolphins are willing to give Miller more than $5 million per season. At this point that should be a no-brainer. Anything under $7 million per year would be a bargain for Miller. Give him that much, then make him the every-down back.

Bears trying to trade Martellus Bennett, having little success

The Chicago Bears have been working to find a trade partner for tight end Martellus Bennett, but have been unsuccessful so far. Brad Biggs believes the Bears will just release the 28-year-old if they can’t find someone to take him off their hands. He has one year and $5.085 million remaining on his contract.

Bennett is an uber-talented player who has an awful reputation around the league. He wears out his welcome wherever he goes and that’s exactly what happened in Chicago.

Bennett began his Bears tenure in 2013 with a promising season. He hauled in 65 passes for 759 yards and five touchdowns. In 2014, Bennett had 90 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns and made his only Pro Bowl appearance. But in 2015 under a new coaching staff, Bennett struggled on the field and in the locker room. He only played in 11 games and had 53 receptions for 439 yards and just three touchdowns.

Now the Bears appear done with him, and if the team plans to release him anyway, it will likely be difficult to find a trade partner. If a team can get a handle on his personality, he’s a high-upside guy who would be great on a low-risk contract.