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30th season begins March 1, 2018
.Falcons' Devonta Freeman: Could be ready for OTAs
Freeman (knee) said in a Feb. 2 interview with Mike Florio of NBC Sports Radio's "PFT Live" that he's not ruling out taking part in the Falcons' Organized Team Activities during the spring, Adam Wells of Bleacher Report reports. "Possibly," Freeman said about being ready for OTAs. "But I'm going to take my time and let [his right knee] heal so I won't have to deal with little nicks and knacks throughout the season, because that's the most important time for me. So I'm going to take my time and let it heal, get stronger. I need to be free when I'm out there." Shortly after the Falcons were eliminated from the playoffs in their divisional-round loss to the Eagles, Freeman relayed that he was playing through a sprained MCL and PCL in the knee, an injury he initially suffered in a Week 17 win over the Panthers. The two-time Pro Bowler was able to avoid surgery to address the matter, but remains conscious of easing up on his workload leading up to training camp in order to avoid a potential setback. It's not expected that Freeman will face many limitations -- if any -- by the time camp opens, so he should enter the 2018 campaign as a borderline top-10 fantasy option at running back in most settings after amassing 1,100 or more yards from scrimmage in each of the past three years.
Dolphins' Jarvis Landry: Receives franchise tag
Landry will sign the Dolphins' franchise tag, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. It's a $16 million non-exclusive tag, meaning the wideout could still sign an offer sheet with another team but that team would have to forfeit two first-round picks to the Dolphins, a move that is highly unlikely. The three-time Pro Bowler is coming off a season in which he registered an NFL-leading 112 catches to go along with 987 receiving yards and nine touchdowns in 16 games. Landry's rookie contract ended after the 2017 season, which would have made him an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald: Will suit up for Cards in 2018
Fitzgerald will return to the Cardinals for his 15th NFL season in 2018, Darren Urban of the Cardinals' official site reports. Despite a new coach and offensive coordinator in Steve Wilks and Mike McCoy, respectively, Fitzgerald will return to the team for his age-35 season, where he stands to make $11 million in guaranteed money. From a fantasy perspective, Fitzgerald continues to defy logic for a wide receiver of his age. The 2017 season marked his third-straight year with 100 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards, and his 109 receptions tied his own franchise record set two years prior. Fitzgerald is also one of the most durable wideouts in the league, as he's failed to play in all 16 games only once in the last 10 seasons. The biggest question mark for the future Hall of Famer might be quarterback play, as Fitzgerald will be left with either Drew Stanton (knee) or Blaine Gabbert at the helm, unless the team selects a rookie in the draft or makes a run at one of the top free-agent options.
Jaguars' Marcedes Lewis: Team exercises 2018 option
The Jaguars exercised Lewis' $3.5 million team option for 2018 on Tuesday, Ryan O'Halloran of The Florida Times-Union reports. While Lewis' salary isn't guaranteed for 2018, the transaction more or less indicates the Jaguars plan on bringing the tight end back for a 13th season. Lewis has long been a tertiary member of the Jaguars' passing attack, but his marks of 318 yards and five touchdowns last season were his best since 2013, though the production was mostly inflated by an outlier 62-yard, three-score performance in Week 3. Since Lewis is set to turn 34 years old in May, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Jaguars made adding a developmental tight end a priority during the early rounds of the draft in April.
Titans' Ryan Succop: Signs contract extension
Succop signed a five-year, $20 million extension with the Titans on Tuesday, Jim Wyatt of the Titans' official site reports. It was a career year for Succop in 2017, as the kicker made 35 of 42 field-goal attempts. He also set an NFL record by connecting on 56 straight field goals from inside the 50-yard line, which dates back to 2014. His 35 made field goals and 136 points were career highs, and he was also named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September.
Colts' Adam Vinatieri: Intends to play in 2018
Vinatieri intends to play a 23rd NFL season in 2018, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Vinatieri indicated after the Colts' season ended that he had no desire to hang up his cleats, so look for Indianapolis to re-sign the veteran on a one-year deal when he hits free agency in March. Though his scoring production declined in 2017 without Andrew Luck (shoulder) directing the offense, Vinatieri was reliable as usual, converting 29 of 34 field-goal attempts and 22 of 24 extra-point tries. Two of those misses from the field came in challenging blizzard conditions in Buffalo in Week 14.
Buccaneers' Nick Folk: Cleared to resume kicking
Folk (knee) met last week with Dr. James Andrews, who officially cleared the 33-year-old to resume kicking, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports. Folk beat out incumbent Roberto Aguayo for the Buccaneers' kicking duties in training camp but lost the gig after missing all three of his field-goal attempts in a narrow Week 5 loss to the Patriots. While Folk was initially expected to be released, the Buccaneers instead stashed him on injured reserve due to a minor case of left knee tendinitis, for which the veteran ultimately underwent surgery. Now fully healthy, Folk, who will officially become a free agent March 14, will likely head elsewhere this offseason in search of an opportunity to compete for a kicking job
Colts' Andrew Luck: Starts throwing football again
Luck (shoulder) has started throwing a football and doesn't believe he'll need another surgery, the Indianapolis Star reports. "That ship has sailed in my mind, which is also a bit of relief now, if I'm not going to lie," Luck said of the possibility of another surgery on his shoulder. Luck has been working with quarterbacking gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux in Los Angeles and is throwing the football and strengthening his shoulder. Luck missed the 2017 season after surgery in January 2017 to repair a torn labrum and was shut down in October after he had soreness during a throwing program. With his recent progress, Luck could be ready to participate in Indy's offseason workouts in late April. Despite the improvement, we may not have a real idea if Luck can return to an NFL game until he's seen throwing in team workouts this spring or summer.
Buccaneers' Doug Martin: Released by Tampa Bay
The Buccaneers released Martin on Tuesday, Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times reports. After following up a strong rookie year in 2012 with back-to-back disappointing seasons, Martin temporarily quieted his critics by amassing 1,673 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns in 2015, netting him a five-year, $35.75 million contract extension the following spring. However, Martin regressed badly thereafter, averaging less than three yards per carry in both of the past two seasons while missing time due to injury and an untimely four-game suspension, which delayed the start to his 2017 campaign. In cutting Martin loose, the Buccaneers will save $6.75 million against the cap in 2018 while taking on no dead money due to the structure of the contract. Martin's departure currently leaves Peyton Barber as the top candidate to start at running back in 2018, though there's a decent possibility the Buccaneers address the position through the draft or free agency in the coming months.
Steelers' Le'Veon Bell: Team prefers long-term deal over tag
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said Thursday that the team prefers to ink Bell to a long-term contract extension this offseason rather than applying the franchise tag on the running back, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com reports. "We never will discount the use of the tag because that's collectively bargained," Colbert said Thursday. "But again, our goal is to have something done on a long-term basis. Colbert's goal aligns with Bell's own wishes, as the soon-to-be 26-year-old said after the Steelers were eliminated from the playoffs Jan. 14 that he's eager to avoid a repeat of last offseason, when he sat out all of training camp while angling for a long-term deal before ultimately accepting a $12.1 million franchise tag. Though Bell would be projected to earn a slight pay increase if he were tagged again, the high attrition rate for NFL running backs makes it more appealing for him to work out a long-term contract in order to gain more financial security. Bell should have plenty of leverage in negotiations after amassing 1,946 total yards in 15 games last season to boost his average to 128.9 yards per game since the beginning of the 2013 campaign, far and away the top mark among running backs over that span.