Eagles sign safety Sean Jones

Sean JonesThe Eagles signed safety Sean Jones (formerly of the Browns) to a one-year, $3 million contract. Jones will compete with Quentin Demps for the starting free safety job, which became available when Brain Dawkins signed with the Broncos last week.

I’m a little surprised that all Jones got on the open market was a one-year deal. I’m also surprised that the Browns didn’t make more of an effort to re-sign Jones, who has Pro Bowl talent but injuries plagued him all last season.

Did the Browns realize Jones was damaged goods and let him walk or was this just another player Eric Mangini didn’t envision being a part of Cleveland’s long-term plans defensively? Either way, this was a low-risk signing by the Eagles and if Jones can have a bounce back season, he’ll have a chance to hit the open market again in 2010 and maybe cash in like he was supposed to do this offseason before injuries killed his ’09 campaign. And even if he struggles again, Philly has a backup plan with Demps and can part with Jones next offseason without taking a cap hit.

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Cowboys release safety Roy Williams

Well the Cowboys are full of spunk today, aren’t they?

Following the release of wide receiver Terrell Owens early this morning, Dallas has decided to part ways with safety Roy “Horse Collar” Williams, too, according to the Dallas Morning News. The Cowboys saved a little over $2 million in cap space by cutting the safety now.

Dallas was trying to find a trade partner for Williams the past two weeks, but obviously they didn’t have much luck. Williams broke his forearm twice last year, but at 28 he still has a couple of productive years left in him. The problem is, he’s essentially an extra linebacker playing safety because he couldn’t cover a one-legged Fat Albert.

Williams is worth a look for any team that struggled against the run last year because he flies to the football and does his best work around the line of scrimmage. He’d be a good fit for a team that maybe has a developing young safety, but whose run defense could also use a boost. Once again though, he’s absolutely brutal in coverage and gets lost when the ball is in the air.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams was picked up before Owens is. The need for safeties in the NFL is enormous and there are a couple of veterans on the market that should be signed soon, including Mike Brown, Jermaine Phillips and Darren Sharper. Surprisingly, Sean Jones is still on the market as well, and the Browns have showed little urgency to retain the 27-year old, who might just be the best strong safety available.

Browns taking a risk by not placing franchise tag on Jones?

Sean JonesAccording to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns are not expected to use their franchise tag on safety Sean Jones, who is set to hit the free agent market at the end of the month.

Jones had an injury-plagued season and didn’t live up to his outstanding 2007 campaign, but then again, few Browns did. He finished with just 48 tackles, four interceptions and one forced fumble, compared to the 69 tackle, five-interception season he had the year before.

The Browns must assume that Jones is already returning (he did say back in December that he wants to stay in Cleveland) and therefore don’t want to spend the $6.34 million that comes with tagging a safety. Plus, given his small injury concerns, they no doubt want his yearly figure to be significantly less than $6 million. (After all, his current salary is $2.145 million.)

Generally, players don’t want to be tagged anyway. They prefer to work out long term contracts and avoid the risk that is associated with not having a contract in place after the season. But Cleveland is taking a risk by not placing at least a non-exclusive tag (which would cost them $4.3 mil for one year) on Jones because he could walk at any time. And 26-year old safeties that are assets in run support and decent ball skills don’t fall off trees in the NFL. Safety is one of the most sought after positions in the league and if Jones is allowed to hit the open market, another team might be willing to throw a decent amount of money at him for his services.

The Browns can’t lose this guy. Even after an up and down season, he’s vital to their secondary. We’ll see if their risk pays off and he isn’t tempted to fly the coop.

Browns to hire Mangini by end of week?

Rotoworld.com (via ESPN’s John Clayton) says that Eric Mangini could be hired by the Browns as early as this week.

ESPN’s John Clayton believes that the Browns could hold a presser by as early as Thursday to announce their new head coach.
Eric Mangini is already trying to poach the Jets’ coaching staff for assistants, so it’s clear that a deal is imminent. Mangini’s top choice to run the offense is Bill Callahan. He may target Romeo Crennel to call the defense.

Depending on who becomes their next GM, this is a good move. There’s no doubt Mangini learned a few things in New York – namely what happens when other teams figure out how to scheme against him. And despite popular opinion, the Browns aren’t a total mess. They have a young quarterback that has showed potential, a solid offensive line and a couple of defensive players in Shaun Rogers, Sean Jones and Eric Wright to build around. They just need a coach that will demonstrate leadership and that will instill direction.

Mangini should be instrumental in turning around the defense, although the same thing was said when Romeo Crennel was hired. Still, this is a sound move because he’s a good football coach and he’s one of the more creative young minds in the NFL.

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