Arizona Football

Former Arizona Wildcats standout Mitchell visiting four teams this week as NFL free agent


Former Arizona defensive tackle Earl Mitchell, a seven-year NFL veteran who is a free agent, announced on Facebook this morning he will visit four potential suitors this week starting with Seattle today.

Mitchell, who has played the last three seasons with Miami, will also reportedly visit Denver, San Francisco and Atlanta.

“First of four team visits this week! 1st stop. Seattle.” — Mitchell’s Facebook post

Mitchell, 29, is reportedly scheduled to begin his tour by visiting with Seattle today and tomorrow, San Francisco on Tuesday and Wednesday, Denver on Wednesday night and into Thursday and Atlanta on Thursday night and Friday morning.

He was released by the Dolphins on Friday because of salary cap considerations, which means he can be signed immediately, in contrast to players whose contracts run out March 9 and then become unrestricted free agents.

Mitchell missed half the season last year with a calf injury suffered in the opening game of the against the Seahawks in Seattle and was due to make $4 million in 2017 in what would have been the final year of his contract with Miami. Injuries limited him to 21 of a possible 32 regular season games the past two seasons.

A 6-3, 310-pounder, Mitchell could be a replacement for free agent Tony McDaniel serving as rotational depth at defensive tackle where Seattle’s two starters in 2017 would project to be Athyba Rubin and Jarran Reed.

Some ties to consider for Denver: Mitchell previously played for Broncos defensive line coach Bill Kollar in Houston and with Denver head coach Vance Joseph in Houston and Miami.

San Francisco is transforming its defense after posting one of the worst seasons in franchise history under Chip Kelly. The 49ers ranked last in the NFL in both yardage and scoring, while allowing a team record 2,654 yards rushing. They’re moving to a Seahawks-like 4-3 after running a base 3-4 for the last decade.

Mitchell, who has 38 starts with 128 tackles and 5.5 sacks in his career, may have his best chance at immediate playing time in Atlanta. While Grady Jarrett is the only guarantee to start next season, the Falcons have a mix of unproven backups talent under contract, along with the injured Adrian Clayborn and Derrick Shelby who saw time at tackle.

Other NFL free agency news concerning former Wildcats:

QB Nick Foles — The Chiefs must exercise the 2017 option by March 9 after signing him to a one-year contract last season. If exercised, $3 million of his 2017 salary ($10.75 million) fully guarantees on March 11. Several reports say the team will cut ties with Foles, who has been linked to the Buffalo Bills as a potential landing spot.

CB Trevin Wade — His two-year contract with the Giants is up and he is an unrestricted free agent. A possibility exists he will re-sign with New York.

LB Scooby Wright III — He becomes an exclusive rights free agent with the Cardinals after next season. That means Arizona only needs to offer him a minimum-terms one-year contract. He signed a 2-year, $990,000 contract last season with the Cardinals after spending time with Cleveland’s practice squad as a rookie.

Name Pos Team Contract UFA
Ka'Deem Carey RB Bears 4 years 2018
Marquis Flowers LB Bengals 4 years 2018
Nick Foles QB Chiefs 1 year TBD
Nick Folk PK Jets 4 years 2018
Rob Golden FS Steelers 3 years 2019
Rob Gronkowski TE Patriots 6 years 2020
Earl Mitchell DT Dolphins 3 years 2017
Will Parks FS Broncos 4 years 2020
Brooks Reed LB Falcons 5 years 2020
Trevin Wade CB Giants 2 years 2017
Scooby Wright LB Cardinals 2 years 2018

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ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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