Cardinals, Peterson Agree To Extension

Cornerback Patrick Peterson announced via Twitter that he has agreed to a five-year extension with the Cardinals. The deal can be worth as much as $70MM and includes $48MM in guaranteed money, according to Peterson. If those numbers are accurate, then Peterson has leapfrogged Richard Sherman as the league’s highest-paid cornerback."<strong

Peterson, who turned 24 earlier this month, hasn’t missed a game during his three years with the Cardinals so far, earning Pro Bowl nods in all three seasons, as well as a spot on the NFL’s All-Pro squad twice. The former fifth overall pick has exhibited a knack for big plays since entering the league in 2011, returning four punts for touchdowns in his rookie season and producing 21 career turnovers on defense (12 interceptions, nine fumble recoveries).

With the new multiyear pact, Peterson becomes the first 2011 first-round pick to ink a contract extension, two years away from reaching free agency. The Cardinals exercised their fifth-year option for 2015 on the standout cornerback earlier this offseason, ensuring that he was already on the books for a salary of $10.081MM in ’15, so presumably the extension adds five new seasons, locking him up through 2020. Those fifth-year options have reduced the leverage of 2011 first-rounders in contract talks, but as we heard earlier today from Peterson and GM Steve Keim, that didn’t stop either side from actively pursuing a new deal ahead of the 2014 season.

Sherman and fellow star cornerback Joe Haden secured new contracts of their own this year, making Peterson’s deal the third huge extension of the offseason for corners. Peterson doesn’t have quite the same track record of elite play as Sherman and Haden, as Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required) show, but he has youth on his side, as well as that big-play ability, which earned him a deal in the same range.

Our own Luke Adams wrote in May that Peterson would look to get something similar to the $14MM annual salary Sherman got on his four-year extension while topping the $45MM in guaranteed money that Haden received on his five new years, and it seems the LSU product managed to do both — of course, on Haden’s contract, only about half of that $45MM was fully guaranteed, and I’d expect something similar for Peterson, so we’ll have to wait for the full details.

In any event, now that Peterson has opened the door for 2011 first-rounders to sign extensions, it’s possible we’ll see more new contracts signed by that draft class in the coming weeks. Teams still hold most of the leverage, but Peterson’s deal showed that rising stars can still do quite well for themselves two years away from free agency. J.J. Watt, Cam Newton, A.J. Green, Tyron Smith, and Robert Quinn are among the other big-name 2011 first-round picks that will be seeking large second contracts either this year or next.

Luke Adams contributed to this post. Rand Getlin of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter link) reported earlier today that the Cards and Peterson were nearing agreement on a new deal. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Notes: CJ2K, Gordon, Raiders, Bills

Jets coach Rex Ryan is confident that Chris Johnson is poised for a big season even though the running back underwent arthroscopic surgery in January and sat out the entire offseason, writes Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. When asked why, Ryan didn’t hesitate to respond. “Well, the whiplash that I got from watching him run 92 yards against me; (that’s) one reason. You watch it on tape. Now, did we see the 2,000-yard guy? Maybe not, but I know one thing: He’s still pretty darn effective. That was kind of the guy we saw. He still went for more than 1,000 yards last year,” said the Jets coach. More from around the NFL..

  • Josh Gordon‘s legal team will argue in a hearing this week that its client tested positive for marijuana thanks to secondhand smoke, writes ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter. The attorneys for the Browns star will also note that there is some inconsistency in the test results. Gordon’s “A” sample tested at 16 nanograms per milliliter, a bare one nanogram per milliliter above the 15-nanogram-per-milliliter threshold, while Gordon’s “B” sample — which should theoretically be consistent with the “A” sample, as it comes from the exact same specimen — tested at 13.63 ng/ml, lower than the threshold.
  • Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement regarding his trip to San Antonio and rumors regarding a potential move. “Former San Antonio mayor Henry Cisneros is a friend, and Henry suggested I take the opportunity to meet with some city officials while I was in town. I have nothing further to discuss on the topic,” Davis said (via Steve Corkran of the Bay Area News Group on Twitter).
  • The deadline for bids on the Bills came and went this afternoon but a source tells Tim Graham of The Buffalo News (on Twitter) that Tom Golisano is under the impression that he can bid later. Others close to the process, meanwhile, disagree. Graham got a no comment from Morgan Stanley when he asked them about the issue.

NFC Notes: Lee, McCoy, Suh, Tanner

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is in the early stages of rehabilitation from a torn left ACL, but he’s already thinking about his future, writes Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “I think I’ll come back completely healthy,” Lee said. “Now, the question is, can I stay out there? That’s something that obviously I’m hopeful for and I’m going to do everything I can do to do that and control everything I can. But at the end of the day, there’s situations that you might not be able to avoid. I’m not going to stress too much about that end. I’m just going to do what I can do.” More from the NFC..

  • Bad news for Seahawks tight end Anthony McCoy as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (on Twitter) hears from a source that he has torn his left Achilles. Last season, McCoy suffered a torn right Achilles and missed the entire season. In 2012, the 26-year-old’s last season on the field, he hauled in 18 receptions for 291 yards and three touchdowns while also spending time on special teams.
  • The Lions are tabling talks with Ndamukong Suh because they want him to be informed and sign a deal he’s happy with, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. It was reported yesterday that Detroit will table talks with the star defensive tackle until after the season.
  • Running back Phillip Tanner visited with the 49ers yesterday before ultimately signing with the Colts, tweets Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. The 49ers have a new running back of their own in 27-year-old Alfonso Smith, who joined the club yesterday. San Francisco’s once-loaded RB stable is looking pretty banged up at the moment. backup Kendall Hunter tore his ACL, LaMichael James has a dislocated elbow, and Marcus Lattimore has multiple nagging injuries.
  • New Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is keeping the Big Blue’s defense on their toes in practice, writes Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “Reps against the no-huddle does help going against the guys in Philly — their offense is very, very fast — and I think the Redskins, they do the same thing too,’’ cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “That’s only preparing us for the season.’’
  • Earlier tonight we recapped the Buccaneersoffseason.

Offseason In Review: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Notable signings:

Notable losses:

Trades:

  • Acquired a 2015 fifth-round pick from the Ravens in exchange for Jeremy Zuttah.
  • Acquired a sixth-round pick (No. 185) from the Bills in exchange for Mike Williams.
  • Acquired a fifth-round pick (No. 149) from the Bills in exchange for a seventh-round pick (No. 221) and a 2015 fifth-round pick.

Draft picks:

  • Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M (1.7): Signed
  • Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (2.38): Signed
  • Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia (3.69): Signed
  • Kadeem Edwards, G, Tennessee State (5.143): Signed
  • Kevin Pamphile, OT, Purdue (5.149): Signed
  • Robert Herron, WR, Wyoming (6.185): Signed

Other:

Things got weird in Tampa Bay last year. Real weird. Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano kicked off the season with what many perceived as a campaign against his own starting quarterback. Josh Freeman wasn’t voted as a team captain for the first time since his 2009 rookie season, but when teammates huddled up to discuss the election process, they came away with the conclusion that it was rigged and Freeman rightfully should have had a C on his jersey, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. Weeks later, word came out that Freeman had to enroll in the league’s drug program for abusing Adderall and the NFLPA filed a grievance on the matter for breach of confidentiality. There was speculation that Schiano was the one who stripped Freeman of his captaincy and the one who leaked news of the drug problem to the press. When you couple that with an 0-8 start that ended in a 4-12 record for 2013, the Bucs had no choice but to bounce the discipline-loving, cliched sound bite-giving coach. Now, the Bucs will be guided by former Bears coach Lovie Smith who is set to bring the Tampa 2 back to Tampa and, hopefully, foster a healthier environment in the locker room.NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers-Minicamp

After the Bucs demoted Freeman (and later cut him), rookie quarterback Mike Glennon was thrust into the starting role and performed about as well as you’d expect most rookie signal callers to perform. Glennon produced an cumulative -6.1 rating from Pro Football Focus, placing him 33rd amongst all eligible QBs in their rankings. Taking his spot on the depth chart will be free agent pickup Josh McCown, who ranked 9th in PFF’s QB rankings. The veteran journeyman started for the Bears in place of Jay Cutler last season after he was lost to injury and filled in admirably, The 35-year-old ended the 2013 season completing 66.8 of his passes for 1,829 yards with 13 touchdowns, one interception and a 109.0 passer rating, the third highest behind Peyton Manning and Nick Foles. In fact, McCown left such a strong impression in Chicago that many fans wondered why the Bears didn’t re-sign him rather than giving an expensive long-term deal to Cutler. Some might wonder if the veteran can replicate his play from last season, but he would appear to be a nice upgrade over the rising sophomore Glennon, who can still be groomed as the club’s QB of the future.

McCown will have the pleasure of throwing to three-time Pro Bowler Vincent Jackson and No. 7 overall pick Mike Evans. The Texas A&M product rocketed up draft charts across the NFL in the weeks leading up to the draft and firmly established himself as the best wide receiver in the class behind Clemson’s Sammy Watkins. In Evans, the Bucs are getting a big 6’5″ target who is hard to take down and can eek out extra yards after a catch that many WRs wouldn’t be able to. Evans doesn’t offer the blazing speed of Watkins or Odell Beckham Jr., the third WR to come off the board in the draft, but he offers serious upside in his own right and appears to be rather NFL ready. Meanwhile, Mike Williams, who spent the first four years of his career with the Bucs, was shipped to the Bills for a sixth-round choice.

As if that wasn’t enough to help McCown in his first year with Tampa Bay, the Bucs also drafted Washington tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round and signed former Raiders and Giants tight end Brandon Myers to a two-year deal. Seferian-Jenkins, like many of the league’s top tight ends, comes from a basketball background and that shows with his high-end athleticism. The 6’5″ athlete has very strong agility and soft hands for a player of his size and is also a decent blocker. Heading into the draft, some teams were wary of the 21-year-old’s perceived character flaws thanks to a 2013 DUI arrest. However, the Bucs interviewed the youngster extensively and walked away without concern.

In March, left tackle Anthony Collins was brought aboard to help protect the starting backfield of McCown and Doug Martin. Collins got a five-year, $30MM deal ($9MM guaranteed) from Tampa Bay even though he never had an extended run as a starter during his six seasons with the Bengals. Still, in his 673 offensive snaps last season, Collins never recorded a negative grade in a game, according to PFF (subscription required). If he can bring that kind of production as a starter, then the Bucs will look pretty smart in the long run. Also new to the Bucs’ starting o-line is former Packers center Evan Dietrich-Smith. Dietrich-Smith also doesn’t have a ton of starting experience, having started just nine games during his first three seasons in Green Bay before starting in all 16 games for the Packers in 2013. Still, PFF (subscription required) ranked him No. 8 out of 35 qualified centers and graded particularly well as a pass blocker. Off the bench, the Bucs added guard Oniel Cousins and retained OG Jamon Meredith with a two-year deal. Jeremy Zuttah, a former Rutgers notable who was a holdover from the Schiano era, was sent to the Ravens for a fifth-round choice (fellow RU alums Brian Leonard and Tiquan Underwood were also released).

Tampa Bay’s biggest financial commitment of the offseason came on the other side of the ball when they inked defensive end Michael Johnson to a five-year contract worth $43.75MM with $24MM in guaranteed cash. The Bengals free agent was this year’s fifth-best free agent according to our own Luke Adams and graded out as one of the best 4-3 defensive ends last season in stopping the run. Johnson’s 3.5 sacks in 2013 pale in comparison to his 11.5 sacks from 2012, but he’s still a dominant force that should help disrupt opposing offenses. Along with with defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, who was the statistical leader amongst DTs in stopping the run, the Bucs should have a fearsome defensive line to help anchor Smith’s defense. Former Seahawks defensive tackle Clinton McDonald was also brought aboard on a four-year, $12MM deal and he’s expected to sit behind McCoy and Akeem Spence on the depth chart.

The Bucs said goodbye to Darrelle Revis this offseason in order to get out from under his $16MM annual cap hit. While he’ll look to hold his position as one of the league’s top cornerbacks in New England, Tampa Bay brought in Alterraun Verner to take his place. Verner, widely regarded as the second-best free agent cornerback on the open market behind Aqib Talib (excluding Revis, of course, who did not become an FA until he was released by Tampa Bay), signed a rather team-friendly deal considering what he brings to the table. Verner isn’t a truly elite corner like Revis, but since entering the league in 2010, Verner has never placed outside the top 25 in Pro Football Focus’ cornerback rankings. Verner will help anchor a secondary that has some question marks, including starting strong safety Mark Barron. Barron missed most of the Bucs’ OTAs and minicamp with what was thought to be hamstring issue, but he actually underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in January.

The Bucs got a lot done over the offseason, but they’d still like to hammer out a new deal with McCoy and keep him in the fold for the long term. In the short-term, it’s a new era in Tampa Bay and while they might not look the part of Super Bowl contenders, it’s certainly a step up from where they were last season under their old regime.

Spotrac and Over The Cap were used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images.

Minor Moves: Tuesday

As August approaches, teams continue to shuffle around their 90-man rosters, making minor signings and cuts. We’ll round up Tuesday’s minor transactions right here, with the latest moves added to the top of the page throughout the day:

  • The Bears signed wide receiver Dale Moss to fill out their roster, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Moss spent part of 2012 on the Bears’ practice squad and the early part of the 2013 offseason on Chicago’s roster.
  • Brian McIntyre (Twitter links) passes along word of a pair of waiver claims, reporting that the 49ers claimed offensive tackle Michael Philipp from the Dolphins, while the Lions were awarded wideout Quintin Payton from the Bucs. Detroit had an open roster spot, so no corresponding move was necessary to claim Payton — San Francisco has waived quarterback Kory Faulkner to make room for Philipp.
  • The Steelers have waived-injured offensive lineman David Snow, replacing him on the roster with running back Josh Harris, the team announced today (Twitter link via PR man Burt Lauten).

Earlier updates:

  • After suffering a couple injuries in the secondary recently, the Ravens have brought in a free agent defensive back, signing former Arena Leaguer Marrio Norman to a contract, the team announced today. To make room on the roster, Baltimore has cut wide receiver Gerrard Sheppard, who spent most of last season on the club’s practice squad.
  • In order to make room for the newly-signed Alfonso Smith, the 49ers have waived-injured rookie guard Fouimalo Fonoti, according to Brian McIntyre (via Twitter).
  • The Dolphins have made a series of moves this morning, signing tight end Brett Brackett, quarterback Seth Lobato and defensive end D’Aundre Reed, and waiving quarterback Brock Jensen and linebacker Derrell Johnson. Miami also waived-injured guard Davonte Wallace, according to the team (TwitLonger link). Of the six players, only Reed has seen regular-season NFL action, and his experience is limited to six active games in 2012. The release of Jensen is also notable, since he was one of the club’s more highly-touted undrafted free agents this spring.
  • Former Jets linebacker Ricky Sapp has been cut by the Texans, according to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, who tweets that the team signed running back Tim Cornett and offensive tackle Mike Farrell. Sapp, a former fifth-round pick who was active in 10 total games last year for the Jets and Texans, will have to clear waivers before he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

49ers, Ahmad Brooks Restructure Contract

The 49ers and Ahmad Brooks have agreed to a contract restructuring that will create just over $2MM in cap space for the team, according to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap (on Twitter). Brooks’ new Paragraph 5 salary (base salary) is $855K for the coming season and he’ll make up for that in bonus money (link).

Tom Pelissero of USA Today Sports (Twitter links) has the details. The veteran linebacker converted $3.395MM of his 2014 base salary into signing bonus money for cap purposes. His cap number for 2014 drops from $6.6MM to about $4.5MM while his cap numbers in the remaining years rise to about $9.6MM in ’15 and ’16 and $8.6MM in ’17. That $9.6MM cap number for 2015 includes a $450K reporting bonus, according to Brian McIntyre (on Twitter).

Brooks, 30, signed a six-year contract extension worth $44.5MM ($17.5MM guaranteed) in February 2012. The outside linebacker has yet to miss a regular season game across four seasons for the 49ers, racking up 196 tackles and 33 sacks along the way.

While the restructuring doesn’t mean that another move is around the corner, it does give San Francisco some extra flexibility this offseason as they have several players seeking extensions and a holdout from guard Alex Boone. Tight end Vernon Davis, wide receiver Michael Crabtree, and right guard Mike Iupati are among those who could be in line for new deals.

NFC South Notes: Saints, Bailey, Panthers

Not many football players can say they played every regular-season snap of their career — pee wee league, junior high, high school, college and NFL — within two hours of his home, but longtime Panthers offensive lineman Travelle Wharton can, writes David Newton of ESPN.com. Wharton’s 115 games played and 111 starts rank second among Carolina offensive linemen and he’ll be remembered fondly for the versatility that allowed him to start at left guard and left tackle. “It was an awesome experience playing in the NFL,” Wharton said earlier today as his retirement was officially announced. “But to do it at home was amazing.” More out of the NFC South..

  • It wouldn’t be a shock to Greg. A Bedard of MMQB if cornerback Champ Bailey doesn’t make the Saints‘ roster. Bailey, he argues, is extremely average at this point as he has lost a step, is much stiffer in the hips, and is relying even more on his mind to make plays. Bailey has just $500K guaranteed on his contract and New Orleans has some promising young defensive backs line undrafted free agent Pierre Warren who might have to be kept.
  • Panthers GM Dave Gettleman had a very matter-of-fact response when the Patriots plucked injured sixth-round pick Tyler Gaffney off waivers, but coach Ron Rivera admits that the loss of the rookie running back hurts. “Wow, that was a tough one,” Rivera said, according to the Charlotte Observer’s Joseph Person. “It was surprising because we had him slated to have surgery and all that. New England, I knew they liked him coming out of the draft. So they made a move. I’m disappointed. You’d love to be able to keep him, but you had to make a move and that’s where we are.
  • New Saints safety Jairus Byrd claims he’s not feeling any pressure to live up to his six-year, $54MM deal, but Larry Holder of The Times-Picayune isn’t buying it. Byrd is now the second highest-paid man at his position behind Seahawks safety Earl Thomas and is coming off of a back surgery that caught many fans by surprise. Byrd, Holder writes, has to meet the expectations set by his previous five seasons on the field.

Raiders Owner Considering San Antonio?

Raiders owner Mark Davis, along with two of his top lieutenants, recently traveled to San Antonio to meet with city officials and discuss the possibility of moving the franchise, according to Josh Baugh and Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News. Davis reportedly met with several city leaders earlier this month, including then-mayor Julián Castro.

While Raiders fans in Oakland probably shouldn’t hit the panic button quite yet, Baugh and Orsborn say that their sources characterized Davis’ interest in San Antonio as “at least somewhat more serious” than usual, given how often the city is used as a bargaining chip for franchises in need of leverage. Davis and his associates are said to have spent multiple days in the city, checking out the Alamodome and other locations.

There has been speculation for some time that Davis would explore the possibility of relocating the Raiders to another city, if only to put more pressure on the city of Oakland to assist the team in building a new stadium. The club currently shares O.co Coliseum with MLB’s Athletics, who appear to be on the verge of finalizing a long-term lease with the stadium. While that agreement wouldn’t necessarily compromise the Raiders’ future in Oakland, it could reduce their options for a new stadium of their own.

According to Baugh and Orsborn, while Davis was in San Antonio, the Raiders owner also had separate discussions with San Antonio Spurs owner Peter Holt and Red McCombs, who both displayed interest in buying a stake in the Raiders if they were to move to Texas. Again though, those talks appear to be in the very exploratory stages, and may simply represent an effort to increase the Raiders’ leverage in talks with Oakland. I’d guess Davis will consider looking into a few other cities besides San Antonio in the near future for that same reason.

Seahawks GM Talks Lynch, Offseason, FAs

Appearing on ESPN’s SportsCenter today, Seahawks general manager John Schneider spoke to John Clayton, and the primary topic of discussion was Marshawn Lynch‘s holdout. Schneider addressed Lynch’s situation, as well as explaining why the team has yet to relent and rework the running back’s deal, and Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times provides the quotes from the Seattle GM. Here are a few highlights:

On whether he’s becoming concerned about Lynch’s absence:

“You know, no. Everybody loves Beast Mode. We love him and respect the guy. I think what he’s done in this community, for this franchise, is outstanding. It’s one of those deals where you can never get inside somebody’s head. We’re just going with our plan, and I know it’s cliché-ish, but next man up. We’ve had a plan in place here for a number of years, and we can’t veer from that plan for one person because it’s the ultimate team sport.”

On what the Seahawks’ plan constitutes:

“Tough decisions. You make models two and three years out, and you have to stick to that and know that there’s going to be tough decisions along the way. We had to let guys like Red Bryant go, Chris Clemons, we weren’t able to sign Breno [Giacomini], Golden Tate. You have to be able to make those decisions along the way knowing you’ll be able to re-sign Michael Bennett and maybe there’s a free agent that comes in and fits in your bracket. It’s just one of those deals where you have to keep going about your business, and you can’t veer off of that.”

On the contracts the Seahawks were able to sign this offseason, including extensions for Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas:

“Going into the offseason we knew we were going to have guys, and we still have a number of guys that we’d like to get done headed toward next year that are going to be free agents. Now, you can’t keep all your guys. We know that. That’s the landscape that we live in in the National Football League. But we feel blessed that we’re able to get Earl done, get Sherm done, re-sign Michael, Doug Baldwin. The guys that we’re going to next, they know. We just have to be true to our word and keep trying to work those deals.”

Contract Details: Nelson, Reynolds, White

With a number of veteran free agents signing deals recently, and others being extended, the latest contract details have been a little more complicated than the usual minimum salary contracts we’d seen over the last few weeks. With that in mind, here’s a roundup of a few of the latest specific figures to surface:

Earlier updates:

  • Details of Roddy White‘s extension with the Falcons have emerged, and, unsurprisingly, the deal doesn’t look quite as lucrative as initially reported. According to Tom Pelissero of USA Today (all Twitter links), White’s new four-year contract has a base value of $23MM, which means there’s $18MM in new money on the three-year extension. The pact also features a $7.55MM signing bonus and $8.5MM in escalators which could push the overall value to as high as $31.5MM. Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap has all the details in chart form.
  • We heard last week that Tyson Clabo‘s new two-year deal with the Texans is worth $2.4MM, and now Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun has the breakdown of the specifics (via Twitter). Per Wilson, the contract includes annual base salaries of $900K, a $200K signing bonus, roster bonuses worth up to $80K ($5K per game) in 2014, and roster bonuses worth up to $320K ($20K per game) in 2015.
  • Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) clarifies that the Seahawks can now recover up to 15% of the prorated portion of Marshawn Lynch‘s signing bonus, rather than the entire thing. That means the team could go after $225K of the bonus, rather than $900K.
  • The 49ers can do the same thing with Alex Boone‘s contract, as Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group details. 15% of Boone’s prorated signing bonus works out to $51K.