AFC Notes: Pouncey, Bengals, McCourty

While Mike Pouncey‘s initial recovery timetable from hip surgery suggested he’d miss the first month of the season, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reports that the veteran center may not return for a few more weeks after that. According to Salguero, Pouncey’s rehab could extend into late October, meaning he’d miss nearly half the regular season.

Meanwhile, extension talks between Pouncey and the Dolphins have been put on hold for now, says Salugero (via Twitter). Besides the fact that Pouncey, who turns 25 tomorrow, isn’t healthy, it’s still a little early to make serious progress on a new contract, considering the team has exercised its fifth-year option for 2015. So far, no 2011 first-rounders have signed extensions, since their teams still have most of the leverage.

Here’s more from around the AFC:

  • For years, Bengals owner Mike Brown has served as the team’s de facto general manager, but speaking to reporters – including Joe Danneman of Fox19 – Brown said yesterday that his daughter Katie Blackburn and head coach Marvin Lewis are now running the franchise (Twitter link). As Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer details, Brown still has the final say on personnel decisions, but typically follows the lead of Blackburn and Lewis.
  • A report in early June suggested extension talks between the Patriots and safety Devin McCourty had gotten underway, but according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (via Twitter), there have been no new talks since that initial dialogue. Regardless, McCourty isn’t phased by heading into the regular season on an expiring deal.
  • Focusing on how contract situations may affect players’ roster security, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe breaks down the Patriots who may be on the hot seat as roster cuts approach.
  • Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star consults cap expert Joel Corry to determine whether or not the Chiefs will be able to lock up both Jamaal Charles and Justin Houston to new long-term contracts. The answer: Yes, though the team will have to be careful about how it spreads out the money on the cap.

Justin Gilbert, Browns Agree To Terms

First-round cornerback Justin Gilbert has agreed to terms on his rookie contract with the Browns, reports Chris Mortensen of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Once Gilbert officially puts pen to paper, Cleveland will have locked up its entire 2014 draft class, just in time for its rookies to report to camp.

Gilbert, who played his college ball at Oklahoma State, was selected eight overall by the Browns in May after the team traded down from No. 4 and then back up from No. 9. The first cornerback off the board in the ’14 draft, the 22-year-old won the 2013 College Football Performance Award as the nation’s top defensive back.

As Jason Fitzgerald’s figures at OverTheCap.com show, Gilbert should be in line for a signing bonus worth in excess of $7.65MM, while the overall value of his four-year deal will be around $12.834MM. The reason for the holdup on an agreement isn’t yet known, but it may have something to do with the two sides haggling over offset language in the contract.

With Gilbert now locked up, Tennessee’s Taylor Lewan is the only 2014 draftee who has yet to reach an agreement with his NFL team.

Kluwe Expects Legal Battle To End NFL Career

WEDNESDAY, 12:35pm: In an email to PFR’s Dallas Robinson, Halunen indicated that he and Kluwe will continue to talk to the Vikings rather than filing the lawsuit today.

“I have spoken with the Vikings lawyer Joe Anthony and we have agreed to recommend to our clients that they continue with their conversations,” Halunen said. “We will not be taking any action pending the completion of those discussions.”

Speaking to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter links), Halunen added that no deadline for a resolution has been set, but that he expects to determine soon whether or not further talks will be productive.

TUESDAY, 9:20am: Chris Kluwe and attorney Clayton Halunen are expected to file a lawsuit against the Vikings on Wednesday, and the veteran punter anticipates that the “protracted legal battle” that follows will result in his retirement from the NFL, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

I’m pretty sure that will end my career,” Kluwe said. “I doubt there will be many teams that want me on their roster with a lawsuit against another team at the same time. But this is something that I think is important.

Having sat out the 2013 season and accused the Vikings of releasing him because of his outspoken views on same-sex marriage, Kluwe was perhaps already a long shot to return to the NFL, though his numbers during his last several seasons in Minnesota were respectable. The 32-year-old has stayed in shape in the hopes of continuing his career, but hasn’t heard from any NFL clubs since his allegations became public in January.

For now then, Kluwe will focus on the legal battle with the Vikings, who upset Kluwe and Halunen by not releasing the full 150-page investigative report put together by an independent firm. According to Kluwe, the suit will be for lost past and future earnings, emotional distress and defamation of character, and will seek “in excess of $10MM.” Any money the punter may be awarded would be donated to LGBT causes.

Jets To Sign Jason Babin To Two-Year Deal

12:21pm: The Jets have officially announced their agreement with Babin, indicating that cornerback Lowell Rose has been cut to make room (Twitter link).

10:36am: After visiting the Jets earlier this week, veteran free agent Jason Babin has agreed to terms with the team, reports Kimberly Jones of the NFL Network (via Twitter). According to Jones, it’ll be a two-year deal for the former Jaguars edge rusher.

Babin, who turned 34 in May, played in all 16 games last season for the Jaguars, racking up 31 tackles, 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two passes defended. However, after re-signing with Jacksonville in March, the former first-round pick was released by the team last month, making him an unrestricted free agent. While Babin has always been a fairly one-dimensional player, his value has declined as his ability to rush the passer has slipped from elite to simply above average.

With experience in both 4-3 and 3-4 defenses, Babin figures to compete for a roster spot and playing time at outside linebacker for Rex Ryan‘s team. The club’s projected OLB starters – Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples – and top reserve Garrett McIntyre all graded better against the run than as pass rushers last season, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required).

Terms of the agreement aren’t yet known, but when Babin signed with the Jaguars earlier in the offseason, his three-year contract had a total base value of just $7.275MM with only $500K guaranteed. When I examined his free agent stock a couple weeks ago, I suggested that a salary in the $1.5-2MM could be about right for Babin — a deal that includes a modest base salary with several incentives may also make sense, as Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap tweets.

The Jets were believed to have a full 90-man roster, so a corresponding move will be necessary to clear room for Babin.

Vernon Davis Reports To 49ers’ Camp

11:47am: Despite reporting to camp, Davis is still seeking a new contract and is “definitely” not interested in moving forward without a raise, a source tells Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. The tight end’s decision to attend training camp was a result of a few factors, including the desire to avoid daily $30K fines for his absence.

11:27am: While Davis is present at San Francisco’s training camp, the team doesn’t expect Boone to follow suit, tweets Bill Williamson of ESPN.com, adding that the offensive lineman is “bent on getting a new deal by any means necessary.” Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Mike Garafolo of Fox Sports also both hear that Boone won’t be reporting (Twitter links).

11:01am: Tight end Vernon Davis, who is seeking a new contract from the 49ers, has nonetheless reported to training camp, according to teammate C.J. Spillman, who posted a video of Davis’ arrival on Instagram. After Davis wasn’t in attendance at the club’s spring workouts and minicamp, it wasn’t clear if he would be present when training camp got underway, but it seems he won’t officially hold out.

Davis’ presence at training camp doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s putting his contract situation on the back-burner. It may be that the 30-year-old took notice when the 49ers agreed to an extension with Joe Staley – who was underpaid but not holding out – and decided his attendance at camp could help the two sides negotiate in good faith.

Although Davis may feel as if he’s not being paid what he deserves, he’s still among the league’s highest-paid tight ends by annual average value and has two years remaining on his current deal, so his leverage in contract talks will be limited. The team also has to address a potential new contract for fellow holdout candidate Alex Boone and extensions for Michael Crabtree and Mike Iupati, so it will be interesting to see whether the Niners feel compelled to get anything done with Davis.

Chiefs To Sign Ryan Harris, Josh Mauga

The Chiefs are expected to officially finalize a pair of signings shortly, adding offensive tackle Ryan Harris and linebacker Josh Mauga to the roster. The news of Harris’ signing comes from the tackle himself, who tweets that he’s “beyond happy to be a Chief.” Meanwhile, agent Michael Hoffman of Premier Sports tweets the news of Mauga agreeing to terms with Kansas City.

Harris, 29, has spent the first six years of his NFL career with the Broncos and Texans, starting 39 of his 78 total games. Although he was a reserve last season in Houston, Harris appeared in each of the team’s 16 games and logged 485 offensive snaps, primarily at right tackle.

Mauga, 27, played for the Jets from 2010 to 2013, appearing in 29 games during his first three years but missing last season with a back injury. His best year for the Jets came in 2011, when he made nine tackles on special teams and also played 145 snaps on defense. For the Chiefs, Mauga figures to compete for a role primarly as a special-teamer.

Neither move has been formally announced by the Chiefs yet, so we’ll have to wait for the club to make the signings official and to indicate which players are being cut to make room for the new additions.

NFC Notes: Orakpo, Redskins, Rolle, Panthers

Brian Orakpo‘s long-term future with the Redskins remains up in the air, but he vows not to let his contract uncertainty bother him during the upcoming season, as he tells Brian McNally of the Washington Times.

“You can talk about contracts and this and that. Throw all that out the window, man,” Orakpo said. “I’m signed for the 2014 season. I need to go out there and make plays. I need to go out there and be a force. That’s what I’ve been working extremely hard at because this defense relies on myself to go out there and make big plays so we can get off the field.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • During most of his time as general manager for the Redskins and Buccaneers, Bruce Allen has shared decision-making responsibility with a head coach (Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden, respectively). However, with Shanahan no longer in Washington, the GM has “unprecedented authority to direct the franchise,” writes Jason Reid of the Washington Post.
  • Entering the final season of his five-year contract with the Giants, Antrel Rolle has yet to discuss an extension with the team, according to Tom Rock of Newsday. While Rolle would like to continue playing with the Giants beyond 2014, he acknowledges that “it’s possible” he’ll end up elsewhere, downplaying the need to focus on his contract situation at this point.
  • Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer takes a look at Charlotte native Brenton Bersin‘s quest to earn a spot on the Panthers‘ regular-season roster in 2014.

Chiefs, Jamaal Charles Discussing New Deal

WEDNESDAY, 8:35am: Unless he and the Chiefs have a breakthrough in contract talks, Charles will not report for training camp today, says Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). As Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com notes (via Twitter), the running back’s contract includes a $1MM reporting bonus, so if he decides not to show up, it may signal that he’s digging in his heels.

TUESDAY, 6:23pm: The Chiefs have discussed a new contract with running back Jamaal Charles, sources tell Adam Telcher of ESPN.com. While Telcher hears the Chiefs believe Charles will report to camp on time, Brad Fanning of KCTV5 (via Brad Stephens on Twitter) hears that the running back won’t be reporting to camp.

Charles, 27, is scheduled to make $3.9MM from the Chiefs this year when factoring in his bonuses and is slated to earn $6MM in 2015. After coming off of what might be his best NFL season, Charles is looking for a payday comparable closer to Matt Forte of the Bears ($6.9MM) and the Eagles LeSean McCoy ($8MM). Charles led the Chiefs in rushing (1,287 yards), receiving (70 catches), and touchdowns (19), setting career highs in the last two categories.

The Chiefs are also facing contract issues with two other key players, quarterback Alex Smith and linebacker Justin Houston with both headed into the final seasons of their contracts. Houston held out from offseason practice, including a mandatory three-day mini-camp. Now, Charles could ratchet up the pressure on KC by staying home during training camp.

Owner Pat Bowlen Resigns Control Of Broncos

Longtime Broncos owner Pat Bowlen is giving up control over the franchise due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer’s disease, according to Mike Klis of the Denver Post. The 70-year-old is placing ownership in the Pat Bowlen Trust that is controlled by non-family members, with team president Joe Ellis assuming control of the club.

It’s a really, really sad day,” Ellis said. “It’s sad for his family, his wife and his seven children. It’s sad for everyone in the organization. And it’s sad for all the Bronco fans who know what Pat Bowlen meant to them as an owner. It’s a day nobody wanted to see happen.”

As the Broncos explain in a statement of their own, Bowlen’s hope is to eventually transfer control of the franchise to one of his seven children. For now, Ellis will have the final say on decisions related to the franchise, having been named the team’s CEO in addition to its president. The veteran executive will represent the Broncos for all league matters.

Bowlen purchased the Broncos franchise in 1984, and has overseen the team’s two Super Bowl wins since then, as well as its other four appearances in the championship game. During Bowlen’s tenure, the club has endured just five losing seasons, and has racked up 16 postseason appearances.