Extra Points: Newton, Watt, Charles, Eagles

Many theorized that the rookie wage scale of the 2011 draft would results in hold outs down the line, but so far that theory has busted, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. No members of the 2011 draft class are poised to hold out, even though none of the first-round picks has received a second contract. First-rounders like Cam Newton, A.J. Green, Patrick Peterson, Julio Jones, Tyron Smith, and J.J. Watt are waiting patiently on new deals rather than resorting to holdouts. Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston is the only 2011 draft pick to take a stand this offseason. He boycotted the offseason program and a mandatory minicamp but still expected to report this week for Chiefs’ training camp. More from around the NFL..

  • Watt has a big payday in his future but it’s up to the Texans when it comes to how much and when, writes Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle. In the view of former agent Joel Corry, Watt will have to hold out if he wants Houston to pay him market value when the club still has years of control on him. The back-to-back first-team All Pro ranks ninth on the team in salary at $3.5MM, behind 2014 No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney, cornerback Kareem Jackson, center Chris Myers, and others.
  • Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap looks at Jamaal Charles‘ contract, his case for a new deal, and the Chiefs‘ salary cap. He finds that the difference in pay between Charles and his peers is startling. Four of the highest paid RBs earned $29MM or more in the first three years of their contract and all earned over $22MM. Charles earned just $18.1MM.
  • More from Fitzgerald who looks at the best and worst contracts on the Eagles. Jason Kelce, one of the bright young centers in the league, is on a six-year extension that will pay him $6.25MM per season. The worst deal, meanwhile, is tight end/running back James Casey, who is earning $4MM per season on a three-year deal.
  • The NFLPA has increased the annual fee for agents by $300 per year and agents are less-than-pleased, writes Florio. The union says that the increase, the first since 2000, arises from the cost of maintaining the agent regulation system and upgrades to the NFLPA website that will make it easier for agents to conduct salary research.
  • The new deal between Danny Woodhead and the Chargers came together rather quickly, tweets Tom Pelissero of USA Today. Woodhead’s agent approached the Bolts earlier this year but negotiations didn’t get underway until last week. Woodhead’s new deal is slated to keep him in San Diego through the 2016 campaign.

Offseason In Review: New York Giants

Notable signings:

Notable losses:

Extensions and restructures:

  • Chris Snee (G): Accepted pay cut. Reduced 2014 base salary from $6.75MM to $2MM in exchange for $1MM in guaranteed base salary and up to $500K in per-game roster bonuses.
  • Steve Weatherford (P): Accepted pay cut. Reduced 2014 base salary from $2.025MM to $900K in exchange for increased roster bonus, workout bonus, and incentives.
  • Mathias Kiwanuka (LB): Accepted pay cut. Reduced 2014 base salary from $4.375MM to $1.5MM in exchange for $700K roster bonus and up to $125K in incentives.

Draft picks:

  • Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU (1.12): Signed
  • Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State (2.43): Signed
  • Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse (3.74): Signed
  • Andre Williams, RB, Boston College (4.113): Signed
  • Nat Berhe, S, San Diego State (5.152): Signed
  • Devon Kennard, OLB, USC (5.174): Signed
  • Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame (6.187): Signed

Other:

The Giants didn’t renovate this offseason, they practically knocked their house down and built a brand new one. Nearly half of the G-Men roster hit free agency following the 2013 season and, predictably, their 2014 incarnation will look rather different. The Giants historically like to build from within, but they had little choice after a 7-9 showing last season.

Big Blue’s biggest move of all was signing cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a five-year, $35MM deal as a part of their rebuild of the secondary. After signing a one-year deal with the Broncos last year, DRC enjoyed a strong season in Denver, snagging three interceptions and breaking up 19 passes while ranking fifth overall among 110 qualified cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required). A $35MM pact is far from cheap, but it’s certainly not an overpay for Rodgers-Cromartie, even with nearly $12MM guaranteed. The Broncos made a six-year, $54MM offer to him before landing Aqib Talib, though that offer didn’t include enough guaranteed money to make him want to stay put. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Joining Rodgers-Cromartie in the overhauled secondary will be cornerback Walter Thurmond and safety Quintin Demps. Thurmond, who missed a quarter of last season thanks to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, recorded 24 tackles to go along with one interception and one sack for the defending Super Bowl champs. Thurmond won’t be as integral as DRC or Prince Amukamara, of course, but he should fill the slot role nicely after the departure of Terrell Thomas. Demps, who signed at a discount price, will start at free safety with Antrel Rolle at the other safety spot.

For all of the change happening in East Rutherford, NJ, the Giants maintained some stability when it comes to their linebackers. Jon Beason, who was widely viewed as the No. 1 priority for the Giants amongst their own free agents, was retained with a three-year, $17MM deal (~$6MM guaranteed). It’s a nice deal for the 29-year-old University of Miami product and he won’t have to dole out an extra 10% to anyone since he represented himself in negotiations. The advanced metrics weren’t kind to Beason as Pro Football Focus’ stats ranked him 47th out of 55 qualified inside linebackers last season. Even though his pass coverage might have been lacking, he still registered 93 tackles and an interception in just 12 games with the Giants. One new face joining Beason will be former Ravens LB Jameel McClain. McClain will be moving from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 defense but should be a disruptive force for his new team if he stays healthy. The 28-year-old has missed nine games over the last two seasons. A familiar face, Spencer Paysinger, will be back in the fold after accepting a $1.43MM restricted free agent tender. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka accepted a pay cut in the offseason, keeping him in place as well. Keith Rivers and Marcus Dowtin, meanwhile, will be plying their craft elsewhere in 2014.

The Giants also moved on from a pair of expensive veterans on the defensive line this offseason in Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph. To help replace Tuck, the Giants inked Robert Ayers to a very reasonable two-year, $3.75MM contract. The former first round pick started 27 games in Denver over five seasons and has a reputation for stuffing the run like few others can and registered 5.5 sacks last season. On the interior, third-round pick Jay Bromley and Mike Patterson (signed to a minimum deal) will be there to support projected starters Johnathan Hankins and Cullen Jenkins. Those men will have to step their games up considerably after Joseph was plucked by the Vikings.

Aside from Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants’ biggest free agent signing was offensive guard Geoff Schwartz. The Giants’ guard situation left much to be desired with mediocre options such as Kevin Boothe. Schwartz, on the other hand, was both a pass-blocking force and a strong run-blocker for Kansas City last season once he was brought into the starting lineup. The Giants also made a very interesting move when they picked up center J.D. Walton, who hasn’t seen the field since Week 4 of the 2012 season. When he was healthy, Walton was viewed as a high-upside talent, but it’s been a long time since he’s seen the gridiron. If he’s healthy, the Giants may have pulled off two of the best o-line signings of this offseason.

Schwartz and Walton will look to open up holes for the returning Peyton Hillis and new addition Rashad Jennings. After years of backing up NFL notables Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, Jennings is looking to establish himself as a feature back. He’s coming off of a season in which he ran for a career-high 733 yards last season and he should surpass that total easily as the Giants’ No. 1 option at tailback. Eli Manning, who was less-than-stellar in 2013, will need a strong running game to help keep defenses honest. The addition of first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. should help make his job easier as well. The speedy LSU wide receiver vaulted up boards in the weeks leading up to the May draft and a number of teams were drooling over his skill set, including MetLife Stadium’s other tenants.

The NFC East wasn’t all that imposing last season and if the trend carries into 2014, the Giants could have an easier path to the postseason than a lot of other teams in the NFL. No matter how things play out, you can’t fault GM Jerry Reese for a lack of trying. Big Blue has turned things upside-down in search of their fifth franchise Super Bowl.

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

Minor Moves: Saints, Rams, Browns, Bills

The NFL’s transactions wire is picking up as we approach the end of July, with notable players like Joel Dreessen and Larry English involved in roster moves today. Several teams have finalized a series of more under-the-radar moves as well, which we’ll round up right here:

  • The Buccaneers have signed linebacker Jeremy Grable and offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts, according to Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune (on Twitter). To help make room for the duo, the Bucs released cornerback D.J. Moore.
  • Former Ravens linebacker Adrian Hamilton has signed with the Chargers, according to Michael Gehlken of U-T San Diego (on Twitter).
  • The Saints have signed nose tackle Tyrone Ezell and linebacker Marcus Thompson, clearing roster spots for the new additions by cutting nose tackle Moses McCray and waiving outside linebacker Cheta Ozougwu with a failed physical designation. The team has the details on its newest signees in a press release.
  • The Rams completed a series of roster moves today, signing four players – linebacker Pat Schiller, linebacker Lawrence Wilson, offensive tackle D.J. Morrell, and offensive tackle R.J. Dill – and cutting four others — offensive lineman Abasi Salimu, wideout Dionte Spencer, linebacker Caleb McSurdy, and linebacker Tavarius Wilson (Twitter links via Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com).
  • A day after being cut by the Chargers, center Nick McDonald has been claimed off waivers by the Browns, tweets Brian McIntyre. Cleveland had an opening on its 90-man roster, so no corresponding move is necessary to make room for the offensive lineman.
  • One linebacker has been swapped for another in Buffalo, where the Bills signed Western Kentucky product Xavius Boyd to a contract after having waived-injured Darrin Kitchens, who is dealing with a lower body injury (Twitter links via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com).
  • The Texans have waived fullback Brad Smelley and defensive end Tim Jackson, and also signed tight end Chris Coyle, according to Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter links). As ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan tweets, Jackson received the “failure to disclose physical condition” designation when he was cut.
  • That “failure to disclose physical condition” designation is rarely used, but linebacker Billy Boyko also received it when he was waived by the Panthers, according to Caplan (Twitter link).
  • Caplan also tweets that former Broncos safety Eric Hagg has officially been placed on the team’s reserve/retired list. We heard yesterday that Hagg had decided to retire.

Ace Sanders Facing Four-Game Suspension

In a conference call with reporters earlier this evening, Jaguars wide receiver Ace Sanders said that he is facing a four-game suspension and won’t be around for the majority of training camp, according to Mark Long of The Associated Press.

I made some mistakes I do regret. I’m still dealing with it and trying to be a better person,” Sanders said, according to Long (on Twitter).

This is another tough blow for a Jaguars team that will most likely be without star Justin Blackmon for the 2014 season. Sanders had 51 receptions for Jacksonville in his rookie season, second only to Cecil Shorts‘ 66 catches and ahead of the soft-handed Maurice Jones-Drew. Sanders is undoubtedly bummed about missing one-quarter of the 2014 season, but football probably isn’t the first thing on his mind at the moment. The wide receiver said that he has been down a “tough road” and will seek counseling for his problems.

Chiefs, Jamaal Charles Discussing New Deal

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 he will report to camp on time, Brad Fanning of KCTV5 (via Brad Stephens on Twitter) hears that he 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.

Chargers, Woodhead Agree To Extension

The Chargers announced that they have reached agreement on a two-year contract extension with Danny Woodhead. The versatile veteran’s new contract runs through the 2016 season. Woodhead had one-year and $1.75MM left on his deal before today’s extension.

Danny is an integral part of our offense,” said General Manager Tom Telesco in the press release. “His work ethic and on-field production were key elements last year. We look forward to having him be a part of the Chargers organization into the future.

Woodhead enjoyed a career year in 2013, recording career highs of 76 catches (second on the team), 605 receiving yards, and six touchdowns. He ranked first among all NFL running backs in touchdown catches and ranked second in receptions and receiving yards. Woodhead also posted 429 rushing yards for a total of 1,034 yards from scrimmage, as well as two rushing touchdowns for a total of eight. Adding in his 262 kickoff return yards, he set another career-high with 1,296 all-purpose yards.

The 29-year-old first broke into the league with the Jets but really found his footing with the Patriots in 2010. Last year was his first with the Bolts and he’ll have plenty more ahead of him thanks to today’s deal.

NFC Links: Giants, Bucs, Eagles, Mathieu

After rounding up a few odds and ends from out of the AFC earlier today, let’s shift our focus to the league’s other conference, and check out the latest from around the NFC….

Falcons To Sign Pat Angerer

The Falcons have reached an agreement with free agent linebacker Pat Angerer, a source tells Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun (via Twitter). Wilson had reported earlier today that Angerer auditioned for Atlanta, and it didn’t take long for the team to extend a contract offer to the former Colt.

Angerer, 27, racked up 226 tackles in his first two NFL seasons but has played more sparsely over the last two years, in part due to foot and knee injuries. Back in April it was reported that the 27-year-old had received interest from multiple clubs but wanted to make sure he was back to 100% health before working out for anyone. The audition for the Falcons was believed to be Angerer’s first of the offseason.

Atlanta has been on the lookout for veteran help at the linebacker spot since receiving word that Sean Weatherspoon ruptured his Achilles tendon and will miss the 2014 season. The Falcons signed former Texan Tim Dobbins to compete for a roster spot and were said to be considering Angerer several weeks ago, before agreeing to terms with him.

In addition to Angerer, wide receiver Jeremy Ebert will also sign with the Falcons, according to agent Mike McCartney (via Twitter). By our count, the team two open roster spots heading into today, so no corresponding moves should be necessary to make room.

Broncos Cut Joel Dreessen

The Broncos have released tight end Joel Dreessen with a failed physical designation, the team announced today in a press release. Dreessen had missed the team’s spring workouts and practices due to ongoing knee issues.

Dreessen, who turns 32 this Saturday, spent two seasons with the Broncos after five years in Houston and one with the Jets. Although he established career highs in receptions (41) and games started (15) in 2012, his production was significantly reduced in 2013, due to health issues and the emergence of Julius Thomas.

Only Dreessen’s prorated bonus, worth about $667K, will count against Denver’s cap in 2014 now that he has been cut. The team will avoid paying his $2.5MM base salary and create some cap savings, which could be used toward an extension for the Broncos’ new starting tight end (Thomas) or wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.

Latest On Andre Johnson

2:42pm: Johnson’s agent, Kennard McGuire, made a statement today on Johnson’s situation, as Brian T. Smith passes along at the Houston Chronicle:

“I am not refuting, confirming or denying any reports or stories,” McGuire said. “Per the collective bargaining agreement, there’s a period in which veteran players are not allowed to participate or be in their team’s facilities and that period is as such. While I am personally in contact with the Texans organization, those conversations will remain between myself, the organization and Andre Johnson.”

2:05pm: A source with knowledge of the situation tells James Palmer of CSN Houston it’s looking more likely that Johnson will show up later this week when the Texans’ training camp gets underway. Palmer notes that the veteran wideout has spoken to O’Brien several times this offseason.

12:48pm: While there are a handful of players who appear likely to hold out when training camps get underway, none have the résumé that seven-time Pro Bowler Andre Johnson does, and the wideout’s potential attendance at Texans’ camp remains up in the air. ESPN.com’s Tania Ganguli reported today that Johnson arrived Monday at the team’s facility in order to learn Bill O’Brien‘s offense, which seems to be a positive sign for Houston. However, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) and Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle both hear from sources that Johnson’s appearance has no significance on whether or not he’ll report for camp on Friday.

Johnson, 33, is frustrated with the Texans, who are coming off a 2-14 season and are employing their sixth different offensive coordinator since Johnson joined the team in 2003. The former third overall pick skipped the Texans’ voluntary workouts this spring, as well as their mandatory minicamp, but so far the club has seemed unwilling to make any concessions in the standoff. If Houston does reach a compromise with Johnson, it’s unlikely to come in the form of a trade, as the team reportedly has no interest in such a move.

Jerome Solomon (Twitter links) and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle have both indicated that they expect Johnson to report to training camp, while Rapoport (Twitter link) has expressed skepticism. We should get a little more clarity on the receiver’s status within the next few days, as the Texans’ first practice of the summer is scheduled for Saturday morning.