Extra Points: Battle, Browns, Gipson

The NFL released the full schedule of 2015’s training camp reporting dates for rookies and veterans for all 32 teams today, and we’re only about a couple weeks away from rookies starting to show up. Rookies for the Ravens, Browns, and Saints will report on July 22, while the earliest reporting date for veteran players is July 25, for the Vikings and Steelers. Veterans for all 32 teams will report to camp no later than August 2.

As we look forward to the return of real NFL football, let’s check in on some odds and ends from around the league today….

  • Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle had 26 NFL teams in attendance for his Pro Day today, a school official tells Mike Reiss of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Battle, who is eligible for Thursday’s supplemental draft, is considered the player most likely to be selected. If he does come off the board, Battle would become the first prospect selected in the supplemental draft since the Browns nabbed Josh Gordon in 2012.
  • Browns safety Tashaun Gipson appears likely to play out the 2015 season on his one-year RFA tender before testing the free agent market in 2016, writes Pat McManamon of ESPN.com. It’ll be a crucial year on the field for Gipson, who wants to prove that he’s worth Devin McCourty money.
  • Dana Hunsinger Benbow of the Indianapolis Star passes along the findings of an analysis conducted by NerdWallet.com, which determined that the Colts have been the second-most financially efficient NFL team over the last 15 years. The only team ahead of Indianapolis, unsurprisingly, is the Patriots.
  • The Vikings ownership group will end up putting about $572MM into the team’s new stadium, writes Lee Schafer of the Star Tribune, noting that money from the NFL, along with seat licensing and naming rights, will make up a good chunk of the owners’ contributions.

NFC East Notes: Hall, Cowboys, Crawford

Earlier tonight we learned that the Coral Springs PD is no longer investigating Giants defensive end Pierre-Paul for the fireworks incident, having determined it didn’t happen within their jurisdiction. However, it’s still possible that another police department could look into the incident. Meanwhile, Giants officials have been in South Florida since Monday night but still have not been able to visit JPP. As we continue to monitor that story, here’s a look at the NFC East..

  • Washington cornerback DeAngelo Hall says his rehab from a torn Achilles tendon is going well, but the 31-year-old stopped short of guaranteeing he’ll be full-go when training camp begins July 30th, as Tarik El-Bashir of CSNWashington.com writes. “I hope I’m ready to go the first day,” Hall said Tuesday on 106.7 the Fan. “When I say wean me back in, I know they are going to monitor me. I know they are not going to just throw me out there and [have me] take all the reps with the [first team]. I’m just going to get out there and see how the body feels.” This offseason, Hall agreed to a contract restructure that eliminated his 2015 salary guarantees. If Hall isn’t healthy when training camp rolls around, Washington could cut ties with him rather easily.
  • Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News ran down the players who are in contention to take the Cowboys‘ last defensive line spots and the players who are longshots. Defensive ends Jack Crawford, Ben Gardner, Ryan Russell, Ken Bishop and defensive tackles Davon Coleman and Chris Whaley are in the mix for those reserve spots. Meanwhile, Sabin views defensive ends Kenneth Boatright, Lavar Edwards, and Efe Obada as longshots.
  • Cowboys defensive lineman Tyrone Crawford didn’t record his first sack until his 27th game and has only three to his credit since entering the league as a third-round draft pick in 2012. Still, thanks to his immense potential, there’s speculation that he could be in line for an extension as he enters the final year of his rookie deal, Sabin writes. For his part, Crawford would like to stay in Dallas. “This is definitely a place I like,” Crawford said. “I like the city. I like the program. I like everything this team’s doing – the ownership, coaches. It’s just great around here. I am just going to keep playing football.”
  • Earlier tonight, we recapped Washington‘s offseason as a part of PFR’s ongoing Offseason In Review series.

Offseason In Review: Washington

Notable signings:

Washington’s secondary was rather dreadful in 2014 and it was no secret that they’d be going hard after corners on the open market. A few days after the start of free agency, Washington reached agreement with ex-49ers corner Chris Culliver on a four-year deal that features $16MM in guaranteed cash. When Luke Adams listed PFR’s top 50 free agents in March, he ranked Culliver 24th overall and fourth among cornerbacks, behind Byron Maxwell, Brandon Flowers, and Kareem Jackson. Culliver will help shore up a secondary whose cornerbacks got burned on a regular basis in 2014. Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Biggers, and David Amerson saw the majority of the snaps at the position for the team, and all three corners ranked inPro Football Focus’ bottom 10 at the position. Culliver limited opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 50.7% and a 66.5 passer rating when they threw into his coverage, according to PFF (subscription required). PFF’s grades placed Culliver as the 14th-best cornerback out of 108 qualified players. Elsewhere in the secondary, Washington picked up former Seahawk Jeron Johnson. Johnson was Seattle’s No. 3 safety behind the league’s best tandem, but now he’ll have a chance to make his own mark with a new team – likely as a starter.

Not content with just beefing up the secondary, Washington invested a great deal of money in improving their defensive line. Their biggest free agent D-Line deal went to noteworthy defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Only Suh and Kyle Williams had more quarterback pressures from the defensive tackle position in 2014 than Paea’s 47, according to Pro Football Focus’ data (subscription required). Now in a 3-4 system, Paea figures to see time at both nose tackle and at defensive end.

Ricky Jean-Francois was released by the Colts in February for cap reasons and Washington was delighted to pick him up soon after. Jean-Francois, 28, parlayed a part-time role with the 2012 NFC champion 49ers into a four-year, $22MM pact with the Colts, who made him a starter and increased his playing time. Jean-Francois held his own in the increased role, ranking 26th out of 47 qualified 3-4 defensive ends in 2014, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required). He also set new career highs last season with 34 tackles and three sacks.

It’s always hard to peg how much free agents will get once they hit the open market but few expected Terrance Knighton‘s personal market to collapse the way it did. The man known as Pot Roast ranked 16th on our top 50 free agents list early in the offseason but wound up having to settle for a one-year, $4.45MM pact with $2.95MM guaranteed. One can speculate that Knighton’s physical conditioning scared off some teams, but whatever the reason, Washington appears to have come away with one of the best free agent values of the offseason. The six-year veteran was an integral part of a Broncos team that had the league’s second-best run defense in 2014, and Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rated Knighton 12th among 81 qualifying D-tackles last season.

On the other side of the ball, Washington retained Niles Paul with a three-year deal before he could reach free agency. The 25-year-old saw just 28 total targets during his first three seasons in the NFL, primarily serving as a blocker and a special-teamer in Washington. However, when Jordan Reed was sidelined early in the 2014 campaign, Paul got an extended look as a pass-catcher, and took advantage by setting new career highs in receptions (39) and receiving yards (507).

After the start of free agency, Washington struck a deal to retain backup quarterback Colt McCoy. While McCoy will be behind Robert Griffin III on the depth chart to start the year, either he or Kirk Cousins could get the nod if RGIII struggles.

Notable losses:

Brian Orakpo signed with the Titans after a disappointing 2014 season that ended after just seven games when he tore his pectoral muscle and was placed on IR. Still, despite the fact that he logged just 0.5 sacks last year, the former first-round pick was viewed as one of the top free agent players a year ago, when he was coming off a 10.5-sack season and earned a franchise tag from Washington. Orakpo was ranked as the NFL’s fourth-best 3-4 outside linebacker in 2013 by Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required). Per PFF, Orakpo racked up an impressive 51 total quarterback pressures in ’13.

Safety Ryan Clark indicated that he wanted to keep playing back in December, but he had a change of heart in the New Year. After a career in which he played 177 games (152 starts), racking up 928 total tackles, 55 passes defended, and 16 interceptions, Clark signed a one-day deal with Pittsburgh so that he could retire as a member of the Steelers.

Running back Roy Helu rushed for only 216 yards in Washington last year, but was a focal point of the club’s passing attack, catching 42 balls for nearly 500 yards. He drew interest from several teams around the league before ultimately putting pen to paper with Oakland.

Chris Chester, 32, signed a five-year, $20MM deal with Washington before the 2011 season, and started every game the team has played since then, at right guard. While Chester hasn’t been consistently above-average at the position, he hasn’t been a major liability either and it was somewhat surprising to see him let go. In 2014, he played the eighth-most offensive snaps among guards (1,091), and ranked 33rd among 78 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades (subscription required).

Right after siging Jean-Francois, Washington released veteran defensive tackle Barry Cofield. Cofield, 31, suffered his first major injury in 2014, as he missed about half the season after an ankle injury forced him onto the injured reserve list with the designation to return. While the veteran lineman returned to action in November, he only started three of eight games for the season, marking the first time since 2007 that he appeared in a game he didn’t start.

Santana Moss says that he still wants to play in the NFL, but he might have to settle for an off-field role. Washington owner Daniel Snyder has already spoken with the veteran about a potential job, so it sounds likely that he’ll still be in the nation’s capital in 2015.

Veteran cornerback Tracy Porter had one year left on his deal but Washington opted to let him hit the open market early. Porter, 28, was a full-time starter at cornerback for the Raiders in 2013, and signed a two-year, $6MM deal in free agency last year with Washington, but saw his role reduced significantly in 2014. Before he landed on the injured reserve list in November, ending his season, Porter only played 89 snaps for Washington, finding himself buried on the depth chart behind Bashaud Breeland, E.J. Biggers, David Amerson, and others for a good chunk of 2014.

Biggers, of course, is also gone. The 28-year-old spent his five-year NFL career in Tampa Bay and Washington, playing 76 overall regular season games before signing on with the Eagles this year. Although he has experience at both cornerback and safety, Biggers primarily played corner in 2014, recording 32 tackles and four passes defended in 465 defensive snaps. He also occasionally contributed on special teams.

Tyler Polumbus was Washington’s primary right tackle for the last three seasons, but his services were no longer needed in D.C. this year with a top draft pick taking over the position. Polumbus signed on with Atlanta in May.

Extensions and restructures:

After signing a four-year extension worth $17MM in February of last year, cornerbackDeAngelo Hall played in only three games before tearing his Achilles and being placed on injured reserve. He later re-tore the Achilles in October, leaving his future even further in doubt. With that in mind, Hall agreed to a contract restructure that will eliminate his 2015 salary guarantees. Hall, in all likelihood, probably would have been shown the door if he didn’t agree to the move.

Trades:

  • Acquired S Dashon Goldson and a 2016 seventh-round pick from the Buccaneers in exchange for a 2016 sixth-round pick.
  • Acquired a 2015 third-round pick (No. 95; RB Matt Jones), a 2015 fourth-round pick (No. 112; G Arie Kouandjio), a 2015 fifth-round pick (No. 167), and a 2015 sixth-round pick (No. 181; S Kyshoen Jarrett) from the Seahawks in exchange for a 2015 third-round pick (No. 69; WR Tyler Lockett).
  • Acquired a a 2015 sixth-round pick (No. 187; WR Evan Spencer) and a 2016 sixth-round pick from the Saints in exchange for a 2015 fifth-round pick (No. 167; CB Damian Swann).

NewWashington GM Scot McCloughan was a member of the 49ers’ front office when the team drafted Dashon Goldson back in 2007 and he decided to orchestrate a reunion this year. Goldson signed a lucrative five-year contract with the Bucs after coming off an All-Pro season in San Francisco. However, his production has slipped a little over the last two seasons, as he has battled injuries. In 2014, among 87 qualified safeties, only the aforementioned Ryan Clark performed worse than Goldson, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Goldson’s -14.5 pass coverage grade was dead last among safeties — per PFF, he allowed a 69.7% completion percentage and a 127.2 passer rating on throws into his coverage. Goldson is hopeful that a change of scenery will allow him to return to his prior form.

Draft picks:

  • 1-5: Brandon Scherff, OL (Iowa): Signed
  • 2-38: Preston Smith, DE/OLB (Mississippi State): Signed
  • 3-95: Matt Jones, RB (Florida): Signed
  • 4-105: Jamison Crowder, WR (Duke): Signed
  • 4-112: Arie Kouandjio, G (Alabama): Signed
  • 5-141: Martrell Spaight, OLB (Arkansas): Signed
  • 6-181: Kyshoen Jarrett, S (Virginia Tech): Signed
  • 6-182: Tevin Mitchel, CB (Arkansas): Signed
  • 6-187: Evan Spencer, WR (Ohio State): Signed
  • 7-222: Austin Reiter, C (South Florida): Signed

A number of teams in need of offensive line help had their eye on Iowa’s Brandon Scherff. Washington wound up taking him at No. 5, which surprised some since Washington was believed to be looking at pass rushers. Scherff is expected to start his NFL career at the right tackle position, across from Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams.

In the fourth round, McCloughan stayed local and chose DeMatha star Arie Kouandjio.

Other:

Fans have been clamoring for a GM change for years now and they finally got their wish when Scot McCloughan took over Bruce Allen‘s former title. The former 49ers general manager also discussed positions with the Jets and Raiders, but in hindsight it now looks like those talks were more about leverage than anything else. McCloughan will report to Allen, but will have final say over the club’s 53-man roster.

Washington looked hard at former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio for their own DC job, but he wound up choosing the Bears. After that, Washington opted to hire Joe Barry. Barry will be tasked with turning around a unit that finished 27th in DVOA in 2014, including 32nd against the pass. The team also allowed 27.4 points per game this season, tied for the third-worst mark in the NFL. Barry has one previous stint as a DC under his belt, with the Lions from 2007 to 2008. Of course, Barry left that position at a low point, following the club’s 0-16 campaign in ’08. Barry’s run in Detroit is perhaps best remembered for prompting one reporter to ask his father-in-law, head coach Rod Marinelli, if he wished his daughter had “married a better defensive coordinator.”

There was some question as to whether Washington would exercise it’s 2016 option for Robert Griffin III given his struggles and injury history. Ultimately, they decided to trigger the fifth-year option worth $16.155MM. It’s a significant investment for a player who doesn’t even have the starting quarterback job locked up, but the salary doesn’t become fully guaranteed until the first day of the 2016 league year.

Top 10 cap hits for 2015:

  1. Trent Williams, LT: $14,230,393
  2. Pierre Garcon, WR: $9,700,000
  3. Desean Jackson, WR: $9,250,000
  4. Ryan Kerrigan, OLB: $7,038,000
  5. Robert Griffin III, QB: $6,719,713
  6. Jason Hatcher, DT: $5,203,125
  7. DeAngelo Hall, CB: $4,812,500
  8. Kory Lichtensteiger, C: $4,300,000
  9. Chris Culliver, CB: $4,250,000
  10. Stephen Paea, DT: $4,250,000

In January of 2014, Washington hired Jay Gruden to be the team’s next head coach after Mike Shanahan was let go. Almost a year later, many wondered if he’d get a second season. Ultimately, Gruden was assured his job after a convincing Week 16 victory over the Eagles. If Washington struggles again in 2015, it’s far from an automatic that Gruden will get a third year to try and right the ship.

Contract information from Over the Cap and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post.

Latest On Jason Pierre-Paul

4;42pm: Don’t expect Pierre-Paul to sign his franchise tag until he’s ready to play, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter) cautions. The Giants can’t place him on the Non-Football Injury list until he inks a deal. Rapoport adds (link) that the two sides haven’t ruled out JPP playing in Week 1. Of course, no one will know his timetable until more is known about his hand.

Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes that Giants officials have been in South Florida since Monday night but still have not been able to visit JPP. As for right now, they’re waiting patiently, hoping he’s alright.

3:48pm: The Coral Springs PD is no longer investigating Pierre-Paul, having determined the incident didn’t happen within their jurisdiction, reports J.P. Pelzman of The Record (all Twitter links). That doesn’t mean another police department won’t look into the incident, however. Mike Garafolo of FOX Sports tweets that once police determine where the incident occurred, they might proceed with an investigation.

2:56pm: According to Raanan, the Coral Springs Police Department in Florida has launched an investigation into the accident that injured Pierre-Paul’s hand. Depending on the the information they gather, JPP could face charges that include criminal possession of fireworks, writes Raanan, citing Coral Springs public information officer Capt. Brad McKeon.

10:30am: A handful of reports on Jason Pierre-Paul‘s condition and his contract situation surfaced on Monday, with some of those reports providing conflicting information. The severity of JPP’s hand injury, sustained over the weekend in a fireworks accident, remains unclear, and the team may or may not have withdrawn a $60MM contract offer in the wake of the incident.

Based on Monday’s reports, it seems likely that Pierre-Paul will ultimately play on a one-year deal in 2015, with a stint of the non-football injury list a possibility. It also appears unlikely that his hand will be 100% healthy anytime soon.

With that in mind, here are Tuesday’s latest updates on the star defensive end:

  • The Giants sent their vice president of medical services, Ronnie Barnes, to Miami to check in on Pierre-Paul at Jackson Memorial Hospital, but he hasn’t been able to get much information about the 26-year-old’s condition, writes Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News. According to Vacchiano, the Giants have been stuck getting most of their updates from JPP’s agent, which is the main reason why the team has yet to issue a statement or make any definitive decisions. In response to a report indicating the defensive end could miss some of the regular season, one team source told Vacchiano, “Until we know what we’re dealing with, nobody knows if he’ll miss anything.”
  • One team source told Vacchiano that yesterday’s report on the Giants pulling a $60MM to JPP off the table was “not accurate,” suggesting that there may not have been a concrete offer to rescind. A deal in the $60MM range may have been discussed, but some in the NFL believe Pierre-Paul was seeking more than that.
  • Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post, who first refuted the report of the rescinded contract offer, hears that there’s still a multiyear offer on the table, but that Pierre-Paul is unlikely to accept it. If that’s true, I can’t imagine that offer represents a fair market value for an injured JPP, let alone a healthy one.
  • Giants officials are in Miami today to visit Pierre-Paul and hope to have a better idea of how he’s faring by the end of the day, sources tell Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Jordan Raanan of NJ.com adds (via Twitter) that the Giants’ contingent include key figures in the organization, not including owner John Mara.
  • If Pierre-Paul signs his franchise tender and is placed on the non-football injury list for the start of the regular season, he’d have to sit out at least six weeks. As such, JPP’s best move may be to not sign his tender until he’s healthy, since that would allow him to be activated immediately, says Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Of course, that decision will depend heavily on the 26-year-old’s recovery timetable.
  • In a piece for NJ.com, Raanan explains how the NFI list works, and how its features would apply to JPP.

Community Tailgate: Who Will Win The NFC East?

We’re still more than two months away from the start of battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. Earlier this summer, we launched a new series here at PFR that will be known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

Of course, while the debate may get spirited, we ask that it all stays respectful. If you need a reminder of our rules, please check out our commenting policy. Basically, we ask that you refrain from inappropriate language, personal insults, and attacks. Speaking of commenting: we’ve made it much easier to leave a comment here at Pro Football Rumors. You are no longer required to be a registered user – simply put in your name, email address, and comment and submit.

Today, we’ll be looking at the NFC East. In that division, the Eagles may or may not have won the offseason, but they clearly won the battle for newspaper ink. All eyes were on coach Chip Kelly this offseason as he embarked on his first season with total control over his roster. Kelly shook things up in a major way when he shipped star running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso, who is coming off of a lost 2014 season. To fill the void left by Shady, Kelly signed both DeMarco Murray and former Bolts back Ryan Mathews. Kelly downplayed his affinity for Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, but several reports indicated that he tried like hell to move up to get him. Ultimately, that plan didn’t work out and the Eagles will now pit Mark Sanchez against newcomer Sam Bradford for the No. 1 QB spot. Whoever is under center won’t have the luxury of throwing to Jeremy Maclin, however, as he left in free agency without much of a fight from Philly.

The Giants‘ defense was pretty atrocious in 2014 and they’re hoping that a reunion with Steve Spagnuolo will turn it all around. Perry Fewell appeared to lose his grip on things last season but Spags’ aggressive playcalling could help to fix what ails Big Blue. On offense, the Giants souped on their running game with the addition of former Patriots back Shane Vereen, a back that can make the most out of a run play and also catch the ball well out of the backfield. The biggest question mark for the Giants right now is probably the status of Jason Pierre-Paul, who injured himself in a fireworks mishap over the weekend. His future beyond 2015 is in jeopardy and now it sounds as though he might not be ready for the start of the season.

The Cowboys made a big offseason splash when they signed star defensive end Greg Hardy, but it’s currently unclear when he’ll be able to take the field. If the embattled ex-Panther can get his suspension slashed down to, say, four games, then Dallas will open the season with one of the more fearsome defenses in the NFL. Without him, 2014 second round selection DeMarcus Lawrence will be charged to lead the way for the team’s bookends. The impending return of linebacker Sean Lee should also go a long way for Dallas’ front seven. On the flipside, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Jason Witten should continue to raise havoc against opposing defenses, though Dallas’ stable of running backs is chock full of question marks.

Can Washington turn things around in 2015 to capture the NFC East crown? Most pundits would say no, but a full season of Robert Griffin III under center with a capable offensive line could be a difference maker. On defense, Washington gave Chris Culliver a four-year, $32MM deal to help turn around one of the league’s most atrocious secondaries. The defensive line also got a makeover with the free agent additions of Stephen PaeaRicky Jean-Francois, and Terrance Knighton.

All in all, who do you think will win the NFC East in 2015 and why? Let us know in the comments!

Cole’s Latest: Pierre-Paul, Jets, Hardy

Nearly two weeks ago, I identified a number of NFL storylines worth watching during the break between June minicamps and the start of training camps. Among those topics? Jason Pierre-Paul and his fellow franchised players, extension candidates like Muhammad Wilkerson, and suspension appeals for players like Greg Hardy. Jason Cole of Bleacher Report delves into all three of those storylines today, so let’s round up the highlights:

  • According to Cole (video link), the Giants believe that Pierre-Paul “dodged a bullet” and that the hand injury he sustained over the weekend could’ve been worse. The team believes at this time that there’s no nerve damage in JPP’s hand that can’t be recovered from. However, the defensive end will likely undergo a skin graft procedure on his hand – if he hasn’t already – which is an uncommon health issue for an NFL player. Per Cole, the Giants are prepared to place Pierre-Paul on the non-football injury list to start the season, if necessary, which would sideline him for the first six weeks. We rounded up the rest of today’s JPP updates right here.
  • Even before the NFL announced that Sheldon Richardson would be suspended for four games for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, the Jets were concerned about eventually getting him locked up to an extension, says Cole (video link). The team considers Richardson a better player than Wilkerson, and initially preferred to extend Richardson, but his suspension, along with concern about his potential salary demands, may make Wilkerson the more likely extension candidate.
  • Cole (video link) hears from sources close to Hardy that the Cowboys defensive end is losing his will to fight the NFL in regard to his 10-game suspension, having been worn down by a long legal process. If Hardy’s appeal results in his ban being reduced by two or four games, he may be willing to accept the penalty rather than continuing to fight the NFL by filing a lawsuit against the league.

Largest 2015 Cap Hits By Team: AFC South

Before NFL training camps get underway later this month, we’ll be taking a closer look at the top 2015 cap hits for teams around the league. We began our series in June by focusing on the NFC East and AFC East divisions, and last week we looked at the NFC North, AFC North, and NFC South. Today, we’ll head back to the AFC to examine the South division.

Listed below are the top 10 cap hits for the coming season for each of the four AFC South franchises, accompanied by some observations on the spending habits of those clubs. Let’s dive in….

Houston Texans:

  1. J.J. Watt, DL: $13,969,000
  2. Johnathan Joseph, CB: $11,750,000
  3. Duane Brown, LT: $9,500,000
  4. Arian Foster, RB: $8,706,250
  5. Brian Cushing, LB: $7,891,250
  6. Kareem Jackson, CB: $7,453,125
  7. Andre Johnson, WR: $7,319,585 (dead money)
  8. Brian Hoyer, QB: $5,218,750
  9. Jadeveon Clowney, DE/OLB: $5,062,045
  10. Derek Newton, RT: $4,500,000
    Total: $81,370,005

Not many players have an interior defensive lineman atop their list of cap hits, but no other team has an interior defensive lineman that has the same impact on the field that Watt does. Without a top quarterback to pay, the Texans are able to devote a significant chunk of cap space to defensive players like Watt. Of course, the All-Pro had originally been slated to have an even higher cap number in 2015 before a restructure reduced that figure by $8MM.

Joseph, Cushing, and Jackson are the notable defenders besides Watt taking up sizable pieces of cap room, and their performances will go a long way to determining how the Houston defense performs this season, and what sort of value the Texans are getting out of their top 10 cap hits.

Cushing stayed mostly healthy in 2014 after missing more games than he played in 2012 and 2013, but it wasn’t one of his better seasons. Joseph, meanwhile, has been effective but perhaps overpriced — an extension this offseason added two seasons to his contract at a rate of $7MM per year, which is a more reasonable rate. As for Jackson, he re-upped with the Texans in the offseason, so this will be the first year of his new deal with the team.

Indianapolis Colts:

  1. Vontae Davis, CB: $11,250,000
  2. Andre Johnson, WR: $7,500,000
  3. Robert Mathis, OLB: $7,470,586
  4. Anthony Castonzo, LT: $7,438,000
  5. Arthur Jones, DL: $7,100,000
  6. Andrew Luck, QB: $7,034,363
  7. Trent Cole, OLB: $6,953,125
  8. Gosder Cherilus, RT: $6,900,000
  9. Greg Toler, CB: $5,833,334
  10. D’Qwell Jackson, LB: $5,750,000
    Total: $73,229,408

With only one player on the roster whose cap hit exceeds $7.5MM, the Colts have loaded up on players in that $5MM-7.5MM range — everyone but Davis on this list is separated by a mere $1.75MM. Of course, some of those players will likely eventually have to take pay cuts or be released when Luck’s big payday arrives, but for now, the fact that the former No. 1 pick remains on his rookie contract allows the Colts to surround him with several mid-level investments.

Of course, one reason the Colts were able to add several of these players at reasonable prices is that many are likely past their primes. Mathis is 34, Cole will turn 33 in October, and Jackson will turn 32 in September. Those veterans are expected to be key contributors on defense, and if their performances don’t match up to their salaries, we could see them become release candidates a year from now.

The other noteworthy veteran on this list is Johnson, who shows up on two separate top-10 lists in the AFC South, since he’s still counting for over $7MM in dead money on the Texans’ cap. The standout receiver will turn 34 later this week. However, taking into account the numbers he has posted in recent years in Houston while playing with mediocre quarterbacks, it’s not hard to see why the Colts were willing to commit a decent portion of cap room to him this year to see what he can do with Luck.

Jacksonville Jaguars:

  1. Julius Thomas, TE: $10,300,000
  2. Jared Odrick, DL: $9,000,000
  3. Jermey Parnell, RT: $8,000,000
  4. Paul Posluszny, LB: $6,885,416
  5. Davon House, CB: $6,500,000
  6. Luke Joeckel, LT: $5,782,254
  7. Sen’Derrick Marks, DT: $5,425,000
  8. Zane Beadles, G: $5,000,000
  9. Chris Clemons, DE: $5,000,000
  10. Blake Bortles, QB: $4,694,273
    Total: $66,586,943

The first few names on the Jaguars’ list of top 10 cap hits reads like a who’s-who of the team’s offseason free agent signings. Thomas, Odrick, Parnell, and House all headed to Jacksonville as free agents in March, while Posluszny reworked his deal with the club.

Most of the time, cap numbers for newly-signed players start small before increasing in the later years of their contracts, but the huge amount of cap room Jacksonville held heading into the offseason allowed the team to frontload those deals — the 2015 cap numbers for those four free agent signees all exceed the annual values of their contracts. In 2016, their combined cap hits will total $27.8MM, as opposed to $33.8MM this year.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Jaguars’ free agent class performs in 2015, since players like Parnell and House weren’t even starters for their old teams. But, like every other team in the AFC South, Jacksonville isn’t currently devoting big bucks to its quarterback, which gives the club the flexibility to roll the dice on these players with upside. If they don’t pan out, they’ll be gone long before Bortles reaches his second contract.

Tennessee Titans:

  1. Jason McCourty, CB: $8,600,000
  2. Andy Levitre, G: $8,600,000
  3. Michael Griffin, S: $8,100,000
  4. Jurrell Casey, DL: $6,720,000
  5. Delanie Walker, TE: $5,275,000
  6. Sammie Lee Hill, DT: $4,666,668
  7. Brian Orakpo, OLB: $4,468,750
  8. Derrick Morgan, OLB: $4,000,000
  9. Da’Norris Searcy, S: $3,625,000
  10. Ropati Pitoitua, DL: $3,612,500
    Total: $57,667,918

No team that we’ve examined in our series so far has a smaller No. 1 cap charge than the Titans, whose $8.6MM figures for McCourty and Levitre pale in comparison to some other cap hits around the league — you could triple that number and still not match Drew Brees‘ $26.4MM, for instance. The lack of an eight-digit cap hit for any player ensures that the Titans’ top 10 players count for only about $57.67MM overall against the cap, which is also easily the lowest figure we’ve encountered so far.

With nearly $26MM in cap room still remaining, the Titans have more space than every other NFL team except the Jaguars, and it’s a little curious that the Titans didn’t emulate their division rivals when it comes to structuring free agent contracts. Orakpo, Morgan, and Searcy all signed free agent deals with Tennessee this spring, but those contracts aren’t nearly as frontloaded as Jacksonville’s. That trio will count for $20.785MM against the Titans’ 2016 cap, nearly doubling their combined total for 2015.

Of course, there’s one notable name missing from this list, as first-round pick Marcus Mariota has yet to sign his rookie deal with the Titans. As the second overall pick, Mariota will be in line for a 2015 cap number of $4,402,541 when he eventually signs his contract, which would place him eighth on this list, bumping off Pitoitua.

Information from Over the Cap was used in the creation of this post.

2015 Release Candidates: AFC North

Most clubs have fairly set rosters at this point, as OTA, minicamp, and preseason performances won’t do much to alter roster composition. The majority of key releases came in March, but there are still several scenarios where certain contributors could lose their roster spot in the coming months. For the most part, we’ll focus on situations where the cap savings would be in excess of $1MM.

Because free agency has already passed, financial ramifications won’t play a huge role in these decisions; there aren’t a ton of high-profile free agents on which to spend that saved money, so these calls will mostly be made based on performance. However, any cap space saved through these potential releases could be rolled over into 2016, so that’s something clubs have to consider.

After looking at the AFC East and NFC East last week, let’s dive into the AFC North…

Baltimore Ravens:

  • Arthur Brown, LB: A rare draft whiff by general manager Ozzie Newsome, Brown has failed to live up to his second-round status during his two pro seasons. After playing 436 snaps during his rookie year, Brown saw action on just 51 plays in 2014, all of which came on special teams. The 25-year-old Brown could act as valuable depth behind starters C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith if he could put it all together, but it’s hard to predict future success for a player who wasn’t trusted to see the field for even a single defensive snap. Baltimore would save less than $800K by waiving Brown at this point, but I’m guessing it’s a move that they’ll give due consideration. Brown did reportedly draw trade interest last fall, so perhaps the Ravens will try to deal him first. Prediction: waived.
  • Sam Koch, P: Koch has the 12th-highest 2015 cap charge on Baltimore’s roster, a financial oddity I would have thought rare around the league. However, six other clubs (Broncos, Chiefs, Chargers, Giants, Saints, and Buccaneers) also have a punter within their top dozen cap hits, meaning nearly a quarter of NFL clubs are paying punters quite well. Cutting Koch would leave just $600K in dead money on the Ravens’ ledger (against $2.5MM in savings), but given that Koch did lead the league in net punting average last season, I think Baltimore will keep him around rather than looking for a cheaper option. Prediction: not released.
  • The Ravens traded DT Haloti Ngata and restructured CB Lardarius Webb, both of whom would have been candidates for release otherwise.

Cincinnati Bengals:

  • Leon Hall, CB: Now on the wrong side of 30, Hall has torn each of his Achilles’ in the last four seasons, and (probably in large part due to those injuries) he’s not the same player he once was. That doesn’t mean he can’t still be effective — especially in the slot, where he’s expected to spend most of his time in 2015 — but it’s not clear that he’s worth his $9.6MM cap figure (second-highest on the Bengals roster). Cincinnati has not threatened Hall with release, or even asked him to take a paycut, despite the fact that his role as the club’s No. 1 corner has been usurped. I’d guess that 31 of 32 organizations would have at least asked Hall to restructure by now, but given that the Bengals haven’t, I expect Hall to stick around for 2015. Prediction: not released.
  • Domata Peko, DT: Much that can be said about Hall can be said about Peko, in that most clubs would have cut ties long ago. The difference with Peko is that he never achieved the heights that Hall had, and his current level of play (second-worst 4-3 DT in the league in 2014, per Pro Football Focus; subscription required) is far worse than any lows Hall ever sunk to. PFF has graded Peko as a bottom-20 defensive tackle in six of the past seven seasons, but his snap count never decreases, always hovering around the 700 mark. The Bengals even signed Peko to an extension last March, but all of his guarantees have been paid out, meaning the club could release him and clear his entire $3.7MM cap figure. But there’s no reason to think Cincinnati will do so now, even if Peko does begin to lose playing time to reserve Brandon Thompson. Prediction: not released.

Cleveland Browns:

  • Gary Barnidge/Jim Dray, TE: The Browns added ex-Cardinal Rob Housler during the offseason to replace Jordan Cameron as their receiving weapon at tight end, but the club might need to decide between Barnidge and Dray for its No. 2 role, especially if it decides to keep undrafted rookie free agent E.J. Bibbs — who has drawn rave reviews from coaches — on the final 53-man roster. Barnidge is cheaper and has been the better player as of late, meaning Cleveland could be forced to cut Dray, and save $1.6MM in the process. Prediction: Dray released.
  • Ishmaa’ily Kitchen, DT: Kitchen signed his restricted free agent tender near the end of May, meaning he’s scheduled to earn $1.542MM during the upcoming season. That money isn’t guaranteed, however, and given that Kitchen is now somewhat buried on the Browns’ depth chart following the additions of Danny Shelton, Xavier Cooper, and Randy Starks, I wonder if the club might try to lower his salary. As Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap explains, once the RFA period has passed, the team — knowing the player has limited options — can use that leverage to reduce his salary, often offering a minimum salary and a few hundred thousand dollars in guarantees. I could see Cleveland using this strategy, but if Kitchen balks, he could just be cut. Prediction: released.
  • Craig Robertson, LB: The 27-year-old Robertson is entering the final season of his rookie contract, and having shown excellent improvement over the past year — he posted a -15.0 PFF grade in 2013 but moved up to +2.2 in 2014 — it’s unlikely that he’ll be cut, especially given his pass coverage skills. But he did lose snaps to rookie Chris Kirksey last season, and the Browns could save more than $2.3MM by parting ways with him. Prediction: not released.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

  • Cortez Allen, CB: After agreeing to four-year extension worth $26MM in September, Allen’s play became absolutely ghastly, and his snap counts gradually dwindled until he was benched mid-way through the season; he subsequently broke his thumb and was placed on injured reserve in early December. Allen is only 26 years old, is expected to regain his starting job in 2015, and was paid a $3MM roster bonus earlier this year — all of which means it’s highly unlikely that the Steelers sever ties. But the club could still save more than $5MM by doing so, and given Allen’s struggles, it’s probably a discussion management has had. Prediction: not released.
  • Cam Thomas, DT: Thomas did nothing in his first season in Pittsburgh to justify his two-year, $4MM deal, grading as the league’s worst 3-4 defensive end, according to PFF. Steelers coaches obviously noticed his subpar production, as during the last five weeks of the season, Thomas played on just 57 of a possible 319 snaps — even for a reserve, 17% playing time is low. The only impediment to his release is Pittsburgh’s lack of depth along the defensive line, but the club simply can’t justify Thomas’ $2.5MM cap charge. I think they’ll cut him, saving $2MM of that total in the process. Prediction: released.

Dez Bryant Updates: Tuesday

We’re eight days away from this year’s deadline for franchised players to reach multiyear contract agreements with their current teams, and if there’s one player who seems most likely to work something out with his club, it may be Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant. Although some reports have suggested there hasn’t been much progress made between the two sides, Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan indicated last week that the Cowboys and Bryant were “comfortable” with the state of the negotiations, suggesting there’s a good chance of a deal before the July 15 deadline.

Here’s the latest on the Bryant situation:

  • Echoing Fisher’s report, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) continues to hear that a new deal for Bryant isn’t out of the question this week. La Canfora expects things to continue evolving between the wide receiver and the Cowboys star, with a possible conclusion by mid-week. On Sunday, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report noted that owner Jerry Jones and son Stephen Jones will be out of the country until July 10 or 11, which could theoretically hold up the deal.
  • Bryant’s situation has become the most fluid of the franchise-player negotiations, writes Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. While Florio doesn’t rule out the possibility of the Cowboys locking up their Pro Bowl receiver soon, he notes that – for now at least – there are no tangible signs that a deal is imminent.
  • Pointing to Calvin Johnson as an example, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com explains why Bryant may want to cash in on a long-term extension now rather than going year to year. The Lions paid their star receiver $16.2MM annually coming off a season in which he posted nearly 1,700 yards, and while he topped that number in the first year of his new deal, Johnson’s production has declined over the last two seasons. As Seifert observes, some decline is to be expected for receivers at that stage of their careers, so signing a multiyear pact now may represent Bryant’s best opportunity to maximize his earnings.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Offseason In Review: Philadelphia Eagles

We’ve seen some teams shake things up in the offseason, but few teams have undergone the kind of overhaul that the Eagles have. Coach Chip Kelly secured complete control in the front office and we’re all waiting to see whether he’s crazy, a genius, or some mixture of both.

Notable signings:

Byron Maxwell was widely viewed as the best FA corner available and ranked as the No. 9 overall free agent on PFR’s Top 50 list. The 27-year-old enjoyed his first season as full-time starter for the Seahawks in 2014, starting 12 games as Seattle made it second consecutive Super Bowl appearance. The Eagles were long seen as the favorites to land Maxwell and they were able to go wire-to-wire to land him as the Jets, another possible suitor, were zeroed in on a reunion with Darrelle Revis. At $63MM over six years with $25MM fully guaranteed, it’s very possible that Maxwell was an overpay. However, the Eagles believe that he will be a significant upgrade over Cary Williams, who was cut loose. Interesting note on that front, however: Pro Football Focus (subscription required) didn’t see a big difference between Maxwell and Williams in 2014. Maxwell finished the year with a -0.2 overall grade, good for 45th amongst corners. Williams, meanwhile, finished with a -1.0 score, putting him 49th amongst all corners. In short, both players were painted as average corners by the advanced metrics. He’ll be joined in the secondary by Walter Thurmond, who apparently was not thrilled with the Giants’ medical care. Thurmond will be making the switch to safety, a transition he says he can make comfortably.

DeMarco Murray (vertical)

Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Did DeMarco Murray put too many miles on his odometer during his brilliant 2014 campaign? Kelly certainly doesn’t think so. There were many teams who were linked to the former Cowboys star throughout the year, but no one expected the Eagles to get heavily into the mix and come away signing him. Murray, who has struggled with injuries in years past, put it all together in 2014 for his best campaign yet. The 27-year-old ran for 1,845 yards and 13 scores with 2,261 all-purpose yards. After a season in which he showed that he can stay healthy, produce (4.7 YPC), and work at a nearly unprecedented rate, Murray hit the open market as the top RB available. The advanced numbers also showed that Murray was also at the top of the heap last season. Pro Football Focus‘ numbers (subscription required) resulted in an overall score of 15.2, placing him fifth amongst all tailbacks in 2014. His lack of meaningful production in the passing game, fumbles, and below average blocking were his only real demerits. Can Murray repeat his ’14 performance? Or, at the very least, can he do better than the guy he’s replacing? (More on that later.)

Before the Murray signing, the Eagles added Ryan Mathews and, at the time, it appeared that he would be the new No. 1 back in Philadelphia. Once Murray was inked, many wonders if Mathews would wind up elsewhere or, at the very least, reworking the performance-based incentives in his contract. At the end of the day, Mathews stayed and he’s now slated to work in tandem with Murray and Darren Sproles. Considered an injury-prone player for the first three seasons of his career, Mathews finally stayed healthy and put it all together for the Chargers in 2013, rushing for a career-high 1,255 yards. He was unable to keep that run of good health going in 2014 though, playing just eight games for San Diego due to injuries. The former 12th overall pick can be one of the league’s best backs when he’s at 100% and he could help form a lethal three-headed backfield if he stays healthy.

Now, the question is, who will be handing the ball off to those backs? Well, one possibility is Mark Sanchez, who was re-signed to a two-year contract worth $9MM with $5.5MM guaranteed. Sanchez played nine games for the Eagles in 2014, with mixed results. He completed over 64% of his passes, averaging 268 yards per game with a 14 to 11 touchdown to interception ratio. Sanchez, a former No. 5 overall pick, will duke it out with a former No. 1 overall pick to be the team’s starting signal caller. Tim Tebow is also on the depth chart, though he is considered to be the fourth quarterback at this time.

If Murray ever finds himself homesick, he turn to Miles Austin for some familiarity. Austin, of course, isn’t the same sort of impact player Murray is at this stage of his career, but he had a decent bounce-back season in Cleveland last year. In 2014, Austin caught 47 balls for 568 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games. The 30-year-old has racked up 348 catches for more than 5,000 yards during his nine-year NFL career, earning a pair of Pro Bowl nods during his time with the Cowboys. Of course, he has also missed a ton of time due to injuries in recent years.

After some offseason deliberations between offers from the Eagles and Giants, linebacker Brandon Graham ultimately opted to remain in Philly. In February, Graham was said to be seeking a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $30MM, with $20MM in guaranteed money. Ultimately, he settled for less, but still got $14MM guaranteed on a $26MM pact. The 21-year-old recorded 5.5 sacks and 46 total tackles in 2014. The former first-round choice has moved around a bit in the front seven over the years, having seen time at defensive tackle, defensive end, and outside linebacker. Last season, he played the bulk of his snaps at outside linebacker and enjoyed his best season to date. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus (subscription required) placed him as the third best OLB in a 3-4 set last season. PFF was also high on Graham in 2013, ranking him as the 15th best outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

Notable losses:

The Eagles and Evan Mathis were wrestling over a contract dispute all offseason long until the situation reached a rather surprising conclusion. Many expected that Mathis and the Eagles would eventually reach a compromise or that the guard would find a suitable trade after he was given permission to seek one out. Instead, the Eagles simply decided to cut Mathis loose in June. Mathis, of course, is considered one of the league’s best guards. In 2014, despite playing just 608 offensive snaps, the former third-round pick ranked as the league’s best left guard, performing particularly well as a run blocker, according to Pro Football Focus’ data (subscription required). PFF had previously graded Mathis as the NFL’s No. 1 guard in 2011, 2012, and 2013. The veteran continues to look for his next NFL home.

We may never know the real inner workings of the negotiations between Jeremy Maclin and the Eagles, but it didn’t seem like Philly put up much of a fight to retain him in March. Maclin, coming off a breakout season in which he caught 85 passes for more than 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns, was quickly scooped up by the Chiefs, who gave him a five-year, $55MM deal with $22.5MM fully guaranteed.

Despite initially engaging in discussions to keep him around on a reworked contract, the Eagles opted to part ways with Trent Cole in early March. Cole, 32, was a fixture on the Eagles’ defense since being selected by the club in the fifth round of the 2005 draft. During his 10 years in Philadelphia, Cole played 155 games (145 starts), racking up 85.5 sacks, 569 tackles, and 19 forced fumbles. However, after posting six consecutive seasons with eight or more sacks from 2006 to 2011, Cole’s production fell off — he has recorded just 17.5 sacks since 2012. Cole eventually wound up hooking on with the Colts on a two-year, $16MM deal with $8MM guaranteed. Graham will now be counted on to supply the production in Cole’s absence.

Byron Maxwell came east to join the Eagles and Cary Williams switched places with him, joining the Legion of Boom in Seattle. The 30-year-old Williams started all 16 games in each of the past three seasons but he was probably miscast as a No. 1 corner with the Eagles. Williams can earn $18MM over three seasons on his new deal with the Seahawks and he won’t have to pay state income tax either.

Nate Allen started 15 games for the Eagles last season at safety, racking up 62 tackles, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries, five pass deflections, and a sack. Allen had a pretty solid year in 2014, finishing out with a 3.9 overall grade according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), good for 28th out of 87 qualified safeties. Still, as expected, the Eagles let him go in free agency.

Pro Football Focus (subscription required) rated Bradley Fletcher as the 92nd best cornerback last season out of 108 qualified players at the position. That doesn’t make Fletcher sound like much of a corner, but was much better in 2013 when he ranked 44th out of 110 players at the position. The Eagles didn’t have the patience to find out of he could get back to his old form, but the Pats decided to roll the dice.

Long before Mathis was shown the door, the Eagles did the same with fellow offensive lineman Todd Herremans. Over the course of the last decade, the 10-year veteran has appeared in 127 games for the Eagles, starting 124 of them at every spot besides center on the offensive line. In recent years, Herremans had served as Philadelphia’s right guard or right tackle, though his 2014 campaign came to an early end due to a biceps injury.

Extensions and restructures:

DeMeco Ryans’ 2014 season came to an early end when he suffered a torn Achilles and landed on the injured reserve list. In the eight games he played for the Eagles, he logged 45 tackles, recovered a fumble, and grabbed an interception. Ryans saw his deal extended by one season, even though the Eagles didn’t seem to necessarily need him in the wake of one of their biggest offseason moves. Ryans’ 2014 season came to an early end when he suffered a torn Achilles and landed on the injured reserve list. In the eight games he played for the Eagles, he logged 45 tackles, recovered a fumble, and grabbed an interception.

Trades:

  • Acquired LB Kiko Alonso from the Bills in exchange for RB LeSean McCoy.
  • Acquired QB Sam Bradford and a 2015 fifth-round pick from the Rams in exchange for QB Nick Foles, a 2015 fourth-round pick, and a 2016 second-round pick. Eagles will acquire a 2016 fourth-round pick if Bradford plays less than 50% of Philadelphia’s snaps in 2015, or a 2016 third-round pick if Bradford doesn’t play at all in 2015 due to injury.
  • Acquired a 2015 second-round pick (No. 47; DB Eric Rowe) and a 2015 sixth-round pick (No. 191; CB JaCorey Shepherd) from the Dolphins in exchange for a 2015 second-round pick (No. 52; DT Jordan Phillips), a 2015 fifth-round pick (No. 145; CB Bobby McCain), and a 2015 fifth-round pick (No. 156; CB Tony Lippett).
  • Acquired a 2016 third-round pick from the Lions in exchange for a 2015 fourth-round pick (No. 113; DT Gabe Wright).

The trade of star running back LeSean McCoy to the Bills for linebacker Kiko Alonso will go down as one of the most surprising moves of the 2015 offseason and also as the trade that nearly broke PFR. There were rumblings of discord between Kelly and McCoy, but few saw a deal like this coming.

McCoy was not the electrifying playmaker in 2014 that he was in 2013 but he still had a very productive season in terms of traditional stats, with 1,319 rushing yards and a 4.2 YPC average. The advanced metrics, meanwhile, show a much sharper contrast between the two campaigns. In 2013, McCoy was rated as the very best tailback in football according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), racking up a 27.3 overall rating which was more than 8 points higher than the runner-up, Jamaal Charles. In 2014, however, McCoy was near the bottom of all qualified tailbacks with a fairly terrible -9.3 grade thanks in large part to his poor showing in the passing game.

Alonso, 25 in August, didn’t see the field in 2014 after tearing his ACL in July of 2014. After being selected in the second round of the 2013 draft, Alonso finished second in voting for Defensive Rookie of the Year after totaling 87 tackles, four interceptions, and two sacks. PFF (subscription required) rated Alonso as the ninth-best inside linebacker in the NFL in his rookie season. Because Alonso spent the year on the NFI (non-football injury) list, he’ll only be a restricted free agent after 2016. He’s also significantly cheaper than McCoy, which gave Kelly some additional breathing room this spring.

Right around the start of free agency, the Eagles shipped Nick Foles to the Rams in exchange for former No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford. Surprisingly, it was the Eagles who gave up more in draft compensation to make the swap happen. Foles had his 2014 season ended prematurely by a collar bone injury, but he’s not that far removed from his impressive 2013 run. Bradford, of course, has battled injuries over the past two seasons, including an ACL injury that forced him to miss the entire 2014 season. In his last full season, the former first-overall pick threw for 3,702 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. During that 2012 campaign, Pro Football Focus (subscription required) ranked Bradford 21st among 38 quarterback candidates. Soon after, it was rumored that the Eagles were dangling Bradford in an effort trade up to the No. 2 pick to grab Oregon star Marcus Mariota. Ultimately, the Titans stood pat and the Eagles are now set to roll with either Sanchez or Bradford as their No. 1 QB. The Eagles are reportedly considering an extension with Bradford as well.

Draft picks:

  • 1-20: Nelson Agholor, WR (USC): Signed
  • 2-47: Eric Rowe, CB (Utah): Signed
  • 3-84: Jordan Hicks, ILB (Texas): Signed
  • 6-191: JaCorey Shepherd, CB (Kansas): Signed
  • 6-196: Randall Evans, CB (Kansas State): Signed
  • 7-237: Brian Mihalik, DE (Boston College): Signed

Nelson Agholor was a fast riser in the draft and he found his way up to No. 20 where the Eagles were selecting. The 6’0″ USC product has drawn comparisons to Jeremy Maclin for his sharp route running and also has pretty advanced hands. Agholor could prove to be a major weapon for whomever is under center for the Eagles in 2015 and also figures to make an impact in the return game.

Other:

  • Announced new front office roles for Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman, with Kelly taking over the club’s personnel department.
  • Promoted Ed Marynowitz to vice president of player personnel.
  • Exercised 2016 fifth-year option for DE Fletcher Cox ($7.799MM).
  • Rescinded RFA tender to RB Chris Polk.
  • Signed nine players to reserve/futures contracts.
  • Signed 16 undrafted rookie free agents following the draft.

In January it was announced that Howie Roseman would be elevated to the role of executive vice president of football operations with Kelly now officially overseeing the player personnel department. Of course, the term “elevated” isn’t 100% accurate with Kelly having final say over everything regarding the roster. Ed Marynowitz was promoted from assistant director of player personnel to the team’s vice president of player personnel. For what it’s worth, he says that everyone’s roles are well defined.

Top 10 cap hits for 2015:

  1. Sam Bradford, QB: $12,985,000
  2. Jason Peters, LT: $9,050,000
  3. Byron Maxwell, CB: $8,700,000
  4. Connor Barwin, OLB: $7,000,000
  5. Brandon Graham, OLB: $6,000,000
  6. Malcolm Jenkins, S: $5,666,666
  7. Lane Johnson, RT: $5,225,974
  8. DeMarco Murray, RB: $5,000,000
  9. Brent Celek, TE: $4,800,000
  10. Riley Cooper, WR: $4,800,000

Crazy? Genius? Both? We can’t wait to find out.

Contract information from Over the Cap and Spotrac was used in the creation of this post.

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