NFC East Notes: Dez, Giants, Redskins, Eagles

Dez Bryant wants to sign with the Giants after being released by the division-rival Cowboys last week, but a current New York wideout isn’t on board with that idea. In a now-deleted Instagram story, Giants receiver Brandon Marshall said there was “no room” for Bryant on Big Blue’s roster, as Jaclyn Hendricks of the New York Post writes. Marshall, for his part, bombed during his first campaign in New York, as an ankle injury limited him to just five games and 18 receptions. Viewed as a possible cap casualty heading into the offseason, Marshall has surprisingly stuck on the Giants’ roster to this point. New York could still release Marshall at any point, however, and doing so would save the club in excess of $5MM in cap space.

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Redskins were busy hosting draft prospects over the past two days, as Georgia running back Sony Michel, Ohio State center Billy Price, and Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea all visited the nation’s capital on Tuesday/Wednesday, according to John Keim of ESPN.com (all Twitter links). Michel would join a running back depth chart that already includes Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, and Rob Kelley, while Price could start at either guard or center in lieu of Arie Kouandjio or Chase Roullier, respectively. Vea, meanwhile, would help fill a gap at defensive tackle that the Redskins have already attempted to fill this offseason by showing interest in free agents such as Johnathan Hankins and Bennie Logan.
  • Southern Methodist wideout Courtland Sutton met with the Cowboys on Wednesday, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. Dallas has a gaping need at receiver after cutting Bryant, as their roster is currently littered by second- and third-tier pass-catchers. Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, Cole Beasley, Deonte Thompson, and Ryan Switzer front the Cowboys’ WR depth chart, but Sutton — who is viewed as either a first- or second-round selection — could give Dallas a potential No. 1 wideout. The 6’4″, 215-pound Sutton posted at least 1,000 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.
  • The Eagles hosted running backs Derrius Guice (LSU) and Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) on Tuesday, reports Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Guice is widely considered 2018’s second-best running back prospect behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, and there’s no guarantee he’ll still be on the board when Philadelphia picks at the end of round one. While the Eagles lost LeGarrette Blount to the Lions during the free agent period, they still have Jay Ajayi, Corey Clement, Wendell Smallwood, and Donnel Pumphrey on their roster.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Bills, Jets, Patriots

Speaking to the media earlier today, Dolphins executives Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier indicated their belief that Miami has enough draft capital to move from pick No. 11 into the top-six, as Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald tweets. The Dolphins have been heavily linked to quarterbacks this spring, and they could potentially seek a long-term upgrade over Ryan Tannehill. Trading up into the top-six would likely require Miami to sacrifice its 2019 first-rounder, but the price tag could be worth it if head coach Adam Gase wants to work with someone like UCLA’s Josh Rosen or Wyoming’s Josh Allen.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

  • The Bills are hosting Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). Almost assuredly a first-round pick, Landry is viewed a notch below the draft’s consensus best defensive end, North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb. Landry, who notched 48 sacks during his collegiate career, isn’t expected to last until pick No. 23 (Patriots), per Rapoport. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he’s drawn plenty of interest during the pre-draft process. Landry has also recently met with the 49ers and Falcons, report Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link). In a draft that lacks depth at the pass rusher position, Landry should be highly coveted on Day 1.
  • Speaking of edge defenders, Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter spent Wednesday with the Jets, tweets Rapoport. Perhaps no club needs more help at getting after opposing quarterbacks than New York, as its depth chart at outside linebacker currently is comprised by Lorenzo Mauldin, Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, and Kevin Pierre-Louis, among others. Indeed, Pro Football Focus today listed the Jets as possessing the single-worst edge rushing group in the NFL. Carter, who posted 14 career sacks for the Bulldogs, is a “long and rangy” athlete with the “ability to cover ground quickly,” writes Lance Zierlein of NFL.com.
  • The Patriots met with Maryland wideout D.J. Moore this week, reports Tony Pauline of DraftAnalyst.net (Twitter link). Rapoport indicated earlier today that Moore is likely to become a first-round pick, and that’s entirely possible given that a clear No. 1 wide receiver prospect hasn’t really emerged. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, who has also visited New England, had been viewed as the top pass-catcher early in the draft process, but he’s not a lock to be the first receiver off the board. The Patriots are on the hunt for another offensive weapon after trading Brandin Cooks to the Rams, and Moore — who posted 80 catches and 1,033 yards in 2017 — could fit that bill.

West Notes: Broncos, Cards, Mayfield, Bolts

Multiple clubs have already reached out to free agent running back C.J. Anderson, whom the Broncos released on Monday, according to Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). Anderson, 27, appeared in all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017, rushing for 1,007 yards and three scores. However, Anderson has managed only four yards per carry over the past two seasons, and — as Warren Sharp of SharpFootballStats.com detailed in an excellent Twitter thread — struggled with early-down work a year ago. Speculatively, teams that could be eyeing a running back addition include the Dolphins (who have expressed recent interest in Anderson in the past), Patriots, Texans, Giants, Redskins, Lions, Panthers, and Seahawks.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two West divisions:

  • The Cardinals hosted Oklahoma quarterback prospect Baker Mayfield on Wednesday, per Robert Klemko of Sports Illustrated (Twitter link). Mayfield is widely expected to be a top-10 selection, and has been heavily linked to the Jets at No. 3, so Arizona — which currently holds the 15th overall pick — likely won’t have a shot at the ex-Sooner unless it trades up. But the Cardinals certainly need an infusion of talent under center, as neither Sam Bradford nor Mike Glennon are long-term options in the desert. Bradford inked a one-year, $20MM deal with Arizona earlier this year, while Glennon signed a two-year pact. Mayfield, if selected by the Cardinals, likely wouldn’t play immediately given the presence of Bradford, but he would set the club up for years to come.
  • Punter Riley Dixon did not report to Broncos‘ workouts on Monday and has been advised by his agent to stay away until Denver informs him of his status with the club, tweets Klis. The Broncos signed former Raiders punter Marquette King to a three-year deal earlier this month, so they’re clearly not going to keep Dixon around in 2018. Denver had been expected to shop Dixon, but it’s unclear if any other team is willing to sacrifice anything of note for a specialist with a spotty track record. Dixon, 24, has been the Broncos’ punter in each of the past two seasons after entering the league as a seventh-round pick in 2016. In 2017, Dixon ranked 22nd in net punting average, while Denver as a whole finished 26th in Football Outsiders‘ punt points metric.
  • Not only is Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget suspended for the first quarter of the 2018 campaign, but he’s also accepted to a hefty pay reduction. Liuget’s base salary has been cut from $8.05MM to just $935K, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. The former first-round pick will still earn $2.585MM in bonuses and can collect more cash via incentives, but his 2018 cap charge has been slashed from $9.5MM to $5.02MM. Liuget, 28, appeared in 12 games in 2017, posting 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks while grading as the NFL’s No. 32 interior defender, per Pro Football Focus 

Saints RB Mark Ingram Changes Agents

Saints running back Mark Ingram is entering a contract year, and he’ll now have a new agent to work out his next deal. Ingram has hired VIP Sports Management to replace Joel Segal of Lagardere Sports and Entertainment, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com.

Ingram will earn a base salary of $4MM in 2018, but he could have potentially become a free agent this offseason. The 28-year-old Ingram’s contract contains a clause that would have voided the final year of the deal had he been named as a first-team All-Pro. That didn’t happen, as Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell were the NFL’s All-Pros at running back and “flex,” respectively.

Although he didn’t earn All-Pro honors, Ingram still posted arguably the best campaign of his seven-year career. Pairing with dynamic rookie Alvin Kamara, Ingram managed career-highs in carries (230), yards (1,124), rushing touchdowns (12), and receptions (58). Ingram ranked seventh in Football Outsiders‘ DVOA, meaning he was effective on a per-play basis, and also finished as a top-15 pass-blocker among running backs, per Pro Football Focus.

Ingram was excellent last season, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to cash in next spring. Not only will he be entering his age-29 campaign, but the running back market hasn’t seen a significant price jump since Ingram signed his last contract. New Orleans’ interest in re-signing Ingram is also unclear, especially since the club may believe Kamara can be an every-down back.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Interested In Ra’Shede Hageman

The Seahawks have expressed interest in former Falcons defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link).

Hageman is a former second-round pick and is still just 27 years old, but he hasn’t been heard from since being cut by Atlanta last September. After being arrested on domestic violence charges in 2016, Hageman was placed on the commissioner’s exempt list prior to the 2017 campaign. The Falcons subsequently waived Hageman, and he was then handed a six-week suspension by the NFL, a ban which he fulfilled as a free agent.

Based on talent alone, it’s perhaps not surprising that Hageman would be given a second chance. The Falcons clearly had high hopes for Hageman after using the 37th overall selection in the 2014 draft on the ex-Minnesota standout, and the club’s coaching staff was reportedly enamored with his progress as recently as last offseason.

All told, Hageman appeared in 44 of Atlanta’s 48 regular-season games and combined for 15 starts during his three-year tenure with the club. The majority of his work came in 2015, when he tallied career highs in starts (11), defensive snaps (419) and tackles (27).

The Seahawks, for their part, have been open to rostering players with off-field concerns, so a Hageman addition wouldn’t be a leap. Seattle’s interior defensive line is set to undergo a makeover this offseason, as Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, and — in the near futureMalik McDowell are leaving the club while veterans Tom Johnson and Shamar Stephen were added.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Tom Brady Will Play In 2018, Wants New Contract

Tom Brady will indeed suit up for the 2018 campaign, but he’d like a new contract from the Patriots prior to the season getting underway, according to Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of NFL.com.

Earlier today, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reported that while most close to Brady expected he would return for New England for another year, the future Hall of Famer hadn’t officially committed to continuing his career. Per the NFL.com scribes, Brady is not giving any thought to an immediate retirement, and the Patriots are planning as if he will be their starting quarterback.

While Brady is hoping to work out a fresh deal before the season begins, his contractual status is “not driving” his absence from voluntary workouts, tweets Garafolo. In fact, it doesn’t seem as though a new pact is a pressing issue, as Garafolo notes the most important matter on the table is determining Brady’s “short- and long-term future.”

Brady, who has long been a bargain by quarterback contract standards, is currently signed through the 2019 campaign. In each of the next two years, he’s scheduled to earn a base salary of $15MM, while $7MM of annually prorated signing bonus money will bring the 40-year-old’s cap charges to $22MM in each season.

New England, of course, dealt Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers at the 2017 trade deadline, so the club doesnt’t currently have a youthful quarterback on its roster. Veteran Brian Hoyer is the only signal-caller aside from Brady on the Patriots’ depth chart, but the team has been linked to a number of quarterback prospects leading up to the 2018 draft.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Le’Veon Bell Doesn’t Report For Steelers Workouts

Franchise-tagged running back Le’Veon Bell did not report for the beginning of the Steelers offseason workout program, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Bell wasn’t expected to attend Pittsburgh’s workout sessions, which are voluntary, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be staying in shape. Per Fowler, Bell will workout “rigorously” on his own over the next several months in lieu of showing up at official team meetings.

Staying clear of team workouts is typically standard practice for franchise players who have yet to sign their tenders. After Lions defensive Ezekiel Ansah inked his tag on Tuesday, Bell now stands as the only tagged player who is not officially under contract.

The Steelers and Bell have until July to work out a long-term agreement, but negotiations — as they did in 2017, when Bell was also assigned the franchise tag — have lived of the brink of contentiousness. As of late March, contract talks were on hold, and it’s unclear if the two sides have resumed negotiations since. Bell has already said he has no plans to sit out the 2018 season, but he will likely stay away until the preseason is concluded.

Bell, of course, is arguably the most dynamic offensive weapon in the NFL. In 2017, the 26-year-old Bell led the league with 321 carries while posting 1,291 rushing yards and nine scores. He also totaled a whopping 85 receptions and 655 yards in the passing game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints To Re-Sign WR Brandon Coleman

The Saints have agreed to re-sign wide receiver Brandon Coleman, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link).

Coleman was scheduled to hit restricted free agency last month, but New Orleans non-tendered him rather than offer him a contract. An original round tender — the cheapest of the RFA tags — would have cost the Saints just $1.907MM, so they’ve presumably re-signed Coleman at an even cheaper rate.

Exactly how often Coleman will be called on to contribute during the upcoming season is unclear, as the Saints have improved their wide receiving corps over the past month. New Orleans landed Cameron Meredith after inking the former Bear to a restricted offer sheet, one which Chicago declined to match. He’ll likely act as the Saints’ slot receiver between Michael Thomas and Ted Ginn Jr., so Coleman is — at best — the club’s fourth wideout.

Coleman, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Rutgers in 2014, has never been all that productive while catching passes from Drew Brees. His target share and overall reception total decreased in each of his three full seasons with the Saints, and he was never able to top 30 receptions or 500 receiving yards during his first go-round with the team.

But there are reasons to be somewhat optimistic about Coleman’s future, and his large stature is one of them. Coleman stands 6’6″ and 225 pounds, meaning he nearly has the frame of a tight end. That size hasn’t contributed to production out of the slot thus far, but Coleman is still only 25 years old. Coleman also fared well in Football Outsiders’ DYAR, which measures value over a replacement-level player — among the 71 wideouts with fewer than 50 receptions in 2017, Coleman ranked a respectable 13th in DYAR.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

2019 Fifth-Year Option Decision Tracker

Teams across the NFL have until May 3 to officially pick up their 2019 options on players who are entering the final year of their rookie contracts. These fifth-year options can only be exercised on first-round picks, and the salaries are determined by where players were drafted and what position they play.

If a player has his option exercised, his rookie contract will be extended by one year and he’ll be eligible for unrestricted free agency in 2020, after the conclusion of the 2019 season. If a player’s option is declined, he’ll be eligible to hit the open market a year earlier. Of course, if a 2015 first-rounder is no longer on his rookie contract, there will be no option to exercise or decline. We explained the intricacies of the fifth-year option in a PFR Glossary post, so you can read up on the specific details there.

Soon, we’ll learn the official salary figures for all 2019 fifth-year options. What we do know is that the option salaries for top 10 picks is equal to the transition tender at the player’s position during his fourth season. So, because the transition tag for quarterbacks this year was $20.922MM, we already know that Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston‘s fifth-year option will be worth that amount.

With next month’s deadline looming, we’ll use the space below to track all the option decisions from around the league based on various reports and official announcements. Here are this season’s fifth-year option decisions so far:

1. Jameis Winston, QB, $20.922MM (Buccaneers): Exercised

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, $20.922MM (Titans): Exercised

3. Dante Fowler, DE, $14.2MM (Jaguars)

4. Amari Cooper, WR, $13.924MM (Raiders)

5. Brandon Scherff, G, $12.525MM (Redskins): Exercised

6. Leonard Williams, DL, $14.2MM if categorized as a DE, $11.143MM if a DT (Jets): To be exercised

7. Kevin White, WR, $13.924MM (Bears)

8. Vic Beasley, DE, $14.2MM (Falcons): To be exercised

9. Ereck Flowers, OT, $12.525MM (Giants)

10. Todd Gurley, RB, $9.630MM (Rams)

11. Trae Waynes, CB (Vikings)

12. Danny Shelton, DT (Patriots)

13. Andrus Peat, OL, $9.625MM (Saints): Exercised

14. DeVante Parker, WR (Dolphins)

15. Melvin Gordon, RB (Chargers)

16. Kevin Johnson, CB (Texans)

17. Arik Armstead, DL (49ers)

18. Marcus Peters, CB (Rams)

19. Cameron Erving, OL (Chiefs)

20. Nelson Agholor, WR (Eagles)

21. Cedric Ogbuehi, OT (Bengals)

22. Bud Dupree, LB (Steelers)

23. Shane Ray, LB (Broncos)

24. D.J. Humphries, OT (Cardinals)

25. Shaq Thompson, LB (Panthers): To be exercised

26. Breshad Perriman, WR (Ravens)

27. Byron Jones, DB (Cowboys)

28. Laken Tomlinson, G (49ers).

29. Phillip Dorsett, WR (Patriots)

30. Damarious Randall, CB (Browns)

31. Stephone Anthony, LB (Dolphins)

32. Malcom Brown, DT (Patriots)

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