Eric Berry, Tre Boston On Browns’ Radar

The Browns made a rather notable trade earlier this month, and it left them without one of their starting safeties. While there is another former safety starter on Cleveland’s roster, Derrick Kindred, John Dorsey appears interested in upgrading the position.

Dorsey has spoken with the agents of Eric Berry and Tre Boston, the second-year GM said Monday (via the Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich, on Twitter).

Both players have long-term connections with key Browns personnel. Berry played for Dorsey in Kansas City for four seasons and negotiated his then-safety-record contract with the then-Chiefs GM in 2017. New Cleveland DC Steve Wilks coached Boston in Arizona last season and for three seasons in Carolina.

Having made the decision to continue his career, despite having missed 29 regular-season games over the past two seasons, Berry visited the Cowboys last week. A few teams reached out to Boston earlier in free agency, but the five-year veteran did not expect to sign soon.

Boston yet again has seen his free agency start slowly. He was a key member of the higher-end safety group that oddly lingered unattached for months before accepting basement-level deals. Boston played for a $1MM base salary last season in Arizona. The Chiefs released the injury-prone Berry, 30, earlier this month. Prior to running into significant injury trouble, Berry landed on three All-Pro first teams. Boston, 26, became a full-time Cardinals starter despite a late-offseason arrival. He has eight interceptions over the past two seasons.

Cleveland has made big moves and figures to enter this season with the most hype a Browns 2.0 team has, given the team’s additions of Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson and last season’s seven-win showing. And Dorsey appears interested in exploring another high-profile move.

Peppers started for two seasons, joining Damarious Randall last year. Randall remains under contract. So does Kindred, a 2017 starter. But with some high-profile talent connected to the current staff still available, this figures to be a situation to monitor.

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Eagles Eyeing Carson Wentz Extension

While Carson Wentz‘s rapid rise from Division I-FCS prospect to 2017 MVP frontrunner preceded setbacks, the Eagles showed their belief in their starting quarterback by allowing Nick Foles to defect to the Jaguars.

An open-and-shut fifth-year option decision on Wentz is due by May 3. That would allow the Eagles to have him under contract through 2020. But Howie Roseman may not want to put an extension off much longer, confirming Monday he would like to extend the quarterback (Twitter link via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94WIP.com).

Wentz has missed eight games over the past two seasons, his season-ending knee injury ending a 2017 MVP push and back trouble sidelining him last season. Both campaigns then featured Foles elevating the Eagles’ offense, winning Super Bowl LII MVP honors in one season and lifting Philly to a road playoff victory in another.

The Eagles rearranged their payroll considerably to move under the cap this month and used some of the space to bring DeSean Jackson back and add Malik Jackson. They still have more than $25MM in cap space.

The timing for a Wentz extension is interesting, given his injuries the past two seasons and $8.5MM cap number in 2019. But the Eagles have continually showed faith in their 26-year-old quarterback, whose back malady is not expected to linger long-term. (Though, back injuries certainly represent a cause for concern through a long-term lens.) He is expected to be ready for Philadelphia’s offseason program.

After a few years of relative stagnancy, the quarterback market has transformed over the past year. With the Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers extensions moving the AAV bar north of $30MM, the Packers signing their two-time MVP to a $33MM-per-year accord, a Wentz deal would be in line to step into that ballpark. The Eagles waiting until 2020 would stand to up Wentz’s price further, assuming he stays healthy, considering the Chiefs will then be in position to give Patrick Mahomes a possible market-shattering extension.

Wentz, by a considerable margin, established a new completion percentage standard last season (69.6 percent). His touchdown pass percentage dropped from 7.5 to 5.2 compared to his dominant 2017 showing, with the 11-game starter finishing with 21 TD tosses compared to 33 in 13 2017 games. The Eagles went 5-6 under Wentz last season, before Foles offered more late-season magic to steer the team to the playoffs.

Roseman, though, has long stood by his 2016 draft choice, and extension talks figure to transpire this offseason.

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Nick Perry To Visit Seahawks

After Clay Matthews landed on his feet in Los Angeles, the other member of the since-disbanded Packers pass-rushing tandem has an NFC West meeting set up.

The Seahawks will host Nick Perry on a visit this week, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweets. This will be Perry’s first meeting since the Packers released him.

Ending the past two seasons on IR, Perry did not live up to the deal he signed with the Packers in 2017. But the soon-to-be 29-year-old pass rusher is fully healthy for the first time in months, La Canfora adds. The Packers ate a considerable amount of dead money to move Perry’s deal off their books and revamped their outside linebacker corps by signing Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith.

Perry has never played 16 games in a season, but prior to the 2018 campaign that saw him miss seven games, the former first-round pick had played in at least 12 from 2014-17. He finished with 18 sacks between the 2016 and ’17 seasons and profiles as a reasonable second-wave free agent, albeit one who is not in position to command anywhere close to the five-year, $60MM deal he inked with Green Bay two years ago.

The Seahawks used their franchise tag on Frank Clark. He has not signed his tender but is expected to remain Seattle’s defensive line anchor in 2019. Second-year player Rasheem Green and RFA Quinton Jefferson are in line to contribute opposite Clark, but the group may stand to benefit from an experienced presence. With Clark’s $17MM-plus franchise tag on their books, the Seahawks hold $12MM in cap space.

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Raiders To Work Out Kyler Murray

Jon Gruden reiterated Monday that Derek Carr will be the Raiders’ starting quarterback this season, after saying as much at the Combine. But the Raiders will still explore this year’s top passing prospects.

Raiders representatives will conduct a workout with Kyler Murray next week, according to Albert Breer of SI.com, who adds the team’s previously reported workout with Dwayne Haskins will take place next week as well.

Gruden has praised Murray throughout the offseason, but the noise at the Combine has not cooled down. The Cardinals are heavily linked to the 5-foot-10 quarterback. This may make the Haskins meetings more important. The Ohio State-developed prospect also has a Dolphins workout scheduled, along with meetings with the Giants, Broncos and Redskins. He is expected to be a top-10 pick. The past four drafts’ second quarterback selected has been no later than No. 10 overall.

Should the Raiders select Murray or Haskins, Carr’s run as the team’s starter will likely come to an end soon. He has four years and a non-guaranteed $78MM remaining on his contract.

Yeah, he’s going to be our quarterback,” Gruden told Jim Trotter of NFL.com. “I’m not going to address all the rumors. I could care less about the rumors, you know? He threw for 4,100 yards. Threw for almost 70 percent in a very dire, tough circumstance. So I’ve got a lot of confidence in Carr, what he can do with Antonio Brown, with Tyrell Williams, with Trent Brown coming in here to help our offensive line, with a better defense. I’m excited about Carr.”

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Ravens Plan To Keep Jimmy Smith

It sounds like the Ravens will keep Jimmy Smith in the fold. While at the owners’ meetings, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta all but confirmed that the team will be moving forward with Smith, as Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic tweets

One of the greatest strengths of our team right now is our secondary. I think it would be foolish for us to make a strength a weakness for no reason,” DeCosta said.

Smith, 31 in July, is under contract for one more season with a whopping $15MM cap number. The Ravens and Smith agreed to a 2017 restructure, ballooning his cap figure to this level. Releasing Smith would save $9.5MM against Baltimore’s cap, but it would also leave the club with $6.4MM in dead money. That’s not exactly an ideal scenario for the Ravens, so an extension or restructuring could make more sense than an outright release.

Last year, Smith served a four-game suspension for an alleged domestic violence incident. In 2017, he also missed four games due to an Achilles tear that coincided with a four-game suspension for PEDs.

The Ravens lost Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Eric Weddle from their top-tier defense. They will still have one of the league’s oldest secondaries, with the soon-to-be 30-year-old Earl Thomas coming in to join 30-somethings Smith, Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson. Both Carr and Smith were potential cap casualties, but each is instead set to be part of an experienced Ravens DB corps.

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Eagles Could Still Re-Sign Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi’s free agency is in a bit of a holding pattern, but it could end with the running back landing with the Eagles. Agent Drew Rosenhaus says he is maintaining discussions with the Eagles about his client, as Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets

[RELATED: Jeremy Maclin Announces Retirement]

Ajayi recently visited the Colts and Rosenhaus says the meeting went well, even though the two sides left without a deal in place. It could be a little while before Ajayi signs because, as Rosenhaus puts it, he’s expected to be ready for the start of the season, but not much before that point.

Ajayi, 26 in June, is arguably the best back still available on the open market after Le’Veon BellTevin Coleman, and Mark Ingram came off the board during the first week of free agency. The Eagles pursued Coleman, but didn’t sign him, which leaves a big need in the backfield.

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Buccaneers To Sign Blaine Gabbert

The Buccaneers are expected to sign quarterback Blaine Gabbert in the next 24 hours, according to Greg Auman of The Athletic (on Twitter). Once signed, Gabbert will be primed to serve as the backup to starter Jameis Winston

Gabbert, 30 in October, spent last season as Marcus Mariota‘s primary backup but was released by the club earlier this month. In eight games (three starts), Gabbert completed 60.4% of his passes for 626 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. The 2011 first-round pick has had stints with the Jaguars, 49ers, Cardinals, and Titans during his eight-year career, and he’ll don a new uni in 2019.

Gabbert entered the league as the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft, but he hasn’t lived up to the billing. In 48 starts, he has a career 13-35 record and a 56.2% completion percentage. He also has a nearly 1:1 TD-INT ratio.

However, he could be a worthwhile emergency option behind Winston, who has been largely healthy save for shoulder trouble in 2017.

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Extra Points: McDowell, Broncos, Browns

Malik McDowell is still looking to play football again. The talented defensive lineman was taken by the Seahawks in the second round of the 2017 draft, but has never played a down in the NFL. An ATV accident before his rookie year resulted in serious injuries that up until this point have prevented him from playing. The Seahawks finally decided to move on and waived him earlier this month after he couldn’t gain clearance. He still wants to play however, and recently met with the Cowboys.

McDowell’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, revealed today that McDowell had been cleared to play again by independent doctors (Twitter link via Calvin Watkins of The Athletic). However, the Cowboys’ team doctors have been unable to clear him yet. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Forth Worth Star-Telegram tweeted that Rosenhaus also said the Cowboys remain interested his client, but it sounds like there’s still a big medical hurdle to clear. It seems Dallas’ interest is legitimate, and if their doctors are able to clear him there’s a very good chance he’d sign. He was the 35th overall pick out of Michigan State for a reason, so if he’s ever able to get back on the field it could prove to be a great pickup.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Center Matt Paradis left the Broncos this offseason, and signed a big deal with the Panthers. We heard shortly before he signed with Carolina that Denver was working to re-sign him, but that apparently wasn’t a realistic effort. The Broncos essentially lowballed Paradis, offering him a one-year “look-see” deal that they knew he wouldn’t accept, according to Mike Klis of Denver 9News. Despite the reported effort, it sounds like the Broncos never truly intended to retain Paradis, who got three years and $27MM from the Panthers.
  • Speaking of the Broncos, their ownership dispute could be inching toward a resolution. Brittany Bowlen, one of the daughters of owner Pat Bowlen vying to take over the team, will soon start a job in Denver’s front office, Broncos CEO Joe Ellis told Klis (Twitter link). There’s been a drawn out dramatic dispute playing out between members of the Bowlen family for a while now, and Brittany is believed to be the favorite of Broncos and league brass. Klis calls it a “potential huge step” toward her one day taking over the team.
  • We heard a couple of weeks ago that the Browns were shopping Emmanuel Ogbah, and that’s apparently still the case. Ogbah is still being shopped, a source told Tony Grossi of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Additionally, Grossi reports that “there’s a lot of interest” in the defensive end. Ogbah is still only 25 and on his rookie deal, so it makes sense that there’s legit interest. With Olivier Vernon now in the fold opposite Myles Garrett, the Browns don’t have much of a need for Ogbah.

Damon Harrison Asks Lions For New Contract

Damon Harrison is coming off his first season as a member of the Lions, and he’s looking for a raise. The player also known as ‘Snacks’ has approached Detroit’s front office about getting a new deal, a source told Kyle Meinke of MLive.com

Harrison had been with the Giants the past several seasons, but New York traded him to the Lions at the trade deadline this past year for a fifth round pick. A defensive tackle, Harrison is widely regarded as an elite stuffer. Last year he received a 92.1 grade from Pro Football Focus, their third-highest grade for any defensive lineman.

Interestingly, Harrison played in 17 games last season since he was traded before the Giants had their bye week but after the Lions already had their’s. A 2016 first-team All-Pro, Harrison had 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks last year. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets back in 2012, Harrison has two years left on his deal.

Harrison is set to make a $6.75MM base salary in 2019 and $9MM in 2020, and apparently feels he’s underpaid. He’s still only 30, and wants to be locked up longterm by the Lions. Detroit might be hesitant to negotiate with him still having two years left on the deal, but Harrison played great down the stretch for the Lions and could be worth it as Matt Patricia continues to rebuild his defense.

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Cowboys To Ask Allen Hurns To Take Pay Cut

Allen Hurns’ agent Drew Rosenhaus said today that the team hasn’t asked his client to take a pay-cut or restructure his contract yet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. “It is only a matter of time” and the team does plan to ask him to take a pay cut, a source told Clarence Hill Jr. of The Forth Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link.)

The Cowboys exercised Hurns’ 2019 option a couple of weeks ago, but apparently don’t actually want to pay him that salary. Hurns signed a two-year, $12MM deal with Dallas last offseason, and is slated to have a cap hit of $6.25MM this year. Given his level of production last season, it’s not surprising that the Cowboys want to reduce that.

With Dez Bryant gone, Hurns was supposed to compete for one of the Cowboys’ top receiving jobs after Dallas signed him away from Jacksonville. But he never showed much chemistry with Dak Prescott, and he quickly got buried on the depth chart after the emergence of rookie Michael Gallup and the trade for Amari Cooper. Hurns caught 20 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

His season ended with a devastating ankle injury suffered in the first round of the playoffs against the Seahawks. The injury was gruesome, but Hurns is recovering well, and Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets that Rosenhaus said he’s hoping to be ready by training camp. With Cole Beasley now gone to the Bills, perhaps Hurns can take on a bigger role next season, assuming the two sides can get his contract sorted out.

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