Broncos To Pick Up Options On K Brandon McManus, LB Todd Davis

A pair of veterans will be back with the Broncos next season. General manager John Elway told reporters (including Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post) that Denver’s picking up the options on kicker Brandon McManus and linebacker Todd Davis. Meanwhile, the Broncos won’t be picking up lineman Ronald Leary‘s option.

McManus has been the team’s full-time kicker since 2014, and he had another solid year during his age-28 season. The veteran connected on 85.3-percent of his field goal attempts and 96.2-percent of his extra point tries last season. McManus signed a three-year extension prior to the 2017 season, and the extra option year will count $4.25MM against the cap.

Davis has also been with the organization since the 2014 season, and he’s continued to evolve into one of the organization’s most productive players. Despite appearing in only 14 games last season, the 27-year-old finished with a career-high 134 tackles. Davis has a cap number of $6MM for next season.

Leary would have counted $9.3MM against the cap next season, and the decision to avoid his option will save the organization around $8.44MM. Denver signed the offensive guard to a four-year deal back in 2017, and he’s started all 29 of his games during his stint with the team. Unfortunately, each of his three seasons with the Broncos ended on the injured reserve.

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Latest On Raiders QB Derek Carr

The Raiders aren’t necessarily committed to Derek Carr. Raiders general manager Mike Mayock told reporters that they’d consider moving on from their quarterback if there’s a “chance to upgrade.”

“Derek played at a high level last season,” Mayock said (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter). “I’m very happy with Derek. But as I’ve said before, we will evaluate every position on our roster and if there’s a chance to upgrade, we will look into that.”

We heard earlier this month that teams were preparing offers for the 28-year-old, but the Raiders were still determining how to proceed at the position. There have been rumbling that the Raiders plan to make a run at Tom Brady, but they won’t replace Carr with just any quarterback. Vic Tafur of The Athletic previous noted that he’s “not sure they see [Teddy] Bridgewater as an upgrade over Carr.” Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden have continued to support Carr throughout their tenures with the organization, but it sounds like they’d be ready to move on if the right opportunity presents itself.

While Carr has yet to replicate the team and personal success of 2016, he’s still put up solid numbers over the past few years. He finished last season with career-highs in passing yards (4,054) and completion percentage (70.4) while tossing 21 touchdowns vs. eight interceptions.

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Falcons “Still Deciding” On Takk McKinley’s 5th-Year Option

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn told reporters earlier Tuesday that the team is undecided on whether to exercise the fifth-year option in edge rusher Takkarist McKinley‘s rookie contract, according to Jason Butt of The Athletic Atlanta. Butt first reported that Quinn said the team would decline McKinley’s option just after general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the team had yet to make a decision. When Quinn was asked to clarify, he deferred to Dimitroff and said the team was “still deciding.”

McKinley has failed to develop in the way Atlanta hoped when they selected him with the 26th overall pick back in the 2017 NFL Draft. While he has consistently taken the field for the Falcons and put up reasonable production, he has yet to emerge as a legitimate game-changer.

As a rookie, McKinley appeared as a rotational pass rusher in all 16 games and accrued 6.0 sacks. In his sophomore campaign, McKinley started 8 games, recorded 22 tackles, and 7.0 sacks and expectations were he could become a game-changer with time. However, in 2019, McKinley turned in his least productive campaign even while receiving the most playing time of his career (13 starts).

McKinley’s fifth-year option would be above eight figures and would be a very large gamble on a player who has yet to take the next step at the NFL level.

Meeting Between NFLPA & League Underway

A meeting between the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) representatives and owners has begun in Indianapolis, according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post. The owners recently approved a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), which would add a seventh team to the playoffs in each conference and a seventeenth game to the regular season in exchange for a 1.5 percent increase in the player’s share of revenues. It remains uncertain whether the team reps will hold a vote on the proposal tonight, per Mike Jones of USA Today.

Normally negotiations only take place between ownership and the NFLPA’s executive committee. However, the executive committee was unable to come to a consensus on the owner’s proposal, reportedly voting 6-5 against recommending the proposal to team reps. Since the executive committee was so split on the owner’s proposal, team reps decided to hold a meeting of their own with ownership before making any voting decisions.

While public perception seemed to view the ownership proposal as an unfair deal for players, it appears owners made many strategic concessions directly aimed to appeal to the “middle-class” of players who are unlikely to receive a large free-agent contract and instead will make most of their earnings through rookie deals and minimum contracts. The proposal includes expanding rosters from 53 to 55 players, raising minimum salaries, and increasing the performance bonus pool, all of which would help players on the lower end of the pay scale.

With that said, expanding the regular season to seventeen games comes with obvious risks for players (and would severely limit their leverage in future negotiations). Furthermore, the proposed CBA limits game checks in the new game to $250,000, which would mean players with annual salaries greater than $4MM would not receive their normal pay.

49ers team representative (and cornerback) Richard Sherman has been very outspoken in opposition to an expanded schedule and is expected to be one of many team representatives to pushback against any schedule expansion.

Panthers To Decline Jarius Wright’s Option

The Panthers will decline Jarius Wright‘s option for 2020, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The move will save the club $3MM against the cap. 

Had Wright’s option been exercised, he would have been in line for $1MM in guaranteed pay. Instead, he’ll look for work elsewhere after a so-so year. Wright, 31 in November, had just 28 grabs for 296 yards with no touchdowns in 2019. It was a drop-off from his 2018 season – his first with Carolina – when he had 43 catches for 447 yards and one score.

Wright spent his first six seasons with the Vikings and put together a solid stretch from 2013-15, recording at least 430 receiving yards in each of those seasons. But, once Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen emerged, he slipped in the pecking order.

In other Panthers news, the club is reportedly planning to keep Cam Newton as its starting quarterback in 2020. They’ll also evaluate their options when it comes to cornerback James Bradberry, but the pending free agent will be chased by a number of clubs and a reunion with Ron Rivera could be in the cards.

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Broncos Ready To Tag Justin Simmons

No surprise here. On Tuesday, Broncos GM John Elway said that he’ll use the franchise tag on safety Justin Simmons if he can’t reach a long-term pact with safety Justin Simmons (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter). 

[RELATED: Latest On Broncos’ Joe Flacco]

Simmons has already said that he’s expecting to be tagged, though he’s optimistic about the one-year cuff leading to a multi-year agreement. As our own Sam Robinson noted earlier this week, Elway has used the tag four times during his tenure in order to keep kicker Matt Prater (2012), tackle Ryan Clady (2013), wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (2015), and edge rusher Von Miller (2016). Every time, the Broncos were able to follow up and hammer out a longer contract.

The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus pegged Simmons as the second-best safety in the NFL last year. He’s still only 26 and he has a case to be paid as one of the top players at his position.

Last year, Simmons registered a career-high four interceptions to go along with 15 passes defensed and 93 total tackles. For his part, Simmons wants to stay put.

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Chiefs To Talk With Sammy Watkins

The Chiefs want Sammy Watkins back in 2020, but not at his current rate. On Tuesday, Chiefs GM Brett Veach confirmed that he’ll sit down with Watkins’ agents this week to discuss a new deal that would fit the team’s budget. 

We’ll sit down and talk about the landscape of where we are and what would make sense to us and how we can make this work and we’ll get feedback from them in regards to what they’re looking for and hopefully we can bridge a gap and make something happen,’’ Veach said. (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher).

Watkins is slated to earn $14MM in 2020, a figure that doesn’t make much sense given his current place in the Chiefs’ offensive hierarchy. Still, Watkins’ presence alongside Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and other weapons gives opposing defenses extra cause for concern, and the veteran came through in some crucial moments for the Super Bowl champs last year.

Recently, Watkins stopped short of saying that he’d take a pay cut to stay, but he seems open to one. Frankly, it’s the only way that he’ll be able to remain in KC – his salary comes with a $21MM cap hit and there’s no conceivable way that the Chiefs can make that work as they get set to defend their throne.

Watkins has posted least 40 receptions, 500 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He’s also been clutch in the playoffs – he’s averaged 92.8 receiving yards across his five postseason contests with the Chiefs.

At one point, Watkins hinted at the possibility of taking a year off from football and returning in 2021. That no longer seems like the plan for him, but he suggested recently that he could skip a portion of OTAs to spend more time with his family.

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Lions: Everything On Table For Darius Slay

The Lions have had “good conversations” with Darius Slay‘s camp, but their saga is far from settled. When speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Lions GM Bob Quinn explained that all scenarios are being considered when it comes to the cornerback. 

[We’re] trying to explore a trade. That’s not saying we are definitely trading him,” Quinn said (Twitter link via Chris Burke of The Athletic). “We’re very much in the information-gathering phase of this.”

Quinn noted that a trade isn’t an automatic if a contract extension can’t be reached. Slay still has one more year to go on his four-year, $48MM deal, so the Lions could simply allow him to play out 2020. Still, Slay is slated to earn just $10MM in 2020 and it doesn’t seem like he’d be a happy camper under those terms. Given his performance, Slay is probably looking for something around the $15MM/year mark.

If the Lions aren’t willing to pay that price, many other teams will be. And, in recent days, several players from rival teams have taken to social media to try and court the Pro Bowler. That includes Rams standout Jalen Ramsey (Twitter link), who is daydreaming about forming one of the NFL’s most intimidating secondary duos. Meanwhile, Slay is taking a laissez-faire approach to all of the rumors.

Whatever happens, happens,” Slay told ESPN.com’s Michael Rothstein recently. “I’m here to play ball.”

It’s a business so it should be looked at as a business aspect of it. If it was up to me, I would love to be here my whole career,” Slay continued. “But one thing about a lot of stuff that comes, first is my family so I’ll do what’s best for my family, for them first and put my family in great position to never have to want for nothing. So that’s my goal, and if that’s being here, I’m here. If it ain’t, then I ain’t.”

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Jets Want To Keep Jamal Adams “For Life”

Throughout the season, the conflict between the Jets and star safety Jamal Adams played out on the pages of New York tabloids. For his part, GM Joe Douglas hopes that drama is in the “rear-view mirror.” And, with that in mind, he believes a long-term deal could be on the horizon. 

The plan is for Jamal [Adams] to be a Jet for life,” Douglas told reporters on Tuesday (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini).

Douglas reiterated that there have been preliminary discussions with the Pro Bowler’s camp, but he didn’t offer up much detail beyond that. Adams has been lobbying for a new deal for a long time and he’s open to staying with Gang Green. Still, he wants to be paid appropriately, which would mean a substantial raise from his rookie deal. Per the terms of his rookie deal, Adams is set to earn just $3.5MM in 2020.

Both sides are keeping mum on details, but it’s safe to say that Adams’ camp has Eddie Jackson‘s four-year, $58.4MM deal in mind. That pact, which includes $33MM guaranteed, is the richest deal for any safety in the NFL on a per-year basis. Landon Collins‘ six-year, $84MM contract is the highest overall sum for any safety in the league, but guaranteed dollars and AAV are the true measures of a contract’s value. Besides, Adams won’t turn 25 until October and the salary cap is set to skyrocket even further, so a four-year deal or something similar would make sense for him.

The Jets shopped Adams before last year’s trade deadline, even after he told the team that he wanted to stay put. This rankled the Jets’ defensive superstar and led many to label him as a trade candidate this offseason. Until a new deal is signed to make him a “Jet for life” (or, something close to it), the speculation will continue.

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Vikings GM Shoots Down Stefon Diggs Trade Talk

Stefon Diggs is staying put. At least, that’s what Vikings GM Rick Spielman told reporters on Tuesday morning at the NFL’s draft combine.

[RELATED: Vikings’ Everson Griffen To Opt Out]

There is no reason to anticipate that Stefon Diggs is not going to be a Minnesota Viking,” the GM said (Twitter link via Nick Shook of NFL.com).

Reports of drama with Diggs raged throughout the 2019 season. The wide receiver indicated that he wasn’t happy with his role early on in the year and even after he walked back some of his comments, many still believed that he wanted out. At this juncture, it sounds like the Vikings are committed to smoothing things out with the ultra-talented offensive weapon.

Diggs, entering his age-27 season, is signed through 2023 thanks to his five-year, $72MM re-up. He didn’t always get as many looks as he wanted last year as the Vikings put a greater emphasis on the run. This year, it’s possible that they’ll look to Diggs more often with Gary Kubiak as their new offensive coordinator.

Last year, Diggs caught 63 passes for 1,130 yards and six touchdowns. He was targeted just 94 times – down from his 149 targets in 2018 – but he was more efficient than ever as he averaged 17.9 yards per catch.

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