Panthers Sign LB Shaq Thompson To Four-Year Extension

The Panthers announced today that they’ve signed linebacker Shaq Thompson to a four-year extension. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (via Twitter) that the deal is worth $54.2MM, with a maximum value of $57MM. There’s $28MM guaranteed and a $16MM signing bonus. The extension will keep Thompson in a Panthers uniform through the 2023 season.

“Shaq is our type of person and our type of player,” said general manager Marty Hurney. “He’s proven that he can play linebacker at a very high level, and he’s got all the traits you want. He’s smart, he’s physical, he can run and he’s very versatile. He fits the blueprint for what we want at the position.”

A 2015 first-round pick out of Washington, Thompson has spent his entire five-year career with the Panthers. The organization picked up his fifth-year option back in 2018, and the linebacker has rewarded them with perhaps his best season in the NFL. In 12 games this year, the 25-year-old has compiled 93 tackles, three sacks, and three passes defended. Thompson has also garnered glowing reviews from the coaching staff, with the organization appreciating his ability to fill in for longtime Panther Thomas Davis.

The $57MM maximum value would place Thompson in the top-five among linebackers, tied with Myles Jack and Deion Jones. Meanwhile, the $28MM in guaranteed money is the third-highest mark at the position behind C.J. Mosley and Devin White.

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Browns Activate TE David Njoku From IR

David Njoku is back. The Browns announced this morning that they’ve activated the tight end from injured reserve. To make room on the roster, the team placed cornerback Robert Jackson on injured reserve.

Njoku had been sidelined since Week 2 as he recovered from both a concussion and a broken wrist. There was always optimism that the 23-year-old would be able to return to the field once he passed the concussion protocol, and he was designated to return from the IR in late November.

Prior to this injury, Njoku had played in 34 consecutive games for the Browns since they selected him 29th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. The tight end had a breakout season in 2018, hauling in 56 receptions for 639 yards and four touchdowns. He’ll provide Baker Mayfield with another weapon, as the Browns have been relying on the likes of Demetrius Harris and Ricky Seals-Jones during Njoku’s absence.

Jackson, a rookie out of Nevada-Las Vegas, appeared in six games for the Browns this season, compiling three tackles. The defensive back had already been ruled out for this weekend’s game with an ankle injury.

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Giants Place S Jabrill Peppers On IR

The Giants have made a series of roster moves this morning, via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan (via Twitter). The team placed safety Jabrill Peppers and linebacker Chris Peace on injured reserve. Linebacker Kareem Martin was activated from the injured reserve, and safety Sean Chandler is being promoted from the practice squad.

The Giants acquired Peppers in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade this past offseason. The former first-rounder was on pace to have his best NFL season, as he had compiled 76 tackles, five passes defended, three forced fumbles, and one pick-six in 11 starts. The 24-year-old suffered a transverse process fracture during the Giants’ late-November loss to the Bears, but coach Pat Shurmur had expressed optimism that Peppers would be able to finish the season. Peppers didn’t play in last weekend’s loss to the Packers.

Peppers will be replaced on the roster by Chandler, a former undrafted rookie out of Temple. The 23-year-old has spent his two professional seasons with the Giants organization, and he’s compiled 23 tackles and one sack in 25 career games. Chandler was waived by New York in early November, and he later caught on with the team’s practice squad.

Martin spent the first four seasons of his career with the Cardinals before landing a three-year, $21MM ($7.5MM) deal with the Giants in 2018. He appeared in all 16 games (seven starts) during his first season in New York, compiling a career-high 48 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The 27-year-old suffered a knee injury in Week 1 and was placed on the injured reserve. He was designated for return in late November.

Peace, an undrafted rookie out of Virginia, was claimed off waivers from the Chargers back in September. The linebacker has appeared in four games for the Giants this season. He was listed on the injury report with a knee issue earlier this week.

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Giants QB Daniel Jones Ruled Out, Eli Manning To Start

The Giants announced this morning that starting quarterback Daniel Jones has been ruled out for Monday’s game against the Eagles. This means Eli Manning will get the start for New York.

We heard rumblings earlier this week that Manning could get the start for the Giants. Jones was continuing to recover from a mild high-ankle sprain, and the injury was expected to knock the rookie out of the lineup.

So in comes Manning, who will get his (presumable) farewell tour with the organization. It was clear that the 38-year-old’s time with the organization was coming to an end when they selected Jones with the sixth-overall pick in this past year’s draft. The veteran got a pair of starts for the Giants before giving way to the 22-year-old, who has started the last 10 games.

Manning hasn’t seen the field since that Week 2 start against the Bills. Up to that point of the season, Manning had completed 62.9% of his passes for 556 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. However, in 2018, the 38-year-old raised his completion rate to a career-high 66%, and his 7.5 yards-per-attempt average was considerably higher than it was in the previous two seasons. He also dropped his interceptions total (11) to the lowest its been during his 14 seasons a full-time starter.

Manning will now have an opportunity to show teams that he’s still capable of playing in the NFL. The veteran says he plans on playing through at least the 2020 season, but it’s unlikely to be with the Giants. His $23.2MM salary limited his trade appeal this year – and Manning wouldn’t have waived his no-trade clause, anyway – but there figure to be many QB-needy teams speaking with the future Hall of Famer in March.

Jones won’t be the only Giants player missing Monday’s game. ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets that tight ends Evan Engram (foot) and Rhett Ellison (concussion), as well as cornerback Corey Ballentine (concussion), have also been ruled out.

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Bengals Place TE Drew Sample On IR

Bengals tight end Drew Sample is done for the year. The team placed the rookie on injured reserve this morning, reports Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter). Cincy promoted safety Trayvon Henderson from the practice squad to take the open roster spot (per Dragon on Twitter).

The Bengals used a second-round pick on Sample in this past year’s draft. The Washington product found himself playing behind a (relatively) healthy Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah on the depth chart, hauling in five catches for 30 yards in nine games (two starts). The six-foot-four tight end suffered an ankle injury in his team’s Week 10 loss to the Ravens.

Henderson, 24, sat out his entire rookie campaign with a torn ACL. The Bengals waived the defensive back following the 2019 preseason, and Henderson later caught on with their practice squad. Safety Brandon Wilson has already been ruled out for tomorrow’s game against the Browns with a hand injury. Safety Shawn Williams is also listed on the injury report with an ankle injury.

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Patriots Waive DT Albert Huggins, Re-Sign K Nick Folk

Albert Huggins‘ stint with the Patriots lasted less than one week. The Patriots waived the rookie defensive tackle this morning, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter). The team will use the roster spot on kicker Nick Folk, who the team officially re-signed.

Huggins joined the Texans as an undrafted free agent out of Clemson. He landed on Houston’s practice squad at the end of the preseason, and he was later signed to the Eagles active roster. The 22-year-old ended up appearing in four games for Philly, compiling three tackles. He was waived by the Eagles last weekend, and the Patriots claimed him on Monday. ESPN’s Mike Reiss suggests that Huggins could be a candidate for New England’s practice squad (Twitter link).

Folk was cut last week after undergoing an appendectomy, but the team’s decision to waive fill-in Kai Forbath indicated that the veteran would be ready for tomorrow’s matchup against the Chiefs. However, the Patriots practiced two straight days without a kicker, leading some to wonder whether the team was actually going to go in a different direction.

We heard last night that the deal had been agreed to. With the Pats, Folk has connected on 7-of-9 field goal tries and all three of his extra point attempts across three games. Two of those misses came last month against the Cowboys, but the Pats still came away with the 13-9 win, with Folk’s 42-yard connection in the fourth quarter helping to seal the deal. In total, the Pats have used four kickers this season: Stephen GostkowskiMike Nugent, Folk, and Forbath.

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Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson Likely Done For Season

Cedrick Wilson‘s season has likely come to an end. The Cowboys receiver suffered a sprained ACL, according to ESPN’s Todd Archer.

Barring any surprising developments, it’s unlikely that Wilson will see the field again in 2019. Fortunately, the wideout won’t require reconstructive surgery on his knee, according to Archer. That kind of operation would have sidelined the second-year player for most of the offseason program.

The Boise State product was a sixth-round pick by the Cowboys back in 2018, but he sat out his entire rookie campaign thanks to a torn labrum. He was cut by Dallas at the end of the 2019 preseason, and he subsequently landed on their injured reserve. The 24-year-old was promoted to the active roster in mid-September, and he’s hauled in five catches for 46 yards in six games. Wilson has also returned three kicks (for 64 yards) and two punts (for 13 yards).

Archer passed along a few additional Cowboys injury notes. The team is hoping that running back Tony Pollard can return to practice and play against the Rams next week. Pollard missed Thursday’s game against the Bears with an ankle injury. Meanwhile, punter Chris Jones recently suffered an abdominal strain, but the left-footer isn’t expected to miss any games.

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Colts, Jack Doyle Agree On Extension

Thrust back into the role of the Colts’ top tight end, Jack Doyle now has another long-term contract. The Colts and Doyle agreed on a three-year extension Friday, Ian Rapoport of tweets.

The deal is worth $21.3MM in new money and could spike to $29.1MM through incentives, Mike Chappell of CBS4 tweets. This marks another nice payday for the career-long Colt who now has a bigger role since the team placed Eric Ebron on IR. This marks a second Colts re-up for the Indianapolis native; Doyle’s three-year, $18.9MM deal was set to expire at season’s end.

While the pay bump is not much compared to what Doyle’s previous number was, it keeps the 29-year-old weapon tied to the Colts through the 2022 season. Considering Ebron may be set to walk in free agency, after a strange end to his season, the Colts did not waste much time in ensuring some continuity at tight end.

A former UDFA out of Western Kentucky arrived in Indianapolis in 2013, during the three-year stretch of Andrew Luck-led playoff berths, but played behind Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen for three seasons. Doyle emerged in his contract year, 2016, with a 584-yard, five-touchdown performance and made the 2017 Pro Bowl with a career-best 690 yards.

After Doyle suffered a season-ending injury in 2018, Ebron broke Dallas Clark‘s Colts record for touchdowns by a tight end. But Ebron did not come especially close to matching that production this year. Doyle is again the Colts’ top tight end target and will be pivotal to the fringe AFC contender’s playoff chances.

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