Brandon Aiyuk Requests Meeting With 49ers

The 49ers and Brandon Aiyuk remain in a stalemate over the wide receiver’s contract demands. With training camp rapidly approaching, the wideout is attempting to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. ESPN’s Ryan Clark reported today that Aiyuk requested a meeting with the organization to hammer out some kind of resolution.

With Aiyuk currently set to hit free agency following the 2024 campaign, both sides have expressed interest in a long-term arrangement. The former first-round pick is focused on joining the several wideouts who helped to reset the positional market this offseason, but it sounds like the 49ers are resistant about reaching some of those benchmarks.

“…[H]e said that he’s taking these negotiations personal,” Clark said on NFL Live (via Cam Inman of The Mercury News). “That the way that they have negotiated with him, the way that they have told him why he’s worth what he’s worth, it has touched him.”

Aiyuk was an unsurprising no-show at San Francisco’s voluntary offseason program, but he’s now facing fines after also skipping mandatory minicamp. The fines will start piling up if the receiver refuses to attend training camp, although it’s uncertain how far Aiyuk is willing to take this stare down.

The wideout is set to play this upcoming season on his $14.12MM fifth-year option. While the 49ers have continually stated their desire to retain Aiyuk long-term, the team faces an untenable financial situation after having extended Deebo Samuel last offseason. The team is currently projected to be more than $38MM over the cap next season, making a lucrative Aiyuk extension (or even the impending franchise tag) a difficult proposition.

The 49ers likely read the tea leafs regarding Aiyuk’s upcoming demands, explaining why he was reportedly on the trade block earlier this offseason. In the likely event that this latest meeting doesn’t lead to an extension, perhaps the front office once again explores those trade fronts. More likely, the impasse will continue until at least late-July when players arrive for training camp.

Extension Candidate: Browns LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

Thanks in part to injuries, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah didn’t necessarily live up to his second-round billing through his first two seasons in the NFL. However, the linebacker stepped up in a big way during the 2023 campaign, and that performance could earn him an extension with the Browns in the coming months.

As Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com notes, “JOK” has emerged as an extension candidate for the organization. The reporter believes the Browns front office would prefer to lock up Owusu-Koramoah as soon as possible, either before the regular season or part way through the campaign. That way, the organization can assure the impending free agent is clear of any distractions in the follow-up to his breakout season.

After being selected with the 52nd pick in the 2021 draft, Owusu-Koramoah proceeded to earn All-Rookie team honors after finishing with 76 tackles, 1.5 sacks, and a pair of forced fumbles. He missed a chunk of that season with an ankle injury, but Pro Football Focus still graded him as a top-10 player at his position. The linebacker took a slight step back during his sophomore campaign. He missed six more games thanks to a foot injury, and he finished the year ranked only 38th at his position.

Fortunately for the player and the organization, Owusu-Koramoah took a significant leap this past season. The 24-year-old finished the campaign with 101 tackles, 3.5 sacks, and two interceptions, earning him his first career Pro Bowl nod. Pro Football Focus ranked him 18th among 82 qualifying linebackers, including the second-best pass-rushing score at his position.

There’s a chance Owusu-Koramoah could solidify himself as a definitive top-10 linebacker with a strong performance in 2024. That would come at the perfect time for the fourth-year player, as he’s set to hit free agency following the season. JOK doesn’t have the track record to match the $18MM average annual value mark that’s been surpassed by Roquan Smith, Fred Warner, and Tremaine Edmunds, but he could still be in line for a lucrative pay day.

Patrick Queen leaped into the top-five AAV at the position this offseason following a strong year in Baltimore. The former first-round pick got a three-year, $41MM deal from the Steelers, good for a $13.6MM AAV. The LB franchise tag for 2025 is projected to be north of $25MM, so Owusu-Koramoah does have some leverage if the Browns truly intend to keep him long-term. The linebacker is set to earn around $2MM on the final year of his rookie contract in 2024.

The Browns also haven’t done a whole lot to add depth at the weakside linebacker spot, with former UDFAs Mohamoud Diabate and Charlie Thomas serving as JOK’s primary backups. Anthony Walker and Sione Takitaki both departed this offseason, meaning the Browns will be even more reliant on Owusu-Koramoah’s experience in the linebackers room next year.

For what it’s worth, Owusu-Koramoah said he’s not overly focused on his contract status, noting that “there’s a time and place for everything” (per Zac Jackson of The Athletic). More notably, the linebacker declared that he’s “all about ball,” which is surely the type of mentality the front office is seeking from the hopeful defensive stalwart.

Ed Policy To Succeed Mark Murphy As Packers President

Mark Murphy has one year remaining in his post as president and CEO of the Packers before mandatory retirement. The identity of his successor in that role has now been learned.

Ed Policy will assume Murphy’s responsibilities next summer, as first reported by Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. The Packers’ board of directors voted unanimously to tap Policy for the position, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero adds. The news is now official, per a team announcement

Policy joined the Packers as vice president and general counsel in 2012. That post, in turn, came after he served as president of the Arena Football League from 2001-08, taking on acting commissioner duties for one season. The 53-year-old then served as an executive consultant with the NFL from 2009-10 before working with Green Bay. He has held the title of general counsel and chief operating officer since 2018, and he will continue in the latter capacity until Murphy steps aside next July.

A Packers search committee was formed to find a successor for Murphy, who has served as Green Bay’s top executive since 2007. He and Policy will work together in the coming months to prepare for the transition after the 2024 campaign and subsequent offseason unfolds. The bylaws governing the Packers’ board of directors dictates that members must retire upon turning 70, which will be the case for Murphy on July 13, 2025.

The team’s announcement notes that 90 candidates received consideration for the position before Policy was ultimately selected to serve as chairman of the board in addition to the dual title of president and CEO. He will be tasked with continuing the organization’s unique structure as the only pro spots team without a private owner. Policy’s relationship with seventh-year general manager Brian Gutekunst will be a key factor in roster-building decisions moving forward as Green Bay proceeds with a young core led by quarterback Jordan Lovewho will likely soon be attached a lucrative extension.

“I am incredibly honored, excited and grateful to the search committee, the Board, the shareholders and the entire organization for this treasured and one-of-a-kind opportunity,” a statement from Policy reads in part. “I am particularly grateful to Mark for 12 years of mentorship. I am looking forward to building on his leadership and considerable success on and off the field.

“We are the stewards of the most iconic and unique organization in all of professional sports. I am excited to continue to work with so many talented teammates who have ensured the Packers’ consistent success on and off the field. We are the people’s team, and I love being a part of it.”

Latest On Colts’ RB Depth

The Colts ended their standoff with Jonathan Taylor last October, assuring the running back would stick in Indy for the foreseeable future. With the former All-Pro locked in, the Colts front office had to watch as key backup Zack Moss took a starting gig with the Bengals this offseason.

Taylor has missed 13 games over the past two years, meaning the Colts RB2 should be in line for a significant role. With that in mind, ESPN’s Stephen Holder notes that veteran Trey Sermon is the “likeliest option” to take over that top backup gig following a standout performance at OTAs. Holder points out how Sermon’s “hard-running style” could be appealing to the Colts, and his familiarity with the offense gives him some leeway for the RB2 job.

The former third-round pick collected 193 yards with the 49ers as a rookie, but he was quickly squeezed out of a crowded RBs room. He spent the 2022 campaign in Philly before catching on with the Colts last year. He ended up getting into 14 games with Indy, collecting 173 yards from scrimmage.

He should see an uptick in those numbers next season, even if Taylor remains relatively healthy. The team doesn’t have many other experienced options at the position, although both Evan Hull and Tyler Goodson bring their own intrigue. Hull was a fifth-round pick in last year’s draft, but the Northwestern product spent the majority of his rookie campaign on IR. Goodson was also on the Colts in 2023, collecting 121 yards on 19 touches. Zavier Scott and Trent Pennix round out the depth chart.

“I love the room,” Sermon said of his fellow RBs (via Locked On Colts on YouTube). “Everybody’s a little bit different, but we’re all great running backs. We compete, we push each other. If one of us makes a big play, we’re all excited for each other.”

Seahawks Sign RB Ricky Person Jr.

The Seahawks added to their backfield today. The team announced that they’ve signed running back Ricky Person Jr. to a contract.

After collecting more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage in four seasons at North Carolina State, Person Jr. caught on with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2022. After spending most of his rookie season on the practice squad, the running back joined the Birmingham Stallions of the UFL.

Person played sparingly as a backup in 2023, but he saw a larger role this past season. The running back finished the campaign with six touchdowns, and he notably collected 102 rushing yards in his team’s championship win.

In Seattle, Person will be competing for a bottom-of-the-depth-chart spot behind Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet. The newest addition will be going against the likes of 2023 seventh-round pick Kenny McIntosh and undrafted rookies George Holani and Kobe Lewis.

The team also announced that they’ve waived a trio of undrafted rookies. The grouping includes cornerback Ro Torrence, defensive end Rason Williams, and running back TaMerik Williams.

Ravens Eyeing Increased Role For TE Isaiah Likely

Mark Andrews missed significant time in 2023, and his absence left the Ravens without their top tight end option. It also opened the door to increased playing time for Isaiah Likely, however, and he showed considerable potential.

In total, Likely racked up 411 yards and five touchdowns on 30 catches in 2023, his second year in the league. Much of that production came when Andrews was sidelined, but Baltimore’s offense could look to include both on the field moving forward. That has been showcased by the many roles Likely has seen time in this spring.

The 24-year-old indicated (via Ryan Mink of the team’s website) he has taken snaps in several spots on offense this offseason. Doing so will allow offensive coordinator Todd Monken to find ways to have both Andrews and Likely on the field together. Baltimore rarely used two tight end sets in 2023, but putting the latter in a variety of spots could change that this season.

“It’s being a chess piece, being anywhere ‘Monk’ needs me to be in this offense – whether it’s in the slot, in-line, in the backfield, split out wide by myself,” Likely said of the experiments with his positioning. “The more you know, the more you can stay on the field.”

Likely showed his pass-catching potential as a rookie, and his success when thrust into a starting role in Year 2 will lead to high expectations. The Coastal Carolina product is not known for his run blocking, so giving him looks not only in the slot but on the perimeter would be sensible. Baltimore’s receiving core is led by Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor and fourth-round rookie Devontez WalkerRunning back addition Derrick Henry does not have a track record of notable production in the passing game, and that should not be expected to change in 2024.

Of course, Henry (along with quarterback Lamar Jackson) being in the fold means the Ravens will remain a run-heavy offense moving forward. Likely’s play to date has garnered interest in a increased workload, though, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out during training camp this summer. Two years remain on his rookie contract, so a strong campaign in 2024 could set him up for an extension.

QB Notes: Broncos, Mahomes, Lance

By selecting Bo Nix 12th overall, Sean Payton and the Broncos added a potential franchise quarterback. Whether or not the uber-experienced college passer takes on starting duties as a rookie remains to be seen, though.

Denver used a rotation of Nix, Jarrett Stidham and Zach Wilson with the first-team offseason during spring practices. A report from earlier this month pointed to Nix being the favorite despite Stidham’s familiarity with Payton’s scheme. On that note, Troy Renck of the Denver Post confirms Nix “has ground to cover” relative to the 27-year-old who made two Broncos starts last season.

On the other hand, Payton has not been shy about praising Nix’s acclimation so far. The former Saints Super Bowl winner noted (via Renck’s colleague Parker Gabriel) the Oregon alum’s performances so far have matched the team’s expectations based on their pre-draft evaluations. As Renck adds, Nix could very well wind up getting the nod for Week 1. That would turn attention from Stidham’s perspective to a competition with Wilson for the QB2 gig.

Here are some other quarterback notes:

  • The top priority for NFL teams during this part of the year is having players avoid non-football injuries. As a result, the contracts of several players list specific activities which are deemed off-limits. In the case of Patrick Mahomesthat list includes basketball. The three-time Chiefs Super Bowl MVP would have the guarantees in his deal voided if he were to be injured playing basketball, as detailed by ESPN’s Marc Raimondi. Mahomes’ monster extension was restructured again in March to create cap space, but it still runs through 2031. Plenty of rolling guarantees (in terms of both salary and bonuses) remain on the contract, giving him ample reason to play things safe.
  • Trey Lance is on the books with the Cowboys for one more season, with the team having made the unsurprising decision of declining his fifth-year option. The former 49ers top-three pick did not play last year, and it remains to be seen if he will serve as Dak Prescott‘s backup. Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes Lance is likely still behind Cooper Rush on the depth chart. The latter has made 26 appearances and six starts for Dallas, and he has one year remaining on his deal. With both Rush and Lance set to reach free agency next spring, their respective training camp and preseason performances will be key in determining the pecking order.
  • Taulia Tagovailoa‘s pro football career will begin north of the border. The CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats announced Tua Tagovailoa‘s younger brother signed with the team. Taulia began his college tenure at Alabama, but he transferred to Maryland and enjoyed a successful four-year run there. Tagovailoa, 24, broke the Big Ten’s all-time records for passing yards (11,265) and completion percentage (67.1%) with the Terrapins before going undrafted into the NFL this year. He received a look from the Seahawks and Cardinals during their minicamps, but his attention will now turn to earning playing time in Hamilton.

Jets To Manage LT Tyron Smith’s Training Camp Workload

Entering the offseason, questions were in place regarding how the Jets would proceed along the offensive line. Both tackle spots have seen veteran additions, although in the case of Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses injuries remain a concern.

Smith established himself as one of the league’s top blindside protectors over the course of his 13-year Cowboys tenure. That period was frequently marred by injuries, however, and the 2010s All-Decade team member last played more than 13 games in a season in 2015. Smith inked a one-year, incentive-laden Jets deal in March.

The 33-year-old is on track to serve as New York’s left tackle starter, an important position considering quarterback Aaron Rodgers is coming off an Achilles tear which sidelined him for essentially his entire debut season with the Jets. Smith’s workload during training camp will be an important factor in his ability to acclimate to his new team. To little surprise, though, the Jets will proceed with caution in his case.

New York will include several rest days in Smith’s practice schedule this summer, Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic notes (subscription required). The eight-time Pro Bowler has missed 37 games across the past four years, appearing in just two contests in 2020 and four in 2022. Remaining healthy would be a critical development for team and player, although the Jets did use their top pick in this year’s draft on tackle Olu Fashanu as a future left tackle starter capable of seeing time as a rookie if needed.

Smith – who had discussions with the Cowboys about a new deal but did not come close on financial terms – will of course help his free agent value with a strong season. A key first step in that regard will be remaining on the field for most of the 2024 campaign, and a training camp regimen aimed at preserving him would mirror the approach Dallas used last year while increasing his chances of being effective down the stretch.

As Rosenblatt notes, Moses (re-acquired to handle right tackle duties) did not practice this spring as he recovers from pectoral surgery. Guard Alijah Vera-Tucker meanwhile, is rehabbing from an Achilles tear although there is optimism he will be ready for the start of the season. There will likely be few practices this summer where all five projected Jets O-line starters are on the field at the same time, but in Smith’s case at least that will be by choice.

Jets Release CB Tae Hayes

JUNE 24: Hayes’ Jets tenure has come to an end. The team announced on Monday he has been released.

JUNE 23: Since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2019, cornerback Tae Hayes has been a journeyman as a depth piece in the NFL. The challenge of staying on NFL rosters will get a bit more difficult for Hayes after he was reportedly arrested this morning for marijuana possession, per Charean Williams of NBC Sports.

Coming undrafted out of Appalachian State, Hayes signed first with the Jaguars. He has since spent time with the Dolphins, Vikings, Cardinals, Panthers, Birmingham Stallions (USFL), Panthers again, Patriots, Lions, Ravens, and Jets. After his first two stops, Hayes has failed to stay in a single place for more than five months. In fact, his stints in Detroit and Baltimore each lasted less than a month, with both stints spanning from August 4 to September 12 last year.

Anywhere Hayes has gone, he’s functioned as a depth piece for the defense, either appearing in minimal snaps and special teams or playing as an emergency option. In his career, he’s appeared in games for six of the above teams, tallying 14 game appearances, 18 total tackles, two passes defensed, and a fumble recovery.

The arrest occurred in Hayes’ home state of Alabama just before four o’clock in the morning. He was released a little over an hour later after posting a $300 bond. The Jets released a statement saying that they are aware of the incident, but they are refraining from comment since it’s a pending legal matter.

Latest On Rams CB Tre’Davious White

Tre’Davious White saw his time with the Bills come to an end this offseason, setting up an eventual one-year flier he agreed to with the Rams. The former All-Pro corner’s health will be worth monitoring as the rest of the 2024 offseason unfolds.

White – who was limited to 10 games across the past two seasons – suffered an Achilles tear in October, adding to his list of major injuries. That led to his Buffalo release and obviously hurt his market value. The 29-year-old signed a one-year Rams deal worth a base value of $4.25MM.

Spring workouts provided Los Angeles with the opportunity to evaluate White’s progress in terms of recovery. He spent most of OTAs working with trainers off to the side of practices, although he was able to take part in a walkthrough during the final week of the voluntary workouts. Whether or not the two-time Pro Bowler will be available to practice in pads during training camp remains to be seen.

“He’s making good progress,” head coach Sean McVay recently said of White (via the team’s website). “He was able to partake in the walkthrough. It’s obviously a significant injury that he’s overcome. He’s gotten a lot of good stuff done on the side… As far as what his actual process will be in training camp, we’ll see where he’s at. He does such a great job, understands his body, and so I don’t think we want to pigeonhole ourselves into one approach.”

The Rams brought back Darious Williams in free agency, and his $7.5MM-per-year pact is the team’s most lucrative one at the cornerback spot. Los Angeles also has the likes of Cobie Durant, Derion Kendrick and Tre Tomlinson in the fold as starting options. If healthy, White should be able to hold down a first-team role on his new team, though, something which would have financial implications for him. The LSU alum’s 2024 earnings will increase to $8.5MM if he logs a defensive snap share of 60% or higher.

Of course, a strong showing in Los Angeles would set White up for either a lucrative re-signing or a market of outside suitors in free agency next offseason. For now, attention will remain on his Week 1 availability and how he performs when he is on the field,

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