Month: September 2018

Extension Candidate: Ryan Kerrigan

When one thinks of elite pass rushers, Ryan Kerrigan’s name may not jump immediately to mind. Kerrigan’s compatriots, superstars like Justin Houston, Von Miller, and Jason Pierre-Paul, tend to garner more attention, and rightfully so. But Kerrigan has quietly put together an excellent early career in Washington, notching 38 sacks over his first four years in the league while starting each of his team’s 64 games during that time. Twice he has been ranked among the top 10 3-4 outside linebackers in the league, per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), and he has never been ranked outside the top 30.

Sep 7, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Redskins outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan (91) during the game against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

2014 was his finest season to date, as he posted his first double-digit sack total (13.5) and finished as PFF’s fifth-best 3-4 OLB. He also has a penchant for the big play, with two interceptions, two touchdowns, 16 passes defensed, and a whopping 15 forced fumbles to his credit. He has never been particularly strong against the run, earning negative grades in that area in all four seasons of his professional career, but his pass-rushing abilities make him an integral part of Washington’s front seven.

To that end, Washington has made it known that it wants to lock up the former Purdue product, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, to a long-term deal. We learned back in March that Washington was discussing an extension with Kerrigan, and on May 11 of this year, Kerrigan himself noted that talks were “progressing well.” New GM Scot McCloughan also expressed optimism that a deal would get done, but on May 29, Kerrigan reported that, as far as he was aware, there were no updates to pass along on negotiations. That was the last we have heard on the matter.

Although Kerrigan has dealt with some injuries over the course of his career, those ailments have not, as his track record indicates, forced him to miss any playing time. He tore the lateral meniscus in his left knee in Week 3 of the 2013 campaign, but he was able to play through the injury and turn in a productive season (though he later admitted to John Keim of ESPN.com that the tear may have had an impact on his performance, as evidenced by the fact that he amassed just two sacks in the final nine weeks of the season after putting up 6.5 in the first seven). He had arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the tear immediately after the 2013 season ended, and he underwent another round of arthroscopic surgery on the same knee just last month. He said that the second surgery was merely cautionary, and at this point there is no reason to think otherwise. Of course, two surgeries in two years on the same knee could certainly impact his price tag, though if his 2015 performance is anything like his 2014 effort, that impact will likely be minimal.

Right now, all signs point to Kerrigan continuing his career in burgundy-and-gold for the foreseeable future, though Washington has other similarly pressing matters to resolve. For instance, the team hopes to strike an extension with left tackle Trent Williams, who is also entering the final year of his deal and who will likely command a contract with an $11-12MM average annual value. There are also a number of high-priced veterans eating significant cap space on 2016’s ledger, though many of those veterans can be released without creating too much dead money should the team need to find some cap room.

Kerrigan’s 2014 season put him in some pretty elite company, as PFF ranked him alongside the likes of Terrell Suggs, Julius Peppers, and Elvis Dumervil. But unlike those All-Pros, Kerrigan, at 26, is in the prime of his career, and while he is not an elite player who will rake in over $16MM annually like J.J. Watt and Mario Williams, he can expect a nice boost from the roughly $7MM he is earning this season. Pernell McPhee recently signed a five-year, $40MM deal with Chicago, and that was after serving his first four years in the league as a part-time player in Baltimore. I would think Kerrigan, who played exactly 1,000 snaps last season, has a reasonable chance at something along the lines of a five-year, $55-60MM deal with Washington. It may not make him the highest-paid linebacker in the game, but it should make both sides happy, and it would allow Washington to hold onto its best defensive player at a relatively reasonable price.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Favre, Lynch, Raiders

Brett Favre is 45 years old and has been out of the NFL since retiring in 2011, but he told Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop he’s still capable of playing.

“I could make all the throws I made before, I just couldn’t throw it near as far, but that never matters anyway,” said Favre.

Despite the confidence he has in his abilities, Favre stated that he’s “not trying to start some he’s-coming-out-of-retirement deal.” 

The former Falcon, Packer, Jet and Viking last played in 2010, when he appeared in 13 games and threw 11 touchdowns against 19 interceptions for Minnesota. The Rams tried to coax Favre out of retirement in 2013, ESPN reported, but the 11-time Pro Bowler declined their offer.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • In an interview with Ashley Fox of ESPN.com, NFL executive Troy Vincent criticized the NFL Players Association’s recent propensity to drag appeals of league punishments through the court system. Pointing to the drawn-out cases of players like Adrian Peterson and Tom Brady, Vincent said, “Look at the amount of money being spent on legal fees for a handful of people. It’s millions and millions of dollars, and we’ve got players that are hurting. We’ve got young men who don’t know how to identify a good financial adviser. Men are in transition who aren’t doing well, and yet $8-10MM a year is spent in court fees about who should make a decision on someone, who in some cases has committed a crime.”
  • Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch confirmed to Conan O’Brien on Monday night that he was contemplating retirement before the team gave him a new deal earlier this year, per Kevin Patra of NFL.com. “I mean, you know, in this game, you know, at this running back position, you don’t go that long,” Lynch said. “But, I mean, they put 12 (million dollars) in front of you for a year you start to think like ‘Yeah, maybe I can do this again.'”
  • Second-year Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is impressed with his two newest targets, rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper and veteran Michael Crabtree. Regarding Cooper: “He is ridiculous in and out of his breaks,” Carr told 95.7-FM in San Francisco on Tuesday, according to Scott Bair of CSNBayArea.com. “His style of play is perfect for this league.” On Crabtree, Carr said, “He is a football junkie. He’s been a nice guy, a nice addition to our team.”
  • Michael Johnson returned to the Bengals this offseason and will team with Geno Atkins to create an intimidating force along Cincinnati’s defensive line. While that reunion has fans in the Queen City excited, Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com says the team’s coaching staff is also singing the praises of the man they expect to spell Johnson from time to time, particularly on running downs: Will Clarke. Clarke was on the field for just 64 snaps in last season, his rookie year, but he put on good weight this offseason and is clearly more comfortable in the Bengals’ scheme. He is expected to be an important part of the D-line rotation.

Rory Parks contributed to this post.

Latest On Los Angeles Relocation

In the latest development that could eventually lead to the NFL’s return to Los Angeles, Raiders owner Mark Davis and Chargers owner Dean Spanos spent Tuesday in LA meeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti and other officials regarding their joint plan to build a stadium in Carson, Calif., according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.

The respective outlooks in Oakland and San Diego, the cities for the Raiders and Chargers, currently appear bleak. Businessman Floyd Kephart’s stadium proposal to keep the Raiders in Oakland has not been looked on positively, per Farmer, who notes that the Chargers don’t believe they can legally get a stadium initiative on the ballot in San Diego until the tail end of 2016 at the earliest. Moreover, the Chargers don’t have confidence that a stadium initiative would be well received by the San Diego community.

Further complicating matters is that the Chargers and Raiders aren’t the only teams eying California-based relocation. Rams owner Stan Kroenke has his sights set on Inglewood and is competing with the the other two teams’ Carson plans. The league would like a pair of franchises in LA as early as 2016, which would make at least one of the Chargers, Raiders or Rams the odd club out.

In Missouri, Rep. Jay Barnes asked a judge Tuesday to block Gov. Jay Nixon from working on plans for a new stadium in St. Louis, the Associated Press reported. Barnes and other lawmakers claim that the plans for a new stadium are illegal because the hypothetical facility wouldn’t be located next to St. Louis’ convention center, which state law requires.

“The governor does not have the authority to spend taxpayer dollars for an illegal purpose,” said Barnes.

If the Rams do ultimately gain league approval to relocate, Farmer writes that the deep-pocketed Kroenke wouldn’t have any difficulty financing his $2 billion planned stadium.

It’s currently unknown when there will be a resolution for the three teams, according to Farmer, who lists the end of the regular season, Super Bowl week and March’s owners meetings as potential times for owners to vote on proposals by Davis, Spanos and Kroenke. For its part, the league is hoping only two of the Raiders, Chargers and Rams apply for relocation, although it appears likely that all three will.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Amaro, Suh, Bortles

Let’s take a look at some notes from around the AFC:

  • The Raiders are looking to build up their offensive line for the future, meaning they could be a candidate to select former Clemson tackle Isaiah Battle during the supplemental draft on July 9, but ESPN’s Bill Williamson isn’t sure he’ll be worth it. Oakland already has a developmental tackle in seventh-round pick Anthony Morris, Williamson notes, as well as third-year man Menelik Watson vying for a starting role.
  • ESPN’s AFC East staff – James Walker, Mike Rodak, Mike Reiss and Rich Cemini – examined how the offenses of the Bills, Patriots and Jets will combat Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. They concluded that all three teams have questions along their offensive lines and could have serious issues against the four-time Pro Bowler in 2015.
  • The Jets’ Jace Amaro had a difficult rookie season as a tight end and is shifting to H-back under new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. Brian Costello of the New York Post looked at what that could mean for Amaro this year.
  • Like Amaro, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles had a rough rookie year and the jury is certainly out on whether he’ll be a viable starter going forward. Conor Orr of NFL.com watched tape on Bortles and wrote about what 2015 could hold for the former third overall pick, noting that he’ll have a difficult time progressing if his offensive teammates don’t improve.

Minor Moves: Tuesday

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves from around the NFL, with any additional transactions added to the top of the list throughout the evening:

  • The Colts signed free agent defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton, according to their official website. The 31-year-old has been a member of the Colts organization since 2013, when he last appeared in a game. He missed all of last season because of a knee injury.
  • Offensive guard Cole Manhart – whom the Eagles waived Monday – passed through waivers unclaimed, reports Adam Caplan (Twitter link). The Eagles signed Manhart as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska-Kearney earlier this year.

Community Tailgate: Who Will Win The AFC East?

We’re still more than two months away from the start of battles on the NFL gridiron, but there’s no offseason when it comes to debate amongst fans. Earlier this month, we launched a new series here at PFR that will be known as the Community Tailgate. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. Every weekday, we’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

Of course, while the debate may get spirited, we ask that it all stays respectful. If you need a reminder of our rules, please check out our commenting policy. Basically, we ask that you refrain from inappropriate language, personal insults, and attacks. Speaking of commenting: we’ve made it much easier to leave a comment here at Pro Football Rumors. You are no longer required to be a registered user – simply put in your name, email address, and comment and submit.

Today, we’ll be focusing on the AFC East. Since 2001, the Patriots have won the division a jaw-dropping eleven times. This year, there’s reason to believe that the Pats won’t be able to make it an even dozen. Of course, the No.1 reason for that is the (pending) suspension of star quarterback Tom Brady. If Brady is unsuccessful in his appeal, he will wind up sitting out the first four games of the season. Understudy Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t a slouch and there’s more to the game than the QB, but his absence in September could give the rest of the division a nice head start if things don’t go well.

Brady may or may not be under center to start the year, but there are other key Pats from years past that will be elsewhere in 2015. Darrelle Revis, one of the very best cornerbacks in the game today, returned to where it all started when he signed a monster contract with the Jets. Running back Shane Vereen, meanwhile, joined up with the Meadowlands’ other tenant when he agreed to join the Giants. Add in the departures of Brandon Browner, Vince Wilfork, Dan Connolly, and Stevan Ridley, and this year’s Patriots team looks pretty darn different than it did a year ago.

This year, the Jets will be bolstered by more than just the addition of Revis. For starters, Revis is once again joined by his former partner in crime – Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie had his ups-and-downs in New York, leading to his exit after the 2013 season, but he regained his footing in 2014 with the Cardinals. In the draft, the Jets might have gotten the best player in the entire class at No. 6 when they selected USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams. On the other side of the ball, the Jets added a high profile wide receiver in Brandon Marshall and picked up quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as a backup plan in case Geno Smith has another awful start.

Not to be overshadowed by the rival Jets, the Dolphins signed star defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the top free agent on the open market. Whether Suh’s bloated deal was worth it is up for debate, but there’s no denying that Suh makes Miami’s defensive line much, much better. On offense, the Dolphins also welcomed new names such as former Saints wide receiver Kenny Stills, who some believe has the athleticism to be a real difference maker in the NFL. Veteran wide receiver Greg Jennings will be there to help guide stud rookie DeVante Parker and tight end Jordan Cameron also figures to be a focal point of Ryan Tannehill‘s passing offense.

Meanwhile, Buffalo has borrowed heavily from it’s AFC East rivals to put together what could be a very fierce squad in 2015. Of course, ex-Jets coach Rex Ryan is at the helm and he appears to be bringing a culture change to Western New York. Offensive additions Percy Harvin (Jets), tight end Charles Clay (Dolphins), and guard Richie Incognito (Dolphins) will be familiar to divisional foes and could help to transform the Bills into a playoff contender. The Bills’ defense has the talent to be amongst the very best in the league, something that Ryan has become accustomed to thorough his stops with the Jets and the Ravens. But, as Ryan also experienced in New York, the quarterback situation leaves something to be desired.

So, all in all, who do you see winning the AFC East and why? Let us know in the comment section below!

Largest 2015 Cap Hits By Team: AFC North

Before NFL training camps get underway next month, we’ll be taking a closer look at the top 2015 cap hits for teams around the league. We began our series last week by focusing on the NFC East and AFC East divisions, and looked at the NFC North yesterday. Today, we’ll head back to the AFC to examine the AFC North.

Listed below are the top 10 cap hits for the coming season for each of the four AFC North franchises, accompanied by some observations on the spending habits of those clubs. Let’s dive in….

Baltimore Ravens:

  1. Joe Flacco, QB: $14,550,000
  2. Ray Rice, RB: $9,500,000 (dead money)
  3. Lardarius Webb, CB: $9,250,000
  4. Marshal Yanda, G: $8,450,000
  5. Eugene Monroe, LT: $7,700,000
  6. Haloti Ngata, DT: $7,500,000 (dead money)
  7. Elvis Dumervil, OLB: $7,375,000
  8. Dennis Pitta, TE: $6,200,000
  9. Steve Smith, WR: $4,166,666
  10. Terrell Suggs, OLB: $3,950,000
    Total: $78,641,666

The Ravens have a good chunk of money tied up in players no longer on the roster or coming off injury-plagued seasons. Health issues slowed Webb and Monroe in 2014, while Pitta’s career could be in jeopardy following the latest procedure on his hip.

Still, most of the players who have top-10 cap hits – at least those still on the roster – are among Baltimore’s top contributors. The club may have to address a number of the contracts near the top of the list after the season, if not before then, as Yanda is entering a contract year while Flacco’s cap charge soars to $28MM+ in 2015.

One contract the team already addressed in recent months was Webb’s, though it remains to be seen if the team will want to commit $9.5MM in cap room to him in 2016, with fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith set to count for $9.6MM. Another restructure may be necessary for Webb to stick around.

Cincinnati Bengals:

  1. A.J. Green, WR: $10,176,000
  2. Andy Dalton, QB: $9,600,000
  3. Leon Hall, CB: $9,600,000
  4. Geno Atkins, DT: $9,000,000
  5. Rey Maualuga, LB: $7,137,500
  6. Andre Smith, RT: $6,362,500
  7. Andrew Whitworth, LT: $6,200,000
  8. Vontaze Burfict, LB: $5,175,000
  9. Clint Boling, G: $5,100,000
  10. Carlos Dunlap, DE: $4,900,000
    Total: $73,251,000

Few teams have managed their cap better than the Bengals in recent years, and their combined cap charge for their top highest-paid players is relatively modest compared to their division rivals. Not only does Cincinnati not have any dead-money players in its top 10, but the entire sum of the dead money on the team’s cap for 2015 works out to a minuscule $800K.

Despite their impressive cap management, the Bengals haven’t been able to make a deep playoff run, and typically Dalton is assigned the blame for the club’s postseason shortcomings. For now, his cap number is fairly modest, but his new contract is structured in such a way that the Bengals will be able to move on from him if they want to in future years, as his cap charge increases to the $15-17MM per year range.

Out of all 16 East and North teams we’ve examined so far, no club has a smaller No. 1 cap hit than the Bengals, with Green barely cracking eight digits. That figure could end up going even lower, since the star wideout is entering a contract year and is considered a strong candidate for an extension — a new deal might reduce his 2015 cap number, depending on how Cincinnati structures it.

Cleveland Browns:

  1. Joe Haden, CB: $11,700,000
  2. Joe Thomas, LT: $10,200,000
  3. Paul Kruger, OLB: $8,200,000
  4. Alex Mack, C: $8,000,000
  5. Desmond Bryant, DL: $7,000,000
  6. Donte Whitner, S: $6,750,000
  7. Tramon Williams, CB: $6,500,000
  8. Karlos Dansby, LB: $5,500,000
  9. Phil Taylor, DT: $5,477,000
  10. Andrew Hawkins, WR: $5,000,000
    Total: $74,327,000

Like the Bengals, the Browns have avoided taking on significant dead-money charges, but Cleveland’s top-10 list is still rather unusual. Dominated by defensive players, the list features only three offensive players, and two of them are linemen.

The only offensive skill-position player on Cleveland’s list isn’t a quarterback — it’s Hawkins, whose contract is heavily front-loaded, since he was signed as a restricted free agent and the Browns didn’t want the Bengals to match his offer sheet. After sneaking into the club’s top 10 cap hits this year, Hawkins will see his cap number dip to $1MM in 2016.

Had we extended the list to a top 15, two other offensive veterans would’ve made the cut: wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and quarterback Josh McCown, who will likely be the team’s starter this fall.

Pittsburgh Steelers:

  1. Ben Roethlisberger, QB: $17,245,000
  2. Lawrence Timmons, LB: $12,566,250
  3. Antonio Brown, WR: $9,787,500
  4. LaMarr Woodley, OLB: $8,580,000 (dead money)
  5. Cortez Allen, CB: $6,981,000
  6. Cameron Heyward, DL: $6,969,000
  7. Heath Miller, TE: $5,666,666
  8. Troy Polamalu, S: $4,500,000 (dead money)
  9. Maurkice Pouncey, C: $4,296,000
  10. Shaun Suisham, K: $3,665,000
    Total: $80,256,416

After a pair of 8-8 seasons, the Steelers bounced back in 2014 to win the division, but you wouldn’t know it to look at this list. Pittsburgh has committed more than $80MM in cap room to its top 10 players, more than any other club in the division, and there are some questionable names amongst those top 10.

Timmons is the league’s highest-paid inside linebacker, with a cap number way above the typical figures for the position; Woodley and Polamalu are no longer on the roster; Allen is coming off a disappointing season; and Suisham is the only kicker to rank among his team’s top 10 cap numbers in the division.

Despite all that, the presence of Pro Bowlers like Roethlisberger, Brown, and Pouncey salvages the Steelers’ list. Those players, along with Suisham, are among the league’s best at their respective positions, which makes it a little easier for the club to stomach some misuses of cap room elsewhere on the roster.

Information from Over the Cap was used in the creation of this post.

2015 Supplemental Draft Set For July 9

The 2015 NFL supplemental draft will take place on July 9, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). As Rapoport notes, with some intriguing prospects eligible to be selected in this year’s supplemental draft, we could have our first player selected since the Browns picked Josh Gordon in 2012.

The supplemental draft allows clubs to select players who for some reason were unable to enter the standard draft; academic trouble or disciplinary issues are often – but not always – key factors. If a team selects a player in the supplementary draft, it will lose its corresponding pick in the following year’s standard draft. For example, if a club were to select a player in the fourth round of the supplemental, it will lose its 2016 fourth-rounder as a result.

Most players who enter the supplemental draft ultimately go undrafted, allowing them to become free agents and sign with any team. That has been the case over the last two years, as supplemental draft day came and went without any selections. The last two players to be picked were Terrelle Pryor (third round, 2011) by the Raiders and Gordon (second round, 2012).

So far, four players are known to have declared for the 2015 supplemental draft: Clemson offensive tackle Isaiah Battle, West Georgia defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey, West Georgia defensive end Darrius Caldwell, and North Carolina Central receiver Adrian Wilkins. Battle, in particular, is viewed as a strong candidate to come off the board, as we heard last week.

Meanwhile, according to Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, the two West Georgia prospects are scheduled to work out for NFL scouts this Thursday afternoon. Per Wilson, 20 NFL teams have indicated that they plan to attend the session.

NFC East Links: Thurmond, RGIII, Mathews

After rounding up some AFC East notes this morning, we’re shifting our focus to the NFC East, where we have items on all four clubs…

  • Heading into this year’s free agent period began, there was no chance of Walter Thurmond re-signing with the Giants, and Jordan Raanan of NJ.com wonders if some recent comments Thurmond made about coach Tom Coughlin provide a clue for why the cornerback didn’t want to remain in New York.
  • John Keim of ESPN.com liked the work Washington did this offseason, giving the team a grade of A-minus for its moves. However, he’s still taking a wait-and-see approach to the 2015 season, noting that its not clear yet if the club has a long-term answer at head coach or quarterback.
  • Speaking of Washington‘s quarterback, Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com wonders how much Robert Griffin III will benefit this season from the club’s improved offensive line.
  • While the Eagles‘ signing of DeMarco Murray earned most of the headlines in Philadelphia this offseason, Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap thinks the team’s deal with Ryan Mathews is one of the best running back bargains in the NFL.
  • After signing a new contract with the Cowboys this offseason, wide receiver Cole Beasley recognizes that the team has higher expectations for him, but tells Nick Eatman of DallasCowboys.com that he’s approaching the 2015 season with the same mentality he always has, since “no one expects more from me than I do” (transcript via the Dallas Morning News).

AFC East Notes: Brady, Dareus, Bills

If Tom Brady is exonerated in the DeflateGate case by the NFL or the outside legal system, could the Patriots quarterback could get some payback against the league in the form of a defamation suit? Christopher Price of WEEI.com explores the issue, noting that legal analyst Michael McCann recently indicated it would be a tough suit to win.

“Brady would need to show that not only were public statements made about him false and damaging to his reputation, but he’d have to show those statements were made with actual malice, which means knowingly or intentionally,” McCann said. “In other words, if the Wells Report contained reputationally-damaging inaccuracies or lies about Brady, that would not be enough for Brady to prevail in a defamation lawsuit.”

Here’s more from around the AFC East:

  • The Bills have said one of their top priorities this year is to lock up Marcell Dareus to a long-term extension, and the defensive tackle sounds like he’d like to stay in Buffalo. Speaking to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, Dareus praised the work done in recent years by GM Doug Whaley and president Russ Brandon: “We’ve got a better locker room, a better team atmosphere, and the organization is slowly but surely changing altogether. … We’re just enjoying it all.”
  • It would be easy to assume the Bills‘ starting quarterback battle is a two-man race between Matt Cassel and EJ Manuel, the two signal-callers with starting experience. But Rex Ryan‘s fondness for Tyrod Taylor, along with the fact that no one separate himself from the pack during offseason practices, means the former Raven could challenge for the job, writes Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News. The club’s quarterback competition was the subject of one of our Community Tailgate discussions earlier this month.
  • The Jets, Dolphins, and Bills were among the NFL’s most active teams this offseason as they tried to load up to topple the Patriots in the AFC East. However, according to ESPN’s future power rankings, New England is still the team in the best shape for the next three seasons, by a comfortable margin. In the Insider-only feature, the Pats placed third among NFL teams, while the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills rank 21st, 23rd, and 26th, respectively.

Zach Links contributed to this post.