Month: February 2017

Extra Points: Pats, Saints, Jets, Browns

There was a report Sunday stating that Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler‘s absence from voluntary OTAs pertained to his desire to land a new contract. That isn’t the case, according to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, who tweets that Butler will report to Gillette Stadium for OTAs this week. His arrival will come as welcome news to the Patriots, whose defense Butler became an integral part of last season. On the heels of serving as an unlikely Super Bowl XLIX hero in the Pats’ dramatic win over the Seahawks in February 2015, the 26-year-old Butler broke out in earnest during a 16-start campaign, totaling 67 tackles and two interceptions. Butler is now scheduled to rake in $600K in 2016 before becoming a restricted free agent.

More from around the NFL:

  • The Seahawks’ Brandon Browner spent 2015 as a member of the Saints, with whom he rated as Pro Football Focus’ worst qualifying corner (113th overall) and set the league’s single-season penalty record. Browner’s on-field troubles led the Saints to release him earlier this offseason, and now the 31-year-old has offered some choice words regarding the organization. Browner called the team “weak” on Instagram, and the defender said he took New Orleans’ $5MM and “ran with it” (per Christopher Dabe of NOLA.com). Browner, by the way, will return to the Big Easy this fall for an Oct. 30 matchup between the Seahawks and Saints.
  • With the Jets and free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick still at loggerheads over a contract, Brian Costello of the New York Post offers a potential solution – a one-year, $12MM deal that’s fully guaranteed. The Jets are already willing to give Fitzpatrick that total in 2016, but they also want to lock him up for 2017 and ’18 at a combined $12MM more. A single-year pact wouldn’t be ideal for the Jets, concedes Costello, but it would hand them another season to evaluate Fitzpatrick and develop Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty behind him. Meanwhile, it would give Fitzpatrick an opportunity to build on the success he had in 2015 and try to garner a better multiyear offer than the one the Jets are currently presenting him.
  • The Browns announced several changes within their player personnel department Tuesday, awarding promotions to six members of their staff and hiring a new assistant director of scouting. Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal has a full rundown of the moves.
  • The Saints have hired Steve Malin and C.J. Leak as area scouts, tweets Mike Stratton of Inside The League. Malin was previously with the Giants for 15 seasons, while Leak worked for the Bills for eight years (via Katherine Terrell of NOLA.com).

NFC Notes: 49ers, Falcons, Eagles

After enduring months of trade rumors that ultimately didn’t lead anywhere, quarterback Colin Kaepernick has attended every 49ers workout since their program began April 4 and is poised to collect a $400K bonus, reports Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com. Kaepernick must partake in 90 percent of the team’s workouts to earn that money, which he’s on his way to accomplishing despite not yet having been cleared for football activity since undergoing surgery on a torn left labrum in November. In lieu of actually participating on the field, Kaepernick has lined up 10 yards behind the quarterback during drills and gone through the footwork and “mental reps,” writes Maiocco, who adds that the 28-year-old should be ready to go by training camp. Kaepernick is expected to compete with Blaine Gabbert this summer for the 49ers’ starting job.

Here’s more from San Francisco and two other NFC cities:

  • Former NFL head coach and current analyst Mike Nolan says the Falcons should sign Dwight Freeney to improve their pass rush, as Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com writes. “Look, they are in dire need in Atlanta. If they screw up again this year, there will probably be huge change. They’ve got to do whatever they’ve got to do. In my opinion, they shouldn’t care who they bring on, because they’ve got to save their asses. If that’s the case, then bring Freeney on,” Nolan said. “If this was the New England Patriots, they’re not going to bring (Freeney) in. This would be a desperation move for Atlanta, but they’re in a desperate situation.” The 36-year-old Freeney visited Atlanta last week. This offseason, the Falcons added veteran Derrick Shelby and they’re expecting a big season from second-year linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., but they didn’t do much to improve their pass rush overall.
  • 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis still hasn’t filed for reinstatement from the NFL’s reserve/retired list, according to Maiocco. Davis sat out last season and then tweeted in January that his return to San Francisco was “guaranteed.” The 26-year-old backed that up in April, but he took a shot at 49ers general manager Trent Baalke in the process. That continued a few weeks later when Davis wrote, do not want to work with a front office or anyone else who seemingly doesn’t want to win as bad as I do.” If he does come back, Davis will be under 49ers control through the 2019 season. After the Niners used a first-round pick on him in 2010, Davis started in all 71 of his pre-retirement appearances.
  • With Chase Daniel having familiarized himself with Eagles head coach Doug Pederson‘s offense during their time together in Kansas City from 2013-15, it’s no surprise that they signed the quarterback at the outset of free agency. However, having also re-signed prospective starter Sam Bradford and moved up in the draft to select Carson Wentz second overall, Mike Sielski of the Philadelphia Inquirer wonders why the Eagles are dedicating significant financial resources to Daniel. Despite the fact that Daniel has thrown just 77 passes in six NFL seasons, the Eagles will pay him $12MM in guarantees on his three-year deal. That might’ve made sense had the Eagles let Bradford go and used Daniel as a bridge to Wentz, Sielski argues. Bradford will instead fill that role, though, making Daniel’s presence seem somewhat superfluous.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Broncos Notes: Siemian, Marshall, Latimer

Although Mark Sanchez and Paxton Lynch are generating the vast majority of attention at quarterback for the Broncos, the door is also open for second-year man Trevor Siemian to start. “I think Trevor has a maturity to him. He’s kind of the sleeper, I would say. Trevor knows the offense. He’s very comfortable and can throw the ball too,” head coach Gary Kubiak said (via Troy Renck of the Denver Post). Kubiak added that he “wouldn’t sleep on Trevor to win the job.” A seventh-round pick from Northwestern in 2015, the strong-armed Siemian appeared in one game as a rookie, but he didn’t attempt a pass.

Here’s more on the defending Super Bowl champions:

  • Linebacker Brandon Marshall told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Tuesday that negotiations on a long-term contract “are going well,” though he’s prepared to sign his one-year, $2.533MM restricted free agent tender if a deal isn’t struck. “I have no problem playing the deal out, I have no problem with doing that. But I do want to be here long-term, so that’s what I’m working towards, but I have no problem playing it out,” he stated. Earlier this month, PFR’s Sam Robinson examined what a new contract might look like for Marshall.
  • Third-year receiver Cody Latimer was arrested Monday in Colorado for failing to pay a year-old traffic ticket, according to KUSA. Latimer called the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office to report a domestic dispute, accusing his girlfriend, Jaimee Rando, of putting “her hands on” him. A background check revealed that Latimer didn’t show up for an April 2015 court date regarding a ticket, which led police to arrest him. He settled the matter by paying $311.50. Rando, meanwhile, was arrested for assault and disturbing the peace, and Latimer bailed her out of jail Tuesday.
  • In case you missed it, Sanchez spoke Monday about how he’s fitting in with the Broncos thus far.

Minor NFL Transactions: 5/31/16

Today’s minor moves:

  • To fill the void left by Tim Wrightwho landed on IR today – the Lions will sign free agent tight end Ben McCord, tweets Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. McCord went undrafted this year out of Central Michigan.
  • The Cowboys have signed their two fourth-round picks, defensive end Charles Tapper and quarterback Dak Prescott, reports Todd Archer of ESPN.com. As a result, their only unsigned selection remaining from this year’s class is third-round defensive tackle Maliek Collins. Prescott, the more notable of today’s signings in terms of name recognition, was a three-year starter at Mississippi State and served as a major dual-threat weapon for the Bulldogs, totaling 111 touchdowns as a passer (70) and rusher (41). Tapper appeared in 39 games with Oklahoma in three seasons and piled up 13.5 sacks and 24 tackles for loss.
  • The Cardinals have cut offensive tackle Edawn Coughman, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Arizona signed the 27-year-old in January, and he previously spent time with seven other NFL organizations. He hasn’t yet appeared in a game, however.
  • The Titans have signed second-round outside linebacker Kevin Dodd, as Jim Wyatt of Titans Online writes. Nine of the team’s ten draft picks have now reached deals with the team and safety Kevin Byard stands as the lone straggler. Dodd, who recorded 12 sacks last season at Clemson, has been sidelined from OTAs after undergoing foot surgery last week. The Titans have high hopes for Dodd and so does veteran Brian Orakpo. “He is just a natural pass rusher,’’ Orakpo said of Dodd. “He knows how to get after the quarterback. I love what he brings to the table. I am very excited to have him on the team. He is going to make everyone better, and we’re going to get him better and he is going to help the pass rush.”
  • The Texans have waived offensive lineman David Quessenberry with a Non-Football Injury designation, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Quessenberry has battled cancer in the past. The Texans are hoping to have him back in some capacity if he clears waivers, Tania Ganguli of ESPN.com writes. Houston could place him on the NFI list if he clears waivers. Alternatively, the team could welcome him back in a non-playing role. The Texans re-did Quessenberry’s deal on April 20th to include a full salary split, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. If and when Quessenberry lands on the team’s NFI list, he’ll earn $333K in 2016.
  • The Vikings have signed defensive lineman Bruce Gaston and waived/injured fellow defensive tackle B.J. Dubose, Matt Vensel of the Star-Tribune tweets. Dubose tore his ACL last week. Gaston made Green Bay’s opening day roster in 2015 and he’ll now try to do the same with an NFC North rival.

Latest On Chargers’ Stadium Pursuit

In April, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell endorsed the idea of keeping the Chargers in San Diego and said the Super Bowl will return to the city if an initiative for a downtown stadium goes through. However, the prospect of hosting a Super Bowl isn’t nearly as enticing as it sounds and might not be much of an incentive to the city of San Diego, according to Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link).

It costs a community anywhere from $50MM to $60MM in public and private funds to land a Super Bowl, a source told Cole, who adds that San Diego doesn’t have that type of money to bid on the game once – let alone on a regular basis. Thus, dangling the carrot of hosting the Super Bowl in front of the city won’t necessarily galvanize it to build a stadium, which would put the Chargers in further jeopardy of relocating after the upcoming season.

The Chargers, of course, could have bolted (no pun intended) with the Rams for Los Angeles during the winter, but they chose to give San Diego one more shot at a stadium agreement. The clock on a deal is ticking, though, as the Chargers’ chance to head to LA will expire on Jan. 15, 2017.

The Goodell-led NFL is willing to chip in $300MM ($100MM more than its usual policy) to help San Diego construct a stadium, and the Chargers’ plan calls for a combined $650MM to come from the team and the league, with an additional $350MM stemming from a 4 percent hike in the local hotel tax. That would add up to $1 billion, the amount necessary to build the stadium, though it remains to be seen if the city is receptive to the idea.

Ryan Fitzpatrick Content To Wait Out Jets

Free agent quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is content to wait until training camp, if necessary, before signing his next deal, says Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). The Jets, whom Fitzpatrick spent last season with and are hoping to re-sign him, unsurprisingly want to lock up the signal-caller well before camp.

While the Jets’ goal is to have Fitzpatrick back in their uniform as soon as possible, there remains a wide chasm between the Ryan Fitzpatrick (Vertical)two sides with respect to the 33-year-old’s value. The Jets reportedly offered Fitzpatrick a three-year, $24MM deal that could be worth up to $36MM with incentives. In terms of annual value, $8MM would place Fitzpatrick in company with offseason free agent signings Robert Griffin III ($7.5MM) and Chase Daniel ($7MM) – neither of whom has been nearly as successful as Fitzpatrick in the NFL. While the Jets’ reported offer features upward of $15MM in guarantees, Cole notes that amount isn’t fully guaranteed.

Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, is looking for a mean yearly value in the range of $12MM to $16MM, according to Cole, and would like a contract with the upside of $16MM to $20MM per annum with incentives factored into it. At his current asking price, Fitzpatrick would reside in similar territory to Nick Foles ($12.25MM) and Andy Dalton ($16MM).

After the Jets acquired Fitzpatrick from the Texans last year for a mere late-round pick, he went on to have his best season for a 10-6 club that narrowly missed the playoffs. The career journeyman unexpectedly totaled personal highs in touchdowns (31) and yards (3,905), and is now angling to parlay that showing into a contract reflective of it.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Lions’ Tim Wright Clears Waivers, Goes To IR With Torn ACL

Tight end Tim Wright cleared waivers today and will remain with the Lions, who placed him on injured reserve with a torn ACL (Twitter links via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com and Adam Caplan of ESPN.com). Despite re-signing Wright in March, the Lions waived/injured him on Thursday, though it wasn’t made public at the time that he had such a serious knee issue. "<strong

The 26-year-old Wright, whom Detroit acquired from Tampa Bay for kicker Kyle Brindza last August, racked up just nine catches in as many appearances for the Lions in 2015. He was more relied on in Tampa and New England, respectively, combining for 80 grabs and 11 touchdowns in 32 appearances (10 starts) from 2013-14. Wright’s best individual campaign came as a rookie for the Buccaneers, with whom he amassed career highs in targets (76), receptions (54), scores (five), yards (571) and per-catch average (10.6). After a year with the Patriots, who traded guard Logan Mankins and a fourth-round pick for him, Wright returned to the Bucs on waivers last offseason before they shipped him to the Motor City.

With Wright out of the equation for 2016, the Lions’ tight end depth chart currently consists of Eric Ebron, Brandon Pettigrew, Matthew Mulligan, and a pair of rookies in Adam Fuehne and Cole Wick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Kelly, Redskins, Hall

Some players have been critical of former Eagles coach Chip Kelly, but wide receiver Jordan Matthews isn’t in that camp. At the same time, he readily admits that there are major differences between Kelly and new coach Doug Pederson (via CSNPhilly.com). Jordan Matthews (vertical)

It’s crazy. Growing up in Alabama, you’re around a bunch of the country, family guys and that’s definitely Doug. But I also spent some time at Vanderbilt with the smart guys and that’s Chip, so I’ve basically had a Doug Pederson and a Chip Kelly in my lifetime just from my years of playing football,” Matthews said. “I know people like to compare and do all that kind of stuff, but it’s apples and oranges. Chip, when I was playing for him, he was a new head coach, and now it’s the same way with Doug and he’s going to do some things different than maybe what people (have) seen in the past. But I’ve had great experiences with both of them. I feel like I’m extremely lucky I’ve had the opportunity to work with both these guys.”

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • The Eagles‘ lack of depth at linebacker means that some of the team’s rookies will have a better chance at making the roster, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Last year, outside linebackers Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks combined to miss 15 games, which means that the team’s depth at those positions will be critical. Behind those three, Najee Goode‘s spot is virtually guaranteed while Ty Powell and Deontae Skinner will have to play their way onto the roster, despite also having NFL experience. Seventh-round pick Joe Walker is also in the mix, but his late-round status means that he is far from a lock. With uncertainty on the depth chart, the door is open for UDFAs Myke Tavarres and Quentin Gause.
  • Redskins veteran DeAngelo Hall is getting more comfortable at safety, Tarik El-Bashir of CSNMidAtlantic.com writes. The 32-year-old was asked to switch to safety when he returned from injury in Week 10 after Chris Culliver and Bashaud Breeland solidified themselves at cornerback. This year, Hall is hoping to excel in his transition to safety like Charles Woodson, Rod Woodson, and Ronde Barber did before him.
  • Former Giants and Eagles defensive back Walter Thurmond will retire from the NFL. Thurmond, who joined the Eagles a year ago as a cornerback, ended up starting 16 games for the first time in his career while also playing safety for the first time. He excelled at the new position, picking up 71 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus’ grades backed up his solid stat line, as he ranked 26th out of 88 qualified safeties.

AFC East Notes: Jets, Fitzpatrick, Dolphins

The Jets should call Ryan Fitzpatrick‘s bluff, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk opines. Some fear that Fitzpatrick could take a lesser offer from another team on principle, but Florio says that no one is going to offer the veteran anything of significance here in late May. While the Jets haven’t offered enough to entice Fitzpatrick to sign, he feels that they have accurately read the market for his services because no one else has even come close.

Here’s more from the AFC East:

Walter Thurmond To Retire

Cornerback Walter Thurmond is set to announce his retirement, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter). The news doesn’t come as a major surprise since it is quite late in the offseason and the veteran has reportedly turned down offers of $4MM+ per year. "<strong

[RELATED: Is Carson Wentz Learning Plays Faster Than Sam Bradford?]

Thurmond has spent six seasons in the NFL with the Eagles, Giants, and Seahawks. The defensive back is only 28 years old, but he has decided to walk away from the game. Thurmond, who joined the Eagles a year ago as a cornerback, ended up starting 16 games for the first time in his career while also playing safety for the first time. He excelled at the new position, picking up 71 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. Pro Football Focus’ grades backed up his solid stat line, as he ranked 26th out of 88 qualified safeties.

Thurmond has interests outside of football – including filmmaking – and has talked in the past about having to reconsider his NFL future if he suffers another serious injury. Now, he will have plenty of time to pursue his non-football related passions.

The Eagles moved on from Thurmond rather quickly this spring, having signed Rodney McLeod to pair with the recently-extended Malcolm Jenkins at safety. Heading into the offseason, we ranked Thurmond as the No. 6 safety on the free agent market behind George Iloka, Eric Weddle, McLeod, Tashaun Gipson, and Reggie Nelson.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.