Month: August 2018

Extra Points: Gates, Ray, Giants, Cowboys

Last week, news broke that the Chargers and Antonio Gates would not reunite for a 16th season. The Bolts confirmed this on Monday.

Antonio is not only one of the best Chargers of all-time, but he’s one of the best football players in the history of our game,” Tom Telesco said, via Ricky Henne of Chargers.com. “He has meant so much to this organization — both on the field, off the field, in San Diego, in Los Angeles — and we can’t say enough about the type of person he is, and player.

“These decisions are really, really difficult. … There aren’t many guys like him that come along, and I’ve been doing this for 20 years and have had a chance to be around some special players — some special Hall of Fame players — but nobody greater than what he did at his position.”

The Chargers signed former Broncos starter Virgil Green this offseason, and the blocking tight end will pair with Hunter Henry. Gates wants to catch on elsewhere and play what would be his age-38 season. His 114 touchdown receptions are the most by a tight end in NFL history and sixth all-time for any pass-catcher.

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Another AFC West team has a decision regarding a player’s future due soon, and the Bradley Chubb pick may be clouding the Broncos‘ fifth-year option choice on Shane Ray. It’s far from a certainty the Broncos pick up Ray’s 2019 option, James Palmer of NFL.com tweets. Prior to the draft, Ray expected the Broncos to pick up his option — worth $9.232MM. John Elway did not reveal which way he was leaning, and that was before Chubb’s arrival. A 2015 first-round pick, Ray has enjoyed intermittent success, registering eight sacks in 2016, but has missed time due to injuries in 2015 and ’17. Denver also has contract-year outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett on its roster. The Broncos won’t be able to retain both after this season, and keeping either may prove difficult now that Chubb’s in the mix. Denver is projected to possess $28MM-plus in 2019 cap space but has UFAs-to-be like Barrett, Matt Paradis and Bradley Roby potentially on the docket to comprise some of those available dollars.
  • Dave Gettleman didn’t seem too interested in the interest that came his way for the No. 2 pick, but the Giants‘ first-year GM did tell WFAN (via Ryan Dunleavy of NJ.com, on Twitter) one team made a respectable offer. It’s uncertain which team supplied such a proposal, but before the draft, a report emerged indicating the Broncos had interest in moving up to No. 2. Elway held Sam Darnold atop his quarterback-prospect hierarchy but elected to stay put and take Chubb.
  • For now, Connor Williams will try to win the Cowboys‘ starting left guard job, Dallas VP of player personnel Will McClay confirmed during a Sirius XM Radio interview (Twitter link). But the Texas tackle will also be viewed as depth behind Tyron Smith and La’el Collins, the latter of whom has multiple years of experience as the Cowboys’ left guard starter. The Cowboys struggled to replace Ronald Leary at left guard last season, and Jonathan Cooper ventured to the 49ers in free agency.

Minor NFL Transactions: 4/30/18

Here are Monday’s minor moves.

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

  • Signed: G Dustin Stanton

Houston Texans

Minnesota Vikings

Philadelphia Eagles

  • Waived/Injured: CB Elie Bouka

San Francisco 49ers

Tennessee Titans

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Waived: OL Avery Young

Washington Redskins

Packers Waive QB Joe Callahan

Joe Callahan‘s bounced on and off the Packers’ 53-man roster the past two seasons, but he fell victim to a post-draft roster squeeze this year.

The Packers waived the third-year quarterback on Monday. They are now down to three passers on their offseason roster: Aaron Rodgers, Brett Hundley and DeShone Kizer. Callahan served as Green Bay’s third quarterback over the past two seasons, continuing to vacillate between 53-man roster cog and practice squad occupant.

The Division III product was Hundley’s backup last season and played in one game, but his path back to that spot is more complex now that Kizer’s in the picture. It’s possible the Packers could reacquire Callahan as they’ve done in the past, but for now, he’s on the waiver wire.

As a rookie, Callahan saw the Packers, Saints and Browns waive him. He ended up back in Green Bay and remained there for the rest of the 2016 season and throughout last year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC Draft Fallout: Browns, Jackson, Colts

The Browns listened to offers for their No. 4 overall pick, but the talks for that spot did not escalate too far. Four teams contacted John Dorsey about potentially moving into that position, Peter King of SI.com reports, noting just one offered a package including a 2019 first-rounder. King estimates the Cardinals were that team. However, Dorsey said the franchise interested in moving up to No. 4 was interested in a quarterback that the Browns GM knew going to be available.

I’m coming up for one player and one player only, and that’s Baker Mayfield.” the anonymous exec told Dorsey, who relayed this to King. “I knew all along it wasn’t going to happen.”

Mayfield visited the Cardinals before the draft, and while it’s uncertain if they were the team that offered a 2019 first-rounder, their No. 15 draft position being the lowest of the QB-needy teams would make such a proposal logical. Arizona ended up with Josh Rosen, moving up five spots without having to sacrifice a first- or second-round pick to do so.

Here’s more from Cleveland and the rest of the latest draft fallout.

  • New Browns vice president of football operations Alonzo Highsmith said for months he had Sam Darnold rated ahead of Baker Mayfield in a succession that went Darnold, Mayfield, Rosen, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. But Mayfield’s visit changed the new Cleveland exec’s tune. “From the start of this college football season to the end of the season, I had Darnold No. 1 and Baker No. 2On our way through everything, you couldn’t tell me Darnold wasn’t the best,” Highsmith said (via Steve Doerschuk of the Canton Repository). “Then comes the part where you meet them off the field. You watch their workouts. You watch everything. And Baker blew me away. Highly, highly intelligent. Highly competitive. And he had a trait that some of the good ones have. I call it efficacy. That includes the power to effect other people. I thought that of all the quarterbacks I watched, he stood out far and above the other guys. When he walked into a room, you knew he was there.”
  • Lamar Jackson‘s pre-draft process did not go smoothly, with CBS Sports’ Joel Corry reporting teams had trouble scheduling workouts and meetings with him. The quarterback also experienced difficulties breaking down plays on teams’ whiteboards at the Combine. Corry notes Jackson’s decision to not hire an agent could have cost him some money on his rookie contract, with the Ravens being able to get him at No. 32 after a contingent in their draft room lobbied for him at 16.
  • Chris Ballard said, via Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star, the Colts‘ decision to make Quenton Nelson this year’s No. 6 overall pick was the easiest draft decision he’d made in 19 years (Twitter link). However, if Bradley Chubb would have remained on the board, Ballard admitted (via Holder, on Twitter) it would have been a much tougher call. Had the Broncos and Bills been able to swing a deal, the Colts would have been faced with that decision. But when the Bills contacted the Colts about a trade for No. 6, Ballard appeared to intimate he was fixated on Nelson.
  • Fort Hays State defensive tackle Nathan Shepherd will be stationed at defensive end in the Jets‘ 3-4 scheme, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News notes. Despite weighing 315 pounds, Shepherd will be in line to potentially take Muhammad Wilkerson‘s spot opposite Leonard Williams come training camp.

Cowboys Balked At Trading Second-Rounder For Earl Thomas

Earl Thomas appears to be staying put in Seattle, but the Cowboys’ discussions about a deal that would send the All-Pro safety to Dallas hit a snag when the prospect of second-round compensation surfaced.

The Cowboys did not want to surrender their 2018 second-round pick for Thomas, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports. While a third-rounder and “a lot more” may have been enough to seal this deal, per Rapoport, the sides could not come to an agreement and Thomas remains a Seahawk.

Dallas ended up taking Connor Williams with the No. 50 overall pick. Thomas is entering his age-29 season and has one more year remaining on his contract. Should he reach free agency in 2019, it’s possible the Cowboys could pursue him again then. But for now, the three-time All-Pro remains as the centerpiece of the revamped Seattle secondary.

John Schneider characterized Thomas-centric trade talks as discussions that did not reach the final stages. The Seahawks had set a higher price — reportedly at a first- and third-round pick — for Thomas in the weeks leading up to the draft, but it appears they lowered their price come draft weekend. But no team was willing to meet the reduced asking price.

Set to move Byron Jones to cornerback, the Cowboys are rather thin at safety. They are on the lookout for veteran help at the position, per Jerry Jones.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Giants Shopped Ereck Flowers During Draft

Ereck Flowers remains on the Giants’ roster, but the team’s interest in moving him accelerated during draft weekend. But the Giants did not find a taker.

New York was seeking a mid-round pick for its 2015 first-round selection, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com reports, adding one team considered that price “significantly” too steep for its liking.

The Giants’ left tackle starter for the past three seasons, Flowers is currently in line to compete for the team’s right tackle job. Raanan adds the Giants are not expected to pick up the ex-Miami standout’s fifth-year option. That would make 2018 a contract year, should Flowers even be part of the Giants this season.

Flowers has not shown up for Giants workouts yet, opting instead to train in Miami. Raanan notes the Giants are reluctant to cut him at this point because of league-wide issues teams are having locating tackle help. A 2017 UDFA, Chad Wheeler as of now looms as Flowers’ primary competition, with Raanan adding 2017 sixth-round pick Adam Bisnowaty could factor into this mix potentially. It would place some dead money on the Giants’ balance sheet if they waive Flowers, but the team would save $2.2MM if it parted ways with him prior to this season.

Some Giants offensive linemen didn’t hold Flowers in high regard last season, one that ended with a controversial DNP in Week 17. Raanan didn’t rule out the Giants pursuing a free agent option. While it’s a rather grim market, Austin Howard remains available after taking multiple visits this spring.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bills’ Offers Didn’t Include Both First-Round Picks?

Brandon Beane attempted to clarify a few things about his first draft with the Bills, and he offered some detail about what the Bills were and weren’t offering to move up from their No. 12 position.

A report Saturday night indicated the Bills were offering the Broncos both of their 2018 first-round picks in order to move into Denver’s No. 5 spot, but Beane said that wasn’t the case. The second-year GM said Broncos wanted both of the Bills’ first-rounders for the right to move back into the Bills’ No. 12 spot, but he didn’t want to sacrifice both picks to make that move.

However, a report from ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter indicated the Broncos and Bills had a deal in place before the Browns passed on Bradley Chubb. If the Bills didn’t offer Nos. 12 and 22, and reportedly a Round 2 pick as well, to move up, it’s unclear what was the agreed-upon proposal — if, in fact, the sides did have a trade set to transpire if the Browns chose Chubb at No. 4.

Beane also wasn’t willing to part with his 2019 first-rounder. The GM said (via Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News, on Twitter) two teams wanted Buffalo’s 2019 first-round pick, but he did not end up moving it on a night that saw the Bills trade up for Josh Allen without sacrificing the No. 22 pick — which ended up being used to trade back up for Tremaine Edmunds.

The Bills then discussed potential deals with the Colts and Bears before working out a trade package with the Buccaneers.

Five was the spot I thought we could get a reasonable deal, but 5 was gonna cost us pick 22,” Beane said, via One Bills Live (video link). “I had already checked with Indy and knew they had honed in on a guy. They were like, ‘Unless our guy’s gone, we’re picking.’ Tampa had said, ‘We got a guy, and (a trade is) gonna take a lot.’ And Chicago had a guy.

So now you’re creeping close to Miami, who’d been scouting quarterbacks, and Arizona was in range for what they could do. So I was getting very fearful they could creep in and get the guy we wanted.”

It turned out the Buccaneers were willing to move out of No. 7, taking Vita Vea at No. 12, after the Colts selected Quenton Nelson. The Bears ended up with Roquan Smith at No. 8.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

49ers To Pass On Laken Tomlinson’s Option?

The 49ers made the decision to pick up the fifth-year option of their own 2015 first-round pick, signifying Arik Armstead is under control for two more seasons. However, they have another decision to make by Thursday — on the Lions’ 2015 first-round choice — and it doesn’t look like such a move will be in the cards.

San Francisco is set to pass on Laken Tomlinson‘s 2019 option, Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. While the team has until Thursday to finalize its decision, Maiocco and the Sacramento Bee’s Matt Barrows (Twitter link) don’t believe that will happen.

It would cost the 49ers $9.625MM to pick up Tomlinson’s option. That’s slightly more than what Armstead’s will cost, but Tomlinson has been a better bet to be on the field during his career. He started 32 regular-season games for the Lions from 2015-16 and broke with the 49ers’ starters in 15 games last year.

This would make 2o18 a contract year for Tomlinson, who played well for the 2017 49ers and would be an interesting name on the 2019 UFA market if, in fact, he made it there. San Francisco has big money tied to Joe Staley, but his career is winding down. The 49ers signed Weston Richburg this offseason, however, and added Jonathan Cooper on a cheaper veteran accord.

The 49ers are projected to possess more than $54MM next offseason. While it’s too early for that amount to matter too much, it would appear the team could afford to keep Tomlinson in 2019. But it’s not certain he’ll have the same role by then, with Maiocco noting he, Cooper, Zane Beadles and 2017 UDFA Erik Magnuson will compete for the guard spots this summer. However, Tomlinson — acquired for a fifth-round pick in this year’s draft — may have the inside track considering how he performed last season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Exercise Agholor’s 2019 Option

Nelson Agholor‘s breakout 2017 season turned around his career, and the Eagles aren’t going to let 2018 become a contract year for the emerging wide receiver.

Philadelphia will exercise Agholor’s fifth-year option, per Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter), and the USC product will be under team control through 2019.

Agholor stands to earn $9.387MM if he’s on Philly’s roster in 2019. These options are guaranteed for injury only, but it appears a near-certainty that Agholor will be part of the Eagles’ equation in ’19.

The Eagles traded Jordan Matthews to the Bills last summer, largely because of Agholor’s progress en route to commandeering the team’s slot role. He thrived in that capacity during the Eagles’ first Super Bowl championship season, catching 62 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns. Each of those numbers is more than what Agholor totaled in 2015 and ’16 combined.

Both Agholor and Alshon Jeffery are signed through at least 2019 now, furthering the Eagles’ security at wideout when such an arrangement previously didn’t exist entering last season, when Jeffery was on a one-year deal and Agholor teetering on the bust fringe.

49ers Exercise Armstead’s Fifth-Year Option

The 49ers will continue to deploy their tandem of Oregon-developed defensive linemen for the foreseeable future, ensuring Arik Armstead will be under team control through 2019 alongside DeForest Buckner.

Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets the 49ers plan to exercise Armstead’s fifth-year option. The No. 17 selection in the 2015 draft, Armstead has played both defensive tackle and defensive end in his career. And this could make his option amount yet to be determined.

He lined up at end last season in Robert Saleh‘s 4-3, and if that’s his determined position, the 49ers will be tagged with a $9.046MM salary in 2019. However, if he is deemed a defensive tackle, Armstead’s option season will come in at $7.154MM. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle expects (Twitter link) Armstead will earn more than $9MM as an end in 2019, if he’s still on the roster by then.

These options are guaranteed for injury only, so the 49ers could move on from their 2015 first-rounder if they choose. He’d have to be able to pass a physical by the start of the 2019 league year, however, and Armstead has seen injuries cloud his career. The 49ers placed Armstead on IR midway through last season, and he played in just eight games in 2016. Armstead may have to show he can stay healthy this coming season for the 49ers to keep him. Of course, if another injury occurs, and one severe enough to shelve him into March of ’19, they’ll have no choice regardless of his production this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.