Month: February 2019

Landon Collins May Hold Out If Franchised

Giants safety Landon Collins may or may not have cleaned out his locker earlier today, but the 25-year-old defensive back has already made it clear he doesn’t want to be franchise-tagged this offseason. Indeed, Collins may sit out spring and summer practice sessions if he is franchised, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (link via Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com).

The impact of Collins holding out for a long-term deal isn’t exactly clear. For one, many franchise players refuse participate in spring/summer workouts and practices as a way of expressing their frustration with the franchise tender, but few (Le’Veon Bell aside) actually sit out the season. Second, Collins is facing a four-to-six month recovery period after undergoing December surgery for a torn labrum, so he probably won’t be allowed to be on the field until the summer anyway.

The Giants seemingly have expressed no interest in working out a long-term agreement with Collins (reports as far back as November and as recently as this afternoon suggest as much). Therefore, New York has until March 5 to decide whether it wants to deploy the franchise tag — at a cost of around $11.2MM — on Collins.

Collins, a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, has been a full-time starter for the Giants since entering the league. A two-time Pro Bowler, Collins posted 96 tackles, four passes defensed, and a forced fumble in 2018 while grading as the NFL’s 39th-best safety, per Pro Football Focus.

If he does reach the open market, Collins will be among the most-coveted safeties in a crowded positional field. Among the other safeties scheduled to hit free agency are Earl ThomasHa Ha Clinton-DixLamarcus JoynerAdrian Amos, Tyrann Mathieu, and Tre Boston.

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Broncos Haven’t Asked Sanders For Pay Cut

The Broncos have yet not approached Emmanuel Sanders or his agent about taking a pay cut, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. At this time, it sounds like Sanders will be a Bronco in 2019, Pelissero adds. 

Sanders made waves this week when he indicated that he will not consider taking a pay cut from Denver. The Broncos could still theoretically make that request, but as of this writing, they have not done so. Ultimately, Sanders might not have much to worry about as the Broncos appear to still have him in their plans.

Sanders recorded in 71 catches for 868 yards and four touchdowns last season. He also rushed for a touchdown and threw a touchdown pass. Those numbers weren’t in line with his previous career bests, including a 101-catch, 1,404-yard season in 2014, but big numbers were hard to come by on a listless Broncos offense in 2018.

In theory, the Broncos could cut Sanders and save his full $10.25MM salary against the cap while eating his bonus proration of $2,687,500. But, cap space is not at a premium, even when factoring in Joe Flacco’s contract. We should know the score in a matter of weeks – $1.5MM of Sanders’ $10.25MM salary becomes fully guaranteed if the Broncos exercise his option and a decision must be made by March 12.

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Vikings’ Adam Thielen Wants New Deal

Adam Thielen is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. He’s also among the most underpaid players in the league. Thielen’s agent, Blake Baratz, says he’s optimistic about getting an extension hammered out this offseason, but added that his client will not engage in a holdout. 

Adam’s not that type of person,” Baratz told SKOR (via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin). “I would never condone a player to hold out or be disruptive if it wasn’t for a very valid reason, and [what’s not] a valid reason, to me, is both sides working in good faith to come to a conclusion that makes sense for everybody.”

Without a holdout, it’s hard to see the Vikings caving. Thielen’s under-market extension has him under contract for just $5.85MM in base salary this season and $6.5MM in 2020. Often times, teams elect to hold off on extension talks until the final season, meaning that the 28-year-old (29 in August) may have to play out one more season at a bargain rate before pushing for a new deal.

This team has a lot of really good things in place for it, and I know they want to take care of Adam and I know they want Adam there and I know they want to reward Adam,” Baratz said.

Thielen followed up his 91/1,276/4 line in 2017 with a 113/1,373/9 stat line in 2018. The Vikings disappointed on the whole in 2018, but Theilen had an exceptional year en route to his second-straight Pro Bowl appearance.

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Browns Sign WR Jaelen Strong

The Browns have signed wide receiver Jaelen Strong, according to a team announcement. Strong, a former third-round pick, did not play in the 2018 season. 

Strong spent his first two seasons in the NFL with the Texans, but was released by Houston in September of 2017 and landed with the Jaguars as a depth signing. He was activated in the wake of injuries to starters Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns and responded by catching a touchdown pass in the first half. Unfortunately, he went down with a season-ending ACL tear in his left knee in that game. In April of 2018, the Jaguars cut him loose.

If Strong has fully recovered, he could be an intriguing weapon for quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Browns could use some fortification in their receiver group anyway – Jarvis Landry led the way with 81 catches last year, but no other Browns receiver topped 45 grabs.

Strong, an Arizona State product, has played in 20 career games with just three starts. Overall, he’s tallied 31 catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns.

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Giants’ Landon Collins Packs Up Locker?

Giants safety Landon Collins cleaned out his locker at the team facility on Wednesday and said his goodbyes to teammates, coaches, and trainers, Josina Anderson of ESPN.com hears (on Twitter). From what sources tell her, it doesn’t seem like Collins expects to be a Giant for much longer. 

Meanwhile, Collins’ locker appears to be full, according to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY (Twitter link), and sources tell him Collins has not been informed of any decision on whether the team plans to franchise tag him. However, Collins personally took to Twitter and seemed to confirm Anderson’s report.

The stuff in that locker that I have left I do not need 💯,” Collins wrote.

Reading between the lines, it sounds as though Collins is not envisioning a future with the Giants. Still, the ball is really in the Giants’ court. The Giants can keep the safety away from the open market with the franchise tag and attempt to negotiate a long-term deal with him between now and the summer deadline. If no long-term deal is reached and Collins is unwilling to play out the season on the one-year tender, his only real recourse will be to threaten a holdout.

Collins’ 2018 season was cut short by injury and he wound up missing one-quarter of the regular season. All in all, he finished out with 96 tackles, four passes defensed, and a forced fumble.

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Bears To Release TE Dion Sims

The Bears are expected to release tight end Dion Sims, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Sims was due $6MM in 2019, but the Bears will cut him instead of carrying that cap number. 

It’s not an ideal outcome for Sims but, on the plus side, the early release before the start of the league year will give him an early jump on free agency. Sims, 28, is known more for his blocking than his pass catching. In 2017, his first season with the Bears, he reeled in 15 catches for 180 yards and one touchdown. Last year, injuries limited him to just eight games (four starts), and he finished out with two catches for nine yards.

For what it’s worth, Sims’ blocking wasn’t all that exceptional according to the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus. His 68.6 pass blocking score was solid, but his 47.5 run blocking number leaves a bit to be desired. In any case, his 195 snaps were not enough to qualify for PFF’s positional rankings.

By discontinuing Sims’ three-year, $18MM deal a year early, the Bears will carry a dead cap charge of $333K in 2019.

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Latest On Steelers, Antonio Brown

Antonio Brown is on the trade block, but the Steelers won’t just give him away. When speaking with reporters on Wednesday, GM Kevin Colbert made it known that the Steelers will only consider offers with significant draft capital in return. 

By no means are we going to make a trade or any type of move that will not be beneficial to Pittsburgh Steelers organization,” Colbert said (Twitter link via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com).

That same message has also been relayed directly to Brown and his camp, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL.com tweets. Brown, she hears, has been advised to stop airing his grievances in public and to stop hurting his trade value. Ultimately, if the Steelers cannot trade Brown, they say they’ll keep him under contract and aim to mend fences.

“We will not be discounting you on the trade market and we certainly will not be releasing you,” Colbert said of his message to Brown. “All of that being said, we will take a positive approach and if someone has a sincere interest and want to make a move – either a significant pick, set of picks, significant player, and picks, and we think it will benefit the Pittsburgh Steelers in the long run, then we are all in. If not, then we will make that decision at that point.”

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Steelers Won’t Tag Le’Veon Bell

The Steelers are not tagging Le’Veon Bell, according to GM Kevin Colbert. Bell was unlikely to return to Pittsburgh, but there was speculation that the Steelers might employ a transition tag on the running back in order to get something for him via trade

Le’Veon is still a great player. We can’t afford to use any other type of tags. Le’Veon will be an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year,” Colbert said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler).

Nothing has been easy for the Steelers and Bell, and the transition tag would have carried its own complications. For starters, the tag-and-trade scenario would have required Bell’s cooperation, and the running back likely wouldn’t have signed off on a scenario where the Steelers would have had control over his destination. The Steelers also would have pushed for Bell’s tag value to be $9.5MM rather than $14.5MM with the argument that Bell’s 2018 holdout reset the formula.

By allowing Bell to hit unrestricted free agency instead, the Steelers will avoid drama and assure themselves of getting a third-round compensatory pick in the 2020 draft. Conversely, an unmatched transition tag would have left the Steelers with nothing in the way of compensation.

Bell, 27, had 1,291 yards off of a league-high 321 carries in 2017. He also reeled in a career-high 85 catches for 655 yards and scored eleven all-purpose touchdowns. His resume is extremely impressive, but many free agent running backs have been let down by lackluster offers in the past and Bell’s odometer may actually work against him.

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Adrian Amos In Talks With Bears

This year, Adrian Amos profiles as one of the best safeties available in free agency. Ideally, the Bears would like to keep him from the open market, and they’ve opened up talks with 25-year-old to try and keep him in the fold. 

At this point it’s really the waiting game. I want to be back in Chicago. Chicago has been talking back and forth, they want me back,” Amos told SiriusXM. “But we’ll see how things shake out. Nothing is certain right now. It’s still a little early. Over the next couple weeks, I guess we’ll find out a lot more.”

Amos, 26 in April, enjoyed the best season of his career at the perfect time. Starting in all 16 games, Amos finished out with 73 tackles, two interceptions, nine passes defensed, a fumble recovery, and a sack. The advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus positioned Amos as the eighth-best safety in the NFL last year, though he placed even higher in 2017.

For his part, Amos says he’d like to return to Chicago.

I would like to be back, but the business part of it, it’s complicated sometimes,” Amos said. “Things still could happen, but I have to be prepared for all scenarios. I’m not writing anything off and that was the team I was drafted to as well. There could be a chance that I’m back and there could be a chance I’m anywhere. That’s the crazy thing about this situation where my contract’s up so anything could really happen. I’m just sitting back and really waiting to see what happens.”

Meanwhile, he also recognizes that the Broncos would be a good fit now that his former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is Denver’s new head coach.

I don’t know, but obviously that would be a fit where I know the defense and things like that,” Amos said. “But it’s not something that I’m pinpointing like, ‘Hey, I want to go there,’ or anything like that. I’m just keeping all options open. First and foremost, I’m a Bear right now, so that’s a main focus early on. But if that doesn’t work out, then I have to explore what team fits me best, what team gives me the best opportunity to take care of my family as well as progress on the football field.

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Falcons Won’t Re-Sign OL Ben Garland

Offensive lineman Ben Garland won’t return to the Falcons in 2019, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Garland played in 14 games and made four starts at right guard for Atlanta last season. 

Garland first entered the league as a defensive lineman, but later transitioned to the O-Line. Last season, the Falcons retained him via the $2.9MM second-round tender for restricted free agents. This time around, they’re looking to revamp the offense line, and Garland is not in their plans.

The Falcons reached an extension with offensive lineman Ty Sambrailo on Tuesday, keeping him under club control through the 2021 season. Meanwhile, there will be more O-Line moves on the way. Ryan Schraeder, who lost his tackle job to Sambrailo down the stretch, could be on the outs despite having three years and $18.8MM left on his deal.

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