Month: March 2019

Damon Harrison Asks Lions For New Contract

Damon Harrison is coming off his first season as a member of the Lions, and he’s looking for a raise. The player also known as ‘Snacks’ has approached Detroit’s front office about getting a new deal, a source told Kyle Meinke of MLive.com

Harrison had been with the Giants the past several seasons, but New York traded him to the Lions at the trade deadline this past year for a fifth round pick. A defensive tackle, Harrison is widely regarded as an elite stuffer. Last year he received a 92.1 grade from Pro Football Focus, their third-highest grade for any defensive lineman.

Interestingly, Harrison played in 17 games last season since he was traded before the Giants had their bye week but after the Lions already had their’s. A 2016 first-team All-Pro, Harrison had 81 tackles and 3.5 sacks last year. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Jets back in 2012, Harrison has two years left on his deal.

Harrison is set to make a $6.75MM base salary in 2019 and $9MM in 2020, and apparently feels he’s underpaid. He’s still only 30, and wants to be locked up longterm by the Lions. Detroit might be hesitant to negotiate with him still having two years left on the deal, but Harrison played great down the stretch for the Lions and could be worth it as Matt Patricia continues to rebuild his defense.

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Cowboys To Ask Allen Hurns To Take Pay Cut

Allen Hurns’ agent Drew Rosenhaus said today that the team hasn’t asked his client to take a pay-cut or restructure his contract yet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. “It is only a matter of time” and the team does plan to ask him to take a pay cut, a source told Clarence Hill Jr. of The Forth Worth Star-Telegram (Twitter link.)

The Cowboys exercised Hurns’ 2019 option a couple of weeks ago, but apparently don’t actually want to pay him that salary. Hurns signed a two-year, $12MM deal with Dallas last offseason, and is slated to have a cap hit of $6.25MM this year. Given his level of production last season, it’s not surprising that the Cowboys want to reduce that.

With Dez Bryant gone, Hurns was supposed to compete for one of the Cowboys’ top receiving jobs after Dallas signed him away from Jacksonville. But he never showed much chemistry with Dak Prescott, and he quickly got buried on the depth chart after the emergence of rookie Michael Gallup and the trade for Amari Cooper. Hurns caught 20 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season.

His season ended with a devastating ankle injury suffered in the first round of the playoffs against the Seahawks. The injury was gruesome, but Hurns is recovering well, and Calvin Watkins of The Athletic tweets that Rosenhaus said he’s hoping to be ready by training camp. With Cole Beasley now gone to the Bills, perhaps Hurns can take on a bigger role next season, assuming the two sides can get his contract sorted out.

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49ers To Keep Jerick McKinnon

Jerick McKinnon‘s first season with the 49ers did not go according to plan, but he’ll have an opportunity to show what he can do for the team in 2019. Niners GM John Lynch says the running back will be on the team past April 1 when his salary becomes fully guaranteed (Twitter link via Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area). Furthermore, Lynch confirmed that McKinnon fits into the team’s plans for the upcoming season. 

The 49ers signed McKinnon to a four-year $30MM contract last March, but a torn ACL wiped out his first would-be season in SF. It was a huge disappointment for the team and player alike – McKinnon flashed serious potential in Minnesota and many expected him to bust out big plays in the 49ers’ offense.

In 2017, his final year with the Vikes, McKinnon enjoyed career highs in receptions (51) and receiving yards (421). With capable hands and the athleticism to break out of early tackles, McKinnon has the ability to go for long-distance runs and serve as a security blanket for Jimmy Garoppolo. Both players are expected to be healthy for the start of the 2019 season, which should result in a much better year for the franchise.

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Bengals Re-Sign Darqueze Dennard

The Bengals are re-signing cornerback Darqueze Dennard, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Chiefs and a mystery club were also in the mix for him, but the former first-round pick ultimately re-upped with Cincinnati. He’ll return on a one-year deal, according to an announcement from the team.

Dennard’s market was slow to develop despite other slot corners receiving lucrative deals around the NFL. His visit to Kansas City late last week marked his first known outside interest of the offseason . Cincinnati was initially willing to re-sign Dennard at around $8.5MM annually, so it will be interesting to see whether the price went up or down.

The Bengals are often reticent to field young players during the early portions of their respective careers, and that was never more evident than in Dennard’s case, as the former Michigan State Spartan played fewer than 600 defensive snaps in his first three pro seasons.

Dennard became Cincinnati’s full-time slot corner in 2017, and saw action on roughly three-quarters of the Bengals’ snaps in each of the past two years. Football Outsiders ranked Dennard 29th among 85 qualifiers in yards allowed per pass attempt in 2018 but just 49th in success rate, while Pro Football Focus graded Dennard as the league’s No. 52 CB.

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Ezekiel Ansah Won’t Sign Until April

Ezekiel Ansah stands as one of the best pass-rushers remaining on the open market, though many expected him to be off the board by this point in the offseason. As it turns out, teams want to learn more about his surgically repaired shoulder, according to his agent (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com). 

The plan, for now, is to wait until Ansah’s follow-up appointment in mid-April to determine his readiness for the upcoming season. That appointment will (roughly) mark the four-month anniversary of his operation, which should give a clearer picture of where Ansah stands in his recovery.

Ansah appeared in just seven games for the Lions last year before his shoulder took him out of action. However, Ansah has shown serious potential in the past with two 12+ sack seasons. As recently as 2017, Ansah profiled as one of the best edge rushers in the game.

The Bills and Saints have both shown interest in Ansah and the Jets could be a potential suitor for him.

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Jared Cook Remains Committed To Saints

Rob Gronkowski is retiredwe think – and that leaves the Patriots with a serious void at tight end. Some have speculated that the Patriots could convince Jared Cook to back out of his not-yet-signed commitment to the Saints, but that won’t happen, according to Peter King of NBC Sports

Cook will not reconsider his decision, according to King. That’s disappointing news for the Pats’ front office, especially since they aggressively pursued the former Raiders tight end.

Cook would not have been a true “replacement” for Gronkowski, but he would have given the Patriots a quality pass-catcher to keep the offense moving. Last year, the 31-year-old started 14 of his 16 games, hauling in 68 receptions for 896 yards and six scores. It was the most productive season of Cook’s career, though he has topped 50 catches in three other seasons.

Instead, Cook intends to still sign with the Saints, where he has an opportunity to fill a role similar to the one occupied by Jimmy Graham years ago. Drew Brees tends to spread the ball around in the New Orleans offense, but Cook could be an opportunity to assert himself as one of the very best tight ends in the NFL, especially now that Gronk is focusing on non-football endeavors.

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Rob Gronkowski Open To Patriots Return?

UPDATE, 1:01pm: Gronkowski’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, appeared on NFL Network and said the retirement caught him by surprise (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of NFL Network). “I was shocked. I thought Rob was going to come back and play,” he said. Rapoport writes that “his speculation, gut feeling, is that Gronk comes back at some point. But Rob told Rosenhaus he is ‘done, done, done.'”

11:00am: Rob Gronkowski has retired from the NFL, but he might be willing to come back under the right circumstances. In an interview on ESPN, agent Drew Rosenhaus seemingly left the door open to Gronk suiting up for the Pats once again. 

[RELATED: Gronk Announces Retirement]

If the team was struggling or they needed him at some point next year, and let’s just say hypothetically Tom Brady gave him a call and said ‘Rob, I need you.’ I wouldn’t be shocked if he came back to play a few games,” Rosenhaus said (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter).

Gronkowski has flirted with retirement in the past before changing course and suiting up for the NFL’s greatest dynasty. In the past, it appeared that Gronk had reservations about his health, motivation, and contract. Perhaps with some extra time to rest up – and a more lucrative offer from the Patriots – the tight end could consider a mid-season return.

For the Patriots, a mid-season addition of Gronkowski could be a game changer. After losing both Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen in free agency, the Patriots are short on answers at tight end with little in the way of remaining free agent options to fill the void.

Gronk didn’t look like his old self in 2018, but he’s one of the best to ever play the tight end position and is a force to be reckoned with when healthy. To date, Gronkowski has registered 521 receptions, 7,861 yards, and 79 touchdowns over the course of his legendary career.

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Jets Re-Sign Brandon Copeland

The Jets have re-signed outside linebacker Brandon Copeland, according to a team announcement. The club also retained tight end Neal Sterling, per the press release. 

Copeland, who had a career-high five sacks in 2018, also drew interest from the PatriotsRedskins, and Lions during the free agent period. Ultimately, he decided to return to the Jets, where he enjoyed the most productive season of his career.

After going undrafted out of Penn in 2015, Copeland spent three seasons with the Lions as a special-teamer, topping 300 ST snaps in both 2015 and 2016. He suffered a torn pectoral the following year and missed all of the 2017 campaign, and subsequently signed a one-year deal with Gang Green in 2018. Last year was a breakout season for Copeland, as he saw action on a career-high 611 defensive snaps and tied for the third-highest sack total on the Jets’ roster.

The Jets may still be in the market for edge rush help, but Copeland’s return will go a long way towards addressing that void. They’re also still in the hunt for cornerback and center help, so the re-signing of Copeland could allow them to prioritize those needs moving forward.

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Bills To Sign CB E.J. Gaines

E.J. Gaines is returning to the Bills. The cornerback has agreed to a new one-year, $3.6MM deal with Buffalo, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter). 

Gaines joined the Browns on a one-year, $4MM deal last year, but spent the 2017 season with the Bills after coming over in the Sammy Watkins trade with the Rams. In that season, he finished out as Pro Football Focus‘ No. 12 ranked cornerback and placed ninth in Football Outsiders’ success rate, though injuries limited him to just eleven games.

Last year, the injury bug bit Gaines once again. He appeared in only six games for the Browns (two starts), so he’s eager to re-assert himself.

The Bills’ cornerback room is starting to shape up with quality starters in Tre’Davious White and Levi Wallace and support from Gaines and fellow new addition Kevin Johnson.

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Lions To Meet With Dontrelle Inman

Wide receiver Dontrelle Inman will visit with the Lions on Tuesday, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Inman has said that he wants to return to the Colts, but he’s exploring other options as well. 

Last year, Inman caught 28 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns for Indianpolis. Colts GM Chris Ballard hasn’t ruled out re-signing Inman after adding Devin Funchess to the WR group, but he was also non-committal on the idea when addressing the topic last week.

There’s a difference in age between Dontrelle and Funchess,” Ballard said (via Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star). “We’re still working through it with Dontrelle. We like Dontrelle a lot, and he had a great year last year, but we’re still working through some details on that.”

Inman joined the Colts in the middle of the 2018 season and turned into a solid No. 2 WR for Andrew Luck. If he doesn’t return to the Colts, he could join a Lions group that includes Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and new addition Danny Amendola.

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