Month: June 2019

Free Agent WR Jalin Marshall Suspended

In 2019, Jalin Marshall has been linked to four professional football leagues. But sticking in the highest-regarded one eludes him, and that status might not be changing for a bit.

Marshall signed with the Raiders earlier this offseason but was cut days later. We have some clarity on perhaps why the wide receiver’s Oakland stay was so brief. The NFL free agent has incurred a four-game suspension, ESPN.com’s Field Yates has learned (Twitter link).

This is Marshall’s second NFL suspension. As a Jet in 2017, he was popped for PEDs and banned for four games. Although the Jets retained him via reserve/futures deal in January, Marshall has not played in an NFL game since his 2016 rookie season.

Marshall, 23, resurfaced with the Alliance of American Football this year, catching 26 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns with the Orlando Apollos, and recently participated in one of the XFL showcases. The former UDFA out of Ohio State landed on the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ practice roster Monday.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Waive Michael Roberts

Its been a rough offseason for Michael Roberts. On Wednesday, the Packers waived the tight end due to a failed physical, according to Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter). 

The Lions traded Roberts to the Patriots earlier this month for a conditional seventh-round pick. However, the deal was quickly nixed when he failed the Pats’ physical. Roberts reverted to the Lions’ roster, but the team immediately waived him.

The Packers, wanting to see what the 2017 fourth-round pick could offer, picked Roberts up. But, after failing his second physical in the span of a week, Roberts may have to take some time off before landing his next NFL opportunity. The exact reason for Roberts’ failed physical is not yet known, but it’s likely tied to the shoulder injury that sidelined him midway through 2018.

Roberts, 25, has 13 career receptions for 146 yards. The Toledo alum, who caught three touchdown passes last season despite playing in just eight games, still has his practice squad eligibility.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: T.J. Yates, Akeem Dent

Five years ago today, we had a rare June NFL trade. In a relatively interesting move (at the time), the Texans sent quarterback T.J. Yates to the Falcons for linebacker Akeem Dent.

Houston had actually planned on releasing Yates, their 2011 fifth-round pick. The North Carolina product had failed to show much during his first three years in the NFL, throwing three touchdowns and six interceptions in 13 games. With coach Bill O’Brien deciding to roll with the trio of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, and Tom Savage, Yates was set to be released and hit free agency. However, once word of Yates’ impending release got around the NFL, teams started calling in on the young signal-caller.

Houston ended up landing on a deal with the Falcons, receiving the intriguing Dent in return. The 2011 third-round pick had looked solid during his stint in Atlanta, starting 10 games and compiling 136 tackles in three years. While the Georgia product failed to progress during his time in Houston, the trade still appears to be a win for the Texans. Dent collected 38 tackles and one sacks in 15 games (seven starts) during his first season in Houston, earning himself a two-year extension. However, over the next two seasons, Dent only managed to compile a combined 29 tackles and zero sacks and hasn’t appeared in the NFL since 2016.

Yates’ tenure with the Falcons was short-lived. The quarterback appeared in only a single game for the franchise, completing three of four passes for 64 yards and one interception. He was released by Atlanta prior to the 2015 season, and he ended up catching on again with… the Texans. Yates looked a bit better during his second (and third) stint in Houston, and he earned a chance to play this past season due to injuries. He finished the 2017 campaign having completed 48.5-percent of his passes for 523 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions.

In an interesting twist, the two ex-players signed on to join the Texans’ coaching staff on the same day in February. Yates will serve as an offensive assistant while Dent will help out as an assistant on the other side of the ball.

Champ Kelly To Stay With Bears

On Wednesday, Bears assistant director of player personnel Champ Kelly announced that he’ll be staying in Chicago. Kelly previously interviewed for the Jets’ GM job that ultimately went to Joe Douglas and there was talk that he still might join Gang Green’s front office.

[RELATED: Josh McCown Retires From NFL]

“I’m blessed and grateful to continue the pursuit of the Super Bowl trophy with the most storied franchise in NFL history,” Kelly tweeted.

Kelly joined the Bears in 2015 after spending eight years with the Broncos. He’ll return for a fifth season in Chicago while the Jets will move ahead with Phil Savage, Rex Hogan, and Chad Alexander as the new lieutenants under Douglas.

Panthers Sign Second-Rounder Greg Little

The Panthers have signed second-round pick Greg Little, according to a team announcement. With that, the Panthers have just one unsigned draft pick remaining in first-round defensive end Brian Burns

The Panthers traded up in the second round of the NFL Draft to land the Ole Miss product and he may be on track for the starting left tackle job in 2019. The Panthers used Taylor Moton on the blindside last season, but GM Marty Hurney‘s preference is to have Moton play right tackle. Daryl Williams is still in the mix for a spot on the right side of the line, but the club appears prepared to pencil in Little as its starting LT.

The 6’5″, 310-pound lineman started in all 12 games last year at left tackle and was named a Second-Team All-American by multiple outlets. Thanks in large part to Little, Ole Miss had the best offense in the SEC and finished fifth in the nation in passing offense with 346.4 yards per game.

With prototypical size for the tackle position, Little could be one of the league’s most successful rookies this season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints, Michael Thomas Far Apart On Deal

The Saints and Michael Thomas are far apart in contract talks and no extension is imminent, according to Jeff Duncan of NOLA.com (on Twitter). Still, the two sides remain motivated to get a deal done and hope to have one in place by the start of training camp. 

This news somewhat conflicts with what we heard earlier this week. The two sides seemed to be in a good place, especially since the Saints are reportedly comfortable with making Thomas the highest-paid wide receiver in the NFL.

For one reason or another, the two sides have hit a snag. It’s possible that the Saints have offered to make Thomas the highest-paid wideout by certain metrics such as average annual value, but his guarantees might not be on par with that of Odell Beckham Jr., who leads the way with $65MM in total guarantees and a whopping $41MM guaranteed at signing. Thomas, who leads the league in receptions (321) over the past three seasons and ranks fifth in yards (3,787) since the start of the ’16 campaign, is likely seeking to be the new leader across every major category.

Thomas recently signed with agent Andrew Kessler after cutting ties with David Mulugheta in November. a sign that he is not content with simply cracking the top five at the position. The Saints may want to get something done with Thomas sooner rather than later, because his asking price could inch up if the rival Falcons sign Julio Jones to a multi-year extension first.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Only 16 Draft Picks Remain Unsigned

Roughly 7% of this year’s draft picks have yet to sign their rookie contracts, as shown in PFR’s tracker. So far, 238 of this year’s 254 selections have inked their deals.

Here’s the complete breakdown, sorted by round:

First Round (6)

Second Round (3)

Third Round (5)

Sixth Round (1)

Seventh Round (1)

Unsurprisingly, the first round (6) and third round (5) still lead the way in stragglers. First-round picks tend to have the most leverage, which means agents will often haggle on issues such as offset language. Third-round negotiations also tend to drag since there is wiggle room when it comes to their base salaries.

As an unsigned seventh-round pick, Cutting’s situation is an unusual one. The Air Force product has signed an “injury protection agreement” instead of his rookie contract, giving the academy time to render a final decision on whether he can play in 2019. Depending on how things shake out, Cutting may have to leave the team for two years to fulfill his service requirements.

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NFC East

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Poll: Who Is Pats’ Top 2019 AFC Challenger?

Another summer featuring the Patriots preparing a title defense will bring PFR’s third version of this poll. The Patriots are only the third team to book Super Bowl berths in three straight years, joining the Dolphins from 1971-73 and Bills from 1990-93, and again Las Vegas tabs Bill Belichick‘s team as the favorite to win a championship.

In the past two AFC title games, the Pats skated to Super Bowls by razor-thin margins. Their 2019 passing attack features more questions than it has in maybe 13 years, dating back to the days before the arrivals of Randy Moss and later Rob Gronkowski. But until they are defeated, this century’s premier team will be the favorite to represent the AFC in Super Bowls.

The top candidate to dethrone them last year may again fill that role, but the Chiefs have gone through a rather complex offseason. After another dismal defensive season, the Chiefs overhauled their pass rush. They ditched anchors Justin Houston and Dee Ford, along with DC Bob Sutton, in moving to Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 defense. But Frank Clark (35 sacks in four seasons), on a $20.8MM-per-year contract in a deal that cost the Chiefs their first-round pick, is Kansas City’s new edge bastion. It is not certain who will fill the role of K.C.’s No. 2 edge rusher, and high-end interior presence Chris Jones skipped minicamp.

This figures to be Patrick Mahomesfinal season on his rookie contract, amplifying the importance of 2019 for the Chiefs. A major AFC variable: the status of the reigning MVP’s top receiver. Tyreek Hill is facing a near-certain suspension, or possibly a Chiefs departure, depending on where the NFL’s investigation goes. So the three-time defending AFC West champions’ status is a bit murky at the moment.

Despite the 2018 Chargers winding up on the wrong end of a divisional-round rout in New England, they still possess one of the NFL’s best rosters. As such, the Bolts were relatively quiet in free agency — beyond their Thomas Davis signing. The Chargers still employ the key players responsible for 2018 top-10 rankings on offense and defense and are in line to have Joey Bosa and Hunter Henry healthy in Week 1. The Bolts still lack a comparable home-field advantage compared to their contender peers but compensated last year by going 8-0 outside of Los Angeles.

In returning nearly every starter from last season, the Colts (who have the fourth-best AFC title odds) carry a similar profile to the Bolts. Chris Ballard again resisted major free agency spending, despite his team holding more than $100MM in cap space entering March. Indianapolis did re-sign multiple starters and have a new T.Y. Hilton supporting cast in Devin Funchess, third-rounder Parris Campbell and 2018 draftee Deon Cain, who missed his rookie season. The Colts were No. 2 in weighted DVOA entering their second-round loss last season.

They of one winning season in the past 16, the Browns loaded up this year and hold Bovada’s third-best odds to win the AFC. Odell Beckham Jr., Olivier Vernon, Sheldon Richardson and Kareem Hunt stand to play pivotal roles in Cleveland’s pursuit of its first playoff berth since 2002, and John Dorsey‘s two-offseason overhaul has this roster in much better shape. The Browns do have some questions on their offensive line, and new HC Freddie Kitchens brings only a half-season’s worth of coordinator experience. But this certainly profiles as one of the most fascinating contenders in years.

Vegas predicts the Texans and Ravens will take steps back, after each underwent sweeping 2019 changes. And for the first time in several years, the Steelers (sixth-best odds in the AFC) hover off the top tier. Are oddsmakers sleeping on the perennial contenders? The Steelers made multiple moves (in adding Devin Bush, Steven Nelson and Mark Barron) to patch up their defense but lost arguably this era’s top receiver, whose $21.12MM dead-money number limited them this offseason.

Lastly, what surprise team will emerge? Will the Raiders’ spending spree translate to 2019 success? Will Nick Foles stabilize the Jaguars’ offense enough? Will the collectively rebuilding AFC East prevent another five- or six-win Patriots divisional stroll (and the likelihood of the Pats earning a bye in every season this decade)?

Click below to vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your AFC thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Raiders Sign First-Round S Johnathan Abram

Challenging the Jets’ front office construction for Tuesday’s news leader, the Raiders have signed a third draft choice today. The team announced Johnathan Abram agreed to terms on his four-year rookie deal (with the customary fifth-year option).

The third of the Raiders’ three first-round picks, Abram will be expected to integrate quickly into Oakland’s secondary mix. With Lamarcus Joyner thus far working exclusively at slot cornerback, Abram spent OTAs and minicamp operating as a starting safety alongside 2016 first-rounder Karl Joseph.

Abram follows No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell and No. 40 choice Trayvon Mullen in signing today. Abram transferred from Georgia to Mississippi State, playing only his freshman year with the Bulldogs. He registered five sacks and intercepted two passes at his second SEC school. The No. 27 overall selection, Abram was the second safety to come off the board this year — behind the Packers’ Darnell Savage.

Only Josh Jacobs remains unsigned. At this rate, we perhaps should expect news of that agreement to surface tonight.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.